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"Home sale prices up 9.25 percentBut while they're selling for more, they're not being snapped up as fast."
"The pace of Bainbridge Island home sales continued to slow in the year 2000. But that did not keep prices from increasing.Year-end statistics show 416 home sales on Bainbridge in 2000, compared to 447 sales in 1999, a decrease of just under 7 percent. But the average sale price rose 9.25 percent, from $383,795 to $419,317.We have affluent buyers. They are asking for and builders are supplying many, many more bells and whistles today, said Ed Kushner of Windermere Real Estate, whose office compiled the sales figures from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.A look at the statistically typical Bainbridge house illustrates Kushner's point that a Bainbridge buyer pay a lot, but also get a lot.The two homes now on the market that most closely approximate last year's average sales price are a new home in Fort Ward listed for $415,000 and a 1986 home near Lynwood Center for $425,000.The newly built home in Fort Ward is on a quarter-acre lot, but has almost 3,600 square feet, with five bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, hardwood floors and granite countertops.The 1986 home has over five acres - plus a barn, a stock pond and a small flock of sheep - all included in the price.The change in our market mirrors the tremendous changes we've seen in downtown Seattle over the past couple of decades, Kushner said.Look at all those high-rise buildings. Everyone who works in one of them is a candidate to live on the island, because the ferry is as convenient for them as any commuting alternative. And those tend to be high-paying jobs.The figures confirm a shift to high-end sales. A total of 135 homes sold last year for under $300,000, a 21 percent decline from the 171 sales in that price range during 1999. Last year saw 229 sales between $300,000 and $600,000, a small decline from the 241 sales in that bracket in 1999. But 52 homes sold last year for over $600,000, a big jump from the 35 sales in 1999 in that price range.The nine-plus percent price increase was the smallest in the last three years, according to the MLS statistics. They show an increase in 1998 of almost 13 percent, and another jump in 1999 of just over 12 percent.Sales sluggishAlthough the 2000 market was good, it was not quite up to seller expectations, according to broker Georg Syvertsen of Deschamps Realty and Associates.People had heard all kinds of stories about bidding wars and multiple offers, he said. They might have been a little optimistic. I think there were more price reductions last year than there had been.Syvertsen said the average sale time in 2000 rose to 114 days from 97 days in 1999. That's a significant increase, he said, attributing the increased sale time to higher initial asking prices.While some of the price increase is attributable simply to inflation, Syvertsen said there appears to be more demand for higher-end homes on the island, and less demand for relatively lower-cost homes - those under $300,000.The numbers confirm his observation. There are presently 14 homes listed on the island for $250,000 or less, most with three bedrooms. In past years, less-expensive homes have been snapped up quickly, but as a group, the sub-$250,000 homes have been on the market for 104 days - about as long as more expensive homes.I don't know why that is, Syvertsen said of the slower market for less-expensive homes, although he did say there is a perception in Seattle that Bainbridge is exclusive.Other indications also point to a leveling-off of the market. The city issued 213 building permits last year for single-family homes with an average value (excluding land) of $224,000. The number is down slightly from the 222 issued in 1999, and no total-value figures are available for that year.Also, Syvertsen said there were only 15 sales of vacant land in 2000, a big drop from the 57 sales in 1999.Looking ahead, Syvertsen said he is cautiously optimistic for a repeat of 2000 this year.Our big year this decade was 1999, he said. I don't think we'll see another year like that, but if it's like last year, we'll be happy. "