Well, a lot has changed in the past month. If I’m rereading this 15-20 years in the future, here’s a quick rundown;
Virus spreads around the world. Affects mostly older people, not kids. Economy shuts down. Here in Washington State, kids don’t have school, it’s canceled for the remainder of the year, and I’m mostly working from home. The last half of March, and so far the first part of April, have been spent almost exclusively at home with the kids.
The positive sides though; air quality is said to be improved, traffic (in case I do have to go anywhere) is incredible, gas is the cheapest I can remember it being (around Issaquah, it’s gone from around $2.99 to $2.39 for regular unleaded, and I’ve seen it as low as $1.54 per gallon in somewhat nearby Cle Elum). I have yet to fill up though, as I have probably driven only 100 miles in about 3 weeks.
Being at home has been good for the wallet, and spending the time with the kids is always a positive, especially at their ages. Hopefully we can get through this without impacting/infecting our parents and family. I haven’t seen my mom face to face other than when I dropped off some donuts for her in a box that I only touched with gloves on.
With all that said, here’s how the rest of life has been impacted;
Real Estate – Since there are rules for showing properties (smaller groups allowed in homes, no open houses, must set appointments), showing activity is down for us. But it goes in waves (I guess real estate always does). I’ve read that homes are still going pending, and still closing… but I’m also reading about potential buyers wanting to wait out this virus scare, and being concerned about the long term economic impact (prices decreasing).
Areas that tend to be really hot and competitive are still hot. I couldn’t believe that 4 homes listed in The Woods in Issaquah all went Pending within days of being listed. But the outlying areas appear to have homes that are lingering on the market. And now is not the time to set a “high list price” just to see what happens. I’d be aggressive if you plan on listing now, to give people a reason to get out of their homes and want to come visit.
My 2 cents; As always, if you have the financial means to buy, and you love a specific area, don’t pass it up. Because there’s always going to be a demand in this region. Especially the closer you are to Seattle / Bellevue.
ECommerce / Sturtevants – Ski and snowboard shops seem to be hurting out there in the online world. I’ve never seen so many deals! Makes me want to whip out my wallet and start ordering things I don’t need. Some companies were so desperate, I saw many deals below wholesale.
The good news is that most ski resorts usually close in mid-April. So sales would have slowed down anyway around this time. However, March is usually a huge month for sales, and many people buy items to stock up for next season.
And sales aren’t just happening in winter sports. I’m seeing sales everywhere. Nordstrom had a few days where they had 25% off their entire site. Dicks Sporting Goods, Best Buy, REI all seem to have a daily sale going (happening online though, not in stores).
For us, it’s been a struggle. Most of our staff has been let go or furloughed. Essential businesses are allowed to operate, but obviously a ski / tennis shop is not. I’ve gone into the warehouse about once a week to ship orders out. But with the way our site is structured, a lot of items get pulled from the retail locations. And that’s where it gets tough since I don’t have keys to the stores.
Plus, sales for the online department are WAY up. I guess it’s obvious that when people can’t buy in-store from their favorite shops, they tend to go online. The good news is that a lot of local people have been supporting us, and that’s always good to see. Hopefully we can weather this pandemic and reopen as early as May. That’s my hope anyway!
Until next time…
There was a day last week, when the following occurred while doing a search of homes on the NWMLS;
Yikes. Even right now, on a Thursday right before going into the weekend, there are only 2 active results that meet those search parameters. To say inventory is low would be an understatement.
It’s hard to imagine things getting much more difficult for buyers. Here’s hoping inventory turns around and that we’re able to reach a much more balanced market, if that could exist.
It seems as though every time inventory does build itself up a little bit, there are articles about the market crashing and how buyers think they’re in control now. We (Mitch and I) will see it first hand as well, with low ball offers, and buyers all of a sudden getting picky. I think the end result of that is that sellers decide to wait, and new listings decide to hold off and try the rental market instead.
So, hopefully we’ll be blessed with an influx of new listings soon, and a market where sellers can get a price they want, and buyers can still do all their due diligence while taking advantage of low interest rates.
I wrote a post about a year ago about the challenges of price matching, and I wanted to write a follow up to say that, perhaps websites should just simply stop price matching.
