Homeowner Association Issues Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the shelter-at-home order in Washington State, board or HOA meetings are currently prohibited. This may create complications for homeowner associations trying to conduct business that needs a majority vote regarding matters impacting the HOA and owners.

Homeowner/community associations are required to follow their governing documents when handling association matters. This includes owners and directors voting on association matters which is most often done in person. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order, the Governor of Washington has amended the Emergency Proclamation to address issues relating to homeowner/community associations.

  • Owners and directors in homeowner/community associations are permitted to vote on association matters by mail, electronic mail and proxy, even if the association’s governing documents do not permit them to do so.
  • Owners and directors in homeowner/community associations may attend meetings by conference phone call or other similar communication that allows all participants to hear each other at the same time, even if the governing documents do not permit them to do so.
  • The Emergency Proclamation prohibits homeowner associations from charging owners late fees and interest on delinquent assessments and from imposing fines on owners for violating their governing documents.

This proclamation expires at 11:59 PM May 17, 2020.

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 22, 2020 at 2:36 PM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, Homeowner Associations, real estate | Tagged , , , ,

Downtown Bellevue Condos – Year-to-Year Stats

flickr/Dafne Cholet

 

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.

 

 

 

Posted on April 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, real estate, urban living | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Are You Ready for a Condominium Lifestyle?

Condos are often the choice of empty nesters downsizing, or right-sizing, into a new lifestyle offering less maintenance, luxury amenities and a carefree lock-and-walk lifestyle. It can be an adjustment living with neighbors closer, sharing common areas and learning to cope with smaller spaces. Give ample thought to your lifestyle and how you will adjust to your new space. Is a separate office a necessity or can you create an office nook or multi-use area that serves as guest/office space? Will the kitchen and dining areas provide adequate day-to-day work/storage space but offer flexibility to expand to accommodate entertaining and family gatherings? Will the family pet adjust to an elevator ride to walk or find the pet relief area? Plan for lifestyle adjustments when making the move from a house to a condo. The two regrets I hear most often from people who have moved from a house to a condo are that they downsized too much (into too small a space) and they moved too many large furniture pieces from their former home.

I moved from a house to a townhome in downtown Bellevue a dozen years ago. I love the lifestyle. There were adjustments (still have unpacked boxes in storage) but I’ve never regretted the move. I  missed my garden the first summer and the privacy of a fenced yard (so did the dog). The next summer I found I enjoyed the creativity and freedom of container gardening. The courtyard is perfect for intimate dining and the dog has enough space to lounge on the patio. Inside spaces are perfect for everyday and expand just enough to accommodate larger gatherings. The year round access and walk-ability to EVERYTHING was the best discovery. Walking provides a connection to the city. I love the ease of walking to shopping, dining and events, watching the changes to the skyline, meeting neighbors for impromptu coffee, greeting other dog walkers and discovering new public courtyard spaces tucked throughout downtown. My fitness, and the dog’s, has improved and we now have a cute new wardrobe of functional wind and waterproof attire.

Make your everyday extraordinary. Find the home that fits your lifestyle and embrace your new urban lock-and-walk lifestyle.

 

 

 

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, downsizing, lifestyle, real estate, urban living, walkability | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

February NWMLS Real Estate Market Snapshot

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.

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, first time buyers, home property values, real estate, selling a home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Wire Fraud – Use Caution When Wiring Funds

flickr/Ben Taylor

In every real estate transaction emails are sent between the buyer and their real estate broker, lender, escrow and title companies. Unfortunately these emails have created an opportunity for wire fraud scammers causing some real estate buyers to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s how it works . . . scammers hack into the email account of the buyer, buyer’s real estate broker, lender, title or escrow officer. The scammer, who now has access to the email addresses of all parties involved in the transaction, creates a new email account almost identical to the lender, broker, escrow company, etc. It could be just one letter off, but unless you look very carefully the email could look official and carry the proper company logo and signature block. The scammer sends an email to the buyer, using the newly created fraudulent account, providing instructions to wire funds for the closing on an upcoming home purchase. The email looks authentic, and the buyer is expecting to receive instructions for wiring their funds, so there is little reason to doubt the authenticity of the email. The buyers contact their bank to arrange for the wire but can discover too late they may have responded to a fake email address and funds have been wired to an unidentified recipient’s account. The funds are often quickly routed two or three more times, making the path of the funds impossible to trace or retrieve.

Real estate buyers and sellers have become targets for wire fraud. Sadly this is a national and global problem and the Seattle area has not escaped this scam. Local authorities and the FBI have been involved in these investigations, but the success rate for locating the scammer or retrieving funds is low. Some escrow/title companies have gone “old school”, requesting clients deliver cashier’s checks to the office in person. Wire instructions are still used but instructions are now snail mailed to the buyer to eliminate the email piracy of their contact information. Buyers should always call their broker, lender, title or escrow before wire transferring funds to confirm the amount, account information and instructions. A buyer or seller can also designate that no wire transfers are permitted in the transaction, only a cashier’s check.

Unfortunately the real estate industry is one of those that has become a target for scammers. Sending funds via a wire transfer is quick and easy, and while physically obtaining and delivering a cashier’s check to escrow may be inconvenient, that extra few minutes of time can nearly guarantee another buyer won’t be out thousands and thousands of dollars when they should be celebrating the purchase of their new home.

 

 

 

Posted on March 3, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, real estate, wire fraud | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What a Difference a Few Days of Sun Can Make

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on February 28, 2020 at 10:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, lifestyle, real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Excavation Started at Avenue Bellevue

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.

Posted on January 30, 2020 at 1:08 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Open House Etiquette

With real estate market activity picking up there will be more open houses to visit in the coming weeks. Are there rules of etiquette when visiting an open house? Common sense and courtesy should prevail, but it can be surprising what visitors think is acceptable when walking through someone else’s home.

So what is OK, and what isn’t when visiting an open house?

 

 

 

  • If requested, remove your shoes or slip on shoe covers.
  • It’s OK to open closet and kitchen or bath cabinets or take a peek at attic storage, but it’s not OK to open dresser or desk drawers. That’s private personal space and what’s inside has nothing to do with the features of the home.
  • Do not use the bathroom  –  take care of that before you leave your house.
  • If lights are on, leave them on.
  • If you unlock/open a door, close and lock it.
  • Never bring food or drink into a home.
  • If you are visiting with your children keep an eye on them, or better yet, hold their hand while in the home.    DO NOT let them wander freely through the home, run through the house, play with toys that are not theirs or turn on TVs or video games.

There’s no need to rush through an open house, but lounging on the family room sofa for 45 minutes to chat isn’t acceptable – move that conversation out to your car or your broker’s car. Be courteous when the end of an open house is approaching. The owners have vacated their home for several hours and they’re ready to come home. If you need more time have your broker schedule an appointment to see the home again.

The Golden Rule applies  –  try to put yourself in the shoes of the homeowner (you may be selling your own home soon). Think about how you’d feel if strangers went through your dresser drawers, pulled toys out or misplaced a TV remote.

 

Posted on January 22, 2020 at 4:52 PM
Robin Myers | Category: condominiums, first time buyers, moving, open house, real estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Bellevue’s Condo Market is Off to a Quick Start This Year

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.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/while-regions-median-home-prices-rose-last-year-king-countys-took-a-dip-but-it-wont-last/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_inset_1.1

 

 

Posted on January 17, 2020 at 11:45 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, real estate | 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 , , , , , , , , , ,