Did you know . . . the City of Bellevue has over 2,700 acres of open space, 90+ miles of multi-use trails, lakefront parks, a farm, golf courses and dozens of playgrounds, sports courts, ball fields and picnic shelters. While many of the larger parks are well known, there are dozens of small parks downtown and in neighborhoods throughout the city.
I live on the north end of downtown. McCormick Park runs in front of my community providing a colorful pedestrian buffer between along NE 12th Street. Just under three acres, the park stretches from 102nd Avenue NE to 112th Avenue NE. There’s a groomed walking trail, benches, picnic tables and open lawn area for adults, kids and leashed pets. In the spring there is an explosion of color from dozens of mature rhododendrons and gardens. In a busy city this small park provides a quiet place to enjoy a work day lunch break, walk, play, relax or picnic year round. I’m a dog owner, so I’m at McCormick Park daily. I’m lucky to have access to a nearby urban getaway where I can enjoy the skyline view while the pups roll in the grass and lounge in the sun. The park has been my major “go to” spot during the quarantine.
Find a park near your home or workplace. Visit the City of Bellevue Parks & Community Services website bellevuewa.gov to find your neighborhood park.
I’ve lived in Bellevue for over 30 years and downtown for the past dozen years. During the past several weeks of stay home/stay healthy I’ve logged a lot of miles around downtown Bellevue, often accompanied by two spoiled dogs. I know this city pretty well but have been surprised by the the pocket parks, public plazas and courtyards in commercial spaces and viewpoints I’ve discovered for the first time. And while currently closed, I’ve also found new coffee, dining and dessert options to put on my list to try this summer.
It’s going to be a beautiful weekend with summer-like weather predicted for several days. Wherever you live, take advantage of the sunshine and reduced traffic – ride your bike, take a walk, walk the dog, explore your neighborhood, investigate the city, visit the Botanical Gardens or Downtown Park or one of several lake front parks. You may be surprised by what you find.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, grand-moms, great grand-moms and dog and cat moms.
While showing condos recently I took a photo of one of the home’s incredible views. We are fortunate to live in an amazingly beautiful part of the country. It can be gray here in the early months of the year, and we’ll all agree that this February has been a tough month with record rain, wind and unusually long, dark days. All it takes is a few days of sun to help us get through the last weeks of winter.
Hang in there . . . spring is almost here.
It’s that time of year when we start collecting receipts, mortgage interest and property tax statements, all in readiness to work on taxes or at least deliver your box of receipts and statements to your accountant.
Did you know . . . anyone 61 years or older who owns their own home may be eligible for Washington State’s senior property tax exemption. The maximum annual income for this program has been significantly increased to $58,423 which will allow many more people to be eligible for property tax relief.
For more information, to find out if you or a family member qualifies fore a reduction in property taxes, or to apply, visit the King County website at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor/tax relief/seniorexemptions .aspx or call 206-296-3920. Anyone who is eligible should take advantage of this tax exemption law.
I didn’t have any change with me to see if this still worked, but it was fun to find a phone booth still existed in downtown Bellevue. During a walk through Meydenbauer Bay Park I saw this outside the entry to the boat house at the park. Wonder how many kids over the decades used this phone to call their parents to pick them up after swimming at the lake. Bellevue is growing, entering another development phase that will change the skyline. This was a fun reminder of when a phone was actually used for making calls!
With demolition complete, excavation has begun at the Avenue Bellevue site located at the northwest corner of Bellevue Way NE and NE 8th Street. (This is the former Cost Plus site, or if you’ve been around Bellevue for a while, the former Albertsons grocery store.) The mixed use project will include 85,000 square feet of retail, the Pacific Northwest’s first Intercontinental Hotel and 322 luxury condominiums positioned in two towers. Completion is projected for mid-to-late 2022.
You might be surprised to find there are many affordable housing options close to downtown Bellevue. Apartments in the city are expensive and it’s likely the rent will increase each time the lease renews. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Bellevue is $3,250 or more per month (plus utilities). That’s a lot of money for housing with no return on investment.
Last year more than 100 one and two bedroom condos in or near downtown Bellevue that sold with median sales prices* under $475,000 (98004 & 98005 zip codes). Some of these homes were in communities walk-able to downtown, others were less than a 10 minute drive to Bellevue’s workplaces, shopping, dining, arts and entertainment events, parks and sought after Bellevue schools.
With a budget of $550,000, a lot of money but considered affordable in the Eastside real estate marketplace, if you were buying a condo what could you expect to pay for your monthly housing expense?
- A 2 bedroom condo priced at $550,000 with a 5% down payment ($27,500) would have a monthly mortgage expense (PITI) of about $2,850/month
- There are great loan programs available with 3%, 5% and 10% down, but if the down payment is less than 20% the lender will require PMI which will could add $300-$400/month to your mortgage payment. (Consult your lender for more information.)
