Windermere Real Estate/BI, Inc.
Inventory. Inventory is the big topic of conversation in the Bainbridge Island real estate world. As we close the door on 2013 and move into the 2014 market our inventory is historically low. 2012 was a banner year for volume on the island with 386 total sales. Last year the economy improved and the year started off with a bang but at the end of December, we ended with only a few more sales at 414 total for 2013. Why? Lack of inventory is one reason. Buyers are poised and ready, but the listings, the inventory is just not here right now. But, I am hopeful the homes will appear on the market as we head into spring.
The list below is a great representation of 2013. Strong sales in the $600-$800k market, up 50% from last year. The over million dollar market, however, was down 28%. The initial predictions for 2014 are that the $600-$800k will stay strong and the higher end market will improve. And the ever active $400-600k market will continue at a brisk pace. Enjoy the list below and let me know if you have any questions about a property.
For #10 we start out on the south end of the island on Rose Avenue. Built by Reijnen Company, this home sits on a shy acre with good light in a rural area on the sound end. I felt like this home sold for a great price, with finishes not often seen in a home under $700k. I like Reijnen’s style with clean lines and tall ceilings, which is why their homes have appeared on my lists in the past.
You may remember #9 from last year. This home on Torvanger Road made an appearance on this list, but selling last year for $100k less. The sellers relocated out of state, so this home was back on the market this year. Last year it saw multiple offers. And this year priced over $100k higher it saw multiple offers again. This year it sold for 102.26% of asking price with a line of disappointed buyers yet again. As I said before, Torvanger was a special package of charm, land, and privacy. A package getting harder to replicate, especially under $1 million.
The north end saw a lot of activity last year. This home, taking the #8 spot, is around the corner from Torvanger Road on Sunrise Drive and also a very nice package. This home reminds me of homes found in coastal Carmel California. Storybook charm abounds from the woodwork inside and the landscaping outside to the private trail leading to a sandy beach with the sought after deeded beach access. Tack on the views of Puget Sound, a guest suite over the garage and this was a perfect match for the buyers.
For #7 we move to the extreme south end of the island to Douglas Road in Fort Ward. The gracious design of this home is the brainchild of to Patina Designs. This home offers an efficient use of space, gorgeous woodwork and fine finishes. The home, with hand dipped cedar shingles was thoughtfully sited on the lot to capture the light gorgeous trees surrounding the property. The builder made a lot of smart decisions, which make this home stand out from the rest.
For #6 we move mid-island to one of my favorite areas. This home is on Old Mill Road in the Eagle Harbor/Blakely farmland area. This home immediately grabs you with its classic curb appeal. Then add a mini-vineyard, chicken coop and sensible, flexible floor plan and you arrive at a superb package close to schools and the ferry . . . yet a world away from the everyday hustle and bustle. And again, this one has incredible light. You can understand why this home, priced in the $600’s, went pending in one day.
For #5 we move north again to Rolling Bay and the east side. This home on Valley Road impressed me from day one with its drop dead gorgeous views of Puget Sound and Seattle. The home itself is unique and fun. The quiet, easement road of about five homes, all with the same gorgeous views, is relaxed, beachy and eclectic. Each time I visited the home I certainly felt like I was on vacation. And I am sure that is why the buyers snapped it up too.
For #4 we move down to to the ferry dock. And the stellar views continue with this home on Hawley Way. A turn of the century home on the historic registry, The Morrill Home, with a small cottage in the back is just two blocks from the ferry terminal with stunning views of Eagle Harbor, the coming and going ferry, Seattle, and Mt. Rainier. The original elements of this home have been lovingly cared for with some smart updates. But, beyond all the charming and history, there are views from EVERY room of this special home.
For #3 we move to the west side of the island, near Battle Point Park. This Olympus Beach Road home has dramatic curb appeal and it sits on a spectacular lot that enjoys great south-west sun on the patio and in the living areas. The inside spaces are open, yet have cozy window seats and built-ins. A home for someone who loves modern elements, yet appreciates the warmth of northwest architecture. The home is down the street from beach access and a short distance to popular Battle Point Park. No surprise this was another home that saw multiple offers.
