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.
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.
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
The past few weeks/days have created concern, uncertainty and chaos in everyone’s world. Like many people, I am working at home, keeping clients advised of what’s happening in the real estate market and in their neighborhoods (homes are continuing to come on the market and sell) and responding to questions, emails and phone calls.
We’ve had amazing weather this week. Since exercise and sunshine are both good for relieving stress, I’ve made it a point to take the dogs on a couple walks each day. They too enjoy getting outside to enjoy the fresh spring smells and roll in the grass (them, not me). It’s been a great reminder that we live in an incredibly beautiful place, that we should take advantage of this amazing weather (especially for March) and that sunshine and walking are good for your soul. When will things return to normal, I can’t predict, but I do know the rain will return and we will be forced to spend more time indoors. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is confusing and scary and that we can’t control. Along with social distancing, using appropriate caution and staying in touch with family and friends, remember to step outside, take a deep breath, enjoy the sun, take a walk and clear your head.
Thursday is the first day of spring. Happy Spring!
This is the time of year when more homes are listed for sale. It’s rare to see a home on the market that doesn’t have professional photos. Quality photography is critical for on line marketing and could be the most important piece of the marketing plan your broker will (or should) commit to when listing your home for sale.
Not even professional photographs can hide flaws, clutter, dirt, etc. and sometimes those are more evident through the camera lens. There are easy steps to take to be sure your home is camera ready which will help the photo shoot go more quickly so you can return home sooner.
- Replace burned out bulbs (table lamps and ceiling fixtures)
- Clean and de-clutter all surfaces throughout the home. Remove personal items and photos from view (recommended for security reasons as well)
- Open all drapes and blinds
- Remove pets, bedding, bowls, toys, etc.
- Same goes for children – head to the park during the photo shoot
- Remove refrigerator magnets and artwork, paper towel holders, towels hanging on cabinet handles, sponge or soap holders/dispensers
- Make the beds and take a quick look from all sides to be sure covers are even all the way around. Fluff pillows and remove personal items from bedside tables.
- Clear bathroom counters, tub and shower ledges and remove toothbrushes, hair styling items, soap and shampoo bottles, etc.
- Decks, patios and courtyards – sweep all surfaces (power wash if needed), cover the bar-b-q, plant fresh flowers in the pots, remove broken pots or furniture
- Turn all lights before leaving
The photographer and your broker will appreciate your effort, the photo shoot will go more quickly and you will be able to return home sooner. It is, no doubt, inconvenient and stressful to have your home listed for sale. Your efforts to have it photo ready and prepared for open houses and showing appointments will go a long way toward having buyers take away a favorable impression and sell more quickly.
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