Bainbridge Island 2015 Real Estate Market Jen Pells

A Numbers Game

This year’s third quarter provides a great illustration of individual market forces, but what you see on the surface does not necessarily provide the whole story. So let’s look behind the scenes at what’s going on. At the end of June when we closed out the second quarter, the number of homes sold was up 14% from 2014. July was a good month but in August the number of homes sold was down 31% from 2014 and by September sales were down 25%. By the end of September, the 14% increase over 2014 had shrunk to a 1.7% increase in homes sold over 2014. This begged the question: has our great recovery already begun to falter?

Motivated Buyers

If demand was cooling, then we would expect to see fewer multiple-offer situations on individual homes. In the second quarter, 50.4% of our sales sold at or above their original list prices, which is a lot for Bainbridge. Then, in the third quarter, that already impressive number of sales “at or above asking price” went up even higher to 53.2%. This tells us that there were plenty of motivat- ed buyers, so the reason for the decrease in sales is not demand.

A Middle Market in DemandBainbridge Island Real Estate Market Jen Pells

The largest number of buyers looking on Bainbridge are seeking homes priced between $500K and $1M. They are sophisticated, knowledgeable and aware of their alternatives (both on and off the island). As illustrated above, there are still many potential buyers for homes on Bainbridge, but market forces here on the island are forcing them to wait or even go elsewhere. Of the 58 sales at list price or above, 64% closed between $500K and $1M. So if there is so much demand, why have sales tapered off? Choices are fewer and prices are higher.

Low Inventory + High Prices = A Slower Pace

Regular readers of this blog will notice that we’ve been complaining about lack of inventory since 2014. In the third quarter of 2014, the average available inventory (homes not under contract to be sold) was 135 homes as compared to 2012’s 162 homes (and don’t even ask about 2008). This year, there were only 73 average available listings – just over half of the number available in 2014. On September 30th of this year, there were only 32 available homes priced between $500K-$1M, the segment where 60% of the total sales of this year occurred (178 homes sold). The bottom line: there are just not that many choices.

Exacerbating inventory woes is the fact that prices are climbing higher, which takes many potential buyers out of the running. The middle price band has seen some of the best price appreciation, getting back to and in some areas exceeding our peaks of 2007. Buyers have financial limits and are more cautious than in the go-go years of 2005-2007 where misplaced optimism rationalized spending more in anticipation of the “forever” ascending market. These days, not only are there fewer choices, there are only so many of those choices that are financially feasible. And, of course, buyers have to like a house to want to go forward. In combination, all of these factors mean that buyers are often waiting or going down other paths.

Bainbridge Island 2015 Real Estate Market Jen Pells

When Bainbridge Buyers Make Other Plans

The North Kitsap market (defined as Poulsbo to Hansville) has traditionally benefited from price appreciation on Bainbridge. There are many choices (there were 200 available NK listings on September 30th versus our 77) for less money (NK’s median price at the end of the third quarter was $320,500 compared to our $650K). Sure enough, NK’s sales through the third quarter are up 15% (as opposed to our 1.7%) and the sales in houses priced from $400K to $800K are up 68.5%. We must assume that certain NK buyers looked first on Bainbridge before expand- ing their search to the north looking for better deals.

Some buyers opt to build when housing options are few. Land sales are up 36% (there have been 49 sales through October 1st in 2015 versus 36 in 2014). We have not seen this many sales through September since 2005 (when we had 69). Our peak was in 2003-2004, when there were more than 80 land sales through the third quarter in both years. This recent demand for land has also translated into a jump in the median price, from 2014’s $175K to this year’s $239K. There have been 40% more land parcels sold over $500K than last year.

Bainbridge Island 2015 Real Estate Market Jen PellsThe Condo Report

The lack of choices has also dampened our condominium market. Sales are now down 9% for the year (73 in 2015 versus 80 in 2014) while the median price is up a healthy 18%. When you look at the average available inventory of 9 condominiums for the third quarter (which includes all condos in all price ranges), 25 sales for the quarter does not seem that bad.

What Is and Isn’t Certain

It is hard to predict what the fourth quarter will bring. Inventory will be a deciding factor, to be sure. The buyers will be there, but will they be able to find what they want at prices they can afford?

Regardless of what’s happening in real estate, I always remember how fortunate we are to be able to live on this beautiful island. When we look at the greatest contributor to our job market and personal real estate wealth – Seattle – we see a thriving job environment and plenty of conditions (such as traffic) that will continue to supply us with buyers fleeing the urban bustle. The next few years are going to see more and more people come into Seattle to work, and as they sit in traffic many of them will look somewhat forlornly at the ferries carrying other members of the workforce to our island where they will come home to great neighborhoods, schools, parks and all the qualities that make Bainbridge so unique.

