Recreation, Lack of Traffic Drawing Home Buyers to Grays Harbor
Summer is a typical time to buy a new house. Often parents wait to move until the end of the school year, plus houses just sparkle better in the sunshine.
Currently the low interest rate – under 4 percent – makes a home purchase that much more affordable and thus more attractive.
And here on the Harbor, our significantly lower prices for both houses and land, coupled with our relaxed, outdoorsy way of life, is beginning to draw people to the area again.
More available jobs are also drawing – or keeping – residents here! In fact, the latest labor statistics from the Employment Security Department show 25,475 employed people in Grays Harbor in April. That’s up from about 24,658 in April 2016, and will likely continue up with some new employers in the area and more coming.
“Any economist will tell you that as the job market improves, so does the housing market,” said Tom Quigg, owner of Windermere Real Estate, Ocean Shores. You all probably know about the Mattress Ranch, Tractor Supply Store, Wendy’s and Little Caesars Pizza in Aberdeen and Burger King in Elma.
Also on the way is Arby’s, which has started construction in downtown Aberdeen, with the Gateway Center project likely not far behind.
“In addition, there are lots of longshoremen working now and it has been reported that Westport Shipyard is rehiring again,” Quigg said.
The Satsop Business Park – to the south of Highway 12 by the big cooling towers – has recently brought Xpress Natural Gas, and the Fuller Hill Development Company’s cannabis cultivation facility to the area, which will also bring more jobs.
But Satsop Business Park’s recent home run was bringing Overstock.com’s call center to the county. Already in operation, the center employs 150 people.
“I think we will see over time as the economy improves that more and more people will have more faith in our community and realize that these stats aren’t just a flash in the pan,” Quigg said. “Then the national retailers and developers will take us a little more seriously.”
Each month Quigg puts together a “Market at a Glance” fact sheet on Grays Harbor Residential Real Estate, and enjoys delving into the numbers and trends – especially when the numbers are encouraging, like now.
Another sign of a healthier economy is a significant increase in tourism.
The county saw a 9.4 percent increase in tourism from 2015 to 2016, said Mike Bruner, director of the Grays Harbor County Tourism Office.
The state’s increase during that time was only 3.1 percent, Bruner noted.
The figures are extrapolated from how much is received in hotel/motel taxes each year. In Grays Harbor, it doesn’t include Westport or Ocean Shores, so likely the growth is even more.
“I think people are beginning to appreciate what tourism means to our county, especially Seabrook and the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino,” Quigg said.
The Quinault Beach Resort and Casino is also a big draw for tourists as well as a major employer in the county. In fact, combined with the Quinault Nation and Quinault Enterprises, it currently employs 1,046 people.
WHY GRAYS HARBOR NOW?
When selling houses to people coming to the Harbor, Quigg said that in addition to lower prices, the slower-paced life and natural settings here are often mentioned.
“Getting away from traffic seems to be the big issue right now,” he said.
“A customer of ours who was raised in Aberdeen, but lived in Seattle has retired and is moving back. He told one of our Aberdeen brokers, ‘I’m done with Seattle, done with the noise and the hassle and the craziness. There’s just too much traffic!’”
Other business owners are also noticing retirees moving to the Harbor, he said.
“We are finding more people discovering that Grays Harbor has a more favorable lifestyle than the overcrowded Puget Sound corridor,” Quigg said.
Recently, Quigg said he golfed with a retired Boeing employee who has moved to Aberdeen.
“He and his friend love it here! Fishing at Westport on Saturday and golfing at Grays Harbor Country Club on Sunday. Perfect!”
FIRST TIME HOMEBUYER ADVICE
First time homebuyer? To get the best loans, get educated. Check out HomeSage.org for your internet homebuyer education and housing counseling needs. We here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor will help you get it done. We may be able to help you finance your home purchase, too.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.