Local Market Update June 2020

As we move to the next phase of reopening, life feels like it’s slowly inching back towards normal. The same is true in real estate. Statistics on home sales in May provided the first true picture of the effects of COVID-19. Those reports confirmed the incredible strength and stability of the local real estate market.

  • The Stay Home order, as expected, continued to impact the number of sales. However, the market is starting to move its way towards more normal activity. Pending sales, a measure of current demand, have risen every week since April.
  • The slight drop in median closed sale price is a result of a proportionately larger number of lower priced homes selling than is normal. It should not be interpreted as a decrease in individual home value.
  • There were significantly fewer homes for sale in May than the same time last year. With less than a month of available inventory, competition among buyers was intense. Bidding wars and all-cash offers were common.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for May are mostly reflective of sales in April. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here. As we adapt to new phases of reopening, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.









This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on June 22, 2020 at 10:34 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Market Stats | Tagged , ,

How to Prep your Home for a Virtual Dinner Party

Illustration of a table with a laptop, dinner plate and napkins, fork, and a phone.

A few small changes to your space can go a long way in putting your best (remote) foot forward. As people social distance and adhere to widespread stay-at-home orders, the vibrant dinner parties of 2019 seem a distant memory in today’s no-hug world. But don’t despair—you can still break through the ho-hum dinner routine with a virtual bash that works for both friends and family.

In most ways, prepping your home for a remote dinner party is easier than a traditional soiree: You don’t need to clean your whole house, cook a multi-course meal, or set a table for a crowd. Still, a few small changes to your space can go a long way in putting your best (virtual) foot forward.

From optimizing your lighting to picking out glassware, here’s how to arrange your home for a winning virtual happy hour or feast.

Pick your spot

When you’ve been stuck at home for weeks, a change of scenery can really help. Sure, you can easily use your dining room table, but what about your kitchen counter or even moving a coffee table or chest someplace new? Have a guest bedroom with a soothing patterned wallpaper that you’d like to showcase? Set up a table in there.

Wherever you pick, pay attention to your background—that’s what other virtual guests will be able to see. “I think the background rules are pretty close to the good Instagram photo rules: shallow depth of field, not more than three colors, keep it simple,” says Curbed’s architecture critic, Alexandra Lange.

Curbed editor-in-chief Kelsey Keith says to “consider one saturated color, a jungle of plants, or texture.” A virtual dinner party with friends is more fun than your everyday remote conference calls, so don’t be afraid to choose a bold, more cheerful spot (read: not your home office).

Optimize your lighting

As you’re choosing your backdrop, don’t skimp on the lighting. Set things up so the light isn’t behind you—otherwise you’ll look dark and shadowy on screen. “If it’s just you in a room, natural light is non-negotiable,” says Keith, so try to position yourself to take advantage of windows. If that isn’t an option, position one lamp directly by your face for even, steady lighting that reduces shadows.

You can also think outside the box when it comes to lighting; an early-evening gathering could work well on a patio due to great sunset light, or you could dine in front of a cozy, crackling fireplace.

Elevate your video device

Whether you’re using a laptop, tablet, or even a phone, use a stand and place it so that the camera is higher, at eye level. This provides a more flattering video angle. It’s also crucial to enjoy your conversation hands-free; it just won’t work to try and hold your phone for an hour-long party. Don’t have a laptop or tablet stand around? Stacking a few boxes or heavy books will do the trick.

Another important point: Don’t get too close to the camera. The cameras on smartphones and webcams are wide-angle, so if you get too close it will look distorted.

Set your table

A virtual dinner party is the perfect time to fancy things up a bit. Bust out your favorite tablecloths or any fun printed fabric to eat on, and think about adding special touches that fit with your personal style. (Note that if you’ve gone with a bold, colorful background, a neutral tablecloth might work best.) A beloved candle, family heirloom, or funky salt and pepper shakers will not only look cool, but can also spark conversation.

Don’t have anything on hand that fits the bill? Head outside and gather a few small flowers or sprigs of plants that are in bloom, then place them into a tiny bud vase or small glass cup. The vase will add a bit of pizazz and sophistication to your table without being so large that it becomes distracting on camera.

Finally, a pro tip: Set up everything before the party starts. A few moments away from the camera are to be expected, but it’s rude to disappear for 20 minutes to prepare things after the party has begun.

Pay attention to your glasses

If you really want to go all out, now’s the time to use any treasured china or specialty plates you have stored away. Of course, everyday plates will work just fine.

What your virtual guests will actually see the most of are your glasses. Make a fun cocktail or mocktail (maybe it’s tied to your agreed-upon theme) and don’t skimp on the accoutrements—think slivers of limes, decadent bourbon cherries, and lemon twists.

Colorful or unique glassware will also stand out; at a recent Mexican-themed virtual dinner party hosted by a Curbed staffer, for example, all of the guests made margaritas and showcased them in a dazzling array of rainbow glasses.

