Windermere Real Estate/BI, Inc.
Today much of our world (the island) went back to work and school after the two week winter holiday season. We put the 2016 real estate market to bed only last week and jumped into the 2017 market today at out first office meeting. Last year seemed fast and furious, although as you can see below the volume of sales, overall, was on par, if not slightly less than 2015. The lower inventory with the steady stream of buyers meant more multiple offer situations, hence the frenzy I am still feeling from 2016.
Many buyers were downsizing out of higher priced markets (California, Vancouver BC, Manhattan, even Bellevue) into our island’s luxury homes, sometimes at half the price. The fact that the Pacific Northwest and Bainbridge Island, specifically, is still a relative bargain over places like California will keep the market going strong into 2017, I predict.
Land volume was down in 2016, but several large parcels acquired in 2015 are now being developed into neighborhoods like the DR Horton neighborhoods on Wyatt and Weaver. Those developments will help relieve the inventory shortage a bit.
The market is always changing. Whether you are a buyer or seller there are strategies to consider for your success. We are a very seasonal market (most activity in the summer). Depending on your goal knowing the ins and outs of timing and preparation as you enter the market (as buyer or seller) can translate into thousands of dollars saved or earned. Being a buyer or seller in the slower shoulder market can be advatageous for some, although waiting until peak summer market could be better for others. If you are thinking about jumping into the market in 2017, let’s chat.
All data taken from the NWMLS as of 1/3/2017.
If you consider only the number of homes (or condos) that sold during the first quarter of this year, your initial reaction would probably be, “Ho hum.” Look carefully, though, and you will see some interesting things. If you include what is happening now, in mid-April, you might get even more intrigued.
There were 55 homes sales in the first quarter this year, compared to 56 last year, which indicates stability more than improvement. Nonetheless, these are good numbers compared to 2008 (when there were only 34 sales) and 2009 (with 37 sales). Condos dropped from 19 sales in 2011 to 12 this year.
So far, not a lot to get excited about. But when we look at the median price, we had a 6.2% increase. Our first quarter median price has been declining steadily since its peak in 2008 – until this year. When you look at the distribution of the sales, the median increase becomes clear. Sales over $800K were up 320% from last year. In all of 2011, there were 24 sales over $1 million; this year we have already had 12 just in the first quarter. (I cannot help but point out Windermere Bainbridge was involved in 10 of those 12 sales and Windermere represented 50% of the parties involved.)
On March 30th, there were only 59 homes under contract. By April 5th, there were 74 homes under contract. By April 10th, there were 80. Of those 80, 22 are over $800K and 13 over $1 million. We have not seen these kinds of numbers in several years. Not only are the numbers good, they have grown quickly this month.
Over the past five years, we have had strong individual quarters like the first quarter just ended. But we could not sustain the momentum, and poor performance followed. In 2011, the first quarter was up 14% but then dropped 14% in the second quarter (from the previous year). Our market has gone up and down on an almost quarterly basis while prices have steadily decreased. Now we see a strong first quarter, prices inching higher and a very strong start to the second quarter. These are all positive indicators. Optimism is beginning to creep in, but it will take more time for many of us to feel comfortable making any proclamations. We’ve been lured by the sirens before only to find ourselves on the rocks.
Many folks are doing spring cleaning and home maintenance this time of year. Yes, locals, ignore the rain outside today, it IS spring. I keep a list of professionals I work with and you might find their names and numbers helpful as you work through your own ‘To Do List.’ Their info is here in this post, but the same info also resides on my website under the COMMUNITY tab, here. I personally, or my clients, have used these local professionals before, during or after a sale. Although I recommend these professionals, I do not guarantee their performance and suggest you research their credentials.
Kelly MacDonald – 206. 780.1912
Air Duct Cleaning
Jerry’s Air Duct Cleaning – 360.697.1072
Schmidt’s Home Appliances – 206.842.0349
Michael Graham – 206.842.1720
Carver Appraisal – 360.981.6248
Architect and Builder
Bill Corbin Construction- 206.391.7960
Fairbank Construction – 206.842.9217
Red Truck Construction | Preston Todd – 206.842.5600
Robert Moore | Architect – 206.371.5191
Attorney at Law
Hayes Gori PLLC – 206.842.6462
Kitchen Design Group – 360.662.1891
Season’s of Thyme – 206.855.0689
Metro Market Catering – 206.842.8524
RH Koller – 206.842.5671
Cascade Carpets – 206.842.8131
John Voigt – 360.769.2344
NW Chimney Service – 206.842.6002
Kasey Ritualo – 206.920.5033
Superior Slabjacking Inc. – 866.455.0823
Action Pest Control – 206.780.4222
Virginia Mason | Dr. Catherine Edwards – 206.842.5632
Doctor’s Clinic | Dr. Sara Rice – 206.855.7700
Bainbridge Pediatrics | Dr. Linda Warren or Dr. Fred Walters – 206.780.5437
Dr. Thomas Knight DDS – 206.842.3764
Dr. Nick Thompson DDS – 206.842.4794
Dr. Sheldon and Dr. Okunami | Orthodontists – 206.842.5592
Progressive Electric – 206.387.0586
Eklund Electric – 206.842.0412
Fence Building and Repair
Scott Strickland – 360.620.6265
Mills Interiors | Mike Mills – 206.842.2829
Salisbury Woodworking – 206.842.9500
