Time to buy?

Time to buy?

Since we’re on an island, with the ocean’s movements and moods an inescapable part of our daily consciousness, it’s occurred to us to think of home buying in metaphorical terms of our marine environment.

Real estate has a tidal cycle of its own, although it’s certainly not as predictable as Puget Sound’s tides and currents. But like boaters contemplating the best time for a launch, you can look at trends and make choices that are in your best interests.

The Great Recession starting in 2008 was like an outgoing tide, with new and resale home prices falling—here and practically everywhere else. An ebb is obviously not the best time to be buying a home, since its value will be shrinking—and nobody can predict for how long, or how far out this tide will go.

But remember the years just before that, when home prices in the entire Puget Sound area seemed to be soaring beyond reach or reason? Buying a home in an overheated real estate market is like learning to swim in a tsunami. If you survive, you’ll have learned a lot and might come out a financial winner, but the process is frenetic and terrifying. (And you might not survive.)

Life on Whidbey Island is notable for its calmness. Its shortage of calamities and aggravation.  Taking big risks in the real-estate surf seems contrary to the way most of us want to live here.

It’s nice, then, to report that home prices on Whidbey Island are calm and stable today. South Whidbey, which includes Langley, has the highest real estate values on the island (mostly due to the relative ease of mainland commuting). The median sale price of South Whidbey homes in 2013 was $314,000, up very slightly from 2012’s $313,500.

But the average time those 2013 homes were on the market was 106 days, down from 120 days in 2012. This tells us the market is warming—but moderately, not ominously.

Whidbey Island is a stunning value compared to the metropolitan area across the moat. The median price of single-family homes in King County last year was $415,000, a 14 percent increase over 2012.

Homes in The Highlands at Langley are well under that median, our prices currently ranging from $319,00 to $374,000. (For details, go to our Site Plan page.)

You’re not likely to get rich with a quick flip of a home on Whidbey Island. But you are likely to enjoy good nights of sleep with a lot less worry.

And by the way, you won’t need to be concerned about (literal, not metaphorical) rising tides or tsunamis, either. There’s a good reason we named it The Highlands at Langley.


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