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.
- the median sales price was $900,000, up 2% over last year
- 20% of those homes sold above list price
- 45% of the homes sold in 15 days or less
- the Eastside currently has only 1.3 months of available inventory
- current inventory levels favor sellers
- continuing low interest rates favor buyers
Most of the Eastside condo sales activity was in downtown Bellevue and downtown Kirkland.
- $884,000 Downtown Bellevue median condo sales price in November
- there are currently only 20 condos for sale in downtown Bellevue; 35 in all Bellevue zip codes
- $617,500 Downtown Kirkland median condo sales price in November
- there are currently only 14 condos for sale in downtown Kirkland; 46 in all Kirkland zip codes
It’s a great time to buy a home. Low interest rates (under 4%) make it an ideal and affordable time to purchase a home. There are great loan program options for qualified buyers offering as little as 3% down for conventional or FHA financing.
It’s a great time to sell. With little inventory for buyers to choose from, January will be an ideal time for homeowners to put their homes on the market and stay ahead of the competitive spring market.
Scheduled for completion the last quarter of 2018, the new Meydenbauer Bay waterfront park promises to be bigger and better than ever. The park expansion has been in the planning stages for years while the city acquired properties and obtained funding to create the new waterfront park. The public will have access to 700′ of lakefront, a much larger swimming beach, bath house with rest rooms, changing rooms and locker rooms, a public marina and a unique pedestrian pier that will allow you to walk out over the water. Terraced grounds will provide plenty of space for picnics, relaxing and taking in the lake view. Rentals of non-motorized boats and paddle boards will also be available.
Bellevue’s waterfront is only 1 1/2 blocks from the Downtown Park. The lakefront park expansion will better connect the city’s waterfront to the Downtown Park and eventually to the Grand Connection.
Robin Myers is a Realtor® with Windermere Real Estate specializing in downtown Bellevue’s condominium residences.
No doubt the road closures throughout the city have been frustrating – be patient and flexible as those detours will continue for the next several years as the light rail construction progresses toward the 2023 opening. Those tall green walls at the corner of Main Street and 112th Avenue NE shelter the construction activity and progress being made on the light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue that will eventually come to the surface and connect to the light rail station which will be located just east of the Bellevue Transit Center.
Click the link above for a fascinating look at the light rail tunnel construction currently in progress under downtown Bellevue’s streets. Given the scope of activity and progress, I’ve got to applaud Sound Transit for how well the the road closures have been announced and marked on the streets throughout downtown.
No doubt there will be more closures, traffic issues and inconveniences in the coming years, but keep your eye on the prize at the end. Light rail is going to be an amazing addition to the Seattle/Bellevue metropolitan area, providing traffic relief and a huge benefit to commuters. If you’ve ever visited other parts of the US where light rail already exists (Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Portland) you know it will be well worth the wait.
How does commute time impact local home values and buyer’s decisions on neighborhood selection?
According to the US Census, Americans rank having a short commute second only to low crime rates when it comes to determining where to buy or rent a home. One study found that New Yorkers will pay nearly $60 more a month in rent to trim just one minute off their commute. That trend is the same locally – buyers are willing to pay more for a home if it offers an easier commute. As a result, areas in King County with shorter commutes have higher home values.
Urban locations close to employment centers can be expensive, but efficient public transit will level the playing field, providing a more reasonable commute that reaches more affordable housing choices. In our area, the future expansion of light rail on the Eastside and north along the I-5 corridor will have a positive impact on many neighborhoods. Finally, developers are starting to take a closer look at demographics and buyer wants/needs, planning mixed use and multifamily housing near future light ail routes and transit centers. Continue reading
Another new restaurant, Henry’s Tavern, is scheduled to open August 30th at Lincoln Square. Henry’s Tavern is best known for its wide selection of beers on tap, its frosted bar rail to keep beers cold and a vast menu. This will be the sixth Henry’s Tavern for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc.
Henry’s opened in Portland in 2004 and expanded to Seattle in 2013 with a Sodo location. This is the second Bellevue location for Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. – the other is Palomino. The restaurant will be 11,000+ SF with a 700 square foot patio and a keg wall – a two tiered glass cooler that has all kegs on display.
Henry’s Tavern will join several other restaurants that have already opened or are scheduled to open in the coming weeks at Lincoln Square expansion.