Preparing For A Changing Whidbey – April 2020

55655 A Changing Whidbey LNG

The show must go on! OK. The ‘show’ was going to be the next in a series of presentations at some of the island’s libraries about real estate and affordability trends on the island. Thanks to the libraries (all part of the Sno-Isle Library system), there have been presentations about the trends about every six months, each with a review of the trends with a different emphasis each time. After the previous presentation, it was decided to make the April 2020 presentation about how things can change; e.g. the economy, the military, tourism, technology, etc. A pandemic wasn’t on the list then, but it has certainly affected things now, including temporarily closing the libraries and their events. Working with the librarians resulted in a compromise. Instead of cancelling the presentations, record the presentation without an audience, post it online, then find ways to share it, and maybe add interactivity through online meetings. We can update the presentation later, maybe even reschedule the event.

Below are a few ways to look at those trends.


As unaffordable as Whidbey Island is, it is more affordable than many places in the Puget Sound area, and the Pacific Rim. That can create demand. Island resources can limit supply. Increased demand with limited supply frequently encourages rising prices. Add demand for an increasing military presence, and prices are encouraged higher. The coronavirus crisis is encouraging some to move from urban to rural areas, and we may witness additional demand without additional supply. Increased demand without an increase in supply or income results in a decrease in affordability.

Presentation Slides

Here are the presentation slides for those who want to look at the data themselves.

Preparing For A Changing Whidbey – April 2020

Slide Narration

Most of the narration about the slides is similar to the previous presentation. The best written description of the slides is available in an earlier post.

Whidbey Is Changing – Langley – Fall 2019

April 2020 Video (~ 1 hour and 22 minutes)

And then, of course, there’s the April 2020 recorded version of the presentation.


The only constant is change. It is easy to imagine that change doesn’t happen to houses considering some exist for centuries. In most parts to of the world, change is even slower for the land the houses sit on. Considering that many people have witnessed the Internet Bubble, 9/11, The Great Recession, and now a pandemic, it is easier to understand that housing can change even if houses and land don’t. Include the perspective inspired by 30 year mortgages, and at least recognizing the probability of change becomes prudent. What will Whidbey Island be like 30 years from now? The geography may be the same, but real estate and affordability will be different in ways we can only wonder about. Hopefully, this presentation inspires such conversations.

As this post is published, Washington State is becoming an example of a place where people successfully responded quickly and respectfully in a crisis. Islanders and their communities have become role models. Hopefully, this means restrictions will be lifted earlier than in other parts of the world.

As for real estate, at least through the end of March, the market was generally busy (an understatement in some sectors.) Officially compiled data for April won’t be available until May. This presentation is effectively a Before picture. The more complete After picture may not come out until we have two months of data, hence June. Updates will be provided as data and resources allow.

Stay tuned and enjoy some Rural Distancing.


Formal Disclosure:
I am a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker 360 Team on Whidbey Island.

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