2016 was a challenging, fast paced residential real estate market with multiple offers and sales over list prices the norm. So far 2017 is set to match or out pace last year, crushing any concerns about another real estate bubble. Downtown Bellevue continues to be a high demand destination for people working on either side of the lake. With Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and numerous other companies continuing to expand and hire, its unlikely the local demand for housing will decline. Last year when Expedia announced it would be moving its offices from Bellevue to Seattle there was concern downtown Bellevue might have an excess of available office space – that lasted just a few minutes. Amazon has leased the entire Centre 425 office tower, Salesforce and other companies occupy most of the 929 Tower, and there isn’t much space left at the Lincoln Square 2 office tower. Its likely the Expedia space will be leased before its even vacated.
New residential rental units have been built downtown but there’s been little in the way of new condo construction. A few condo and townhouse communities are under construction and in design review, but most are less than 20 units. One88, developed by Bosa Development, is the only condo community scheduled to start construction downtown in the next 60 days. As seen in Seattle, expect buyers to line up around the block when the 140 units are offered for sale. (one88bybosa.com)
What does the city’s robust economy and high demand for housing mean for existing condos in the 98004 zip code? Multiple offers will continue and buyers will stretch their budgets to secure an urban residence. Last year the median condo sales price in the 98004 zip code was $580,072. So far this year the median sales price is just over $700,000 – a 21% increase. Until inventory, resale or new construction, can satisfy demand, expect condo values to continue to increase in double digit numbers.
CONDO MARKET SPECIALIST
As an industry expert I keep track of the Eastside’s condo inventory, market trends and new projects under construction or in design review. Contact me if you need information about buying or selling or just want to know what projects are on the horizon.
In the past condo sales and values lagged a bit behind single family homes – not anymore. Eastside condo sales have accelerated in recent months with record attendance at open houses, shorter market time (less than 10 days), multiple offers and sales prices averaging 5% over list prices.
The number of available resale condos downtown is at an all time low. Since the first of the year 59 condos have sold (an average of 20 per month). With just 20 resale condos currently listed for sale, that’s just a one month supply to choose from. There are 20 pending condo sales, so you can easily see the available inventory is being gobbled up as soon as it comes on the market.
Downtown Kirkland is no different – since January 1st 54 condos have sold and there are currently only 21 active listings, or a 1.1 month supply of inventory, but with 37 pending sales, those 21 active listings clearly won’t satisfy buyer demand. With the continued hiring pace at Google, new companies moving into the office space at Kirkland Urban in the next 18 months, plus the new retail and dining experience Kirkland Urban will offer, there are a lot of reasons for wanting to be in Kirkland.
If you’re a seller, you’re in the driver’s seat, but you need to be ready to move quickly and have your rental or new purchase lined up for quick occupancy. Investors should seriously think about selling in this market to maximize their return on investment. Buyers . . . there are a lot of cash offers out there, but they don’t always offer the best price or the best terms for sellers. Get your financing together, listen to your Realtor® (if you don’t have a Realtor®, find a good one), be flexible, realistic, creative and patient. Prices aren’t going to go any lower and with 1,000 people a week moving into the Puget Sound region, demand will continue. Now is the time to get your foot in the door of home ownership, move-up for more space or a view or downsize to a lower maintenance lifestyle. Its not a secret anymore . . . this is a great place to live.
Its that time of year – everyone is organizing receipts and information for tax preparation. If you bought a home this year, refinanced your home or made energy improvements to your home, don’t overlook these important deductions.
MORTGAGE INTEREST – the interest paid on your mortgage is probably your biggest allowable deduction.
POINTS – If you purchased a home in 2016 and paid points to get a better interest rate, that expense is tax deductible. Points on refinance loans and home equity loans are also deductible but must be spread over the life of the loan instead of all in one year’s return.
ENERGY CREDITS – If you made any improvements that improve the energy efficiency of your home you may qualify for a tax credit. Those items could include insulation, windows, doors and roofs. A tax credit is better than a deduction because its a dollar-for-dollar savings instead of simply saving you whatever tax you paid based on your income bracket. There are limits on energy credits depending on what you purchased, so be sure to check with a tax professional.
PROPERTY TAXES – Property taxes paid on your primary residence are deductible. You may complain about your real estate taxes, but at tax time they work in your favor and can save a lot on your tax return.
Check with your tax professional to be sure you’ve taken advantage of all the possible tax savings on your 2016 taxes and going forward, keep receipts and information for this year organized to make next year’s tax preparation job easier.
In a recent search of 2+ bedroom condos in Bellevue the results were pretty bleak. Just 28 homes listed for sale with prices ranging from $300,000 to $13,950,000. Of those 28 homes 13 were priced under $1 million and of those 13, only three were priced under $500,000. Just 28 condos for sale in the entire city – we’re definitely experiencing a shortage of available homes.
