Saturday, October 07, 2006

Slowing Local Real Estate Market Finally Getting Attention from Mainstream Media

I have been warning anyone that would listen for some time now that local real estate prices are grossly overvalued. I recommended as early as a year ago that anyone thinking about selling their property in the next 3-5 years, sell while values were still high.

An article on the Seattle Times website says that local housing experts have been predicting a slow down since the beginning of the year. That is not real true - most local real estate "experts" have been constantly proclaiming that the Puget Sound area is insulated from a housing slowdown. I said then, and I say now - that is not true. We usually follow national trends - and most of the rest of the nation has been enduring a "slow down" for the past year.

Although everyone seems to be talking about a slowing market - I look for a drastic drop in prices, not just a slowdown. What does this mean to people who are looking to buy or sell real estate?

My recommendation for potential sellers is that if they might want to sell in the next 3-5 years, that they put their homes on the market asap. Don't let the market slow down any more and risk the certain price drops - get your money out while you can.

My recommendation for people considering buying real estate is to sit tight and wait for the prices to drop before you invest your hard earned dollars. Unless you have some great reasons to buy now, you will benefit from the coming lower prices.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

500 Real Estate Blogs .....

My new friends and fellow bloggers at ActiveRain, Maureen and Dmitry, noted a blog at the that lists 500 different real estate blogs. What is notable about this - is that many ActiveRain bloggers are on that list. (but not me unfortunately).

I'd love to hear from some "A List" real estate bloggers, find out what makes you successful, what type of rewards come with that success, as well as you plans for the future.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Eastside Homes Priced Under Half a Million

Today there are 38 SFR listed for sale in Bellevue for less than $500k (1 for less than $400k).

Bothell has 255, Issaquah 48, Kirkland 65, Mercer Island 0 (suprise, surprise), Newcastle 5, Redmond 42, Sammamish 15, and Woodinville 33.

I look for these numbers to increase steadily over at least the next two years.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

No New Listings in Bellevue for Less Than $500k

An update for anyone interested. There were no new SFRs listed for sale in Bellevue for less than half a million dollars.

At this point there are 32 houses in Bellevue that are listed for less that $500k, including 3 for less than $400K.

Contact me if you'd like more information.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

AAA Properties and at ActiveRain

ActiveRain is an online network of real estate professionals that I was introduced to by Krissy Elson of Brio Realty.

AAA Properties and can now be found on ActiveRain here. We've only been there for a few hours and are steadily increasing our ranking.

More on local homes priced under half a million dollars

I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated with homes priced under $500,000 - maybe it's because there are so few of them, or quite possibly because those are homes that are still (possibly) in our price range.

This morning there was one more home in Bellevue listed for less than half a mil - at this point there are 33 total single family residences in Bellevue listed for less than the mid mil mark.

In Redmond there are only 40, Kirkland has 64, Issaqauh has 49, Sammamish has 15, and Woodinville has 29.

Bothell seems to have a large number - a whopping 245 SFRs priced lower.

Surprise, surprise there is not one single family home on Mercer Island listed for less than $500k.

As you probably know, I'm thinking these numbers are all going to increase in the coming months. Check back here to find out ...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

House in Bellevue for Less than $400K!

This morning there were three single family residences newly listed for sale for less than half a million buckaroos. One of them is available for less than $400k:

3856 166TH AVE SE, BELLEVUE, WA 98008
3 bedrooms, 2 full/1 partial bathrooms , 1520 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $469,000 View the property flyer.

5 157TH AVE SE, BELLEVUE, WA 98008
3 bedrooms, 1 full/1 partial bathrooms , 1260 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $465,000 View the property flyer.

4020 138TH AVE SE, BELLEVUE, WA 98006
3 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms , 1000 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $375,000 View the property flyer.

Monday, September 18, 2006

More Houses Under $500k in Bellevue

As I pointed out in a previous post, there are not many houses in Bellevue currently for sale for less than half a million dollars. Today there were two more:

3 bedrooms, 1 full/1 partial bathrooms , 1260 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $469,950

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 1230 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $409,950

Main Stream Media Picking Up on Looming Housing Trouble

Even the main stream media is picking up on trouble heading for the LOCAL housing market. The Puget Sound Business Journal has articles on rising mortage payments and forclosures.

