Although Whidbey’s real estate market is in the midst of the supposed slow season, the market is still hot despite the brisk temperatures, Realtors say.
The healthy market is similar to those across the country, but that brings complications of its own.
“We’re seeing an extremely healthy market; however, like the rest of the country we’re suffering from a lack of inventory,” Cheryl Keefe, a South Whidbey broker and Realtor, said. “When you have no inventory, it’s a seller’s market. There’s not enough of a supply for the housing demand and that starts to move prices up.”
Prices are “absolutely” appreciating, Keefe said, a result of the low inventory on the island. Other factors include the healthy economy, healthy stock market and low interest rates.
According to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks real estate listings and transactions, 1,312 homes have been sold on Whidbey in 2017 as of Oct. 31. That’s a 5.1 percent increase from the 1,248 sold in 2016. This past year saw a 15.7 percent increase from 2015’s sales.
“South Whidbey has a while to reach that plateau of the 2006 housing bubble, but we have surpassed the actual number of homes sold for that period,” Keefe said. “We haven’t quite gotten to the same pricing as then, but we’re working toward that.”
However, she adds that it is nothing to worry about as the conditions are different this time around.
“The difference is the bubble went from 0 to 100 overnight,” Keefe said. “You can’t do that and not expect a fall, right? This market is gradually going there so it’s much healthier.”
Seattle’s market is a large player in the seller’s market here on Whidbey. The booming economy and increase in job opportunities is causing people to flood into the Seattle area, and that eventually spills over into Whidbey’s direction, Keefe said.
“To give you a good picture nationally and why we’re in this position: This year nationally we have the same amount of inventory as we did in 94, but we have 63 million more people,” Keefe said.
As far as the rental market goes, the inventory in pretty low.
However, some South Whidbey real estate agents say they’re surprised to see renters aren’t snatching up available rentals as soon as they go on the market.
Ben Robinett, a South Whidbey Realtor at Windermere, say some South End rentals are starting to stay on the market longer.
Robinett said that “doesn’t necessarily” come down to the low inventory in the real estate market, although it can be a factor.
“In the past few years, it’s been more common for accidental landlords who couldn’t sell their house for a profit to start again since the market is doing better,” Robinett said.
“That pulls those rentals off the market, so the pool is narrowed.”