The trees lining Bellevue Way have been decorated in sparkling holiday lights and the toy drums have arrived and line the sidewalks. Soon toy soldiers will take their places on top of the drums. The holidays are almost here.
The Bellevue Collection’s Snowflake Lane will have a different look this year. The holiday season kicks off November 27th with a nightly celebration of lights, music and the occasional “snow” shower along Bellevue Way between NE 8th and NE 4th Streets. Keeping everyone’s safety in mind, there will be no parade or performers this year, but every night between 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM through December 24th you can still take a walk or drive down Bellevue Way and enjoy the sights, sounds and spirit of the season.
Every year I watch for this maple tree in McCormick Park to change color. Each year the color is a bit different but it never disappoints. The fall colors around downtown Bellevue this season have been exceptionally vibrant – maybe the hot weather the end of summer, the smoke in September or exceptionally cold temperatures earlier this month had something to do with the abundance of fall color this year. Downtown Bellevue has so many parks and tree lined streets offering an amazing variety of color. Take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fall colors before the rain and wind predicted for later this week end the beautiful fall display.
It looks like fall weather and rain are the new normal. I can’t remember the last time our morning walk required rain gear for both me and the dog. Fall arrived this week leaving no doubt there has been a change in seasons. Fortunately Duffy loves wearing his rain and winter coats. He’s built pretty low to the ground, so the rain coat only keeps the upper half of his body dry. Love that wet dog fragrance.
As we enter the seventh month of pandemic survival all indications are the downtown Bellevue condo market has remained strong. Media articles predicted homeowners, driven by pandemic concerns, might choose to abandon the city for suburban homes offering more indoor and outdoor space. Homeowners may be departing Manhattan and San Francisco, but Bellevue’s urban condo marketplace is doing just fine. There was a slight and not unexpected decline in real estate activity in the early weeks of the pandemic – we all had to learn how to move about safely – but recent NWMLS data shows condo sales in downtown Bellevue have rebounded. Fifty condos in the central business district sold in the last 3 months and half of those sold at or over the list price. Those homes were on the market an average of 34 days and had a median sales price of $865,100. (An increase of just over 6% over last year.) Currently 68 condos are listed for sale with a median list price of $874,975.
While many are still working remotely, it’s unlikely that will continue either full time or permanently. Half a dozen office projects are under construction downtown, most of which are already leased. Amazon, along with many other companies, are continuing to expand or relocate to downtown Bellevue and the Spring District. Employees are expected to start returning to downtown office buildings next year which is likely to add to the demand for housing near workplaces, amenities and light rail.
Bellevue is a great example of a desirable live/work/play community. It has a vibrant central business district with an active arts and entertainment scene supported by world class dining and shopping options. Easy freeway access and the completion of light rail will add convenience and speed to getting around Bellevue and the Eastside.
Is everyone rushing to the suburbs? No. The pandemic may have inspired some to seek a permanent, more remote lifestyle. As the city returns to normal and continues to grow, urban living will continue to be in demand.
I visit McCormick Park daily with my dog. A couple years ago the City of Bellevue Parks Department planted a new tree, a Mimosa tree, which is unique to this area. I grew up on the East coast where Mimosa trees are common. They thrive in warm southern climates, attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are one of the few trees that bloom in summer with big pink or white puffball blossoms. They’re also very unique in that their fern-like leaves fold closed in the evening or when it rains.
I have fond memories of Mimosa trees. My grandparents had two in their yard. They grow in a wide canopy-like shape and my sister and I would gather the pink puffballs and sit under the tree stringing the blossoms together to create necklaces and bracelets and occasionally adorn my grandmother’s cat with a pink collar. Skippy never seemed to appreciate her puffy pink collars.
I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly 40 years and have never seen a Mimosa tree growing locally. It’s fun to enter the park and see the tree in full bloom with those big pink puffballs. Thanks to the City of Bellevue for a little bit of nostalgia.
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.
Due to the extension of Washington State’s stay home/stay healthy order, the opening of the Bellevue Farmers Market has been delayed. This year the market will have a soft opening. Beginning on May 14th and again on May 21st and May 28th, pre-ordered produce boxes will be available for drive-through pick-up from 3:00 – 6:00 PM on those dates. Flowers and eggs may be added to the produce box order. (PLEASE NOTE – The inaugural Bellevue Farmers Market Box has sold out for May 14th. Orders can still be placed for May 21st and 28th. Visit the website for order deadlines.)
Visit bellevuefarmersmarket.org for information on how to pre-order, order deadlines and instructions for pick-up. Order early, as supply will be limited.
Opening day for the weekly market is scheduled for Thursday, June 4th from 3:00 – 7:00 PM. The market site at the First Presbyterian Church offers ample free parking.
Bellevue Presbyterian Church
1717 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA 98004
Demand for urban housing remains strong, and with Amazon’s projected growth in downtown Bellevue, along with other corporations’ expansion plans, high demand is expected to continue over the next few years. Before the coronavirus outbreak and Stay Home/Stay Healthy order that went into effect in mid-March, the local condo real estate market was off to a very strong start.
2019 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2019 thru 3/31/2019 4/1/2019 thru 4/16/2019
39 sales 16 sales
2020 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2020 thru 3/31/2020 4/1/2020 thru 4/16/2020
55 sales 13 sales
First quarter downtown Bellevue condo sales were up significantly compared to the same period last year. Moving into the second quarter, numbers for the first half of April are surprisingly similar year-to-date, despite the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. It’s possible this April’s sales stats reflect contracts written in early March just prior to (and perhaps to secure a home) before the anticipated shelter in place order.
Though well below normal for this time of year, homes continue to be listed for sale, and buyers are writing offers on some of those homes. Many sellers and buyers, for health and safety reasons, have chosen to put plans on hold until the shelter at home order has been revised or lifted and there is a better sense of what “normal” is going to look like. Like many businesses, it is expected the current strict restrictions on the real estate industry will be lifted gradually. What will the summer market look like? It’s tough to say, but based on activity during the first quarter, the high number of property and virtual tour views on websites over the past several weeks, and conversations with clients and potential buyers and sellers, summer may pick up right where the first quarter left off.
February statistics are in. Home prices, compared to February 2019, are up 9%. There’s less than a six week supply of available homes which is down 33% over the same time last year. Mortgage interest rates are historically low. Now is the time to maximize your home buying power. Open house traffic has been amazing. If you’re ready to sell, buyers are in the market and looking for homes. Amazon’s projected growth in downtown Bellevue over the next several years already has employees searching for homes in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.
Questions about the Eastside condo market? I’ve specialized in condos for most of my career. I have unique market knowledge, insight and experience to help you understand the market and help you meet your personal and financial goals.
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.