Local Info

A big day for Metropolitan Market in Sammamish

Metropolitan Market celebrates it's grand opening in Sammamish with record crowds.  Hundreds of people were lined up around the block for the 9:00 AM launch.  If you got a parking spot you were one of the lucky ones as cars were seen parked to the west as far as 218th Ave SE and pedestrians walked from Sammamish City hall to the north.  In attendance were the Sammamish City Council along with Sammamish Chamber of commerce members and Metropolitan Market employees from other stores.

Inside the market is an array of beautiful and artfully displayed foods of every sort.  The perimeter of the store features the meat, produce, deli and specialty items including the bakery cafe, pizzeria, poke bar and many more.  Truthfully it was hard to see everything because the store was packed with shoppers.  It is evident that this is exactly what Sammamish residents want.  The upscale nature,  high quality and extensive selection are clearly a home run.  The middle aisles of the market are the standard grocery items, staples, canned goods etc. still with the high quality and variety expected from the Metropolitan market stores.

As for me I am looking forward to enjoying the convenient location and 24 hour availability Metropolitan Market will provide.  See you at the market!

Met market

The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares - The New York Times

Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Seattle area, it’s better to be in Snohomish County than in Pierce County or Skagit County. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Snohomish, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more.

via www.nytimes.com

Puget Sound area home sales, prices still strong as backlog of buyers compete for scarce inventory

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 6, 2016) – Home prices have “clearly recovered” in King County and a few other areas served by Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Many member-brokers say prices are likely to keep rising as a backlog of buyers compete for depleted inventory.

Those were among reactions from brokers upon reviewing the December statistics from the MLS. The latest report shows the year ended on a mostly positive note with pending sales, closed sales and prices all showing year-over-year increases. Not surprisingly, listing activity dropped, in part because some sellers are balking at listing their home for fear of not finding a replacement.

Selling prices for single family homes and condominiums that sold across the Northwest MLS 23-county service area surged 8.6 percent from a year ago, rising from $290,000 to $315,000. The price of a single family home (excluding condos) that sold in King County during December jumped nearly 15.5 percent, from $440,000 to $508,000, prompting OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate to comment, “If December told us one thing, it’s that home prices have clearly recovered in King County. Last month the median price for single family homes broke the pre-recession record of $481,000 that was set in July 2007.”

Another industry leader, J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, noted the 9.2 percent drop in King County’s pending sales during December, saying “The only reason pending sales dropped in King County was due to a lack of inventory.” MLS figures show active listings in King County were down 39 percent (about 1,400 fewer properties) from 12 months ago.

Area-wide, inventory was off 29 percent from a year ago, plunging from 17,659 active listings to 12,522. That total includes 4,041 new listings the MLS brokers added during December, which was down from 4,367 the members added during the same month a year ago.

Inventory levels dropped well below the threshold many industry experts use to gauge a balanced market.

Area-wide there was just under 1.8 months of supply, with four-to-six months generally considered to be a “balanced” level. In King County, inventory dropped to less than one month (0.84). It was slightly better in the adjacent counties, with Snohomish at 1.13 months and Pierce at 1.76 months. Kitsap County also reported less than two months of supply. Only five of the 23 counties in the MLS report had more than six months of supply.

“The lack of inventory makes buyers twitch when a new listing hits the market,” observed Dick Beeson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “These buyers and their brokers are ready, willing and able to pounce on well-priced, well-located properties,” added Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma. These prepared buyers helped propel last month’s 15 percent increase in pending sales in Pierce County compared to a year ago.

Pending sales system-wide, which totaled 5,970 during December, clearly outpaced the brokers’ ability to replenish inventory. The sales volume was up 3 percent from a year ago when members reported 5,794 mutually accepted offers. Measured another way, last month’s pending sales outnumbered new listings by a wide margin – a differential of 1,929 units.

“With the backlog of buyers waiting in the wings, any new inventory that comes on the market will be snapped up immediately,” predicts Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson. He expects 2016 may be “very stressful” for some buyers, citing low inventory, increasing prices, rising interest rates, plus a growing pipeline of qualified buyers as sources of house-hunter anxiety.

Other factors could also come into play to squeeze inventory, according to Wilson. They include buyers whose credit has been repaired after foreclosures or short sales, investors who see real estate as an alternative to the stock market, escalating rents that prompt renters to consider home ownership, and buyers from outside the U.S.

Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott’s Poulsbo office, said the limited selection means “buyers are going to find themselves settling on a house because they need one instead of leisurely shopping for the home of their dreams.”

Lennox Scott also foresees a fast-paced, “intense” market, with prices escalating in areas where inventory is low. “The lack of inventory near job centers persists,” he remarked. Buyers come out in big numbers beginning January 1, he noted, but new listings come later, typically toward the end of February.

“The low inventory in the Seattle area market will send many first-time homebuyers looking at suburbs and put additional pressure on multifamily properties,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain n Seattle. He points to the formation of new households due to the strong job market as a factor in the imbalanced market. “Our economy is being charged by a multi-faceted job base and this is driving employment to new all-time highs,” he observed.

Deely, a director with Northwest MLS, said both long-time homeowners and new homebuyers are feeling the impact of rising prices and interest rates.

One consequence Deely noted is decreased buying power. “For buyers, every 1 percentage point increase in interest rates decreases buying power by about 10 percent,” he explained. He believes the diminished power coupled with rising prices will push buyers who are on the fence to make their move. “The same two factors will also motivate long-time homeowners to jump into the market as they looking to maximize their profit and find suitable replacement properties,” he remarked.

Gary O’Leyar, a former chairman of the Northwest MLS board, also commented on interest rates. “There’s been a lot of buzz about the recent increase in rates. It has been nearly 10 years since the Fed raised its benchmark rate. Many current homeowners and would-be homeowners may not have been born, and/or may not recall the days when long term mortgage rates were 10 percent or higher.”

Some brokers say rising prices are more worrisome than upticks in interest rates.

Noting differences in the tri-county area where pending sales declined by 9.2 percent in King County but increased by double digits in both Snohomish and Pierce counties, Jacobi thinks price hikes in King County are “clearly pricing many buyers out and into the adjacent areas.”

MLS figures show wide differences in prices within the Central Puget Sound region. Pierce County had the lowest median price for December’s sales at $249,950, while King County had the highest at $450,000. Homes and condos that sold in Kitsap County last month had a median price of $266,500; in Snohomish County the median sales price was $335,500.

The median price on December’s sales increased 8.6 percent area-wide compared to a year ago. Ten counties reported double-digit gains; four counties had year-over-year decreases in median sales prices.

Condo prices increased about 6.7 percent, from $239,000 to $255,000. In King County, which accounted for about 55 percent of the sales, the median sales price was $279,975. That’s up about 7.7 percent from a year ago.

Despite rising prices in most areas, closed sales ended the year on a strong note. Brokers reported 7,091 closings during the month to out gain the year-ago total of 6,284 by more than 12.8 percent. For the year, Northwest MLS members logged 88,831 closed sales, up from 2014’s total of 77,276 for a 14.3 percent gain.

It's Time For Farmers Markets

Eastside Farmers Markets

It’s that time of year again to get out and enjoy the farmers markets.  Here is a list of Eastside Farmers Markets:  Click to go to their web page.

Bellevue Farmers Market                             Thursdays May through November

Bothell Farmers Market                               Fridays June to October 3rd

Crossroads Farmers Market                        Tuesdays May through October

Issaquah Farmers Market                            Saturdays April through October

Redmond Saturday Market                         Saturdays May through October

Sammamish Farmers Market                     Wednesdays May through

Kirkland Wednesday Market                      Wednesdays May through October

Mercer Island Farmers Market                  Sundays June through October

Juanita Farmers Market                              Fridays May through October

North Bend Farmers Market                       Thursdays June through September      

Woodinville Farmers Market                      Saturdays May through September



September housing stats on the rise

Pending sales, closed sales and prices all increased in August compared to last year. Northwest Multiple Listing Service data shows that there continues to be a shortage of inventory. Last month pending transactions almost equaled July's 8416 sales and is the fifth consecutive month of at least 8000 pending sales. Closed sales, which reflect several months of pending sales, reached the highest volume thus far in 2012.  Brokers reported 6612 closings last month continuing a four-month streak of 6000+ closed sales.

For single-family homes not including condominiums, prices jumped nearly 6.7% from $247,000 to $263,500. In King County prices jumped to $378,000 for an August sales increase of 8% from a year ago median selling price of $350,000. 

