Property Assessments– What do they mean?

 

Our office and brokers have received many calls with questions regarding the newly received property value assessments.

According to the San Juan County Assessor’s website “State law requires that assessors appraise all taxable property within the county at 100% of its true and fair market value, according to the highest and best use of the property. Fair market value, or true value, is the amount of money that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay a willing and unobligated seller.

“Each year, the County is responsible for reviewing the values of approximately 20,000 parcels. Whether you have purchased your property recently or not, the Assessor will still evaluate your property on an annual basis. These annual evaluations are based on research of sales of properties within the past year. For example, if 2016 sales are available, they are used to calculate the 2017 assessed values.

By State law, members of the Assessor’s office are re- quired to conduct a physical inspection of the property every 6 years. If new construction occurs, then this new construction will be physically inspected annually until construction is completed. These physical inspections are taken into consideration when updating the current assessed value.

Once the valuation is established, your taxes are calculated based on a tax rate. Many factors determine property tax rates, the amount of property tax due on com- parable properties will vary throughout a county. The three main factors that determine the tax rate include: various combinations of taxing districts in different areas of the county, budget amounts for each taxing district, and voter-approved special levies and bonds.

Key point: these tax rates vary year to year, depending upon the County annual budget.  If assessed values go up (or down) it does not necessarily mean that your taxes will go up (or down).

If you disagree with your new property assessed value, there is an appeal process via the Board of Equalization that you may undergo. Keep in mind that you must reg- ister the appeal within 30 days of the original filing of the new valuation of your property.

The San Juan County Assessor’s website is an excellent resource for additional information:

 www.sanjuanco.com/149/Assessor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 10:20 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Financial, Housing Market, San Juan Islands

Real News – Article 4

AFFORDABLE HOUSING — WHAT COULD BE DONE

This column is the second on the affordable housing issue.  We all know what is needed, but it seems we don’t have a clear vision of how to accomplish it.

Last time I mentioned an affordable housing solution on San Juan Island that appears to have served that island well since its development in 1982. It’s called The Oaks. Located in a rural area and buffered from surrounding properties, most Islanders don’t even think about it and some don’t even know it exists.

In a time of less restrictive zoning regulations, the developer acquired 7 contiguous parcels of rural land totaling approx. 40 acres. They installed streets, sidewalks and utilities serving 76 home sites for double wide manufactured homes. The land is leased to the homeowners who  own the units, which can be resold by owners moving off-island, or to other properties. Sales prices have ranged from around $100—$200K depending on location and size of the homes. The property lease includes water, sewer and road maintenance such that the area appears well maintained.  There are relatively few sales of these homes because turnover of residents is low.

Today, due to County zoning regulations, it would be almost impossible to do an Oaks.  Yet we can see it works and addresses affordable housing needs, at least on San Juan Island by being a product that naturally falls into the right price point.  Our County needs to encourage affordable housing development by creating new zoning regulations to allow projects like this to occur today.  Of course, the devil is in the details, and zoning modification would have to include safeguards such that neighbors would not be adversely affected.

Orcas Island has areas of forested and/or buffered land where thoughtfully-designed high-density development could occur on otherwise low-density land. This would be an excellent topic for each of us to address with our Commissioners.  The time may now be right for such a discussion.

Since I started this column, I have received a fair amount of thoughtful feedback and I encourage you to give me a call or drop by to say hello and discuss any Island issue you feel is important.  My intention is to make this column thought provoking and helpful in some small way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

Posted on November 6, 2017 at 4:42 PM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Housing Market, San Juan Islands

We’ve Got You Covered on Orcas Island

With the weather changing and winter rapidly approaching, Windermere Real Estate offices in Snohomish and King Counties are participating in the “We’ve Got You Covered” campaign; collecting cold weather gear for homeless youth in the city. While we are lucky to not have a large homeless population here on Orcas, there are still many people in our community who could use a helping hand.

With this in mind, our office has decided to run a local version of this campaign. So from now until November 10th we are collecting warm socks, hats, scarves, mittens and gloves for youth in our community. Items will then be delivered to Orcas Family Resources, who has graciously agreed to help us with distribution.

If you would like to donate, items can be dropped off at the Windermere Office in Eastsound. (*all items must be new)

Thank you for helping us keep our community warm this winter!

Posted on October 25, 2017 at 9:43 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Lifestyle, San Juan Islands | Tagged , ,

What is the Windermere Foundation?

The Windermere Foundation was started in 1989 by the owners of Windermere Real Estate, which is based in Seattle. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $33 million to support it’s mission: helping low income and homeless families.

