Bellevue Real EstateBellevue, WAFor BuyersFor SellersReal EstateUncategorized July 22, 2010

Bellevue, WA=Great Schools, But Is It Affordable?

It’s ironic that the articles about schools linked below were recently published, as last week I met with a past client who raised this very issue.   My last post commented  on home values and school systems.

My client bought his first home from me 5 years ago.  It was a new home in a city with an excellent school system, but not the top school system on Seattle’s eastside. Now that his daughter is 5 years old, he’s looking at the different school systems even more closely.  He’s done his homework and checked out such websites as Great Schools and Education. com.  He’s read about the different school systems in the area and narrowed his choice down to the Bellevue, WA Schools.  The Bellevue Schools have been honored in a variety of places.  The high schools listed are in Newsweek’s Top 100 list and US News’ list.

But is the Bellevue School district affordable? My client wanted to know.  He had questions about what he could afford and find in Bellevue. He owns a 5 year old home with 2300+ square feet out in Sammamish.

According to the article, Bellevue is not an affordable town.  (Affordable is a relative term and each area will have a different affordability scale.) No matter where you live and what the affordability is of homes in your area, the rule of thumb is if a home is in a desirable school district, then it’s probably more expensive than a similar home in a less desirable district.

But even in some expensive school districts, prices can vary.

So what types of homes and prices can you find in Bellevue, WA? Here’s a snapshot of a typical week’s homes for sale during a week in July, 2010, which is representative of the housing available in Bellevue.

In Bellevue, homes can be found ranging from the high $200’s to multi-million dollar homes. If you divide Bellevue into areas, it’s easier to see what you can get in each area of Bellevue. Bellevue is divided into three main areas, West, East, and South Bellevue.

West Bellevue

The home of Bill Gates Jr, Charles Simonyi and other billionaires and uber-millionaires has some of the most expensive real estate in the country.  (West Bellevue, also includes the towns of Hunts Point, Yarrow Point, and Medina, some of the priciest locations in the state and the country.)

Here’s a sampling of the homes available this week in West Bellevue:

Under $500,000- 4 homes

some of which are truly lot value with small, older homes.  One home is a remodeled, most need to be remodeled and are small.

$500,000-$1,000,000-  35 homes

Ranging from homes built in the mid 50’s to the 60’s  with 1400-2000 square feet to larger homes with a huge variety of square footage.   Most of the homes were built from 1950-to the end of the century.  Newer homes in this price range are generally smaller.

$1,000,000+  66 homes

often with gracious appointments, lush grounds,  views or waterfront.  There’s an abundance of styles, ages, and square footage available.  These homes are among the priciest homes in the area with a significant number of multimillion dollar homes.

East Bellevue

Under $300,000  10 homes

older ranch style homes with square footage usually around 1500 square feet.  Some homes are bank owned, some in need of remodeling.

$300-$500,000    105 homes

(notice how many more homes are available in this price range than the other Bellevue neighborhoods.  Here’s where you can find more home for your money and in less expensive neighborhoods)

$500-$1,000,000   79 homes

You’ll find large ramblers, 2 story hoomes, and all other styles.  the homes in East Bellevue in this price range are usually terrific homes.  East Bellevue is the most affordable part of Bellevue to find a home.

$1,000,000+  18 homes

some with waterfront on Lake Sammamish, others are new construction.

South Bellevue

Under $300,000   4 homes  One is a short sale, 1 is partially remodeled, and two are older smaller homes.

$300-$500,000  33 homes

Ranging from small rambler (ranch style) homes of 1000 square feet  up to two story homes built in the 1960-1980’s with 2800 square feet.  There are mid-entry and tri-level homes along with one and two story homes in this price range.  Mid-entry and tri-level homes will be the most affordable and offer the most square footage for the money.  If you want a home with some size and in good condition, you’ll be spending closer to $500,000.  The lower end of this price range buys you a small home.

$500-$1,000,000  57 homes

Here you’ll find larger one level homes with 3 and 4 bedrooms.  Two story homes built after 1980 with square footage ranging up to 3000+.  You’ll also find large mid-entry and tri-level homes.

$1,000,000+ 37 homes

Upscale neighborhoods with drop dead gorgeous views of Seattle, Bellevue, the mountains, and lakes abound with homes ranging from mid-century modern ramblers on large lots to all styles of homes with views and lots of square footage.  Many of the homes were built after 1980.  Homes can be found with substantial square footage, high end amenities, and excellent quality and finish work.

The most affordable part of Bellevue is East Bellevue, although there are affordable houses all over.  However, what you can get for your money is vastly different in each of these areas as you can see from the above. There are options, though, and everyone has to decide the value of the schools in relation to the type of home available.

Are there great schools in other parts of the Seattle-Eastside? Yes, if you look at the lists above, other schools in Lake Washington School District, as an example pop up.  Woodinville High School is another great school.  These are not the only great schools.  There are more out there on the eastside.  Bellevue has some affordable housing, but some home buyers may want newer or larger homes for the money and may need to look at other Seattle-eastside cities.