As they point out many people who bought properties with adjustable rate mortgages are already seeing their payments rise, some to the point of being forced to sell or face foreclosure. Many experts are still claiming that our local economy is insulated from the housing slowdown being seen across the country - but I don't think so.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Leslie Ota, Former VP of the Bellevue Downtown Association Reveals New Real Estate Site

Leslie Ota, former VP of the Bellevue Downtown Association recently revealed her new real estate website at She left the BDA last year to become an agent with Windermere in Seattle and now has a site that is Italian for "the sweet life".

Check out The Sweet Life at

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Realtors New Marketing - Effective or Does it Pass Along the Wrong Message?

The Association of Realtors spends a lot of money on advertising and marketing to help promote using their members.

As a Real Estate Broker who has chosen not to renew my membership as a Realtor, I am still very interested in this. The other day I saw this billboard on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle and read it in a way that was not so positive. I was so fascinated that I actually went out of my way to drive around the block so I could take the photo.

It is probably supposed to say "Reliability" and make people think of Realtors as reliable. I read it in a completely different light. What do YOU think when you see it? Posted by Picasa

Some Are Actually Admitting Local Real Estate Market is "Cooling" - Bellevue Homes Listed for Less that $500k

While many of the local "experts" continue to say that our local real estate market is insulated from the slowdown and impending bubble burst that the rest of our nation is suffering through, some are finally starting to see and admit what I have been saying for over a year now: our real estate market is greatly overvalued and a lot of people are in for some real trouble in the next 5 years.

I've been watching the listings on the local multiple listing service for home prices of new listings in Bellevue (where I live). It had been some time since I'd seen a SFR (single family residence) in Bellevue offered for less than $500,000. Yesterday (Friday 9/15/06) there were actually four!

Here they are:

1846 153RD AVE SE, BELLEVUE, WA 98007
3 bedrooms, 1 full/1 partial bathrooms , 1830 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $499,950 View the property flyer.

12523 SE 7TH PL, BELLEVUE, WA 98045
4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 1600 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $495,000 View the property flyer.

15403 SE 38TH ST, BELLEVUE, WA 98006
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 1820 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $459,000 View the property flyer.

758 122 AVE NE, BELLEVUE, WA 98005
4 bedrooms, 2 full/1 partial bathrooms , 1600 sq. ft.
Single Family Residence
List price: $459,000 View the property flyer.

If you are in the market to purchase a home and would like to see these homes, or those in any other price range or area, please give me a call or send me an email at

If you would like to see recent sales, listings or find out the current value of your home, please visit

Monday, September 04, 2006

AAA Properties Has Joined the Discounters

AAA Properties will now offer a full menu of real estate services to give sellers and buyers what they want. Our discount package for sellers includes a listing for only $595 and:

- Listing on the local multiple listing service
- Print advertising
- Advertising on multiple websites
- Digital photos
- Use of Lockbox
- Use of Open House and Yard Signs
- Advice on how to price your house or condo
- All the forms you'll need

If you want us to show your home and do the paperwork, your listing fee will be only 1% of the sales price when your house sells. In either case, you are recommended to offer a selling commission of 3% to other brokers so that they will show your home and bring buyers.

If you are thinking of selling your home in the next 3-5 years, I believe NOW is the time to do it. Sell now why values are high and before the inventory is flooded.

Call AAA Properties at 425-455-LIST (5478) or 800-441-LIST (5478) or send an email to

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another Eastside Real Estate Blog - Asset Realty Group

I just stumbled across another local real estate blog, this one by Asset Realty Group in Kirkland. I don't know how long they've been blogging, but their archives go back to January 2006.

Their blog has some good real estate news and includes other new stories about the Eastside and beyond. I encourage you to visit their blog and see if it fits into your regular reading.

Eastside Business is going to finally launch our Eastside Business Community Blog after the holiday weekend. It will be very interesting to read so many different voices in one location.

