Real estate trends in the San Juan Islands are closely following what is happening in the rest of the country — we have new buyers looking for great deals, we have sellers with a fresh perspective, priorities and prices and we are seeing the return of our active real estate market.
Orcas Island does, however, offer a different twist.
Buyers don’t have to buy here, they choose to join our community for the lifestyle and benefits of island life.
This contributes to the slow pace of sales when buyers don’t need to move or invest. In the last few months there seems to be renewed consumer confidence. We are seeing the number of offers increasing and buyers are scheduling trips to the island to shop in greater numbers than at this time last year.
Once again, Orcas Island offers a slightly sunnier forecast than the region that surrounds it.
Our homes and properties are selling at rates that meet or exceed the closings in neighboring communities where population and density numbers are higher than ours.
It’s important for all of us to remember that there are certain trends that are unique to the Orcas Island market. For one, properties tend to have longer marketing periods (days on the market), even in the best of times. Secondly, a smaller portion of our inventory is bought and sold as primary residences, which can minimize the time-sensitivity of listings and extend the duration of their marketing phases.
Due to these and other factors, the average length of time that properties spend on the active market has stretched. Where most Orcas Island real estate used to sell within 12-18 months, it is not uncommon for properties now to stay on the market for as long as 36 months.
Orcas Island Realty has maintained its strength and solidity throughout this difficult phase. Long-time clients stay with us because they know we deliver the personal attention and integrity they need, along with the tenacity to see their transactions through to closing. Newcomers call on us because of our genuine interest in welcoming them to the community, along with our commitment to helping them find their place here.
We are enormously grateful to our clients for their ongoing business and the referrals they send our way, and we will continue to work hard for every buyer and seller who trusts us with their real estate dealings.
Our central location in Eastsound provides unparalleled marketing exposure as well as a warm welcome for walk-in visitors. We are devoted to our island community, its character and its residents and we will be here long after this market dip has passed.
Orcas Island Closings as reported by the NWMLS
Under $200k (12)
$800k-$1 million (9)
$1 million (8)
Under $100k (12)
Under $200K (12)
$200K – 300K (25)
$300K – 400K (13)
$400K – 500K (8)
$500K – 600K (7)
$600K – 800K (11)
$800K – $1 million (5)
$1 million+ (4)
Under $100K (9)
$100k – 200k (16)
$200k – 600k (10)
Facts and figures
2013 ended with numbers trending up in total dollar volume and number of
transactions, ending the trend of fewer sales and lower property values.
The entry level market ($350,000 and under) has low supply and may not be
filled back in with the same quality of homes. This low supply scenario in
this price range combined with increasing demand should stabilize prices.
County wide, the bulk of closings were on homes under $400,000. The
foreclosure pipeline has slowed significantly, which has helped this
segment of the market recover. There seems to be fewer distressed
properties on the market.
There were 128 closings on Orcas in 2013 with 93 of those sales coming in
under $400,000. Of these, 56 were homes. For residential properties, the
slowest sales range remains the million plus category, with only four
closings in 2013.
Vacant land also had a modest increase from prior years with 35 parcels
closing in 2013. The most interesting statistic in vacant land is the even
spread of prices from a low of $55,000 to a high of $325,000. There is
still much room for improvement in this category, and the values for
buying land are incredible if you have cash or are able to find Sellers
that will finance a purchase.
When it comes to land, there are great deals and lots of inventory for the
savvy investor. Sellers are offering aggressive terms to entice buyers to
bring offers, and prices are lower than we’ve seen in many years.
Tips for Buyers
Buyers have benefited from fierce competition among sellers (many of whom are banks or owners in short sale situation) and there have been some great deals as a result. Since the numbers indicate that we are at or near the bottom of this curve, buyers who have been waiting are advised to make their move now if they want to take advantage of the best values. Inventory in the low end of the market is not being replaced as quickly as it was just a few months ago, which implies the beginning of a leveling trend in pricing.
Waterfront buyers appear to be back and are looking for that special retreat. This is a great time in the market and Buyers are finally making offers on appropriately priced waterfront homes.
Tips for Sellers
Pricing properties for sellers is challenging as the bank owned properties and short sale inventory will take several years to move through the sale cycle. Sales of these distressed homes and land put downward pressure on all pricing so it can be difficult for sellers who aren’t in a distressed situation to accept these drastically lower comparable values for their properties too. The good news is we are seeing fewer new foreclosures and a much improved efficiency with bankers’ willingness to put deals together and close transactions. Even though the time from an owner losing their home to it being on the market and selling is about half of what it was at the beginning of this cycle, we believe it will be several more years before we return to a “normal” market.
Pricing strategy continues to be the key to selling success. We are advising clients to price aggressively if they want to close a sale, as buyers are waiting for the best possible deals. For some people, this means going outside of a comfortable range. But the listings that are selling most consistently are those with asking prices that reflect current comparable sales. Those sellers who keep prices at “yesterday’s” levels will most likely find themselves and their properties riding out this downturn for as long as it lasts. The good news is that many completed transactions are cash offers that close quickly.