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.
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.
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
Interest in rentals remains strong, but there’s been a noticeable slight decline in area rents this year. Even in high demand urban areas, rents have dipped slightly. With thousands of new apartments recently completed or nearing completion, and hundreds more under construction, rental supply may have begun to outpace demand.
If you own a rental property there will be more competition the next time you negotiate a lease renewal. Hundreds of new apartments are available offering modern finishes, new appliances, high tech features and a long list of community amenities and services. Tenants may not be as quick to accept a rent increase or lease renewal when, for the same money, or attractive lease-signing incentives, they can move into newer digs.
If you’ve owned your investment property for a while, this may be the time to sell and maximize your return on investment. Available inventory for sale is at historic lows and buyer demand is at an all time high – the perfect storm if you’re a seller. Properties sell quickly, often with multiple offers. Renting or selling, your property needs to be in good condition, but any minor cosmetic investment will translate to a major return when you sell.
Need market information? I’ve lived and worked in downtown Bellevue for over 30 years – there isn’t much I don’t know and love about the city. A Realtor® and condo specialist for over two decades, I combine my knowledge of the city with years of condo experience to advise and guide clients through the process of buying or selling a home.
Scheduled for completion the last quarter of 2018, the new Meydenbauer Bay waterfront park promises to be bigger and better than ever. The park expansion has been in the planning stages for years while the city acquired properties and obtained funding to create the new waterfront park. The public will have access to 700′ of lakefront, a much larger swimming beach, bath house with rest rooms, changing rooms and locker rooms, a public marina and a unique pedestrian pier that will allow you to walk out over the water. Terraced grounds will provide plenty of space for picnics, relaxing and taking in the lake view. Rentals of non-motorized boats and paddle boards will also be available.
Bellevue’s waterfront is only 1 1/2 blocks from the Downtown Park. The lakefront park expansion will better connect the city’s waterfront to the Downtown Park and eventually to the Grand Connection.
Robin Myers is a Realtor® with Windermere Real Estate specializing in downtown Bellevue’s condominium residences.
There are dozens of holiday activities this month, but several should top your “to do” list this month.
Nightly at 7:00 PM Bellevue Way is closed between NE 4th and NE 8th Streets for Snowflake Lane featuring drummers, dancers, holiday characters and a parade complete with snow every night. Arrive early, sidewalks on both sides of the street fill up quickly, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort for this holiday tradition. Kids of all ages will love the event. (www.snowflakelane.com) Free parking is available at Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. Continue reading
As we approach Thanksgiving holiday, we each have our own reasons to be thankful. For some this will be a short week with the anticipation of holiday traditions and spending time with family and friends. For others this may be the beginning of a long working weekend. And for some, there’s the tradition of being the first one in line for the big holiday sale at Best Buy.
I am lucky to have several days off to spend with family and friends. We have some simple but meaningful Thanksgiving traditions in our house. First and most important, there are hot cinnamon rolls and fresh coffee while we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. This always stirs fond memories for me – for years my grandfather and I would watch the parade together. I honestly think he had more fun than me watching the giant balloons float down the streets of New York. A more recent tradition is watching The National Dog Show – we’re big dog people in my house and its great fun to watch just how perfect everyday dogs can look when they’re strutting their stuff in front of the judges. We especially love it when they don’t behave so perfectly. I think many of the dogs in the show have more product in their hair (and better hair) than I do! Continue reading
No doubt the road closures throughout the city have been frustrating – be patient and flexible as those detours will continue for the next several years as the light rail construction progresses toward the 2023 opening. Those tall green walls at the corner of Main Street and 112th Avenue NE shelter the construction activity and progress being made on the light rail tunnel under downtown Bellevue that will eventually come to the surface and connect to the light rail station which will be located just east of the Bellevue Transit Center.
Click the link above for a fascinating look at the light rail tunnel construction currently in progress under downtown Bellevue’s streets. Given the scope of activity and progress, I’ve got to applaud Sound Transit for how well the the road closures have been announced and marked on the streets throughout downtown.
No doubt there will be more closures, traffic issues and inconveniences in the coming years, but keep your eye on the prize at the end. Light rail is going to be an amazing addition to the Seattle/Bellevue metropolitan area, providing traffic relief and a huge benefit to commuters. If you’ve ever visited other parts of the US where light rail already exists (Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Portland) you know it will be well worth the wait.