To Be or Not To Be .... A Realtor (Member of the Association of Realtors)

I've written about my dilema in the past. Last year I gave up my membership in the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors. I'd become disenchanted from the beginning. In this area, SKCAR does not own the local MLS or Multiple Listing Services. Unlike many states, subscribing brokers like myself actually own the NWMLS, so it is not necessary to be a member of SKCAR to get access.

In the past, I have been a member of many different associations of realtors. I paid my membership dues, took a few classes and didn't really see any benefit. I don't have time to participate in their events, their classes are overpriced and most of all, their "code of ethics" seems like a farce. After being screwed by many of these so-called "ethical" agents that are simply members of the Association of Realtors, I realize that their "Oath of Ethics" is simply a marketing ploy.

The kicker came when they put in place an extra mandatory "assessment" on top of their already high membership costs. I had previously to drop my membership mindset, but that made me do it.

There are many excellent (and honest) real estate agents that are not a member of that organization. We all must get continual training and are subject to strict laws regarding actions of real estate agents and brokers. I can tell you that I have never met a non-realtor agent or broker who was any more unethical or dishonest than some of the realtors I have come across in my career.

Not being a member of the Association of Realtors, cuts my expenses and allows me to give my clients discounts on the services they need. Since I work out of my home, have my own advertising vehicle and limited costs, I can save my clients lots of money. As a buyers agent, in most cases, I can rebate up to 2% of the purchase price.

If you would like me to list your home, I only charge $595 to list it on the NWMLS and include FREE use of a lockbox, attractive AAA Properties signs and all the forms needed to sell your home - until it is sold.

If you want me to list and show your home, my listing fee is only 1% of the sales price, but in both cases you would also want to offer 2.5 to 3 percent to any other agent who brings a buyer with the ability to buy.

In all cases, I will always be honest and ethical and work very hard for my client - and you can be sure I will be able to discount my commissions - because I'm not a Realtor .............

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Part of Old Bellevue City Hall Property Sold for $15.9 million

According to a recent article in at, written by Brian K. Miller of, the Leavitt Building in Bellevue was purchased by a joint venture between Mark Weed of Egis Real Estate Services and Michael Barnes for $15.9 million.

The Leavitt Building was a part of the old Bellevue City Hall Property that auto magnate Michael O'Brien purchased from the City for $24.7 million. He had previously demolished the City Hall Building and adjoining Police Station (formerly the Bellevue Public Library for those who weren't around back then) to make way for the new Lexus dealership building and parking lots.

The grapevine says that the new construction had come to a virtual standstill because of the shortage of concrete available because of the recent union strike. An agreement was worked out earlier in the week and we're hoping that all stalled projects get back on track quickly.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Coming Soon To The Computer in Front of You:

I'm finally doing it - I decided to spend the money necessary to have a first class real estate website where anyone can go to search all the homes listed for sale in the Puget Sound Region. will be the new web portal for my real estate company AAA Properties. It should be live around the 20th of August.

It should be pretty cool - besides searching for homes currently listed, vistors will be able to get data on recent sales, the newest listings, and tons of information on local real estate.

The multiple listing service in the Puget Sound area is the NWMLS, which is owned by broker-members, is one of the best in the country, but unfortunately does not provide an easy (or inexpensive) way to provide listings to the public. This is in contrast to the MLS in San Diego that I used to work with, which was owned by the Board of Realtors and provided a quick and easy link for less than $200 a year. will soon be the premier site for homebuyers, sellers and those interested in local home values to get all the information they need to buy or sell a home. I hope that you are one of the first to visit and welcome your feedback.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

JK with Craig Newmark of Craigslist

I'm here at the first day of the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco and just met Craig Newmark of fame. He was kind enough to let me have someone take a photo of us .... (I guess he wasn't too happy about it though - notice the lack of smile.)

