It’s Summer on Orcas!
Bring on the sun because we are shining at T Williams Realty!
If the crew looks a little larger, it’s because we are expanding! In a few short weeks, we will have grown from two to six real estate brokers, all working to serve you with the same homegrown Orcas spirit. We are a powerhouse to be reckoned with! Get the full picture in Company News.
As the market picks up, more properties are selling, selling faster, and selling closer to their list prices here on Orcas Island. Check out Sandi’s Orcas Island Real Estate Update. Then, take a look at the outstanding Best Buys on featured properties available right now on Orcas.
Get the latest on Critical Areas regulations, the Eastsound Subarea Plan and Shoreline Master Plan Update in County Update.
And in Teri Talk, a couple of pirates have a shake down voyage and a sailboat is christened the Blue Pearl.
As always, feel free to drop me a line to let me know what’s on your mind. I’d love to hear from you!
Smiles to you all,
Orcas Island Real Estate Update: June 2014
By Sandi Friel
In a very welcome development for our Orcas Island real estate market, 73 properties sold between January 1 and May 31. This is a significant, 38% increase over the same period in 2013.
Properties are also selling quicker, with the median time on market down 30% to 183 days. In more good news for sellers, offers are coming in closer to their list price and the median home sold for 96% of the asking price. Before throwing a ticker tape parade, though, let’s dive into the data to see what these numbers really mean.
The biggest increase was in sales of vacant land, where numbers nearly doubled and made 26% of total sales. Buyers are still seeking out lower-priced parcels, primarily inland, with a few view parcels and one waterfront also selling. Sixteen of the 18 sales were below $200k, with a median selling price of $112k.
Just looking at existing home sales, there was a more modest yet still very positive 20% increase over 2013, with 52 sales. The lion’s share of market movers was in the $200k-$400k range, with a new Eastsound condo development contributing to sales numbers in the lower price range. However, higher priced homes sold well too, which raised the overall median home price to $372,500 – up nearly $100k over the 2013 figure.
Distressed homes accounted for 21% of the homes sold on Orcas. That’s a slight increase over 2013. Although there was only one short sale, banks still hold an inventory of foreclosures and as they unload these properties it will continue to keep price pressure on homes.
I continue to look for trends in the Sales Priced to Assessed Value Ratio (SAVR). In 2013, the median sale price of an Orcas home was 96% of its new assessed value. This year it’s up to 106%. That could indicate a bump in value, but the SAVR varies so wildly, I don’t think it’s a reliable indicator…yet. For instance, one bank-owned home sold this year for 54% of its assessed value, and an off-grid property featuring unconventional building methods sold for 148% of its assessed value. Similarly, land sales ranged from 59% to 171% of their assessed value. There are so many minute factors that contribute to a buyer’s valuation of a property, and thus their offers, that the assessed value cannot be relied upon to determine true market value.
Just more than half of purchasers – 52% – were local islanders, up from 44% in 2013. This figure includes move-up buyers, investors, and recent newcomers to the island who are moving from their existing rental. With the recent gains in the mainland markets and Seattle’s population boom, we should start seeing more out-of-state buyers as well as Emerald City folks looking for second homes.
There are homes for sale on Orcas, but unfortunately most of them are not in the segment of the market seeing the highest demand. The best-selling category is homes in the $200-$400k range, and many of the prime properties in this niche have been snatched up.
Buyers, if this is your target price range and a desirable home hits the market, be prepared to jump on it. Have a bank pre-approval letter, proof of funds and an aggressive offer ready.
Sellers, if you took your home off the market in the last few years, now might be a good time to list. Consult your real estate broker for pricing advice. Even though the market has improved, proper pricing is the key to selling your home in a reasonable time period versus letting it age on the market.
This data was compiled using information provided courtesy of NWMLS.
Best Buys Right Now on Orcas Island
Please contact us for more details on these properties or let us know what you’re looking for.
T Williams Realty is Expanding
We’re bursting with pride and excitement as four new real estate brokers join T Williams Realty.
Owner/Broker Teri Williams, along with Broker Sandi Friel, welcomed Licensed Brokers Marlis Sandwith and Roxy Marck. Beth Holmes is in the process of obtaining her license. Soon to be added to the roster is Mandy Randolph. All are long-time islanders and bring a depth and wealth of knowledge about Orcas.