The beauty of the Seattle-eastside is there are great schools and some great housing all over. There are options.

Bellevue, WAExploring the Eastside July 9, 2010

Bellevue's Botanical Garden is Just Beautiful This Time of Year

It’s funny how we can take local places for granted. We always think something is so close by,  it’s easy to go anytime.  But sometimes time gets the best of us.

I hadn’t been to The Bellevue Botanical Garden for several years.  Over the 4th of July, I had a friend visiting from Connecticut, so off we went to the Garden. It was the perfect time to stop by to enjoy the flowers.  So many of the flowers are in bloom right now.

flowering plants in The Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Hydrangeas in Bellevue Botanical Garden

A quiet spot in The Bellevue Botanical Garden

A quiet spot in The Bellevue Botanical Garden

Most people don’t think about taking a break and finding a quiet spot in the garden, but this man was enjoying the peace and quiet.

Check the Bellevue Botanical Garden out this summer.  It’s a beautiful place.

FinancingFor BuyersReal EstateReal Estate News July 8, 2010

Interest Rates Are The Lowest in the Last 30 Years

50 years of interest rates

Interest Rates 1980-2010

I remember when I bought my first home in the mid 1980’s.  I was so excited, the interest rate was at the bottom of the double digits, considering what the early 80’s had to offer with rates in the high teens.  I had friends who purchased in Brooklyn, NY in the early 80’s and were paying almost 17% for their mortgage.  The interest rate for my first home was just above 10%.  Granted the home prices were significantly less, but the monthly payments were high, considering the lower prices of the times.

Fast forward to 2010, with interest rates the lowest in 30 years and prices at 2005 levels.

What’s the difference in monthly payments with the more recent interest rates we’ve seen?

If you decide to purchase a $400,000 home, this is the difference in principle and interest payments over the last couple of years.

July 2008 – 5.75%  – $2,334
July 2009 – 5.25%  – $2,209
Jan  2010 – 5.125%- $2,178
May 2010 – 5.0%   – $2,147
July 2010 – 4.50%  – $2,027

Seattle-eastside home values have dropped significantly since the peak in the real estate market in the summer of 2007 and rates have also dropped as well.  If you were to purchase a $400,000 home now, the payment would be approximately $300 less than two years ago, plus the home prices are also lower.  In King County, WA, the choices are terrific because the number of homes for sale is just below the high so far for the year.  Right now, in King County, there are 13,921 homes for sale.

So is it the right time to buy a home?  You decide.

For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersMarket StatisticsReal Estate July 7, 2010

Have We Reached This Year's Peak in King County Homes For Sale?

Did we hit the peak a couple of weeks ago when the number of homes for sale in King County, WA hit 14,198?

King County Real Estate for Sale

Number of King County, WA Homes for Sale, 7-06-10

There are a lot of homes for sale in King County Washington right now, although the number may be beginning to drop if this year follows typical patterns.  The peak may have been the week of June 28th. In 2009, King County reached the peak of inventory, homes for sale at the end of July.  Typically, there are more homes for sale during the summer and this year follows that typical pattern.

Since the beginning of the year, there have only been 6 weeks when the number of homes for sale dropped.  This past week, 277 homes came off the market, which is one of the biggest declines in homes for sale.  The next several weeks will determine whether we have reached the peak in the number of King County homes for sale as rarely does the peak not fall during the summer months.

What’s happening in your area?  Is the inventory of homes for sale at a high point in the year?

Bellevue, WAExploring the EastsideFor BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersIssaquah, WAWoodinville, WA June 17, 2010

Congratulations to Seattle-Eastside Top Schools in the Nation

Seattle-eastside schools are some of the tops in the nation. US News recently published its top high schools in the nation and many eastside schools made the list. US News rated Bellevue’s International School as no. 10 in the country while highlighting Skyline in Sammamish, Woodinville High, Redmond High and others.  The International Community School in Kirkland was no.29 on the US News list.

This week, it’s all 5 Bellevue high schools in the top 100 Newsweek list. Interlake took the highest spot of the 5  at no. 13.  The Seattle Times had an article with information as to how the list is compiled.

Bellevue WA Interlake High School

Interlake High-Bellevue WA

Bellevue, Washington-Interlake High School

Congratulations to all these great Seattle-eastside schools.

Bellevue Real EstateBellevue, WA May 6, 2010

Top 5 "Smart" Reasons To Live in Bellevue, Washington

Downtown Bellevue

Bellevue, Washington is a “smart” city in more ways than one. Three articles from vastly different sources gave “smart” reasons to live in Bellevue.  The Northwest Asian Weekly,  highlighted many of the reasons the Asian community has flocked to the city of Bellevue in recent years.

US News and World Report announced its list of top schools in the nation today. Several Bellevue Schools made the list.

