Up and down the island the same thing is happening. Houses are sprouting For Sale signs. It is the season. The tourist and vacation crowds are in. The gardens are blooming, though the lawns may be browning. The weather doesn’t interrupt with wind or rain or whatever except a very good chance of sunshine. Kids are out of school. People are ready and able to make a change.
Let’s moderate that a bit. It isn’t like every house is suddenly for sale. Actually, very few are. Whidbey Island’s permanent population is barely over 80,000, though in summer it may spike by several thousands. Someone has to fill those vacation homes that account for more than a quarter of the houses in Central and South Whidbey. Even with a population like that, there are only about 310 houses for sale. (Disclosure: I am a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Tara Properties; which also makes it easier to get the numbers.) That’s about 1% of the houses for sale, or 99% of them that aren’t.
Compare that to the winter and some areas see jumps of over 50% in available listings. It makes summer the time to shop for the greatest selection; but of course the advantage goes to folks who can shop here throughout the year. (Houses aren’t just about numbers. Houses become homes when emotions are involved.) More listings. More buyers. More supply. More demand. It isn’t obvious which wins the economic battle with changing prices.
For some, there’s a bit of a rush to get things done. It can take weeks for a transaction to close, and some people are only on the island for a couple of months. Cash moves things along much more quickly. Mortgages take a bit longer. And then there are the domino deals where someone will buy a house after theirs sells which may be bought by someone who has to sell their house which may be bought by… Just imagine the cascade of phone calls precipitated by one call about the first transaction being completed. Much can rely on the sale of the simplest shack.
The speed of the activity increases. The median days on market can go from a couple of months in the winter, to a few weeks in the summer. It’s common for just the right house at just the right price to receive multiple offers over a weekend leaving a seller with a lot to think about in a short amount of time. Then they have to get started on packing and moving. It’s also common for some of the more intriguing and customized homes to wait longer for just the right person who can appreciate an engine hoist in the garage, an intricate garden and irrigation system, or a protected patch of property that also houses wildlife.
Put it all together and while folks are boating, swimming, fishing, or just relaxing others are making their house look pretty, packing, watching signs and forms fly by, negotiating, fixing, and possibly moving on. Hundreds of For Sale signs go up, and eventually all come down. It’s a forest of 2×4 flowers that are arranged, displayed, and passed to a new owner.
There are more than enough reasons to live on Whidbey Island. Just like anywhere, it’s just right for someone. For places with distinctive seasons, like Whidbey’s tourist season, the very things that attract visitors can turn them into residents. Drop by and see if you want to stay a while.