Community Profile: San Juan Islands

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The San Juan Islands are a chain of 172 islands scattered in the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the northwest tip of Washington State.  Although easily accessible from Seattle, the San Juan Islands enjoy a far different weather pattern with sunny weather and low rainfall created by the Olympic Mountain rain shadow.

Fidalgo Island (Anacortes, WA) and Whidbey Island (Oak Harbor and home of Whidbey NAS) are the most populated islands. Whidbey Island is connected by Fidalgo Island by the Deception Pass Bridge, as well as being serviced from the southern end by the Washington State Ferry. In addition to being connected to Whidbey Island, Fidalgo Island is connected to the mainland by two other Bridges. Because these two islands are so easily accessed by car, they are often not considered part of the San Juan Islands although geologically they are part of the island chain.

Most of the other San Juan Islands are sparsely populated by humans, but fish, whales, eagles, and other wildlife are abundant. The most accessible islands are San Juan Island, Shaw Island, Lopez Island, and Orcas Island – the islands serviced by the Washington State Ferry system. The ferry system carries both foot passengers and cars and the main ferry terminal is in Anacortes, WA which is just 80 miles north of Seattle.

The most populated Island not connected by bridge is San Juan Island with the town of Friday Harbor. The options for transportation to the island include scheduled land planes out of Seattle, Bellingham or Anacortes, WA. State Ferry service out of Sidney B.C. or Anacortes, WA; float planes out of Seattle, WA, charter planes, tour boats, water taxi, private boats, charter boats, private planes, private boats, or catch a ride with a friend. You can take your car, motorcycle, or bicycle aboard the ferry. If you walk on board you can rent a car, bicycle, moped, or take a bus or taxi once you reach San Juan Island.

Each San Juan Island has a very different culture and lifestyle. For example, Blakely Island is a private island which has a paved airstrip, water taxi service, a marina, a small seasonal store, and fuel, and has only a few year round residents. The smallest ferry served island is Shaw with only about 200 permanent residents. Portions of Decateur Island are serviced by a boat owned by residents; however there is also water taxi and an air field. Guemes Island and Lummi Island are service by a Skagit County Ferry.

Almost all of the islands inhabited have an air strip, some paved and some a little on the rustic side. The less populated the island the slower the lifestyle and island time takes on a new meaning from island to island.

At Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC we often have clients that want a vacation home or are looking for a place to live a slower lifestyle but they do not know which island that they want, and since each island boasts to be the best the options can be confusing. Our full time professional REALTORS® have been very successful in helping our clients chose the island with the lifestyle that is the best match. We have sold waterfront and water view estates from Hood Canal to San Juan Island, and would love to help you through the decision making process of finding your dream vacation home or next destination.

We can be reached daily at Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com or at (360) 941-3734.

Gorgeous Guemes Island Home With Beach Access

5410 W Shore-35

Perfectly remodeled, 5410 West Shore (MLS #1077246) on Guemes Island is a masterpiece home that was taken down to the studs and completely transformed into an island oasis.

view with cracked window

From the wood-wrapped wall of windows to the elegant cathedral fir ceilings with exposed beams, the architectural craftsmanship is noticeable throughout.

5410 W Shore

The spacious, bright and functional dream kitchen features solid fir cabinets and slab granite. Enjoy stunning water views from your patio, living room, kitchen, master bedroom and even from the hot tub! Beach access is just steps away!

5410 W Shore-14

For more information or to make an appointment to view this home, contact Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC at (360) 941-3734 or at Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com.

Don't Forget to Sign Up for the Guemes Dog Island Run!

Looking for something fun and active to do?  Register for the 14th Annual Guemes Island Library Dog Island Run!  Don’t miss out on this fun event and join the 10-K race or take it easy and enjoy the 2 mile walk.  The 10-K begins at 10:45 and the 2 mile walk starts at 10:55.  Take the whole family out for a fun and beautiful day on the island!  Register online today at http://www.guemesisland.info/?p=791

14th Annual Dog Island Run 2011

Sign up and join the 10K or 2 Mile run on Guemes Island, June 25 at 10:45!  The 10K run will amaze you with the fantastic views along the way. And if running just isn’t your thing, don’t worry, you can enjoy the beautiful 2 mile walk.  Turn this event into a fun, family day out of the house and get active!  There will be awards, ribbons, and refreshments, you don’t want to miss out!  All proceeds benefit the Guemes Island Library.  To register for the Dog Island Run or for more information, visit http://www.guemesisland.info/?p=791

If you are interested in purchasing or selling a home on Guemes Island, please contact our Coldwell Banker Island Living agents at  360-293-4511.