(I do want to clarify that this is different from allowing our retail stores to price match. Because if a customer is coming into your store, you should appreciate the fact that they’ve taken the time to come talk to you face to face. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the cost of shipping.)
The issues most websites face are this;
By the time a customer calls you up and asks for a price match, consider the circumstances. They are probably coming to you because no one else has it available. Think about that for a minute. Why would a customer be calling an online store, if they could buy it cheaper elsewhere and not have to talk to anyone?
So now, you have the “last” of something. Shouldn’t that price then go up? Not down?
I understand if it’s a mass produced item (lets say a LEGO toy set), and you just want to support a local business instead of buying from a Target or Walmart. If that is the case, again, I would go into a local store, and have a conversation face to face.
But the phone conversations with customers regarding price matching usually involve people who have never bought from us before, some who don’t even know what store they called (they just clicked a link on their phones), and others who want it shipped internationally or cross country but aren’t willing to pay for it.
Other factors include the cost of shipping and not knowing exactly what the customer’s expectations are (they might expect something in perfect condition, but chances are an item may have a damaged box, or it could be the display model off the showroom, especially when we’re down to the last couple items in stock).
I do think companies should not aggressively / blindly honor price match requests. Unless it’s for a repeat customer who is more likely to shop with you in the future.
After 3 days on the market and a lot of foot traffic and interest, this Covington listing of ours went Pending. We hope the buyers of this property love this home as much as our sellers do.
Updated 3 bedroom corner-lot home in Timerlane Estates. This quiet house was made even more enjoyable and ready to move-in with a fully updated upper bathroom, new living-area flooring, interior paint, stainless appliances, granite kitchen counters, light fixtures, outlets, and more! Enjoy the cozy wood fireplace in the winters or the freshly painted deck and fenced, wraparound lawn all summer. New WH in 2017 and Furnace in 2016. Community features an outdoor pool, clubhouse, and winding trails.
It’s always great to represent a seller in an area where I’m most familiar. Even though things have changed quite a bit in Issaquah, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up here, and come back to live here once I started my family, so I know what has changed and what hasn’t.
It’s still a small city located at the foothills of the Cascades, just a short distance from Bellevue and even Seattle. You can get here in 15 minutes from the stadiums when there’s little traffic. And it’s a great place to live for outdoor lovers such as myself, with Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park, more hiking trails than I can count (one of those State Parks borders this property), and 3 ski areas within an hour and a half.
If you’re into these types of things, you’ll love this latest listing. It’s located on Squak Mountain in the High Valley community.
Located on over 2 acres, with a home that’s over 3,000 square feet, it feels like it’s built into the hillside. During our open house last weekend, everyone commented on how unique the home is, that they’ve never seen anything like it. And that’s a rare thing to hear these days, as lots are bought, subdivided, and communities are built rapidly trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible.
In my years of real estate, I’ve never been to an open house where every group spent at least 20 minutes. And every person had a different vision. Some talked about moving away from the city now that their kids are out of the house. Some talked about eventually having kids and how they would love the yard and space. Others loved the potential for entertaining, as the kitchen was large and open, not to mention the wrap around deck on the second level. And one of my favorites features is that the office / spare bedroom upstairs is laid out a lot like my office at work.
So if you’d like to be close to things, but away from everything, this community would be a good one to consider. The school districts are great, and the neighbors I’ve met say it’s a great commute if you’re heading south (towards Renton, Kent, South Seattle), and not too bad if you’re heading to Bellevue and downtown Seattle. You’ll be getting a one of a kind home.
High Valley, Issaquah | 12234 210th Pl SE | $997,000 | 4 bedrooms | 2.75 bathrooms | 3,030 square feet | MLS 1488626 | 2.06 acres
Just wanted to write out my thoughts on the real estate market as of June 2019.
It’s been an interesting start to 2019 for my partner Mitch and I. We’re on pace to match the transactions from last year, but overall it’s a much more relaxed and laid back market compared to the previous 5+ years.
We definitely see the micro-markets and specific pockets that continue to be hot, but we’re rarely seeing multiple offers or offer review dates. The few times we do see offer review dates, those dates tend to pass without much fanfare. Maybe they get an offer or two, but often times we continue to see those homes on the open market.