- Budget $395-$495/month for homeowner’s dues, but that will include the water/sewer utility, garbage/recycle service, master insurance policy and sometimes even basic cable.
With a 5% down payment on a $550,000 purchase the monthly PITI + PMI would be approximately $3,240 – about the same as renting a 2 bedroom apartment downtown, except you would get the benefit of a tax deduction for some of the closing costs and the deduction for mortgage interest and real estate taxes every year.
Before you renew your lease, talk with your lender and Realtor®. This might be the right time to purchase a home and avoid the next rent increase. You would own your home, shelter income and start building equity and wealth. You may even reduce your commute.
* median sales price – half the homes sold for more, half sold for less
Today’s Seattle Times (link to the article below) provided a review of the region’s 2019 real estate market comparing sales activity and property values to the prior year. While prices in the county were flat throughout the year, the last quarter of 2019 bucked that trend with inventory selling quickly and multiple offers more common.
There are currently only 26 condominiums listed for sale in all of Bellevue. Since January 1st, 11 new condos were listed for sale – all have sales pending and many received multiple offers. What’s driving the spring market?
Low mortgage interest rates. Fannie Mae conforming loan limits increased to $741,750 in King County. (Jumbo loans will have slightly higher interest rates.) Conventional and FHA loan programs offer low down payment programs (3%, 5%, 10%) for qualified buyers, making it easier to purchase a first or move-up home.
Amazon is scheduled to start moving employees into the former Expedia office tower in downtown Bellevue this summer. Amazon has also signed leases for several office towers currently under construction that will be completed in the next 9-24 months. Employees who know their jobs will move from Seattle to Bellevue are already searching for homes in Bellevue.
Buyers want shorter commutes, and they’re willing to make compromises for less car time and more personal/family time. There are dozens of condo communities within a 15 minute or less commute to Bellevue’s central business district as well as Kirkland and Redmond workplaces. Those communities are in high demand.
The “spring” market is off to an early and active start. The next few weeks should set the pace and reveal what buyers and sellers can expect in the coming months.
I grew up on the East coast, so was used to several snow storms every winter. School was rarely cancelled or delayed and you hardly ever got a day off work due to snow. The north and mid-Atlantic states on the East coast are prepared for snow every winter. There are more snow plows there than there are Starbucks and Teslas here in Bellevue. Still, when we occasionally get snow here it reminds me of when I was a kid and we couldn’t wait until the snow was deep enough to head to the perfect sledding streets.
The Puget Sound region doesn’t get as excited about snow – too many hills and not quite as many snow plows. I live downtown and whenever it snows I can’t wait to find my snow gear and head out for a walk. Everything seems quieter when its snowing and the skyline takes on a different look in the snow. The dogs love the snow too – they’re like little kids jumping, rolling and snow-plowing their noses through the snow. Its great fun to watch the kids build snow people and navigate their sleds down the hillside at Ashford Park. Living downtown, I have the luxury of being able to walk everywhere for anything I need – a definite advantage to urban living.
It’s Wednesday afternoon and here comes the snow again. Hope everyone makes it home safely and someone has a hot chocolate ready when you get home. Be patient . . . the days are getting longer and before you know it, it will be spring.
Today’s Seattle Times and Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the 2020 real estate marketplace was likely to open fast paced with low inventory levels and high buyer demand following a robust December of residential sales. Without a significant increase in available housing inventory it could be a “red hot market” this year with a return to multiple offers and rising prices.
While most of 2019 was relatively flat for home sales and property appreciation in King County, the last quarter of the year ended up being the most active in recent years. The same was true for Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap Counties.
Downtown Bellevue’s condo market was no different – flat throughout most of the year with a flurry of activity in the last quarter. There were 258 downtown condo sales in 2019 reflecting a median sales price of $729,500, less than a 1% increase over the prior year. More notable is that 46 of those 258 condos sold during the last quarter and the median sales price for the last 90 days of the year was $869,500. There are currently only 16 condos listed for sale in the Bellevue downtown/98004 zip code.
More jobs are coming to downtown Bellevue this year and continuing for the next few years as companies plan to move to or expand their footprint in Bellevue. Employees, anticipating a move to the Eastside, are already searching for homes close to workplaces and transit. Location, location, location is still true in real estate, but of growing importance are transit options and access to those workplaces, schools, amenities, services, etc. Communities in and near downtown will be in high demand as buyers more on available transit options (light rail, bus, ride services, bike, etc.) to reduce commute time and regain quality of life. Location will always favorably impact value, but the word for this decade may be “transit” when it comes to property values and market desirability.