Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Beach Life is Awesome, So Says My Sister

I was delighted to be able to help my recently retired sister and brother-in-law find a suitable property at the coast. They found a lovely remodeled manufacture home on a large 1.25 acre parcel in Oysterville on the Long Beach Peninsula. From this locale they are a short bike ride to the crashing Pacific Ocean or the bayside of the peninsula.

They love it at the beach! I don't think they ever thought they would be able to own property in a beach community, yet now they do.

From San Diego, CA to Warrenton, OR the Pacific coast is expensive and for many unobtainable. But SW Washington has a little sweet spot where real estate prices remain affordable. My sister and her husband were overjoyed to be able to afford a nice little place on large lot so close to the sea.

The Long Beach Peninsula has that classic beach vibe going on. It remains quintessentially quaint, with small town values and all of the benefits and faults of small town living. Coastal areas like Long Beach are heavy on tourism and as such can be crowded at peak times. The peninsula has several areas that are a bit detached from the busy touristy areas so whether one wants to be in the 'thick of it' or 'off the radar' Pacific County has their back :)


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Coastal Weather Tends to Avoid the Extremes

Hey guys I am taking a cross country road trip with my youngest son, so I'll post this from a few years back about the steady eddy weather on the coast.

You Like Your Weather Static?

One of the stark contrasts with the weather and climate on the Washington coast as compared to inland areas like Portland-Vancouver is the nearly flat chart of average temperatures across the whole year. Yes if you like a fairly predictable temperature over the course of a whole year, it is hard to beat the beach. Of course it is wetter and windier at the beach but the temperatures are nearly static. Look at that chart!

In Long Beach, WA, there is only 16° of difference between the average high in July and the average high in January! Contrast that against Vancouver, WA where the difference is 36°. Or how about a place like Spokane, WA where the difference is an astonishing, 50°. You may find it interesting that Long Beach, WA has the same difference in average daily high as San Diego, CA! Yes San Diegans enjoy a tight 16° spread between summer and winter as well. Yes, I know the spread is the same but So-Cal is much warmer.

To be fair the coast tends to favor a cooler climate, but the moderating effects of the mighty Pacific Ocean keep the extremes minimized and the averages very predictable and pleasant all year long. Heat waves in the summer are very rare and when they do happen they are quite short lived. Deep freezes in the winter are equally rare and again very short lived.

So if you want to live in a place that doesn't really have a major shift in seasons then the coast could be the ticket. It is really a two season affair on the Washington Coast, a short 4 months of mild summer weather and long but very mild 8 months of winter.

The beach is affordable and fun all year round, check it out!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Coastal Cottages still a Value!

The Long Beach Peninsula continues to offer an amazing beach experience for a price within reach of the middle class. I write about it a lot because this is not a fixed opportunity. The market may not always offer up this kind of value.

This adorable bay side beach house is listed at just $129k
Recently my sister and brother-in-law joined the ranks of the beach crowd, buying a modest mobile home in very nice condition on the north end of the peninsula. This lovely home is situated on 1.27 acres and offers privacy and beauty. It is about a five minute drive to crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean or to the gentle shores of the Willapa Bay. They were looking in the 150-180k range and found a number of opportunities. In the end they decided a mid peninsula location with a larger lot was preferred over a smaller 'city' lot closer to the shore.

Make no mistake friends, they had lots of options and even viewed a classic beach house style cottage with a view of Willapa Bay! There were a few cottages just a few blocks to the beach and all fell into their modest price point.

The beach is attainable and who doesn't like the beach, seriously?

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Allergy Relief Near the Shore?

The coast can sometimes be a good reprieve from allergies, other times, not so much. Of course it depends on what one is allergic to, but the coastal areas have a less variety in fauna and that could be good for the spring and summer sniffles crowd. I wrote this piece about Southwest Washington's allergies standings in my Retire to Washington blog.

"I suffer from spring allergies here in the metro Portland-Vancouver area and much to my surprise nearby Portland, OR was ranked last on a list of 100 worst cities for allergy sufferers in a 2013 report. Link here. Ranking last by the way, is a good thing, so this came as a bit of a surprise and in fact San Francisco CA was considered quite a bit WORSE than either Portland or Seattle the two Northwest cities west of the Cascades on the list.

We have so many flowering plants and trees I figured we would be up near the top. Yet there we are at the bottom of a list you don't want to top. It appears to be yet another reason to consider the Evergreen State as your final destination. Your place to retire. Seattle is a bit crowded, and VERY expensive leaving Vancouver as an ideal spot as the second largest city in the Portland,OR-Vancouver, WA metro area, and the defacto second largest city in the state.

With all the things we have to deal with as we get older, the aches and pains, the bum knee, sore back, yada, yada, yada... why suffer through allergies also? Well apparently here in the Evergreen State you get all the gloriously beautiful trees, bushes, flowers and leaves without that nasty allergic stuff. As if the natural grandeur of the Northwest, favorable tax environment, and relatively mild weather weren't enough, we are a bit easier on the eyes and nose as well."

Be sure to get out to the coast and soak up some summer sun, cool breezes and a bit of salty air!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rising Rates could Dampen Beach House Dreams

Interest rates have been creeping up all year. Although they remain well below the 50 year average, the opportunity to own a vacation beach house gets slimmer as rates go up. Vacation and rental property loans typically have a bit of a hit to rate on top of the upward movement we have seen since the dawn of 2018.

