Whatcom County Real Estate Research Report

Spring 2009

The Whatcom County Real Estate Research Report is published by the Whatcom County Real Estate Research Committee, a nonprofit community group that generates, compiles and distributes factual information about the Whatcom County real estate market. Individuals, co-partnerships, associations, governmental bodies, and corporations of good standing and reputation are invited to become members.

The Whatcom County Real Estate Research Report is the result of the voluntary efforts of the committee members. Members of the committee receive no compensation for their work. Subscription revenues are used to defray the cost of collecting data, printing and distributing the Report. Single issues of the Report in PDF format can be purchased for $20. Printed and mailed reports are $42.50. Please contact Mr. Ferris Wilcox at Chicago Title (360-734-7000).

Executive Summary

Data in the Report indicate that real estate activity in Whatcom County slowed substantially in 2008. The number of single-family homes sold fell 26.4 percent below the 2007 level, and the dollar volume of single-family sales fell 30.2 percent below the 2007 level. The number of condominiums sold in the county was down 36.8 percent in 2008.

For single-family homes, the median price fell by 4.2 percent in 2008, the first year since 1985 that the median price of homes sold in Whatcom County has declined. For the year 2008, the median price of all homes sold in Whatcom County was $278,533, while the median price of homes sold in the Bellingham area was $285,000. This compares with a statewide median home price of $284,400. For an analysis of Whatcom County affordability, please see the Special Section prepared by Glenn Crellin at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research.

Permit activity was down in 2008, with permit activity in Bellingham falling to the lowest level since 1984. The number of multi-family units permitted fell from 289 to 102, duplex units permitted fell from 22 to 0, and single-family permits fell from 189 to 86. Outside of Bellingham, permit activity fell 67 percent in Blaine, 16 percent in Ferndale and 18 percent in unincorporated Whatcom county.

Plat activity in Bellingham was down in 2008, short-plat activity falling by 18 percent, and long plat activity down 79 percent from the 2007 level. In unincorporated Whatcom county, plat activity was mixed; short-plat activity rose 15 percent, but long-plat activity fell to almost zero.

New in the Report this year is a completed revised commercial activity section. The section now includes a profile for 26 employment areas in Bellingham containing information on total employment and annual revenues, as well as square footage and vacancy information for office, commercial and industrial space. Special thanks to Chris Behee and Neal Swanson for their work in creating the new format for this section.

The editor wishes to thank all those who volunteered their time to make this report possible, in particular the individuals and organizations listed on page 9 and the Committee officers and subcommittee chairpersons.

Julia L. Hansen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
College of Business and Economics
Western Washington University


Whatcom County Real Estate Research Committee

The Whatcom County Real Estate Research Committee is a non-profit organization. Its sole purpose is to publish the Whatcom County Real Estate Research Report, through the volunteer efforts of the following committee members:

Sub-Committee Chairs