In my home community of Issaquah, specifically in the 98027 zip code, here is how May 2019 compares to May 2018;
|98027||May 2018||May 2019||Change|
|Homes / Condos Sold||56||67||+19.6%|
|Avg Days on Market||21.1||31.7||+50.24%|
Those numbers are a little shocking at first, but perhaps the median price drop was affected by a large number of condos selling. If we filter out out the condos, and just show the homes, here is how those numbers look;
|98027||May 2018||May 2019||Change|
|Avg Days on Market||25.2||34.3||+36.11%|
In both tables, we’re seeing about a 14-15% median price drop from year to year. Okay, so that’s a pretty small sample size, and I always like to start in 98027 because that’s where I live and grew up and I sort of suspected that listings were taking longer, and I’ve been seeing more price drops, but I wasn’t expecting such a large price drop year over year.
Again, that’s a pretty small sample size and it’s just a single zip code.
What if we pulled in numbers for all of Bellevue, from May 2018 compared to May 2019? Just for homes (no condos), and all of the Bellevue zip codes (98004, 98005, 98006, etc). Here is what that would look like;
|Bellevue||May 2018||May 2019||Change|
|Avg Days on Market||14.4||33.2||+130.56%|
So these numbers look very similar to Issaquah’s 98027 percentages. From working with our recent clients, we know that people are moving to areas like Kent and Maple Valley to try and escape the high prices. Maybe an area like Maple Valley is benefiting from the dropping prices of Issaquah and Bellevue? Here are the same stats for Maple Valley.
|Maple Valley||May 2018||May 2019||Change|
|Avg Days on Market||20.6||20.4||No change|
|Median DOM||6||6||No change|
So from all these charts and numbers, I’d come to a couple conclusions;
We’ll continue to watch the numbers and will expand our search as needed. If you’re curious about the trends in a certain area or region (within Western Washington), please reach out to us on our Facebook page,
Thank you. -Jin
image courtesy of City of Issaquah Parks & Recreation page; https://www.issaquahwa.gov/farmersmarket
I write this in the hopes that one day my kids will read it.
A week ago, we lost Brian, we had to put him down. It happened all of a sudden. We had dropped him off at grandma’s house to go spend a weekend out of town, when she called and said he wasn’t eating any food, and kept throwing up. He also didn’t want to go outside or for any walks. All of which is unusual for him.
So we came back and spent Saturday evening with Brian. When he didn’t perk back up on Easter Sunday morning, we admitted him to Alpine Animal Hospital in Issaquah right in front of Costco. They called a couple hours later with the grim news. His gall bladder and kidneys were failing. They could operate to remove some blockages in his gall bladder, and give meds for the kidneys, but said he was suffering and that his quality of life may not recover, and recommended being put down.
It was a heartbreaking phone call.
Against their wishes, we took Brian back home for one more night together, and then on Monday morning, at 9:19 AM on 4/22/2019, he passed peacefully with Manda, the kids, and grandma all by his side. I’m glad he didn’t suffer for too many days, and appreciate all the things he taught me.
Thanks to everyone who has ever met Brian for their support and for reaching out over the past week. The rest of this post is for my own personal records. I never want to forget Brian, and am fearful that his memory will fade. So I’m writing down dates, details, and as much as I can now while I remember.
Rest in doggy heaven good friend,
(Picture from June 2018)
The Early Years with Brian
It was 2004, I was halfway through business grad school, and I was a cocky 20-something who had just sold a company, bought a condo, and right around this time, I purchased my first “adult” car and obtained my real estate license just in case the business degree didn’t pan out. Getting a dog probably just seemed like another “adult” thing to do at that time.
I remember walking around my complex and meeting a neighbor who had this large white dog around 30 pounds. I thought it was the coolest poodle I had ever met, when the neighbor explained that he was a Bichon Frise named Butch. He joked that he had to give him a tough sounding name, and that Butch was large for a Bichon, most are well under 20 pounds. I wish I remembered that neighbor’s name so I could thank him, I still hope that he’ll Google “butch the Bichon issaquah” and he’ll find my posts.
Soon after, I visited a shop in Bellevue that no longer exists, called Absolutely Puppies. It was just off 8th, at 805 111th Ave NE. An area that became SO popular over the past 15 years that it’s now a highrise building.
