It’s the gift-giving season. Time to put bows on things. A house is a bit big for most bows, but it can be done – especially, if the house is tiny. Whidbey Island has some tiny, or at least small-ish, houses as well as grand estates. The grand estates may be magnificent, but they’re harder to gift-wrap. What’s your dream house: a tiny house on a big lot, a big house on a tiny lot, or something completely different? There’s a lot to choose from. Here are a couple of charts that may give an idea of the variety.
Tiny houses are back in style. They’ve always been around, but they had other names like cottages, cabins, and bungalows. Smaller homes have been popular as starters, but many of the ones on Whidbey started as vacation retreats, like the cabins left over from the island’s history of fishing resorts. As people are downsizing, they’re redefining how they want to live. They’re changing the conventions. The real estate listings don’t show the tiniest houses that fit on trailers, but even in the quiet real estate season that is December, there are about 18 homes that are under 1,000 square feet. There are also about 18 homes that are over 4,000 square feet, with two of them exceeding 6,500 square feet inside. Almost two-thirds of the houses define a sweet spot of 1,000-2,500 square feet; that means the majority of homes are under the national median of about 2,450 square feet. Evidently, the island is already prepped for downsizing.
Whether the houses may be big or small, the lot sizes can vary just as much – and more. The majority of the lots are less than half an acre, but the trend doesn’t smoothly flow after that. Lots between 2 and 4 acres make up about 1/6th of the market, but there’s a big bump around 4 to 6 acres, and another one around 10 acres. Five acre lots and their multiples are common enough to provide plenty of options for hobby farmers, folks with big projects, or people who want a lot of privacy. Larger estates are available, too, with one of the largest having dozens of acres. One of the big price swings is whether the land comes with a view. Old farm land that’s inland will attract one kind of owner. Sweeping waterfront estates will attract another. Don’t be surprised that there’s high demand for the view. Find a farm with a view and watch the benefits add up.
Properties are a mix of the two, naturally. Do you want a lot of land and not much house, a large space inside and outside, or a large house on a small lot? Small suggests lower maintenance. Large suggests more privacy. One of the appealing aspects of Whidbey Island is the great diversity in the housing. It may make it more difficult for a real estate broker to find comparable homes, but it also means people have more choices. Whidbey Island is not just an unbroken set of farms, suburban developments, or estates. Find what you like; but remember, the tiny houses are the easiest ones to put a bow on.