From the firetower at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.

I am so thrilled to be sponsoring this fabulous event- the Northwest Newbies Nature Hike.  IslandWood is a true treasure on the island and I love that they open their doors to the public many, many days of the year.  Tomorrow’s hike already has a waitlist, but I am sponsoring another hike in the fall on September 24th too.  Check in with IslandWood in the morning about tomorrow’s numbers or be bold and how up in person ;)  Check out their calendar for special events and Public Site Tours – the next one is July 16th.  Personally, I love their suspension bridge and fire tower – you’ve got to go.

A view looking down through the old firetower at IslandWood.

 

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

Start a journey for connecting to your new sense of place.  Your new home is a diverse, ecological treasure just waiting to be discovered.  Let’s take a hike to learn the “Fab Five” native trees, common bird species, and discover all the new sounds, textures and smells of your new home.

We’ll make time to hear about where YOU are from, and how it is different and the same to Western Washington.  Your questions about “what lives here” are highly encouraged.  We can’t wait to meet you, neighbor.  See you on the trails!

  • All ages welcome
  • Please no dogs unless they are a service animal
  • Space is limited for this guided walk!
  • Rain or shine people – we’re in Western Washington!

We appreciate our sponsor of Northwest Newbies – Jen Pells Real Estate!

The amazing suspension bridge at IslandWood.

 

On July 9, 2017, in Activities, Community, Events, Parks, by

More and more of my clients are spending a week or more on the island to explore and house hunt. It is what we did way back in 2004 when Bainbridge popped onto our radar as a place we might want to live. We stayed in this cool beach house that is still a rental today.

If you plan to visit the island and soak it all in and see the real-life-non-tourist Bainbridge, I recommend you visit the following spots on the island.

Lyle Beach Bainbridge Island

Lytle Beach on Bainbridge Island.

Visit the South End/Lynwood Center/Pleasant Beach Village – Many tourists start and stop in Winslow, but great things can by found in Lynwood Center. The Treehouse Cafe is an excellent, casual place to eat.  Lynwood Theatre is a terrific old-style theatre. Also at Lynwood Center and Pleasant Beach Village there is shopping, coffee, a deli, a B&B, a wine bar, restaurants, a bakery, a farm store, frozen yogurt, and a community (membership based) outdoor pool.  It is the gem of the south end – the south end hub not to miss.  When in the vicinity also visit Lytle Beach, a road-end public beach that has a sandy beach and terrific south-west exposure. Also stop at Fort Ward Park, which has miles of easy walking trails with water views, picnic areas and a boat launch.  Both spots are great for soaking in the sun on the south end.  For eating at Lynwood Center, besides The Treehouse Cafe, we also really love Sawan Thai Kitchen and the Beach House Bar & Grill.  For a more formal dinner the Manor House is excellent.

Rolling Bay – Take a quick walk around Rolling Bay. This is the north end hub.  In comparison to Lynwood Center it is very small, but it is a community gathering spot, nonetheless.  There is an old fashioned post office, cafe, and the best Italian Market on the island, Via Rosa 11.  Stop by Via Rosa for lunch or dinner and enjoy their wood fired pizza oven. Bay Hay and Feed is an icon of the island.  They has a terrific gift shop, garden nursery, and feed store.  When you are up north, visit Fay Bainbridge Park, our waterfront park on the north end with views towards Seattle.  At Fay there is a play ground and tons of drift wood.  For future reference, Fay Bainbridge even has a campground a great shelters to reserve for parties.

Battle Point Park – There is so much to see here.  I love the the 1.5 mile loop around the park, but in earlier years when my kids were little I loved the awesome wooden play park.  We have spent hours and hours at softball games and soccer games at this park. Their turf fields for soccer are newer and excellent.  There is also a mini-gymnasium, planetarium, mountain bike track, ponds, and tennis. And the best part – it is cleared and sunny!

