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Island Guardian

Real Estate Sales Up


IG-Merri_Ann_Simonson-3 (31k image)By Merri Ann Simonson

In reviewing the year-to-date volume for 2012, the real estate market volume on San Juan Island reflects an increase of 35.6% for the period of January through September as compared to the same period in 2011.

Most of the gain was actually in the third quarter where the volume was 120% greater than the third quarter of 2011. As for the number of transactions, the gain over the 2011 third quarter was 75%. What’s encouraging is the buyers have entered back into our market, including the investors! Per the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) and internal records, for San Juan Island there are 36 transactions under contract for the brokerage firms.

ig_cwb_10_2012_Newsletter-01 (85k image)

At Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Inc., we are pleased with the increase in activity this year. Our volume market share as of September 30, 2012, per NWMLS was 51%. Our internal records for volume which includes transactions sold that were not listed in the NWMLS, reflects an 84% increase year-to-date over the same period last year.

There are several factors that must exist that help create more volume for a brokerage firm and having seasoned agents is one of the main ones. Our agents have survived the market fluctuations through hard work, great customer service and a constant effort to improve their expertise and education.

Per the NWMLS as of October 15th, San Juan Island has a total of 415 listings for all property types, which includes the 36 under contract. Over the year the inventory has decreased. At the same time last year we had a total of 474 listings of which 28 were under contract. Comparing the total of ACTIVE listings, our inventory level is down 15% since last year at this time. The inventory was decreased through a combination of sales and sellers deciding to remove their property from active marketing. Decreased inventory is a good thing; it helps stabilize prices through supply and demand. However, we have a long way to go to reach the low level of inventory required to add pressure to our prices; in December of 2006 and 2005, both very good years, we had 161 and 157 listings respectively. Increased volume won’t equate to an increase in prices until other aspects of our market recover.

Year-to-date property owners that sold homes negotiated an average of 9% off their list price at the time of sale. Unimproved land owners negotiated an average of 13%.

The most active segments in our market are homes listed under $400,000 and land listed under $200,000. The next most active segment would be homes in the range of $601,000-$800,000. Historically, many newcomers to the island desire waterfront or water view properties. With an average downward market correction of 24.5% for homes, buyers are now finding what they desire readily available at a much more affordable price.

Another good sign of stabilization in our market includes the current San Juan Island median home price for the period of September 2011 to September 2012 being $362,500, which is very similar to year ending 2011 when the price was $366,000. We won’t note any increases in the median home price until we have more high-end sales and less inventory, which will add pressure to home prices. It takes sales in all price categories to stabilize the median home price.

The median lot price for the last 12 month period is $90,000, which is 14.7% decrease from $105,000 for year ending 2011. Land is typically purchased by investors due to low holding costs, by speculative builders, and buyers that desire a custom home. Financing is tight for buyers in all of these categories.

As high-end sales help create confidence in our market which aids in the stabilization of the median price, we may be a year or so away from notable recovery. As of October 15, only 5 sales have closed that were in excess of $1,000,000 each. One was a Preservation Trust sale and wouldn’t be considered arm’s length due to possible tax benefits. Of the 36 transactions under contract only 2 have list prices over $1,000,000 and their ending sale prices are yet to be known. Some of the best values are in those properties that are listed in excess of $1,000,000. Most have been well maintained and the majority are priced below their current replacement costs. We currently have 63 listings for all types of property on San Juan Island priced over $1,000,000, or 17% of our active inventory.

With most lenders offering conforming loans with rates as low as 3.5% or a combination of a conforming first and second which avoids the Jumbo rates, it is surprising why there are not more high-end buyers in our market place. Granted, there are serious headwinds to obtaining a mortgage and many households do not qualify. With rates at all time lows now and in the near future, I believe that more of the high-end buyers will enter back into our market. Such a forecast is supported by the fact that many of the real estate markets where our buyers originate from are doing very well. By selling their real estate elsewhere they begin the migration to our beautiful islands.

Per the Washington REALTORs, 16.8% of home buyers in Washington State as of the second quarter, paid cash.