The Long Beach Peninsula remains a wonderful value for coastal property. I have gone on about this for years daringly close to ad nauseam indeed. I will not belabor the point further today but will suggest that those considering a vacation or rental home anywhere and certainly at the coast, should be most aware of the lending rate trends under way.

Living on SW Washington's coast can be fantastic and it remains shockingly affordable. Check out my Retire to Washington blog to see why Washington State can be a very desirable location to retire and the coast is certainly an additional reason.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July and that means big 'ole beach party on Long Beach! Check out the Long Beach website for information here. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Beach Time!

Well friends it's almost beach time! June is here and the weather will start getting better and better at the coast. Soon inlanders will be descending on the cool coastline to beat the heat. Every few years I like to repost a pertinent article and what better article than the one about our very own Drive on Beach? Long Beach is one of the longest drive on beaches in the world and is actually a Washington State Highway with a posted speed limit and State Troopers. It's that time of year so read on.

Originally posted as "Drive on the Beach at Least Once in Your Life " March 2nd, 2014

From the Long Beach City Website
How many states can boast that they have a state hwy that is not just on the beach but IS the beach! Washington is one such state that can make that claim. Driving on Long Beach is not as easy as it seems. Often the entrances have loose sand that cars with low clearance can easily get stuck in. Once you are past the soft sand at the entrance is is pretty easy to drive on the hard packed sand closer to the water. As mentioned above this is an official state highway and that mean troopers will write you a ticket for exceeding the 25 mph speed limit or any reckless driving. They are quite serious about it and the fine are HUGE so drive safe.

Driving on the beach. Circa 2006
There is much to do in Long Beach. Adults and children alike can enjoy this great coastal retreat. The best part about it is the ability to purchase your own home to live in or vacation at for a reasonably price.

You can check out this website info about the Long Beach Peninsula and driving on the beach here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Softening Market could lead to Deals... or not!

So analysts are projecting a soften market this year. That is not to say they expect prices to reverse but more likely that the rate of appreciation will soften. Rising rates are the biggest culprit in this, but wages have also fallen behind real estate prices as well.

On the coast many people are looking for vacation homes, second homes, etc. Rising rates makes the cost of such more expensive and thus leads to fewer buyers in the market. The Long Beach Peninsula isn't a large market and doesn't have a deep supply of buyers. This could be an issue. For buyers thinking about the coast, now is the time, rising rates tend to hurt buyers more than rising prices, and even in a declining price market higher rates hurt buyers more. Declining prices in Washington State are not on the minds of any analysts I have seen.

Cash buyers tend to fare better in rising rate markets, but if prices also continue to rise cash buyers a better off buying as soon as they can. Take a peek at this article from one of my other blogs...

Analyst Projections are Softening for 2018

The overall Portland Metro area has already seen a slowdown in the rate of price appreciation in the first 1/3 of 2018. There is near unanimous analyst agreements that market conditions will soften as the year progresses. For buyers that may not seem like the case especially resale buyers in places like Portland, where inventory remains critically tight.

A low inventory definitely tips the scales towards sellers int he supply and demand view of economics, but demand in real estate is a little different than demand in many other commodities. Demand for real estate is almost always high, but the problem isn't that there aren't ready and willing buyers, there are plenty; the problem is that there are many "able" buyers.

The greater Portland-Vancouver market has seen housing price growth so outstrip income growth that many ready and willing buyers are simply no longer able. Many sellers still believe they can list their home for a sky high price because they have a "rare" commodity. But having something rare still requires having more buyers than sellers. For example, if I have a rare and desirable item that I price so high no one can afford it, I will not sell it, even if it is the only one on Earth.

One real classic trap that I see seller's right now falling into is the chasing down the market. Last year a seller could float a high price above market and get away with it. Buyers outnumbered sellers so much that someone would always step up and make an offer close enough to close. But now I am seeing, and the analysts have confirmed, that strategy is leading to a series of price reductions from sellers.

A series of price reductions puts buyers in a position of strength against sellers. As interest rates rise the pool of eligible buyers shrinks. Sellers are well advised to price their home at market pricing because higher interest rates reduce the buying power of prospects for the home. Remember inventory IS in short supply, but recent conditions have also reduce the supply of "able" buyers. This local market is moving into a neutral status where it is neither a seller's or buyer's market. I still think current conditions tend to favor sellers, but another few upticks in interest rates could level the field.

For younger buyers that have never seen a mortgage rate above 6 percent, I'll tell you this. The 50 year average rate on a home loan is still above 6%. Young people have seen these historic low rates as the "norm" when in fact this has been an abnormal decade for interest rates which are now beginning to normalize. Paying 6% on a mortgage loan is still reasonable when compared to the long term averages.

That however does not mean the buyers shouldn't try to score a house while rates remain lower than 6%. Interest rate is a much bigger impediment to buying a house than price. Interest rates will likely rise faster than prices this year, so buyers should focus on their ability to pay, not trying to grind out the lowest price on a house.

So overall Clark County, Washington saw roughly 10% growth in the median home price from 2017 to 2018, most analysts are projecting 2018-19 growth to be about 1/3 that in the 3% range. So prices are still rising, but not at the rate they were last year. Incomes are the limiting factor. For buyers, the price slowdown may feel like a reprieve, but combined with the up creep in rates the purchasing power will make the market "feel" like it's rising just as fast as last year.

Sellers need to be cautious, analysts are not the end all be all. Market conditions can be fragile, and they are in my opinion fragile right now. If national and local economic indicators remain strong most of the analyst projections will likely pan out, but any negative economic factors could lead us back to a buyers market. Sellers: A bird in the hand is better than two in bush, in 2018.