Lastly,  an article in the  NRDC, The National Resource Defense Council, Smarter Cities blog commended Bellevue for its use of hydro-power as part of Washington State’s “Shrink Your Carbon Footprint.”

Bellevue is a “smart” place to live because of:

  • The quality of life
  • Education
  • Economic growth
  • Prosperity
  • A good balance with a strong business climate combined with “smarter” energy sources

The Northwest Asian Weekly had some great quotes, which sum up many of the most important reasons why Bellevue has become a “smart” place to live.  The reasons it is a great place, a smart place, make Bellevue a great place to live for everyone.

The Quality of Life:

Bellevue’s prosperity has attracted Asians from other countries and from surrounding cities. The corporate job opportunities, low-crime rate, city facilities and services, high-ranking school district, low property taxes, and appreciating real estate values in Bellevue satisfy the criteria that many immigrants look for in finding a place that represents what they feel America has to offer, as well as a place where their children can thrive.


The higher influx of immigrants is also reflected in Bellevue’s school district where Asian languages are among the top 10 languages spoken among the student body. Immigrants valuing college education for their children cite the quality of the schools as one of the main reasons for moving to Bellevue. In 2009, five Bellevue high schools — International, Interlake, Newport, Sammamish, and Bellevue — were ranked in the top 100 public schools in the nation by Newsweek.

Today, US News and World Report published its list of the top schools in the country. Other high schools in King County made the list, but Bellevue had four schools honored:

  • The International School:  # 10 out of the top 100 Gold.
  • Newport High:  #72 out of 100 Gold.
  • Bellevue High:  #78 out of 100 Gold.
  • Interlake High: Silver medal

The economic climate:

“Bellevue is now home to the headquarters of many small and large businesses, many of which are technology companies that started in the 1990s and are still growing with their global presence,”  said Debadutta Dash, co-chair of Washington State India Trade Relations Action Committee.

“Perhaps nowhere else than in the Bellevue area could you find such a high concentration of individuals and businesses with international connections,” said HSBC Bank Vice President-Manager Victor Melnik.


Based on per capita income, Bellevue is ranked as the 15th wealthiest of the 522 communities in Washington.

The NRDC blog Smarter Cities blog highlights Bellevue as a city which is part of the Washington State’s plan to shrink carbon emissions through hydro-power.  Bellevue achieves its growth as a burgeoning economic center while balancing its carbon footprint.    In addition, Bellevue has lots of green with 90 parks and many walking trails.

Why do you think Bellevue is a “smart” place to live?

For BuyersFor SellersKing County Real EstateReal EstateReal Estate OpinionSeattle real estate April 8, 2010

Consider the Future When Making a Home Purchase

What may happen in the Seattle area economy in the future? Appraiser Richard Hagar spoke with John Maynard about this topic on KPLU the other day. The piece was geared to the glut of high end condos in downtown Seattle that are now selling with significant price cuts, but then Mr. Hagar shared more about what he sees in Seattle’s real estate future.  He wasn’t talking about the near term, but some significant issues to consider when looking at Seattle real estate in the next 5-7 years.

Some of the highlights from Mr Hagar’s talk:

Real estate prices have gone down in the past, even in the 30’s and the 70’s, but they’ve come back up both times.

Population in the Seattle area is increasing.  Last year there were 60,000 people new to the area, in ten years the projection is for a total of 600,000 people new to the area, all whom will need a place to live.

Builders are grabbing up land, finished lots for $35,000,  which is steal, in the south end locations Auburn, Kent, and Puyallup.

And lastly, “The Rich Get Richer” by planning ahead and making good buying decisions for the future, not just for now.


Making good buying decisions is the key.  If you decide you to buy now, then make sure to consider the future in your decision. Look for areas with good growth potential:

  • good access to transportation.
  • Good schools.
  • Close to economic centers and jobs.
  • Close to shopping and other amenities  (check out walkscore and drive score)
  • Check out the neighborhood and make sure the homes are well maintained throughout.

Seattle is going to grow, which will be a benefit to all of us in terms of the economy in both jobs and the real estate market.  Consider this future growth in your buying decision. You’ll end making a better buying decision for the long term.

For BuyersKing County Real EstateMarket StatisticsReal EstateSeattle real estateWA real estateWindermere Real Estate March 30, 2010

King County WA has 3000 More Properties For Sale

King County has a lot more properties for sale than the first week of the year.  The first quarter of 2010 has passed and there are now 24% more homes and condos for sale, exactly 3000 more.  Each week of the year has seen an increase in the number of properties for sale with the exception of one week.  Right now there are 12,726 properties for sale and we started the year with 9726 available properties in King County.

This is typical of the Seattle area real estate market.  Each spring the number of properties for sale increases dramatically.  The good news is most Seattle areas are experiencing a huge jump in real estate sales.  But that’s for another post!

Number of Properties for Sale in King County, 3-29-10

King County WA Real Estate 3-29-10