A Promising Start to the New Year

Real Estate on Bainbridge Island | Jen Pells Realtor

Familiar Themes

With regard to the Bainbridge Island real estate market and its year-end numbers, the similarities between 2016 and 2015 are striking. In both years, the market struggled with a lack of inventory and strong demand, while the market trends (that actually began in 2013) continued to respond to this condition. What makes 2016 special is we surpassed most (if not all) of the records set in our last ascending market of 2004-2007. While it makes some people nervous to be in this rarefied air, with the uncertainty that can accompany it, we don’t foresee any specific event that will change our market trajectory in 2017 (with one possible exception, which I will discuss later).

Record-Setting Prices

The median price of a home sold on Bainbridge has never been higher than in 2016. Even more impressive is the growth in the median, which has risen steadily since bottoming out in 2011 following the difficulties that began in 2007. In only five years, our median has grown from $493K to the current $740K – an increase of 150%. In that time, we officially drew even with and then surpassed the 2007 peak median of $680K. This is welcome news to all those sellers who have been hanging in there, whether they wanted to or not, waiting for prices to climb back up.

Our upper end has been the last market segment to enjoy our market’s resurgence, and finally joined the party in 2016. Sales over $1M were up 32.4% from 2015 and up 88% from 2014. Not only did we set a new “highest price sold” of $5.97M but we had five sales over $3M. Previously, the highest price for a home sold was $3.497 in 2007. Also for comparison, in the ten years between 2005 and 2015, there were only eight homes sold for more than $3M (an average of less than one, compared to the five sold in 2016).

Real Estate on Bainbridge Island | Jen Pells Realtor

Condos, Land and New Construction

Our condominium market also experienced a resurgence. In 2008, there were only 42 condominium sales on the island; in 2016, we had 104 sales distributed over all price ranges – the largest number since 2007. The condominium valley floor was in 2012 with a median price of $297K. In 2016, by contrast, we raised that by 35%, reaching a median of $400,750.

Although land sales were down last year (for reasons that are unclear, but we suspect a cyclical reaction from 2015’s exceptionally strong sales), new construction seems to be everywhere (especially in community centers). There is a plethora of multi-home projects underway across the island. Some are being developed by local owners, but we have also seen an influx of off-island larger development companies. New communities under construction: Ashbury – Off Wyatt – 18 residential homes (off-island developer); Landmark – Off Wing Point Way – 17 residential homes (off-island developer); Ferryview – Off Wing Point Way – 11 condominiums (off-island developer); Roost – Off Baker Hill – residential, commercial and townhomes (island developer); Pleasant Beach Village – 14 view condominiums (island developer). There are also many multi-home projects in the planning/permitting stage (Weaver, Finch and Torvanger to name a few).

The Density Trend

The development we’re seeing in places like Winslow and Rolling Bay addresses a sentiment we’ve been hearing from our clients for years: “We want to downsize and move into town.” As the higher end has become healthier, people have been able to achieve their goals of selling their larger homes (to enthusiastic new buyers!) and moving to smaller homes or condos in denser community centers. We anticipate Lynwood Center will also benefit from this trend as new homes come online (like The Roost and Pleasant Beach Village Townhomes and lots).

Real Estate on Bainbridge Island | Jen Pells RealtorMoving Parts

We’re keeping a close eye on interest rates, which are slated to go up again sometime soon. The concern is they rise to a point where they materially affect mortgage payments (and therefore home prices). Loan rates are still exceedingly affordable, so let’s hope they stay that way.

Demand will probably not be a concern for 2017, and supply will still most likely lag demand. We have new projects coming on-line now and throughout the year, but we still see some clients waiting to sell their homes (adding to inventory woes) because there aren’t yet enough choices on the market to justify the risk of having nothing to move to once they sell. The new projects will help, especially because they provide what current potential sellers have been asking for, but we see overall demand still exceeding supply. As much as last year? That could depend on what happens in Washington DC . . .

