Monthly Archives: October 2015

Apartment vacancies still low, rents rising


Prospective homebuyers in Kitsap County have fewer options this fall, as the number of available houses continues to plunge.

Apartment hunters face a similar challenge.

Vacancy rates at Kitsap’s large apartment complexes remained very low in the third quarter of 2015, with 3.23 percent of units available (see graphic below). Port Orchard was the tightest submarket in the county, reporting a vacancy rate of 3.06 percent, according to Tom Cain of Apartment Insights Washington. 

606Burwell_9424507_ver1.0_640_480Kitsap’s apartment vacancy rate is lower than rates for King/Snohomish, Pierce and Thurston county markets.

Apartment rents continued to creep up in the third quarter, reaching reaching $1,058 per unit in Kitsap.

Rents increased 14.5 percent in the past year. Apartments in Kitsap remain significantly cheaper than in King/Snohomish but more expensive than in Pierce or Thurston.

As with the real estate market, new construction should eventually help ease the squeeze. Several apartment projects are underway in Bremerton.

Pre-leasing has begun for the 71-unit 606 Apartments on Burwell Street, scheduled to open Dec. 1, according to a Facebook post.

Here’s a graphical look at apartment rental trends in Kitsap:

Third marijuana shop approved in Bremerton

A recreational marijuana retailer approved by the state last week will be the third to open in Bremerton and the second on Callow Avenue.

The new store is called The Reef. It’s located at 1107 N Callow Ave., Suite C, near the 7-Eleven.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board approved The Reef’s retailer license Friday.

The Reef is the second pot shop to open in West Bremerton. Pacific Cannabis Company debuted at 625 N Callow Ave. in July.

The state licensed Destination Hwy 420 in East Bremerton in August. A store called HWY 420 is located on Charleston Beach Road, just outside city limits.

The addition of The Reef brings our count of Kitsap marijuana stores to eight. There are also 10 licensed growers in the county. Expand the map above or click here to see all the locations.

The Suquamish Tribe expects to open a marijuana shop on Highway 305 by November.

Holiday hiring to hold steady despite retail rebound

20101126-174501-pic-346492532_5604183_ver1.0_320_240Kitsap County employers will hire about 420 workers for the holiday season, according to a state estimate.

That would put holiday hiring down slightly from 2014, when Kitsap businesses added 465 in October, November and December.

The Employment Security Department is projecting holiday hiring statewide to be roughly even with 2014. Washington employers hired 14,753 holiday workers last year. The state predicts 15,066 will be hired this year.

“Sales growth, particularly during the holiday season, has remained steady over recent years,” state labor economist Paul Turek said in a news release. “An improving jobs picture has supported consumer spending and should lead to a positive retail season in Washington.”

BFshoppinggetty_1415633215503_9537346_ver1.0_640_480The bulk of the seasonal hiring will be in general merchandise stores, adding 8,064 jobs. Clothing and clothing-accessory stores expect to hire 3,929 holiday workers, according to the department.

Kitsap County has added jobs in recent years. Retail sales have rebounded from the recession.

But if projections hold true, those trends have yet to translate into happier holidays for Kitsap’s under-employed.

In a conversation Thursday, Turek pointed to two factors that may temper holiday hiring.

First, shoppers are more likely to buy online, which lessens the need for actual human beings to run cash registers and stock shelves.

Second, employers have been hiring more workers earlier in the year, which means they are more likely to extend holiday hours for their existing employees rather than hire temporary help.

Here’s a breakdown of holiday hiring projections in Washington (Bremerton = all of Kitsap County):


Harrison reaches agreement with First Choice Health

674094_5539855_ver1.0_640_480-1An agreement has been reached that will keep Harrison Medical Center “in-network” for First Choice Health customers.

The hospital and insurance carrier announced a three-year contract extension on Sept. 28.

“We are extremely pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement with First Choice Health on a new contract,” Harrison President David Schultz said in a news release. “This contract allows our patients to have uninterrupted access to all the providers and services Harrison Medical Center has to offer and enhances the financial stability of both organizations.”