Guemes Island Ferry

 

Unfortunately, the Guemes Island Ferry will be out of service from March 28 to May 22, 2011 during the Ferry Dock Rehabilitation Project construction period.  Due to many years of exposure to salt water, the docks are in need of a girder replacement.  Both Anacortes and Guemesferry docks are suffering from corrosion, cracking, and spalling.  The Dock Rehabilitation Project is estimated to last 8-10 weeks total.  During this time of construction, a free, passenger-only ferry will be in service from Cap Sante Boat Haven in Anacortes to a temporary floating dock at Guemes Island that is located west of the ferry landing.  Parking is also available at Cap Sante Boat Haven and additional long term parking is available at Skagit County’sparking lot (6th Street and K Avenue-Anacortes).  A Skagit Transit bus will be available on Guemes to help with transportation needs.  A temporary barge service will be provided to deliver garbage, propane, fuel, and grocery services to Guemes Island during this time. 

For more information, please contact Rachel Beck (360) 419-7618 or at rachelb@co.skagit.wa.us

Internationally Speaking

More foreign buyers showed interest in purchas­ing U.S. properties in 2009, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR)’s 2010 Profile of International Home Buying Activity. More than one-fourth of REALTORS® (28 percent) say they worked with at least one international client in the past year, up from 23 percent a year ago. Nearly one in five REALTORS® (18 percent) completed at least one sales transaction with an international client, up from 12 percent in 2008. Sales involving foreign buyers represented about 7 percent of the overall residential market.

International buyers came from 53 countries; the top four were Canada (23 percent), Mexico (10 percent), the United Kingdom (9 percent) and China/Hong Kong (8 percent). The most impor­tant factors in a buyer’s decision to purchase U.S. property are the proximity to their home country and the convenience of air transportation.

Florida typically attracts European, Canadian and South American buyers, while the East coast draws Europeans. The Southwest attracts Mexican buyers and the West Coast attracts Asians.

“Wise Buyers” Taking Advantage of Chance to Get Stellar Homes

 

 KIRKLAND, Wash. (Oct. 5, 2010) – Home sales remained subpar around most of Washington during September, but directors from Northwest Multiple Listing Service say they are encouraged by some positive signs. “It’s a slow recovery, but it’s trending in the right direction,” said Joe Spencer, a member of the NWMLS board of directors.

Among positive indicators the directors cited were pending sales (“starting to show signs of life”), month’s supply of inventory (pointing toward a more balanced market), stabilizing prices (with more homes being priced competitively), the market adjusting to no more tax credits, and strong sales of “specialty homes.”

Northwest MLS members reported 5,741 pending sales during September across the 21 counties in its service area. That’s a drop from August (down 4.9 percent) and from the same month a year ago (a decline of 24.3 percent), but an improvement on the total number of mutually accepted offers for May, June and July.

MLS director Pat Grimm, reports an upsurge in people looking at properties, particularly move-up buyers. He attributes some of that activity to homes “finally being priced competitively.” The new pool of potential buyers are “getting their feet wet, but they’re taking their time before they jump in,” he commented.

Prospective buyers have plenty of choices across the price spectrum. MLS members added 9,038 new listings to inventory during September, bringing the total selection to 42,153 active listings.

 “There are many very wise buyers taking advantage of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Mike Skahen, whose real estate career spans nearly 30 years. “We haven’t seen a summer like this in home sales since 1982 when interest rates were hovering around 16 percent,” he observed.

 “Buyers are snapping up homes in all price ranges that are well located, in good condition, and that are priced fairly,” Skahen reported. Buyers who procrastinate risk losing purchasing power because of anticipated increases in interest rates.

Interest rates below 5 percent are an extraordinary event, and buyers need to take advantage of them. A 1 percent increase in the interest rate on a $300,000 mortgage increases the monthly payment by $183, he explained, adding experts expect rate hikes. “It’s not if, it’s when,” he contended.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member brokers, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 24,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 21 counties in Western and Central Washington.

Guemes ferry out of commission until Oct. 20

The Guemes Island Ferry is out of commission through Oct. 19 for maintenance and repair.

The ferry was hauled out of service late Sunday night, and is scheduled to return to the water at 6 a.m. Oct. 20. While the ferry is out, a passenger-only boat is available for transport during regularly scheduled sailing times.

The passenger-only boat holds 49 passengers and carries bicycles and small motorbikes. A Skagit Transit bus will be available on Guemes Island for transportation.

During the haul-out, Skagit County will remove one main engine, conduct ultrasound readings on the hull to determine hull thickness and life expectancy, paint and perform other small maintenance items.