I Wish I had a Crystal Ball

Will 2017 go down the same growth-oriented path as 2015 and 2016? Will the change in federal leadership have a negative impact on our market? Obviously, we can’t predict unforeseen events, but the economic outlook for our region is very positive. Professional and business services jobs are predicted to grow 3% in the Seattle Metro area next year. Computer and mathematical jobs up 3.5%. All that growth without any new transportation infrastructure only makes Bainbridge look increasingly appealing. People continue to look beyond King County, and many are excited to discover the beauty and quality of life found on Bainbridge Island.

The 2017 market is slowly beginning to take hold, so before it does I wanted to make sure I crafted one of my favorite blog posts, my top 10 homes on the island for 2016. Last year 369 homes sold on the island.  I am proud to say I personally toured most of them and these are ten of my favorite homes. The list actually spans the island geographically from north to south and represents the various price ranges.  The sales prices have shifted as prices have moved up, however. Although the top sales number on my list is almost $3M, only two on the list are waterfront homes, which shows the value, beauty, and desirability throughout our island; from inland rural settings, to in-town neighborhoods, to views, to waterfront.

The lack of inventory continued to be the dominate theme in 2016, which is why you will see some multiple offers noted below.  Last year the multiple offer situation even crept up over the $1M mark, in several cases, which is a bit different from years past.

This is my 9th annual list.  To get a feel of the homes I like personally and see all nine of my lists in one place, click here.  Enjoy!


Toe Jam Hill Rd Sold by Jen Pells - Jen Pells' Top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016

#10 | Toe Jam Hill Road


Original List Price $528,000

Sale Price $662,500 (multiple offers)

Days on Market – 8

Date Sold 6/30/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #10 we start on the extreme south end of the island on Toe Jam Hill Road.  This home came on the market in the frenzy of the summer market and I believe had six offers.  The home is perched high above a ravine and the interior style is beautiful, yet simple. Cork floors, Paperstone counters, floating walls, and built-in desks sum up the style.  The design style seems to run parallel to Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big House concept.  At just over 2,000 square feet the home still lives large, making use of every inch.  My clients were the successful buyers in the multiple offer situation and love the unique property they now call home.

Jen Pells' Top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#9 | Village Circle


Original List Price $749,000

Sale Price $749,000

Days on Market – 5

Date Sold 8/8/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #9 we move into Winslow to Village Circle. In-town homes were in high demand last year (I don’t see that changing in 2017).  Price per square foot is highest in Winslow, where you trade lot size for the convenience of walking to Winslow and the ferry.  Hillandale (Village Circle) is one of my favorite in-town neighborhoods and this home has some of the best curb appeal in the hood.  Fabulous gardens and a meticulously cared for home.  The neighborhood was designed by Dick Allen, a developer who put care and thought into building a small community, not just a house.  The neighborhood has shared open space and trails that connect to town. This home is also just over 2,ooo square feet and was listed at the end of the summer and quickly acquired one great offer.  The timeless Colonial style of all the homes in the neighborhood and the creative weather vanes on each home have made it a favorite for buyers since it was developed back in 1999.

Jen Pells' Top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#8 | Rose Avenue


Original List Price $918,000

Sale Price $918,000

Days on Market –  12

Date Sold 1/29/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #8 we move back down south to Rose Avenue in the Eagle Dale Neighborhood of the island.  This charming Craftsman struck a cord with me because of the bucolic acre it sits on and because of the stylistic interior the talented home owner created.  I loved the Carrera marble counters in the kitchen and the striking wallpaper throughout.  I also loved how the owners mixed mid-century modern decor into a Craftsman home.  I thought it worked well.  The vaulted ceilings upstairs make for interesting spaces for the bedrooms and the guest suite over the garage adds to the package.  This home came on early into the new year and a few of us felt it was priced a bit high, but after only 12 days on the market they found a happy buyer.

