For Buyers & Sellers
With generations of experience in waterfront listing and selling, RSIR brokers offer a wealth of insight to sellers and buyers of waterfront homes. While home selling statistics offer clues as to when to list locally, RSIR brokers who have successfully guided sellers through this process are well equipped to advise each seller when to list and how to prepare a home for sale.
“The best time to sell a waterfront property in Kitsap County depends on numerous market factors, most notably inventory and current demand levels. However, from a “showing” perspective, the best time is middle spring to middle summer as chances are good that the buyer will show up on a beautiful, warm, sunny day and experience the pure magic of the waterfront lifestyle.”
“Many want to wait for spring for several reasons. The weather showcases their property best; scheduling staging, video and photography in good weather is optimum; and touring is more fun in good weather.”
As we have shown, waterfront sales do follow an observable trend that mimics the rest of the home-selling market. However, the demand for waterfront properties is year-round, and notions of seasonality should not delay a timely listing.
'“I have heard it said that some believe Camano Island will soon become the Mercer Island of the North end. Though demand for waterfront homes does have a seasonal peak, serious buyers are looking throughout the year."
“Spring or early summer is a great time to sell. Naturally, it’s the optimal time to showcase your waterfront home and the lifestyle it offers. But sometimes that timing doesn’t work for a seller. Because there is such high demand for waterfront and a limited number of properties, anytime can be a good time if the home is properly presented and marketed.”
“Buyers are looking year-round for the perfect property and will buy when they find price and terms favorable.”
Waterfront homes in certain price brackets will be targets for buyers who have financial considerations that will impact when those buyers need to close:
As with any listing, prepping, staging, and marketing a waterfront home for sale are each essential to a successful closing. Yet there are considerations that set these homes apart.
“These are big-dollar purchases, so have all the questions answered. The home, dock and sewer lines should be pre-inspected with written reports. Have the property surveyed and have the property corners staked. Work with a knowledgeable agent and make use of an experienced stager so that the home presents well.”
“You may be competing with other homes, but a real estate professional can ensure you are properly educated on the value of pre-listing preparation, updating, and making sure the property is in its very best shape.”
Some markets, such as the San Juan Islands and Lake Chelan, are notably slow-moving, and this should be factored into the duration of a listing contract between broker and seller.
“There is not a lot of absorption on the islands and thus sales are pretty flat, without many ups or downs. Listings are sometimes on for years before selling. One must anticipate a lengthy period of time for a sales transaction to occur on the waterfront.”
Our brokers know how to best position a waterfront property for that buyer who will be most highly motivated and ready to purchase it.
“In the busy spring season, sellers will see more buyers who are curious about the waterfront lifestyle looking at their homes. No matter the season, however, price and presentation are paramount.”
“When my clients buy a waterfront property, they are vetting land and lot potential for long-term investments. The ultimate goal is to identify waterfront land that sustains all that the waterfront lifestyle offers—boating moorage, seaplane access, luxury docks and systems, and creating a home that takes advantage of the idyllic views.”
”Once people visit, they want to start by looking at view homes. Then once you start showing them homes, they’re always intrigued by owning waterfront. So, what starts out as looking at a larger view home quickly transpires to looking at a waterfront cabin. I have also had clients start with the idea of a little cabin and they get here, and discover they now want to be full-time residents; so, they end up with a large home. Something about water, it draws you in.”
In addition to representing sellers, RSIR brokers are experienced in helping buyers to successfully navigate the market. Here again, timing is subjective—buyers will act when the objects of their dreams appear.
“The best time to buy is when the right home comes available.”
“If you are largely concerned with price point, the best time to explore the Kirkland waterfront is in the autumn, as sales begin to slow down and sellers are more willing to make concessions to get their homes sold. If you prefer to have a larger selection of properties to choose from, then summer is your time.”
“The best time to purchase a waterfront home in Kitsap is truly when the opportunity arises. You must always be on the keen lookout for the best stretches of beach and best neighborhoods and enclaves, so you never miss an opportunity, as they can be few and far between.”
“When I have clients looking for waterfront property, I advise them now is the best time to buy their ideal property. Given the rarity of the product and the list of requirements my clients typically have, when we find that special opportunity, we should pursue it!”
