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About Us

The Most Trusted, Productive Real Estate Firm
in the San Juan Islands Since 1960

Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands sales associates and management combined have the most knowledge about the local real estate market and related matters, giving both our buyers and sellers distinct advantages. We have the largest base of buyers and sellers, we're chosen as the listing agent more than any other brokerage and we generate the most buyers for those listings. We look after our customers before we look after ourselves. We know what things to be aware of and advise our customers accordingly. We have the most experience in every aspect of real estate in the San Juan Islands providing substantial benefit, advantages and protections for our customers.

The Buck Building

Why to Choose Coldwell Banker SJI

We Are The Most Trusted, Productive Real Estate Brokers in the San Juan Islands due to...

  1. LONGEVITY OF SUCCESS: Family owned and operated since 1960. 
  2. PROFESSIONALISM: 24 top-notch people serving our customers. 
  3. LOCATIONS: Our offices in Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor are in the best and most visible locations. Friday Harbor is the business, government and shopping core of San Juan County. Roche Harbor is the premier boating resort and village in the islands. 
  4. PROMPTNESS: In everything we do. 
  5. ADVERTISING. We have the most extensive advertising and marketing program in San Juan County. (Ask for details.) 
  6. COLDWELL BANKER STANDARDS: Coldwell Banker symbolizes the highest level of trust, professionalism and productivity amongst real estate brokerages nationwide and now even worldwide. We've been a Coldwell Banker Affiliate since 1984. 
  7. COLDWELL BANKER REFERRAL SYSTEM: There are over 84,000 Coldwell Banker Sales Associates in North America. In addition, there are Coldwell Banker Brokerages in 49 countries on 6 continents around the world including now over 300 in China. We refer customers to each other with confidence knowing that each Coldwell Banker office is a high quality real estate brokerage and that our customers will receive the best customer service. 
  8. FULL TIME PROFESSIONALS: Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands only retains full time real estate professionals who meet our ethical, educational and work standards. We've got a great, trustworthy, diverse and fun crew here. 
  9. FULL RANGE: We are community oriented. We are proud, capable and thankful to list and sell Real Estate in all price ranges.  
  10. $1,000,000+ HOMES: Year after year, Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands sells more $1,000,000 and up homes than any other broker locally. Nationwide, Coldwell Banker consistently sells over ½ of all $1,000,000+ homes. 
  11. REPUTATON: Our widely known, long standing reputation is that we make sure our customers are well taken care of. 
  12. KNOWLEDGE & EXPERIENCE: Our sales associates and management average over 20 years of experience at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands. We have the most knowledge about the local real estate market, as well as how to do things the right way. This combination provides our customers with an important advantage. 
  13. OUR EXPERIENCED MANAGEMENT Our owner hires right, insures quality and provides the best tools for us to do our jobs the best for our customers. Our broker, the most knowledgeable and experienced in the County, oversees all transactions so our customers can trust that everything is done right. He also does not list or sell property so he's not competing with our sales associates. Our sales manager provides outstanding training and systems, giving us further advantages and helping us be more efficient and effective. 
  14. CUSTOMER BASE: Over many years, through all that we do, repeat business and customer referrals, we have the largest base of both purchasers and sellers. That information allows us to match more purchasers and sellers, giving us and our customers a distinct advantage. 
  15. LEADERSHIP: Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands has always remained the leader in marketing and service in San Juan County. 
  16. FOLLOW UP: We follow up after the sale, taking care of every detail, assuring customer satisfaction. 
  17. MARKET SHARE: Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands is consistently the listing agent, selling agent or both in approximately 45% - 55% of the sales of listed properties on San Juan Island and many of the outer islands. In addition, we consistently sell a large percentage of our own listings. 
  18. CONTRIBUTORS: For decades we have been giving back to our community to almost every needy organization and situation. Many within our company also serve through important local organizations and other good causes. 
  19. AWARD WINNER: Please come visit our office and see all the awards we have on display. Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands has won the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporations "PRESIDENT'S AWARD OF HONOR" numerous times. This award is based upon exceptional productivity per agent and overall performance. Only a small percentage of the 3,000 + Coldwell Banker Brokerages are recipients. In fact, we're in the top 3% of the 440 Coldwell Banker Brokerages with 11-20 sales associates category in the United States. 
The Buck Building in 1906

Company History

Sam Buck "the First" discovered the northwest after graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1906, coming out to attend the University Of Washington Law School and be the Frosh Football Coach. He had been Captain of the U.of N. football team and a member of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity House. (FIJI). He stayed at the local chapter while at the U.W.

Sam returned to Nebraska and then served our country in the Balloon Core during World War I. Afterwards, he moved back to Seattle with his new wife Faye. One of the jobs he had in Seattle was working for the March McLennan Insurance Agency as an adjustor. A house on Orcas Island had burnt down and he was assigned to go to Orcas to inspect and process the claim. He immediately fell in love with the islands and in 1918 moved to Orcas taking up an old homestead at Doe Bay with his wife and first son Robert. He worked at various jobs there including as a purser on the Standard, a passenger freight ship that came through the islands. He also grew strawberries and reaped the harvest of the Italian prune trees on his property.

Eventually a group of War Veterans from Friday Harbor learned that Sam had a law degree and said "If we run you for Prosecuting Attorney and you get elected would you take the job?" It paid $25 per month and came with an office and a secretary, and he could practice law on the side. There was very little money around back then, so a steady cash paying job was a rare opportunity. Faye, who was raised formally and had professionally sung for the Philadelphia Opera Company, looked at Sam and then Sam said yes. Sam was elected and in 1920 they moved to Friday Harbor along with Robert and their first daughter, Barbara, who was delivered by an Indian mid-wife in 1919. Can you imagine coming from a formal upbringing in Philadelphia, to living in a small village on a remote island and having your baby delivered by an Indian mid-wife? Sam Buck Jr. was born in 1927 in Friday Harbor, as was daughter Carolyn, born in 1931.

Sam the First was Prosecuting Attorney until he died in 1946. He also practiced law on the side and served two years in the Legislature. He was famous for the way he practiced law as more of an arbitrator. He was also famous for two other things: He believed the people who brought children into the world should take care of them until they were adults and not make them wards of the court under divorce as was the law then. The other was for his "3:30 service". When certain types of lesser crimes were committed he would bring the criminal before the Sheriff and say, "The Sheriff is going to serve you at 3:30 this afternoon. You understand the ferry leaves at 3:15, and if you aren't here, the Sheriff can't serve you." There were many who caught that 3:15 boat.

In subsequent years Robert graduated from the University Of Washington Law School, (Fiji), was San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney, practiced in Seattle, became head of the newly formed Small Business Administration under Dwight Eisenhower and held many important positions in the northwest. He was one of the first of a delegation sent to China to help China establish modern business relations with the United States.

Sam Buck Jr., after attending the University of Washington (also a Fiji), lived in Seattle with his young wife Barbara. They moved back to Friday Harbor to try and make a living there doing various jobs from 1953-57. Then they moved to California following a job opportunity.

After spending 9 hot days in a motel in Tucson, Arizona for the company he worked for, he decided he didn't want the traveling lifestyle, didn't want to raise his children in California and he was working 50 weeks a year so that he could spend two weeks a year in Friday Harbor.