The Foundation began in Washington, but now has grown to serve the 10 western states. Currently, there are more than 40 major organizations that receive significant funding from the Foundation. These organizations provide emergency assistance, and youth and children’s programs.

As part of the Windermere organization, each of our brokers donates a portion of their commission from every transaction to the Windermere Foundation. Each of us is proud to support the Foundation. A portion of the funds that we donate comes back to our office to enable us to donate directly to local organizations within our community that support the same cause as the Windermere Foundation: helping local families right here on Orcas.

 

We have a local Foundation Representative, Elyse Van den Bosch, who works directly with the local non-profits to assist in their applications for funding. We have supported organizations such as the Funhouse, Orcas Family Connections, OPAL immediate housing needs, the Food Bank, and each of the various early childhood programs, to name just a few.

In addition to our broker commission donations, our office has also coordinated various fundraising and volunteer activities to raise additional money for our local non-profits that assist families and children in need.

Being a part of this community is very important to all of us. We take great pride in the fact that our office has put thousands of dollars back into our local community, and we look forward to continuing to do so. If you have questions about the Windermere Foundation, or whether your organization may be a candidate to receive funding from the Foundation, please contact Elyse for more information: elyse@windermere.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

Posted on October 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Financial, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Autumn has arrived on Orcas

There is nothing like stepping outside, taking a deep breath, and pulling your jacket just a little closer around yourself. I haven’t worn a jacket in months – oh the joys of summer. But I can’t resist the smile that emerges on my face as the goose bumps rise. Maybe it has to do with how fresh the air feels, maybe it’s because the island has made it through the summer rush, or maybe it simply has to do with the fact that I love getting to put on my beloved boots and sweaters again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next person. Sun and heat are two of my favorite things, but this summer was particularly dry for the San Juan Islands and I for one am tired of the color brown. For the last few months everything has just felt dusty and dirty – not something those of us from the great ‘north-wet’ are used to. I miss the green. And so, the return of the rain is something I welcome with open arms.

There is also this miraculous slowdown that happens post-Labor Day. September is still a busy month on the islands, but nothing compared to July and August. It just has an entirely different feel. Now, not only is it easier to get on a ferry last minute, but going to Island Market is no longer a hassle, and everyone is so much more laid back. It’s as if the islands have been holding their breath for two months and are finally able to exhale. Locals stop and chat on the street again, without that wild look in their eyes that says, “I am going to lose it on the next person that asks what times the whales go by”. Yes, that is a common question, and no, the whales do not share their schedule with us bipeds, so please stop asking.

After the breath of September, the islands start churning again, with all kinds of activities suited to the shift of seasons. Savor the San Juans runs from the first day of fall through the first week of November and brings with it many events and opportunities to enjoy the flavors of island life. The Orcas Island Film Festival runs the first weekend in October and has become quite the affair over the last few years, bringing in award winning films from around the world. There are also a slew of lectures, classes, and farm tours that happen through the end of the year. And the holidays out here, truly magical.

As the days begin to cool and the darkness stretches longer than the day, all I can think about is being curled up on my couch with my dog; a fire burning in my woodstove; mouthwatering smells emanating from the slow cooker; hot apple cider warming on the stove. Fresh pressed cider is everywhere on the islands right now and will be the majority of what I drink for the next couple of months, interspersed with some hot chocolate and homemade hot buttered rum. Oh yes, the season of coziness is upon us. Welcome back autumn.

 

Alysha Sherburne | Office Manager

Posted on September 22, 2017 at 9:11 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands | Tagged , , ,

Real News – Article 2

A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article stating that the San Juan Islands are the fastest growing luxury home market in the country. This article has created many discussions in the local real estate world all revolving around the question: “What does this statistic mean?”. It also asks the question: “Who is really buying on Orcas Island?”

It may surprise you to find out that in the past twelve months, of the 191 sales of both land and residential properties on Orcas Island, 75 of those sales were represented by Buyers already living on Orcas Island. No wonder the locals pay such close attention to the real estate market!

In addition to these 75 purchases, 48 of the sales were by Buyers from the Seattle metropolitan area, and 11 from greater Washington State. That equates to 70% of our Buyers being from Washington State.

The graph below illustrates the breakdown of where our Buyers are coming from overall.

I hope you find these statistics as interesting as I do. If you have any questions, or would like more information, stop by our office here in Eastsound to speak with any one of our highly qualified Brokers….We always love to talk real estate!