Housing activity: “not as bad as some think; not as good as some would like”

KIRKLAND, Wash. (July 6, 2010) – Home sales around Western and Central Washington remained sluggish, but not all the numbers were down. June’s pending sales (mutually accepted offers) outgained the total for May by 5.8 percent. Closed sales were up from both a year ago and the previous month. Brokers also applauded congressional approval of legislation to extend the tax credit deadline on contracts signed by the April 30 deadline. That measure, which President Obama signed on July 2, pushes the deadline to Sept. 30.

“In general consumers seem to be stuck in uncertainty surrounding the world’s economic concerns, our lack of jobs and the rollercoaster of the stock market. They seem to be hunkering down despite the lowest interest rates in years,” said NWMLS director Frank Wilson.

On a more upbeat note, Wilson said the deadline extension for the tax credit is good news. “Congress has acknowledged the length of time it is taking banks to close a transaction by passing this extension,” he remarked. Without the extension, the National Association of Realtors estimates as many as 180,000 buyers wouldn’t have qualified for a tax credit of up to $8,000 because they couldn’t meet the June 30 deadline to close on their purchase.

The latest report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows mixed news across its 21-county market area, with arrows going in both directions. “The current market is not as bad as some people think, and not as good as some people would like it to be,” observed NWMLS director Pat Grimm. He also said the combination of low interest rates and affordable prices are the best he’s seen in his 25 years of experience in real estate.

The MLS summary statistics for June show:

  • Pending sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) fell 28 percent from a year ago, but rose 5.8 percent from May.
  • Year-to-date (through June), pending sales are up 12.4 percent compared to midyear 2009.
  • Closed sales for June outgained the same month a year ago by 617 transactions (up 12 percent), and rose 8.9 percent from May’s total.

“The economy is still recovering and that makes some consumers hesitant to buy,” Grimm stated, adding, “On the other hand, with prices down and mortgage rates at their lowest in 50 years, homes are more affordable now than they were before the tax credit went into effect.”

Grimm said the market has created its own incentive for buyers who missed out on the most recent tax credit. “Lower prices and lower interest rates more than offset the benefit of the tax credit. Homes are actually more affordable than they were three months ago, and that factors in the tax credit,” he emphasized. To illustrate his point, he said the purchaser of a $500,000 property this month with a $400,000 mortgage would save more than $250 per month as a result of the interest rate drop. “Do the math and you can see you are way ahead if you stay in the property for more than three years.”

House-hunters have plenty of choices. Brokers added 10,354 new listings to inventory last month, bringing the selection to 42,940 residences being offered for sale system-wide. That’s up about 4 percent from a year ago. Included in the current listings are 36,027 single family homes priced from $8,500 to $25 million, and 6,913 condominiums priced from $20,000 to $15.6 million.

Asked if now is the right time to buy, Grimm replied, “You can’t time the real estate market any more than you can time the stock market,” but added, “If you want to buy a home, and can afford it, I haven’t seen a better convergence of affordable prices and low interest rates in the 25 years I’ve been working in real estate.”

Last week’s benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.75 percent, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. That’s the lowest rate for the 30-year fixed in the nearly 25-year history of Bankrate’s weekly survey. Freddie Mac reported an average of 4.58 percent, the lowest level in more than five decades.

Click to view large chart

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member brokers, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 24,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 21 counties in Western and Central Washington.

Coldwell Banker is a Finalist in Two Inman Innovator Award Categories!

We Need Your Votes For BlueScape as The People’s Choice Innovator Award

You can’t spell innovation without “C and B!” Inman has announced the finalists for the 2010 Inman Innovator Awards and Coldwell Banker is the only national real estate brand with multiple finalist entries for both the new BlueScape search and our consumer blog Blue Matter.

But most importantly, for the first time Inman is presenting a “People’s Choice Innovator Award” and we need your votes for BlueScape to win this coveted recognition…

BlueScape Search is a finalist in the Web Service Category: taking cues from popular music recommendation websites, Coldwell Banker® developed BlueScape, a visually-driven real estate search platform to help “dreamers” find just that – the home of their dreams.

Blue Matter is a finalist in the Blog Category: Blue Matter is the official blog of Coldwell Banker and was created in February of 2010 with the intent of providing additional insight and commentary on the real estate experience to benefit consumers.

People’s Choice Category – Vote For BlueScape

And new for this year, Inman will announce a “People’s Choice Innovator Award” with the winner selected by a popular vote of Inman News readers. We want BlueScape to take its rightful place as the most innovative product designed in real estate over the last year, but we need your votes to help get there.

Click HERE to access the People’s Choice Award and cast your vote for BlueScape only. Please vote as soon as possible!

The winners of the 2010 Inman News Innovator Awards will be announced during the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from July 13-15 in San Francisco.