Meydenbauer Bay Park construction has begun

Meydenbauer Bay Park construction

The City of Bellevue has started the construction of Meydenbauer Bay Park. We’re excited to see how it would improve the connection between Bellevue’s bustling downtown and its scenic Lake Washington waterfront.

With a quarter mile of waterfront, the 10-acre park considerably expands the current Meydenbauer Bay Beach Park. A large public swimming beach, pedestrian pier, historic whaling building and new beach house will make the park a destination for residents and visitors.

Rendering of Meydenbauer Bay Park

“We are one step closer to fulfilling a 30-year council vision,” said Mayor John Stokes. “This project is a testament to the patience and tenacity of city leaders who wouldn’t give up on their dream of increasing waterfront access and connections to the heart of our city.”

Key elements of the project include:

  • Relocation and expansion of the public swimming beach
  • Construction of a new beach house with restrooms and showers
  • A curvilinear pedestrian pier and hand-carry boat launch
  • Pedestrian, pathways and picnic areas
  • Remodeling the historic Whaling Building to include accessible restrooms, a small meeting room and boat rentals
  • Shoreline restoration to improve ecological functions
  • Parking and overlooks

Meydenbauer Bay, the site of a small village in the early 1900s, has a rich history. From 1914 to 1952, the inlet was the off-season home to a whaling fleet that plied Puget Sound.

The new park responds to the community’s long-held interest in additional public water access. Despite Bellevue’s 14 miles of shoreline along Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, total shoreline in public ownership is limited to approximately 1.6 miles, or 12 percent, with the majority along Lake Washington.

IMCO General Construction will work primarily west and northwest of 99th Avenue Northeast to connect with and expand the existing park between Lake Washington Boulevard and the Meydenbauer Bay shoreline. Meydenbauer Beach Park will be closed during the project, and the Bellevue Marina will remain open.

Construction is expected to be completed in late fall 2018.

This article was first released by City of Bellevue.

Posted on May 24, 2017 at 3:45 pm
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The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2017

The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year.

Home Sales

  • There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016.
  • With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County.
  • The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained.

Home Prices

  • With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.
  • Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County.
  • It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter dropped by 16 days when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
  • King County remained the tightest market, with the average time to sell a home at just 31 days. Island County was the only area where it took longer to sell a home than seen a year ago; however, the increase was just one day.
  • In the first quarter of the year, it took an average of 70 days to sell a home. This is down from the 86 days it took in the first quarter of 2016, but up from the 64 days it took in the final quarter of last year.
  • Given woefully low levels of inventory in all Western Washington markets, I do not expect to see the length of time that it takes to sell a home rising in 2017. In fact, it is likely that it will continue to drop.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. The rapid increase in mortgage rates during the fourth quarter of 2016 has slowed and buyers are clearly out in force.

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Posted on May 18, 2017 at 8:35 am
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3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’

3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’ | MyKCM

In school, we all learned the theory of supply and demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.

SUPPLY

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the inventory of homes for sale stands at a 3.8-month supply. This is considerably lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market.

3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’ | MyKCM

 

DEMAND

Every month NAR reports on the number of buyers out in the market looking for homes, which is also known as buyer traffic. As seen on the map below, buyer demand in March was strong or very strong in 45 out of 50 states nationwide, and Washington, DC.

3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’ | MyKCM

Many buyers are being confronted with a very competitive market in which they must compete with other buyers for their dream homes (if they are even able to find a home they wish to purchase).

Listing your house for sale now will allow you to capitalize on the shortage of homes for sale in the market, which will translate into a better pricing situation.

HOME EQUITY

Many homeowners underestimate the amount of equity they currently have in their homes. According to a recent Fannie Mae study, 37% of homeowners believe that they have more than 20% equity in their homes. In reality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report tells us that 78.9% actually do!

3 Charts That Shout, ‘List Your Home Today!’ | MyKCM

Many homeowners who are undervaluing the equity they have in their homes may feel trapped, which may be contributing to the lack of inventory in the market.

Posted on April 26, 2017 at 10:04 am
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How Fast Can You Save for a Down Payment?

How Fast Can You Save for a Down Payment? | MyKCM

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer. Depending on where you live, median income, median rents, and home prices all vary. So, we set out to find out how long would it take you to save for a down payment in each state?

