Some of the most interesting information about the Whidbey Island Real Estate market for 2010 is found in the numbers deep inside the annual reports. While most of the headlines just tell us whether sales are up or down, or whether prices are increasing or decreasing, there is much more to the story of how the market is doing that can be found by digging deeper into the numbers.
Island County fared pretty well in 2010 compared to much of the state. In 2010 the Island County median sales price declined by less than 1%. In Western Washington, only Grays County and Mason County had lower depreciation of home prices, and our neighboring counties had much higher depreciation than us: the Skagit County median home price declined by almost 4%, and Snohomish County median home price declined by over 8% in 2010. In the 21 counties of western Washington covered by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the average decline in home prices was about 3.6%, so we comfortably exceeded the average in our part of the state.
What exactly is a median home in Island County? Well a median home on Whidbey Island has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, is 1,664 square feet in size, and sold for $249,975 after being on the market for 110 consecutive days. On Camano Island the median house is also 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but is slightly larger at 1,736 square feet and slightly more expensive at $270,000. It took a bit longer for the median house to sell on Camano Island, at 166 consecutive days on market. On a price per square foot basis ($/sqft), prices on the two islands in Island County are fairly close, at about $150/sq ft on Whidbey Island, and about $156/sq ft on Camano Island.
Another interesting fact is that over 42% of homes on Whidbey Island that were listed for sale actually sold last year. This is basically unchanged from 2009, but is up significantly from the 39% of homes that successfully sold in 2008. With fewer homes lingering on the market, and homes selling in fewer days than in recent years, it may be a sign that the real estate market on Whidbey Island is stabilizing. We haven’t yet reached the point of being a “balanced market”, but we may be moving in that direction.
The most common indicator of a “balanced” real estate market is when there is a 6 month “supply” of homes available for sale. What we mean by “balanced”, is that it is neither a “buyer’s market” or “sellers market“, and what we mean by “supply” is that if we sold all the homes currently on the market, how long it would take to sell them at the current rate homes are selling. In Island County for 2010, we averaged an 11 month supply of homes available for sale. This compares favorably to the 31 month supply (yes, more than 2.5 years!) in San Juan County, but lags slightly behind the 10.4 month supply in Skagit County.
Until the Foreclosures and Short Sales begin to decrease, appreciation is likely to stay flat in the real estate market for Whidbey Island. In the meantime, we are thankful that our local economy is somewhat more stable than in many other parts of western Washington, and that our home prices seem to be stabilizing.