A short ferry ride across Puget Sound, the Kitsap Peninsula and its adjacent islands offers waterfront homes; stunning city, sound, and mountain views; and an easy getaway to bucolic scenes westward toward Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula.

And due to an increase in demand, real estate in Kitsap and the surrounding area is heating up. The new 2016/2017 Market Report, recently released by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, details the Puget Sound’s year-end real estate review and trends to keep an eye on. The results are clear: There’s a shortage of housing because of high demand — the lowest inventory the region has seen since 2005.

To dive a bit deeper, we took a look at three key communities: Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo in Kitsap County, and Port Ludlow in neighboring Jefferson County — three places that offer refreshment after the daily commute, a weekend hideaway, or a reward for retirement.

Overall, Kitsap County has increasingly shifted from a balanced market to a seller’s market, with average monthly housing supply tightening to 1.9 months in 2016, down from 2.7 in 2015 and 4.1 in 2014. The median home price settled at $281,000, an 8 percent increase year-over-year.

Inventory is also tight for desirable Bainbridge Island, which spans Port Madison, Rolling Bay, dozens of small communities, and the historic downtown of Winslow. The island — due to its renowned schools, attractive commute to downtown Seattle, and small-town charm — has been a hot market since January 2015, finishing 2016 with an average 2.6 months of inventory. Bainbridge also experienced 5.2-percent year-over-year growth in median housing price, ending the year at $647,000. Additionally, its excellent waterfront real estate sells for roughly 20-percent less than King County waterfront.

Unlike Bainbridge, Poulsbo saw a slight decline in its median home price, dropping from $340,000 (2015) to $337,000 (2016). However, this is likely because of 2015’s 19-percent median price increase from the year prior. Inventory is limited, sitting at 1.7 months for 2016, significantly down from 2014’s 4.5 months. Because it offers greater affordability — especially along the waterfront — while still remaining reasonably close to job centers in downtown Seattle and Bremerton, Poulsbo has become a more attractive option for homebuyers compared to nearby Bainbridge.

Jefferson County, which encompasses the Olympic Peninsula from east to west, stretches from the resort community of Port Ludlow and historic Port Townsend to the remote wilderness of Olympic National Park. At 4.46 months in inventory for the county, the 2016 supply has been balanced — although significantly higher than Kitsap and surrounding counties. At $300,000, the 2016 median housing price in Jefferson County accelerated by 11.32 percent year-over-year.

Jefferson County’s Port Ludlow, compared to Bainbridge and Poulsbo, has the most balanced inventory of the three communities. It averaged 5.8 months in 2016, down from 7.9 months in 2015. It finished 2016 with a $325,000 median home price, up from 2015’s $296,000. With greater affordability than Bainbridge Island but with similar access to residential services, amenities, and waterways, Poulsbo has become a very popular option for retirees.

As second-home owners and those wanting a slice of a quieter life discover the combined benefits of relative affordability and lifestyle attractions, the markets in Port Ludlow, Poulsbo, and Bainbridge Island will continue to steadily draw new residents to these desirable locales.

And with the market being primed for sellers, it’s never been a better time to put your Kitsap-area home on the market. Contact me for more information.