Or you can always hit the easy button

Want to host a virtual dinner party but don’t have the time or energy to curate your space? Choose from one of these gorgeous Zoom backgrounds, which we’ve carefully curated to look sufficiently realistic.

Originally published on Curbed.com


Posted on June 19, 2020 at 11:25 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate | Tagged , ,

Organizing Your Home



Image Source: Shutterstock

When organizing your home, knowing where to start can often be the most difficult part. Breaking the process down room-by-room and keeping the following tips in mind will help you get started and keep your home organized in the long run.


Given how much time is spent in the kitchen, it can get disorganized easily. Kitchen countertops are also one of the most frequently touched and used surfaces in a home. Taking items off the counters and storing them on shelving above or below is an effective first step. Open shelves are a great fixture for easy access while preparing and cooking meals. Store the items you use the most here and stow away large tools that you don’t use as often.

A lazy Susan is a must-have for kitchen organization, bringing the back of the cabinet to your fingertips. A great home for kitchen items that are heavy, clumsy or messy, they are highly accessible. Cleaning out a lazy Susan is much simpler than cleaning out cabinets, which frees up shelf space for those items that usually sit out on your kitchen counter.

Living room

A good first step for your living room is to take inventory. See what items can be disposed and what might belong elsewhere in the house. Take time to think about the flow of the room and how you envision foot traffic will interact with the space.

Multifunctionality goes a long way in the living room. Coffee tables, side tables, and ottomans that are designed with more than one purpose in mind will help to declutter. Look for pieces with underneath storage, drawers, or magazine holders.


For both aesthetics and functional storage, open shelving will help take your bathroom to the next level. It provides plenty of room to stow bathroom supplies, towels, toiletries, and brings a more welcoming feel to the space.

This is a great time to go through your bathroom products. Discarding old, expired, and unused items will free up additional space and give the room a cleaner feel. Once you’ve cleaned everything out, take this time to reorganize your medicine cabinet with your newly reduced bathroom inventory.


Keeping your bedroom organized is a matter of maximizing space and minimizing clutter. If you have limited closet space, try placing a garment rack in a corner or against a wall, or store out-of-season clothing items elsewhere. The underside of your bed is useful for storage. Try functional organizers such as bins and roll-out shelving. Using your dresser as a nightstand or your bookshelf as a décor piece will add flair and cut down on clutter as well.

Making the most of the hanging space in your closet is a sure-fire way of keeping it decluttered. Position the most-used items at eye level and stow lesser-used clothes and accessories higher up. Not only does this give priority to your closet which helps you stay organized over time, but it can save you time when getting ready.


A common tactic for creating storage space in your garage is to go vertical. This will help free up space for your stuff while maintaining the space reserved for your vehicles. The garage is also a good home for large or bulky items that you don’t use every day.

Going room-by-room will help you piece together the look and feel of the organized home you want to achieve. Be comfortable with clearing out a space in order to put it back together the way you have in mind. Sometimes rooms have to get messier before they get organized.

Originally published on the Windermere Blog

Posted on June 19, 2020 at 11:20 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Design, DIY, Home owner tips, Home Sweet Home |

A Guide to Mortgage Assistance During COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock


For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

Forbearance is…

With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

Forbearance is not…

Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
Fannie Mae – Loan Lookup
Freddie Mac – Loan Lookup

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.


Originally published on the Windermere Blog

Posted on June 15, 2020 at 11:41 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Community Support, Finances | Tagged , ,

Black Lives Matter

by Elly McKenzie

At Windermere Bellevue Commons we support our Black neighbors in Bellevue, King County, and around the country. We stand with them against racism and oppression obvious and insidious, interpersonal and infrastructural. We recognize that we serve a community of agents who serve a diverse population of clients; it is our duty to acknowledge the privileges we have been afforded and the duty we have to use that privilege to support our minority communities. Over the last week we have needed to step back and listen to the Black community. Moving forward, we must support the Black community and educate ourselves and our white neighbors of the historic oppression communities of color have faced in this country and specifically in King County through Red-Lining and gentrification.

We are making donations to Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Seattle, Black Resilience Fund, and the ACLU, and encourage you to do the same. We also encourage you to do the work to educate yourselves and take action to make Bellevue, King County, and the United States a more equitable place for everyone. We are working to compile resources where you can support Black owned businesses on the Eastside and in King County. Stay tuned for more information.

Local and National Reading and Resources:

A History of Redlining in Seattle (watch)

Segregated Seattle

The 1619 Project 

Donate or Take Action:

Black Lives Matter-Seattle|King County

Black Resilience Fund

Demand Justice Now-ACLU


Posted on June 8, 2020 at 11:10 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Windermere Bellevue Commons News | Tagged ,

Saving in the Laundry Room

Image Source: Shutterstock


When it comes to household expenses, staying at home has brought about savings in some areas, while increasing expenses in others. The laundry room has likely seen an uptick in usage, with its associated costs following suit. Save your energy and money by keeping these tips in mind as we continue to adapt to being home more often.


