0715 real estate

Demand for homes is driving new construction in Anacortes. These homes are being built on Oakes Avenue near Kansas Avenue. (Richard Walker / Anacortes American)

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the number of homes placed on the market in Anacortes, but prices remain higher than last year.

The median price paid for a home in Anacortes in June was $54,000 more than in June a year ago, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which tracks real estate data in Western Washington.

In fact, closing home prices since the pandemic-induced economic slowdown have exceeded those of the same period last year, although the number of homes sold has declined.

In April, 23 homes were sold in Anacortes, and the median closing price was $565,000. In May, 32 homes were sold with the median closing price at $540,478. In June, 37 homes were sold, and the median closing price was $535,000.

Compare that to the same period in 2019: in April that year, 44 homes sold for a median price of $475,000; in May, 47 homes sold for a median price of $530,000; in June, 57 homes sold for a median price of $481,000.

There were 56 new listings and 83 total active listings in June, down from 71 and 134, respectively, in June 2019, according to the Northwest MLS. There were 55 pending sales, compared to 60 in June 2019.

The quality of life in Anacortes and higher home prices elsewhere are still major factors bolstering the real estate market here, according to James Young, research director for the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at University of Washington.

“The same demographic is buying as before,” Young said July 8. “In California, Portland and Seattle, you can sell your house for cash and have cash left over to buy in Anacortes and Skagit County.

“I thought the trend would continue, but the surprise for me is the speed. (Home buyers) are seeking out lower density and value while they can get it. And it’s not just Anacortes and Skagit County, but every county that is a low-density area. In Shelton, Mason County, closing home prices are up 13 to 14%. In Cle Elum and Suncadia, Kittitas County, there’s been a 30% increase. In Port Townsend, closing home prices are up 17%.

“Any place that is an hour to two hours from Seattle and from SeaTac Airport and offers the low density that buyers want, those places are taking off. Anacortes and Skagit County are following that trend.”

Allen Workman of John L. Scott Real Estate in Anacortes said low-interest rates are helping to fuel the market, which he said are “hovering” around 3%.

“Home sellers can benefit from property appreciation and, if they have to finance, from historic low interest rates,” he said. “And there’s the quality of life here. We’ve got some relatively good building going on in Skagit County to satisfy demand.”

Stephanie Hamilton, president and CEO of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce, can attest to the allure of the quality of life that Anacortes offers. She vacationed here in 1991 and decided then that she would make Anacortes her home.

“It’s about quality of life,” she said, pointing out that the benefits of living here go beyond forest and sea and parks. “This community really focuses on community,” she said. “You can’t have a community without children. Even though many people who move here are retirees, they support our schools — this community passed a tech levy that ensured every student has a computer.”

Hamilton talked about the interconnection between visitation, home purchases, and community investment.

“I talk to people who live here, and they said they decided to move here after visiting here. We’re hoping that guests continue to move here and invest in the community and buy businesses here.”

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