5-Step Plan for Dazzling First Impressionswally gudgell group blog organize your home sold - tips
& Organizing Your Home Sold

Even in the San Juan Islands, our island lives can be hectic at times, leaving our homes a little jumbled. We look past the mountain of footwear in the corner of our mudroom, an exquisite collection of beach finds adorning window, or the magnificent compost along our driveway, but buyers will not.

According to Psychological Science, the Princeton psychologists found “it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression,” and from Science Of People, “our first impressions of people are 75% accurate.” Houses are not people, but house hunting can feel a little like dating. Instead of seeing a well-designed open floor plan and spacious 2-car garage with storage for both cars and kayaks, disorder and unfinished projects leave buyers feeling cramped, uncomfortable, and blocked from seeing their best life in your home.

The good news, with a little work, you can make your home’s first impression more appealing, give your home an edge over the competition and make any buyer say “YES.”


To understand your home’s current first impression, and to discover where a little attention is needed, take a preview inventory with photos of your home inside and out. Then ask yourself, friends, and family, “what do you see?” Tips to getting the best preview photos of your home include taking lots of pictures, maximize natural light shooting on a sunny day, remove outside screens for the photoshoot (saved out of sight for the new owners) and turn off your flash. For more tips on the best photos of your home, visit on

Your home’s exterior and landscaping speak volumes as to what buyers may find inside. Keeping your yard clipped or trimmed, looking its best with weeded beds, a tidy driveway, clean and pressure wash siding, decking, and windows with all equipment organized and tucked away can result in impressive ROI.

Disorganization and clutter obstruct buyers from seeing the true beauty and possibilities of your home. Additionally, a house with too much personalization acts as a barrier to buyers envisioning themselves coming home every day. Spend a day or two of deep cleaning, reorganization, and depersonalizing before your first showing; possibly a few more days for some of us. Any time spent creating the feeling of space and a neutral canvas throughout your home is time well spent and ensures a buyer’s first impression is positive, allowing them to appreciate your home’s true potential and their life in it.  View for more tips on decluttering for dazzling first impressions at®.

We all have a to-do list of minor unfinished projects and repairs. Before you put your home on the market, optimize sale proceeds and your home’s first impression with buyers by checking off that list. Patch holes, repaint and refinish if needed, check and repair loose door handles or cabinet hinges, as well as touch up the caulking around tubs and sinks.

Don’t forget to check all your lighting and replace any burnt bulbs. Then use lighting, soft neutral music and deodorize, neutralize and freshen with natural aromas to say, “This Home Is The One!”  For more strategies on setting the mood for sold, visit at®.


First impressions are no more important on a first date than they are when selling your home. Should you have questions about the value of your home, our market, or what steps you should take for the best return on your investment, please shoot us a call. We are here to help!

Cheers to Sold – Wally


Posted on November 25, 2020 at 10:24 am
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands | Tagged , , , , , , ,



Eastsound in Fall Copyright MaryRoseDenton8 Orcas Island Realty Gudgell Group Covid-Era Real Estate BlogCOVID-ERA REAL ESTATE:


What strange times we’re in… it’s hard enough to keep track of what day it is, let alone the economic state of affairs. In 40+ years of selling real estate, I’ve never seen the market so intense in our neck of the woods.

Our homes are our havens, maybe now more than ever. We’re approaching eight months of communal anxiety: virus fears, civil unrest, neighbors in crisis, political unease, and loss and illness for many. In large part, the desire for a ‘safe haven’ is driving the local market. Second-home owners are coming to stay long-term, and new buyers from urban areas are seeking safety and tranquility. The result is a shortage of properties for sale. Low inventory along with historically low interest rates has caused what is known as a ‘seller’s market.’ For those who’ve considered selling, there’s likely never been a better opportunity to gain maximum return on investment. This is the time to consider a valuation on your property to inform decisions about what to do next.

The NW Multiple Listing Service home sales for Orcas Island over the last six months has seen 92 closed sales, a median sold price of $683,500, and an average time on the market of 64 days. The largest increase was in the 30 days prior to November 1st.  In that most recent window, our median sold price increased over $100,000 to $792,000, with an average of 118 days on the market. There are currently 22 pending sales and only 34 active listings; historically, the number of active homes is four times this number.*

Vacant land property sales have also seen a surge. Our six month average price was $246,500 with 85 days on the market.  During the most recent 30 day window the average price jumped to $265,000, and days on the market shortened to 70. 48 vacant land properties sold in the last six months, with an additional 21 pending, leaving only 31 listed properties remaining. Typically, there would be five times that many.*

October often marks a winding down of the selling season, but the Covid-19 swell in real estate sales will be with us for months to come. Interestingly, we’re seeing far fewer people purchasing property for vacationing or as rentals. Nearly all of our recent clients work remotely to some degree, and say they are moving
here permanently. This means we will have an influx of new members in our island community. With the weight of many worries on our shoulders,
it’s more important than ever to engage and encourage connections among us, and especially with those who may not yet know many people here.
In a time of relative social isolation, it will be up to us to find ways to welcome them as ‘islanders.’