Jen Pells' Top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#7 | Palomino Drive


Original List Price $865,000

Sale Price $962,000 (multiple offers)

Days on Market – 6

Date Sold 3/11/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #7 we stay on the south end, but move over to the west side, to Palomino Drive, which sits above the Crystal Springs Neighborhood. This home was priced low (in my educated opinion) and saw 4 or 5 offers and as you can see escalated almost $100,000. This home has a solid feel with lots of woodwork inside and  a classic cedar shingle exterior, but most importantly to me anyway, it has a very nice west facing view of the Sound. Oh those colorful sunsets! The home is over 3,600 square feet, has four bedrooms and a supreme shop in the basement.  I thought back to this home a lot in 2016 as one of the better values for the year.

Jen Pells' top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#6 | Summer Hill Lane


Original List Price $980,000

Sale Price $1,150,000 (multiple offers)

Days on Market – 7

Date Sold 10/31/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #6 we move to the center of the island for Summer Hill Lane.  This home oozes charm.  It is a rare package in that it is a small home on a large piece of land, 1,715 square feet home on 2.5 flat acres.  And the main home is all on one level, plus a guest suite over the garage.  The lovely sunny garden setting, vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, Saltillo tiles, and classic white kitchen made me want to move right in – I really do love a white farmhouse.   I have said before that charm can be hard to find on the island.  When this home was listed said charm brought many buyers looking and five put forth offers.  The resulting escalation in price was dramatic at $170,000 over asking price.

Jen Pells' top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#5 | Point Monroe Drive


Original List Price $1,289,000

Sale Price $1,289,000

Days on Market – 6

Date Sold 7/7/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #5 we move to the northeast side of the island on Point Monroe Drive, commonly known here on the island as the Sand Spit. This waterfront home indeed sits on a narrow spit of land that juts out from Fay Bainbridge Park.  Here’s a link to a good aerial image of the spit.  This particular home is at the beginning of the U, closer to Fay Bainbridge.  The lot spans the entire spit and has waterfront on both side – one side the lagoon on the inside of the loop and the other the open waters of the Sound. The views of Mt. Baker and Seattle are crisp and stunning.  This home is bathed in beachy white tones and coastal coolness.  This home is also the rare low bank waterfront home – think sand and driftwood – available for sale under $1.5M. Wow. Not, a large house at just under 2,300 square feet but it has all the required spaces, three bedrooms and open concept living spaces. My favorite room is the large master suite upstairs that captures the primo views.

Jen Pells' top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#4 | Watch Hill Drive


Original List Price $1,450,000

Sale Price $1,360,000

Days on Market – 30

Date Sold 6/24/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #4 we stop at Watch Hill Drive on the very south end of the island above South Beach Drive.  This unique home wowed me from the photos and I was not disappointed in person.  I was also not surprised to learn that this home was once on the island’s garden tour, Bainbridge In Bloom.  Lovely landscaping and traditional beds all overlook a southwest vista of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Plus terrific sun!  It is no wonder a wedding has been hosted here. The large 4,700 square foot home is separated into a master suite wing and a “kid” wing.  With two older kids I loved that, but some clients I showed it to with younger kids did not love that separation.  James Cutler designed the classic northwest style of the home.  I love the wood beams and rich, yet comfortable feel of the entire home.  I still think about this one a lot . . .

Jen Pells' top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#3 | Knight Road


Original List Price $1,425,000

Sale Price $1,385,000

Days on Market – 7

Date Sold 10/31/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #3 we go back up north to Knight Road where this home makes its second appearance on my list.  This home was built by popular home builder Jefferson Fine Homes and designed by the highly sought after architect Peter Brachvogel.  Sited on over three private acres, this 3,700 square foot home exudes high quality craftsmanship inside and out.  Walls of windows, tall ceilings, and an open floor plan piqued the interest of many buyers again in 2016, just like it did in 2013.   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 (my favorite space), and a remote full guest suite on the main level plus convenient bonus space over the garage.  The current owners fenced and defined the garden spaces and appeared to have taken fantastic care of the home.  It remains in excellent condition and sold for $283,000 more than it did in 2013.

