The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
Employment numbers in Western Washington continue to improve following the massive decline caused by COVID-19. For perspective, the area shed more than 373,000 jobs between February and April. However, the recovery has been fairly robust: almost 210,000 of those jobs have returned. Unemployment levels remain elevated; the current rate is 8.2%. That said, it is down from 16.6% in April. The rate, of course, varies across Western Washington counties, with a current low of 7.2% in King County and a high of 11.2% in Grays Harbor County. The economy is healing, but the pace of improvement has slowed somewhat, which is to be expected. That said, I anticipate that jobs
will continue to return as long as we do not see another spike in new infections[…]
With over fifty miles of Washington’s pristine Pacific Coast beachfront at our doorstep, there’s no better place than Camano Island to find peace and relaxation on the water. Whether your passion is boating, crabbing, saltwater fishing, sailboarding, or watching the breathtaking sunrise over the Cascades, here are all the public boat launches available on “The Easy Island.”
Maple Grove Park
684 Maple Grove Road
The Maple Grove Park boat launch offers beach access and views of Whidbey Island, Skagit Bay, and the Cascades, with parking for a small handful of cars and trailers. Providing a single lane concrete slab, this launch is usable at a lower tide. This access has very close neighbors, please respect private property.
From Terry’s Corner, following North Camano Drive 4 miles, and take a lazy right turn on Maple Grove Road. The County park and launch is ½ mile further down the road.
* This is a boat launch fee site, purchase your daily or annual boat launch passes for Maple Grove Park HERE
1013 Simonsen Pl.
The Cavalero Beach boat launch is located in a lovely park on the eastern side of Camano, with picnic facilities and views of the mountains. It’s close to neighbors, so be mindful of noise when launching or enjoying the park. Please respect private property.
From Terry’s Corner, follow East Camano Drive for 5.5 miles. Turn East on Cavalero Road, and follow the signs to the county park.
*This is a boat launch fee site, purchase your daily or annual boat launch passes for Cavalero Beach HERE
Boat Ramp: 2998 Utsalady Pt. Rd
Vista: 398 Shore Dr.
This small but tranquil park looks across the water to the mountains, offering beautiful views. From Utsalady Vista, continue a short way to the end of the beach road to reach the boat launch ramp. The park includes a garden and picnicking area. Note: parking is quite limited, please respect private property.
From Terry’s Corner, follow North Camano Drive for 3 miles. Turn north on Utsalady Point Road to a large brown Historical sign. Parking on the left of the sign.
*This is a boat launch fee site, purchase your daily or annual boat launch passes for Utsalady Point HERE
Camano Island State Park
2269 Lowell Point Rd
Hours: 6:30 AM – Dusk (Summer), 8 AM – dusk (Winter)
This 134-acre park provides camping, exploring, and gorgeous views of Washington’s natural treasures like Puget Sound and the Cascades. From morning to night there are numerous ways to enjoy some R & R, such as hiking, bird watching, and beach wandering before returning to your car or one of five rustic rental cabins.
Take your boat out from the Camano Island boat launch for a day of crabbing, diving, or saltwater fishing in Saratoga Passage. The state park’s launch, unlike other launches on the island, has a double dock.
*This park is equipped with automated pay stations for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass and boat launch permit.
Daily and Annual Passes
Launching a boat at Camano Island state park requires either an annual launch permit or a daily launch permit plus a Discover Pass (annual or one-day). The boat launch fee at this park is $7/day for both residents and non-residents.
At the Cavalero, Maple Grove, and Utsalady launches, you can purchase an annual or daily pass through the Island County permit system. The annual pass is $30 for residents and $90 for non-residents, good from July 1 through June 30; the daily pass is $5/day for residents and $15/day for non-residents.
Interested in more of Camano Island? Come visit and check out all the activities it has to offer…you might love it here so much you decide to stay!
To get a great start to your Camano Island adventure, download a map of beautiful Camano Island HERE
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about day-to-day living, working, learning, and travel. With strict travel advisories and airports largely being seen as a risk, many are looking for local escapes that offer a change of scenery and minimize travel risks.
Camano Island is an ideal escape for Seattle and Bellevue residents looking for peaceful relaxation, outdoor activities, and magnificent beaches. On your doorstep is the chance to visit one of several county and state parks, go whale watching, or rent a kayak and explore the water on your own terms. Camano is located just one hour north of Seattle with no ferry line!
