Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen Pells

Catching Up

We actually considered re-posting the 2014 1st Quarter in Review for this issue, because that’s how similar this year’s start has been to last year’s. In truth, though, it would not have been completely accurate because we like to think of 2015 as “2014 Plus.” The year got off to a slow start: January’s home sales were off 40% from 2014 and February was off 15%. But the buyers started getting off the sidelines during February and when the dust settled at the end of March, we had 70 homes sold for the quarter, the second best in the past eight years. (Only 2013, when there were 80 sales, surpassed this year.) The amazing thing is that we achieved this number in spite of yet another quarter of record low inventory.

Crunching Inventory Numbers

Bainbridge Island has a population of more than 23,000. The census counts 9,400 households on the island. As of April 8, there were 108 active listings. When we add condos to the equation, this means that 1.4% of the homes in our community are on the market across all price ranges. This gives us a sense of two things: how few homes are for sale and how high the hurdles are for buyers. The usual response to inventories this low is upward-creeping prices. You might be surprised, therefore, to see that the average and median prices show little change. But gross numbers such as average and median prices can be misleading. They are driven by how many houses are sold at what price, not by a particular house’s movement along the price ranges. We look at a couple of other indices to see how strong prices are: how close to original asking prices did homes sell and how quickly did they sell? Lots of people want to know why so few homes are currently for sale. The primary reason is nothing new: more than 40% of our sales continue to be islanders moving around on the island. With little to choose from and the rental market as tight as the sales market, people are afraid to list their homes for fear of not having a place to go. This is not an easily rectified condition and consequently we may be facing our current low inventory situation for some time.

Baker Hill sold by Jen Pells Bainbridge Island Realtor

Pricing Game

In a strong market, owners and real estate agents normally want to push the price of any individual home up. The question, usually, is how much. Determining price is a combination of science, art and experience. You do not want to sell for too little, but there are always upper end thresholds as well. If you surpass those limits, the home will not sell. In some cases, price reductions to a final sale might even drop below the original possible price because homes that have been on the market awhile are viewed differently by buyers than homes new to the market. So if you look at how closely homes sell to their original listing price, you can get a feeling for how aggressively buyers are behaving (and consequently letting prices to be pushed up). Good agents are following these trends and have a more refined sense of the market, but these are difficult things to quantify. As an indicator of how well it works to push up prices, we looked at how many homes and condos sold for 97% or more of the original asking price and also at 100% or more. The first quarter numbers are impressive: 74% of the 89 homes and condominiums that sold in the first quarter were at or above 97% of the original asking price, and 42.7% were at 100% or more.

Pace of the Market

Another indicator is cumulative days on market (CDOM) which tells us how fast homes are selling. In the first quarter of 2013, which surpassed this quarter’s sales, the average CDOM was 144 days, or 4.7 months. As the stats show (below), the available inventory for that quarter was not that high (under 100 homes). Last year the available inventory dropped over 26% and the CDOM dropped to 79 days – a much “quicker” market. This year the inventory dropped another 21% and the CDOM dropped to 67 days – less than half of 2013. The median CDOM for the first quarter was 26 days. So we know most people are pricing aggressively. Not only are they getting their numbers, but they’re getting them quickly. This tells us that prices are going up. If you’re curious about how your home might do in today’s market, give me a call. I’m in the fray and can help you find the right number.

Bainbridge Real Estate Market info

Surrounding Markets

What about our neighbors in Seattle and Kitsap County? A way to compare our performance against theirs is looking at months of supply. This is where you take the number of active listings on the market and compare it to how many homes are selling in a month. Right now, Bainbridge has about 57 active (not already under contract) listings and there were 36 sales in March so we have ~1.5 months of inventory. Zero to three months is considered a “seller’s market” (and probably means rising prices), 3-6 months is a “balanced market” (and stable prices) and more than 6 months is a “buyer’s market” (with prices probably declining). So our 1.5 months places us firmly in the seller’s market category. Seattle is less than one month (and their average CDOM is 40 days). The Seattle market is as active as it has been for the past 3 years. Of the 19 Northwest Multiple Listing Service areas in Kitsap County, 18 are in the 0-3 range with the lowest being Silverdale at .8 months. Kitsap has improved from 11 of 19 in the 0-3 range last year to 18 now.

Bainbridge Island Real Estate Jen PellsCondos and Land

On April 8th, there were only 16 available condominium listings in all price ranges on the whole island. Last year we thought the inventory was extremely low and that was when we had 26 available listings in mid-April – ten more than we do now! Clearly, we don’t currently have many choices. Of the 19 condo sales so far, 18 were below $500,000. There has yet to be a closing between $500K and $1M, and only one between $1M and $1.1M. However, the median price has increased 9% over last year to $350K. Land has better inventory numbers (56 active this year vs. 47 last year) and the median price of sold properties is up 14% to $165K but sales decreased from 13 to 9 in this year’s first quarter.

What’s the Real Story?

Are we in a bubble? Is this 2007 re-visited? It is always dangerous to make predictions but there are very few indicators that could dampen rosy projections. Seattle is very busy and has maintained its upward push for over three years now. And we are constantly hearing of the newest company moving downtown. It also looks like the rest of Kitsap County is experiencing the same market push. It is difficult to come to any other conclusion: we expect to have continued limited inventory, strong buyer demand and rising prices further into this year.

Onward and Upward

So far, 2015 is heading in the right direction and we’re optimistic that things will continue to trend in a way that reflects the positive nature of our great community. Whether you’re a long-time Bainbridge resident or considering a move to the island, I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you to strategize the best move for you and your next real estate adventure.

