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REAL ESTATE
ON THE SOUND:
The Price to Own Shoreline

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Losing More Than Just Shady Sands
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- by Cap't Dave

There are few places in the world like Puget Sound. It's a kind of quirky drainage ditch left over after 3,000 feet of ice blanketed the area some 10,000 years ago. Flanked on the east side with bustling industry, railroad tracks and sprawling suburbia, the waters of Puget Sound have moderately kept the advancing populations at bay like a giant moat. To the West, are islands and shorelines still retaining a resemblance of their natural state. In the sunset shadow of the rugged and desolate Olympic Mountains, the western side of Puget Sound is a complete dichotomy of it's eastern shores. Never the less, real estate prices all over the Puget Sound region have soared since the late 1970's.

The social and economic realm of the strip of land bordering the sea is changing the environment too. The proof of which has manifested itself in strange ways. There are less private buoys on the Sound than there were several decades ago when young families could afford beachfront cottages--and still had the youth and vitality to physically enjoy the beach. Today, it's largely a proposition enjoyed by the at least moderately wealthy. The beach cottages morphed into manicured waterfront estates with towering bulkheads and walls of glass that often stand in stark contrast to the sea-washed tidelands. There has been so much shoreline retention and cultivation that many communities have seen their once sandy beaches disappear to become rocky and barnacle laden as the sand washed out to sea--it was the erosion of the sandy glacial till in the region that originally replenished the beaches during the rainy winter storms.

It's inevitable that waterfront real estate prices on Puget Sound will continue to climb and change the little shore-side communities forever--mirroring other popular waterfront regions around the US like Long Island, Balboa, Sasilito, and Biscay Bay. We only have to look north across the Canadian border to see the effect of internationalization. Land prices around Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island have tripled in recent years as Canada's Western shores suddenly became popular to the world's jet-set class. Expansive spa resorts and sprawling timeshare projects are enjoying newfound prosperity all over the greater Georgia Basin.

For those who are seeking their own piece of shoreline, but don't have the millions to get one of those close-in waterfront estates, there are still options. South Puget Sound still has countless inlets, bays, islands and hidden coves that are relatively unspoiled. The shores of Hood Canal are also a good place to hunt for a waterfront escape too. But you better act fast, the growth forecast for the Pacific Northwest indicates a continual influx of people. It's too late for places like the San Juans--wealthy Californians discovered them years ago and pushed the average well-kept waterfront home upwards of a million. Bainbridge, Lake Washington, and anything with a hint of a view and whiff of sea air north of Tacoma on the eastern shores of Puget Sound is out of reach for most home buyers. Even Whidbey Island waterfront has substantially increased in recent years. The last hold out for cheap waterfront real estate within reasonable driving distance to the major metropolitan areas has been Camano Island. But that's been discovered as of late.

According to one realtor, who jokingly says "their ain't no more waterfront being made", suggests to Puget Sound real estate buyers to adjust their thinking. While the extravagant homes will fluctuate, the more modest beachfront homes will maintain an ever-increasing base that probably will stay resistant to economic influences all over the Puget Sound Region.

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