The Tides are Rising for Waterfront Properties

Mercer Island Real Estate Becky Gray

While the summer temperatures appear to be cooling off, demand for waterfront living continues to heat up across the Central Puget Sound marketplace. Year-to-date comparisons show significant increases in both the volume of waterfront homes sold as well as spiking median home prices. The following graphs paint the picture in several of the most active markets along the Eastside of Lake Washington, Bainbridge Island and Lake Sammamish:

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“It’s expected to see median home prices for waterfront rising quicker closer to the job centers but this trend is also noted on Bainbridge Island for other reasons,” says Dean Jones, President & CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.  “It’s just a quick 30 minute ferry ride to downtown Seattle and the island offers some of the most renowned schools in the region. Families are discovering the relative value to purchase extraordinary waterfront on Bainbridge Island at roughly half the cost of what a similar home would cost on the Eastside.”

By example, Jones points to an Eagle Harbor custom home that was featured in the recent Collection Magazine.  The home boasts many artisan features and a sheltered, deep water dock and is being offered at $422 per square foot; whereas like estates on Lake Washington commonly fetch $800 to even $1,000 per square foot or more.

PICTURED ABOVE: This Eagle Harbor waterfront home on Bainbridge Island is offered at $2,098,000, which is considered a relative value compared to Lake Washington waterfront.

A rising tide in home values is also being found on the region’s smaller lakes.  Christine Kipp, a Founding Director of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty coming soon to Issaquah says she’s noticed year-to-date increases in demand on Lake Sammamish, Beaver Lake and Pine Lake too.

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“Similar to the trends on Bainbridge Island, we’re seeing buyers prefer the cities of Issaquah and Sammamish because they offer exceptional school districts, remain close to job centers and arterials and we offer lakefront properties,” says Kipp.  “This area truly offers the total package but selection is anemic – there are fewer than a dozen active listings on Lake Sammamish, Beaver Lake or Pine Lake at this time.  In this climate, it’s not uncommon for us to play matchmaker with buyers and sellers off market so that actual stats are not as it appears with the NWMLS.”

The trend toward waterfront, admittedly a discretional purchase, closely matches meteoric rises in the stock market and overall consumer confidence as this largely discretional market segment comes ashore. Recently Sotheby’s International Realty’s Extraordinary Living Blog featured waterfront homes on their global website and included a Hunts Point lakeside estate amongst the world-class properties.

PICTURED ABOVE: Sited on more than an acre of lakefront on Hunts Point, this estate property was recently the subject of a private waterfront reception in honor of a Dubai businessman and his family.

Local waterfront is proving to have a global draw. On August 7th scores of private guests from the local Young Presidents Organization joined brokers from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty to welcome a Dubai businessman and his family to explore waterfront properties. This gentleman has already purchased a luxury condominium penthouse in downtown Seattle and now has his eyes set on a waterfront compliment to his real estate portfolio in the Seattle area.  He’s not alone.

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PICTURED ABOVE:  Kevin Corbett, CEO of Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty, and his client flank Dean and Stacy Jones (center right) and listing broker Becky Gray from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty during the private event.

“There’s a clear trend for foreign nationals, most notably from China, to target waterfront properties on Lake Washington – especially on the Eastside and Mercer Island,” says Kevin Corbett, CEO of Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty, an attendee during the reception. “From a global perspective, the Puget Sound region is viewed as a relative value when compared to other West Coast markets such as Vancouver, BC, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Then of course it’s also very unique to have such a large, fresh water lake surrounded by major cities.  I believe this trend will continue to expand as the Pacific Northwest lifestyle is discovered abroad.”

Following the trend, some brokers are specifically targeting global citizens in their marketing outreach such as Prosperity Point Estate on Mercer Island, which recently hit the market at $7.28 million.  The Cape Cod architecture is reminiscent of vacation properties found in the Hamptons and for its seller, that’s exactly what it was – a summer home for their family, who reside in the United Kingdom.

PICTURED ABOVE:  Prosperity Point Estate is designed as a family compound boasting 5 bedrooms and 7,778 sq. ft. with 100 feet of waterfront and deep water moorage

PICTURED ABOVE:  This Garrett Cord Werner inspired North West Contemporary home is being offered in its ready-for-permit format for $3.988 million.

New construction waterfront homes are popping up all along the Lake Washington shoreline with limited availability in building lots remaining. This North Mercer Island Waterfront, listed by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, is a permit-ready, new construction opportunity that includes fully engineered plans for an 8,200+ square foot NW contemporary on vacant land. The building lot (pending short plat) comprises 101′ of nearly flat, no-bank waterfront (19,685 SF lot). Or it can be assembled with an adjacent lot to create 31,000 square feet of build-able land (2 lots) for $4.788 million.

Waterfront living was also the focus for Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty to partner, exclusively with Sea Magazine, in a series of articles and special advertising sections this summer.  These special edition magazines are popular with yachtsman throughout the Pacific Northwest and can be found in the seat backs of Kenmore Air flights jumping about Puget Sound.  The magazines will also be distributed during the much-anticipated Anacortes Boat Show on October 3-5.

Sea Magazine

PICTURED ABOVE: October 1946 – Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart read their favorite Sea magazine between acts at rehearsals for the CBS Lux Radio Theatre.

For a complete list of waterfront homes offered by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, visit RSIR.com.

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