Real estate prices continue to climb on island

Despite a slight lull in August and September, it continues to be a seller’s market on Whidbey.

Despite a slight lull in August and September, it continues to be a seller’s market everywhere on Whidbey.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported a median sale price of $715,300 — the highest on the island — for South Whidbey residential homes in September 2021. Just a year earlier, in September 2020, that figure was $629,250.

Joe Mosolino, a designated broker for Windermere in Freeland, said low inventory continues to be a challenge.

This past summer, a home in a “prime location” near Mutiny Bay was sold for $1 million over its asking price.

But there are signs that the market may be stabilizing, at least by a little. Mosolino said there were recent listings with a review date that received no offers, which was an unusual thing to happen during the summer.

“That’s an indicator that things are becoming more reasonable,” he said.

Recent issues with an unpredictable ferry system have also dampened the enthusiasm of some buyers. Changes in the ferry schedule have, at times, delayed clients who have had to miss their showing appointments on South Whidbey.

Labor Day Weekend had a noticeable decrease in activity in the market.

“Ferry challenges are currently rising to the top of the problems facing the real estate market on South Whidbey,” Mosolino said.

Buyers have been predominantly from King and Snohomish counties and from California. Often, they are taking advantage of remote work and choosing to live outside of the city because of it.

Kristen Stavros, a managing broker for Coupeville and Oak Harbor, said even with median sale prices on North and Central Whidbey being lower than on South Whidbey, demand has not faltered.

“It’s still very much a seller’s market,” she said. “The demand is nowhere near satiated. I think that’s going to continue for at least a couple years.”

Last month, she wrote a blog post addressing whether the market in Oak Harbor is finally softening or not. She concluded that although there might be an increase in listings, a decrease in closed sales and less offers coming in than there were previously, buyers will not be getting a break in prices anytime soon. They might, however, have fewer other offers to compete with.

Earlier in the year, she recalled sellers pricing their homes on the market “like it was Vegas,” listing at the highest price possible and nabbing a buyer within days.

Back in May, 86.8% of homes in North and Central Whidbey were selling for an average of 6.5% over the asking price. But in August, only 67% were selling 6% over the asking price.

“Just in a few months, that’s a significant shift,” she said.

Homes have been staying on the market longer. A house on the market for eight days, she said, will garner suspicion because people will wonder what’s wrong with it since it wasn’t immediately sold. This was not the perception people had before the pandemic.

“People are definitely having to have a mindset change,” she said.

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