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Navigating the Whatcom County real estate market

August 27, 2018

By: Steve Gray for The Bellingham Business Journal | The Bellingham Business Journal
Steve Gray - Senior Real Estate Loan Officer
Steve Gray - Senior Real Estate Loan Officer

When I moved to Bellingham more than 30 years ago to attend Western Washington University, I knew that I would settle down here. Drawn to the outdoors lifestyle, easy access to vibrant cities and overall high quality of life, I’ve since raised my family in this community. I joined Peoples Bank eight years ago as a real estate loan officer, and I truly enjoy helping others secure their dream homes.

As anyone who’s read the headlines knows, the real estate market in our area has been on a boom. The Seattle Times recently reported that the greater Seattle area has led the nation in home prices for 20 months in a row, tied for the second-longest streak. The last time we saw record-breaking prices like this was in the mid-2000s, and home buyers are understandably nervous. The real estate market in Whatcom County takes some of its cues from Seattle, but there are important differences. Here are a few things I think you should consider given current market conditions.

Be patient. The most important piece of advice I can give is to not panic. I strongly believe that unless we see a dramatic wage increase in the community to support the bulk of the market, real estate prices simply can’t continue the way they are. The real estate market in Whatcom County is driven primarily by supply and demand, and we’re already seeing signs of a leveling-off.

Lending and credit are available. Banks still want to lend money, and rates have been stable and very low. Fannie Mae is doing everything possible to create an environment where banks can provide loan approvals, while keeping the customer’s best financial interests in mind and making responsible lending decisions. Read more...