A Beautiful Day Visiting the Wildflowers on Decatur Island

May has brought some spectacular weather and Mother’s Day was the perfect day to go kayaking down to the Kimball Preserve at the tip of Decatur Island. We’d been told that the wildflowers were in full bloom so we went down to see them ourselves….and they did not disappoint!

I’m not a skilled kayaker so I watch the tides and try to paddle when they are going in my direction (both ways). This particular day was one of the lowest tides of the year at a -2.3 going to a 9.1 so a lot of water was moving through our small channel. Luckily, we caught it just as it was entering the “slack” period and were able to minimize our struggle with the currents. We fought it a little going down but coming back up was great. The total trip covers less than two nautical miles but if you’re fighting a strong current, it can get very exhausting!

Once we got to the lagoon, the hardest part was navigating the soft mud due to the tide being out so far. We pulled our kayaks up on the sand and slogged our way to the beach to begin our hike. Right away we encountered waves of flowers. So pretty!!

I have a real fondness for the blue camas and loved seeing them all over the meadowland areas. Hiking the trails took us to some amazing vistas where we could see the lovely Olympic Mountains, still covered in snow and look down Rosario Strait towards Mount Rainier.

It’s amazing to have such a beautiful place so close and accessible! I’m so grateful to the Kimball Family who long ago donated this beautiful area for us all to enjoy….

The islands have a number of other preserves you can visit by either water taxi or private boat.

Posted on May 14, 2020 at 7:02 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Island Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

COVID-19 Impact on Real Estate in the islands

How will COVID-19 impact our island real estate market?

I get asked this question almost every day….

My gut is telling me that when this unique emergency situation passes, our real estate market is going to normalize and may very possibly improve. As people are stuck in the city under quarantine, I imagine some of them are thinking, “Is this really where I want to be when this is over?”

Statistics are showing that a large number of millennials are moving to rural areas as they marry and get ready to start a family. Numerous companies have instituted “work from home” options for their employees and I think this is opening up a new way to look at employees, use of work spaces and efficiency of having a work force come into an office every day. If more people can work from home, the island lifestyle becomes very appealing!

The COVID-19 is causing all of us to view our life in a new way…

Is this a good time to be a buyer?

I feel its an excellent time to be a buyer. The prices are still relatively low, interest rates are amazing and the outer islands have some great properties for the price. If you have a family, the one-room school on Decatur Island is an incredible place for your children to get a top-notch education with a low student to teacher ratio and great STEM program. Acreage is available for reasonable prices if you want to create a mini-farm or like having some privacy and seller financing options can sometimes be found.

Back in the 1920s, Decatur Island had a much larger population than it does now because there was work available for young families. If a person can work from home now there’s really no better place to raise a family! The unique community and access to all the natural beauty can stimulate creativity and a new way of looking at work and innovation.

The other issue that could have a positive impact on the real estate market in the islands is the drop in the stock market. In my 30+ years in real estate, I’ve seen real estate sales in the outer islands improve when the stock market takes a downturn. Give me a call if you’d like to discuss some ideas you may have about a new full or part-time island home or explore my web site and allow yourself to be tempted by some of the beautiful properties available now. In the meantime…..stay healthy and Wash Your Hands!

Posted on April 2, 2020 at 7:57 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Island Living, Uncategorized |

How Can I Finance Vacant Land?

Lot 25 Decatur Shores – $59,500


I remember the first piece of vacant land that I bought. It was 30 years ago and the price was $21,000 (a lot in those days) and we asked the seller to finance it for us with a Deed of Trust. Back then, interest rates were hovering around 15% and I think we got a “killer deal” at 12%….

I’ll never forget the feeling I got when all the papers were signed and I realized I owned a piece of property that I could go to for a picnic, work party or whatever I wanted to do. It’s an amazing feeling to own trees, dirt and wildflowers and maybe even a view. I’ve always seen buying land for myself as a forced savings account  and I’ve bought a number of properties since then, and when the financial crisis of 2008 hit, I was sure glad I had them. I don’t know how I would’ve made it without having properties to sell.

So how do you finance vacant land? Right now, many sellers are offering financing with 20-25% down payment and interest rates around 6%. This could be a possible scenario for your purchase:

PURCHASE PRICE:    $59,500

DOWN PAYMENT:   $15,000

MONTHLY PAYMENT: $494  (principal balance amortized for 10 years at 6%)

Another option is conventional financing. Islanders Bank is offering a couple different loan options for vacant land. In most cases, you are going to be looking at an adjustable rate mortgage with a 20 year term. This can be a good option if you are wanting smaller monthly payments. If the property has utilities, you will need a 25% down payment or 50% down payment for a parcel without utilities. If a seller is insisting on an “all cash” offer, this could be a way you could still buy it. They also have land loans that can convert to construction loans when you’re ready to start building.

If you would love to own a piece of property, give me a call and let me help you brainstorm the best way for you to do it….you’ll be glad you did!