Negotiations had hit a sticking point late last summer, with the contract set to terminate Sept. 1. A temporary extension gave the two sides an additional month to negotiate.

About 1,300 Harrison patients are covered by First Choice.

‘Severe’ shortage ahead for Kitsap home market

RealEstate_FILE01_21275712_ver1.0_640_480The number of homes for sale in Kitsap County slid below 1,000 in September, setting the stage for a lean real estate market this fall and winter.

“Since new listings coming to market usually slow during the fourth quarter, we are looking at a severe shortage of inventory heading in to the spring market of 2016,” Frank Wilson, managing broker at John L. Scott in Poulsbo, said in a news release.

A total of 977 homes were for sale in the county in September, about 30 percent fewer than in September 2014, according to numbers released by Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

New listings were actually up 7 percent in September from the previous year, with 407 homes coming on the market. But those new listings were easily outpaced by pending sales.

Low inventory has dogged the Kitsap real estate market all year, even as builders rush to bring new neighborhoods online:


Despite strong demand and a skeletal inventory, price increases have been gradual in Kitsap.

The countywide median home price (including condominiums) inched up to $260,000 in September, a 4 percent increase from September 2014.

The median home price for the first three quarters of 2015 was up 7.5 percent from the same period of 2014.

Kitsap Association of Realtors CEO Mike Eliason sees incremental price increases as a positive.

“Even in spite of a marketplace where you had multiple offers on listings, the great news is the median price hasn’t had a double digit increase,” he said.

Here’s a look at median home prices across the county:

And here’s a graphic showing sales and inventory trends:

Purpose Boutique, Smithshyre vying for $20k prize

Purpose-Boutique-2702_lightbox_7488042_ver1.0_640_480Two Kitsap County businesses are among five finalists for Kitsap Bank’s $20,000 edg3 FUND prize. 

Bremerton’s Purpose Boutique and Poulsbo’s Smithshyre farm were chosen from a pool of sixteen semifinalists.

The other finalists are Combat Flip Flops of Bellevue, Community Supported Biocycling of Seattle, and OlyKraut of Olympia.

The finalists will make their pitches to a panel of judges during a live finale. The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Kitsap Conference Center. Tickets are available here.

You can read more about Purpose Boutique here and Smithshyre here.

85-home development approved in Poulsbo


noll.mesfordA city hearing examiner has approved the preliminary plat for an 85-home development near the intersection of Noll Road and Mesford Road in Poulsbo.

The neighborhood will be situated on 18.6-acre hillside site, just inside city limits. It will be served by city sewer and water.

Plans include “a variety of open spaces” and amenities, including walking trails, a gazebo, play areas and a basketball court. Access will be from Noll Road and Langaunet Lane.

A public hearing was held in May. You can read the Oct. 6 notice of decision below.

Noll Mesford NOD

Kitsap hotels enjoying spike in demand

PoulsboInn_22326865_ver1.0_640_480Kitsap County’s lodging industry has enjoyed double-digit increases in demand and revenue this year, according to a report from an industry analyst.

Through August, demand for hotel rooms was up 14.3 percent from 2014 while revenue increased by 17.5 percent.

Kitsap posted the highest growth in hotel demand of any county in Washington, according to the report from Smith Travel Research, Inc., and summarized in a Visit Kitsap Peninsula news release.

CasinoResortOpen03_18446453_ver1.0_640_480Visit Kitsap Executive Director Patty Graf-Hoke attributed the spike in hotel demand to marketing efforts aimed at attracting more tourists and reducing the county’s dependence on government-related travel.

“We have positioned ourselves in the sweet spot between the Olympic Peninsula and the bright lights of the city,” Graf-Hoke said in the release.

Regional ad campaigns have highlighted Kitsap’s natural setting and recreational opportunities, including its nationally-designated water trails system.

“We have strengthened our message,” County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said in the release “… I really look at it as us capitalizing on who we are and where we are.”

My compatriot Tim Kelly with Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal recently took a closer look at how hotels are benefiting from the county’s tourist boom. You can read his June story here.