Jen Pells' top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#2 | Watch Hill Drive


Original List Price $1,598,000

Sale Price $1,750,000 (multiple offers)

Days on Market – 6

Date Sold 6/14/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #2 we go back to the the south end and back to Watch Hill Drive.  There are only five homes on Watch Hill Drive and two of them sold last year and they both made my list.  This second home was designed by architect Bob Maloney and its classic Colonial style is not one you see too often here on our island – although there seem to be a few on my list.  So, it too saw multiple offers.  Five.  The 4,300 square foot floorplan with all bedrooms upstairs, open living spaces on the main level and a guest suite and family room in the walk out basement made so much sense for so many buyers.  Not to mention that it has a striking view of Puget Sound and the Olympics, lightly filtered by interesting Madrona trees all on over 2.6 acres of gated property.  My clients were thrilled to prevail in this multiple offer situation and have already made some fantastic improvements to make this fine house their home.

South Beach Drive Sold by Jen Pells - Jen Pells' Top ten List of homes sold on Bainbridge Island for 2016 | Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

#1 | South Beach Drive


Original List Price $2,995,000

Sale Price $2,900,000

Days on Market – 31

Date Sold 5/3/2016

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.

For #1 we don’t go far, just down to South Beach Drive.  I love a home built by Jerry Reese and I seem to sell a few of his every year.  This one is indeed one of my very favorites.  I love the light on the south end and I love the walking trails along the water in Fort Ward Park. This home is right in the heart of the good things on the south end – one of my favorite stretches of the island for walking and jogging and taking in Mt. Rainer views. The 3,900 square foot home is reminiscent of homes in the Hamptons.  Again, not something you see a lot of here in the Pacific Northwest, so very appealing to buyers when available.  A large white kitchen is sited to take in the best views and a detached guest house is almost more charming than the main home.  The entire package is on low bank waterfront on the south end, a pretty amazing find for my lucky buyers who are now thrilled to be calling this home.

Again, to get a feel of the homes I like personally and see all nine of my lists in one place, click here.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen Pells Windermere Bainbridge

That Was Fast

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.

More Money Moving to the Island

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 Under Construction

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.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen Pells Windermere BainbridgeChart Your Own Course

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.



2016 Real Estate in Numbers


369  total single family home sales (378 in 2015)


104 condo sales (90 in 2015)


169 sales under $700,000 sales price (205 in 2015)


94 sales over $1M sales price (72 in 2015)


26 sales over $1.5M sales price (25 in 2015)


$5,970,000 top home sales price ($3,025,000 in 2015)


$740,000 median home sales price ($666,000 in 2015)


$177,000 lowest home sales price ($66,000 in 2015)


2,744 sq ft average size of homes sold (2,774 in 2015)


49 pieces of land sold (68 in 2015)


$2,500,000 top land sales price ($3,360,000 in 2015)


$222,000 median land sales price ($235,000 in 2015)


$20,000 lowest land sales price ($60,000 in 2015)


2.62 acres average size of lots sold (1.85 in 2015)

All data taken from the NWMLS as of 1/3/2017.

Yes, you heard it.  That was indeed the musical firetruck.  The iconic tour around the island is already underway.  Wasn’t it just Halloween?  I am never ready for Christmas, but I must say the snow day we had last week did really nudge me into the holiday spirit. I love that the truck hits our neighborhood on the 23rd or 24th every year (because by then I am finally ready for Christmas) but I love seeing the truck out and about the island as we lead up to the merry day.  Thank you Bainbridge Island Fire Department for this very Bainbridge tradition.   Listen for the truck 5-9pm from now until Christmas Eve.  Link to a larger version of the map and schedule here.

And note, if the truck has extra time they can make additional laps through your neighborhood.  We have been lucky enough to see them twice in some years.

Bainbridge Island Musical Firetruck 2016

On December 13, 2016, in Activities, Community, Events, Neighborhoods, Personal, by

by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate  

The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.

The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?

First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.

On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.

It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.

As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.

Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.

Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.

Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.

We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.




Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.