“The allure of the water is strong and waterfront or shared waterfront homes on Mercer Island are always desirable. As a buyer, you may face less competition in the autumn and winter when people aren’t necessarily thinking about the lake and boating season, and may just nab the home of your dreams.”
“There are sixty single-family homes between Madison Park and Madrona Park. Most stay in the same family for decades, some for generations. If you hear of one for sale, be prepared to move quickly. The City of Seattle has capped the number of houseboats on Lake Union and Portage Bay. Buying a houseboat requires specialized knowledge, as the sale sometimes includes both the houseboat and moorage and sometimes only the houseboat which is moored at rented moorage.”
“Nice homes go fast. If you love it, chances are someone else loves it as much as you. That is when you want to come in with your highest and best offer. This is a home that you’ll make lasting memories in, so it’s worth it!”
Brokers can effectively guide the buyers they represent by asking the right questions.
“Rather than answer what time of year is best for purchasing a waterfront home, I prefer answering the question, ‘When should a buyer write an offer on a waterfront home?’ Buyers need to decide if they want high, medium, low or no-bank waterfront. They must ask themselves; do I want blazing sunlight until 10:15 p.m., or intense sun at 5:30 a.m. and shade at 2:00 p.m.? Do I want access to the beach, or am I okay only having a water view? Do I want a mooring buoy? A dock? A sandy, rocky, or muddy beach? Once buyers know the answer to these questions —and many more—they are ready to buy at any time of the year!”
“The first thing I talk about with buyers of waterfront properties is the orientation of the property. Facing east is an entirely different experience than facing west. Are you a sunrise person, or a sunset person? From there, we take a deep dive into how the nuances of things like bank, boat traffic, weather, water depth, and jurisdictional restrictions will affect the utility and enjoyment of a property to the individual needs and desires of the client.”
“I find it’s important to ask about their lifestyle: what do they like to do? Swim, fish, boat, beachcomb, or just entertain at sunset? Each location offers something different.”
A diverse market satisfies all kinds of buyers. Some buyers seek a serene retreat:
“Some lakes are small and don’t allow motors, which may be attractive to those who want a very quiet setting. Many of our lakes are stocked with fish by the Department of Fisheries, and fishing is allowed in those lakes.”
”Waterfront living opportunities on Vashon Island are diverse and afford a range of lifestyles, whether one is looking for a tranquil shorefront cabin or a grand estate and aquatic adventures.”
”Not all waterfront buyers are boaters. Many are simply attracted to the tranquility and special experience of living in that environment.”
”Nothing compares to the serenity of a waterfront setting, and every season is beautiful and dramatic. This is where poets, artists, and writers find inspiration. It is where we go for soothing walks when we crave a deep, immersive experience in nature.”
But the most visible waterfront attributes are the ones catering to energetic buyers:
“On Whidbey Island kayaking is by far the number one form of waterfront recreation. That is followed by fishing, crabbing, kite-surfing and cocktail cruises.”
“Waterfront is always a commodity and is therefore always in demand. There is always something going on at Lake Washington’s shoreline, whether it’s the the summer Seafair festivities or the Christmas ships docking at Mt. Baker Park and Andrews Bay.”
“Things to do on Camano Island: clamming, crabbing, fishing, beachcombing, and kayaking. Port Gardner provides calm, protected waters, while Saratoga Passage may be for the more adventurous, along with essential whale watching as well. There are also parks, beaches, trails, and zip lining.”
“From jet-skiing, to wakeboarding to wake surfing, to just going for a swim…Today though, I would say paddle boarding is the number one non-motorized water activity. The barrier to entry is low, and you can just get on your board and go!”
“Kayaking is one of the most popular boating activities, and certainly very doable at any price point.”
“Boating is probably the number one waterfront recreation. Boating socially with friends and water sports: jet ski, water ski, kayak, and paddle board. Of course, there are a few float planes in the area too!”
“Larger lakes are conducive to a very active lifestyle for party boats, water-skiing, and jet-skiing.”
Buyers and sellers alike should carefully select a knowledgeable broker to help them through this challenging, but ultimately rewarding process. RSIR brokers know the region and possess insight into each of these distinctive markets.
“To earn the honor of being known and respected as a true waterfront expert, one must have personally visited all the of the stretches of shoreline in the markets they serve. Period. Every waterfront buyer has different desires and requirements for their waterfront lifestyle; and in order to help them achieve their goals, I have to know exactly where what they want, is.”