Inventory.  Inventory  is the big topic of conversation in the Bainbridge Island real estate world.  As we close the door on 2013 and move into the 2014 market our inventory is historically low.  2012 was a banner year for volume on the island with 386 total sales.  Last year the economy improved and the year started off with a bang but at the end of December, we ended with only a few more sales at 414 total for 2013.  Why?  Lack of inventory is one reason.  Buyers are poised and ready, but the listings, the inventory is just not here right now.  But, I am hopeful the homes will appear on the market as we head into spring.

The list below is a great representation of 2013.  Strong sales in the $600-$800k market, up 50% from last year.  The over million dollar market, however, was down 28%. The initial predictions for 2014 are that the $600-$800k will stay strong and the higher end market will improve.  And the ever active $400-600k market will continue at a brisk pace.  Enjoy the list below and let me know if you have any questions about a property.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate


Original List Price $689,500

Sale Price $671,800

Days on Market 47

Date Sold 6/2/13

For #10 we start out on the south end of the island on Rose Avenue. Built by Reijnen Company, this home sits on a shy acre with good light in a rural area on the sound end.  I felt like this home sold for a great price, with finishes not often seen in a home under $700k.  I like Reijnen’s style with clean lines and tall ceilings, which is why their homes have appeared on my lists in the past.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Torvanger Road on Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge Island Real Estate.


Original List Price $929,000

Sale Price $950,000

Days on Market 7

Date Sold 7/22/13

You may remember #9 from last year.  This home on Torvanger  Road made an appearance on this list, but selling last year for $100k less.  The sellers relocated out of state, so this home was back on the market this year.  Last year it saw multiple offers.  And this year priced over $100k higher it saw multiple offers again.  This year it sold for 102.26% of asking price with a line of disappointed buyers yet again.  As I said before, Torvanger was a special package of charm, land, and privacy.  A package getting harder to replicate, especially under $1 million.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate


Original List Price $776,000

Sale Price $741,000

Days on Market 34

Date Sold 10/2/13

The north end saw a lot of activity last year. This home, taking the #8 spot, is around the corner from Torvanger Road on Sunrise Drive and also a very nice package. This home reminds me of homes found  in coastal Carmel California.  Storybook charm abounds from the woodwork inside and the landscaping outside  to the private trail leading to a sandy beach with the sought after deeded beach access.  Tack on the views of Puget Sound, a guest suite over the garage and this was a perfect match for the buyers.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate


Original List Price $625,000

Sale Price $61o,000

Days on Market 119

Date Sold 9/30/13

For #7 we move to the extreme south end of the island to Douglas Road in Fort Ward.  The gracious design of this home is the brainchild of to Patina Designs.  This home offers an efficient use of space, gorgeous woodwork and fine finishes.  The home, with hand dipped cedar shingles was thoughtfully sited on the lot to capture the light  gorgeous trees surrounding the property.  The builder made a lot of smart decisions, which make this home stand out from the rest.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate.  Old Mill Road.


Original List Price $629,000

Sale Price $629,000

Days on Market 1

Date Sold 6/13/13

For #6 we move mid-island to one of my favorite areas.  This home is on Old Mill Road in the Eagle Harbor/Blakely farmland area.  This home immediately grabs you with its classic curb appeal.  Then add a mini-vineyard, chicken coop and sensible, flexible floor plan and you arrive at a superb package close to schools and the ferry . . . yet a world away from the everyday hustle and bustle. And again, this one has incredible light.  You can understand why this home, priced in the $600’s, went pending in one day.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate. Valley Road on Bainbridge Island


Original List Price $738,000

Sale Price $710,000

Days on Market 28

Date Sold 9/26/13

For #5 we move north again to Rolling Bay and the east side.  This home on Valley Road impressed me from day one with its drop dead gorgeous views of Puget Sound and Seattle.  The home itself is unique and fun.  The quiet, easement road of about five homes, all with the same gorgeous views, is relaxed, beachy and eclectic.  Each time I visited the home I certainly felt like I was on vacation.  And I am sure that is why the buyers snapped it up too.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Hawley Way on Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge Island Real Estate.


