Recently a gentleman asked me how much our waterfront homes north of Seattle sell for…I said I’d seen them as low as $500,000 – which was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
This does beg a question, or two, what is the definition of a waterfront home? Does one want a waterfront home with a dock, retaining wall, beach rights (clam and oyster digging), deep enough to moor a boat, low bank, and high bank?
How about railroad tracks? Many of our waterfront homes along the water are adjacent to railroad tracks. Some waterfront homes are on a pond or on a lake…this is all before the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and price.
If this will be a vacation rental or second home, does it need a vacation permit from the local government, as in the San Juan Islands? What is the definition of north of Seattle – five miles, ten miles, fifty miles?
I am somewhat familiar with waterfront as my father purchased a beautiful investment property along the California sea cliffs when I was in the late sixties. It was a Spanish style home on six acres. He developed a few acres of it after living there for a few years, sold it and moved to a condominium in Marina del Rey where he could see his sailboat in front of the living room windows. He then further retired to Kaanapali, on Maui, where his condominium had a nice view of the beach and lapping waves. Because of this, I have always tried to locate myself near water.
Waterfront north of Seattle could include neighborhoods of Shoreline, Richmond Beach, and Woodway. All of these are on or near the railroad tracks. Railroad tracks extend up to Everett and Canada.
I lived in Richmond Beach for a time and loved walking the beach. The trains came by regularly and I got accustomed to them. They didn’t have much reason to use their horns, as they do in other places where people often cross on the tracks.
I went to explore the beach near a property just south of Mukilteo, and found that the trail to the beach had been buried by a recent slide. This is indicative of several areas of high bank, beachfront property. The home I previewed sits high above the railroad tracks, and so might not have as much noise or visible distraction when the trains go by.
Due to the number of Native American tribal lands, listings north of Seattle may come with a lease or there may be a listing that specifically states it is fee simple property, even though it looks as if it’s on the reservation land. It’s important to read through the listing materials carefully and research it through the title company.
There are a few areas that are not on tribal land, but adjacent to or surrounded by tribal land, such as Mission Beach Drive. Just north of Everett, and west of Marysville, one listing sits on high bank on the south side of a little peninsula with a great view, has a large garage and tennis courts to the north, and a dock on the far north side (across the road), which is somewhat protected from the predominately south west winds. There is a little fence and the gate to the dock. The house needs a bit of updating. Here is a link: Mission Beach Drive
Warm Beach is an enclave of homes on the way to Stanwood from Mission Beach Drive. I found a little barn style house with a short retaining wall, right along the beach and west facing. According to the listing agent, some of the residents like the winter better as they see more wildlife and love how the light on the water is constantly changing. Here is a link: Warm Beach
The listing agent mentioned that the tide flats off the home are exposed during low tide; some of the boats are tied to buoys, while others use the launch site close.
Warm beach is in an unincorporated area of Snohomish County.
Moving on to Camano Island, a similar area with low bank is Madrona Beach. I walked by a little cottage that had been on the market for one day and went pending. The listing agent said it created quite a frenzy as one rarely sees anything at that low a price (425k): Madrona Beach
If one is looking for an area where one can moor one’s boat outside one’s window, the west side of Whidbey Island has a planned development called Lagoon Point. It was evidently created from a marsh back in the seventies. Here is an example of a listing that is just under 600k: Lagoon Point
Of course, when considering a waterfront home, it is also important to research taxes and buffer regulations (in case of building).
The properties near Snee-oosh Drive are on leases with tribe and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The lease is five to eight thousand dollars per fifty-foot lot per year and is fifty-year leases. This property is on a double lot and is a vacation property. The listing agent said serious buyers might ask for the financial history: Golden View Trail
It has been on the market a long time, partly because it has been challenging to get a mortgage due to the fact that is was originally modular. Academy Mortgage is now will to lend on it.
Shelter Bay is also leased land, just across the Swinomish Channel from La Connor. About 850 homes are on one lease. It is gated; I heard that the lease runs through 2044 and seems to be in negotiation for a 75-year extension. This is keeping prices low – half that of Anacortes.
Other leases are radically different – the least is $390, high $1190. Some have supplemental $80-90…plus the HOA of $115. One ends up with about $280 additional to the mortgage. That lease rate will probably change. Most of the owners don’t care what happens in 27 years as they have a beautiful home on beautiful property. There is a guard at the entrance, RV storage, and typically people leave for months and don’t worry about their homes.
From here one can look in Anacortes, or north to Bellingham and Canada. I love Fidalgo Island near Deception Pass, and Sammish Island.
Appreciation Rates, Sales
New Newsy Links – see what has been happening in real estate.
Northwest MLS Press Release – January 5
Reports for various areas are below – if you would like one for your neighborhood please let me know!
Click-here to see the November appreciation chart of all neighborhoods.