What strange times we’re in… it’s hard enough to keep track of what day it is, let alone the economic state of affairs. In 40+ years of selling real estate, I’ve never seen the market so intense in our neck of the woods.
Our homes are our havens, maybe now more than ever. We’re approaching eight months of communal anxiety: virus fears, civil unrest, neighbors in crisis, political unease, and loss and illness for many. In large part, the desire for a ‘safe haven’ is driving the local market. Second-home owners are coming to stay long-term, and new buyers from urban areas are seeking safety and tranquility. The result is a shortage of properties for sale. Low inventory along with historically low interest rates has caused what is known as a ‘seller’s market.’ For those who’ve considered selling, there’s likely never been a better opportunity to gain maximum return on investment. This is the time to consider a valuation on your property to inform decisions about what to do next.
The NW Multiple Listing Service home sales for Orcas Island over the last six months has seen 92 closed sales, a median sold price of $683,500, and an average time on the market of 64 days. The largest increase was in the 30 days prior to November 1st. In that most recent window, our median sold price increased over $100,000 to $792,000, with an average of 118 days on the market. There are currently 22 pending sales and only 34 active listings; historically, the number of active homes is four times this number.*
Vacant land property sales have also seen a surge. Our six month average price was $246,500 with 85 days on the market. During the most recent 30 day window the average price jumped to $265,000, and days on the market shortened to 70. 48 vacant land properties sold in the last six months, with an additional 21 pending, leaving only 31 listed properties remaining. Typically, there would be five times that many.*
October often marks a winding down of the selling season, but the Covid-19 swell in real estate sales will be with us for months to come. Interestingly, we’re seeing far fewer people purchasing property for vacationing or as rentals. Nearly all of our recent clients work remotely to some degree, and say they are moving here permanently. This means we will have an influx of new members in our island community. With the weight of many worries on our shoulders, it’s more important than ever to engage and encourage connections among us, and especially with those who may not yet know many people here. In a time of relative social isolation, it will be up to us to find ways to welcome them as ‘islanders.’
*Figures may have changed since the drafting of this column.