So Sam thought of other ways he might be able to make a living in Friday Harbor and in that hot hotel room dreamed up an idea of starting a real estate company. As part of that process he thought about how Brown Island, at the entrance to Friday Harbor and owned by some close friends, Dick Franck and Jack Powell, could be divided up and sold. He then told his wife Barbara he wanted to try one more thing to see if he could make a go of it in Friday Harbor and she agreed to go along. So Sam put the Brown Island development idea together with his fraternity brothers, and named the development Friday Island Estates. At the same time he and Barbara started San Juan Properties to be the real estate company selling lots in Friday Island Estates. Friday Island was the first development in San Juan County that had self imposed environmental restrictions, including restrictions on the cutting of trees and no cars for personal use. At the time they put the deal together, Brown Island was only hours away from a contract to have it logged. Friday Island Estates was a success, selling many of the lots to other fraternity brothers. (Waterfront lots originally sold for about $5,000-$8,500). Following Friday Island came Cape San Juan, San Juan Ranchos, Hillside, Mitchell Point, Carefree and what would have been Limekiln Village. Sam and Barbara also did many other projects on San Juan and other islands.

Over the years San Juan Properties saw much growth. It was located where Griffin Bay Books is now in downtown Friday Harbor, and it had branches in Roche Harbor, on Orcas, in Anacortes and two in Seattle. Eventually the branches on Orcas and in Anacortes shut down and one of the Seattle branches was sold. Sam and Barbara had much personal growth too, raising four children, Sam III, Lori, Steve and Lynn.

In the late 1970's, bustling San Juan County Bank decided it needed new, larger and more secure facilities. Sam and Barbara offered to purchase the two story beautiful brick building on the corner of 1st and Spring the bank had been in since 1907. Sam and Barbara took over possession of the building in 1980. Then they remodeled most of the 1st floor, endeavoring to keep historic architectural appearance with contemporary functions.

In 1981, Steve Buck came home to help out his parents in the business "for a while", as his father was deathly ill with kidney problems. He had been in Europe trying to embark on a career in international business. Steve graduated from Washington State University, BA in Business, and also took courses at the University of Washington in International Business, which qualifies him to root for both the Cougs and the Huskies.

Steve started off working at both the Seattle and Friday Harbor locations, then the Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor locations. In Seattle, he had the pleasure of working with Bryce Lilly, one of only a few survivors of his troop during the Baton Death March during WWII. Eventually, the Seattle location, a very small but street side office on 5th and Pine, was lost when the building it was in was torn down and a new building was constructed.

In 1984, Henry Broderick, who owned the best real estate company in Seattle, told Sam he was selling out to Coldwell Banker, as he was ready to retire and thought they were the best real estate company in the United States to run his business. Henry told Sam Coldwell Banker was soon going to be offering residential franchises.

Sam thought that San Juan Properties, which was already well known in the Northwest, would benefit greatly by becoming a Coldwell Banker Independent Affiliate and that it made sense for the best real estate company in the San Juan Islands to join forces with the best real estate company in the nation. He foresaw how our market would expand dramatically with the Coldwell Banker name being recognized nationwide, that there would be quality real estate brokerages to receive customer referrals from and to refer customers to, and Coldwell Banker had a proven marketing system. So San Juan Properties, Inc. became Coldwell Banker San Juan Properties, Inc., which turned out to be a wise decision.

In 1986, Steve became vice president of Coldwell Banker San Juan Properties, Inc. and officially took over the daily operations he had already been doing for some time. Later that year he met Laurie Wagner, who came from North Platte, Nebraska. Steve and Laurie were married in 1987 and now have four children, Lindsey, Joshua, Tanner and Faith.

In 1988 Steve's brother Sam (III), called him and said the non-profit alternative health organization at Murietta Hot Springs Resort in California he had been a member of, and worked at, and passionate about for many years, was shutting down operations. Sam asked Steve if he thought he could do "O.K." in real estate in the islands, which Steve said, "absolutely", and so Sam came home with his wife Jane and son John. (Charlie was subsequently added to the family.) Within a short period of time, through his hard work, Sam became one of the top sales associates at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc. Sam's office is right where his grandfather's law office was at the back on the 1st floor of what was the San Juan County Bank building, now the Buck Building, and the location of Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc.

In 1993, Steve and Laurie took over ownership of the real estate sales business forming San Juan Islands, Inc. and changing the name of the real estate company to Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc. San Juan Properties, Inc. was split off as a development and consulting company. Over the years, Steve and Laurie have put much effort into continuing to build the company with the best sales associates, staff, technology, marketing tools and support systems. Many of our sales associates have been with the company since the 1980's and the whole crew averages 14 years. (See their biographies at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Real Estate Experts.) Steve and Laurie have also worked hard at improving the building, completely remodeling the interior and restoring the exterior, enhancing its authentic architectural appearance while at the same time providing the most contemporary business capabilities, all helping keep Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, Inc. "The Most Trusted, Most Productive Real Estate Brokerage in the San Juan Islands, Since 1960".



Newsletter

San Juan Islands Real Estate Services

2014 Second Quarter Market Summary

The second quarter results which complete the first half of the year for San Juan Island were very exciting as the real estate dollar volume reflected an increase of 95% over the same period in 2013. The number of transactions was also up 62%.

Overall, San Juan County's volume was up 69% with 269 transactions in the first half of 2014, as compared to 187 in 2013 or a 44% increase. Shaw and the outer non-ferry serviced islands dollar volume led the group of islands with a increase of 105%, San Juan followed with a 95% increase, Orcas with a 79% increase, and Lopez was actually down 33%. The majority of the increase for Shaw and the outer islands was one transaction that closed at $1.9M, which was a waterfront home that sold to a neighbor on Shaw.

San Juan Island Transaction Recap
Time Period# of Transactions$ Volume
1st Quarter 201454$21,691,303
2nd Quarter 2014279$34,680,248
First Half 2014133$56,371,551
First Half 201382$28,893,248
First Half 201282$37,430,741
First Half 201183$34,278,952

It feels outstanding to consistently use the words "up" and "increase" in this real estate market update as it has been a very long time.

We are surrounded by recovery: Seattle, Anacortes, Bellingham, all of the neighboring metropolitan areas; our turn is just around the corner. We are noting recovery in other second home markets in the State that don't rely upon the ferry service, such as Port Ludlow, Chelan and Sequim.

Our biggest obstacle in the path towards appreciation is that our inventory level remains high. This is great for buyers as they have a good selection of properties to choose from while in the shopping process. As of July 22, on San Juan Island, we have 441 properties listed as compared to 412 last year on July 11th. This number includes the 40 pending this year and 36 last year.

Recap of Pending by Price on San Juan
0-$400k$401-$600k$601-$800k$801-$1m$1m+LandComm.Total
1574326340

As our dollar volume and transaction count reflects an increase over last year same period, it is apparent that we have ready, willing and able buyers in our market, but we remain in what would be defined as a "buyer's market" due to increasing level of inventory. We have continued to add to the inventory since January 2014, when the inventory for listings totaled 328 for all types of properties.

SJI Residential, Condo, & Manufactured Closings

Apparently property owners have been waiting too long and are now ready to move on. When considering listing, sellers should keep in mind that the homes that are selling are those that are perceived as the best value. Further, for those sellers that are relocating to a different market that is experiencing appreciation, the longer it takes for you to sell your home here, the more you will have to pay in the robust market.

