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 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.
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.
Condos and Land Interestingly, the strength of the residential market has yet to show itself in the condominium and land markets. Condominium sales are down almost 21% from last year, even though inventory is greater. Prices are up 8% from 2015, but the median price is still 13.7% lower than in 2007. Condominiums have been struggling with inventory issues as well as financing challenges, but can that explain why 52.5% fewer condominiums sold this year compared to 2007? 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.
Moving Forward 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, we opened our satellite office on Olympic Drive and Winslow Way. There we’ll 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. Our doors are open, so please stop by!
Great video of Mathew Gardner, Windermere Chief Economist, talking about valuable economic concepts and how they impact the housing market. His insights of historically low inventory levels, how we got here and what to expect in the coming year.
The Same Old Tune Even as the birds of springtime sing their new songs of the season, we must hit repeat as we report – once again –on our local market’s low inventory. A lack of available homes continues to dictate what’s happening in Bainbridge Island real estate. On April 1st, there were only 47 homes and 5 condominiums available for sale on the island. Within the overall market, certain price points have been more pinched than others (which is a snapshot in time and will change as the year goes on). For example, if you were looking for a home in the $600K to $800K range, you had only 5 houses to choose from and zero condominiums.
How Inventory Affects Sales & Prices This extremely limited inventory helped drive home sales down more than 20% from last year. There are plenty of buyers out there; there are just not enough properties on the market to sell. The scarcity increased competition and bumped median prices up more than 9% (and the average, which is more a function of the price ranges where homes closed, was u p more than 18%!). The median cumulative days on the market (CDOM) dropped from 26 in 2015 to 20 in 2016. To put this in perspecti ve, the CDOM in 2012, which was a good year, was 146 days.
The Story on Condominiums & Land The condominium market is also suffering from lack of inventory. Last year at the beginning of April, there were 16 condominiums available compared to this year’s 5 (both of which lie in sharp contrast to 2012, when there were 45 available). Consequently, sales dropped from 19 to 16, but the median price rose 23% to $430K. Land, on the other hand, experienced a 30% increase in sales to 13 parcels this quarter with a 26.8% increase in the median price to $225K.
The View From Inside One might assume that a market like this, with rising prices and inventory competition, makes our jobs easier. The reality is that there are some basic principles, goals and strategies that any good real estate professional seeks to embrace, all of which must adapt to an ever-changing market. Regardless of the climate, we want our clients to achieve the best possible outcomes – both at closing and in the future. This is sometimes easier said than done, especially when competition is fierce and time is of the essence. Given the complexities of the Bainbridge market, where most homes and locations are unlike any others, things can get even more challenging. It is not like buying or selling in a large subdivision where a product like Zillow has some merit. Here, each house has strengths and weaknesses and the success of a sale can pivot on those subtle nuances.
If You’re a Buyer For buyers in this market, supply is tight and prices are rising. You
almost have to assume you will be competing with others when you find the house you
would like to make your home. Is the price fair? How high should you go? The specter of 2006 and 2007 should be in the back of your mind, as the concept of paying “whatever it takes” came back to bite many homebuyers. An agent brings knowledge of the current market, the choices it offers, what might be coming and how an individual house fits into the bigger picture – including the history of the neighborhood and often of the house itself. An agent will know whether a price is in line or whether the seller is beingaggressive. (And, when there are limited comparable properties, this expertise becomes extremely important.) No one wants to hear, “You paid how much for your house?!”
In multiple offer situations, there are strategies to employ. You need to line up your resources to be “the best you can be.” Multiple offers often require that decisions be made quickly, so being prepared makes you a stronger buyer and one less likely to be disappointed later. If you are not a cash buyer, there are things you can do to compete with those who are. Get comfortable with the stack of forms you’ll be asked to sign. Understand what it means to omit certain forms. What about inspections? Title reports? Learn how to spot red flags that make certain houses less expensive. Being a buyer in this market can be difficult, frustrating and even scary. A good agent can help you navigate the winding road to achieve the best results and avoid mistakes.
If You’re a Seller Sellers may think they have it easier, but the reality is that a seller’s quest is the same in an ascending market as in a descending one. The two primary goals for sellers are to get the home sold in the timeframe desired and to maximize net proceeds. Buyers will be more attracted to, and will ultimately pay more for, a house that is optimized to appeal to a buyer and priced in a manner that a buyer feels is reasonable in the current market. Here again, knowing the current market, as well as past and future markets and how a particular home fits into all of them, is essential in achieving the seller’s ultimate goals. But the work is just beginning when buyers first express inter-est. You have to know which of them will have the greatest possibility of actually achieving a closed transaction. (It is surprising how many deals fall apart in this market.) Negotiating inspections? Appraisals? Seller’s liability? What do all those forms mean and what are your responsibilities? There are many steps between pondering selling and achieving your goals, and the reality is that sellers don’t always get everything they hope to get out of a sale – even in a sellers’ market. But an experienced agent will help you prepare, present and respond so you can get the most out of any market.
