Is a Normal Market in Our Future?

Jen Pells Real Estate on Bainbridge Island

Getting Real

Let’s put it on the table right away: Our real estate market did not perform at the same level in 2018 as it did in 2017. But that does not mean we had an unsuccessful market in 2018; nor does it necessarily mean we should brace for a difficult market in 2019. We just have to apply a bit of perspective.

Taken in the context of historical numbers, it appears 2017 was an “outlier,” especially between July and December. There was a frenzied demand throughout 2017, reflective of (but not nearly as severe as) our metropolitan neighbor across the Sound. On Bainbridge, we had a peak during the second half of 2017, which flowed into the early months of 2018. But then the frenzy cooled, as it did in Seattle, and we moved toward a slower pace in the second half of the year. (There were 314 homes and condominiums sold on Bainbridge between July and December 2017, surpassing the previous high of 290 during that same period in 2015). When viewed historically, 2018 appears to be much closer to “normal” than 2017 was. And, when taken in the context of the larger local and national economies, we actually believe our real estate market held up very well.

Considering All Factors

Thenumberofhomessoldduringanyperiodisonlypartofthepicture.Whenwelookatrealestate appreciation, 2018 was very successful. For the year, the median price for homes and condominiums combined rose almost 8% in 2018 (and homes alone rose 8.4%). The second half of 2018 saw appreciation of almost 5% over the second half of 2017. These are healthy num- bers and consistent with a healthy market. Using general statistics (like the median price) only gives us an idea of the movement of the market, and not necessarily of any individual home. But it does give sellers an inkling of the direction of their homes’ values. The rule of thumb says that a home needs to be owned for at least five years to really benefit from a market’s movement. Comparing the median home price sold at the end of 2013 ($527,000) with the same price at the end of 2018 ($908,500), we have seen a 72.4% increase. So if you had purchased a home in 2013 and were to put it on the market today – assuming it was properly presented and marketed – you would probably realize a healthy return on your 2013 investment.

When we look at the bigger economic picture, we do not see financial institutions collapsing or other deep recession signals, so we ascribe the market’s change to a shift from a heated to a more normal market. That being said, sellers need to acknowledge they are competing for buyers, and buyers are more discerning and disciplined in their approach. Pricing, presentation and negotiating – all areas where good agents bring value to the table – are critical for sellers to be able to achieve the best net value from their homes and condominiums.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen Pells

Condominiums

The condominium market experienced an even more dramatic drop-off in the second half of the year. At the end of the first half, 2018’s condo sales surpassed 2017’s but by the end of the year had fallen behind in total numbers (126 sold in 2017, 109 in 2018). However, when we look more closely, the area of steepest decline was in the $800K-$1M price range (24 sales in 2017 and 10 sales in 2018). This could have as much to do with inventory as market shift. Two new on-island projects, The Roost and Residences at Pleasant Beach, both sold briskly in the second half of 2017 and were completely sold out by the first half of 2018. No other new projects came to the market in 2018, so it appears supply might have as much to do with the drop as demand. As with homes, the median price of condos had a healthy increase of 8.6% over 2017.

The prognosis for the Bainbridge condominium market is very positive. There are two buyer types who are especially drawn to condos: people needing more affordable residences and “downsizers.” In 2018, 42% of the condos sold (46 sales) were priced less than $500K compared to 17 homes sold for less than $500K. At the upper end of this segment of the market, the downsizers were the driving force in the over $800K sales and quality inventory was lacking in the second half of 2018.

Land

Land sales in 2018 were also down compared to 2017 (31 in 2018 versus 41 in 2017), but the median price increased a whopping 60% ($400K in 2018 versus $250K in 2017), although 58% of the sales were less than the median $400K. One has to be careful not to read too much into statistics when applied to such a small population, but it certainly indicates land values are healthy.

A Forward Focus

As we kick off 2019, we know it will be an interesting year. There is a lot of uncertainty out there and it is difficult to predict how it will affect our market. Still, the regional economic picture, which has a tremendous impact on our market, is healthy with a positive outlook. The bottom line: we anticipate a more “normal” market this year. Regardless of the market, our mission at Windermere is to strive to make sure all our clients, buyers and sellers both, will do as well as they possibly can in the market they find themselves in.

9175 Ferncliff Avenue NE is a quality constructed Craftsman home in the convenient Ferncliff Area of the island.  The home emulates the quintessential Bainbridge style and is anything but cookie-cutter.  Custom built by VanWinkle, this property offers a 3,367 square feet on a lovely, private, .47 acre lot tucked behind a mature laurel hedge.  Public beach access is across the street on Yaquina Avenue. Only 2.2 miles to the ferry this property offers elbow room from your neighbors, but incredible proximity to the ferry, Winslow, and schools.