If I was him, I think I'd be smiling all the time - especially with every bank deposit. In all seriousness, I did thank him for his site and told him about all the success that I've had in using it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

NWMLS Official Press Release

Here is the official press release on April Home Sales from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (I don't believe many of the people who were quoted and question whether they believe themselves):

Northwest MLS Reports Inventory Gains, Along with Price Increases

KIRKLAND, Wash. (May 5, 2006) – “I assure you we would have more sales if we had more inventory,” proclaimed Mike Skahen, a board member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service in reaction to April results. Just-released figures show pending sales slipped about 9 percent last month compared to a year ago, while prices are still climbing.

A snapshot of last month’s activity for the MLS market area that covers 17 counties in Western and Central Washington shows:

· Inventory is improving but demand still outstrips supply in many areas;

· Buyers can expect to pay more;

· Competition for homes in neighborhoods with easy access to job centers is fairly intense and not likely to disappear in an era of rising gas prices.

MLS members reported 9,702 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) during April. That figure lags the year-ago total of 10,677 pending sales (a drop of 9.1 percent). Only three counties -- Grant, Thurston and San Juan -- had more pending sales last month than 12 months ago.

The inventory picture brightened in several areas last month. Members added 12,594 new listings to inventory, improving on the year-ago total of 12,116, and falling just shy of the March figure of 12,639. The new listings included 10,740 single family homes and 1,854 condominiums.

With those additions, the inventory at month end totaled 25,215 listings, a jump of almost 21 percent from the same month a year ago. Only three counties -- King, Cowlitz and Grant -- reported having fewer listings than 12 months ago, with only a slight drop in all three areas.

Six counties had inventory gains of 25 percent of more, led by Grays Harbor (up 63.4 percent). Other counties with sizable increases were Thurston (up 60.9 percent), Kitsap (up 35.2 percent), Pierce (up 29.2 percent), Island (up 26.6 percent) and Kittitas (up 25 percent).

Despite having more choices in some areas, would-be homebuyers “should not foot drag right now,” advises Dick Beeson, broker at the new Windermere Real Estate/Commencement Associates office in Tacoma. Noting a pause in the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, he urges buyers to “make a move while the movin’ is good.” He also cautions sellers to take the time and effort to price their property correctly, emphasizing, “They stand head and shoulders above the hopefuls who overprice.”

The bigger selection is not resulting in much softening of prices, based on MLS data.

The median asking price for the current inventory of single family homes is $359,950, almost $40,000 more than a year ago (a 12.5 percent increase). In King County, the median list price is $519,000. That is $72,000 more than the year ago asking price of $447,000 (a 16.1 percent increase).

For condominiums, the median asking price is $259,950, up 15.8 percent ($35,450) from a year ago when the median price was $224,500. In King County, where nearly 60 percent of the condo inventory is located, the median asking price jumped 25.9 percent from a year ago, rising from $235,000 to $295,950.

NWMLS members reported 8,044 closed sales last month at a median selling price of $299,500. Those completed transactions (including single family homes and condominiums) fetched 14.7 percent more than properties that sold a year ago. Seven counties reported price jumps of 20 percent of more, topped by Jefferson County where prices spiked 33 percent compared to 12 months ago.

“April was just as intense in Seattle as last April, and last April was a record,” Skahen remarked, adding “I think fears of a bubble in Seattle have vanished with recent news about our strong economy and above-average rates of appreciation.”

Skahen, the owner/broker of Lake & Co. Real Estate near Greenlake in Seattle, said rising interest rates are also spurring demand. He said his office had several recent listings in close-in neighborhoods priced from $400,000 to $500,000 that drew multiple offers before selling for $80,000 or more over list price.

Ballard, Wedgwood and Madison Valley are “hot” neighborhoods in Seattle, according to Skahen, who also noted a home in Ravenna priced at $850,000 drew more than 100 visitors at an open house last Sunday. It sold for “considerably more” than the list price with three would-be buyers vying for ownership.

Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, characterized the job centers in Bellevue and Seattle as “the epicenter of sales activity.” Commenting on current conditions, he said, “We continue to see a quick action market and a strong surge of buyers, but there simply isn’t enough housing supply to meet the demand.”