For #2 we stay on the west side of the island, but move north again to Reitan Road. I remember having the best wood fired pizza from this home’s pizza oven . . . back on a gorgeous sunny day in December. All while soaking up the best views. This home sits on Reitan and unless you are headed to a home on this road, you would have little reason to come across this view. But having the opportunity to witness it in person was a delight. The nana doors open up the entire family room and create an amazing indoor/outdoor space. The outdoor pizza oven, guest space and reclaimed redwood timbers mixed into the unique asian architecture kept this a home on the market for a mere 10 days.
For #1 we stay north but move towards Fay Bainbridge Park. The north end had a lot of action this year, which is seen on this page. This home on Knight Road, was built by Jefferson Fine Homes and designed by Architect Peter Brachvogel. Sited on over three private acres, this home exudes quality craftsmanship inside and out. Walls of windows, high ceilings, and an open floor plan piqued the interest of many buyers. Jefferson Fine Homes is known for their well built homes and quality materials like cedar shingles, metal clad windows, and ipe decking. As the architect, Peter Brachvogel, created thoughtful spaces like a cozy media room set just off the kitchen, a large mudroom/laundry room with built-in lockers, and a remote full guest suite on the main level plus bonus space over the garage. All elements that helped this home see multiple offers and close $14k over their asking price.
The expression “in like a lion, out like a lamb” seems to apply to our 2013 market. At the end of the first half of the year, we were up an impressive 21% from the 2012 numbers of homes sold. In the third quarter, that statistic cooled to 15% over last year. By the end of the fourth quarter, our numbers had softened again and we ended the year at just 7% above last year’s stats. In terms of the quantities of homes sold, we went from 93 in Q4 2012 to 77 in Q4 2013 – a decrease of 17%. When compared to the 2008 fourth quarter sales of 41 homes, this year’s 77 sales do not look so bad, but we were a bit perplexed about why the market did not maintain the momentum it enjoyed earlier in the year.
The obvious and accurate key to what changed the trajectory of the 2013 market is inventory. The average inventory of active homes (homes on the market and not under contract) during the 2012 fourth quarter was 144 homes, and that number dropped 30% in 2013 to 100 homes. We ended 2013 with 76 active listings and by January 6th we had 70. These are historically low num-bers and low inventory has a very damping effect on sales. For many buyers, real estate is the largest investment of their lives so a home needs to speak to them in order to inspire them to act. Without choices, they wait (as they should).
Many sellers wait to list their homes for the same reasons buyers wait to make offers: they are not going to put their houses on the market if there are no choices waiting for them to transition to. Also, in general, prices have not rebounded for some seg-ments of the marketplace. During 2011 and 2012, when we began to move out of the recession, the recovery was led by homes under $600K. Our “middle market” ($600K to $900K) made gains this year but our upper market really struggled. (We saw a 28% decrease in homes over $1M between 2012 and 2013.) These are not recipes for definitive general upward price movement. Buy-ers, although present, are not exhibiting a great sense of urgency where they would have a tendency to push prices higher faster. The end result is modest gains that are not enough to bring some sellers back into the marketplace, as they are still waiting for higher prices (and choices).
There is good news in both the condominium and land categories, both of which showed solid gains in 2013. Condominium sales were up 16% with average prices growing 11%. In 2012, there was only one sale over $600K, while there were three in 2013. This included two sales of million dollar condominiums in 2013 (and one already this year) – the first condominium sales in that price range since July of 2010. Condominiums are also subject to the lack of inventory, with only 18 active listings as of this writing.
Land sales were up 30% in 2013, which was part of a post-correction breakout year for new construction. The first phase of Grow Village is sold out. Four new homes were listed on Ruys Lane, and they have all sold (all four went under contract in a period of 22 days!). Timberbrook on Solana Lane has finished two of their 10 homes and both are sold. Burlingame Court has sold half of their six homes. The Housing Resources Board CLT project off Ferncliff is sold out. These sales represent a broad spectrum of traditional family homes, urban cottages, affordable homes and “edgier” modern homes. The variety is very island-like and the market re-sponse is very clear: we like it.
All in all, 2013 was a very good year. As we kick off 2014, there is a general positive buzz around here. We believe inventory is coming and the phone is definitely ringing. Our year-end tally of 414 homes sold is the most since 2005 (and remember there were only 187 sales in 2008!). Condominium and land sales also improved by a statistically significant amount, with sales numbers exceeding all the years since the market peaks in 2006 and 2007. Prices in general held their own with some market segments im-proving. New construction has returned (with a bang) to our marketplace. With the outlook for 2014 promising more of the same, we look forward to our future on this beautiful island.