New Listing May Be Last 2 Bedroom Condo In Bellevue Near Microsoft Under 400000

Dated: 08/04/2017

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RIDE IN THE REAL ESTATE TIME MACHINE

I wish I could whisk my clients today in a time machine back to 2011 and 2012 to purchase homes at low prices.  This seller picked up this nice Microsoft area condo from a bank for $156,000 in 2012.  It was in good condition at the time.  The HOA and the sellers have made some significant upgrades in the past 5 years:

  • New roof

  • Reconstructed deck

  • Removal of popcorn ceilings with asbestos and application of new texture

  • New carpeting

  • Fresh interior paint

When we first talked about listing the property, it looked like $360,000 would be about right.  But prices in Bellevue have continued charging right up, so we are giving it a try at $399,950.  It may be the last two bedroom condo ever for sale in Central Bellevue near Microsoft under $400,000.

WHY BELLEVUE?

What attracts buyers to Bellevue?  Firstly, it is the reputation of the public schools.  The Bellevue School District high schools regularly rank highly in national lists published by US & News Report and others.  At this time of writing, Bellevue's International School ranks #2 in Washington and #42 nationally.  The International School has a unique seven year program focusing on gaining fluency in French.  The private French Immersion School of Washington feeds into the program with French immersion instruction from Kindergarten (or rather ecole maternelle).  Bellevue has other innovative programs such as the longest-running and most successful Spanish immersion program with instruction K to 12.  My kids attended that program through the 7th grade and one of them became very fluent later in high school, later volunteering for two weeks at a Mexican orphanage in Merida.

Bellevue has an award-winning park system with 50 parks and a network of trails within a relatively small area.  The finest botanical garden in Washington state is included in the park system.  The natural setting is very beautiful, being bounded by two major lakes - Washington and Sammamish - and with two mountain ranges in view (Cascades and Olympics).  There are lots of opportunities to buy properties with fine views in Bellevue of lakes, mountains, the city, or a combination.

The King County library system - which excludes Seattle - is the second or third busiest library system in the whole country (depending on how you count busy-ness of a library system).  Seattle also has a fine library system with its flagship, architecturally significant Central Library.

Bellevue has a vibrant Downtown district with skyscrapers, major employers, and the region's major shopping mall, the Bellevue Square Mall.  Major festivals in Downtown Bellevue attract 60,000 or more visitors: July 4th, the Bellevue Arts and Crafts Festival, Christmas lights at the botanical garden, and more.

Bellevue is ethnically very diverse.  I think this was driven by hiring at Microsoft and other high tech employers.  I read that 40% of Bellevue residents were born outside of the US.  Through my work and friendships I've become personally aware of large communities of Chinese, Indians, Russians, and Romanians.

EXP REALTY LISTING SERVICE

I thought it would be fun to read back through old emails and recount the services I have provided these sellers.

  • Firstly, I sold them this condo back in 2012 at a bargain price of $156,000.  It was bank owned and in good condition.

  • A year before the sale we met and talked about selling.  The family stays in Bellevue for the schools.  The Dad commutes 70 miles every day to Tumwater, where he works for the State.  We discussed possibly moving to Thurston County, but they ruled it out.

  • Next, we tried to buy a house for this family in Bellevue at the $600,000+ level.  A house we made an offer on at $599,000 - and it was a fixer, no updates since the 1970s - attracted 25 offers and probably went $100,000 over list price.  We offered $34,000 over list price, but that was not nearly enough.

  • We looked at a Bellevue townhouse, but they decided not to make an offer.  It was clear it would attract another bidding war.

  • I didn't hear from them for a while, and then in the spring of 2017 they told me they were ready to sell the condo.  They had moved into a larger Bellevue rental house.

  • We met at the condo again and discussed pricing, sales strategy, and what improvements to make.  That's when we decided to replace the popcorn ceilings, replace the carpets, and paint the interior.

  • My wife and I brought through a Chinese-speaking contractor for a quote, but the sellers chose another one.  It's hard to find a contractor these days and there are no bargains.  All the contractors are busy.

  • I wrote up the listing contract.  I contacted the title company to get preliminary title commitment and the full legal description (a necessary part of any real estate contract).

  • I arranged for staging of the condo, as you can see in the photos.  That turned out very well.

  • I took the photos.  I have a wide angle lens and a good eye for composing shots.  The stager left a cute little carving of a sandpiper.  I played a little game, moving the sandpiper from room to room, so that it appears discretely in several shots.

  • Today I took the final photos, put up a sign, and hung a keybox.  We then had a late night discussion of pricing.  We had thought $360,000 would be about right a few months ago, but prices in Bellevue have continued charging right up.  We only see one competitor at $390,000 and it is smaller, so we decided on $399,950 and are hoping for multiple offers.  Could we get $425,000 in this crazy market?

  • Finally, I activated the listing and started marketing on social media (including this blog post).

  • I'll report on all the negotiations and transaction steps as they arise.

NOTTINGHAM CONDOMINIUMS IN THE MICROSOFT / CROSSROADS NEIGHBORHOOD

Nottingham Condominiums is a 58 unit complex located between Microsoft to the north just a half mile away and Crossroads Mall and community center just to the south on 156th Avenue.  Crossroads features a lively ethnic food court like no other in the Seattle area and live music on Fridays.  A movie theater, numerous restaurants, and plenty of shopping are all within walking distance (not that anybody walks in Bellevue).  Nottingham features a community clubhouse and outdoor swimming pool.  Each unit gets two parking spots - one under a carport.  Most units are 1,187 SF two bedroom, two bathroom, single level condos.  There are a few townhouse style units over 1,400 SF.

At this time of writing (July 2017), the rental cap had been met with a long waiting list, so it would not be advisable for an investor to purchase there.  The HOA has been boosting its financial reserves and updating the buildings.  The upper decks have been replaced and a new roof put on in July 2017.

Two major bus lines run by right outside: #245 and the Sound Transit B Line.

LET'S PLAY A GAME!  CAN YOU FIND THE SANDPIPER?  HOW MANY TIMES?

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About Realtors Bob and Elizabeth (Wang Jen-Yee) Kelly

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Bob Kelly

Bob is an eXpert buyer's agent with a special interest in travel and vacation homes. Bob and his wife Elizabeth (Wang Jen-Yee) are decades-long residents of Greater Seattle and the surrounding Puget ....

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