Snow Days

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.

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 2:02 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, family, lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Eastside Condos – What Can You Expect in 2020?

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.

 

 

 

Posted on January 7, 2020 at 4:35 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, home property values, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome Winter

 

I love the change of seasons, despite winter’s shorter days. Embrace the grey! Though slowly, the days will begin getting longer.

Posted on December 21, 2019 at 9:19 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, events, lifestyle | Tagged , , , ,

NEW FHA LOAN GUIDELINES FOR CONDOMINIUMS BENEFIT BUYERS

 

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.

 

 

Posted on October 10, 2019 at 11:58 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condo financing, condominiums, first time buyers, home financing, real estate, supporting communities | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Bellevue Weekend Recycling Event

courtesy: flickr/Mark Morgan

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,
toasters)
— 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

Posted on May 25, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, events, home safety, moving | Tagged , , ,

This Weekend – What to do in Bellevue

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
Admission:  free

INSECT INVESTIGATIONS
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
Admission:  free

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 13, 2018 at 9:50 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, events, family, lifestyle, recreation, restaurants | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Does Walk-ability Add Home and Community Value?

flickr/Darlen Law

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.

Continue reading

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, home property values, lifestyle, light rail | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bellevue Weekend Events

If you’re not a fan of college basketball tournament play, there are interesting and fun local events for adults and children this weekend.

BELLEVUE BOTANICAL GARDEN SPRING BULB LECTURE
SATURDAY MARCH 24th  –  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Slide show and walking tour through the botanical gardens to learn about the best spring bulbs for our area and how to get the most from your spring bulbs. $25 BBG society member/$35 non-member

Pre-registration required     www.bellevuebotanical.org or 425-452-2750

BELLEVUE YOUTH THEATRE PERFORMANCE OF “THE LAST UNICORN”
Friday 3/23 @ 7:00 PM
Saturday 3/24 @ 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM
Sunday 3/25 @ 2:00 PM
16051 NE 10th Street/Bellevue

Tickets and additional information at 425-452-7155 or
https://parks.bellevuewa.gov/community-centers/bellevue-youth-theatre

FROG HOP – FRIDAY MARCH 23rd 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Learn about the life cycle of these amazing amphibians and the kinds of frogs native to Western Washington. Explore Lewis Creek using your ears to guide the way. Bring a flash light or head lamp, wear warm/waterproof shoes and warm clothes. Recommended for children age 5 and over. Event is free.

Information and registration at 425-452-4195

 

Posted on March 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, Bellevue Parks & Recreation, events, family, recreation | Tagged , , , , ,

Bellevue Condo Market Statistics

Earlier this month I shared 2017 King County real estate market statistics supplied by the NWMLS. Median sales prices were up 15% county-wide (houses and condos) over 2016. Taking a closer look, here are the 2017 market stats for Bellevue condos:

  • 759 condos sold in 2017 (resale and new construction), up from 746 in 2016 for a 2% increase
  • The median Bellevue condo sales price was $500,550 in 2017, up 30% over 2016.

Just eight weeks into the new year stats haven’t changed much. There are  just 20 condos available for sale in Bellevue. Newly listed condos are trickling into the market and selling quickly. So far this year 61 resale condos (vs. new construction pre-sales) have sold with an average market time of 15 days. Sales prices are averaging 5.5% over the list price.

This year has already seen an all time record condo sale in Bellevue. A penthouse at Bellevue Towers sold earlier this month for $11,950,000. Custom designed throughout, the home offers 6,398 SF of luxury interior living space plus multiple terraces that add 10,000 SF of outdoor space with 360 degree views.

No doubt the penthouse sale will hold the city/county/state condo sales record for some time, but sales data for the balance of the market is a bit more realistic. Of the 61 resale condos sold since January 1st, sales prices ranged from $202,750 for a 691 SF one bedroom/one bath to $2,237,500 for a 2,615 SF 2 bedroom + den/2 bath penthouse. The median Bellevue condo sales price so far this year is $558,568, but of those 61 sales, 17 (20%) sold for $400,000 or less. Condo values in and around the central business district will continue to command higher prices per square foot, but step just outside the downtown core and prices are far more affordable while still offering easy access to downtown’s workplaces, nightlife and arts and Bellevue’s sought after schools.

Available condos are going to be in short supply for the foreseeable future. A limited number of communities are in design review or under construction, but delivery of those homes is 2+ years away. A few recently completed new communities, mostly multi-level townhomes, are adding new homes to the mix but supply is limited with prices starting in the $700,000s and up. The supply of condos this year is likely to be found in the dozens of existing communities just outside the central business district. They offer a sought after Bellevue address and access to great schools. New construction is very sexy, and the amenities luxurious, but older communities often offer larger floor plans, more green space and more affordable prices. Trading a few blocks of location may gain you a lot of space and lifestyle for less money. Those resale condos are going to be in short supply this year too. If you’re ready to sell, be ready to move quickly. If you’re ready to buy, be ready to act quickly and work with a Realtor® who knows and understands the market.

 

 

 

Posted on February 27, 2018 at 11:42 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, home property values, real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

2017 Local Real Estate Market Data

The info-graphic above provides a quick look at 2017 King County real estate market statistics.

  • nearly 3% more homes (condos and houses) sold in 2017 vs. 2016
  • the median sales price was up nearly 15% county-wide
  • at the end of 2017 there was less than a one month supply of available homes
  • a 4 – 6 month supply is considered normal  –  we haven’t sen a “normal” level of supply for 2+ years

Six weeks into 2018 the stats haven’t changed much. Homes are coming on the market slowly and are selling quickly. Inventory still can’t meet buyer demand. The “spring” market generally opens up in mid-to-late February. Hopefully there will be more condos and houses available as the weather begins to warm.

The take away . . .

  • Planning to sell? Buyer demand is high but condition and location are still important selling factors.
  • Ready to buy? Position yourself to be a strong buyer. Meet with your lender and obtain a current loan pre-approval . Work with your Realtor® to educate yourself on neighborhoods, schools, recent sales prices and list vs. sold statistics, commute times, etc.
  • Expand your options  –  maybe the home that fits your lifestyle isn’t a house. Don’t rule out a condo or townhouse which can offer a single family lifestyle with lower maintenance responsibility, a great alternative if you don’t want a lot of yard or exterior home maintenance.

2018 is expected to be another challenging real estate market for buyers and sellers. Be patient. Be flexible.    Be ready to move quickly.

 

 

 

Robin is a Realtor® with Windermere Real Estate/East. She lives and works in Bellevue and specializes in the Eastside’s condo and townhome communities.

Posted on February 13, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, first time buyers, home property values, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,