Open House

Sunday, January 28th from 1pm to 4pm

Welcome to 9175 Ferncliff Avenue NE listed by Jen Pells of Windermere

Welcome to 9175 Ferncliff Avenue NE

This home sits on a large, private property, conveniently close to Winslow, the ferry and schools. The home is 3,367 square feet with three bedrooms, a family room, living room, home office and guest suite with full bathroom, all on a large .47 acre fenced lot.

Peek-a-boo Puget Sound and Seattle views from the front porch, living areas and master suite.

You can feel the warmth and quality as you walk into the home. Hardwood floors, fir trimmed windows, solid wood doors and box beam ceilings make for a grand first impression as you step into the living room.Thoughtful built-ins, custom lighting and large windows can be found throughout the home.

The kitchen is the heart of this home. Large and open with quality fir cabinetry, ample counter space on the butcher block island or granite counters, high-end Viking appliances, a breakfast booth, and a walk-in pantry (and a second pantry around the hall too).

The dining area, kitchen and family room in the home.

The upstairs master suite. Find a five piece master bath with claw foot tub and spacious walk in closet with fir shelving.

The charming master bath has classic tile, the claw foot tub, double sinks, a large walk-in closet and a private water closet.

The private guest suite/nanny suite is spacious, with its own sleeping room/bonus room, full bath and private stairs off the back hall. There are two staircases in the home.

The home is across the street from beach access. It is .2 miles away at the base of Yaquina Avenue.

Details about the home:

  • 3,367 square feet on private .47 acre lot
  • Classic Craftsman style home built by VanWinkle in 2007
  • 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths with a full guest suite/nanny suite upstairs
  • Home office and half bathroom on the main floor
  • Living room and family room on the main floor
  • Large eat-in kitchen with Viking appliance package and breakfast booth
  • Spacious master suite with a five piece bath and classic clawfoot tub
  • Ample storage with walk-in master closet and two pantries in the kitchen
  • Hardwood flooring on the main floor
  • Two staircases
  • Fenced backyard
  • Oversized two car garage
  • .2 miles to public beach access at the base of Yaquina Avenue
  • 2.2 miles to the Seattle Ferry
  • Peek-a-boo Sound/Seattle views
  • Offered at $1,098,000

Charming Craftsman home on a private in-town lot close to ferries, Winslow and public beach access – at the base of Yaquina Avenue. Peek-a-boo Sound and Seattle views. Chef’s kitchen with Viking appliances package, fir cabinetry, cozy breakfast nook and granite counters. Three bedrooms plus an additional guest suite (or nanny quarters) with full bathroom plus bonus room. Downstairs has a home office and family room. Quality craftsmanship with box beam ceilings, hardwood floors and custom lighting. A rare in-town home that exudes warmth and style.

Click here to see the full Windermere listing details.

Click here to visit this home’s dedicated website.

On January 26, 2018, in Home Tours, Listing, Open Houses, by

Celebrating a New Year

Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island by Jen Pells Realtor

A Look Back

As we welcome a new year, we explore some of the dynamics that played out while we marched through the 2017 cal- endar. Our market saw a decline in the number of homes sold between 2013 and the start of 2017, despite healthy buyer demand. In each of those years, we identified lack of inventory as the cause of this phenomenon. One thing will always be true in real estate: Buyers need choices. And in the midst of these several years of limited inventory, buyers learned to become wary. We hadn’t moved far enough past the economically challenging years between 2007 to 2011 for people to feel confident that they wouldn’t get caught in another correction. Many buyers were still not comfortable stretching their budgets to get what they wanted. However, although we once again struggled with inventory in 2017, we also saw a shift in buyer confidence and people were willing to spend more to get what they wanted. The result was an 18% increase in the number of homes sold last year. There were 435 home sales in 2017 – the first time we’ve seen more than 430 sold on the island in any year since 2005’s 442 sales. (The low was 187 in 2008).

Other Factors to Consider

Even with an uptick in sales, we are not experiencing the same craziness as our Seattle neighbors. Our average cumulative days on market (the measure of how quickly homes are selling) was 52, well more than double Seattle Metro’s 20-day average. Our average price increased by a healthy, but not record-breaking, 10.7%, compared to Seattle’s 17%. (The record was set at 26.74% in 1990, followed by 21.5% in 2005.) There were many homes that experienced substantial price reductions and others that failed to sell at the sellers’ desired numbers. But when homes were properly priced and presented, buyers were willing to act when they found the homes that spoke to them, even if it meant spending more than they originally anticipated. This willingness can only come from a place of confidence that the value is there and the investment is sound. We were assisted by strong buyers from Seattle and California, a rising stock market, smooth financing and appraising with rates that have remained “comfortable,” even with a rising prime rate.