 

Sincerely,

John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner

*Source: NWMLS & Realist

 

Posted on September 8, 2017 at 11:44 AM
Windermere Orcas | Category: Articles, Buying, Housing Market, San Juan Islands, Selling

The Gardner Report – Q2 2017

content_17288_WWAGardnerReportQ2_Masthead

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017.

Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976.

I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016.
  • Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County.
  • The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.

 

 

 

HOME PRICES

 

  • Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187.
  • Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than second quarter of 2016. Eight additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • The specter of rising interest rates failed to materialize last quarter, but this actually functioned to get more would-be buyers off the fence and into the market. This led to even more demand which translated into rising home prices.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by 18 days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County remains the tightest market; homes, on average, sold in a remarkable 15 days. Every county in this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop from the same period a year ago.
  • Last quarter, it took an average of 48 days to sell a home. This is down from the 66 days it took in the second quarter of 2016.
  • Given the marked lack of inventory, I would not be surprised to see the length of time it takes to sell a home drop further before the end of the year.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. To define the Western Washington market as “tight” is somewhat of an understatement.

Inventory is short and buyers are plentiful.

Something must give, but unless we see builders delivering substantially more units than they have been, it will remain staunchly a sellers’ market for the balance of the year.

Furthermore, increasing mortgage rates have failed to materialize and, with employment and income growth on the rise, the regional housing market will continue to be very robust.

 


Posted July 26 2017, 11:00 AM PDT by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate. Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. Find the original post here

 

 

Posted on July 27, 2017 at 8:11 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Buying, Housing Market, San Juan Islands, Selling

Fourth of July weekend on Orcas Island – Wow what a show!

Orcas may not be a big island, but it sure celebrates like one. Although July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, this island will be rocking all weekend long leading up to the big day. Whether you are into shopping, eating, or just enjoying the festivities, there is plenty to keep everyone busy. Here’s what to see and do on the rock over the next four days:

July 1

Eastsound Fire Station Pancake Breakfast @ 7am-11am

This is a great annual fundraiser to support the Eastsound Volunteer Firefighters and EMT’s. They will be serving up their special recipe pancakes, sausage, eggs, and beverages. Cost is $8 per adult and $5 per child with kids under 5 years eating for free.

Farmer’s Market @ 10am-3pm

Happening every Saturday, all summer long on the Village Green. This is a great place to grab produce and flowers from island farms, check out local artists, and grab some lunch.

Independence Day Celebration @ 10am

This celebration of island history, sponsored by the Orcas Island Historical Museum, takes place on the Village Green in conjunction with the Farmers Market. There will be a pie booth, hot dog stand, and beer garden. Then at 1:30 the local Harvey Family will put on a logging show.

Community Parade – “Celebrating Island Creatures” @ 12 noon

Islanders from local businesses and organizations will be dressing up as all manner of animals and parading through Eastsound Village. Parades on this island are a one-of-a-kind experience, so you will not want to miss this.

Lions Club 42nd Annual Salmon BBQ @ 1pm-7pm

The Lion’s Club is involved in many projects across the island, and this event raises funds so they can continue with their great community service. Served alongside the salmon is a baked potato, coleslaw, roll, beverages, and the option of adding on apple crisp. Cost is $18 per adult and $12 for children up to 12 years.

July 3

Deer Harbor Fireworks and Music @ 9pm

Gather down on the docks at the Deer Harbor Marina to hear some music and enjoy the light show. This is a very popular event, so be sure and get there extra early.

July 4

6th Annual Funhouse Commons 5K Run @ 9am

Work off some of those calories from the weekend with a race around the Eastsound area. All ages and abilities are welcome with the kids 1K race beginning at 10am. Registration is $35 per adult and $10 per child. All proceeds benefit the Funhouse Commons, who provides many programs for island kids.

4th of July “inter-Dependence Day” Celebration @ 3pm-10pm

Hosted at Orcasong Farm, this is an evening of music, education, food, and fun. From 3-6pm there is a workshop titled “Music as Medicine” and from 6-10pm there will be a potluck dinner and live music provided by The Living Arrows. Cost is $10-$40.

Eastsound Fireworks @ 9pm

Head on into town in the early evening to hear the Community Band play before the big show. Then find a spot on the beach to kick back and enjoy the fireworks.

Posted on June 30, 2017 at 1:45 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Island Support – GiveOrcas Month

Give Orcas image

It’s GiveOrcas month here on the island and everyone is feeling the love. Locals skip through the streets of Eastsound hugging, laughing, and catching up on the latest gossip. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as cheesy as one of those quaint villages from your childhood storybooks; life is not all sunshine and rainbows after all. But while there isn’t a whole lot of skipping going on, the hugging, laughing, and gossiping are pretty on par. And this month in particular we are reminded of why we are so lucky to live here: we are a community that cares.

