Bellevue Condo Market Data

Earlier this month I shared 2017 King County real estate market statistics supplied by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Median sales prices overall were up 15% county-wide (houses and condos) over 2016. Taking a closer look, here are the 2017 Bellevue condo market statistics:

  • 759 condos sold in 2017 (resale and new construction) up from 746 in 2016 for a 2% increase
  • The median Bellevue condo sales price was $500,500 in 2017, up 30% over 2016
  • Ending 2017 there was less than a 1 month supply of inventory (a 4-6 month supply is considered a balanced or normal market)

Just eight weeks into the new year stats haven’t changed much. Currently there are just 20 condos available for sale in of Bellevue. Newly listed condos are trickling into the market but selling quickly. So far this year 61 resale condos (vs. new construction pre-sale units) have sold with an average market time of 15 days. Sales prices this year are averaging 5.5% over the list price. Continue reading

Continued Seller’s Market in 2017

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.

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.

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.

Fight Homelessness One Tackle at a Time

As Realtors® we do more than just assist clients in buying and selling homes. Many of us, at the local, state and national level, are involved in supporting non-profit organizations that provide services and support to families and children in need. Windermere has recently partnered with the Seattle Seahawks as the official real estate company of the Seahawks. More important . . . this partnership will enable us to do even more for our communities through our new #tacklehomelessness campaign. For every home game tackle the Seahawks make, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides services and support to homeless youth.

Its going to be a great season, for so many reasons. Just in case you need a little help getting ready for the coming season, click the link below. GO HAWKS!

Windermere & Seahawks

Downtown Bellevue Condo Update

Bellevue evening skyline

Downtown Bellevue’s condo market is on track for another year of active sales and increasing market values. During the first half of the year 113 resale condos* sold ranging in price from $237,500 to $1,750,000 reflecting a median sales price of $585,000. Those condos were on the market an average of 39 days with over half selling in ten days or less. In comparison, for the same period in 2015, 112 condo sold with a median sales price of $497,500. Market values are on track for another 10-12% increase this year.

So far this month 14 downtown condo residences have sold. There are currently only 38 condos listed for sale (resale only) with prices ranging from $314,000 to $1,688,000.

Market values will continue to increase, but there are still affordable condo options downtown. With apartment rents skyrocketing, it may be smart to visit the “rent vs. buy” numbers again and make an investment in downtown Bellevue.


(*Sales and days-on-market data includes resale properties in the 98004 zip code and does not include developer owned units at Washington Square on the market since 2009)

Debunking Reasons Not to Buy a Home


courtesy flickr

With the lack of available inventory, rising prices and more stringent mortgage guidelines, many buyers have chosen to abandon their search for a home and continue renting. It is a challenging market, but with incredibly low interest rates, and a bit of patience and planning, it may make financial sense to start paying your own mortgage rather than your landlord’s. A recent article, “Top 6 Reasons to Not Buy a       Home – Debunked” listed the most common reasons people don’t buy a home and the reality checks showing why that goal might be within reach.

#1  I don’t have enough for a down payment  – In reality, few buyers purchase a home with 20% down. There are great FHA and conventional loan programs available for first time buyers with 3% to 5% down payments. Grants are another option for subsidizing a down payment. These typically require taking a home ownership course. Just remember, if you put less down, you’ll need private mortgage insurance (PMI).

#2  I can’t afford a mortgage payment  –  Monthly rents in the Seattle/Bellevue areas can approach or exceed a typical mortgage payment. There are rent vs. buy calculators available online to help you determine if renting or buying makes more sense, especially if you plan to stay in a home for several years.

#3  I don’t have a good enough credit history  –  You don’t need a 750+ credit score to qualify for a mortgage. Review your credit reports to be sure they’re correct, dispute any errors (this can take 60-90 days) and over the next 2-4 months make an effort to pay down credit cards and clean up your credit picture. If you don’t qualify for a mortgage now, that picture could change for the positive in less than six months.

#4  I don’t have any credit history  –  You can build credit history without a credit card. If you rent, provide verification that your rent payments have been on time (bank statements, a statement from your landlord); do the same for utility bills.

#5  I haven’t been at my job long enough  –  While work history is important, even if you’ve recently changed jobs you can still qualify for a mortgage, especially if your new job is in the same field and income range. If you’ve changed careers, a letter from your place of employment could help in confirming your job stability and growth potential.

#6  I can’t find a home I like in my price range  –  This could be the biggest obstacle facing buyers, especially first time buyers. Be realistic  –  don’t try to buy your last home first. You should find a condo or house that feels like “home”, but this will likely be the first home of two, three or more over the next several decades. You can move up to eventually buy your last or dream home.