The Constant Real estate markets fluctuate all the time, sometimes favoring buyers and sometimes favoring sellers. This is simply the nature of the business. But in the midst of all those ups and downs, one thing remains consistent: the beauty and livability of Bainbridge Island. At Windermere Bainbridge, we celebrate our island community and all it has to offer.
Ringing in the New Year
Singing a Familiar Song In 2015, we watched as a trend that began in 2012 continued. For the past several years, we’ve had a steady decrease in available homes accompanied by increased values. In 2015 we saw more of the same – or less of the same, depending on one’s perspective. We are living and working in an ongoing environment of real estate scarcity. Still, we keep our eyes on the future rather than the past to see what the market will do next.
The Ebbs and Flows of an Island Market As with all markets, we are subject to demand (buyers) and supply (sellers). The
majority of our buyers come from two sources: island residents seeking to change their Bainbridge addresses (>40%) and people moving here from the Seattle environs (~30%). We are all aware of the craziness of the Seattle marketplace. Seattle is experiencing phenomenal economic and job growth, a lot of it right downtown. Seattle Metro real estate is also a fairly closed system, with little room for additional housing unless you want to live in an apartment tower or spend a lot of time on the freeways going east/south/north. The consequence of this growth has created some serious traffic issues and prices (for those who succeed in the multiple-offer frenzy) are a lot higher there than here. Once you factor in the great reputation of Bainbridge schools, it is little wonder families of downtown workers look to the island as a real estate alternative to Seattle.
Movement on the Rock And then there are the Bainbridge buyers. Many island residents have been “trapped” in homes they
purchased between 2006 and 2008, waiting for prices to come back up so they can move without taking an equity hit. In general, prices have gradually risen since 2012, which has brought home values closer to the peak prices of 2007. (Prices have grown >35% since the beginning of 2012 but certain areas/locations/amenities have outpaced appreciation relative to other island neighborhoods.) At the current rate, we should surpass the average price peak of 2007 at some point during 2016. (The average price in 2007 was $820,569; in 2015 it was $790,534.) The “upper end” segment (>$800K), which has been the slowest to recover, had a strong 2015 with sales up 35.6% from 2014 (137 versus 101). It is interesting to note this segment accounted for 36% of all the sales in 2015.
The Challenge of Choices The only apparent impediment to local people moving around the island is a lack of choice. Bainbridge residents are reluctant to put their homes on the market because they cannot find alternatives that justify moving (and their current homes appreciate the longer they stay in them). The current demand is outstripping current supply, which creates price increases and buyer frustration. The demand comes from the fact that Bainbridge is a pretty great place to live so people want to move here. As ong as Bainbridge Island is perceived to be a desirable community (and given the alternatives for anyone wanting to be as close as we are to the metropolitan Seattle area), there will be demand from people wanting to live here.
The Pros and Cons of High Demand The effect of this demand will be continued buyer frustration, higher prices and a demand for more inventory (growth of the number of homes available, otherwise known as new construction and development). If our demand stays the same (and there is no reason to doubt that it will, at least in the mid-term), prices will rise more than if there is new inventory. For those of you who have been here for a while, you remember when prices kept rising we started to lose new families and diversity as our prices appreciated in the last decade (2002-2007). This does have consequences on the island’s character.
Developing Changes The good news is that there are new construction projects being built and being planned. As home prices and demand have increased, builders have re-emerged. We had 68 land sales last year (with a median price increase of 27%, from $185K to $235K), the most in over a decade (and a long way from 2008’s 15 sales). Some of these are for single family; some are for developments. Grow Village, developments on Wing Point, Wyatt Way and Lovell, Weaver, Sunrise Bluff on the mid to north end are actively being pursued by builders. Pleasant Beach and “The Roost” on Point White in the south end want to move forward and will, just as soon as some issues with the local sewer infrastructure are answered. Some of these projects will come on line this year, and some in 2017. Last year, we recorded 21 new construction sales, a 31% increase over 2014 and a 420% increase over 2013.
The Word on Condos Condominiums were dramatically affected by the lack of inventory. Active listings (listings not under contract to be sold) went from a peak of 16 in May down to only 4 in mid-December. That’s right. In mid-December, there were only 4 condominiums available island-wide. With that in mind, it is surprising that sales were only down 11% (90 versus 101). The median price, however, grew 11.2% ($372,500 versus $335,000) which surpassed the single family median increase. This was due primarily to sales between $400K-$500K increasing from 19 to 25 in 2015. (In both years, 86% of all sales were less than $500K.)
