This Week’s Live at Lunch Schedule

Live at Lunch logo

This week’s weather forecast is perfect for attending downtown Bellevue’s Live at Lunch summer concert series. Bring your lunch and don’t miss this week’s performances.

  • Tuesday – Tobias the Owl (Indie-Acoustic) at the Bellevue Square Fountain Court
  • Wednesday – The Kareem Kandi Band (jazz, blues & funk) at The Bravern
  • Thursday – En Canto (world pop music) at the Bellevue Connection (Galleria

Concerts continue every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through September 8th.

Downtown Bellevue Condo Stats

Bellevue evening skyline

  • There are currently 76 new construction and resale condos listed for sale in  downtown Bellevue (98004 zip code) with prices ranging from $274,999 to $1,983,000 reflecting a median list price of $797,260. (Median sale price – half the condos sold for more, half sold for less.)
  • During the first half of the year 124 condos (new construction and resale) sold downtown with sale prices ranging from $237,500 to $1,750,000 reflecting a median sale price of $599,443. (Peak sales months were March, May and June.)
  • During the same period in 2015, 131 condos sold with sale prices ranging from $212,000 to $2,035,000, a median sale price of $550,000.
  • Sales data for the first half of the year reflects a 9% increase in median sales prices this year over 2015.

27 of the 76 available condos represent the remaining new construction units at Washington Square. (The developer of Washington Square has been marketing those homes since 2009). Removing the 27 WA Square units from the available inventory leaves only 49 resale condos on the market downtown. With an average absorption rate of 21 condos per month, there is just over a two month supply of available resale condos in downtown Bellevue. (Since January 1st 9 condos have sold at WA Square.)

Local real estate activity tends to be sluggish in August  –  great weather is predictable, its peak vacation time, parents are busy getting children ready for school or off to college. With interest rates expected to remain low through the end of the year, and with limited available inventory, the fall market should present opportunities for buyers and sellers.

Affordable Housing in Bellevue

The high demand for housing in Bellevue has created a robust real estate market, driving sale prices for houses and condos and residential rents up in recent years. It was great news when the King County Housing Authority announced last week it had reached an agreement with local builder Intracorp to purchase the Highland Village apartment community and preserve the apartments as an affordable place to live in Bellevue.

Intracorp, the developer who purchased the Highland Village property, had submitted plans to redevelop the property’s 76 affordable apartments into 87 townhomes selling between $650,000 and $900,000. The KCHA agreement with Intracorp to purchase the property will preserve the Highland Village apartments as affordable housing, allowing existing families to continue to live in the community. (Intracorp will sell the property to KCHA  for below appraised value.) After the acquisition of the property KCHA will renovate the property over the next two years, keeping rents at or near their current affordable levels.

Finding and preserving opportunities for affordable housing is a goal of city, county and state governments. Preserving Highland Village will allow these families to maintain their homes where there is access to quality schools, employment and public transit.

Privacy and Disclosure of Baby Cams

video signBaby cams, or nanny cams, are often used in homes to help parents keep track of their children while they’re in another part of the home, away from the house or even keep an eye on pets while at work. When listing your home for sale, what’s the protocol for disclosing that there is a baby cam or other surveillance device in your home?

There is generally an accepted expectation of privacy when visiting someone’s home, whether it be a friend, relative or while touring a home listed for sale. The best decision, as a seller, is to disclose that there is a surveillance device in the home and that buyers and their brokers could be recorded on a baby cam or other type of device. Privacy laws differ state-to-state, so to avoid any possible legal claims, its best to have a conversation with your listing broker before listing your home for sale about the best way to disclose the presence of any video device so that buyers and brokers entering the home are aware of the possibility they will be recorded.

Down Payment Misconceptions

down paymentThere is a common misconception, by first time home buyers and seasoned homeowners, that a 10% or 20% down payment is needed to purchase a home. There are excellent loan programs available that allow borrowers to obtain a mortgage with as little as 3% down and Fannie Mae guidelines have recently been updated to make home ownership more available and affordable.

FannieMae recently announced changes to income and eligibility criteria for its HomeReady mortgage program which will allow more borrowers to qualify for a mortgage. Features of the new program include:

  • income limits have been raised to 100% of area median income which will expand access to credit and make it easier for lenders to determine eligibility
  • more flexible loan underwriting
  • financing up to 97% loan-to-value for purchase of a residence and up to 95% LTV for limited cash-out refi loans
  • borrower is not required to be a first time buyer
  • lower mortgage insurance payments
  • flexible sources of funds can be used for the down payment and closing costs with no minimum contribution required from the forrower
  • more affordable and cancelable monthly PMI (private mortgage insurance, required for any loan with less than 20% down)

Fannie Mae is working to provide education for borrowers, expand access to credit and promote credit responsibility and successful homeownership.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, talk with your Realtor® or lender for more information about the Fannie Mae HomeReady® program.

The Upside to Pokemon Go

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

flickr/Nuwandalice

For the past several weeks Pokemon Go has brought thousands of people outdoors to search for Pikachu, Ash, Psyduck and Mew, to name a few. Dozens of people are gathering in public places, discovering buildings, parks and artwork they never knew existed before, talking to neighbors they hadn’t met before and maybe shedding a few pounds in the process! Granted, with hundreds of people swarming the Downtown Park, the craze has created some complaints about late night noise, but overall the civic engagement that has occurred has brought people outside on to the sidewalks to explore their city. While I haven’t yet joined the Pokemon Go community, players I’ve talked to have said they’ve learned more about the city’s parks, artwork and street-scape in the last few weeks than they knew before, even if they’ve lived here for years.

The increase in civic engagement is a plus  –  more people out on the sidewalks is a good thing, for safety, vibrancy and economic activity, bringing people in to restaurants and coffee shops. Some cities, capitalizing on the craze, are promoting the locations of their PokeStops to bring people outdoors. Remember . . . watch where you’re walking and don’t drive and Pokemon. Its easier (and safer) to spot Pokemon while riding the bus.

New “Downtown”Post Office

post officeThe new Bellevue Main post office is scheduled to open at its new Wilburton location ( 12224 Bel-Red Road) on Monday, September 12th (former location of the Land Rover dealership). The current downtown location, scheduled to close on Saturday, September 10th, will reopen on Monday September 12.
There’s no question the current post office is long overdue for either a major rehab or new location, but it is disappointing there will no longer be a post office in downtown Bellevue. I live downtown and its very convenient to be able to walk to the post office to deliver business and personal mail or holiday packages. Hopefully the new facility will have easy access and ideally more than just two windows open at any given time.