As evidenced by the pending chart above and the recap of closing charts, the highest level of activity remains in the lower-end category of our market. A strong increase in our median home price is hindered by the lack of activity in the other segments of our market. The median home price for San Juan Island for the preceding 12 month period ending June 30, 2014, is $395,000 which is an increase of 6% over year ending 2013. It has been on the rise since December 2012.

The median prices cited are for previously owned homes on less than 5 acres, and platted lots. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes or lots sold for more and half sold for less. The median lot price is $128,750 for the preceding 12 month period, which is an increase of 60% over year ending 2013. That size of an increase sounds impressive, until you review the actual numbers.

SJI Vacant Land Closings

Land sale activity is slowly picking up. It will be one of the last categories to recover due to lack of financing, appreciation, and the risks of the unknowns surrounding the new regulations. The large increase in median lot price is attributed to going from hardly any lot sales to "some". Shorter, but still informative real estate market update reports are also a sign of an improving real estate market.

If you would like more information and charts you can download the entire newsletter in PDF form. Authored by Merri Ann Simonson.





Our Team

Give Yourself the Advantage of Our Knowledge

Debra Sullivan

Broker
360.317.8753

One of the passions in my life and work is to share this little known paradise with my clients. After sailing the oceans for nine years and dropping anchor in many beautiful harbors the world over, I discovered the San Juan Islands. Choosing to call Friday Harbor my home 28 years ago, I started the process of buying property and building a home. There are many aspects of island living that I am grateful for.

The quality of life and diversity of the people here are exceptional. From an equestrian lifestyle to boating and fishing to the unmatched beauty of the islands, there is something for everyone including young couples seeking a calmer, more serene lifestyle to seniors who have made it "in the city" and would like to spend the rest of their years in a slow-paced, senior supportive community focused on a healthy lifestyle. I have raised my children here in this growing community and, like moms all over the world, participated in school and youth sports activities.

My career in the Real Estate industry began with Coldwell Banker, San Juan Islands, in 1992. I have earned the respect of my peers as a dedicated worker and skilled negotiator. I have been recognized as a top producer by being named a member of the International President's Elite Society. My success has been based on perseverance, focus and attention to detail, which I believe leads to satisfied clients. My continuing goal is to provide you with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

You are invited to contact me for any of your Real Estate needs, or to receive regular mailings regarding our beautiful San Juan Island properties and current market conditions. With absolutely no commitment or obligation I welcome a telephone call, email or text from you to chat about even your smallest question or to discuss selling, buying or trading Real Estate, or to receive regular mailings regarding San Juan Island properties and current market conditions. I hope to hear from you soon.

Merri Ann Simonson

Managing Broker - Sales Manager
360.317.8668

Merri Ann Simonson's story is similar to many of her clients; she was introduced to the islands in 1978 through boating when she began spending weekends fishing, diving and camping. She built a second home on Garrison Bay in 1989, and began commuting from the Seattle area most every weekend. In 1995 she relocated to San Juan Island permanently and joined Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands.

During her 19 years as a Agent, Merri Ann was named REALTOR of the Year in 2000, 2003, and 2011 and has been a member of the Coldwell Banker Diamond Society since 1998 and has served on the San Juan County Board of REALTORS since 1996. Merri Ann was the Designated Broker for Coldwell Banker for the last two years and now holds the position of Sales Manager/Managing Broker. Her experience as Designated Broker has further enhanced her abilities to serve her clients. Merri Ann says "I enjoy working in real estate and my 19 years experience in the banking industry helps me assist those who have the same goal as I did. The properties sell themselves so all I have to do is use my real estate expertise to insure the transactions are handled properly." And she does!

Jane Sawyer

Broker
360.317.8609

MaryEllen Foster

Broker
360.317.7825

I came to San Juan Island in 1979 for one year. That year turned into 34 years. In 1985 I started my career with Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands. I have also commercial fished aboard a local Purse Seiner, spent a summer in Alaska on a fishing tender and owned a popular clothing store in Friday Harbor.

I have a diverse knowledge of the islands, am well respected and my 29 years in the real estate business on San Juan Island has given me the experience to provide both Buyers and Sellers the best service available. I know the island and feel fortunate to have called it home for many years.

In 2007 I was voted Realtor of the Year. Currently I serve as a Director on the San Juan County Association of Realtors. I just recently took up running. I have completed a few 5K's and a 10K. It is amazing to see the island from ground level....We live in such a beautiful place!

I look forward to working with you...

Judy & Denny Holm

Brokers
360.472.1769 or 360.472.1765

Denny and Judy Holm, "The Holm Team", have been a successful husband/wife real estate partnership based on honesty, integrity and unsurpassed service to buyers and sellers since 1985. We fully understand the position of trust we are in when representing our clients. This is evidenced by the high level of repeat business and the personal referrals from our past customers, friends and other real estate professionals. Many of our professional relationships began on the golf course, tennis court or during our various musical activities. Our energy, commitment and dedication to our business and community has enhanced our working relationship with professionals in all facets of the listing and selling process.

The Holm Team

Everyone has a dream they hope to fulfill "someday". Our dream was to "someday" live and work in a quiet, peaceful setting surrounded by water and natural beauty, with a great quality of life and a temperate climate.. in short.. the beautiful San Juan Islands. What we love about our real estate career is that we are able to help others realize their dreams. Let us help you make your dreams of island living a reality.

Sam Buck

Managing Broker
360.317.6277

I am a 2nd generation Realtor on San Juan Island and I am a 3rd generation islander with my two grandchildren being 5th generation islanders.

I left in 1976 to experience life off the island and came back in 1987. For 30 years, my father had the largest and most successful real estate company in the San Juan Islands. My younger brother had taken over the business so, with "real estate in my blood", in August of 1988, I became a Realtor as it seemed like a natural move. I worked very hard and within a few years I quickly became one of the most successful Realtors in my office and have been a top broker since 1993.

My father was born here and he and my mother still live here on the island. My wife and I raised both of our sons here. I loved growing up here and feel very grateful for the gift of being able to raise my family here and now seeing our grandchildren grow up here.

My background is quite diverse including: small farming, heavy equipment operator, commercial fisherman, restaurant ownership, and resort restoration / operation. I was a full time holistic health practitioner with a non-profit organization for over 10 years and still enjoy keeping up with the current trends in that field.

Please allow me the privilege of providing you with the benefit of the knowledge gained over my 25 years as a Realtor on San Juan Island. I am a top Realtor only because people like their experience and recommend me to their friends and family.

You will experience me as a professional with an easy touch. Some people jump in with both feet right away and others may take years to get comfortable with the idea of owning property here. My job is to help you to know the pros and cons of the inventory that is relevant to you and I enjoy being in that role.

When I can be of further service to you, it will be my sincere pleasure to do so.

Steve Buck

Broker - Owner
360.472.0895

Tim Gambrell

Designated Managing Broker
360.317.1750

Chuck Payne

Broker
360.378.8156

Chuck Payne partnered with Peter Wangoe II and together they form the Islands Team, selling tens of millions of dollars in real estate annually through the San Juan Islands and across the full range of property types. Extensive computer knowledge and utilization has contributed to their success as they employ industry leading computers, peripherals and software to assist in professional client management, productivity organization, desktop publishing and production of successful mailings to promote properties. The Islands Team is very committed to the community and the people who live here.

As your local Coldwell Banker Real Estate Professionals, they are also committed to providing the full benefit of their personal and professional skills. Whether you are buying or selling property, they can ensure that you have access to the best available programs, the most complete information and the highest professional services the Islands Team can deliver! Living and selling the Islands Lifestyle, please ask for the Islands Team!

