These numbers for May are not surprising. As I have been saying for a while now, new listings are down, which results in a decline in inventory of homes for sale. Between lack of selection and COVID-related concerns, there is a decline in number of homes that sold. That doesn't mean there isn't Buyer demand: prices continue to climb, homes are selling for nearly 100% of list price and days on market is declining.
New listings are down considerably nationwide, and certainly in Whatcom County. Closed Sales and Days on Market both have declined as well. Will there be more supply or demand, in the coming months as COVID restrictions and fears ease? Supply and demand drives price.
To give this report some COVID-19 perspective, Washington Governor Jay Inslee locked down the state beginning March 23, ordering Washingtonians to Shelter in Place. This was after restricting the size of gatherings & closing bars & restaurants on March 15. Initially, nearly all aspects of residential transactions were deemed non-essential, including showings, walk-throughs, inspections & appraisals. With roughly 14,000 real estate transactions in limbo, some of those restrictions were lightened effective March 28, with many caveats.
We can see some of the impact of this social distancing in the numbers below, but the full effect will become more clear with the April Market Reports.
What do we see in the March numbers? New listings have increased over 10% in Whatcom County, and 16% in Bellingham. This is a big jump from February 2020. While Spring always bring more listings, clearly this is still a relatively big increase, compared to March of 2019. The median sales price is up more than 14% from March of last year in Whatcom County, with Bellingham prices up over 7%. Despite all the new listing, months Supply of Inventory has decreased slightly compared to March of 2019, with Bellingham only having 1.5 months of inventory. We are seeing a sharp decline in new listings over the last few weeks, so this is an example of a number that is not yet reflecting the impact of Shelter in Place.
Like the stock market, it is impossible to project exactly how COVID-19 will impact real estate in the next year. Many experts predict a slowdown, which is not surprising. But what about prices? Will low inventory levels offset a major shift due to COVID? Experts agree that based on cyclical history, the real estate market is due to shift, with Buyers having more power than Sellers. Let's look at what did happen in February, as it's an indication of the health of the market pre-COVID.
New listings are up from February of 2019. More Sellers are choosing to list before Spring (typically when we see new listings increase). Real Estate Agents everywhere are telling Sellers now is a good time to sell because there is so little competition, so I believe that definitely has impacted new listing activity.
Interestingly, pending sales are also up significantly, which means both Buyers and Sellers are more active than they were last year at this time.
Prices continue to steadily climb, and home are selling for 99% of list price, but days on market continues to climb. This indicates to me that demand continues to exceed supply, but Buyers are not frenzied in the way they were a year ago.
The report below is for all of Whatcom County.
Bellingham's Stats for Residential Homes:
Bellingham's average price was $530,000, median price was $440,000.
Bellingham's Average Days on Market was 47.
Bellingham's Months of Inventory was
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