Moving to / Investing in Bremerton, WA

15 Replies

My husband and I temporarily relocating to Bremerton, WA (PCSing with the Navy, will be there 14-16 months) toward the end of 2021. I am trying to learn about the market there and get a jump on finding a good deal or two as early as possible.

We will need a new primary residence, which we would like to be a good enough deal that we can turn it into a long-term rental when we leave.

We would also like to find an investment opportunity for while living there, whether it's a separate property or on the same property. Obviously, a MF property would be ideal since we won't be there long-term and don't have a lot of stuff needs for our primary residence.

Note: My schedule is flexible and I can spend time out there working on a property long before our official relocation.

We are open to all possibilities, though BRRRRing looks like maybe the best bet. We've even looked into the modular (not manufactured homes, just modular) builds though.

Looking for all insights! Recommended online resources for investigating what areas are good/bad out there? Real estate agents who are fantastic with investors? Information on property appreciation over the past few years and expected appreciation over the next several years? Ideas on best approaches in our search with rental market in mind?

Thank you!!

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , I like your plan.

I agree with you, a small multi-famil (Duplex,...) would be a great option for you.

That said, small multi-family is a little over-priced and typically gets sold over price. Besides this option, are you also open for a house hack (finish of a basement, Accessory dwell unit, mother-in-law, .....)

If you are open for the two options, you will have more houses to choose from.

Always open to more conversation over phone or coffee if that's helpful!

@Sherief Elbassuoni

Thank you!

Yes, we are definitely open to house hacking and looking at ADUs, finishing basements, etc. I read that Bremerton loosened their guidelines on ADUs in the past couple years which may be helpful if we need/choose to add one to our property. Does that sound familiar to you? 

We have even thought about just looking for land and putting a few tiny homes on it for a mix of short- and long-term rentals, but trying to figure out the feasibility of this thought also feels impossible from a distance. And we have no experience with tiny homes personally, but we thought they would be fun to try if we find the right area for them. 

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , yep, I am aware of these ADU changes. They will help to regulate the unpermitted ADUs, and will allso both ADU and DADU for the same house. They are also planning to allow non-occupant homeowners to rent both the house and ADU.

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe - modular, so far, tends to end up being on par with stick built. The savings are in time, but by the time you factor in transportation costs and installation (cranes, etc.), it's kind of a wash. The tiny home thing, you are likely to run into issues with zoning and permitting. Things are shifting, but doesn't seem that's a real viable option at this point. 

In Bremerton itself, there have been a fair number of duplexes/smaller MF. Prices vary, but can be had for $300-500k, depending on condition. Bremerton is a bit rough around the edges in general. Are you also looking at Poulsbo, Silverdale, and Kingston? PM me if you'd like more info. I live in Poulsbo. Moved over to this side of the pond 2+ years ago from the Seattle side and loving it. :-) 

Many Navy folks also buy in the ~$400-500k bracket, and then rent out the house when it's time to go. Neighborhoods like mine near the North Kitsap Middle and High Schools are particularly popular, as is the Vinland area. 

Good luck!

@Megan Shay

Thank you for your reply! I appreciate your insight on the market there. We honestly haven't expanded our search that far north yet as we were kind of waiting to hear how far outside of Bremerton we should go and in what direction...I will start scoping out that area as well.

Do personnel who end up buying in that 400k+ range end up being able to get good returns on these homes when they are turned into rentals? Is it easy to keep these homes rented out?

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , seems to be easy to keep rentals full, yes. Poulsbo is very popular with the Bangor and Keyport folks. Also more and more Seattle commuters now that the techies are WFH and/or won't need to go in every day when things open up again. 

As for the ROI, I can't tell you since it really would depend on how much down payment, etc. But from what I CAN tell, the "average" SF home on the nicer-but-not-super-fancy side rent for $2,000-3,000/month depending on the neighborhood and size. (That's just Poulsbo. It'll vary quite a bit between Bremerton-Silverdale-Poulsbo-Kingston).

Set up some Zillow alerts and keep an eye on those. It'll help you get a feel for what's where...and the prices. 

Thank you, everyone, for your responses! I'm wondering if anyone can speak to appreciation in the area? How it's been the past few years and where you all are expecting it to go in the next few years?

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , it depends on which sub-market/city/neighborhood you are talking about, but overall, this is the kind of appreciation the Puget sound area is experiencing. We are almost double the national average!

This helps us a lot when we do cash-out refinance after we build some equity after a few years. The money we pull out of one deal, we put down as a down payment for another deal with low or no money out of pocket after using the money of the cash-outrefinance!

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , appreciation has been really strong in Bremerton since I've been here. I bought a SFR in the downtown area in the Fall of 2017. Purchased for $209K. Fall of 2020 I refinanced and it appraised at $310K. Of course it's hard to say where things are going, but I'm expecting Bremerton to keep climbing. As Seattle prices have become more ridiculous, a growing number of people have looked to move to the Bremerton side of the water.

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe we lived in a Tiny House in California for about a year and a half - it burned up in the most recent St Helena / Napa fires, and we're in the process of rebuilding it (on insurance's dime at least!) now. 

Tiny houses are lots of fun, but work best as STR's outside of town. Cities like Seattle and elsewhere have already banned them as both short term rentals and they've always been illegal as long term rentals.

Would love to talk to you more about Tiny Houses - I haven't met that many tiny-housers or aspiring-tiny-housers up here! We have a family now, so moved out of the tiny house but have been Househacking SFH's w/ ADU's and DADU's since then, currently on Househack #4.

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe , you're not wrong. Bremerton can be a little rough around the edges. Like it's big sister, Seattle, Bremerton struggles with some homelessness, drug use, etc. BUT, don't let that scare you away! Overall, it's really a pretty nice place to live. 

In general, the downtown area is probably the roughest area. That's basically the area around the ferry docks and probably extending out about a mile. But in terms of rental values, I would still consider downtown. It's a very convenient place to live with bars, restaurants, and quick access to the Seattle ferry. Maybe the most popular neighborhood in Bremerton is Manette. It's right across a pretty bridge from downtown, but it feels quite different. It's generally much more peaceful and quiet. But be prepared to pay a fair bit more for houses over there. 

Y'all need to get out in the world a bit more if you think Bremerton is rough around the edges...from Bainbridge or something? :)

@Anjoli Elizabeth Rowe - use that VA loan to lock up a no down payment multifamily or anything that can be house hacked. I wish I would have done that about eight times in Kitsap while I was in the Navy.

I’m currently an investor in Kitsap County. There are a lot of properties in Bremerton that are under county jurisdiction. I would be careful trying to pull permits in the City of Bremerton. Currently they are 4 weeks longer than the county or other local municipalities. On top of that they are not very easy to work with. I emailed the mayor regarding the expectation of time to obtain a permit. He was very surprised by how long it was taking. The City of Bremerton boasts about being pro-business, but they don’t deliver. After I inquired with the mayor, I am now being asked to provide a letter to “prove” a wall is non-load. I’ve been pulling permits for 25 plus years and have never been asked to do this. This will cost me additional time and money to provide an engineering letter. Obviously, the City of Bremerton building department isn’t above retaliation.