The Seattle Wheel by Jen Pells Windermere Realtor Mid-Way Through a Good Year | A Bustling Springtime

Even though the first quarter of 2017 didn’t start that slowly, it sure felt like it did. But the second quarter was a different story. We were flat-out busy between April and June. Personally, it was my busiest quarter to date. There were 141 home sales on Bainbridge during Q2, which was a 31.8% increase over last year and a 306.5% increase over 2009 (for those of you who remember those days). The only second quarter to get even close in the past decade was 2013, when 125 homes sold.

The Mechanics of Price

Still, a curious piece of data accompanies all those sales: the median price of homes sold in the first half of 2017 increased only 3.6% over the comparable period last year. That is the slowest growth of prices since 2012-2013 (when it actually went down). Here’s why this is significant: even though there is healthy demand, buyers are showing restraint and patience. This, I think is a good thing. The basics of presentation, pricing and negotiating (which really good agents bring to the table) still prevails. You cannot just take a house in any condition, throw a price at it and expect success. This is one of the factors that differentiate Bainbridge from the Seattle market. The flip side is that a major source of new buyers on Bainbridge are frustrated Seattle buyers who are tired of dealing with the city’s growth and market conditions. Our office was involved in 96 Bainbridge transactions during the first six months of this year, 30 of which (or 31.3%) involved Seattle and Eastside buyers. When we expand the circle, we see that out-of-state and Seattle buyers accounted for 51% of our transaction in the first six months.

Goings-on with Condominiums and LandFrom the Seattle to Bainbridge Ferry by Jen Pells Windermere Realtor

Our condominium marketplace has had a booming first half of the year. Sales climbed from 38 in 2016 to 50 in 2017 (almost a 32% increase) and the median price rose from $404,500 to $499,250 (up 23.4%), finally surpassing 2007’s previous record of $468,000. It took a decade for these numbers to return, and we’re happy to welcome them back.

Land is now the only remaining soft spot in our market. Sales were down 39% from last year but median prices rose 14%. We attribute this mostly to no new large parcel sales and the possibility that people are intimidated by the new construction process. The planning and designing phases of any new project are exciting, but then come permitting, the search for contractors and all the costs. With quite a bit of new construction coming on line, people seem to be waiting to see what someone else has built.

A Construction Zone

There is quite a bit of new construction on Bainbridge, which means the development topic is getting a lot of attention among locals. Bainbridge Island is such a great place to live that the pressure to grow comes naturally. History tells us that restricting growth will push up prices and eventually affect the market’s diversity. However, growth is a concern to existing resi-dents who fear it will spoil what makes the community desirable in the first place. So the community stance has been to try to limit de-velopment to specific pockets of the island as a way of preserving rural character in general. When we map the major new construction projects, we see that this goal has largely been met:

Winslow: Grow Village, Wyatt Way (DA Horton), Weaver, Bainbridge Landing, Finch, Freestone Landmark (Wing Point), Freestone Ferryview (Wing Point)

Lynwood Center: The Roost, Pleasant Beach

Rolling Bay: Sunrise Square

These projects are all within designated growth areas. Indeed, the only multi-home development out of the growth centers is the 10-home project going in at Torvanger/Sunrise Drive, and that’s being built on a 12-acre parcel.

From the Seattle to Bainbridge Ferry by Jen Pells Windermere RealtorFavorable Conditions

How long will this pressurized market last? Anyone who experienced the 2007 market, which was also quite active just before it changed dramatically, is reluctant to make long-term predictions. However, there are some key differ-ences between 2017 and 2007. Today, the lending and banking environments are far healthier. Also, job growth is the primary fuel of real estate growth. And our local economy is far stronger now than then. Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner had this to say about regional job growth in his Q1 2017 report:

Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. (We) continue to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year. 

Ever the Rock

Yes we have growth and new construction, but there is diversity in the construction (family homes, homes ideal for downsizers, and homes close to services). When you drive around the island, you find most of it untouched by new developments. We also have the best parks, hikes, beaches, bays and communities in Puget Sound. Our region’s star is still rising as a great place to live and work and we are one of the premier neighborhoods in it. Growth pressure will continue; it’s up to all of us to work together to ad-dress it in ways that honor the past, present and future of this great place.


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.

My Christmas tree is NOT up. Not even close.  Is yours?  Thanksgiving is officially over and the winter holiday season is underway. I am NEVER ready. But, ready or not, this weekend and next islanders will be out in force hunting down Christmas trees.  Next week there are snowflakes in the forecast, so this weekend might be ideal.  Brrr.  If you don’t believe me, read Cliff Mass’ Weather Blog.

If you’d like to make a day of it and go out and cut your own tree, you will find the map below helpful.  You could combine breakfast at the Port Gamble General Store with tree hunting. Stay warm!  And remember, trees always look smaller in nature. Measure twice, cut once.

On December 2, 2016, in Beyond Bainbridge, Community, Restaurant, by
Bainbridge Island with Kids

Allcomers on July 5th at the High School. Races run through August.


Our island is rich with opportunities when it comes to interesting things to do. These ideas are also a great way to meet people if you are an Island Newcomer. Here is a tried and true always updated list to get you started:

Specifically for younger kids

Sports and Activities

Fun and Free

  • Participate in All-Comers on Mondays nights at 6:15 after July 4th through August.  Free running races for all ages at the High School Track.  See my previous post on this event.  Bring a picnic dinner and dine with others on the field.
  • Spend an afternoon at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.  In Winslow, right near the ferry.  Admission is free and don’t miss the BIMA Cafe.
  • Go to a Star Party at the Ritchie Observatory at Battle Point Park.
  • Bainbridge Library Story Time – check here for times and ages.  They have a great summer reading program.
  • Pick a park or a trail and get outside. Two of my favorite maps at those links.  I recommend a hike in the Grand Forest.
  • Explore beautiful Bainbridge Gardens, lots to see for free, inside and out.  While you are there you can have lunch or a snack at The New Rose Cafe on site at Bainbridge Gardens.
  • Some local folks have plotted out bike routes along the island and those can be found on Bikely.
  • Find a cool beach to relax or play. Check out the Shoreline Access Guide.
  • Take a tour through Farmer’s Market on Saturdays 9am-1pm in the Town Square at City Hall Park. mid April -October.
  • Plant a garden in your own yard or take advantage of a Community Garden.
  • Enjoy a free Summer Concert an island Park.  Concerts run mid-July  – mid-August, some great bands are planned for this summer.

Updated 5/26/16

Things to do with kids on Bainbridge Island

The Boundy Family Farm on Bainbridge Island. A Blakely Elementary School Field Trip.


On May 26, 2016, in Activities, Community, Moving, by