Flowering Around – 206.842.0620
Northwest Gutters – 360.830.4938
Help is on the Way | Sondra Kay – 206.498.0086
Four Seasons Handyman – 360.710.2879
Heating & Air
Advanced Heat & Cool – 360.415.9335
Cris Ugles – 206.842.1514
Dylan Chalk – 206.842.3739
Insulation/Crawl Space Work
Clean Crawls – 866-651-1700
American Family Insurance – 360.697.6700
Interior Design & Staging
Kim McCall Design – 206.310.1679
Lemolo Grounds – 360.638.0230
Lupe’s Lawn Care- 206.369.2913
The PlantsWoman Design – 206.842.2453
Danson’s Landscaping – 360.692.1942
Eagle Home Mortgage | Linda Sutherland – 206.780.2991
Windermere Mortgage | Betty Hugel – 360.990.2666
Abracadabra Locksmithing – 206.842.4470
Smith Brother’s Milk – 800.639.6455
Hill Moving – 206.842.6715
United – 206.344.0147
Mobile Notary | Allison Garrison – 206.790.8825
The Honest Painter | Thomas Moore – 360.598.6699
Kitsap Brothers – 206.334.8434
Swift Plumbing – 206.842.9592
Kitsap Propane – 360.638.1313
Propane Northwest – 360.698.1605
Evergreen Property Management – 206.842.4975
Hope Roofing – 360.779.9912
Hanley Roofing & Construction – 206.842.4321
Scott’s Home & Roof – 360.297.7524
Kitsap Septic Pumping – 360.871.5258
Septic Design and Hardscaping and Drainage
JP Landworks | Josh Pippinger – 206.714.8598
Tile Cleaning & Restoration – 360.731.1735
Olympic Glass – 206.842.7626
Allan Windows – 360.598.3001
Duck Blinds – 206.780.9905
A Well Dressed Window – 206.780.3213
A&E Windows – 206.842.7090
Bainbridge Disposal – 206.842.4882
Comcast Cable – 877.824.2288
Direct TV – 800.201.2979
QWest Phone/Cable – 800.244.1111
Puget Sound Energy – 888.225.5773
I am well aware that although my website has a lot of information about Bainbridge, it also has a lot of information about me – blah, blah, blah . . . I think my life is pretty darn normal, but I hope it gives you the window into life on Bainbridge you are looking for. That is the basic goal of this blog, to provide the vista into Bainbridge Island life I could not find when I was researching Bainbridge from my laptop in California.
But, after a flurry of recent closings this summer and fall, I started thinking about the similarities among many of my buyers. Many of my buyers come from my website and feel like they know me a little bit before we even meet. That is a great thing.
But as someone who might be considering buying yourself, you might be interested to know what type of folks I work with and where they come from.
This category makes up the majority of my buyers. Some I start working with before they step foot on the island, others have been here renting for a few months. My perspective on relocating, the fact that I have young kids in school and that I am primarily a buyer’s agent appeals to them. Most of these buyers are second time buyers and most of them have purposely chosen Bainbridge and then looked for a job to get them here. Most of the families have at least one adult who commutes to Seattle via ferry on a regular basis. Most have looked at the East Side of Seattle as a housing option, but turned to Bainbridge for a smaller community, yet a strong school system. Many of these folks have come from California, southern and northern, a few have been from southern states and a number are from back east. A handful have been from Canada. Some folks have bought in neighborhoods in town and others have opted to purchase a home on an acre or so outside of town. Most folks have looked for this to be a 5-10 year home. As prices have declined, more of these buyers are first-time buyers, but the majority coming to Bainbridge are not.
More and more I am working with families who have lived in Seattle for 5-10 years. Most have children just starting school and although they have loved living in Seattle, they aren’t excited about the Seattle School District. They want to keep their current job and look to Bainbridge for the ferry commute and a place where they can buy a home and get a little more space, both inside and outside. Most of these folks have owned homes in Seattle and hope to stay in their Bainbridge purchase for at least ten years.
Bainbridge is not urban Seattle. Where the fast paced urban life is fun for some, it is exactly what some other couples are looking to escape. These couples are typically buying smaller homes (under 2,000 square feet) on lots one acre or larger. They are planting gardens and raising chickens. They love the trails and the peace and quiet of Bainbridge. For most of these folks this is not a first purchase and most commute to Seattle for work.
Again, ‘purposely choosing Bainbridge’ is a theme here. Many couples have looked forward to moving to Bainbridge after they retire. Many of these folks are downsizing from larger, maybe family homes into smaller homes, town homes or condos in Winslow. ‘Simplify’ is a word I hear a lot from these clients. They are happy to not take care of a yard and love being able to walk into town to catch the ferry, shop for groceries, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend.
And lastly, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am working with investors. These folks are purchasing homes to rent for a ten year horizon. Investors aren’t sitting back waiting anymore. They are acting. The rental horizon for the next ten years is solid and many investors are buying with cash and calculating that their income stream is better than the stock market. Many of these clients are on the island, but a few have come to me from my website too. All of these folks own one or two homes, but are looking for investment rental income. Newer homes in town and near the ferry are appealing, as are condos and town homes. And . . builders are slowly starting to ask about and look into buying vacant land, considering subdividing land and building spec houses. A good sign of things to come.