More than a few of us were surprised by all the Whatcom County real estate sales activity last month. Most expected some level of recovery on the Pacific Northwest housing market, especially as compared to this time last year, but home and condo sales were actually more than double than numbers from November 2008, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
235 homes and condos sold last month, much higher than November ’08’s severely low 117. In fact, these numbers are the best since 2006.
As usual, one potential reason for the rise in activity is the first-time home buyer credit, which may have helped first-timers take the leap into home ownership.
While sales are up, median sales prices continue to fall. In Whatcom County, the median price on homes and condos sold was $240,250, down from $250,900 two months ago. Skagit County is also seeing some recovery, with 121 homes and condos sold last month (up from 51 November of last year). However, their median sales prices have fallen more dramatically over the past year.
The tax credit really makes this a great time to purchase. However, it’s not a great time to be out there on your own in the housing market. If you’re looking for an trustworthy, personal Pacific Northwest real estate agent who can help you navigate these uncharted waters and make a Northwest home purchase that makes sense for you and your family, pick up the phone and give me a call, or feel free to browse my no-hassle free Pacific Northwest MLS search.
Though the First-Time Homebuyer Credit was eventually extended through April 30, 2010, the looming original deadline still prompted a surge in Pacific Northwest home sales through October. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported a 63 percent jump in pending sales this past month compared to October 2008.
These new figures continue to indicate some stability in the market and some improvement in consumer confidence. Inventory is at its lowest level since December 2008. For the month of October, Whatcom County has 364 new listings on the market, while Skagit County has 208 new listings. Island County reports 162 new listings, and San Juan County listed 25.
(Wanted to also mention good news for homeowners in San Juan County, where the median sales price for last month’s completed sales was $454,250: price changes are rising rather than declining at a gain of 15%!)
NWMLS director Kathy Estey says that while the tax credit has been incredibly helpful to getting the housing market moving again, there are actually a number of factors at work: “Sales are not just fueled by the first-time buyer stimulus,” but include the stabilization of entry-level homes and diminished inventory, just to name a few catalysts.
“The fourth quarter is one of the best times for buyers, so we expect the positive activity to continue,” she says.
If you’re looking to buy a home in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, or San Juan County, the time is right to start moving forward in 2010! Feel free to view our free Pacific Northwest MLS search, or contact me, your expert Pacific Northwest realtor, directly for details.