Real estate snapshot: volume down, prices up

Homes sold in San Juan County in October fetched the highest median price of western Washington counties.

Homes sold in San Juan County in October fetched the highest median price of western Washington counties, at $384,000.

That mark was up 17 percent from a year ago. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, from January to Nov. 1, 2012, there were 104 homes sold on San Juan Island. This year, through Nov. 1, there have been 85 home sales, a decline of nearly 18 percent decline compared to a year ago.

The research firm Real Market Data, which tracks all sales regardless of whether they are listed with a realtor or not, shows that this year’s total property sales on San Juan Island are 9 percent below last year’s and the dollar amount of all transactions on the island is down 12 percent.

Despite the downward trend these numbers indicate, there’s more to the market than meets the eye, according to Gary Franklin of Windermere Real Estate.

What is different about the sales numbers?

Franklin notes that between January and Nov. 1 of 2012, there had been 27 bank-owned properties sold on San Juan Island, representing nearly 20 percent of all sales.

So far this year, only six bank-owned properties have sold, representing only 5 percent of the island’s total sales. This is evidence that the island’s foreclosure woes are easing, allowing the local market recovery to gain momentum, Franklin notes.

In addition, vacant land sales edged slightly upwards this year, which may bring more work for local contractors.

The local lodging tax resulted in higher numbers this year, meaning more tourists appear to have visited the island than a year ago. Despite the better-than-expected job numbers, the federal reserve seems satisfied with holding the course with lower-than-historical interest rates, which means that many island properties may still be considered affordable.

Furthermore, waterfront sales jumped 10 percent this year, including homes and lots, according to NMLS. The dollar volume of these sales increased by 49.6 percent. Franklin said that even though pending government regulations will limit waterfront development, there is still confidence that the island’s shorelines are a solid investment.