Real Estate for Sale on Bainbridge Island Jen Pells RealtorThe View from the “Top”

A prime beneficiary of this strong market was our “upper end.” There was a 44.6% increase in sales of homes over a million dollars and sales doubled for homes over $1.5M (133 total with 52 over $1.5M). Home sales increased 49% in the $800-$1M range. On the flip side, our lower-priced homes became more scarce and sales of homes priced less than $600K decreased 34.7% from last year. This overall shift in the market pushed our median price up more than the average (>13%) and our condominium market was affected by these market forces (more on that in a minute). It also illustrates our trend away from affordability and diversity. We struggled with this in the early- to mid-2000s. But as a result of the 2007-2011 “correction,” we welcomed a more diverse pool of buyers. As our market strengthens, community leaders should be mindful of a tilt toward homogeneity.

Regarding Condos and Land

Our condominium marketplace benefited from these improved conditions in a couple of ways. The number of sales grew more than 21% (from 104 in 2016 to 126 in 2017) and the median price jumped 31% (from $400,750 to $525,000). Even though sharply higher, the median price of $525K was substantially below the 2016 single home median of $838,000. Consequently, we saw more individuals and families coming to the condominium market because they wanted to be on the island but couldn’t afford a house. Condo sales were also helped by the strong upper-end residential market. There are a lot of people who have been waiting on the sidelines for their homes to get to a price point where they felt comfortable selling and downsizing to smaller, low- or no-maintenance hous- ing, i.e. condominiums. Projects like The Grow Community, Residences at Pleasant Beach and The Roost all experienced strong sales last year as they brought condominiums to the market. “Development” is often thought of as a blight to a community, but one needs to re- member that developments often bring products to markets that are not only wanted, but also needed. Desirable communities such as Bainbridge will always experience growth pressure in times of economic strength. And if you cannot expand your supply, the result is ever-increasing prices and stratification. The trick is to develop wisely. Bainbridge has been pretty successful in that arena by concentrat- ing density in development centers (Winslow, Lynwood Center and Rolling Bay). The only sector of our market that struggled last year was raw land. This category was hampered by a lack of good choices, financing difficulties, hurdles at the city level and contractors who are busy and experiencing rapid cost escalations.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen Pells

On the Horizon

It is hard to find any economist predicting a substantial slowdown in our area’s economy or real estate in the near term. That is not to say that there aren’t clouds. The new federal tax law is not beneficial to a higher-end market like ours; financing inter- est and property tax deductions will be more limited. The prime interest rate will undoubtedly rise and even though mortgage rates have been largely insulated from the Fed’s actions, rates will probably go up but stay below 4.5%. Our new Bainbridge Island City Council has already put a moratorium on new construction, including some single family residences. But we hope these factors will only act as “checks” that will keep the market from heating up too much without sapping its strength. In the midst of all this activity, one thing re- mains constant: Bainbridge Island is a great place to live.

Bainbridge Island Housing Market 2017

 

Grateful. Humble. Excited.

2017 is in the books.  And 2018 is already in the works.  2018 is going to be another busy year.  I am so grateful for the 30 plus islanders who trusted me with their home purchases or home sales.  Or both.  It was a fun and action-packed year working with both repeat clients making moves around the area and helping even more newcomers discover and settle into our amazing island. I am humbled and thankful for the clients who put their trust in me to help them navigate this complex, completive market. I am energized and excited to see what 2018 has in store.

Stay tuned for next blog post about my Top Ten Favorite Homes of 2017. There is one home I still can’t get out of my head . . .

Traditional Polar Bear Plunge at Lytle Beach

Polar Bear Plunge on Bainbridge Island.

Polar Bear Plunge on Bainbridge Island.

Another very Bainbridge tradition.  Make sure you don’t party too hard on New Year’s Eve so you can make it to the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day.  No need to sign up, just show up a little bit before noon on January 1st, 2018 at Lytle Beach with a swimsuit, a towel, and enough nerve to jump in the very cool Puget Sound waters. Every year a local takes charge and blows a horn to signal the start of the plunge. Parking can be tight and tricky, so I’d suggest arriving around 11:30.  Some folks come earlier and make a bonfire.  Fingers crossed for another sunny one!

What: Bainbridge Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge

Where: Lytle Beach on the south end of Bainbridge Island

When: Noon on January 1st

 

On December 29, 2017, in Activities, Community, Parks, by

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