Imagine driving 375 miles, about halfway from New York to Chicago, and getting $3,446 for every foot you traveled. (Average cost per foot, vacant water front land sales 2017 & 2018) The San Juan Islands are ringed by that much shoreline, with buyers willing to pay that much -- on average -- for their nugget of water-side property.
While ridge lines and inland parcels have gained popularity in recent years, shoreline lots have been and continue to be the jewels of the property market in San Juan County.
The history of real estate in the San Juans is closely tied to land-use regulations designed to protect the land. Land-use regulations drove up the cost of property because of permits and development standards. The passage of the county Comprehensive Plan in 1979 signaled the change. Property values increased around 1980 and 1981, leveled off until a 1989 to 1991 increase, then leveled off again. The value of land in the county skyrocketed in the 1980s, more than doubling between 1984 and 1994. The value of property in 1983 for 1984 taxes was $897 million. In 1994, the value was $2.08 billion.