Community - Eastside
Explore the allure of the Eastside notable neighborhoods from Bellevue to Medina, Mercer Island to Issaquah, Kirkland and beyond. The Eastside boasts nationally top ranked schools, Fortune 500 companies and some of the region’s most desirable real estate.
EASTSIDE LIVING – Bucking the Trend
By Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty / Dean Jones
The top performing housing markets in King County are east of Seattle, including the cities of Bellevue and Mercer Island. That’s a statement considering this region boasts the highest average home prices. As of early 2012, the greater Bellevue area (NWMLS Area #520) and Mercer Island (NWMLS Area #510) posted average asking prices of $1,530,420 and $1,823,941, respectively. And they’re selling. In 2011 there were 145 homes that sold above $1 million in the Bellevue area compared with 107 sold in the Seattle in-city neighborhoods (NWMLS Area #390).
Brokers say demand is up across the Eastside region as they cite stabilizing home values, a strong sense of community and top ranked school districts. Meanwhile total active listings in 2012 have been trending 10-20 percent below the previous year.
“As the sales activity increased buyers that have been sitting on the fence are returning to market with improved confidence,” said Suzanne Singleton, of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “The inventory logjam has loosened up considerably and there is much greater liquidity in the marketplace. Buyers and sellers are finding success.”
Suzanne says median prices in 2012 have trended higher than in the previous year. But the most significant improvement, she says, is the volume of home sales, especially for luxury properties.
By example, for the two-year period of 2010 and 2011 there were 89 waterfront homes sold in the subject area compared with 45 sales in 2008 and 2009 – that’s nearly twice the volume. And for home sales above $1 million, a similar comparison shows 70 more homes sold in the last two years than in the prior two – an increase of approximately 15%.
The prospect of selling successfully has more homeowners thinking about making a move. Just ask Guy and Becca Conversano who sold their new construction, waterfront contemporary on Lake Washington after just 30 days on the market in 2011.
“Our attitude was such that we’d sell if we could achieve our price,” said Guy. “It was an opportunity to trade the waterfront for larger view home on more land. We were ready for another project but only if it made sense to us financially.”
Considering the gloomy real estate headlines at the time, Guy and Becca were thrilled with how quickly their home sold but their broker wasn’t overly surprised.
“It was a truly exceptional property,” said Michael K. Walker, a co-listing agent on the home sale and a broker of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “We’re always working with brokers and buyers that are in search of unique opportunities. The challenge becomes knowing what may be available.”
Michael also helped the Conversano’s identify a large, view estate on Hilltop, which met both their financial goals and their desired lifestyle. Becca praises her brokers, saying she and Guy feel they had sold well and bought well – making the most of an opportunistic real estate market.
“But it’s not just about the numbers,” muses Becca. “I also valued the opportunity to change where we live and how we live – nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she adds. “Besides, now Tucker and Chip (two German Shorthaired Pointers) have plenty of room to roam the property. Mission accomplished.”
While lifestyle aspirations remain a primary motivator of buyers and sellers, it’s not the only consideration. Recent tolling of SR-520, potential tolling of I-405 and planned light rail on I-90 have many prospective buyers and sellers wondering which side of Lake Washington to live, according to brokers.
“Traffic considerations definitely weigh on a homebuyers’ decision,” says Melanie McCarthy, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “As a property specialist on both sides of Lake Washington and a resident of West Bellevue, I can relate to the debate. And sometimes buyers can’t decide and split the difference. I think that’s why we’ve seen Mercer Island become particularly resilient.”
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