Downtown Bellevue is one of the hottest addresses on the Eastside, and while many condo buyers focus on the city’s urban communities, with limited inventory they are expanding their search beyond downtown. In the past this would have opened up the selection of available homes, but inventory is in short supply everywhere on the Eastside.
If you’ve been searching for a home in recent months you already know, with high demand and low inventory, that multiple offers are common. For every house for sale there may be 3, 4, 5 or more offers submitted. Only one buyer can prevail, so the other buyers are back in the search for the next new listing. As we head into spring there should be an increase in the number of homes coming on the market, but rather than the typical 8-10 per week it’s likely to be just 2-3 per week. Buying a home should be fun, but this year its going to require patience, preparation and a sense of humor. Buyers need to be positioned to win, so now more than ever it pays to work with an experienced lender and a Realtor® who know the market and will serve as your advocates and guide you through the process.
Like most people, I spend more time indoors and watch more TV in the winter. I enjoy the HGTV home remodeling shows (Beachfront Bargains is one of my favorites). There’s always something to learn about new design trends and construction and real estate around the country.
Unfortunately, the shows don’t tell you everything about the mistakes, cost overruns and amount of time and money required to complete a project. First, there’s the myth about the time it takes to find a home and complete a remodel project. In a 60 minute show buyers look at 3 houses, find the home of their dreams, and then complete a full remodel in 6-8 weeks. Seriously, it could take that long to hire a contractor and get permits. With few exceptions, remodeling takes longer than anticipated, costs more than expected and there are always surprises. The idea of completing a high end kitchen for $20,000 is unrealistic, and I love it when homeowners are shocked that it is going to be a problem (and expensive) when the HVAC and main waste lines run through the wall they plan to remove.
When clients ask about remodeling I tell them to start with their eyes wide open and remind them “this isn’t HGTV”. Be realistic, plan for a project to take longer than expected, be prepared for surprises and have contingency funds available for the unexpected.
So why do I watch these shows? Chip and JoJo have a great sense of humor, they’re entertaining and they really know their stuff. I love to see whether homeowners will “love it or list it” and the Property Brothers, also entertaining, are generally right on with remodel costs (even though they work wonders in just 6 weeks). And who knows – I may find the beachfront bargain of my dreams.
If there’s a remodel in your future give me a call. Over the years I’ve gathered resources for vendors and contractors who can help with minor update to major remodel projects. If your remodeling a condo, before you start you’ll need to know about working within the guidelines of the HOA and community rules and regulations.
Population growth in the Puget Sound region continues to exceed the national rate. With Bellevue’s population and employment growth, its projected the local real estate market will remain strong this year. The continued development in Bellevue’s central business district, the addition of jobs, amenities and services, access to award winning schools, transportation and future light rail will all continue to make this a highly sought after place to live.
For the past few years housing has struggled to keep up with job and population growth, creating a housing crunch and driving up prices. Inventory levels should pick up as we head into spring, but the increase won’t be enough to meet demand. It will continue to be a seller’s market this year with property values expected to increase 7-8% over the next 2-3 quarters. What does this mean for buyers? They will still need to position themselves to compete n this market. Start the loan process early, be fully vetted and approved for a mortgage, have patience and follow the advice of your loan consultant and Realtor®. Sellers will have the market edge again this year but homes still need to be prepared for the market with repairs completed, an appealing presentation and market-appropriate price. While cash offers will still be common, but sellers need to know a cash offer isn’t always the best offer. (Cash buyers should be vetted and funds verified to prevent delays in closing.) Buyers using financing are still a big part of the market; lenders, underwriters and appraisers will still be involved in the successful sale of many homes in our area.
There is good news. There are condo and townhome communities planned in downtown Bellevue that will break ground in the coming weeks/months and others that are in the planning and design phase. I live and work in downtown Bellevue. A Realtor® and condo specialist, I keep tabs on what’s happening, and what’s about to happen, in the marketplace. Contact me for information about new communities and projects planned in and around the central business district.
Its easy to get excited about the perfect condo when searching for a home, but condos have many moving parts. One of the most important, and often overlooked issues, are the HOA rules and regulations, particularly as they relate to pets and non-owner occupied units.
Some communities restrict all pets, others allow only cats, and some have weight or breed restrictions for dogs. The Puget Sound region is rated as one of the top in dog ownership in the country – don’t fall in love with a condo only to discover your family pet isn’t welcome. Pet restrictions can (and do) have an impact on resale – buyers may eliminate communities that won’t permit them to bring four legged family members.
Rental restrictions need to be disclosed and understood up front as well. If purchasing a condo as an investment, or if you hope to rent down the road, research and understand community rental restrictions or limitations on use. Sellers should disclose rental or use restrictions at the time a property is listed for sale to avoid buyer misunderstandings, delays in closing or a failed transaction.
Condos have many moving parts. Work with an industry expert who knows the local market and is familiar with the rules and regulations that apply to ownership in specific communities. A condo expert can help you find the right condo and community for your lifestyle and investment goals and guide you through the issues specific to condominiums and HOAs.