One aspect of publishing a newsletter is not to get ahead of the topic being reported, in this case the real estate market on San Juan Island. We are encouraged but remain cautious when giving advice to our sphere of influence and buying and selling clients. As agents, we monitor real estate trends locally, in the markets within the State that impact us, and Nationally, to some extent. No one realized that this recession was going to last this long nor impact our community to this extent.

On a side note, if you want to see the real estate recovery continue and economic improvement to reach into all of the other industries in the islands, vote wisely in November.

The information listed above was generated from a search by Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the Real Market Data LLC Reports and represents listings and closings from all of the brokerage firms on San Juan Island, not just Coldwell Banker/San Juan Islands, Inc.




Real Estate Sales Sump = Less $ For County


IG-Merri_Ann_Simonson-3 (31k image)By Merri Ann Simonson

In reviewing the year-end results, the sales dollar volume for the real estate market on San Juan Island was $60,116,241, which is 5% less active when compared to the $63,349,657 sales volume in 2010. The volume in 2009 was $66,069,632. The volume has been trending downward since the peak in 2005 but in lower annual increments since 2008. On San Juan Island we closed an average of 13 transactions per month which is very similar to 2010.

Total County volume in 2011 was $125,442,472 as compared to the $140,618,144 in 2010. Overall the county’s volume decreased by 11% which is disappointing.

cwb_NewsLetterSJC_volume_2005-2011 (73k image)

To recap, San Juan’s volume was down 5%, Orcas was down 27%, Lopez was up 25% and the outer islands were down 20.5%. The majority of the gain on Lopez is attributed to one waterfront home that closed at $3.5 million, which placed upward movement on the median home calculation for Lopez as well.

cwb_NewsLetterSJI_volume_2005-2011 (62k image)

Each island is unique and the impact to prices on each can be noticed by reviewing the median home and lot prices for the year-end as shown below:

cwb_NewsLetterSJI_HomePrices_2008-2011 (57k image)

The median home price calculated above is for previously owned homes on less than 5 acres. Each of the ferry serviced island’s median pricing mirrors the volume trend; San Juan was down 5%, Orcas was down 26%, Lopez was up 24%, the outer islands were down 18.3% with the overall County’s median price decreasing in 2011 by 16%. Demand affects volume and value.

cwb_NewsLetterSJI_LotPrices_2008-2011 (54k image)

Across the board, median lot prices have all decreased. The range is a low of 9% for Orcas, to a high of 32% for Lopez and the outer islands. The county’s median lot price of $105,000 was a decrease of 13.3% from 2010. It takes volume to stabilize the median price calculation and in the case of the land sales in 2011, the land sales volume totaled approximately $24.8 million as compared to the $40.6 million in 2010. This equates to a 39% decrease in volume.

The volume decreases can be attributed to the nationwide real estate market in general, unavailability of financing, unwillingness of investors to purchase, high risk of speculative and custom construction, and the non-existence of waterfront lot sales due to potential new set back regulations being proposed by the county. Waterfront lots were traditionally the highest priced unimproved parcels in the county.

From the all time high in 2007 when the county’s median home price was $490,000, the median price has decreased 25.4% to $366,000. The median home price calculation includes all types of homes; cabins, homes in town and waterfront homes.

The median home and land prices will probably not increase until the amount of high-end property sales increase. The typical newcomer to the island is interested in waterfront or water view properties, which tend to be higher priced. Our market is primarily a second home market and prospective buyers must have confidence in the economy; nationally where they live and locally where they hope to purchase.

Recovery, and then appreciation, in the housing market nationally and locally will be decided by the consumer, and it will be timed around the amount of inventory and bank foreclosures. San Juan County had a total of 55 Trustee’s Deed recordings in 2011, after adjustment for trust work. In 2010 the County had 34 deeds recorded. The Trustee’s Deed is recorded when the property is transferred from the borrower to the beneficiary or successful bidder at the time of foreclosure. Often it takes lenders months if not longer to actually market these acquired properties. Prior to the foreclosure, the lender must record a Notice of Trustee’s Sale and in 2011 the County had 67 notices recorded. Some of those borrowers are able to sell their homes or bring their debt current and reinstate their loan which avoids the foreclosure. There were a total of 9 Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure recorded during the year.