Thane Bolger

Broker
360.317.4838

Leasa Wangoe

Broker
360.298.0422

Leasa is consistent in her professionalism and commitment which makes her an excellent Broker.

She loves golfing, boating, hiking, working, being social and seeing projects through to completion and has proven this over the last 8 years in the industry.

If you would like to work with a Broker who is very professional, personable, detail oriented and has a positive attitude, Leasa Wangoe is your REALTOR!

Jeanne McFarland

Broker
360.298.0684

Vicki Telford

Managing Broker
360.317.5164

I was raised in Washington State but spend the majority of my adult life in northwestern Montana prior to moving to San Juan Island. I started in real estate in the Flathead Lake resort community of Bigfork, Montana and eventually owned and operated a real estate firm, then sold it prior to returning to Washington. When I was presented with an opportunity to move to San Juan Island it was with great enthusiasm, both personally and professionally, that I accepted. The waterfront community of Friday Harbor resonated much like a homecoming to me after spending so many years in Bigfork and on Flathead Lake. My adventurous nature, love of the outdoors, an active community, and the opportunity to continue to work in a profession I'm passionate about equated to the epitome of living my dreams with eyes wide open.

Throughout my real estate career I have been privileged to meet and work with amazing people. I am always interested and inspired by what motivates my clients to purchase and/or sell and it's through learning their motivation that I develop my own. Every real estate transaction is unique, just as each and every one of my clients are unique. The constant throughout is my expertise, professionalism and commitment. My desire is to exceed your expectations from day one. I will passionately endeavor each day thereafter to successfully complete your real estate transaction beyond your level of satisfaction to mine.

Bob Elford

Broker
360.472.1177

Bob Elford began visiting the San Juans back in high school when he spent one unforgettable spring on Johns Island. After college, he taught high school in Alaska, but couldn't get the islands out of his thoughts. So he moved here in 1980, when he married his wife, Mary. Bob continued working as a teacher in Friday Harbor, but has also worked in other fields; as a ranger with the National Park Service, restaurants, construction and has been the resident manager of Mar Vista Resort for the past seven years.

Bob enjoys island living together with Mary and their 13 year old daughter Lola, where they spend their time sailing, skiing, beachcombing, sports, traveling and potlucks. As a property owner, landlord and former tenant, Bob understands what it is like to live here from a variety of perspectives. He enjoys being part of the team at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands and sharing the island living experience with his clients. Please contact Bob for your island real estate needs.

Michele Mayer

Broker
360.317.5683

Michele has been in the Real Estate industry in the San Juan Islands since 2000 and in 2013 was voted San Juan County Association of Realtors 'Realtor of the Year' by her peers!

Having been raised on the island and a having had a career in the strong education system in Friday Harbor, she wanted to expand her horizons and join a career that allowed her to help others find their happiness in the islands.

Michele is dedicated to providing professional and ethical service. Her goal is to help her clients achieve their real estate goals by making the best decisions for their particular situation. This requires listening to clients so she can understand what is important to them. She helps guide buyers and sellers through the real estate process by being communicative, responsive, and honest. Her longevity as an islander as well as her years in Association Management of nearly $20 million worth of condominium real estate affords her local connections and knowledge that will benefit those with whom she works.

Michele has a strong commitment to the community and devotes time and effort to many community activities. With a history of satisfied clients, Michele has proven to be an effective agent. Call or email Michele to talk about what you are looking for as your piece of perfection!

Paula Sundstrom

Managing Broker
360.378.7817

This fourth generation San Juan Islander has a love of the land and a keen sense of market value. With 17 years of professional experience at Coldwell Banker, Paula combines a lifetime of local knowledge with a commitment to hard work and integrity.

I am dedicated to providing the finest service available, combining proven real estate and Internet marketing techniques to meet your needs. The real estate industry grows more challenging every day. Your real estate professional must understand the industry and stay ahead of the competition.

I go the extra mile to help you realize your goals. I constantly monitor the market and property values so your home is always priced effectively. I also use innovative advertising and marketing techniques, making sure that every potential buyer knows about your property.

Kelly Snow

Broker
360.317.6072

I've had the good fortune to live my island dream here on San Juan Island for over twenty years. I'm a Northwest native, and graduated from the University of Washington. Today my husband and I raise our daughters in this wonderful place, surrounded by its natural beauty and caring community.

After my children started school, I pursued a career in real estate, a field that has long interested me. Since 2005 I have worked full time as an agent, and continued to volunteer extensively with the schools (Board of Directors of San Juan Public Schools Foundation, 2002-2009, and several other school organizations), as well as volunteering my time to our local Board of Realtors (Board 2009-to date, and Treasurer 2011-to date).

My goal is always this: to provide the best service possible to my buyer and seller clients. One way I do that is to endeavor to continually expand my skills and knowledge of real estate through education; to that end I recently attained the Certified Negotiation Expert designation. Another way I achieve that goal is by attention to detail before, during, and after any transaction. I pride myself on my communication skills and ability to focus on your needs.

Let me introduce you to the islands I know and love. Whether you are dreaming of a beach cabin, luxury home, gentlemen's farm, or anything in between, I will work hard to help you find your place in these magical islands. Your Island Dream begins with your Island Home. Call, text, or email me to begin your journey…

Lanny Carver

Broker
360.472.0922

Lanny Carver feels privileged to turn a passion for real estate into a career in the field. With a 30 year background in the clothing and textile industry, he brought to real estate the same abilities that made his previous career so successful. He has always worked for his clients with creativity, product knowledge and follow through. These skills made the transition to his new career. "I love working with people, discussing their needs and helping them fulfill their dreams."

After cruising the San Juans for years, Lanny and his wife Pat invested in property in 1989 on the west side of San Juan Island and built their home in paradise. "Every day I am grateful to be living and working in this magnificent environment." Lanny enjoys golfing, boating and piloting his Cessna 172. He was on the board of the San Juan Pilots Association in 2004, a former Vice President and President of the San Juan County Board of REALTORS©. He and his wife are active in the community and strive to support numerous community events. Lanny is an active volunteer flying for the San Juan Eagles, transporting cancer patients to the mainland for treatment.

Lanny's knowledge of all the islands, his professional work ethic, as well as his willingness to "go that extra mile" and his experience in marketing make working with him a pleasure. Please call Lanny for any of your real estate needs.

Nancy Young

Managing Broker
360.317.1755

I am lucky enough to be living the Island dream!! I have been selling properties in San Juan County since 1983. My family and I enjoy the relaxed lifestyle, beauty, and friendliness of San Juan Island living! My hobbies include horses, hiking, and skiing.

Accomplishments include REALTOR© of the Year in 1997 and 2003, Community Service Award 1997 and membership in the Million Dollar Club, Diamond Society, President's Circle and Presidents Elite, the highest honor for productivity in the nation. Currently 2013 Chair of the San Juan Island Public School Foundation, Past Grants Committee Chair for San Juan Island Community Foundation, San Juan County Planning Commission member, and 4-H leader.

Nancy is a hardworking, professional REALTOR© who can help you through the process of buying or selling and have fun while doing it!