2011 Polar Bear Plunge on Bainbridge Island.

The 2011 Polar Bear Plunge on Bainbridge Island. January 1st on Lytle Beach.

The Memory of 2008 is Fading

2008 was my first full year in real estate on Bainbridge Island.  And, it stunk.  The good news is, every year has been better.  I thought 2009 was good.  It was.  2010 was better. And, the better news is, the goodness of 2010 will give many sellers confidence to put their homes on the market this year.  That fresh inventory will be what many buyers have been waiting for and those new sellers coming on the market, will be move-up buyers, kicking those dominoes in the right direction.

The Polar Bear Plunge

The New Year’s day photo above is symbolic of the market right now.  Buyers are jumping in.  Yes, there is someone on the beach still, this is not 2006, but you get the picture.  Confidence is returning. Interest rates are low and there are actually many people out there with equity  – and they are taking advantage of it.  Move up, downsize, this is the year to do it.

The Reality of 2011

Yes, there will be more bank sales and short sales on the market this year and prices may go down a bit more because of that. But, there are many people out there tired of waiting. And they’ve done the math on renting versus buying and know that if the right house comes up in the next year, they should go for it. They know you can control what you pay for a house, but you can’t control the interest rates. Many of them are first time buyers and they are motivating the move-up buyers to list their homes and buy that $800k house they fancied four years ago that is now $625k.

How is 2011 Looking So Far?

We had our Windermere Kick-off meeting for all of West Sound this week.  The numbers Kitsap-wide reflect the numbers below, specific to Bainbridge Island.  I am excited for 2011.  I am enthusiastic about the sellers I am talking with who will be bringing fresh, new inventory to the market.  And, I am optimistic about the buyers I am working with who are coming to the Seattle area for jobs.

Year-End numbers for homes sold on Bainbridge (does not include condos)

2007 2008 2009 2010
Total Sold 332 187 212 255
Median Sales Price $680,000 $589,000 $546,000 $540,000
Avg. Days on Market 98 108 139 102
Price per sq. ft. $303 $284 $239 $242

And the Numbers

Yes, the median sales price is still going down, but price per square foot has inched up over last year.  Also, days on market is markedly down.  Homes priced well are selling within 90-100 days, as this number reflects.  For me, the key number is volume. In 2007 there were 332 home sales, compared to the bottom of 187 in 2008.  We are seeing a steady climb back up, to perhaps the new normal of the high 200’s.  Confidence is key. Folks are seeing their neighbor’s homes sell in two weeks.  That is a great motivator for sellers to put that sign on the lawn and get on with their personal goals.

Windermere Real Estate
I am proud to announce that I am now with Windermere Real Estate.  I am excited to be associated with the largest real estate brokerage in the Pacific Northwest.  Windermere’s Website and Property Search will empower my clients with some of the industries’ best tools for buyers and sellers.
My contact information stays the same:
Check out the powerful Windermere Property Search.
On February 26, 2010, in Personal, Real Estate Business, by

Update as of 11/06/09
President Obama signed the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 into law today. The legislation greatly expands the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit by making more first time homebuyers eligible for the credit and now includes homebuyers that are not first time homebuyers. This new legislation is a huge victory for you, the Washington REALTORS and the National Association of REALTORS.
First Time Homebuyers
The current law is extended until April 30, 2010. Buyers have until that date to have a signed purchase agreement. There is an additional 60 day grace period to complete the financing. More first time homebuyers are eligible because the new law raises the annual income limits from $75,000 to $125,000 for singles and from $150,000 to $225,000 for married couples.


Current Home Owners
Over 60 percent of current home owners will be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500 if they purchase a home by April 30, 2010. These homebuyers must have lived in their home for five consecutive years over the previous eight years to qualify. Qualified homebuyers can get the credit if they purchase a home for $800,000 or less as their primary residence between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010. The income limits are the same as the First Time Homebuyer listed above.
Info Courtesy of Washington Realtors
On November 6, 2009, in Real Estate Business, by

The Allcomers Track Meet on Bainbridge Island
All-Comers is one of those things that is very “Bainbridge.” All-Comers is a free track race for all ages every Monday night of the summer. There are separate heats by age and by boy/girl. Races start at 50 meters and go to a mile. And it is called “All-Comers” because runners range in age from toddlers to middle-aged joggers like myself. Yes, there are adult races too. This year it has been back at Bainbridge High School with the newly resurfaced track (very nice) and since our house is walking distance to the high school, our attendance has been way up since last year (it was at Woodward Middle School during the high school construction and track updating). Everyone seems to be enjoying the new track and I know my kids have had a great time. One of my daughters has had fun actually racing and the other one races around the football field with her friends instead of the track. Whichever way they do it, it is exercise none the less. And . . . the top runners of each race get their names in the Bainbridge Review. Inside Bainbridge also posts the times on their website. All-Comers is one of the reasons why it is so easy to meet people and socialize on Bainbridge. If you are new to the island, I highly recommend you grab the kids, a picnic dinner and head to the track.

update: All-Comers was started on the island by Jim Whiting, but in 2015 Paul Benton took the reins from Jim Whiting when he retired from All-Comers.  Thank you to Jim and Paul for all their efforts!

What: All-Comers Races
When: Monday Nights until August 31st (still three more weeks left)
Time: 6:15 pm (rain or shine)
Where: The Bainbridge High School Track
Sponsored now by the Kiwanis Club
On August 16, 2009, in Activities, Community, by

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