 Vacant Land Listings on Decatur and Center Islands

Posted on May 9, 2019 at 4:24 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

Real Estate is Improving

In case you haven't been watching the market or noticing the rising of "pending sales" in your community, let me tell you….the real estate market is improving!  Last month our office had 21 properties go pending in 21 days, which is so much better than it's been for the past 3 years.  From my 25 years of experience, I know that just getting through this presidential election helps a lot.  I realize it's part of the political process, but it's pretty challenging on the consumer to have confidence when the candidates keep talking about how the country is "going to hell in a handbasket" and they are the one to fix it…..yeesh!

New home starts are also increasing, which is great and impacts all areas of our community.  It's wonderful seeing new projects again and knowing that the worst is behind us.  I have access to all kinds of graphs and statistics if you want data for your specific area.  Let me know….I love hearing from you!

If you're thinking of buying a home, you might not want to wait until spring to do it….inventory is dropping rapidly and rates have never been better….it's a great time to be a Buyer!


Posted on December 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

2nd Homes Can Be A Great Deal (tax-wise)

Doesn't everybody yearn for a 2nd home?…. A beautiful place to go and do nothing but relax and spend time with friends and family…drinking nice wine, eating yummy food and reading those books you've always wanted to have time to read.


Unfortunately, it's often hard to justify the expense of a 2nd home when the upkeep of the primary residence sometimes seems overwhelming.

As someone who traded in my primary residence to live in my "2nd" home on a full-time basis, I understand this dilemma all too well, but did you know there are some awesome tax benefits to having a second home? For one thing, interest is deductible for your first 1.1 million in debt. (you can buy a darn nice home for 1.1 million) Also, if you rent it out for less than 14 days/year, you don't have to pay taxes on that rental income….cool! If you yourself use it for less than 14 days/year, the vacation home is considered a business and up to $25,000 in losses can be deducted each year. So you ask…."why have a vacation home that I can only use 14 days a year?" Well, here's the loophole…Days spent "maintaining" the home, aren't considered personal use days. Hmmm….maybe that's why I see so much window washing and deck sweeping going on.. I'm not making this stuff up.  There's a great article on Kiplinger.com that tells all about it. 

I may not be able to do your taxes, but I can sure show you some wonderful San Juan Island properties that will tempt you to live your "dream".

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

What will the new year bring?

As we start into the new year, after all the excitement of the holiday, some of us have resolutions in hand for 2012 and others are just trying to finish up the last of the sugar cookies so they can quit feeling guilty on a daily basis.  As for me, I started walking.  I go out every day and try to let go of all the questions about  the economy, presidential elections, obscure Facebook posts and wonderings about how I can spend so much time on the computer, and not accomplish much; vanish for a little while.

This morning, I had a wonderful treat.  I think spring is going to come early this year because the eagles are out in their full glory, and today I got the chance to watch a couple at play right on the trail ahead of me.  They were swooping and calling until the female flew off and left her majestic suitor sitting in the tree above me.  He was incredible!  He looked down on me with what seemed to be total disdain and called to her to rejoin him.  She didn’t and I moved on, grateful for a brief moment in nature to remind me of why I live in this beautiful place.

I don’t know what 2012 will bring so I’m going to just take each day as it comes and cherish the moments of glory and try to endure the moments of challenge.  That’s really all we can do anyway, isn’t it?  As my step father used to say, “It’s a great life, if you just don’t weaken”.  He lived each day fully until he died at 76.  His last words to my mother were, “I want to tell you all about my wonderful day, but I’m just too tired so I’m going to go to bed.”  I hope my last words are the same.

Walking the beach on Decatur Island

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

Island Afternoons


Posted on December 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |

Tourist for a Day

A Tourist for a Day

Sometimes, we have to take a moment…and re-discover our world. I find that if I’m not careful, my day-to-day cares take over and I lose site of this beautiful place where I live. The water is just a passing view as I travel through the house carrying the laundry, the beaches are for someone else to walk and the sun shining through the windows becomes just an annoying glare on my computer screen. Although I appreciate where I live, I find I have to make a deliberate effort to enjoy my environment.

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to go on a kayaking picnic with her to the south end of Decatur Island. My first response was, “no, I’ve got too much to do today…I can’t do it.” But as most young 20 year olds, her response was to not take “no” for an answer and she kept persevering. Finally, I gave in and made up a picnic and gathered paddles and life jackets for the trip. What a trip it was!….Beautiful glassy water, a warm pebble beach, eating lunch and visiting with my daughter and even a nap in the sun. Suddenly, I wasn’t just a woman checking off items on a “to do” list, it was like I was someone kayaking the San Juan Islands and appreciating the awesomeness of this place for the very first time…the smell of the seaweed, the calls of the various birds and the unsurpassed beauty everywhere. I came home with a pocket full of rocks and sea glass and a full set of charged batteries….ready to attack my first item on my “to do” list….write a blog.

Wherever you live, take a minute and plan a day being a tourist in your own town….visit the museum, have lunch in the park and better yet, spend the day with someone who means the world to you. You’ll be glad you did.

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm
Sarah Jones | Posted in Uncategorized |