Warm regards,



*Figures may have changed since the drafting of this column.



Posted on November 13, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands | Tagged , , , , , , ,


Dear Clients & Friends,western washington gardner report san juan county has greatest increase wally gudgell group windermere real estate san juan islands salish sea housing market statistic link

Numbers don’t lie; the real estate market in the San Juan Islands is record-breaking. From both the Gardner Report and the NWMLS Breakout, San Juan County has the hottest market in Western Washington.  Year-to-date, active listings in San Juan County are down by over 52% and pending sales up over 97% compared to this time last year.

You’ve heard it before, but there has not been a time better than now to list your home for a quick sale and highest return on your real estate investment. If you’re wondering how much equity you’ve gained even in the last year, the best approach to marketing for maximum return, what selling real estate looks like in this Covid-19 Era, my team and I are here to answer all your questions, serve as your local specialists and guide you to sold.

Cheers to Sold,
– Wally





Posted on October 30, 2020 at 10:49 am
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands |


I’m sure you’ve heard of the current shortage of active inventory for the flood of buyers looking to call Orcas Island home during the Covid-19 Era. I’m also sure you’ve heard or even taken advantage of the extraordinarily low mortgage rates, which have further inspired the purchase of homes in the San Juan Islands. But how precisely do these factors impact and contribute to our seller’s market, and most importantly, how do they affect you and your home?

Could now be the time to come off the fence and take advantage of these market trends? To this question, I answer, “ABSOLUTELY YES!”  

Click the below links to review our residential, vacant land, and condo/dock slip market statistics for September, then shoot us a call to discuss how you can become another statistic this fall.



orcas island real estate market statistics windermere orcas island san juan islands salish sea wally gudgell group





Posted on October 15, 2020 at 10:55 am
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands |


Matthew Gardner Chief Financial Officer Windermere Real Estate Orcas Island Wally Gudgell Group San Juan Islands Salish Sea Q2 Real Estate Market Report Breakout 2020





















Dear Clients and Friends,

Things are a little crazy up here!  The real estate market is particularly unusual at the moment in San Juan County.  If you look at the middle chart on the attached break out comparing June 2019 to June 2020, inventory is way down, pending sales are almost double, and closed sales are barely up.  What this means is that in the last two months the local market has taken off and is now totally a seller’s market across the board, low to high prices.  We’re not seeing this so much in the urban areas of Washington, but other rural communities are also experiencing an uptick as people realize they don’t need to live and/or work in the city and are seeking safe havens.  Our office is as busy as ever, and as you know, according to Economics 101, when demand is high, and inventory is low prices go up.

For all of Western Washington prices are up about 6% from last year. Inventory is down approximately 30%.  The number of active listings compared to last year are down 42%.  Construction is also way up in our county as owners that have been sitting on their lots for a long time are deciding it is time to get something going; as a result contractors are very busy.  Many summer-only residents moved to their summer homes in March of this year.  Transient rental accommodations and restaurants are now open at 50% capacity in Phase 2 of reopening the state; with virus cases on the rise it’s uncertain whether the Governor will initiate any more lenient phases in the near future.

Please find from the following link our new 2020 Windermere Real Estate Orcas, Lopez, Crane and Outer Islands Ferry Brochure.  If you’d like, hard copies are available as well for anyone who would like one, just let us know and one will be mailed to you.

COVER 2020 Windermere Orcas Lopez Crane and Outer Islands Ferry Catalog Link Wally Gudgell Group San Juan Islands Realtor

As always, please feel free to forward your questions and/or comments and know
we are here to keep you alert to interesting market shifts and trends.

Stay safe and healthy,

~ Wally and the Gudgell Group


Posted on July 23, 2020 at 11:40 am
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands |

WHAT TO DO . . .

what to do when there's nothing to do in coronavirus quarantine and shelter in place


WHAT TO DO . . .

As we all have started to adjust to our new, hopefully, temporary 2020 Coronavirus routines, many of us, including The Wally Gudgell Group, have begun to find isolation, shelter in place, and social distancing a little monotonous.

Like you, we too in these first weeks of isolation, have discovered a real pressure in the question WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE’S NOTHING TO DO. The simple abundance of extra, or downtime has left us surfing and longing for the fun seen on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or featured on our national and local news.

You may be asking, “What can we do with all this time at home? What family-friendly fun can we have sheltered in place to celebrate Spring’s arrival?” Whether you’re tucked away on Orcas in the beautiful San Juan Islands, poolside in Florida with a quickly dwindling wine cellar, or in a posh high-rise condominium atop Capitol Hill; we enthusiastically offer nine ideas to stay busy and sane while practicing Covid-19 isolation.

Please know you can reach our team by email or phone to help answer any real estate questions you may have regarding Idea #1, DREAMING OF AN ISLAND HOME. Whether you’re buying or selling land, residential homes, or businesses, we are here! We can also help with several other ideas from determining the optimal DIY project for home renovation projects, to merely chatting about our fantastic island lifestyle in the San Juan Islands.