Using data from the United States Census Bureau and Zillow, we determined how long it would take, nationwide, for a first-time buyer to save enough money for a down payment on their dream home. There is a long-standing ‘rule’ that a household should not pay more than 28% of their income on their monthly housing expense.

By determining the percentage of income spent renting a 2-bedroom apartment in each state, and the amount needed for a 10% down payment, we were able to establish how long (in years) it would take for an average resident to save enough money to buy a home of their own.

According to the data, residents in Iowa can save for a down payment the quickest in just under 2 years (1.99). Below is a map created using the data for each state:

How Fast Can You Save for a Down Payment? | MyKCM

What if you only needed to save 3%?

What if you were able to take advantage of one of Freddie Mac’s or Fannie Mae’s 3% down programs? Suddenly, saving for a down payment no longer takes 5 or 10 years, but becomes attainable in a year or two in many states as shown in the map below.

How Fast Can You Save for a Down Payment? | MyKCM

Posted on April 26, 2017 at 9:25 am
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Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

Careful…Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap! | Keeping Current Matters

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is being able to protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, reported on what he calls a “Rental Affordability Crisis.” He warns that,

“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”

In the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University’s 2016 State of the Nation’s Housing Report, they revealed that The number of cost-burdened households rose to 21.3 million. Even more troubling, the number with severe burdens (paying more than 50% of income for housing) jumped to a record 11.4 million. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

In Smoke’s article, he went on to say,

“Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home.” “While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it’s perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren’t those unhappy renters choosing to buy?”

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Posted on April 12, 2017 at 9:44 am
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Buying a Home this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Buying this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars | MyKCM

Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:

“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:

“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”

In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:

  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise, ID
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE
Source: keepingcurrentmatters.com

Posted on April 5, 2017 at 8:38 am
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Millionaire to Millennials: Buy Now!

Self-made millionaire David Bach was quoted in a CNBC article explaining that “the single biggest mistake millennials are making” is not purchasing a home because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.” Bach went on to explain:

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

In his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” Bach does the math:

“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists. He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show appearing more than 100 times, has been a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS, and has been profiled in many major publications, including The New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

Posted on March 28, 2017 at 8:56 am
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Housing Market Expected to “Spring Forward”

Housing Market Expected to “Spring Forward” | MyKCM

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2016 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2017, call one of our agents to evaluate the opportunities in our market.

Posted on March 21, 2017 at 4:47 pm
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Are You 1 of the 59 Million Planning to Buy a Home This Year?

59 Million Americans Are Planning to Buy This Year.

Are You 1 of the 59 Million Planning to Buy This Year? | MyKCM

According to a survey conducted by Bankrate.com, one in four Americans are considering buying a home this year. If this statistic proves to be true, that means that 59 million people will be looking to enter the housing market in 2017.

The survey also revealed 3 key takeaways:

  1. Those most likely to buy are ‘Older Millennials’ (ages 27-36) or ‘Generation X’ (ages 37-52)
  2. Minorities, particularly African-Americans, were twice as likely to respond that they were considering purchasing a home this year than white respondents.
  3. Many potential buyers believe they need to put 20% down and need to have perfect credit to own and are unaware of programs that would allow them to buy now.

Holden Lewis, a mortgage analyst for Bankrate.com, pointed to one big reason why many Americans are starting to consider homeownership:

“Having kids and raising a family is a primary reason why Americans take the leap into homeownership—many consider it a key component of the American dream.”

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 10:16 am
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – February 2017

What’s Happening in the Market

Home sales continue to be slightly above last year’s totals in the areas tracked in this report.  We are continuing to see double digit price increases spread out from the core of Bellevue and Seattle due to the somewhat exorbitant prices now demanded from the metro area Sellers.

Low Inventory

Inventory hit an all-time low in February which at last count was 3 weeks of inventory if nothing new came on the market.  (That’s weeks, not months!) We do expect to see an increase in listings in March and April, but Sellers are still wary of putting their home on the market with nowhere to go. Buyers and Buyers agents are having to be creative with their offers as we are seeing at least 50% of the sales occurring are done in multiple offer situations. We don’t expect this to change anytime soon!

Posted on March 9, 2017 at 10:39 am
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