Winslow – So, Winslow is pretty terrific.  I would recommend hitting Blackbird Bakery, I love their toast and jam and a pot of tea.  Mora Iced Creamery also fabulous, you really can’t go wrong on flavors, but I love their brownies and cheesecake.  If you find yourself withoug kids I love The Harbour Public House  – AKA The Pub.  It is on Eagle Harbor with stunning views of Seattle.  They have terrific burgers, fish and chips and beer, but I love their fish tacos with a glass of rose.  Again, if kid-less, we like Island Vintners and Eleven Winery for wine tasting or a glass of wine – or two.  Some of my favorite stores in Winslow are Eagle Harbor Books, Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, Bon Bon Candies, Churchmouse Yarns & Tea, and Wilderness Outdoor Store . . . and there are many fun ones in between.

Closer to the ferry in WinslowBainbridge Island Museum of Art is an excellent space to walk through.  The exhibits change regularly and the BIMA Bistro has the best food.  A terrific spot for lunch – one of my favorites.  If you have kids in tow, make sure to visit the Kid’s Discovery Museum, right behind BIMA.

People visiting for an extended time usually want to check out grocery stores and shopping.  Be sure to visit Town & County Market.  Not only is this the spot of shopping, especially specialty food items, and seafood, but the salad bar and hot bar are the place to be at lunch time on Bainbridge.  Sometimes I go there three times a day.  Behind the Town & Country Market is the Waterfront Park and Dock.  At the park is a great kid’s playground and the beginning of the Waterfront Trail, which winds its way down to Eakin/Gowan. My very favorite breakfast on the island is at Streamliner Diner.  It is adjacent to Town & Country Market.  They serve dinner, too, but I love their breakfast, especially their biscuits and jam and crispy hash browns.

The Grand Forest – If you are a walker/runner, you will want to explore the Grand Forest.  The trails are extensive, groomed and fun.  There are several parking spots.Exploring the Grand Forest is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon. Nearby is Bainbridge Gardens.  A field trip in and of itself, this is our biggest nursery and a great place to have lunch at The New Rose Cafe.  There is also a fun gift shop.

Some other must see places:

If you happen to be here on a Tuesday, please go to Hey Day Farm to have Dinner. You can eat on a real, working farm and have some of the most fantastic food on the island.  They do not take reservations, so you need to arrive at 4:30 to try and get a 5:00 seating, but I think it is worth it, especially in the summer.  Be prepared for a three hour, multi-course experience, so probably better without kids, but my favorite dinner on the island, hands down.

The Bainbridge Public Library – excellent Children’s Library and story time.

The Aquatic Center – two pools, a spa, water slide and lazy river. Swimming lesson, swim team, master’s program, and water polo teams. Stop by and take a look.

BARN – Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network – new facilities for all kinds of crafting – woodworking, glass blowing, fiber arts, kitchen arts, writing, metal shop.  As of this writing they give tours on Sundays.

On June 23, 2017, in Activities, Community, Moving, Personal, by

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

Memories of Years Past

Bainbridge Island Summer Real Estate Market Jen Pells Realtor

A History Lesson

The one constant in our real estate market is change. Ten years ago (yes, it has been 10 years!), we were in a very competitive market. Inventory was tight and prices were going through the proverbial roof, setting new highs. Then, in September 2007, that came to an abrupt end and we began a downward trend toward the largest correction since the 1980s. It took until 2012 for the market to shift yet again and gradually pick up speed toward recovery. By 2015, we returned to familiar territory: an extremely competitive market with record low inventories and rapidly rising prices. On July 1, 2015, there were 58 active listings on the island. Now, just one year later, data suggests a potential market transition with inventories rising and price reductions becoming increasingly common.

We in the industry do not view this as a repeat of 2007. There are too many positive factors in our financing infrastructure and regional market that separate this climate from its predecessors. (Indeed, the financing environment is so much more conservative now that securing funding can actually be a hurdle in some transactions.) We are still in a very competitive market and the statistics bear this out. While we may be slowly moving towards a more “balanced” market, we are not there yet. Let’s look at some of the leading indicators that give a glimpse at where we are.

