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Bainbridge real estate market still slow, steady

Halfway through the year, island home sales are half what they were a year ago, according to the latest statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Through June, 88 single-family homes had sold on Bainbridge, compared to 181 through June 2007. Condominium sales are bleaker, with posted sales at only one third of what they were this time last year, and only 28 units sold.

Buyers in both the condo and single-family residential markets are paying less as a result. The median single-family home sold for $642,000 – $28,000 less than the median at this time last year. The median condo sale price of $359,500 is about $105,000 off the 2007 number.  

Though it has fared better than many places regionally and nationally, the island’s real estate market has been steadily declining since the middle of 2007.

Despite the downturn, Barb McKenzie, broker of Coldwell Banker McKenzie Associates on Bainbridge, said it’s not as bad as some media reports make it out to be. She sees current trends lasting at least through the end of the year before possibly rebounding.

“The market is holding,” McKenzie said. “It’s not really increasing, but we are seeing all sorts of price ranges selling.”

In particular, McKenzie said she’s seeing homes in the upper and lower ends of the price spectrum moving, while sales continue to stagnate between $600,000 and $800,000.

Slumping sales aren’t necessarily being reflected in list prices.   

Among active listings, the median list price of a single-family home is $845,000, compared to $799,500 last year; the average list price – generally less reliable than the median because high-priced homes skew the number – is up nearly $80,0000, to $1,081,745.

“Some people are holding on to those higher numbers and not adjusting to what we’re seeing in the market,” said Sidney Ball, Associate Broker at John L. Scott on Bainbridge. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If we’re just chasing the dog’s tail then we’re never going to get out of this.” 

Like McKenzie, Ball thinks the worst is nearly over.

“If we haven’t reached the bottom yet, we’re bouncing around about to find it,” he said.

Combined condo and residential inventory remains higher than at this time last year, with 418 active listings on the market, 79 more than were available at this time last year.

Condo sales continue to struggle. The influx of new condo construction over the past few years combined with the struggling market has led to a buildup in inventory that’s lately been slow to sell, realtors say.

Market times vary depending on the property, but in general they have lengthened in proportion to the slowdown in the market.

McKenzie said that about 75 percent of the condo buyers she sees are either from Bainbridge or Poulsbo; many of them are looking to downsize, but can’t until they unload their home.

“I believe there are still a lot of condo buyers out there,” McKenzie said. “But their hands are tied because their houses aren’t selling.”

The market continues to struggle elsewhere in the country, according to the numbers.

Combined home and condo sales in the county are down about 30 percent. 

Still, realtors say Bainbridge is difficult to compare to other markets – the median sale price of homes in the county, for example, is less than half what it is on Bainbridge.

“We don’t align very well with the numbers in Kitsap County,” Ball said. “Bainbridge is a pretty special place.”

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