During 2011, per the NWMLS, there were 23 properties sold that were banked owned; 11 on San Juan, 10 on Orcas, and 2 on Lopez. Eighty two percent or 19 of the bank owned sales were priced under $300,000. In the County a total of 54 homes closed under the price of $300,000 and 19 were banked owned or 35%. Additionally there were 4 short sales, all on San Juan Island. Unfortunately the high level of Bank owned and short sale activity is brutal on any seller in that price range. In the County we closed a total of 141 homes and condominiums during the year and 23 of those were bank owned or short sales which equates to 16% of the closed inventory. The state’s percentage range is 12-17% (through the 3rd quarter only).

The percentage of bank owned properties has increased over last year and as mentioned, they have had a terrible impact on all homes valued under $300,000. Hopefully, the banks will work through their inventory in a timely manner, and once the foreclosure inventory is absorbed it will help that segment of the market. We currently have 25 bank owned properties and 13 short sales listed and total inventory of 707 for the County. The distressed properties equate to 5.3% of the total inventory. Per the NWMLS for the Counties that they serve in the State, there were 56,699 closed transactions for homes and condominiums in 2011. Of those sales, 15,747 or 27.7%% were banked owned, and 5494 or 9.6% were short sales.

The entire county benefits from the sale of real estate and the depressed conditions are reflected in budget cuts throughout our government and private sectors. Real Estate is a huge funding mechanism for our county’s government, land bank and local businesses. Real estate sales dollars flow into construction, retail, service providers and tourism, affecting everyone’s lives.

One would think that the county would be focused on all issues that have a direct impact on the real estate market. It is imperative that we do everything possible to help in the recovery of our real estate and construction industries and avoid anything detrimental such as creating unjustly stringent land use regulations. Our county government and long range planners must take into consideration our local economy and the livability of our community as well as the environmental impact when making decisions.

The County Council has been agonizing over the update to the Critical Area Ordinance which has had an impact on the sale of waterfront parcels and those upland parcels that have wetlands. In past years, waterfront parcels were one of the most desirable investments due to appreciation, ability to build your dream home and location. Now they are the most depreciated investment and nearly unsalable due to the uncertainty surrounding the update of the CAO. Few buyers will invest in waterfront unless they know where and what they can build on a parcel. Further, what will be involved should a variance be required on the parcel? These questions have been left unanswered for the last 3 years and the impact is obvious. In 2011 San Juan County had 4 waterfront lots sell or 1.2% of total number of sales. In 2005 we had 63 waterfront lot sales or 6.1% of total sales with similar percentages ranging from 7.4%-5.5% during 2006-2008. The percentage started to decline in 2009 when the County initiated the discussions around increased set backs. The few waterfront lots that have sold since 2009 have been to buyers that immediately started their construction or to neighbors as buffer lots with no intention for construction. These numbers evidence the uncertainty surrounding the CAO. The decrease in the percentage of waterfront lots sales to 1.2% will be the evidenced used in the future lawsuits should the Council decide to increase set backs and convert them to buffers. The depreciation attached to waterfront lots now due to uncertainty will have a long term effect and there has been a similar affect on waterfront properties that are under improved such as cabins.

The national and state economies have had an impact on our real estate volume as evidenced in this report but the LOCAL government has had a direct impact on waterfront sales. Our government is unable to show us the problem created by housing near the shoreline and will not trust property owners as good land stewards.

We recognize that this is a strong opinion to state but we are running out of time. If you are concerned about the value of your property, where you can build on your property, what you can build, losing the view you thought you would have or the ability to remodel or add to your existing home, it is imperative that you let the County Council know now.

In spite of fewer waterfront lot sales, we at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Inc. had a strong 4th quarter and have started off 2012 with closings and showing activity above our 2011 monthly average. We think 2012 is going to be our break out year. Hopefully, 2012 will bring a good resolution for the update to the CAO.