Original List Price $798,500

Sale Price $788,500

Days on Market 7

Date Sold 9/9/13

For #4 we move down to to the ferry dock.  And the stellar views continue with this home on Hawley Way.  A turn of the century home on the historic registry, The Morrill Home, with a small cottage in the back is just two blocks from the ferry terminal with stunning views of Eagle Harbor, the coming and going ferry, Seattle, and Mt. Rainier.  The original elements of this home have been lovingly cared for with some smart updates.  But, beyond all the charming and history, there are views from EVERY room of this special home.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Olympus Beach on Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge Island Real Estate.


Original List Price $848,000

Sale Price $840,000

Days on Market 12

Date Sold 10/31/13

For #3 we move to the west side  of the island, near Battle Point Park.  This Olympus Beach Road home has dramatic curb appeal and it sits on a spectacular lot that enjoys great south-west sun on the patio and in the living areas.  The inside spaces are open, yet have cozy window seats and built-ins.  A home for someone who loves modern elements, yet appreciates the warmth of northwest architecture.  The home is down the street from beach access and a short distance to popular Battle Point Park. No surprise this was another home that saw multiple offers.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate. Reitan Road on Bainbridge Island.


Original List Price $1,285,000

Sale Price $1,200,000

Days on Market 10

Date Sold 12/11/13

For #2 we stay on the west side of the island, but move north again to Reitan Road. I remember having the best wood fired pizza from this home’s pizza oven . . . back on a gorgeous sunny day in December.  All while soaking up the best views.  This home sits on Reitan and unless you are headed to a home on this road, you would have little reason to come across this view.  But having the opportunity to witness it in person was a delight.  The nana doors open up the entire family room and create an amazing indoor/outdoor space.  The outdoor pizza oven, guest space and reclaimed redwood timbers mixed into the unique asian architecture kept this a home on the market for a mere 10 days.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate.  Knight Road on Bainbridge Island.


 Original List Price $1,088,000

Sale Price $1,102,000

Days on Market 4

Date Sold 11/13/13

For #1 we stay north but move towards Fay Bainbridge Park.  The north end had a lot of action this year, which is seen on this page.  This home on Knight Road, was built by Jefferson Fine Homes and designed by Architect Peter Brachvogel.  Sited on over three private acres, this home exudes quality craftsmanship inside and out.  Walls of windows, high ceilings, and an open floor plan piqued the interest of many buyers.  Jefferson Fine Homes is known for their well built homes and quality materials like cedar shingles, metal clad windows, and ipe decking.  As 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, and a remote full guest suite on the main level plus bonus space over the garage.   All elements that  helped this home see multiple offers and close $14k over their asking price.

Click here for more photos and the full listing detail.


Bainbridge Island Chilly Hilly 2011

Riders unloading off the ferry for the Bainbridge Island Chilly Hilly in 2011.

One Week From Today

Next Sunday Bainbridge Island will be crawling with cyclists for the island’s largest recreational race.  Over 2,600 feet of chilly hill climbing and a 33 mile ride draw BIG crowds every year – 6,029 registered riders in 2010. Folks come from  near and far to brave the hills and make the classic loop around Bainbridge.  For a great map of the ride, check out this Bikely Map.

The official race runs from 8am to 3pm and starts as you unload off the ferry or from the top of the ferry ramp at Winslow if you are starting on the Bainbridge side.  The ride is sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club, check out their site for more race details.  The race culminates at Battle Point Park with a Chili Feed sponsored by Squeaky Wheels Bicycling Club.  And proceeds from the race support ten local charities.

To register for the Chilly Hilly Race –CLICK HERE.

Speaking of Races

Bainbridge hosts many more throughout the year.  If you are not a fan of cycling, but prefer running, swimming or maybe a triathlon, check out the list below:

Chilly Hilly – February 26, 2012 – Organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club.

Toe Jam Hill Half Marathon – April 2012 – Organized by Bainbridge Island Boys and Girls Club

4th of July Fun Run – 4th of July morning – Organized by Bainbridge Youth Services

Arms Around Bainbridge Benefit Swim – August 11, 2012 Organized by Arms Around Bainbridge

Kiwanis Summer Challenge Bike Ride Around Bainbridge | 52 or 34 or 16 mile ride – August 26, 2012 – Organized by Kiwanis Club

Blackberry Run 10K – September 2012 – Organized by Bainbridge Island Land Trust

Turkey Trot 5K – Thanksgiving morning 2012 – Benefits Helpline House

Solstice Run 5K | 1 mile  – early December 2012 – Organized by Go Run and Island Fitness

Bainbridge Island mini – TRI .5 swim | 12.5 mile ride | 3.5 mile run – mid Sept 2012 – Organized by Island Fitness




On February 19, 2012, in Activities, Community, Events, by

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