Vashon Island, nestled within Washington’s Puget Sound, always has a certain allure. A mix of its rural charm and proximity to Seattle has made it a desirable place for residents seeking a peaceful escape, yet close enough to the hustle and bustle of city life. But in recent years, there’s been a noticeable uptick in its real estate market, and one might wonder why living on Vashon has become so expensive.
In the words of principal broker Ken Zaglin from 2016, “Seattle is on fire, and Vashon is very hot.” This sentiment rings even truer in 2023. A primary driver behind this surge is Seattle’s tech sector explosion. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft have bolstered employment rates, and the influx of affluent employees in Seattle has naturally overflowed onto Vashon, escalating demand and prices.
A scenario Zaglin described a few years ago still holds relevance today. Imagine being a first-time homebuyer, qualifying for a government-backed loan, and feeling elated about the prospect of owning a piece of Vashon. But the moment you place an offer, you’re outbid by multiple other offers, some even in cash. The tech wealth has significantly tilted the scales, making it nearly impossible for working-class individuals to find affordable housing on the Island.
A recent article in the Seattle Times that we shared on our Facebook page sheds a grim light on this very subject:
The rental landscape doesn’t offer much solace, either. Much like high prices and scarce availability mark its buying counterpart, the rental market on Vashon. Connie Sorensen, a managing broker in West Seattle, had noted the surge in rental prices and the minimal inventory available.
The financial downturn of 2008 left lasting impressions on the Vashon housing market. Many people who had bought houses as investments were left in a quandary when the market went south. As Sorensen pointed out, many of these properties were either lost or sold. The years that followed the recession saw a slump in the real estate market, but according to Zaglin, since 2011, there’s been a steady recovery.
A silver lining in all of this has been the historically low interest rates. Twenty years ago, borrowing money could cost up to 18% interest, but today, you might get a loan for a fraction of that. This relatively low cost of borrowing has made it more feasible for people to invest in real estate.
Looking ahead, while it’s hard to forecast the trajectory of Vashon’s housing market precisely, signs point to a move toward stabilization. In 2018, Sorensen anticipated a more balanced market. And as 2023 rolls on, the wisdom of the old adage offers hope: what goes up must eventually come down. You can find more information about living on Vashon, complete with advice from locals to help you make the best decision.
To give you an idea of the housing marketing on Vashon in 2023, I’ve streamlined a list of some properties currently for sale:
- 29330 129th Ave SW – Listed by Compass Washington – Seattle, this beauty boasts 3 beds, 2.5 baths, and sprawls across a generous 3.6 acres. Priced at $945,000, the home covers 1,898 sqft. And guess what? There’s a 3D tour available!
- 25721 Gold Beach Dr SW – Another gem by Compass Washington – Seattle. It’s up for $725,000 and features 3 bedrooms, 2 baths within 1,500 sqft. The lot size? A neat 0.24 acres.
- 22816 Dockton Rd SW – Brokered by Windermere Vashon, this cozy residence offers 1 bed, 1 bath in a 772 sqft space, all on a sprawling 4.74-acre lot. Asking price? A cool $600,000.
- 28526 143rd Ave SW – Looking for something bigger? Here’s a spacious home with 3 beds, 2 baths, stretched over 2,690 sqft. The property spans a whopping 10 acres and can be yours for $1,075,000.
- 4205 SW Point Robinson Rd – This majestic property, presented by Engel & Voelkers Federal Way, is a dream. With 3 beds, 4.5+ baths, and a staggering 7,822 sqft of living space on 21.47 acres, its luxury comes with an $8,950,000 price tag.
- 12011 SW 220th St – A stunner from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, this estate offers 5 beds, 4.5 baths in a massive 6,500 sqft home. Set on a jaw-dropping 117-acre lot, it’s on the market for $11,200,000.
If you’re on a budget, don’t sweat it! There are plenty of affordable land options as well, like the 0.5-acre plot on Cunliffe Rd SW for just $99,900 or the 1.4-acre parcel on Vashon Highway SW up for grabs at $75,000.
So, to answer the question: Is Vashon Island expensive? Currently, yes. However, potential homeowners and renters should watch the market, as things can shift, and opportunities may arise in the future.
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