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
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.
I love the change of seasons, despite winter’s shorter days. Embrace the grey! Though slowly, the days will begin getting longer.
Condominiums are an important part of the housing market for first time buyers. Too often buyers have the income and credit score needed to purchase a home but lack an adequate down payment which can make entering the housing market prohibitive.
In an effort to promote affordable and sustainable homeownership, especially among credit-worthy first time buyers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has recently issued new guidelines making obtaining FHA financing for condominiums an easier and more streamline process. FHA has issued an update to its condo rules, effective October 15th, that will loosen requirements for financing condominiums. Here are some of the more important changes effective this month:
- Low Down Payments Still Available. Buyers can still purchase a house or condominium with as little as a 3.5% down payment
- FHA Certification and Recertification. FHA requires a condominium community to have obtained FHA certification. It is a detailed process and there is an expense to the HOA involved, but once complete, having FHA certification makes a community more desirable to buyers and FHA financing much easier. The FHA condo certification now lasts 3 years vs. two and the recertification process has been streamlined.
- Single Unit Approvals (spot loans) Permitted. In the past, if a condominium community wasn’t on the approved FHA list, it was difficult, at best, to obtain FHA financing. The new guidelines now make it easier for an individual unit to be approved for FHA “spot loan” financing in a community that isn’t FHA approved as long as no more than 10% of the units in the community are FHA insured. (A buyer must use a FHA approved lender.)
- Owner Occupancy Requirements Eased. FHA now requires that a condo community be just 50% owner occupied.
- Commercial/Non-Residential Space. The amount of permitted non-residential space (retail, commercial, parking) has been increased from 25% to 35%.
These updated FHA loan guidelines will now allow thousands more condominium units to qualify for FHA financing, opening homeownership opportunities to many buyers. Homeowner associations are encouraged to obtain and maintain FHA certification. Opening the window to homeownership will encourage more people to buy and occupy homes resulting in fewer investor owned units, higher owner/occupancy levels and stronger communities.
If you’ve been inspired to do some spring cleaning, this weekend’s recycling event is the perfect place to drop off those items that don’t have any usable life left in them.
Saturday, May 26th 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Bellevue Presbyterian Church 1717 Bellevue Way NE
The event is free – accepted items include:
— auto parts (non-greasy)
— appliances (blenders, dishwashers, washers & dryers, microwaves, stoves,
— clean scrap wood (untreated and unpainted)
— electronic equipment (DVD/VCR, cell phones, computer keyboards and mice, copiers, printers, stereos)
— exercise equipment
— lawnmowers (drain oil and gasolines)
— lead acid batteries
— metal lawn furniture
— rigid plastics (buckets, toys, coolers, lawn furniture, PVC pipe)
— styrofoam blocks & packing materials (white blocks and packing peanuts of any color)
There are fees for some items . . .
— appliances and scrap metal (air conditioners $33, refrigerators/freezers $28, water heaters $5)
–mattresses and box springs $15 per item
–porcelain toilets & sinks $15 each – propane tanks ($5 each) – small empty camping tanks ($1 each)
–tires – 6 max ($1/each tire, $3.50/each tire on a rim, $5/each large truck tire, $15/each large truck tire on a rim)
Secure shredding is also available – limit of 5 file size boxes
ITEMS NOT ACCEPTED – containers that previously or currently contain gas, oil, chemicals or paint
For more information call 425-452-6932
Rain or shine . . . there are plenty of events and activities in Bellevue this weekend.
ROCK GARDEN PLANT SALE
Saturday, April 14th 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Bellevue Botanical Garden – 12001 Main Street
Saturday April 14th 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center – 1625 118th Avenue SE
Be prepared to get a little muddy and investigate the world of insects
Admission: free – open to all ages
Pre-Register at MSEEC@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-2565
LIVE JAZZ MUSIC AT CYPRESS
Friday April 13th 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Cypress Lounge & Wine Bar/Westin – 600 Bellevue Way NE
GET CRAFTY SATURDAY
Saturday April 14th 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Bellevue Arts Museum – 510 Bellevue Way NE
Admission: free ($4 material fee per child)
No reservation required/first come first served
BELLEVUE LIBRARY GRAND OPENING – ideaX Makerspace
Saturday April 14th 10:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Bellevue Public Library – 1111 110th Avenue NE
A place to learn new skills – create electronic circuits, make a robot, craft with a 3-D pen
10:30 ribbon cutting
11:00 ideaX Makerspace opens
11:30 activities and demos
MASTER GARDENER’S URBAN DEMONSTRATION GARDEN WORKSHOP
Saturday April 14th 10:30 AM
15500 SE 16th Street
SEATTLE RESTAURANT WEEK
The last week for Seattle Restaurant Week – 165 participating restaurants with 13 in downtown Bellevue.
3 course meal/$33
For participating restaurants and more information https://srw.seattletimes.com
Living in communities close to workplaces, shopping, dining and other amenities is becoming increasingly important to buyers when searching for a home. A recent survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of REALTORS® found over half of the respondents preferred to live in a community that offered smaller or no yards but was within walking distance of local amenities and offered shorter work commutes.
Buyers no longer look at just the house – equally, or even more important, is the community and access to workplaces, shopping, dining, transportation, schools, health care and parks or open space. Women tend to put more importance on walk-ability and public transit than men but overall nearly 40% said having public transit nearby was important. Sixty percent of those surveyed would be willing to pay more to live within walking distance of parks, restaurants and shops.
In Bellevue the popularity of urban living was recently confirmed when the One88 condominium residences celebrated the grand opening and sales event. Over 80% of the homes sold in just weeks with buyers committing to reservations to purchase homes that won’t be available for two years. Several new Bellevue townhome communities have experienced the same robust sales activity with buyers committing to pre-sales for homes not scheduled for completion until late spring or summer. Resale condos and townhomes throughuot the eastside, walk-able to urban amenities and workplaces, are experiencing the same high level of buyer interest.