Camano is also quickly becoming an option for working families with a myriad of remote working opportunities and easy travel options into the cities. The COVID-19 pandemic has also inspired an urban flight, and anyone thinking of buying a home on Camano may want to try a short-term stay in one of the amazingly diverse options found on AirBnB or VRBO.
Below are some of the top short-term rental properties to cater for your every need. Find one that fits your interest, or come back to try a few!
Farm with enchanting views
This is located on 100 acres of private farm and forest land with sweeping views of Port Susan and Mt. Rainier. The newly renovated 3600 sq. foot house spaciously accommodates up to 10 people and is set in a quiet location just 5 minutes from Stanwood. For active leisure, there is a basketball hoop, a ping pong table, private forest walking trail, and best of all views of the adorable alpacas. After a rejuvenating night’s sleep, you can wake up to the chattering of the bald eagle and the hum of the alpaca.
This is a space you won’t want to leave. The Carriage House is perched on high bank waterfront delivering panoramic ocean views and gorgeous sunsets. Located on a quiet North Camano Island lane, the Carriage House comfortably sleeps 9 people between 3 bedrooms. Privacy and a recent renovation complete the experience. Get cozy on the couch, open a bottle of wine or cook a meal in the kitchen. Bliss.
Great for small families and friends getaways, this 2-bedroom, 1-bath beach bungalow is a charming introduction to the peaceful beauty of northern Washington. Stunning sunsets and easy access await you on sandy Sundin Beach. The surrounding community on Camano Island is friendly and quiet, and the pace of life is just right for vacation. The historic village of Stanwood is 5 miles away.
This craftsman home sleeps six people and features an extremely comfortable living and kitchen. Outside you can enjoy the heated swimming pool, an outdoor shower and spacious lawn. The beach lies within an easy walk of the house.
This charming 1914 farmhouse has been beautifully updated for you to enjoy. With two bedrooms and two bathrooms, this house comfortably accommodates five guests. Relax on the front porch or take a walk down one of Camano Island’s most historic streets and watch the sunset across Utsalady Bay.
No matter if it’s just for the weekend, or for a lifetime, a visit to Camano will change your perspective. Come explore and find your perfect get-away …or home!!
Marla Heagle lives and works on Camano Island as the owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate Camano Island & Stanwood
All in, for you.™
Our homes are more important than ever before – providing tangible value while the stock market fluctuates, and acting as our shelters, schools, offices, gyms, and more as we all take steps to curb the spread of COVID-19.
While we practice social distancing, we’ve also found creative ways to stay connected to our team! At Windermere, we’re proud to support our agents not only by equipping them with the tools to be successful but also by nurturing a positive team culture.
All in, for you.™
Over the last few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way that businesses operate. In compliance with the Governor’s stay-at-home orders, our team has adapted some remote operations – like sending and signing contracts electronically, video walkthroughs of our listings and virtual client meetings. We have also implemented best practices to keep people safe and reduce the spread of the virus while we continue to help our clients move their lives forward.
While we practice social distancing, we’re also finding creative ways to stay connected to our team! At Windermere, we’re proud to support our agents not only by equipping them with the tools to be successful but also by nurturing a positive team culture.
Typically in the office, owners Randy and Marla Heagle would prepare a homemade breakfast for the agents to enjoy during the weekly sales meetings as they celebrate the teams’ victories and discuss business. Now with the stay-at-home orders, the weekly sales meetings have gone virtual so Randy and Marla started offering “Drive-Thru Dinners” to maintain a strong sense of community while social distancing!
Seattle is the beating heart of the Puget Sound area. An explosive regional economy backed by some of the world’s largest tech companies has brought an array of big-city benefits to the once sleepy city. World-class culture, cuisine and sporting events are at the fingertips of those in the city. However, like many large cities, there comes the impacts to traffic and congestion, increased cost of living, and long gone is that once sleepy little fishing town.
While many locals and transplants thrive on the new Seattle, whether for retirement, remote work, family life, or to simply get out of the metropolitan areas, more and more people are looking to move out of the urban core. Unique to the Puget Sound area, many of the so-called suburbs of Seattle are in fact surrounded by water, physical and metaphorical islands, each offering a unique set of characteristics that aligns with those seeking change from city life.
Here we will explore the variety of island communities in and around the Seattle area, hearing firsthand from local island experts who weigh-in on each island’s character, community, and vibe.
