top of page


Updated: May 19, 2022

Cost of construction, selling and buying real estate in the islands has continued to increase based the requirements to meet the current regulations and overall material and service cost increases. One could say that it costs more and takes longer to comply with the various regulations that govern the real estate and related construction industries.

Based on the medium home price of $525,000 during the last 12 months, a buyer will spend an average of $10,725 in closing costs; that includes their half of escrow, title insurance for their lender, recording fees, 1% land bank tax, ½% affordable housing and home inspection fee but it doesn’t include the prorated taxes, insurance and homeowners dues or loan closing costs or well water testing. The buyer will pay monthly $2,545 based on a $105,000 or 20% down payment, 4.5% interest and a 30 year loan. The monthly payment includes principal, interest, insurance and taxes. Generally, our tax rate is $8.03 per $1,000 of assessment.

A buyer would need to make around $108,000 annually or $9,000 per month to qualify with a top ratio of 28% in order to purchase a $525,000 home. The San Juan County annual Median Income is $58,029.

To purchase a $350,000 home, a buyer would need to make around $72,000 per year assuming the same loan constants cited above.

The seller will spend on average $44,500 based on the median home price. This doesn’t include any repairs that may be necessary as part of the contract or the seller’s prorated items; it is merely closing costs, septic inspection and a tank pump.

In the current market, a buyer can still purchase a home for less than the cost of new construction and in some cases, under the home’s replacement costs, however this is changing.

The ability to purchase a home below the cost of new construction is diminishing as our housing inventory is being absorbed and the result is less selection. We are experiencing upward pressure on our prices and buyers are starting to seriously consider custom construction as the best alternative. The advantage of custom construction is a buyer is able to have built the exact home they had in mind and it will be ready for occupancy in about 1-1.5 years, more time may be needed if size and complexity are above average. The design and architectural process typically takes 1-3 months, permits take 2.5-3 months, and the actual construction will take 6-12 months.

Below is a detailed list of typical rates and fees that as a REALTOR we note in the industry when we are managing a transaction from listing or selling a property through the closing. Most real estate transactions require several of these service providers during the contract period.

The list is not meant to be all inclusive nor relied upon; it is merely for general information purposes. In most cases, I provided the actual cost or the floor of the price range but have not included sales tax. As in the case of any project, you can always spend more money.

General Costs January 2019

This list of prices may be startling to some but it is the reality of living in our islands. Some of the General Contractors struggle to process competitive bids as there are so many variables and unknowns to each project. One of the largest issues is that our labor in the construction and related industries has, in some cases, become transient. If a framer can’t find an affordable rental he/she will relocate to a city that not only offers a good wage but has rental housing available.

Below please find a link to a Construction Cost Guesstimator program. It allows you to estimate what it might cost you to build on San Juan Island. This program was developed by one of my very bright and techy clients that has allowed me and my other clients to use it.

If you have any questions regarding our real estate market, please be sure to contact me. If you would like a list of the service providers including land use consultants that I recommend, please email me.

Written by:

Merri Ann Simonson



bottom of page