Median is defined as a typical market price where half of the homes or lots sold for more and half sold for less. One should also note that the median calculation includes all types of properties; waterfront mansions to cabins; small town lots to waterfront parcels


(Merri Ann Simonson is an Associate Broker/Sales Manager for Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Inc. She may be reached at:360-317-8668 and email at: simonson@sanjuanislands.com )




This Week's Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_cwb_Holm (59k image)

Located in the Westside's Smugglers Cove,this tastefully updated 3 BR,2 BA contemporary home is in move-in condition. A circular drive creates an attractive approach to the home adding ample parking. The 2-story entry with skylight separates the 2nd flr master suite from the great room; both offer lovely water and sunset views. The 1st flr has a 2 BR/BA wing to the left of the entry and the kitchen/dining area is to the right. There are 3 view decks and a separate shop/studio. Great community beach! #28120143

Offered at $430,000

Listing Presented by The Holm Team- Denny & Judy

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands -"Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)






Last Week's Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_Deal-1 (74k image)

Cape San Juan, Waterfront Home, Located on one of the nicest beaches on San Juan Island. Enjoy sweeping views of Goose Island, Olympic Mountains, Lopez Is. and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. This beautiful 1700 sq.ft. two bedroom, two bathroom, den, no bank waterfront home, with an attached garage, 106 ft of water frontage, all the wonderful Cape San Juan amenities '(pool and Community dock) ,this property has exceptional sun exposure. #28014269

Offered at $1,295,000

Presented by Bob Elford

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands -"Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)




Last Week's Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_Carli-1 (73k image)

QUINTESSENTIAL-CUSTOM NORTHWEST HOME on 5± private acres. 1,278± sq. ft. main house with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and large loft/library. Hardwood floors, radiant heat and skylights. Detached 600± studio with large windows, French doors , kitchenette and full bath. Cleared meadow area that would be great for animals and garden. A small cabin with sleeping loft included as well. #28069113

Offered at - $553,000

Listing presented by Maryellen Foster

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands -"Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)




Last Week's Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_cwb_McHan (77k image)

Waterfront Home & Expansive views of Fisherman Bay Village. Gourmet kitchen, granite counters, upscale appliances, cabinets. Living/dining w/ warmth of beam & vaulted ceilings. Surround yourself w/ books in the office/library/built-ins. Decks for entertaining, 5 piece master bath, jetted tub & shower, walk-in closet. 2nd BR with bath on main level. 2 additional BR's & BA + bonus room with wet bar on lower level. Gated entrance, beautiful lawn to water. 3+ car garage. A must see. #28018289

Offered at $1,275,000

Listing Presented by Lanny Carver

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands -Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)




Last Weeks Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_cwb_HART-1 (64k image)

Spacious 3/2.5 home in family friendly neighborhood and easy walking distance to schools, skate park/fairgrounds and town. A sunny backyard with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries & an orchard with 10 fruit trees. An abundance of outside space allows plenty of room for an RV/boat. Inside is a living room, formal dining, large kitchen w/ breakfast nook, a family room and an office/loft. Also offers built-in vacuum system and a jetted tub in the master bath. A fantastic home! #27075622

Offered at $435,000

Presented by Leasa Burch

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands�"Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)




Last Weeks Featured Property


- COLDWELL BANKER San Juan Islands, Inc. -


ig_cwb_06-11-08 (71k image)

This WATERFRONT HOME represents a great value and rare opportunity to create equity. With a house value of $274,000 (2766 sq.ft. @ $99), the balance of the listing price equals $525,000 for a level lot with 100’± of waterfront, power, water, septic, driveway, steps to a long gravel beach, fruit trees, and magnificent evergreens. You could put $200,000 into this house and have a nice waterfront home for under a million dollars. MLS #28090528.

Offered at $799,000.

Presented by Sam Buck ~ www.SamBuck.com

For more information on this and other properties visit our website at: sanjuanislands.com/

The Largest, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage In The San Juan Islands�"Thanks To You!
ig_Coldwell_Banker_Logo_horiz (38k image)




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