Three islands stand out as offering something distinct and compelling. For some, the attraction will be an island that affords them the chance to stay connected to a more urban area – a true island suburb. Others will gravitate towards a more rural island, away from the commuter corridors, and still, others may seek a blend.
First, we start just a 15-minute drive off of Interstate-5, an hour north of Seattle with a serene, outdoorsy, family-friendly island that is Camano Island.
Camano Island: Real-life island experience – without the hype.
Simply put, Camano Island blends all the benefits of island living with easy access to the urban cores of Puget Sound. Get away…way away — but remain close. While it sounds contradictory, Camano offers a real-life island experience — without the hype or big tourist traps. There are a few restaurants, a handful of country-style grocery stores, bed and breakfast facilities, and to serve the elite few who have discovered Camano Island. Boasting stunning sandy beaches, abundant wildlife, and relaxed small-town charm, Camano Island is a haven for crabbers, water-skiers, and beach-lovers.
Rich in history and culture, Camano Island is home to a vibrant arts community as well as an array of surprisingly charming restaurants, country-style grocery stores, intriguing fine art galleries, and annual festivals. The enduring appeal of Camano Island is that it offers an idyllic, island experience that feels away from it all — without actually being away from it all.
Without the need for a ferry thanks to an always-open bridge from neighboring Stanwood, you can find yourself ensconced in a diverse community of families, retirees, artists, and locals who value culture and the finer things in life – which now includes easy access to travel. The recent opening of commercial flights at nearby Paine Field means locals and visitors can hop on a quick flight to or from the island, opening the world to Camano.
Real estate and housing options are as diverse as the flora and fauna who call Camano home. Desirable family neighborhoods walkable to the beach, small cabins in the woods, or majestic beachfront homes dot the island. If building that dream home from the ground up is in the cards, Camano holds a large amount of undeveloped land, again at a full range of options to meet your desired lifestyle.
Come to Camano for a weekend to explore and you may just end up staying!
Mercer Island: A breath of fresh air in an urban center
Connected via the I-90 bridge on both sides, Mercer Island is situated right in between Seattle and Bellevue – less than 20 minutes from either city. The island itself is only 13 square miles, but it has everything you need to feel at home: a close-knit community with beautiful waterfront, easy commuting, excellent schools, unique local businesses, and hundreds of acres of parks and trails.
The petite island has more than 20,000 residents – all of whom share a strong sense of community. Residents are active and connected, giving Mercer Island a small-town feel at the core of a major urban settlement. Education is highly regarded, with an emphasis on innovative learning, technology, and attainable challenges. The island’s schools are consistently ranked among the best in the state.
Despite being in such a central location, the island has a suburban feel with lots of neighborhoods. Each Mercer Island neighborhood has a distinct personality – from the amazing views of First Hill and the serenity of El Dorado on the north end, to the highly social community of The Lakes on the south end. Options for housing range from apartments and charming craftsman homes to luxurious waterfront estates. You may even find a rare opportunity for new construction if you’re interested in building something custom to suit your wishlist.
With 475 acres of parks and trails, you’ll have plenty to do on Mercer Island. Take advantage of the children’s play area and sporting fields at Lid Park, or enjoy Pioneer Park’s 113 acres of trails – there’s even a designated area for horseback riding. If you’re looking for more, Luther Burbank Park features 4,000 feet of shoreline, a boat dock and fishing pier, the island’s largest playground, a dog park, an amphitheater, tennis courts, three miles of trails, and plenty of green space to relax and enjoy the view on Lake Washington. And of course, Mercer Island also has a rich culture with local theaters, unique restaurants and bars, charming local boutiques to shop, and plenty of community celebrations throughout the year.
Make yourself at home on Mercer Island. It’s a place where neighbors feel genuinely connected and there’s always something wonderful to do.
Orcas Island: Explore your passion and find your community
About an hour from Anacortes by ferry, Orcas Island is a popular second home market but there is more than enough to keep you engaged. Orcas Island is known for its high quality of life, numerous farm-to-fork restaurants, expansive arts community, variety of clubs and nonprofits, beautiful wildlife and scenery, and local businesses that offer everything you need to live comfortably on the island.
The 57-square-mile island’s diverse population swells from 5,000 year-round residents to about 14,000 residents in the summer who come to soak up the island’s enchanting scenery and charm. Kayak along the shores of the horseshoe-shaped island, hop on a whale watching tour, hike along one of the island’s trails, or just relax on the beach. It’s a spectacular place to just take it all in, and you may be lucky enough to see bald eagles and hundreds of other bird species, rabbits, or the island’s namesake orca whales.