Peter Wangoe II

Managing Broker
360.378.8051

Peter Wangoe partnered with Chuck Payne and together they form the Islands Team, selling tens of millions of dollars in real estate annually through the San Juan Islands and across the full range of property types. Extensive computer knowledge and utilization has contributed to their success as they employ industry leading computers, peripherals and software to assist in professional client management, productivity organization, desktop publishing and production of successful mailings to promote properties. The Islands Team is very committed to the community and the people who live here.

As your local Coldwell Banker Real Estate Professionals, they are also committed to providing the full benefit of their personal and professional skills. Whether you are buying or selling property, they can ensure that you have access to the best available programs, the most complete information and the highest professional services the Islands Team can deliver! Living and selling the Islands Lifestyle, please ask for the Islands Team!

San Juan Island Real Estate Video

As we have always said, the island's lifestyle is the primary reason in the purchasing decision process. It is what originally brings you to the islands and what keeps you wanting to be here. Our office has created an entertaining video that helps demonstrate our feelings about the island lifestyle and selling real estate. We hope you will take a moment to enjoy our YouTube Office Video.

Contact Us

Friday Harbor Office

The Buck Building

Location105 Spring Street
Call UsP.O. Box 100
Call UsFriday Harbor WA 98250

Call Us360.378.2101 or 800.451.9054
Call Us360.378.4967 Fax

Call Usproperty@sanjuanislands.com

Roche Harbor Office

Roche Harbor Office

LocationRoche Harbor Resort
Call UsRoche Harbor WA 98250
Roche HarborSeasonal Office open May thru September

Call Us360.378.0116 Direct
Call Us360.378.0111 Fax

Call Usrocheharbor@sanjuanislands.com

Buyer & Seller Tools

San Juan Islands Real Estate Services

Buying Property in the San Juans

If you have already chosen us as your real estate agency, you have accomplished the first step in the process of buying property in the San Juans. You may; however, find the rest of the steps of interest.

Select an Agent to Represent You

As you may be aware, all of the brokerage firms on San Juan Island are members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service; therefore, any of the agents can assist you with any of the properties listed with Coldwell Banker or other brokerage firms. One of the first steps in purchasing real estate on San Juan is to select an agent to represent you. Ideally you should select ONE agent that you feel will provide you with the level of customer service that you require. We believe an agent at Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands to be your best choice.

It is important for you to understand the Law of Real Estate Agency. Years back, Department of Licensing determined that most buyers felt that the agent represented them. However, the law at the time required all agents to be subagents of the seller, thereby technically representing the seller. It was for this reason that State revised the agency laws to the current ones, which allow for three types of agency representation:

Determine Your Source of Funds

If you intend to finance your purchase, it is prudent to meet with your lender and determine the maximum loan amount you are qualified for. This amount, coupled with the cash you have allocated, will determine the maximum sales price. We have numerous lenders that are active with financing in the islands if you are interested.

Determine the Type of Property You Desire to Purchase

One of the best ways to do this is to develop a list of your desired property features, and a list that details how you intend to use the property. Then prioritize those lists. For example, when we are working with a waterfront purchaser, we obtain the following information:

The responses received may direct the agent to property in different locations on the island. However, it may be that until a buyer has an opportunity to view the various different types of properties, they may not be able to narrow down or develop their priorities.

Once determined, this information should be communicated to your agent in order for them to focus on the type of property that meets your needs, thus saving you time and confusion.

Educate yourself on the Market and Inventory

You need to become acquainted with our market and inventory level in the categories that hold your interest. Even if your purchase plans are sometime in the future, it is beneficial to take the time to view property with your agent because it will save you time in the long run. This process allows you to get acquainted, relate your preferences and develop your knowledge of the market. This will also help your agent to customize all future information sent to you. Buying property is a process of elimination. You will view many properties which you will determine are not suitable; then you will buy the one that is.

One way to monitor our market is to ask your agent to email you the Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Quarterly Real Estate Market Updates. You can also sign up for the service.

Monitor the Inventory

You need to stay in touch with the inventory and market trends until the right time or right property becomes available. If you have viewed property with your agent or communicated your preferences, your Coldwell Banker agent will establish an account for you in our IDX and all new listings that meet your criteria will be emailed to you upon their origination. Purchasing property in the Islands can be a one day or five year process - which is totally subject to your time frame.

Purchase and Sale Transaction

Once you have located the property you desire to purchase, we will structure a written offer to purchase containing the terms and conditions you have specified. The seller will either accept your offer as submitted or submit, through their agent, a counteroffer containing terms that are acceptable to them. Important elements that should be included in the Purchase Agreement under the feasibility study provision are listed below:

Archeological Sensitive Areas

You want to make sure that the property you are purchasing is not located in an archeological sensitive area such as Indian Midden or near a cemetery. If the property does contain sensitive areas, you need to know where they are located. To confirm this information you need to contact Annie Matsumoto-Grah at San Juan County at 360-370-7585. She will look up the property on their maps and confirm the results. The maps are not of public record so you may not access the information yourself. If the property is located within an Archeological Sensitive Area, you will need to obtain a report from an Archeologist. The Archeologist will perform a site inspection and delineate the sensitive areas and their setbacks. Should you desire to dig in those designated areas for any reason, such as new construction, a remodel or landscaping, you must hire an Archeologist to standby and sort through the material while excavation is in process in order to protect any items with historic value. The reports are approximately $1500-$3000 and if excavation is needed in the sensitive areas, the monitoring is on an hourly rate. It can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your project.

Corner Stakes

Do you know what you are buying? Corner stakes can be located or re-staked by local surveyors. Full surveys may be required due to lack of original plat stakes. The cost of a full survey will vary, but for a four-corner parcel it is typically in the range of $2,000-$4,000; setting just replacement stakes can be much less. We have several surveying firms available on the island and we recommend: Bob Wilson 360-378-4300 or Bob Anderson 360-378-5072.

Feasibility Consultant

Some purchasers may want to commission a complete Feasibility Study that will respond to not only the existing conditions of a property, but also address the issues, if any, that may have to be satisfied to allow a proposed use of a property. Feasibility Studies can be one-stop reports; addressing conditions of the structures, septic and water questions. Further, a report on relevant land use codes that may impact the proposed use of the property can also be processed; i.e., a Vacation Rental Permit or Conditional Use Permit. Jack Cory from First Inspect Inc, 360-378-4900 or Cheryl Purnell Albritton 360-378-2066 offer package Feasibility Studies. The reports are in the range of $300-$5,000 subject to complexity.

Flood and Homeowners Insurance

If you are purchasing on the waterfront, chances are the Flood Zone Determination report will indicate that flood insurance is required. Not all properties need Flood insurance as the improvements are located above the Base Flood Elevation. For more information, please download our Flood Insurance Guide. Be sure to arrange for your standard homeowners insurance policy in the beginning of the process, don't wait until you are only a few days from closing as the process can take 7-10 days.

Internet and Cell Phone

The majority of the islanders use Century Link or our local firm, Rock Island for our internet connections. The DLS coverage will vary throughout the County. In some areas there isn't enough strength to stream movies from the Internet but Net Flick delivers. You should confirm that the service to the property you are considering meets your requirements.

The best cell service in the islands is Verizon. Many remote locations in the islands do not have cell service. The County is currently seeking options to expand and enhance our cell and internet services in the future.

Rock Island can be reached at 360-378-5884. I can't say enough about how great their service and sales departments are, I highly recommend both.

Permits

Was the home constructed under a permit and does it have a final certificate of occupancy? Was the home built under the "built by Owner" permit application and require a safety inspection prior to closing? You should obtain copies of the permits from the County Permit Center to confirm the permit status.