“It’s exciting to expand our office, and even more exciting to be working with all these powerful women,” Teri says. “Sandi and I have worked together for years — I didn’t want to add brokers until I found the right combination of powerhouses with great drive, strength and skills. All of these women are energetic, have strong constitutions, strong personal ethics and bring a variety of skills to our office. I’m proud they were drawn to us.”
When the women gather, you can feel the positive energy flowing through Teri’s remodeled office. It took strategic planning to make room for all the new desks in the space for T Williams Realty and Permit Resources on North Beach Road.
“Even though T Williams Realty is expanding, we still have that homegrown Orcas spirit,” Teri explains.
“We’ve always said we are ‘better, not bigger.’ Now we are a little bit bigger and a whole lot better!” she smiles.
The Critical Areas Ordinance has been adopted. County staff has conducted a handful of presentations to several groups, but really does not have much experience in putting the new regulations into action on the ground. My recommendation is to have a sit-down with County staff to walk through your project in hopes to fetter out all the code requirements that will affect the project. In some cases, this may require a professional site visit and report addressing any impacts the project may or may not have on the protected area. My hope is that the County will staff qualified persons to conduct site visits and make this determination without the property owner having to incur the cost associated with a professional.
Eastsound Planning Review Committee
This past year, EPRC has been working with County staff to update the existing Eastsound Subarea Plan and move it into the uniform Development Code. The goal was to streamline, simplify and clarify the regulations so that the public and staff can easily determine the development parameters for projects within the Eastsound, and make changes to the code on an annual basis should issues arise from conflicts in the code or implementation of the code.
The most significant change is the addition of land use tables, where a list of allowable and prohibited uses are identified. The current subarea plan had several allowable uses where a conditional use permit (CUP) was required. EPRC and staff felt if a use was allowed, no CUP should be required, so the cost and public hearing involved with such a permit has been eliminated.
There was lengthy discussion about retail and whether it should be allowed outright in Service Light Industrial designation, which is primarily northwest of the commercial core in Eastsound. EPRC and staff are recommending some retail in this designation. Additional language was added to Village Commercial designation to open up more opportunities for local artisans to sell their wares. The land use table and draft plan can be found on the County website.
Topics that need further discussion include: kiosk development standards, “A” frame sign regulations, change of use requirements.
EPRC will meet with Planning Commission on Friday, June 20 to present the Draft Plan. This meeting will be held on Orcas and is open to the public.
Shoreline Master Plan Update
The draft document has been scrutinized in a public hearing in front of the Planning Commission and was sent to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for legal review. It is still in the PC’s office with no date set for the final review and public hearing in front of our Council members.
To review staff reports, recommendations and Planning Commission recommendations, you can find a draft of the Shoreline Master Plan Update on the County website.
Building Permit Applications Soar in 2014
As of April 30, the most recent month for which permit numbers are available, San Juan County received 220 building permit applications. This figure is more than double the 100 building permits filed during the same period in 2013. In the first four months of 2014, 110 permits were issued compared with 105 for the first four months of 2013. At the end of April, 23 permits were on hold and 168 were ready to issue. Remember to contact Permit Resources if you need help preparing your permit package.
Compiled from data provided by SJC Department of Community Development and Planning.
Shake Down Voyage: Summer’s First Night on the Blue Pearl
By Teri Williams
Friday is spent outfitting our sailboat with fresh bedding, rugs, dishes and other items for the new season. I call it a ‘season’ only due to the lack of time on the boat through fall and winter. No matter rain, sleet or snow, we usually have time each month. This past year we were required to do a vessel survey and the boat was in need of many upgrades and fixes. No problem if your first mate is McGuiver! Just need TIME.
Jay re-wired, re-plumbed and re-worked everything in getting ready for the survey. Our sailboat passed with only a few things put on the to-do list. The survey did more than get us outfitted – it required the boat to have a name. On April 20, as Jay and I were soaking in the hot tub, contemplating life, the boat came up. I am a huge fan of Johnny Depp and the Black Pearl adventures. Hmmm…female pirate…blue hull… Suddenly the name “Blue Pearl” came up and was adopted. This meant a christening was to take place.
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