With a relatively small year-round population, Orcas Island is known for a strong sense of community thanks to a large number of nonprofits and clubs geared toward niche interests. If you’re more interested in the arts than the outdoors, consider one of the island’s acting or dance clubs, visit a gallery, shop with local artisans, or explore during one of the summer’s art walks. There are numerous events on the island throughout the year geared toward the unique interests of visitors and residents, like Hops on the Rock beer festival, the Orcas Island Film Festival, or the Shakespeare Festival.
In addition to being termed the Gem of the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island is also known as the “foodie” of the island chain. It’s home to a large population of local organic farms and livestock, which have inspired the menus at several amazing farm-to-fork restaurants on the island. If you’re looking for something to sip on, Orcas Island also has a number of boutique distilleries and a few wineries.
There is room to grow on Orcas Island. Consider building a custom home on the island, or choose a home in an established hamlet. The island’s strong public and private schools and home school community have made it increasingly popular with families in recent years, but anyone who appreciates the relaxed island lifestyle is sure to love living on Orcas Island.
Choose the quality of life you can only find on Orcas Island.
- Marla Hagle lives on Camano Island and is a Broker/Owner of Windermere Real Estate Camano Island.
- Julie Barrows lives on Mercer Island and is a Broker/Owner of Windermere Real Estate Mercer Island.
- Mariah Dunning lives on Orcas Island and is a Broker/Owner of Windermere Real Estate Orcas Island.
By Evan Caldwell | Jan. 29, 2019
Stanwood, Wash. – Economic growth doesn’t come without some burden.
“We are suffering from our own successes,” said economist Matthew Gardner. “We have a robust economy, and that means growing pains.”
The solid economy equates to more jobs — and more people — moving to the region, putting continued pressure on infrastructure and housing markets, he said. Gardner spoke about the national, state and local economic past, present and future to about 250 people at an economic forum Friday, Jan. 24, at the Camano Center.
“If you want a job, you can certainly find a job,” said Gardner, citing Snohomish County’s low 2.5% unemployment rate. “And jobs and income growth should increase this year.”
Snohomish County continues to be one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation. By 2025, an estimated 250,000 people are predicted to join the 800,000 already living in the county, according to estimates by the state Office of Financial Management.
However, finding affordable places to live is the current challenge, said Gardner,
Gardner is the chief economist for Seattle-based Windermere Real Estate and also sits on the Washington Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. He chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington and is an advisory board member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at UW, where he also lectures in real estate economics.
“People are coming, that’s for sure, you can see it in the housing demand,” he said. “We need to be building more homes.”
In the Stanwood and Camano ZIP codes of 98292 and 98292, the number of new listings per month continued a steady downward trend in 2019, according to Northwest MLS data. In December 2019, there were 129 homes for sale in the area, down from 148 in December 2018.
Prices have climbed. The average median price for a home in Stanwood increased to $443,000 in 2019 from $430,000 in 2018 and $389,995 in 2017, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data. On Camano Island, the median cost of a home rose to $434,000 in 2019 from $410,000 in 2018 and $394,975 in 2017.
“Because inventory is so tight, housing prices will continue to rise in 2020 .. and it could be a very tight market for a very long time,” Gardner said. “So, why aren’t there more homes for sale? They’re living in them longer and moving less frequently for jobs.”
Americans nowadays are staying in their homes for about eight years before moving – up from four years from 2000-09, according to Attom Data Solutions, a real-estate data firm.
In addition to newcomers, millennials are starting to enter the housing market, adding increased pressure in the first-time homebuyer category, Gardner said. Even the few hundred new homes and about 150 new apartment units planned to be built in Stanwood in the next few years are insufficient to meet demand, Gardner said.
“To better compete, we need to create housing people can afford to live in — the teachers, the firefighters,” he said. “And certainly cities will need to address infrastructure needs, and governments will need to work on mass transit options.”
However, several factors can stymie new home construction, such as cost of land and materials, permitting constraints and an expensive construction workforce. In Snohomish County in 2019, there were 2,221 permits to build new single-family homes, down from 5,719 permits in 2005. On Camano in 2018, there were 375 permits for new home construction, down from a high of 752 in 2005.
Gardner said the U.S. economy is due for a minor recession in the coming years. The U.S. was last in recession from 2007-09.