If the home was build prior to 1976 no permit may exist which was at no fault of the owner. Our Permit Department was not formed until the middle of the 1970s. These homes are considered grandfathered-in and non-conforming.

If you are contemplating new construction or a remodel, the current building codes and comprehensive plan can be accessed through the San Juan County web site. You can request a permit package or review the County's building requirements through their website.

Power

If you are buying unimproved property then you should confirm the distance from power to the proposed building site. OPALCO will provide you with the distance and you can obtain a bid from a local contractor for the installation. Installing through rock can be costly.

Seller's Property Disclosure – Form 17

Pursuant to State statute, all property owners must provide a seller's disclosure to the buyer. There are some exemptions to the law for Estates or Trustees. The disclosure is not part of the contract and doesn't provide any representations or warranties. Buyers should share it with the Home Inspector so they may focus on any issues that the seller has disclosed. Ultimately, it is up to the buyer to process their due diligence and confirm if the property is suitable and the condition is acceptable. Buyers should not rely on the seller's disclosures other than for informational purposes.

Septic System

For existing systems, it is prudent to obtain a copy of the "as built" filed with the County. This will indicate the number of bedrooms the system was installed for and its approximate location, which is helpful for future improvements or repairs. If you are purchasing an unimproved parcel, you should obtain a perc test, design and permit approved by the County. The permits have a validity period of four years and the cost is around $1,250. The two most commonly used designers are Jack Cory 360-378-4900 and Rick Petro 360-376-2762. You can read more about septic systems via our Septic PDF

Septic Inspection

Per the Purchase and Sale contracts used on San Juan Island, the seller must comply with San Juan County Codes related to on-site Sewage Disposal systems (OSS). Seller is required to have the system inspected; pumped if needed, and install any required maintenance components required by the code. Typically, all costs for inspection, pump, and installation of maintenance components shall be the responsibility of the seller. Sellers typically pay $200 for the inspection, $600-800 to pump and maintenance components can run $300-$2,000. Generally, systems installed after 2000 are in compliance with maintenance components. We recommend Craig Starr 360-378-8060 or Ted at San Juan Septic 360-378-7255.

Setbacks and Buffers

You should review the Critical Areas Ordinance located on the County website. This ordinance will take effect in March 31, 2014 and will implements numerous setbacks that are actually restrictive "buffer areas" from wetlands, shorelines, and streams.

Storm Water Management Plans

As part of the permit process, you must create plan for during construction Storm Water Pollution Prevention which meets County requirements. Further, once the home is built, you must have on-going Storm Water Site Plan to address run off from the hard surfaces and the improvements. This process can be character building.

Structural, Pest and Dry Rot Inspections

It is highly recommended that all buyers obtain an inspection of the home prior to closing. The inspector physically examines all of the major components of the improvements and reports on their condition and recommends any repairs. For additional information regarding inspections and their benefits, you can contact one of our inspectors. The three most commonly used are Jack Cory 360-378-4900, Tim Hance 360-298-1163, or Darrol Scheffer 360-378-4969. The Home inspection fees are in the range $500-$600.

Title Report

Shortly after the seller accepts your offer, you will received a Preliminary Title report. It is imperative that you review that report for accuracy and question anything that is different from what was represented to you. You should review easements and encroachments directly with the Title Officer that examined the title and issued the report. The reports are complex and only the source is reliable.

Transaction Closing Process

Due to the number of remote purchasers and sellers, the majority of our closings are handled through email or the express mail systems. We have local escrow firms and title insurers. We regularly cooperate with off island escrow firms, lenders, and 1031 facilitators.

Water Source – Private Well or a Community System

Private and two party shared wells should be tested for quantity, bacteria and organic. A San Juan Short list is recommended. The cost for a bacteria and organic test will be approximately $300 including the sampling. Class A and B systems are community systems in which the quality and quantity are monitored on a regular basis as required by the County. These need not be tested, but their current "standing" should be confirmed through the County.

For more information regarding wells and water systems, you can contact one of the two commonly used well service providers: Denny Martel 360-378-2842 or Al Mauldin 360-378-6975. San Juan County Health Department can be reached at 360-378-4474. The County confirms that community wells are in "good standing" via email. In "good standing" is defined as current with satisfactory Bacteria and Nitrate reports and County inspections.

Wet Lands

You need to determine if the property you are purchasing contains any form of wetlands. Pursuant to the Critical Area Ordinance update, all wetlands have some sort of buffer that must be respected. There is no sure way to confirm the land contains wetlands without a professional wetlands expert.

You can start by viewing the County's wetland maps and note if the property is located within a designated area, but that is not a formal confirmation and not reliable. If you are suspect, you can request a site inspection from the County or hire a wetland expert. Once you determine that you have wetlands on your property, you need to have the area delineated and the wetlands typed and surveyed so that the required buffers, based on type, can be honored. The fee range for the survey and delineation is $1,000-$10,000 subject to terrain and site difficulty; most site fees run in the range of $2000-$4,000. We recommend Scott Rozenbaum from Rozewood Environmental 360-468-4448 as a wetland expert.

Conclusion

This article is for informational purposes and not meant to encompass the entire process. Hopefully the article doesn't make the purchase process sound intimidating but no worries as we will guide you through the steps and issues. Please direct any questions or comments to property@sanjuanislands.com

San Juan Islands Real Estate Services

Recommended Procedures for Sellers

One of the first steps we recommend in selling real estate in the San Juan Islands is to select an agent to represent you. Ideally you should select ONE agent that you feel will provide you with the level of customer service that you require. Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands has an agent who would make an ideal choice.

It is important for you to understand the Law of Real Estate Agency. Several years back, Congress interviewed hundreds of buyers to determine if they thought their agent represented them. In most cases, the buyer believed that the agent did represent them; however, the law at the time required all agents to be subagents of the seller, thereby technically representing the seller. It was for this reason that Congress revised the agency laws to the current ones, which allow for three types of agency representation:

Download a copy of the Law of Agency Disclosure to become familar with it.

Review Marketing Plan

Coldwell Banker San Juan Island's marketing program is extensive and provides full brokerage services. It offers several exclusive features including the Coldwell Banker International presence. As a member of the Coldwell Banker franchise we enjoy international brand recognition and agent tools including exclusive publications geared to market island properties. More than 3,300 offices nationwide means buyers know Coldwell Banker's reputation.

Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands leads our local market. Please see our "20 Reasons to Choose Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands" for more details. Your agent will prepare a complete marketing plan customized for your property. This will be presented to you at the same time your Competitive Market Analysis is reviewed. Review the Competitive Market Analysis

A competitive market analysis ("CMA") is an opinion of value produced by a Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands Real Estate Expert. When considering selling, one of our professionals will prepare a CMA upon request to assist you with the valuation of your property. The Coldwell Banker Real Estate Expert will evaluate the property by reviewing all recent property sales and determining the market value of a typical sized property factoring in square footage, number of bedrooms, amount of land, size of view, waterfront, etc. Our islands can make this process a challenge as most of our properties were improved as owner designed construction and so made very custom; finding similar properties can be difficult.

In addition to reviewing recent sales, adjustment factors may need to be applied such as current and forecasted market demand, the appreciation calculation, the cost approach based on present value of each component, the amount of comparable properties currently available and the subject property's special features. Completing the CMA allows the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Expert to develop an opinion of the value; this is part science and part art. That is why it is imperative to select an agent such as one from Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, as we offer the experience and track record to support our conclusions of value.

