Windermere Real Estate/BI, Inc.
This year is starting off a lot like last year. LOW INVENTORY. I hope inventory shows up and we have a much more balanced market in 2015. For over a year we have been in a seller’s market. I spent most of last year discussing, strategizing and preparing with my clients. On both sides, the buyer and seller’s side there are preparations and considerations to help make the market work the best for you. It was not an easy year. A market that is so far to one side (seller’s market) indeed makes for certain challenges. But I love what I do and last year I helped a lot of clients begin a new chapter. Challenges and all, 2014 was a very satisfying year. I am looking for to 2015. We are off and running. Below are some of my favorite homes I toured and thought (sometimes obsessed) about in 2014.
For #10 we start out on the south end of the island on Baker Hill Road. A very cool log home built in 1940 from logs milled on the property. This home sits on over two acres close to bustling Lynwood Center. This home feels like a Ralph Lauren ad and its uniqueness brought a lot of showings. Refined finishes inside and lush, professional landscaping outside made this a desirable package that only lasted 5 days on our summer market. This was a fun one I was privileged to list last year.
For #9 we move back towards town to Wing Point. This home is on Willa Lane, very close to the ferry. This is one of many new homes off Ferncliff and Wing Point, but unlike many of the others that were spec built, this one was custom. And you can tell. A superb floor plan with a vaulted great room, main floor master wing, two more bedrooms on the main floor on the opposite wing, bonus rooms upstairs, even a cat room. In addition to great spaces, the finishes were thoughtful and refined. You don’t see a copper apron kitchen sink in every home.
For #8 we stay in town, but move out to a slightly more rural area on the west side of Winslow. This home, on Lightmoor Court, sits on over half an acre in town, which is hard to find. Having been on the local garden tours this home has charming, mature gardens outside and a refined, modern, yet comfortable style inside. One level living with three bedrooms made this home a hot property with multiple offers. I was happy to see my buyers become the new happy owners of this home.
For #7 we continue to stay in town, but move to the Marina District. This home, on Stetson Place, sits across the street from the water and is easy walking distance to all Winslow has to offer: restaurants, shops, moorage, ferry, etc. This home is 2800 square feet and also has a 960 square foot guest house and 1500 square foot shop. A rare package in Winslow, yet alone the Marina District. This home lingered on the market for 77 days with several buyers waiting in the wings. When one offer came in three more more followed. We saw that happen more than once last year.
For #6 we are still in town. Hmmm, can you tell I like in-town homes? This home is on Eakin Drive on the west side of Winslow in the Midden Point Neighborhood. Eakin Drive is a wildly popular street. We had three sales on the street his year and two of them sold the first weekend. The close proximity to Winslow makes it popular, but the homes on the street themselves are charming and classic and they share 200 feet of Eagle Harbor waterfront, which means they have deeded access to water, a private park and small boat storage. This home also connects to the waterfront trail, so your walk to Winslow is scenic and easy. The home itself has charm inside and out. Pretty woodwork and built-ins, plus a great floorpan for entertaining brought this home multiple offers. Three buyers stepped up for this one and again, I was happy to see my buyers come out successful. Right now they are having fun making this house their home.
For #5 we move south to the South Beach Neighborhood. This home on South Beach Drive impressed me the first time I walked up to the glass front doors. I love when you can see the view right when you walk in. I love it even more when you can see it before you walk in. This home does not grab you from the street, the architecture is understated, but inside it is light and bright, with amazing southwest exposure and interior style that is beachy, yet classic and clean. The floor plan is functional and perfect for entertaining. And the views! Enjoy Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier drenched in sun. Low bank waterfront goodness. I loved this home all 196 days it was on the market.
For #4 we move out of town and head north to the Manzanita area. This home sits on a sunny acre plus up on prestigious Manzanita Road. This home underwent a phenomenal remodel by a master builder/woodworker. The kitchen is straight out of a cooking show and the re-design was the master-mind of local designer Seri Yeckel. She crafted up a fantastic mud-room, main floor master, bonus space over the garage and a huge detached shop/garage. Phenomenal end product. My clients were so excited to snatch this home up and they did so in January of last year, before we got into multiple offer craziness.
For #3 we move to the east side of the island past Wing Point to Yeomalt Point. This Yeomalt Point Drive home is no bank waterfront with dramatic views of Seattle, Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. No bank waterfront homes rarely come up on this street, especially homes of this quality. This home is newer and was custom built by the previous owners. The deck is perfectly sited and I loved the not-so-big size of 2400 square feet on two levels. All the spaces you need and nothing more. This is one of my favorite streets and neighborhoods, the buyer was smart to snatch this one up right away.
