Living in the San Juan IslandsOrcas Island Real Estate MarketReal Estate June 3, 2021


The housing market in the San Juan Islands continues to offer unprecedented opportunities for sellers. As homebuyers flood the housing market to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates; many with a sense of urgency based on expert forecasts for a steady rise in rates and home prices for 2021 and 2022, as reported by CoreLogic’s HPI Forecast,

“Home prices will increase on a month-over-month basis by 1.1% from April 2021 to May 2021,
and on a year-over-year basis by
2.8% from April 2021 to April 2022.”

It’s not surprising the real estate market in the San Juan Islands remains a standout in Western Washington with homebuyers experiencing a continued lack of for-sale homes while sellers see strong demand for homes as well as vacant land. The San Juan Islands and our upper-left island lifestyle ticks off many boxes on the wish lists of homebuyers including the ability to meet work-from-home (WFH) needs, reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“Fewer than 30% of workers surveyed say they will return fully to pre-COVID activities,
while most remain wary of mass transit,
crowded elevators, and indoor dining.”

Since the spring of 2020, buyers look now for communities that can offer:

  • Desirable Location and Outdoor Amenities
  • Solid and Diversified Local Economy
  • Population Diversity and Entrepreneurship
  • Remote Work Capabilities
  • More Affordable Houses
  • [MUCH] More Space, Larger Homes and Less Neighborhood Density

The San Juan Islands, even in our most populated neighborhoods are far less populous than many small mainland suburbs. Paired with our majestic island setting and the outdoor recreation activities outlined in the most recent San Juan Islands Visitor Study, surveying Washington State ferry riders, both residents and visitors and it’s easy to see why the San Juan Islands are hard to resist.

As a result, buyer demand greatly outweighs our current housing supply, positioning your property as an oasis in an inventory desert.  According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at an incredibly low 2.1-month supply, far below the 6-month mark for a neutral market. Inventory of single-family homes a year ago was already very low, and as you can see from the graph below, this year’s levels are even lower:












This high buyer demand paired with record-low housing inventory is creating the ultimate sellers’ market, which means it’s a fantastic time to sell property in the San Juan Islands. However, it doesn’t mean sellers are guaranteed success no matter what. There are still some key things to know so you can avoid costly mistakes and win big when you make a move.

1. Price Your House Right

When inventory is low, like it is in our current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask when setting a listing price. Believe it or not, that is not always true. Even in a sellers’ market, listing your house for the right price will maximize the number of buyers that see your house. Additionally, pricing right creates the best environment for multiple offers and potential bidding wars, which in turn are more likely to increase your final sale price. Real estate professionals are the best resource to help you set the best price for your house to achieve your financial goals.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Homeowners today are living in their houses for a longer period of time. Since 1985, the average time a homeowner owned their home, or their tenure, has increased from 5 to 10 years (See graph below):














This is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, when you stay in one place so long, and one that could make selling difficult is you could be more emotionally attached. If it’s the first home you purchased; a house where your children grew; or one you built or fully remodeled, it is very likely every room has memories. You can remember painting and repainting each wall, choosing each fixture or the special events hosted, making it hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that connection makes it even harder to separate the emotional value of the house from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations and to envision the new memories of your new chapter.

3. Stage Your House Properly

We generally are quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own unique homes. However, not all buyers will feel the same way about your design and personal touches. That’s why staging your house with the buyer in mind is so important. The more neutral and tidy the space, the easier it is for buyers to picture themselves living there. According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging by NAR:

“82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Not only will your house potentially attract the attention of more buyers and likely sell quickly, but the same report also notes:

“Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging
increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%.

As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavior Insights for NAR, says:

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property…
It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

Buyers need and want to visualize themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves there with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage, clean, and declutter so buyers can imagine their dreams as they walk through each room. Again, this is where a real estate professional can help, providing you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell, as well as connect you with contractors or a handyperson for repairs or any unfinished projects.

The Bottom Line

Due to the current market conditions, today’s buyers frequently enter fierce bidding wars while trying to purchase a home, which in turn drives up home prices and gives sellers incredible leverage in the negotiation process. These market conditions might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you’ll have the expert guidance you need to navigate through the process and prioritize these key elements.