High-end homes getting higher

The “spiritual center” of a $1.675 million home set on 1.46 acres at the island’s north end. The home is listed at well over $1 million despite not having a view of the water, something that’s becoming more common according to some local realtors. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
The “spiritual center” of a $1.675 million home set on 1.46 acres at the island’s north end. The home is listed at well over $1 million despite not having a view of the water, something that’s becoming more common according to some local realtors.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Nearly 70 island homes are now listed for sale at prices over $1 million.

On the tip of the island’s big toe, haunted by the ghost of Mount Rainier, sits a spacious waterfront abode replete with media room, his and her offices, and 200 feet of low-bank waterfront.

Asking price: $7.895 million.

One might expect to pay that much for a home within lapping distance of Puget Sound, said Chris Miller, of Deschamps Realty. But nowadays, venturing farther inland doesn’t necessarily guarantee buyers will land something for under seven figures.

“Not until the past few years did non-waterfront homes here start selling for more than a million,” said Miller, who for 10 years was caretaker of the island’s first million-dollar home, near Fay Bainbridge State Park. That deal was brokered in 1989, Miller’s first year on the island.

For most of the 18 years since, he said, the number of million-dollar homes on Bainbridge climbed at a slow but steady pace. That is until 2004, when the once impenetrable million dollar barrier was breached 20 times.

Today, 68 Bainbridge Island homes are listed for least $1 million, according the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks home sale statistics across the state.

And people are buying them.

One-third of the 18 island home offers made during the past two weeks were for homes priced above $1 million.

Many, Miller said, have seen bidding wars between buyers anxious to claim their piece of the local luxury real estate market.

Though some of that action is focused on the island’s interior, there is still plenty of interest in waterfront property, particularly if it’s low-bank waterfront, said Maureen Buckely, of Buckley & Buckley Real Estate.

She also said many buyers are looking for more “modest” homes on waterfront lots so they can knock down or add-on to the existing structure.

Buckley earlier this month brokered the sale of a $4.5 million new construction home on a large waterfront lot, the island’s most expensive sale this year.

“Bainbridge has really come into its own,” she said. “We’re starting to see some world class properties that we didn’t have three or four years ago. Until recently they were unheard of.”

Now the unheard of – like a $1.6 million north-end home that doesn’t come with a view, but does come with only north-facing toilet seats – is showing its face all over the island.

The home, on about one-and-a-half acres, was designed based on Sthapatya Veda, a theory that aims to integrate the physical aspects of the structure with a spiritual philosophy. Hence the toilets and a “spiritual center” – a large decorative pot – around which the entire 3,800-square-foot home is oriented.

Even some of the island’s more traditional homes are beginning to eclipse the $1 million barrier.

In fact, entire neighborhoods of million dollar homes are under construction, like Hidden Cove Estates, near Port Madison. There, a number of spec homes – those that aren’t customized to a specific buyer – are taking shape around a quiet cul de sac.

Sitting behind a neatly landscaped yard at the end of the block is a prime example. Four bedrooms. Four and one half bathrooms. 4,788 square feet. No view. Price: $1.589 million.

Through 18 years of watching the market, Miller said he’s noticed no hard-and-fast rules regarding the proximity of pricey homes on the island to one another; they are just as often isolated as they are found in bunches.

Demographics may be changing as well, he said, with more young professionals partaking in the luxury market.

He said many buyers are from off-island and many are purchasing second or third homes.

It used to be that buyers were moving to the island to isolate themselves, he said. Now, many think living here is a “social statement.”

“That’s the difference between the new Bainbridge and the old Bainbridge,” he said. “Now it’s exclusive and romantic. It’s a destination address.”

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