“We might have a recession in 2021 in some segment of the economy, but it’ll be OK; it’ll be modest,” Gardner predicted, citing data showing major companies slowing the pace of hiring in the run up to the presidential election. “What do companies do when they’re worried? Nothing. Like a deer in headlights, they freeze, they’re being cautious.”
This article was originally published on goskagit.com.
By Evan Caldwell | Jan. 15, 2019
Stanwood, Wash. – Matthew Gardner returns with his crystal ball to peek at what 2020 holds for the local economy and housing market.
Gardner, the chief economist for Seattle-based Windermere Real Estate, is the keynote speaker for the 2020 Economic and Housing Forecast community forum 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at the Camano Center, 606 Arrowhead Rd. on Camano Island. The forum will take a macro and micro look at the economy, the economic forecast and housing.
“In 2020, I expect payrolls to continue growing, but the rate of growth will slow as the country adds fewer than 1.7 million new jobs,” Gardner wrote in his 2020 forecast last month. “Due to this hiring slow down, the unemployment rate will start to rise, but still end the year at a very respectable 4.1%.”
Gardner, who spoke to a packed house at last year’s event, wrote “many economists, including me, spent much of 2019 worried about the specter of a looming recession in 2020. Thankfully, such fears have started to wane.”
The forum is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Call 360-387-4663 or visit windermerestanwoodcamano.com/2020-forecast. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a cocktail and appetizer hour, followed by Gardner’s presentation and then a question-answer session with the audience.
This article was originally published on goskagit.com.
Moving to an island can be challenging. To live on many islands in the Pacific Northwest you have to account for ferry schedules, as well as being far away from major shopping centers. Even things you don’t normally think about, like having a few different options for gas stations, or being able to quickly drive to the nearest recycling center, may be out of reach. For some people, island living is worth the drawbacks. Sure, you may not be able to visit the mall, but you get to settle down in a literal vacation destination.
When you live on Camano Island, you don’t have to choose.
We like to say that Camano Island is the “easy drive-on island” where there are no finicky ferry schedules, and no waiting in a crowded parking lot for hours at a time. Take a few minutes out of your day to cross a few hundred yards of bridge, and you’re on Camano Island! The island is close to several major urban centers: 20 minutes from Marysville or Burlington via I-5, and only 45 minutes from Bellingham or Shoreline.
Another great thing about living on Camano Island is getting away from rush-hour traffic. Typically, once you go north of Marysville, traffic eases up. When you want to go shopping in Burlington, for example, you don’t need to worry about planning your whole day around the trip! Hop across the bridge, cruise through Stanwood, and head north on I-5 for an easy twenty-minute drive.
Living on an island doesn’t have to mean giving up access to the rest of the world! On Camano Island, we like to think we have the best of both worlds: island paradise, with abundant convenience.
There are many reasons to move to Camano Island: the relaxed island atmosphere, friendly neighbors, and beautiful scenery right in your backyard. Everything that island living has to offer coupled with modern conveniences like coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores make Camano Island a great choice for your next home.
Sometimes there are drawbacks to living in a beautiful place far away from the business of everyday life. This is why Camano Island is so special. We have beaches, state parks, a golf course, and a winery. Locals go boating in the summers and fresh crab is an island staple. While other islands can boast similar attractions, we can proudly say that we’re also twenty minutes away from the urban centers of Marysville, Mount Vernon, and Burlington which offer bix-box retailers as well as a much-loved outlet mall.
If you don’t feel like driving for twenty minutes to pick up a few groceries, that’s ok! Camano Island and Stanwood have several options for home necessities, including QFC, Mod Pizza, Starbucks, Rite Aid Pharmacy and more!
Looking for a place to grab a drink with a friend? Check out either of our two craft breweries or any one of our three artisanal coffee shops. If hiking and adventuring is more your style, look no further than Cama Beach State Park, or Camano Island State Park; located less than twenty minutes from anywhere on the island.
There’s also no need to worry about finding a gas station, either. In Stanwood and on Camano Island, take your pick of the six (competing!) fueling locations available.
Camano Island gives you the opportunity to experience life on vacation while still enjoying the convenience of living near a major urban center. Take a walk on the beach in the morning, then take a five-minute drive to Stanwood to do your afternoon shopping. Living “away from it all” doesn’t mean having to give up your access to civilization! Own a home on the beach and get your Starbucks fix every morning. Watch beautiful sunrises, and visit local boutiques and department stores.
When you live on Camano Island, we believe you can have it all.