In a capsule, the easiest way to characterize Mason County’s real estate market in 2015 is “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  All of Western Washington is up and so is Mason County.  The prices in the “best value on Puget Sound” began rising last year in a most fundamental way.

Demand is up.  5% more properties were sold however the number of homes for sale were down 20% over the entire county.  Less supply + more demand = higher prices – nearly 5% higher everywhere in the county.  This also drove down “Months of Supply” below the six month definition of a “neutral market”.  Statistically, Mason County is now in a buyer’s market.

Rising prices were also helped by home foreclosures in Mason County which equaled 20.2% of sales, much lower than the highs of 2011 of 37.8%. Shelton’s foreclosure rates were highest in the county at 31.9%, once again much lower than the 2011 highs of 51%.

The median cost of a home in Mason County is now 17.92% lower than in 2007.  That means our county is better than halfway back from completely recovering from the 2007 real estate bubble.  To put this into perspective, our neighbors have recovered better than us – Thurston County is at 7.88% lower than in 2007 and Kitsap County 10.82% lower.  At their rate of recovery, this year should put them 100% back to where they were.

Are there signs of change in Mason County?  With the demise of the downtown Shelton plywood mill, a new proposal has emerged called the “City of Shelton Community Vision & Action Plan of Downtown Revitalization”. With money from the Washington Legislature and Green Diamond earmarked to re-develop Shelton, adding to the Shelton Hills regional mall project and the Belfair Highway 3 efforts, there appears to be substantial focus on further developing Mason County within the near future.

Waterfront Property in 2015

North Mason waterfront homes had less supply by 23%. With consistent demand, prices went up more sharply than in the county in general.  In August 2014, sales averaged $169/sqft but increased in 2015 to $199. An increase of $30/square foot on a 2000 square foot home = $60,000 and better than a 6% improvement over the remainder of the county.

Specifically, here are the total sales for saltwater waterfront in the South Sound:

                                                                        2014                 2015

Treasure/Stretch Islands                                 8                      2
Pickering Passage                                             13                    10
Case Inlet / Allyn – Victor                              12                    11
Harstine Island                                                 14                    14
Hammersley / Oakland Bay Shelton            15                    19
South Hood Canal Belfair/Union/Tahuya  28                    34
Totals                                                                  90                    90

To see added specifics on each community, click on each link.

As you can see, sales of saltwater waterfront in Mason County was flat.  Realtors indeed sold a greater percentage of the salt water properties that were on the market at a greater premium but with fewer houses available to sell, you can see the results.

That brings me to timing.  In 2015, North Mason waterfront homes required 163 days on average to sell.  That may seem long however remember, 49 of those 163 days were spent in escrow.

As a point of information, escrow will take longer this year with new Dodd-Frank laws in place.  Lenders and title companies must be more transparent about the dollars and cents adding another 10-15 days to the process of transferring the title.

A word of caution regarding these general waterfront statistics.  As we all know, conditions are very different on Hood Canal than say Hammersley Inlet not to mention the features of each home.  To see sale-by-sale statistics, the average cost per square foot, days on market and odds of selling in 2015, I have prepared performance charts to drill down to each area’s financial differences.  To compare the different South Sound markets or to see what has happened to your home, go to “2015 South Puget Sound Saltwater Home Sales.” for sale-by-sale statistics.