Happiness and Health – The Wally Gudgell Group

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 1:47 pm
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


COVID-19 coronavirus economic impact matthew gardner windermere cheif economist

Dear Clients and Friends,

As you can well imagine, Coronavirus is on the minds of everyone, specifically those of us who call Western Washington home. To review the possible impact of COVID-19 on the real estate market, whether you’re in the process or planning to buy or sell a home, please visit the below link to Matthew Gardner’s March 09, 2020, COVID-19 ECONOMIC IMPACT.

If you have questions about how COVID-19 may impact your real estate goals, please call our office, we are here to help.

Wishing Everyone Good Health
~ Wally


Posted on March 11, 2020 at 12:44 pm
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands | Tagged , , , , ,


matthew gardner economist windermere real estate wally gudgell group market report western washington Q4 2019


Dear Clients and Friends,

Please find a link below to Matthew Gardner’s Full Report for the Western Washington Real Estate Market Q4 2019 including some compelling reasons now is again a great time for sellers in the San Juan Islands.

Reviewing Matthew’s Q4 2019 Report, as expected our seasonal slow paired with continued inventory shortages place San Juan County with the lowest number of home sales.  In the same breath San Juan County LEADS Western Washington for Q4 2019 with a spike in home price growth to a 12% increase over the third quarter of 2019.  This increase in home sale prices and inventory shortage should encourage many sellers to list this spring, adding to inventory to positively impact our Q1 for 2020.  Should you have questions how these figures impact your real estate portfolio, how it measures up or if you need a realtor, feel free to call, I’d love to discuss your real estate goals.





Posted on February 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands | Tagged , , , , ,


washington state real estate excise tax changes shoreline code san juan county wally gudgell group windermere

Dear Clients and Friends,

Hope everyone is having a good summer season!  There are two things I wanted to bring your attention to ( please see attachment ). 


1) The first attachment is in regard to the new residential Washington State Real Estate Excise Tax (SB 5998) which is a significant increase for more expensive homes, particularly when you get to $2M and above.  This does not apply to commercial properties.  Whether it applies to apartment houses and similar structures is still unknown at this time as some of the finer issues are evidently still in flux and it sounds like there may be some last-minute changes.  Regardless, this isn’t effective until January 1, 2020, but if you are thinking of selling, you might want to consider trying to make it happen this year.


2) Second are San Juan County maps for various shoreline areas of Orcas.  Please note if you are in an area that has a dark blue shoreline stripe you are precluded from having transient accommodations, nightly rentals, on your property. We have found that many people are unaware of this.  The revised shoreline code was adopted last year and some of the shoreline zoning boundaries have changed as well.  Transient rentals have proven very popular here and can be more profitable than year-round rentals.  Some people who want to retire here in several years are purchasing homes hoping to generate some cash flow to help with their mortgage payments until they can retire on Orcas in the future.


In general, market conditions are good but not great, with inventory extremely low.  Please let us know if you have any questions regarding real estate on Orcas or in San Juan County.  We pride ourselves in being your go to real estate information resource in the county.


My Best,



Posted on August 7, 2019 at 11:20 am
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands |




7 FUN WAYS TO CELEBRATE OUR ORCA WHALESsan juan islands national monument salish sea windermere real estate orcas island wally gudgell group
World Orca Day is a great time to think about celebrating our magnificent neighbors and spread awareness about their plight in the wild.

As you may know Orcas face many challenges. These days, orcas—also known as killer whales, blackfish and seawolves— are threatened by diminishing food sources, pollution, oil spills, and more.  Here are a few ways you can celebrate and show your support for orcas.

1.  Adopt an orca. By symbolically “adopting” a wild orca, you’ll be supporting initiatives for clean, healthy oceans where orcas can thrive. Plus, you can get an adorable plush orca and a cookie cutter as a thanks for your donation.  jpod whale museum adopt orca whale san juan islands salish sea friday harbor windermere real estate orcas island wally gudgell group










2.  Make orca cookies. What else would you do with the above cookie cutter?  

amazon orca whale cookie cutter san juan islands salish sea friday harbor windermere real estate orcas island wally gudgell group










3 Watch orcas in action. Whether they’re making a paddle boarder giggle, giving themselves massages, or battling sharks, orcas in the wild never fail to entertain.  You’ll find fantastic tours available daily throughout the San Juan Islands; be it by land, sea or air can help find the right fit.


4.  Learn more about orcas, know the difference between resident, transient, and offshore orcas? Brushing up with NOAA on your basic orca knowledge can help spread the word.



5.  Get a tattoo. For the super dedicated orca lovers out there, what better way to show your dedication than to get a permanent tribute of the whales on your skin? (Though you can also be less committal with a temporary tattoo.)









6.  Blog and share on social media platforms about the orcas. Sharing fun facts about orcas helps to educate your followers; and sharing your whale watching photos and videos helps your followers get excited about their unique lives.  Saving the orcas won’t happen unless more people care.


7.  Get yourself or friends and family orca swag showing your support for the stewardship of orca whales.



Posted on July 12, 2019 at 2:24 pm
Wally Gudgell | Posted in Living in the San Juan Islands |