Island County housing market slowing down

The median price of homes sold in Island County dipped slightly in July, a first in years.

Overall, the median price of homes sold in Island County dipped slightly in July, a first in several years of consistent increases.

In addition, the number of active listings for houses and condos in Island County more than doubled in July compared to the same month in 2021, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. There were 280 active listings in July 2022 compared to 132 in July of last year.

It’s a trend real estate agents are seeing across the state. A Multiple Listing Service report for July shows 2.01 months of inventory system wide. Inventory across the 26 counties served by the service has not exceeded two months since January 2019, when there was 2.3 months of supply.

In Island County, the median cost in July 2022 was about $535,000, down from $570,000 in July 2021, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reports. That’s a 6.15% decrease.

In comparison, the median home price in July of 2019 was $395,000.

The county’s overall median home prices in July were pulled down by the Central Whidbey and Camano Island markets. In North and South Whidbey Island, prices continued to increase, albeit slightly.

A local real estate expert, however, cautions against reading a lot into the limited statistics.

Kristen Stavros, who is a branch manager for Windermere Real Estate’s Oak Harbor and Coupeville offices, pointed out that Central Whidbey is a very small market. Only 10 homes were sold in July, compared to 69 in Oak Harbor and 128 in the entire county.

Camano Island sales also contributed to the overall decrease with 32 homes sold in July at an average price of $615,000, down $10,000 from July of last year.

Stavros pointed out that this statistic is only comparing one month of data to one other month and that she does not typically take into account data sets that encompass less than three months.

All that being said, she concedes housing prices are not increasing as rapidly as they once were.

“Sellers are used to their homes being sold in less than a week,” Stavros said. “And now, practically overnight, we’re talking to them about not getting too worried unless it’s been sitting there for 30 days.”

Louis Muniz, who is a realtor for Windermere in South Whidbey, said that homes in South and Central Whidbey are taking 17 days on average to sell as of the first week in August.

“Even though the number of homes that have come to the market has increased, the demand for homes is still high and the market has remained competitive,” Muniz wrote in an email.

Stavros said houses are no longer being sold at above the asking price and people are only competing with one or two other buyers, although it is still considered a seller’s market.

For the first time in months, buyers are able to add home inspections and repairs as part of their purchase and sale agreements.

Stavros said that sellers need to think carefully about their list price nowadays. For buyers, there is a lot more opportunity and room to negotiate.

Still, forecasters predict that housing prices will continue to increase, she indicated.

“It’s still going up, it’s just not going up as crazy-fast,” Stavros said.

According to a Northwest Multiple Listing Service press release, Island County was one of only two counties that reported a year-over-year drop in median prices. The other one was Ferry County.

According to the press release, active listings for the entire state of Washington have nearly doubled from a year ago, jumping from 7,948 offerings of single family homes and condos to 15,381. However, the number of closed sales has gone down, declining from 10,919 closings to 7,645.

Photo provided by Windermere Real Estate
1587 NW 6th Ave. in Oak Harbor sold for $539,900 on Aug. 5.

Photo provided by Windermere Real Estate 1587 NW 6th Ave. in Oak Harbor sold for $539,900 on Aug. 5.