A Fresh Take We expect 2016 to be an interesting year. There is little evidence to a slowdown in demand so the challenges sellers and especially buyers experienced in 2015 will probably not abate. There is a “buzz” that more people are thinking about selling this year, which will help. However, there appears to be a resurgence of a “no growth” attitude, which will only drive prices higher, lessen diversity and change the flavor of our island, which could eventually lessen demand. The trick is enabling growth so it maintains the qualities we currently have and allows Bainbridge Island to retain its distinct personality and charm.
A Market Regains It's Momentum
Inventory Continues to Drive the Island Market All in all, 2014 has to be viewed as a very good year for the Bainbridge real estate market. The primary challenge of the year was a lack of inventory, which meant that buyers had too few choices. As we begin 2015, the same low inventory levels that drove the market in 2014 are even more pronounced. So it’s not a stretch to imagine that we may be in for more of the same in the coming months.
The Availability‐Sales‐Pricing Triangle Fewer homes actually sold in 2014 than in 2013. We began the year with record low inventories– 70 homes available (on the market and not under contract to be sold) – and ended the year with even fewer available (a mere 56!). This actually dampened sales because buyers couldn’t find what they were seeking, so many opted to continue to stay where they were, rent or go elsewhere. Sellers were reluctant to put their homes up for sale because they were afraid they couldn’t find new homes should their houses sell. (Approximately 40% of the sales on our island are from people moving around on Bainbridge.) This created competition for desirable homes, which pushed prices upwards.
The Story Behind the Prices So what is going on with prices? We are showing an increase of more than 17% in both average and median prices. As with any statistics, it is beneficial to look at the numbers in some detail and in the context of the bigger picture. As we have discussed before, published price changes have as much, if not more, to do in the “short run” (three years or so) with the price ranges buyers are in rather than with the price changes of individual houses. In this regard, there were some profound changes between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, 46% of all sales were $500K or less, but in 2014 that number dropped to 34%. Conversely, in the $500K to $800K range, there were 164 homes sold in 2014 versus 154 in 2013. Above $800K, there were 101 homes sold in 2014 versus 69 in 2013. The demand for homes in the upper price ranges increased, stimulating sales of more expensive homes and boosting both average and median prices. This activity shift was welcome news to our middle and upper market. When looking at the market as a whole, the median price of a home on Bainbridge needs to increase another 13% before we will be at our 2007 peak, but we are getting closer every year to returning to that high mark.
One Address at a Time
But what about individual houses? How does this increased competition affect the marketing strategy for each home about to be listed? There are many factors that determine the best approach for each property, the primary one being the makeup of the buyer pool at any one time and how each home conforms to that group’s wants and needs. This is where a professional real estate agent who is active in the market comes in. There is always a desire to “push up prices,” and a knowledgeable agent can assess how quickly and how high to push. Houses sold about 21% faster in 2014 than 2013. Also, the median sales price percentage of original listing price increased from 97% in 2013 to 97.7% in 2014. Both indicate individual home price increases because they are selling more quickly and closer to list prices than they were before. If you are curious about your home, your professional real estate agent will be happy to give you an idea of where you are.
A Busy Condo Scene
The condominium market experienced improvements in almost all areas. The number of sales were up almost 9%, median prices up 8% and there were four sales over $1M. These were the first condominium sales over $1M since July of 2010! The bulk of the sales (67%) were $400K and below, but there were sales in all price ranges up through $1M. Again, inventory has been scarce, especially in some of the middle price ranges. There were times when there was no inventory between $600K and $800K. Even though the median price of $335,000 is well short of the peak price of $464,000 in 2007, the direction is positive.
An Active Land and Development Segment
As with homes and condominiums, there was not an abundance of parcels for sale. The number of sales decreased more than 17% from 2013 but that was a particularly active year. Excluding 2013, there were 30% more parcels sold in 2014 than the best year going back to 2007. On the development front, things are quite active. To name a few: Grow Avenue’s second phase is under construction; the Wyatt Way parcel down the street is in feasibility review for approximately 19 new parcels; and Lynwood Center has two projects in the development phase with Pleasant Beach Village Hillside and the “Roost” off Pt. White Drive and Baker Hill Rd. These last two developments alone will represent approximately 50 new homes and both are slated to be active in 2015.
Ring in the New Year
The coming year should prove to be an interesting one. Even though it is only January, the “buzz” is positive among buyers and sellers. The markets on both sides of us, Seattle and North Kitsap, are healthy. Seattle has quieted a bit from the craziness of the past couple years, but is still very robust while North Kitsap is experiencing one of the fastest starts ever. The region is looking good, the days are getting longer, no obvious storm clouds are in sight and we are off on the adventure of 2015!
