Whole Foods Coming to Downtown Bellevue

Whole FoodsAfter months of speculation, Whole Foods has announced it will be the urban grocer occupying the space in the former JC Penny store at Bellevue Square. The new 365 store concept, named after the company’s house brand, is expected to offer less expensive items and less variety than the larger stores. Scheduled to open the second half of 2016, this will be the first of the small format stores to open in the Seattle area. Whole Foods plans to open other 365 stores in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Portland and Houston.

The company also plans to open a full size store in Kirkland at the former Totem Lake Mall. Scheduled to open mid-2017, it will be the first Whole Foods in Kirkland.

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Condo Insurance – what you need to know

Insurance photoCondo insurance, what could be more boring? Did you know . . .

Most homeowner associations carry a master insurance policy which covers damage to a community’s residential buildings and parking structures. The HOA may also carry additional earthquake insurance coverage. As a homeowner you need to understand what coverage falls under the HOA’s master policy and what coverage you are responsible for having.

  • Mold is almost always excluded on the HOA general liability insurance policy. Other exclusions may include damage from water incidents, insects, animals, “acts of God” and vandalism.
  • While some condo insurance policies may provide some amount of coverage for damage within a unit, the HOA’s general liability insurance policy almost never covers an owner’s personal property. 
  • Condo owners are strongly encouraged to obtain their own personal insurance policy to cover their personal property as well as provide coverage for items/circumstances not covered in the associations policy and deductibles. (Some HOAs may require owners to provide proof of insurance.)
  • Definitions of unit boundaries for HOA policy insurance coverage vs. owner policy insurance coverage can be found in the association’s Declarations (also called the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions or CC&Rs).
  • If a condo owner rents the condo, it is a good idea to require and obtain proof that the tenant has a renter’s policy to insure the tenant’s personal property.

If you are selling a condo, the HOA master insurance policy is one of the documents the seller must provide to the buyer. This document will be required by the buyer’s lender and escrow as part of the buyer’s loan approval and closing documents.

For more information about your condo’s insurance coverage contact your association manager or your insurance agent.

Downtown Bellevue Welcomes the BAM ARTSfair

BAM_ARTSfair_2015Its that time of year again, when downtown Bellevue hosts the Bellevue Arts Museum BAM ARTSfair. This year marks the 69th anniversary of the event which will welcome over 300 artists to the largest juried arts and crafts festival in the Northwest. Over 300,000 people will attend this free event.

I love this time of year. Streets close for the queue of artists who start checking in Thursday afternoon, exhibit tents start popping up, hotels are full, restaurants are lively and people fill the streets and parks enjoying the historically great weather, the event and the downtown activity. As a long time resident, its one of the summer highlight events I look forward to every year.

Take time to also visit the Bellevue Festival of the Arts (at the Cost Plus parking lot) where you’ll find 200+ artists, craftspeople and musicians and a great menu of food and entertainment. The 6th Street Fair, at the Bellevue Galleria’s Compass Plaza, hosts another 140+ artists.

Condos and Parking

parking spaceWhen you buy a condo its important to understand the legal status of the unit’s parking. Is it an assigned space that you have the exclusive right to use or do you own the space. The best answer to this question is     “it depends”.  Condo parking comes in many different forms:

  • there are X number of parking spaces, they are not assigned to a specific unit, and are available on a first come/first served basis
  • spaces are assigned/reserved for a particular unit; those spaces are usually  identified in the community’s Declarations (governing documents)
  • the spaces are deeded to a particular unit (which will be reflected in the title policy) and are owned by the homeowner. If an owner sells the condo, the parking spaces will convey with the unit. With deeded spaces, unless prohibited by the HOA, the owner may rent the space or sell the space to another owner in the community.

Use and abuse of parking spaces is one of the most often disputed condo community issues. Occasionally an owner may find someone has parked in their assigned space, which can create a temporary inconvenience. Once the offender is identified, warned or fined for their abuse (or maybe even towed by the HOA) the problem is generally resolved. Some communities have designated guest spaces, meant for short term use by visitors of a resident of the community, but owners with more cars than they have spaces may decide to use a guest space for long term personal use.  Again, the HOA or association manager will contact the offender, issue a warning or fine or have the vehicle towed if the abuse continues. (Most HOAs have parking guidelines which can be found in the Declarations/governing documents or in the community’s rules and regulations.)

When purchasing a condo its important to investigate and understand what type of parking and how many spaces come with the unit, either assigned or deeded. Also find out what other rules and regulations may apply to use of owner or guest parking spaces. If you are purchasing a condo that has deeded parking, be sure ownership of the parking space(s) also transfers with the sale.

As a broker, when listing a condo for sale I will always investigate and confirm the type of parking and how many spaces are affiliated with the condo. When working with a buyer, I recommend never taking for granted what the buyer or listing information may disclose. Its easy to avoid issues by reviewing the condo’s governing documents. A bit of research up front can avoid issues relating to parking and pet policies and avoid problems and the possibility of a buyer cancelling a purchase and sale contract .

CHOWDOWNtown – Bellevue Food Truck Round-Up

food truckTonight, and again on August 13th, last year’s popular food truck round-up returns to downtown Bellevue. Over a dozen food trucks will fill Ashwood Park (108th Ave NE & NE 10th St) this evening. The event runs from 3:30 – 8:30 with music and entertainment beginning at 5:30.  This is a great summer family event.  Come for dinner, stay for the fun.

Christmas in July

toysWith hot weather and summer activities in full swing, the holidays are hardly on our radar, but the Bellevue Fire and Parks & Community Services are already thinking ahead for the holidays. “Joy in July” is a toy and food drive to gather toys to distribute to children in need this December. With more than 6,000 toys distributed in 2014, the shelves need restocking to provide toys later this year.

Requested donations include new, unwrapped toys, books, games, sports equipment, arts and crafts kits and plush animals for infants, small children and teens. Gift cards are also appreciated for parents to purchase needed items. Food is also being collected to help feed children and families this summer. One in five students qualifies for free or reduced meals in the Bellevue School District. With schools out for the summer, it can be difficult for many families to provide food for the family. Any nonperishable food is welcome (canned meats, fruits, vegetables, pasta and rice, peanut butter) or grocery store gift cards.

Its easy help . . . donations will be collected at City Hall and all Bellevue fire stations throughout the month of July. 

And You Thought Our Prices Were High!

courtesy flickr/John Mason

courtesy flickr/John Mason

While home values in the Seattle/Bellevue metropolitan area have escalated in recent years, our prices hardly compare to other parts of the country. Apparently the demand for real estate in the Big Apple has reached new highs. New York City is experiencing a strong local economy and dealing with the same high demand/tight inventory issues we’re seeing here in the Pacific Northwest. Reported in a recent New York Times article, Manhattan sales prices are up 11% year-over-year. The median sales price for a Manhattan apartment was $980,000. (Median sales price measures the middle of the market and is less affected by high-end sales.)

So how do downtown Bellevue condo prices compare? In 2014 the median sales price for a condo in the 98004 zip code was $517,000.  Last year also recorded the highest sale price for a downtown condo  –  $6 million for a 4,358 SF penthouse at One Main Street. So far this year the median sales price for a condo in the downtown marketplace is $550,000, a nearly 8% increase over last year.

With no new condo developments planned for downtown Bellevue for several more years, resale inventory levels are likely to remain slim, so don’t expect any relief in pricing. Buyers in the market may need to compromise on what they want as far as size, condition, amenities or location. It will continue to be a seller’s market as we move through the summer months.