There was an area with Bichon’s in it, and I remember one of them getting on his hind legs and reaching for me. I picked him up and set him down by my feet. He wouldn’t leave my side as I walked around that store. We left that store, I sat in the passenger seat of my girlfriend’s Honda Accord, with Brian on my lap. It was August 1, 2004. He was just around 4 months old. We gave him a temporary name, Brian, but it ended up sticking. He was named after the family pet on Family Guy.
Later, I heard that this shop mostly sells dogs from puppy mills, so I always feel like I rescued Brian from a bad situation.
I also remember that first night with him, because I had him inside a cage on the floor next to my bed, and he wouldn’t stop barking / crying randomly. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” But once I put him on the bed, he was happy as he slept by my side.
In the early years, Brian loved licking my feet, sleeping under the covers and then coming up for air in the middle of the night, and taking clothes and sometimes shoes / sandals around the rest of the house. He had this short burst of energy that most Bichon’s get, and I loved it when he’d tire himself out. I used to throw tennis balls, and he would run after them, then leave them there forcing me to go pick up the ball.
Brian also loved wedging himself into tight spots, like between me and the couch. He just loved being near us and I remember his weight leaning up against me anytime I was sitting.
I also loved that when he took food from your hand, he was so gentle. And he never took food from strangers. He was sometimes difficult on a leash, but as soon as you took that leash off, he’d mostly stay right by your side (unless he was looking for some place to poop, then he’d take forever). He was a great hiking buddy even if he’d need a bath right after.
Brian originally hated kids. It all started when he was a little puppy when I took him to a real estate showing and this family had several children. They started petting him all at once, and he retreated to under my car, fearful. After that, he would snap at kids occasionally and we were always careful to keep him away from young people.
When Livia was born, Brian was 9, and we were worried that he wouldn’t take it well. But thankfully we were wrong and they got along great. When Owen was born, Brian was almost 12 and Brian loved Owen even more. They would cuddle up together.
Rolling with the Changes
Brian was with me as I lived in 5 different residences, worked various jobs, and rode shotgun (or in my lap) in at least a dozen cars. He is the one thing in my life that was a constant presence as I grew up, found my career, met my wife, and had my kids. He was there when my dad passed away. He was there when both my kids were born. He will be impossible to replace.
He was my daily companion, especially those 6 months or so after I broke my leg and he spent every day with me on the couch.
I think the change is the hardest part. The place where I got him no longer exists. The place he got neutered no longer exists. His first groomer (Sue’s Grooming) no longer exists. The home where he spent the most time in his early years (the Wong’s where he was best friends with Buster) is just about to be sold this month.
When I hear noises now in the house, I still think it’s Brian. I’m still used to getting up early to let him out, feed him breakfast, and do his normal routine.
Now, it feels like everything in my life is either “Before Brian” or “After Brian.”
The last 2 years were tough for him. In April 2017, he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, which caused him to drink a lot more water, and pee constantly. He started taking meds and wearing a diaper full time.
He didn’t bark as much. He was losing his hearing. He hadn’t gone on a hike in at least 2 years. Last year, we tried walking him down to the store and back, but he got tired on the way back, so I had to run home and grab a car. But throughout all this, he never lost his appetite.
On his final day, we tried giving him kalbi, which was easily one of his favorite things to eat (he would walk around the entire house with that bone in his mouth, and then start whimpering when he couldn’t find a good hiding spot), and when he turned his nose and had trouble walking away, we knew it was time to let him go.
I appreciate all the things that dog ownership taught me. I could get into the cliches but if you’ve owned a dog before, you probably already know what I’m talking about. On the day he passed, I told Manda that the pain I feel makes me never want to own another dog again. But as a week has passed, I feel like I want to honor Brian by one day getting another dog. I’ll never replace Brian, since there’s no way we can replace the memories we have, but the highs I’ve had over the last 15 years easily outweigh the lows, and I feel like the least I can do is share these feeling with another pet, one day down the line.
Special thanks to his regular vet, Companion Animal Hospital in Bellevue. I wish he could have seen you guys one more time (unfortunately all this happened on Easter Sunday). And to his regular groomer Carol, at Der Pet Haus in Bellevue. Carol, you never once complained to us that Brian needed to come in more frequently, or that he was a difficult pet when it was time to do his nails, or that I needed to brush more often.