Dahlias for the Cutting

On the topic of u-pick from yesterday . . . dahlias are in season here on the island too.  You can find them on road-side stands or you can cut them yourself on a sunny summer afternoon.  That’s what we did yesterday at Bainbridge Island Blueberry Co.  My dahlias are not in bloom yet in my garden, so we enjoyed cutting three dozen yesterday to fill our house. Only $5 a dozen.  In the orchard next door to the dahlias the blueberries are ripening away in the sun.  They should be ripe by early August (2013).   Can’t wait for more berry picking.

U-Pick Flowers Bainbridge by Jen Pells

 

U-Pick Flowers Bainbridge Island by Jen Pell

On July 23, 2013, in Activities, Personal, Photos, by

Summer on Bainbridge = Berry Season

U-Pick raspberry collage - Bainbridge Island - photo by Jen Pells

Raspberries

This weekend we went berry picking. Raspberries are in season at Suyematsu Farms on Day Road. The season is short.  They estimated 2-3 more weeks (as of June 21, 2013) so don’t delay.  The berries are organic and the prices are great.  We got an entire flat and it cost us @ $13.  I flash froze some for berry muffins and smoothies.  And, last night we made a berry crisp – Willie’s Crisp –  an old childhood recipe from the SF Chronicle.  In case you need a great, and easy, crisp recipe.

Blueberries

About the time the raspberries are out of season, blueberries will be in season right down the road at Bainbridge Island Blueberry Co.  On the corner of Madison Ave and Valley, the farm has u-pick blueberries and u-cut flowers (dahlias ;).

Blackberries

And soon after the blueberries arrive, blackberries will abound throughout the island.  For FREE. They usually ripen first on the south end at Fort Ward Park and they are bountiful at Battle Point Park too. Blackberries are my fave and I think they are the best berry in my most favorite blackberry muffin recipe.

On July 23, 2013, in Activities, Community, Parks, by

Summer 2013 collage

So, summer is in full swing. We are having an amazingly warm and sunny one here on the island. A little photo-essay of what it has looked like so far, in my little world.

  1. Campfires on the beach.  Pleasant Beach in this shot.
  2. Blackberry anticipation.  Here’s how they looked yesterday in Fort Ward Park. They usually ripen first down at sunny Fort Ward.
  3. Lots of ferry riding for us this summer for softball and soccer tournaments, we have enjoyed watching the sun set on the 9pm boat.
  4. Softball Allstars were what we lived and breathed for June and July, for both girls.
  5. More ferry boat.
  6. Warm weather horse riding is the best.
  7. The 4th of July Parade on Bainbridge is a tradition we have not missed once since we have lived here.
  8. The Rotary Auction . . . another summer tradition.
  9. The Great Wheel in Seattle.  We rode it for the first time last week. A fun way to take in all the Seattle and Puget Sound sights in the summer.
On July 20, 2013, in Community, Personal, Photos, by
The Bainbridge Island Ferry from Seattle.  Summer 2013.

The Bainbridge Island Ferry from Seattle. Summer 2013.

Making Sense of a Strengthening Market

The statistics for the first half of 2013 are encouraging but a bit confusing. You look at the number of homes sold and there is joy. A total of 205 homes sold in the first six months even surpasses the “go-go” days of 2006 and 2007. If things are selling so well, why have both average and median prices declined? Our market may be strong, but it is slightly skewed. Our upper end continues to struggle in terms of both inventory and sales. Sales over $1M have dropped 48% from last year (although we have to point out that 2012 was an extraordinary six months for >$1M sales). We only had four sales over $1.5M this year compared to nine last year (and at the 2007 peak, there were 14). The lack of sales in this price range wreaks havoc with the numbers and has brought down average and median prices. There are a number of theories for this softness in the market, most of which are tied to potential sellers waiting for prices to rise (people with large mortgages, downsizers, etc.). This limits the inventory and compels buyers who cannot find what they are looking for to wait. (The inventory over $1M is currently 41% of what it was at this time in 2007.)