Although these numbers are encouraging and appear to be indicative of rising consumer confidence I'm deeply concerned about the rising volume of shadow inventory.  As discussed in previous articles, these are homes that are either in the foreclosure process or already foreclosed upon and owned by banks but not yet available for sale.  Right now low inventory and record low interest rates  are driving much of the real estate activity.  If the banks start unloading the shadow inventory at too quick a pace it is possible the rise we are seeing in values will quickly be offset by excess inventory.

 On the positive side, we are seeing a steady increase in new construction and new development.  In the Sammamish Plateau area alone three new developments have begun in the last month. Issaquah inventory has been decreasing and the market action index has been moving upward.  Days on the market are increasing with current average days on market of 120.  Issaquah remains a buyer's market but we are trending towards more neutral market conditions.  The median list price in Issaquah is $494,990 for an average asking price of $220 per square foot. 

Sammamish inventory has also been decreasing and remains in a buyer's market.  Last week the median list price was $559,500 with an asking price of $211 per square foot and average days on market 128.

Now is still an excellent time to buy because interest rates remain under 4% on the 30 year fixed and under 3% on the 15 . Low rates and low home prices make this a very affordable time to buy. 



You Know It's Fall in Issaquah

You know it is fall in Issaquah when the salmon and school buses start running. 

This week both Issaquah and Lake Washington classes began and so once again the streets are full of kids and busses.  It's a good thing and a signal that fall is here.  I heard that the first salmon arrived at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery last week and am looking forward to Salmon Days October 6th & 7th.  What I didn't know is that the hatchery is celebrating it's 75th anniversary.  Take a look at the following article for more information


Salmon reached the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery late last month, but the arrival is not the only celebration at the downtown landmark.

The hatchery opened along the creek 75 years ago, and to mark the milestone, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is hosting a celebration Sept. 8.

“We wanted to bring people to the hatchery at the time when the salmon first arrive, when there’s a lot of excitement,” FISH Executive Director Jane Kuechle said in a recent interview.

The open house is the latest event to commemorate the anniversary. FISH hosted local dignitaries and the public at the hatchery on Earth Day to launch the anniversary celebrations.

FISH plans to open the hatchery to the public for tours, a salmon welcome ceremony by Snoqualmie Tribe members, a scavenger hunt and other activities at the open house.

Ray Mullen, a Snoqualmie Tribe member, plans to lead a ceremony to welcome salmon back to Issaquah Creek after a long migration to the Pacific Ocean and back.

Participants can also watch John Mullen, a Snoqualmie Tribe carver, demonstrate carving techniques and they can try out carving.

The list of activities also includes a habitat hike to the upper intake dam on Issaquah Creek and a hatchery history display.

The family-friendly event features opportunities for visitors of all ages to create fence art, feed trout, dissect a salmon and, of course, see salmon in the creek and the hatchery ponds.

Conservationists and longtime Issaquah residents credit the hatchery for restoring the historic Issaquah Creek salmon runs after decades of logging and mining damaged the creek and surrounding watershed.

“The creek didn’t have anything in it when the hatchery was built, and we were the ones who created that problem,” Kuechle said.

In 1936, Works Progress Administration crews started to build the hatchery complex on a former city park and bandstand.

The hatchery opened the next year and, in the meantime, the public works projects completed by the Works Progress Administration offered jobs amid the Great Depression.

The original salmon stocks for the hatchery originated in the Green River. Early hatchery crews spawned chinook and coho salmon, plus steelhead.

The facility also serves a key role in local culture.

In the 1970s, as the Issaquah Labor Day celebration morphed into the Salmon Days Festival, the hatchery served as a focal point during the festivities.

The hatchery — and a bridge across Issaquah Creek on hatchery grounds — form the centerpiece each October during the Salmon Days Festival.

Despite the success, officials confronted a grim future for the hatchery in the early 1990s. State leaders eyed the hatchery for closure amid a budget crisis. Issaquah leaders and residents rallied to preserve the structure.

FISH formed in 1994 to lead tours during the autumn salmon runs, and the group spearheads educational programs in school classrooms and at the facility — the most-visited state-run hatchery.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to operate the hatchery. The city-owned hatchery land is leased to the state for 99 years.

The hatchery concentrates on chinook and coho nowadays, and serves a key role in a program to restore the dwindling Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon population.

“The big message of the day is the importance of the hatchery in Issaquah and salmon culture,” Kuechle said.

 By Warren Kagarise

If you go

Issaquah Salmon Hatchery 75th anniversary open house

Noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 8

125 W. Sunset Way