Bainbridge Island Single Family Homes Sold 2014 (as of January 6, 2015)
Life on the south end of Bainbridge Island has gotten a whole lot cooler! Thanks to Joe at Island Cool every Tuesday evening Tracie Marsh will be playing through the summer! Bring the kids and treat em to frozen yogurt – there’s no cover and all ages are welcome! Playing from 6:30-8:30pm; they'll be playing a mix of jazz pop and soul.
Enjoy watching the little ones play in the famous mouse fountain, visit with neighbors, grab a glass of wine at Suzanne Maurice Wine Bar, wander through the Marketplace, grab a slice at The Treehouse, a buttery coissant at Pane d'Amore, a juicy burger at Hammy's Burgers, join friends for dinner at the Beach House, whatever you choose to do, and there's A LOT to choose from, a great time will be had for sure! Sit back and enjoy the vibe at Pleasant Beach Village!
South end living at it's best!
Always a good time to be had at Bainbridge Islands annual Rotary Auction! Really its the social event of the season! A great way to catch up with friends and neighbors while getting great deals on everything from balls to garden gnomes.
A great place to update your recreational supplies! Every Islander should experience this phenomenon known as the "Auction" at least once. The people watching alone, is worth it! No lie, I've witnessed mothers directing small children with extensive play diagrams of "goods to get" that would impress any professional coach.
In the end A LOT of money is raised and the volunteer organization is impressive. These Rotarians are dedicated!
The Ebbs and Flows of a Tidal Market
Riding the Waves, Up and Down
The expression “in like a lion, out like a lamb” seems to apply to our 2013 market. At the end of the first half of the year, we were up an impressive 21% from the 2012 numbers of homes sold. In the third quarter, that statistic cooled to 15% over last year. By the end of the fourth quarter, our numbers had softened again and we ended the year at just 7% above last year’s stats. In terms of the quantities of homes sold, we went from 93 in Q4 2012 to 77 in Q4 2013 – a decrease of 17%. When compared to the 2008
fourth quarter sales of 41 homes, this year’s 77 sales do not look so bad, but we were a bit perplexed about why the market did not maintain the momentum it enjoyed earlier in the year.
What’s Out There
The obvious and accurate key to what changed the trajectory of the 2013 market is inventory. The average inventory of active homes (homes on the market and not under contract) during the 2012 fourth quarter was 144 homes, and that number dropped 30% in 2013 to 100 homes. We ended 2013 with 76 active listings and by January 6th we had 70. These are historically low numbers and low inventory has a very damping effect on sales. For many buyers, real estate is the largest investment of their lives so a home needs to speak to them in order to inspire them to act. Without choices, they wait (as they should!).
Sellers and Buyers; Prices and Choices
Many sellers wait to list their homes for the same reasons buyers wait to make offers: they are not going to put their houses on the market if there are no choices waiting for them to transition to. Also, in general, prices have not rebounded for some segments of the marketplace. During 2011 and 2012, when we began to move out of the recession, the recovery was led by homes under $600K. Our “middle market” ($600K to $900K) made gains this year but our upper market really struggled. (We saw a 28%decrease in homes over $1M between 2012 and 2013.) These are not recipes for definitive general upward price movement. Buyers,although present, are not exhibiting a great sense of urgency where they would have a tendency to push prices higher faster. The end result is modest gains that are not enough to bring some sellers back into the marketplace, as they are still waiting for higher prices (and choices).
There is good news in both the condominium and land categories, both of which showed solid gains in 2013. Condominium sales were up 16% with average prices growing 11%. In 2012, there was only one sale over $600K, while there were three in 2013. This included two sales of million dollar condominiums in 2013 (and one already this year) – the first condominium sales in that price range since July of 2010. Condominiums are also subject to the lack of inventory, with only 18 active listings as of this writing.
A Busy Time for Land and Development
Land sales were up 30% in 2013, which was part of a post-correction breakout year for new construction. The first phase of Grow Village is sold out. Four new homes were listed on Ruys Lane, and they have all sold (all four went under contract in a period of 22 days!). Timberbrook on Solana Lane has finished two of their 10 homes and both are sold. Burlingame Court has sold half of their six homes. The Housing Resources Board CLT project off Ferncliff is sold out. These sales represent a broad spectrum of traditional family homes, urban cottages, affordable homes and “edgier” modern homes. The variety is very island-like and the market response is very clear: we like it!
All in all, 2013 was a very good year. As we kick off 2014, there is a general positive buzz around here. We believe inventory is coming and the phone is definitely ringing. Our year-end tally of 414 homes sold is the most since 2005 (and remember there were only 187 sales in 2008!). Condominium and land sales also improved by a statistically significant amount, with sales num-bers exceeding all the years since the market peaks in 2006 and 2007. Prices in general held their own with some market seg-ments improving. New construction has returned (with a bang) to our marketplace. With the outlook for 2014 promising more of the same, we look forward to our future on this beautiful island.
Bainbridge Island Single Family Homes Sold 2013
*As of January 2014