For #2 we move back to the northwest side of the island, again to Manzanita Drive. I had a hard time getting this home off my mind. I love the classic, timeless, northwest style and the stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympics from this medium-bank home on over a half-acre. Again, this was an amazing package. Wonderful outdoor spaces: an out door fireplace, custom patios, dock, buoy, and private approach. Inside the upstairs master suite took advantage of the views, plus two more bedrooms downstairs and bonus space attached to the garage. Beautiful west side estate.
For #1 we move south to the Mill Heights Neighborhood. This home on Mill Heights Circle is another nice package. A sunny, acre plus flat lot surrounds this classic, farmhouse style home. The original owners did a tremendous amount of landscaping and personalization on this home. In addition to the 3200 square foot home there is a 500 square foot mother-in-law unit over the garage. The inside of the home and MIL space are classic farm-house style, with a refined edge. I love the exposed beams and car-decking ceilings. I am a big fan of this floor plan. The builder, MRJ Constructors, built a few of these homes on the island. See earlier list – home on Millstone. This home and lot, are by far, my favorite. This home certainly has all the elements that helped it see multiple offers and close $39k over the asking price.
All in all, 2014 has to be viewed as a very good year for the Bainbridge real estate market. The primary challenge of the year was a lack of inventory, which meant that buyers had too few choices. As we begin 2015, the same low inventory levels that drove the market in 2014 are even more pronounced. So it’s not a stretch to imagine that we may be in for more of the same in the coming months.
Fewer homes actually sold in 2014 than in 2013. We began the year with record low inventories – 70 homes available (on the market and not under contract to be sold) – and ended the year with even fewer available (a mere 56!). This actually dampened sales because buyers couldn’t find what they were seeking, so many opted to continue to stay where they were, rent or go elsewhere. Sellers were reluctant to put their homes up for sale because they were afraid they couldn’t find new homes should their houses sell. (Approximately 40% of the sales on our island are from people moving around on Bainbridge.) This created competition for desirable homes, which pushed prices upwards.
So what is going on with prices? We are showing an increase of more than 17% in both average and median prices. As with any statistics, it is beneficial to look at the numbers in some detail and in the context of the bigger picture. As we have discussed before, published price changes have as much, if not more, to do in the “short run” (three years or so) with the price ranges buyers are in rather than with the price changes of individual houses. In this regard, there were some profound changes between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, 46% of all sales were $500K or less, but in 2014 that number dropped to 34%. Conversely, in the $500K to $800K range, there were 164 homes sold in 2014 versus 154 in 2013. Above $800K, there were 101 homes sold in 2014 versus 69 in 2013. The demand for homes in the upper price ranges increased, stimulating sales of more expensive homes and boosting both average and median prices. This activity shift was welcome news to our middle and upper market. When looking at the market as a whole, the median price of a home on Bainbridge needs to increase another 13% before we will be at our 2007 peak, but we are getting closer every year to returning to that high mark.
But what about individual houses? How does this increased competition affect the marketing strategy for each home about to be listed? There are many factors that determine the best approach for each property, the primary one being the makeup of the buyer pool at any one time and how each home conforms to that group’s wants and needs. This is where a professional real estate agent who is active in the market comes in. There is always a desire to “push up prices,” and a knowledgeable agent can assess how quickly and how high to push. Houses sold about 21% faster in 2014 than 2013. Also, the median sales price percentage of original listing price increased from 97% in 2013 to 97.7% in 2014. Both indicate individual home price increases because they are selling more quickly and closer to list prices than they were before. If you are curious about your home’s value, I would be happy to give you an idea of where you are.
The condominium market experienced improvements in almost all areas. The number of sales were up almost 9%, median prices up 8% and there were four sales over $1M. These were the first condominium sales over $1M since July of 2010! The bulk of the sales (67%) were $400K and below, but there were sales in all price ranges up through $1M. Again, inventory has been scarce, especially in some of the middle price ranges. There were times when there was no inventory between $600K and $800K. Even though the median price of $335,000 is well short of the peak price of $464,000 in 2007, the direction is positive.
As with homes and condominiums, there was not an abundance of parcels for sale. The number of sales decreased more than 17% from 2013 but that was a particularly active year. Excluding 2013, there were 30% more parcels sold in 2014 than the best year going back to 2007. On the development front, things are quite active. To name a few: Grow Avenue’s second phase is under construction; the Wyatt Way parcel down the street is in feasibility review for approximately 19 new homes; and Lynwood Center has two projects in the development phase with Pleasant Beach Village Hillside and the “Roost” off Pt. White Drive and Baker Hill Rd. These last two developments alone will represent approximately 50 new homes and both are slated to be active in 2015.
The coming year should prove to be an interesting one. Even though it is only January, the “buzz” is positive among buyers and sellers. The markets on both sides of us, Seattle and North Kitsap, are healthy. Seattle has quieted a bit from the craziness of the past couple years, but is still very robust while North Kitsap is experiencing one of the fastest starts ever. The region is looking good, the days are getting longer, no obvious storm clouds are in sight and we are off on the adventure of 2015!