Inventory . . . or Lack of Inventory

One year ago, there were 112 home listings, 54 of which were under contract. For a market the size of Bainbridge, 58 active listings in the middle of summer is a crazy small number. On July 15th of this year, inventory had ballooned to 162 listings, 64 of which were under contract (leaving 98 active). Yes, this was a substantial improvement from last year. But when compared to the absolute top of our last market peak in July 2007, the 162/64 stat still looks very tight compared to the 2007 numbers, which were 289 listings with 62 under contract. The percentage of pendings to listings is 40% today compared to 21% in 2007. This year’s second quarter median cumulative days on the market is still a brisk 11 days, equal to what it was for the same period in 2015. (In 2007, it was 52 days.) It is still a very competitive market. Our inventory is growing because our price levels are finally bringing in more people from the sidelines. When you look at the history of the sold listings, there are scant few people who are “flipping” or who have bought recently and rapidly selling for a profit. Instead, many of the homes that recently sold were last sold in 2001, 2004, or even 2007 and 2008. It’s also interesting to note that people who have held onto their homes for a more extended period of time (since before the boom years) are realizing very healthy increases over what they paid.

Bainbridge Island Summer Real Estate Market Jen Pells Realtor

What About Prices?

We have finally drawn even with and are even beginning to pass our peak prices of 2006/2007. When we checked the history of all the homes sold in the second quarter, all those that sold in 2006/2007 did better this year. Our year-to-date median is $755,000, a 14.4% increase over last year. This number is exacerbated by the price ranges of the homes sold. Overall, sales were down almost 17% and almost all of the decrease came in homes below the $600K price point. This phenomenon can be partly explained by our old nemesis: lack of inventory. On July 15th, there were 13 homes available on the whole island for less than $600K. Not many choices.

However, we are now seeing more price reductions than even in the first quarter. This is another indication of a healthier market. Pricing still matters, as sellers can’t just ask for anything. As we mentioned in our last newsletter, this is one of many areas where professionals can really help. Overpriced homes usually end up selling for less than properly priced homes, a statistic that has been borne out in all types of markets. This becomes especially important when a market is going through a gradual shift. The bottom line is that prices are rising and healthy. True, the rate may change and is very neighborhood and property specific. But the competitive nature of our current market will help bolster prices.

Condominiums & Land

Interestingly, the increase in inventory has not yet been felt in the residential condominium market. Due to low inventory the volume of condominium sales are down almost 21% from last year. Prices are up 8% from 2015, but the median price is still 13.7% lower than in 2007. In addition to the shortage of available condominiums buyers face potential financing challenges specific to that type of property. In the land segment, sales are down more than 30%! Median price for land is also off 6.5%, which is 47% of the 2007 median. This is perplexing as land sales improved quite a lot between 2014 and 2015.

Bainbridge Island Summer Real Estate Market Jen Pells Realtor

Onward & Upward

So our changes are subtle at this time, but in process. On the residential side, the greater inventory gives buyers more choices and potentially more sales. Sellers are seeing price levels that entice people to return to the market-place and support a competitive environment. The regional economy outlook continues to impress and our position in that marketplace remains strong. (What other community can still claim the same commute time to downtown as twenty years ago?) The outlook ahead is all very positive!

This summer, our office is opening a satellite office on Olympic Drive and Winslow Way. There our agents will be able to greet ferry passengers as they first arrive to the island. Our goal is to give our clients more exposure to pedestrian and vehicle ferry traffic and have agents on hand to answer questions. We hope to have our doors open before Labor Day, so please stop by.

Seattle Seahawks #tacklehomelessness

EXCITING NEWS! The Seattle Seahawks and Windermere Real Estate have joined in an exclusive partnership that will make Windermere the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks. At the center of this partnership is a new campaign entitled #tacklehomelessness in which Windermere will donate $100 for every Seahawks tackle at home during the 2016 season. On the receiving end of these donations is YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been providing services and support to homeless youth from across Puget Sound for more than 40 years.

Bainbridge Real Estate Sales Data Summer 2016 Jen Pells Realtor