Master your machine settings

Review the owner’s manuals for your washer and dryer. There may very well be energy-saving settings you’re not using. For example, your washer’s “high-speed” or “extended wash” cycles will remove more moisture, which can help reduce drying time. A dryer’s “cool down cycle” allows clothes to finish drying using only residual heat.


Think twice before washing

Once you’re aware of the costs associated with washing and drying, and the natural resources this consumes, you may decide you don’t need to launder certain clothes as often – which can also extend the life of these garments. Some clothing, like jeans, sweatshirts, and sweatpants, can be worn a few times without a cleaning. Washing these items only when necessary will help you cut down. Another tip – keep another laundry basket in your room for those lightly worn clothes that you could wear again, so they keep separate from your clean clothes.


Use hot water only when necessary

Using warm water instead of hot can significantly cut down your washer’s energy expense. Using cold water puts less pressure on electricity grids, saving your household even more money and energy. Cold water washes are less likely to shrink or fade your clothing as well. To ensure your clothes still get clean, try using a cold-water detergent.


Right-size your loads

For both washing and drying, taking into consideration the size of your load can factor greatly into your savings. No matter the size of the load you wash, it costs the same amount to run a cycle. So instead of doing two small loads, wait until you have one large load. When drying, keep in mind that an overly full dryer will take longer to dry the clothes. A dryer with too few items inside costs more to operate.


Clean the dryer vent and filter

When the lint filter in your dryer gets clogged, airflow is reduced, and the dryer can’t operate effectively. Make a point to clean the filter after every use. If you use dryer sheets, scrub the filter every month to remove any film buildup. The venting that attaches to the back of your dryer also needs to be kept clean and clear.


Air dry

When the weather is sunny and warm, consider putting your clothes out to hang-dry. Doing so will keep your drying expenses to a minimum. It can also be a better drying method for clothing with delicate tailoring.


With staying at home being the new status quo, taking a look at the ways our homes use energy and incur expenses is more relevant than ever. These small changes in the laundry room are just some of the minor adjustments you can make in your household during these unique times.

Originally published on Windermere.com

Posted on May 27, 2020 at 12:54 pm
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue Real Estate, DIY, Windermere Bellevue Commons News | Tagged , ,

Local Market Update May 2020

We hope you are weathering the new normal as best as you can. With everyone spending more time than ever at home, real estate has taken on a whole new importance. For those who are interested, here is a brief update on how COVID-19 continues to affect our local market:

  • Business was better than expected under the Stay Home order. COVID-19 did reduce real estate sales in April as compared to a year ago, however the number of sales rose steadily each week of the month. Sales growth continued in early May and we expect sales to increase slowly week by week.
  • The number of new listings dropped, suggesting that would-be sellers are waiting until the shelter-in-place order is over to put their home on the market. With local technology companies continuing to hire, buyers will continue to face competition for limited inventory in the coming months.
  • Home prices remain stable, with the median price of homes sold in April up slightly from a year ago. Sellers appear to be pricing homes realistically and buyers are not finding deep discounts.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for April are mostly reflective of sales in March. Next month’s data will offer a more telling trend of the effect of the virus on the local housing market.

If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.

As our current situation evolves, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.









This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on May 14, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Home Selling, Windermere Bellevue Commons News |

Help Us Raise Funds for our Neighbors in Need

Windermere offices have a goal of raising $250,000 for food banks in our community and the Windermere Foundation will match every dollar we raise for our “Neighbors in Need” campaign. The need has never been greater! Let’s all do our part so no one goes hungry. You can help by donating here. https://bit.ly/2KlySJC

Posted on April 22, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Windermere Bellevue Commons News |

Now More Than Ever, “We’re All in, for you”

Staying Connected Through COVID-19. All In, For You. In these times of social distancing, we are finding creative ways to stay connected. We have never been more “All in” for our clients and our communities.

Posted on April 3, 2020 at 9:08 am
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Community Support, Home Buying, Home Selling, Windermere Bellevue Commons News | Tagged , , ,

The Costello Team is Making Masks for Health Care Workers



WBC agents, The Costello Team and little Costellos have been making masks for healthcare workers at Evergreen Health. They are being donated during the COVID-19 outbreak to protect, doctors, nursers and other essential staff at Evergreen Health. Thanks for your time and contributions, Costellos. Every little bit helps in fighting this coronavirus.

Posted on April 2, 2020 at 1:12 pm
Bellevue Commons | Posted in Bellevue News, Bellevue Real Estate, Windermere Bellevue Commons News | Tagged , , ,