A Growing Middle

The good news is we are seeing more activity in the over $800K segment. At the end of the first quarter, we were at par with the number of sales between $800-$1M from 2012 and 2013. Now at the end of the second quarter, we are up 50% in that price range. Of the four sales over $1.5M this year, three occurred in the second quarter.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Market 2013

A Strong Base

With all that being said, the rest of the market is doing quite well. In the first half of 2012, the Median Cumulative Days on Market of sold homes priced between $0 and $700K was 75 days; this year, it was only 22 days. We are not experiencing the quantity of multiple offers as our neighbor, Seattle, but they are not uncommon. It is extremely difficult to calculate price movement within price ranges, but we can say with confidence that prices have stabilized and are beginning to move up with properties that are getting a lot of attention.

The Condo Report

In many regards, the condominium marketplace is experiencing similar conditions. There have been 40 condominium sales in the first six months of this year. This is up 17.6% from last year and 66.7% from the market low of 24 in 2009 (but still way shy of the peak of 93 sales in the first half of 2004). Of the 40 condos sold, only one went for a price above $600K and only four above $500K. This is a mere 10% of sales compared to 40% of the 80 sales in 2007 that were above $500K (32 sold above $500K and 20 sold above $600K). It is no wonder the median price of condominiums sold this year is $318,500 versus $468,125 in 2007 (down 32%). Part of the problem may be that there are only seven listings over $600K. The good news, though, is that two of those seven are under contract as of this writing. There appears to be more life in the upper end of the condominium marketplace, but we need more results to be able to say so definitively.

Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island.  Spring 2013.

Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island. Spring 2013.

Solid Land

Land sales bottomed out back in 2008 with only nine sales in the first six months. Since 2011, we have seen steady land sales growth: 12 in 2011, 22 last year and 28 this year. We still have a ways to go to match the 53 land sales we had in the first half of 2004. However, we are experiencing good, consistent growth. Similar to the other segments, 86% of land sales were priced under $400K. Most sales have been concentrated in the city core area and have been purchased by custom home clients. (Individual lots outside of the core struggle as small individual spec builders still have trouble with financing.)

Developing Stories

Although small spec builders have yet to return in appreciable numbers, there are a number of developments either under construction or in planning around the island. The largest (and most visible) is Grow Village, where construction is underway and people are paying close attention. Also under construction are 15 new homes on Ericksen Ave. (“Ericksen Urban Cottages”), six on Burlingam (“Burlingam Court” by Hudson Homes). Nine homes will begin construction next week off Springridge Road (“Timberbrook” by DeNova Homes), and 18 are being proposed for Wing Point. Pleasant Beach is also in the permitting stage for 22 additional apartments after the existing inventory rented at a rapid pace. New construction is an indication of confidence and optimism and these projects send an important message: “We are back!”

4th of July on Bainbridge Island

4th of July on Bainbridge Island. July 2013.

Seeking Balance

Even with our market’s renewed vigor, we could use a bit more balance. There is positive movement in our more expensive homes and condominiums, but in general the people who are in that segment are frustrated by the slowness of the recovery. Buyers are battling with a lack of inventory and choices while sellers are looking for better prices before committing to sell. We will get there; it just may take a little more time. We have been steadily improving since 2010 in terms of homes sold, so as long as there are sales and demand, prices will strengthen and improve.

Annual 4th of July Parade on Bainbridge Island. July 2013.

Annual 4th of July Parade on Bainbridge Island. July 2013.

Constants

What never changes is Bainbridge Island’s distinct character. We are a unique community, where people want to live. Where else can a Rotary Auction gross over $440,000 in six hours? The net proceeds will be recycled back primarily into our community’s non-profits, schools and students (1/6th of the proceeds go to international programs like ending polio and water wells in Uganda).