Consumers should be cautious when using on-line home value estimators as they do not function very well in San Juan County. These systems assume that the properties are all similar, but as mentioned above, properties in our islands are very unique.

Pricing of the Property

Fair market value is the highest price an informed buyer will pay for a property offered for sale. A primary reason that sellers hire full service REALTORS® is for their experience and expertise which can result in obtaining the highest price for their property.

The purpose of our Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) is to assist you in determining the listing price. After reviewing current inventory and similar properties that have closed, you need to set the selling price you are most comfortable with based on your needs.

Some sellers choose to set their price ahead of the market. Due to their level of motivation, they understand and accept an extended marketing period. Here we explain why this is not the best decision: Qualified buyers will purchase the property that they perceive to be the most suitable and best priced from the selection available. It is for this reason that the list price should not be above market value. Properties priced properly typically sell within 30-60 days and for a higher percentage of the list price when compared to those properties that are on the market longer. This can be attributed to the level of activity when a property is first listed. Typically, agents notify their buyers as soon as a new listing originates. It is known that when properties first enter the market, sellers are less likely to negotiate on price. If the property is priced too high, buyers perceive that the seller will not be willing to negotiate down to a more appropriate market price and the result is lack of interest.

If the seller reduces the price at a later date, it may not bring back the buyer's interest. In fact, the buyer may be lured away from the higher priced property as its pricing convinces them to purchase a different property that they perceive as a better value.

Properties on the market too long may also become "shopworn". The first few questions that most buyers ask when considering a property are: Price? Days on market? And why is the seller selling? Today's buyer has a high level of sophistication that includes educating themselves on our market prior to their actual purchasing experience. This allows them to make an informed purchasing decision. It is unlikely that buyers will pay more for the property than they would have paid for a similar property. In the end, over priced properties tend to help sell the competition.

Net Proceeds Calculation

Review your net proceeds calculation based on the recommend price range given by your Coldwell Banker Real Estate Expert. This calculation will estimate your net funds after paying all costs of sale, but not paying off your indebtedness or real estate taxes if any. Remember, your personal net proceeds requirement does not dictate the market value for your property.

Your Decision

The decision of whom to list your property with should be based on local knowledge and experience. This includes marketing, negotiating, transaction management and closing & follow up, which should not be underestimated. This is really where Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands excels. We are able to obtain the highest sales price for our sellers because we have more experience in negotiating transactions than any other firm in our area and because we have maintained the largest market share of listings and closings for nearly 50 years. It is this experience during the transaction that can make the difference.

Real estate brokerage is a performance-based industry. Clearly, not all real estate companies are alike. Results will vary dramatically based on a variety of factors, including the experience and track records of the professional you select. Choosing representation based solely on discount, rebate or another cash back scheme may seem like a good idea at first glance, but that is not always the case when all is said and done at the closing table.


Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Understanding the Valuation Process

The definition of "market value" is rather boring sounding when you take into consideration that you are addressing one of the highest value assets that a property owner may have or the most expensive item that a buyer may purchase in their lifetime. Emotions run high when it comes to the selling and buying of real estate. If we all could just buy low and sell high, life would be so much more rewarding.

Definition: Market Value is the price a property is most likely to command in a competitive and open market, with a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arms-length transaction, wherein the parties have each acted knowledgably, prudently, and without compulsion and in their own best interest.

A competitive market analysis ("CMA") is an opinion of value produced by a real estate professional. Upon request, a real estate agent will process a CMA for the purpose of assisting a property owner with the valuation of their property when they are considering selling. A CMA may also be processed as a service for a buyer who is considering making an offer to purchase real estate. The real estate agent will evaluate the property by reviewing all recent property sales and determining what a typical sized property is selling for given such factors as square footage, number of bedrooms, amount of land, size of view, waterfront, etc. Our islands can make this process a challenge as most of our properties were improved as owner designed construction and so built very custom; finding similar properties can be difficult.

In addition to reviewing recent sales, adjustment factors may need to be applied such as current and forecasted market demand, the appreciation calculation, the cost approach based on present value of each component, the amount of comparable properties currently available, and the subject property's special features.

Comparison against current unsold inventory is something an agent can consider but an appraiser is unable to heavily consider in the process of formulating an opinion of value. This restriction on the appraisers insures that their approach to value is more conservative but may hinder their ability to report that the market is in transition. They are licensed to value here and now, not the market right around the corner; good or bad.

Completing the CMA allows the real estate agent to develop an opinion of the value; this is part science and part art. That is why it is imperative to select an agent such as one from Coldwell Banker San Juan Islands, as we offer the experience and track record to support our conclusions of value.

Consumers should be cautious when using on-line home value estimators as they do not function very well in San Juan County. These sites rely upon the various County Assessor's information and valuations to process their own calculation. The on-line estimators do not have representatives that physically inspect and evaluate the homes nor do they have local market knowledge.

The assessor's office performs appraisals for the purposes of ad valorem taxation. This is part of the process for how we provide funding to all local government services. The assessor's appraisers only have access to the exterior of the improvements. They also use a "blanket" approach with comparable sales from the immediate neighborhoods, district or regions versus singular. The assessor's values assigned are for their tax purposes and are not used for lending or listing property for sale.

The website value estimators may be more reliable in Metropolitan areas where subdivisions of very similar homes are bought and sold on a regular basis. The website value estimators have historically performed poorly in small, low volume, custom construction markets such as San Juan County. Agents spend a lot of time explaining to buying clients why the website calculators are not reliable in our area. Below are two charts which evidence this fact. The accuracy tables for Seattle as well as San Juan County are only a 2 star.

Zestimates Valuation Seattle Zestimates Valuation County

Agents are not licensed appraisers and there is no regulation surrounding how they calculate a property's value; there is not a uniform calculation. However, it is an agent's duty as contained in the REALTOR Code of Ethics, to process an honest opinion and not to mislead the owner as to the market value of a property.

Further, requests for valuations for legal purposes such as divorce, estate planning, trust work, etc., are referred to local appraisers. A CMA is not an appraisal as defined in chapter 18.140 RCW but is prepared by a real estate licensee who is not state certified or licensed as a real estate appraiser. The two most active appraisers in our area and who we recommend are Mike Paredes 360.378.5474 and Mike Aikens 360.424.0331.

If you are seeking an appraisal for loan application purposes, then the lender is the one that selects which appraiser to use as the report is for their benefit.

Please direct any questions or comments to property@sanjuanislands.com


San Juan Ferry

Flood Insurance

If you are considering purchasing a waterfront home in San Juan County or even nationally, you most likely will be introduced to the Flood Insurance process. As you may be aware, the majority of our waterfront properties are designated as being in the flood plain as determined by the current Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) maps. What you may not realize is that almost 90% of the homes and other structures in San Juan County, when further analysis is done, do not actually require flood insurance.

FEMA contracted with the Corps of Engineers to complete the mapping and determine the Base Flood Elevations (BFE) for our County. FEMA then adopted those maps for regulating the insurance. The Base Flood Elevation for most of the County is 12 to 15 feet. The maps are two dimensional and don't take into consideration individual property elevations, slopes and shoreline. They error on the side of consumer protection and use the "blanket approach". Bottom line, if you are buying or have waterfront property, it is designated as being in the flood zone by FEMA unless proven otherwise by a Professional Land Surveyor.

