If you’re interested in moving to Bellingham, Washington, or even if you already live here but want to know more about the 2020 real estate market and how to successfully navigate it, this page is for you!


Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

What’s So Special About Bellingham?

Bellingham is one of THE MOST enjoyable and interesting places to live not only in the Pacific Northwest… but in the entire USA.

The abundance of easily accessible trails through magical landscapes, many with jaw-dropping views, world class boating opportunities on lakes and saltwater, proximity to mountains and snow sports, countless parks, brewpubs, restaurants, access to higher education and good health care, a mild climate that supports the year-round outdoor lifestyle, an international airport, proximity to two of the most renowned cities on earth (Seattle & Vancouver, BC)… the list goes on.

It’s natural, then, that in this age of instant, global communication and sharing of our lifestyles through social media, more people have discovered Bellingham’s charm, and they — perhaps YOU — want to live here!

Hi, We’re BNP Realtors… And We’re At Your Service!

It is an honor and a pleasure to meet you and help you! My name is Brandon Nelson and I’m the owner of BNP (Brandon Nelson Partners) Realtors. Our team at BNP lives, eats, drinks, and breathes real estate in Bellingham and Whatcom County. On average we help our clients close a sale about every 2 days, so we are tuned in, geared up, and ready to help you understand and succeed in your quest to buy a home here!

Our goal throughout our relationship with you, is to educate you well enough about the market and “what’s working now” in the buying process that you are comfortable and can make good decisions throughout.  Let’s begin, then, with a look at the current Bellingham market.

Bellingham Is Growing

According to the City of Bellingham Housing Statistics website (which is a fascinating read if you’re a data nerd like me), the City of Bellingham is growing by approximately 1350 to 1400 people per year. That trend is predicted to continue for the next 20 years.

Source: City of Bellingham, Bellingham Housing Statistics, www.arcgis.com

Meanwhile, as the population steadily grows, and as most of the rest of the country has also experienced, the real estate market
has seen a declining inventory. Below is a graph that shows available inventory in Bellingham, going back 10 years. The troughs are winter lows… the peaks are summer highs of supply.

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

What About Prices?

Economics 101 would dictate that when supply goes down and demand goes up, prices will rise. That has been the case here in Bellingham and across all of Whatcom County.

To track median prices, we focus on the largest category of homes, which in Bellingham is 3-bedroom, 2-bath home of between 1900 and 2100 square feet. There are more “3/2” homes in Bellingham than all the other configurations combined. The median price of the common 3/2, across the City of Bellingham and its immediate outlying areas, has increased as follows:

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

The Range of Bellingham Prices

NOTE: This table above does NOT mean you need to qualify for a $506K purchase to buy a home here. In fact, the highest number of sales in any in any range happens in the $400,000 to $450,000 range, per the chart below. As of this writing, there are several small condos in Bellingham priced below $200K, as well as about two dozen homes priced over $1M. The table above is primarily meant to give you an idea of appreciation, which has made Bellingham a great area to invest and gain equity over time.

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

Is It Competitive For Buyers?

Because of the current low interest rates and relatively low inventory, yes, buying is often somewhat competitive for the “good” homes that hit the market. Average time on market over the past year has been about 30 days, with about 60% of homes selling in a single digit number of days.

You’ve probably also heard about the occurrence of “multiple offers” on good homes. This is something we always prepare our clients for, as it is rather common. As of this writing, the last 300 sales in Bellingham have had an average sale price of 100.72% of their list price. That overage indicates that multiple offers “escalated” (or bid up) the price above list price.

NOTE: It’s important to know that this does not mean buyers are necessarily willing to “over-pay” for a house in relation to its market value. Most listing agents advise their sellers of the demand and often coach them to price slightly below “market value”, then to give the buyer pool time to come and see the property and bid on it, somewhat like an auction. The time period in this scenario is usually four to five days.

Whether or not any given listing will  require you to compete for it, or escalate your offer above list price, depends on a number of factors. It’s not every listing all the time. If you do fall in love with a “hot listing” that has other buyers competing for it, rest assured we’ll make sure you know all your options to strengthen your offer, while always honoring your own personal comfort level.

What About Nearby Towns & Areas?

Many people moving here are happy to learn that there are multiple areas within 20 to 30 minutes of Bellingham where prices are lower for a similar house or condo. These include Ferndale, Sudden Valley, Lynden, and other Whatcom County small towns. Make no mistake: these outlying areas have bustling real estate markets as well… but you can generally get more house for the dollar outside of Bellingham proper.

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

A Note About Drive Times

Don’t be surprised if the locals grimace at the idea of a 20-minute drive to get “allllll the way out to Sudden Valley.” When my wife and I moved here almost 20 years ago, we fell in love with Sudden Valley and lived there for an enjoyable 10 years, never once minding the beautiful drive into town or back home.

With high demand for Bellingham’s “Core Neighborhoods” (those are all in-City neighborhoods that are west of Interstate 5) a willingness to give up the walk-score and spend a few extra minutes driving can open up many new doors in your home search.

OK, OK, So How Do I Get “My” House?

You’ve heard someone say, “The three most important words in real estate are: Location! Location! Location!” As a buyer in 2020, the three most important words are “Be Here Now!” That means having clear expectations and keeping in mind the following key points as you begin and travel your home-buying path:

First and foremost: WE GOT THIS! Keep your eyes on the prize, and working together we will get you a house you love!

Yes, you absolutely need to be pre-approved with a quality lender, or be able to show “proof of funds” if you’re paying cash, before we submit any offers and ideally before we start touring homes. Meet our 3 favorite local lenders at this link

Yes, you can succeed whether you’re getting a home loan or paying cash;

Yes, Bellingham and all of Whatcom County are experiencing leaner-than-before inventory;

Yes, competition does exist between buyers for the good listings;

Yes, we have ALL the referrals and resources you may need for all the research, due diligence, and logistics of buying a home;

Yes, we also have all the referrals you may need during the ownership of your home, including maintenance, repair, upgrading, remodeling, expanding, whatever the case may be;

Yes, all of our clients who are committed to buying have always ultimately found and bought a home!

(You can read over 400 reviews from our past clients on this page on Zillow.)

Still Want More Information?

Some of our blog posts speak specifically to Buyers. Here are some popular ones:

The First Step in Helping Our Buyer Clients

What is an Escalation Addendum?

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Over-Paying

A Final Word

At BNP, we have the tools, techniques, strategies, connections, and track record, to be successful together. Again, we do it successfully once every two days, on average, with buyers in every price range and with every set of criteria.

You undoubtedly have a lot more questions. Take action right now, and reach out to us by phone or email. Here’s a link to our entire team and each person’s contact information. Any one of us would be excited to hear from you!

Sincerely,

Brandon Nelson
Broker/Owner
Brandon Nelson Partners Realtors

Our Success Map

Below is a map of our last 3 years of sales, to give you an idea of our areas of focus.