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Silverdale, Poulsbo Windermere under new ownership

Mike Pitts (left) and Carter Dotson recently purchased the Silverdale and Poulsbo Windermere offices. The sale was finalized Feb. 2. - Photo by Celeste Cornish
Mike Pitts (left) and Carter Dotson recently purchased the Silverdale and Poulsbo Windermere offices. The sale was finalized Feb. 2.
— image credit: Photo by Celeste Cornish

In the real estate business, the finances ebb and flow but risk stays the same.

And during an economic climate when most are running from risk with a tightening of the pocketbook, two locals are spending and acquiring.

On Feb. 2, Carter Dotson, 34, a Bainbridge High School graduate, and partner Mike Pitts, 33, an island resident of three years, purchased the Poulsbo and Silverdale Windermere Real Estate offices.

It’s not so much the business buying that’s risky, but more so the timing of the purchase and industry with which Windermere is associated.

But for the duo the timing was right.

“I’ve had my eyes on this for quite a while and it became an opportunity,” Dotson said. “Right now things are tough, no doubt, or the opportunity wouldn’t have come about. We do believe wholeheartedly things will turn around.”

While several in the industry agree the housing market will swing back up, the question remains: When?

The question appears to have no answer, especially as the mortgage crisis has reached far beyond home sales, prices and foreclosures.

“I think values will continue to slowly go down for a period of time. I don’t know when that might change,” said Loren Johnson, immediate past chairman of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). “There’s a lot of people with adjustable rate mortgages and high mortgages who bought in the last few years who are going to face challenges.”

Tess Camilon, the Employment Security Department’s regional labor economist for Kitsap, said it’s unknown if the housing market has reached the bottom, but one thing is certain the entire construction-fueled sector is slumping.

“Construction and construction-related jobs have been taking the hit for some time now in result of the mortgage fiasco. We don’t know who’s going to be downsizing next,” she said. “How long it’s going to continue, your guess is as good as mine.”

While the answers remain elusive, the fallouts are evident in the numbers.

Bremerton area carpenters’ unemployment claims jumped from 157 in November to 234 in December, increasing by 126 claims within the year.

According to realtytrac.com, a Web site monitoring national foreclosure rates, in 2008 2.3 million properties received foreclosure filings.

Washington is home to 18,977 foreclosed houses and Kitsap County has 676 foreclosures after an additional 107 foreclosed properties were added in December.

But it’s not all a downward spiral for the real estate industry or the economy, and it could be said the crash brought with it some positives.

“Real estate is a cyclical market, we’re going to go through things,” Johnson said. “We had a longer period of higher-than-normal appreciation than we ever have had in Kitsap County. Our kids never would have been able to afford a home if the market didn’t correct itself.”

Several also contend now is the time to buy if one has the finances to do so: The sky isn’t falling, people will always need to purchase a place to call home and loans are available for qualified applicants.

“Maybe we’ll get back to people really, really believing one of the most important things they’ll do is invest in their home,” Pitts said. “It’s a life-long decision, a concrete investment in life, and it’s not as much of a risk as it’s turned out to be.”

The price also is right.

According to the NWMLS Recaps 2009 report, the average closed sales price for western counties dropped 13.68 percent from $316,250 to $273,000.

“There is interest for buyers wanting to buy right now,” Johnson said. “Part of that is interest rates and people are driven by the fact they can get a good deal right now.”

At the start of February, 2,060 homes were on the market in Kitsap and the average price was $284,230.

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