Whenever you are using a Federally Insured institution as your lender, a Flood Determination is required. If the FEMA maps indicate that the property is in a flood plain, flood insurance is required and must be obtained prior to loan closing. As of October 2013, a Flood Elevation Certificate is required by the insurance underwriters prior to issuance of a flood insurance policy. Most borrowers don't question whether the insurance is actually necessary. As a result of the passage of the Biggert-Waters Act in October 2013, flood insurance rates through the National Flood Insurance Program will be increasing. It will be more important than ever to determine whether the property you are buying or your existing property should have flood insurance coverage.

When purchasing a waterfront property, whether you are using a lender or not, the first step in determining whether you need the insurance is to obtain the Flood Determination Certificate. The lender will process one as part of the loan package but if you are a cash buyer, you may utilize one of the numerous services on the web for a nominal fee of $25.00. If this determination indicates the property is in a flood plain, you will want to hire a surveyor to apply to the Corps of Engineers for the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your property. The fee charged by the Corps is in the range of $105-$350, subject to previous determinations in the immediate area and it typically takes 3-4 weeks. The insurance underwriters will require a BFE in order to issue coverage and if you are using a lender, they won't close until you have a policy in effect.

The BFE from the surveyor is also a key part of determining whether insurance is actually necessary. Once the BFE is obtained, the surveyor will then survey the property and determine the elevation of the lowest grade adjacent to the structure(s). This will confirm if the structures on the property should be insured or may be eligible to be removed from the flood zone. If the structures remain in the flood plain and you are using a lender, you must obtain flood insurance.

If you are a cash buyer, it is a personal decision. One might want to review the forecasted Tsunami path for the County to determine if the property could be flooded and verify with your insurance agent that your policy would cover such a disaster. Chances are flood insurance will not cover global warming and sea level rise until, and if, they actually occur, and then the government would need to mandate the coverage.

As in the case of your standard Hazard Homeowners Insurance, only the structures are insured, not the dirt. If the structures as surveyed are above the flood plain, then the improvements and a portion, or the entire parcel may be eligible for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). To obtain a LOMA, you should hire the surveyor again, as they process these on a regular basis and are familiar with the zillion forms required by FEMA. The surveyor will submit the application for a LOMA to FEMA and the process is 4-7 weeks. The total cost is approximately $1850 on average, which includes the BFE fee from the Corps of $105-$350. I believe this to be money well spent as the $1850 represents a large portion of the annual flood insurance premiums on a typical San Juan County waterfront home. The time frames to complete a BFE and a LOMA are typically not within the standard purchase contract term. I quote a total of 90+ days to my clients so it may be necessary for you to close on your purchase and your loan and then obtain the LOMA after closing.

If you currently own waterfront property and are paying for flood insurance, it may be beneficial for you to move forward with the BFE and possible LOMA so that you can avoid paying future premiums. It will also help expedite the sale of your property in the future as the LOMA runs with the land and can be used by a buyer.

Once you secure the LOMA, you will need to send that into your lender's loan servicing department which may take a few more weeks. They will issue you a Waiver of Flood Insurance Notice which is your invitation to cancel your flood insurance. As in the case of many government programs, when you cancel, they will not prorate back your premiums for any unused term, so don't count on a refund.

This article is for informational purposes only. As each property has unique characteristics, buyers and property owners should check with their licensed flood insurance agent to determine their options and the best solution regarding their flood insurance. We have numerous surveyors in the County that process the applications for Base Flood Elevations and Letter of Maps Amendments, I recommend the following: Bob Anderson at Star Surveying 350.378.5072 or Bob Wilson at San Juan Surveying 360.378.2300

Please direct any questions or comments to property@sanjuanislands.com



San Juan Island

San Juan Islands Real Estate Services

Live Life in a Postcard.

Say farewell to worry and stress when you head to the San Juan Islands . . . and say hello to the mellow islands vibe, a temperate year-round climate, and long, lazy hours of doing just what you want. Count on temperatures around 70° in the summer and 40° in the winter. A happy confluence of weather systems also accounts for the high level of air quality you'll appreciate across the San Juans.

There are 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County, however the four ferry served Islands; San Juan Island (with the county seat Friday Harbor), Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island are the most populous and host the vast majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities.

So breathe deep, get comfortable (casual is the rule on these islands, from clothes to the friendly greetings you'll receive.) Relax—you're on "island time" now.

Orcas Island Real Estate Services

Friday Harbor

The second largest island in the county at 55.3 square miles, San Juan Island is the economic, cultural and social center of the county. The county seat is Friday Harbor, with a population just over 2,000 people and is one of the last fishing villages in Puget Sound still looking very much like it did 100 years ago.

Sculpted by glaciers that formed the character of all the islands, San Juan is perhaps the most diversified in terrain and feeling. There is ranch and pasture land in three interior valleys, most featuring beautiful territorial views of wooded hills or lakes. Contrasting the expansive landscapes of the valleys are the peaks of Mt. Dallas and Young Hill to the north, and Mt. Finlayson in the south of the island, which is bordered by open grassy hillsides leading down to an open beach area.

San Juan's West Side is famous for whale watching, stunning views of Victoria, Vancouver Island, the Olympic Peninsula and marine traffic destined for Seattle, Vancouver or Alaska. Of the 6,176 real estate parcels on San Juan Island, 20% of some 1,268 parcels are on the waterfront. Properties currently listed range from a $119,500 condo to a $7,500,000 waterfront home.

There is a great deal of history in the San Juan Islands. Most notably on San Juan was the dispute between the British and the Americans over ownership of the San Juan Islands. The neat sweep of the 49th Parallel, accepted by Great Britain and the United States in 1846 as the U.S./Canadian border, did not fit the maze of the San Juan Archipelago. Predominantly occupied at the time by workers of a British trading company, American settlers, ignoring British claims, began to homestead the San Juans. When an American shot a boar belonging to the British that was rooting in his potato garden, tempers flared and sides were drawn. The British set up camp on the north end of San Juan Island, the Americans set up camp on the south end, and the Pig War began. Both camps are still there as National Historic Parks today, enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors annually.

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Roche Harbor Village

The quaint seaside village of Roche Harbor is on the National Register of Historical Sites. In 1881, two brothers bought Roche Harbor and started the islands' lime industry. Home to the famous Hotel de Haro, this lovely landmark was built in 1886 by John S. McMillan and named for Gonzales Lopez de Haro, an early Spanish explorer. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt stayed in room 2A while visiting McMillan, his long time friend and the hotel's owner. Roosevelt's room is one that to this day, you can still stay in and is called, appropriately, the Presidential Suite. In the Hotel Lobby is a register bearing the President's signature from a 1907 visit here. In 1975, when the road in front of the hotel was paved, the yellow pavers used are actually the fire bricks which lined kilns one through eight. Many more were recycled from a couple of rusty kilns dismantled in 2004 and are used in the paving of the village core parking. During many summer evenings, a crowd gathers at the flag pavilion to watch Roche Harbor's own Colors Ceremony, a tradition passed down since the 1950s from former owner, Reuben Tarte.



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San Juan Islands Real Estate Services


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San Juan Islands Real Estate Services


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If you are buying or selling outside of the San Juan Islands and need assistance let us help you arrange it. Contact us at: property@sanjuanislands.com or give us a call at 360.378.2101.