The GiveOrcas campaign is run by the Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF), whose mission is “to foster philanthropy to enhance and preserve the quality of life on Orcas Island”. They are a public foundation that fosters community collaboration in order to create a strong financial base for supporting local services and organizations. OICF’s role has become increasingly important on this island which somehow supports a huge number of nonprofits – about 1 per 45 residents. This number may seem insane to some, or most of us, but it’s important to remember that Orcas has no real form of government since there is no incorporated town. As such, these nonprofits help to fill the roles that would traditionally fall under a government’s purview.

Now, what is this GiveOrcas campaign? Well, with all of these nonprofits it’s to be expected that the Community Foundation receives a high number of requests for funding, and they simply do not have the capacity to cover the full needs of every organization. So yes, it is essentially a fundraiser. However, this particular fundraiser is as much about creating awareness as creating cash. For at the public’s fingertips is placed an insight into what each organization is hoping to get funding for; whether it be a specific project, program, or for staffing needs. These needs are then arranged, by OICF, into three categories: Critical Needs, Important Needs, and Opportunities. This allows for members of the community to decide where they want their donated funds to go, based on their own individual ideals. And, given that Orcas is a community that likes to support one another, most of these needs are met during this time.

The GiveOrcas campaign runs through May 19th this year with an Awards Celebration being held on Thursday, May 25th from 3-5pm at the Orcas Center.

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Find out more about the GiveOrcas campaign and the projects looking for funding at www.giveorcas.org

To learn more about the Orcas Island Community Foundation and see of list of Orcas Island nonprofits and services, visit oicf.us

Posted on May 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Lifestyle, San Juan Islands

Elevation Certificates

Elevation Certificates

One of the greatest things about owning property on Orcas Island is that you are, well, on an island. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like being surrounded by water on all sides? Okay, so maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are into the whole water thing, purchasing land here can be a great investment in your future. The only thing that could be better? Your own personal piece of rocky beach, waterfront property!

Before you get too caught up in your reverie of owning a slice of heaven, keep in mind that San Juan County has been raising the bar the last several years on issues surrounding the exchange of waterfront parcels. Part of this comes from FEMA, who has been pushing their National Flood Insurance Program after taking a big hit following Hurricane Katrina. So, what does this mean for you as a buyer? Regardless of whether the property you are looking at is high or low bank, flood insurance will be required to receive approval from the Building Department for building plans and occupancy.

Now for the good news: you can get an exemption for flood insurance by providing a FEMA Elevation Certificate. The purpose of this certificate is to prove that your structure, or planned structure, is above the Base Flood Elevation. Base Flood Elevation, as defined by FEMA, is the “computed elevation to which flood waters are anticipated to rise during the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood event”. Thankfully Elevation Certificates are not difficult to get; however, the process does take time – on average 2-4 months – so it’s important to start this as soon as possible.

To begin, you will want to contact a local survey company as they can help walk you through each stage. Initially they will probably perform a preliminary field review, which can often determine if the structure, or proposed structure, is above the base flood elevation. In San Juan County, these elevations can range anywhere between 11 and 18 feet. If the preliminary findings are not enough, the surveyor will work with you to attain the required elevation certificate.

Here is a look at what to expect from this process:

  • The Corps of Engineers will be employed to determine the base flood elevation for the specific site in question, taking into account the local ecology. Their determination generally takes 1-3 weeks.
  • An Elevation Certificate will need to be completed by a Professional Land Surveyor. If the parcel in question has been built on, the surveyor will check several things including: the structure of the building and foundation, constructed and non-constructed flood openings, square footage, will take photos of all sides of the building, and will measure the elevation of the lowest adjacent grade. Both the survey and the certificate can normally be completed in less than a week.
  • A FEMA application will need to be completed and include the findings from both the Corps of Engineers and the Professional Land Surveyor. Once this package is submitted, they have 60 days to review the findings.

 

Only after this entire review process will FEMA remove a structure or parcel segment from the flood plain, meaning as a buyer, that you will no longer be required to purchase flood insurance.

Tip: If you are purchasing waterfront land that has not been built on, talk to a survey company before beginning projects. Most will work with you prior to the design or construction phase to ensure that any buildings will be above the flood zone.

 

If you have questions and/or concerns about this topic, please contact us here.

A special thanks to Star Surveying Inc and Madrona Point Insurance for their expertise on this topic.

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 3:34 PM
Alysha Sherburne | Category: Articles, Buying, San Juan Islands