NWMLS director Ken Bacon concurred. “Our inventory levels remain less than the buyer demands. Builders are not building without a presale buyer so no overbuilding has occurred like in other parts of the country,” he stated. He also noted new construction is limited due to the lack of available land.

Asked to identify the hubs of activity in his primary market areas, Bacon, the broker at Windermere Real Estate in Redmond, replied “close in communities priced below $1 million.” Education Hill, Timberline in Sammamish and communities around Microsoft’s Redmond campus are among the most active, he said. “Every week we are seeing multiple offers in all price ranges below $1 million,” he remarked. Updated condos that are close to job corridors are also popular, accounting for about 30 percent of recent sales, according to Bacon.

Location is an amenity that people are looking for more than in the past, Bacon said. Also likely to draw multiple offers and rapid appreciation are homes with acreage (“the newer the better”), homes with water or mountain views, and waterfront properties.

Despite modest increases in mortgage rates, brokers say attractive financing, including many options for first-time buyers, is sustaining activity. The latest weekly survey of large lenders by pegs the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 6.67 percent. That marked the sixth consecutive week of increases for a 30-year mortgage, and the highest rate since June 2002. A year ago, the mortgage index was 5.81 percent.

Real Estate Snoops .....

An article in today's Wall Street Journal talks about how people have started snooping into the values of their friends, relatives and acquaintances homes using online websites like and Zillow.

I find it rather interesting that people have the time and desire to snoop that much, but also have to admit that I've done some of the same for many years using tools that are available to industry professionals. Most of the times I have looked up tax and sales price information have been strictly for putting together a deal and making sure the numbers line up. I always want my clients to get a good deal and never want them to feel like they didn't have all the information available to make a sound financial decision.

One problems I have with these sites that give visitors a supposed value of a home is that I just don't think they are accurate. I believe that there would be very few people in and around my neighborhood who would be lucky enough to get anywhere close to what REABC and Zillow are saying their homes are worth.

My biggest interest in these sites is how they are going to adjust and "keep up" as the market changes and values continue to drop to more realistic levels. Stay tuned - this should get real interesting.

Signs of the Bubble ....?

An article in today's Seattle Times talked about Kirkland-based Merit Financial laying off most of its 300 employees and considering filing for bankruptcy protection. Ironically on their website, the last press release posted was about Merit being named one of the fastest growing private companies in Washington state.

My thoughts on this subject are many.

Number 1 - I don't like to see anyone fail (or lose their jobs). I wish they would have kept growing and employing many people.

Number 2 - What caused Merit to get to this point? Was it unplanned or poorly managed rapid growth? I know that can get out of control very quickly and I've seen it many times.

Number 3 - Was the real cause of Merit's apparent demise the slow down in the real estate market? This is a very real possibility, despite the fact that many (if not most) brokers and agents are still burying their heads in the sand and ignoring market signs. With interest rates on the rise, it is my belief that there will be a large reverse towards a buyers market, with more inventory and prices leveling back down to more realistic rates.

The Times article talked about how 95% of Merit's business were refinances, which have all but dried up because of the higher interest rates. To me, this is an early stage sign that the market is about to turn in a big way.

I fully recommend that if you have a house or any property that you are considering to sell, that you do it as soon as possible. If you do not catch the "leveling market" this spring and summer, you may have waited too long. If you need some help looking at your options - or in selling your property, please give me a call. Joe Kennedy 425-455-LIST.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Looking for a Client to Help Find or Sell Property

I'm looking for one good client to help find property during May and beyond. Learn why my clients can depend on me to go the extra mile to help them buy or sell real estate.

For the first two propertys seller to call me this month, I will be happy to list your property for sale on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) only 1.5% listing commission or 50% of the normal listing commission. On a million dollar property, that could save you $15,000.00 or more.

Call Joe Kennedy at 425-455-LIST (5478) or send email to

Saturday, March 18, 2006

CoStar Group and Real Estate Forum Announce 2005 Power Broker Awards

CoStar Group and Real Estate Forum magazine, recently announced their 2005 CoStar Power Broker award winners.

Awarded to top brokerage firms and dealmakers in 46 markets across the country, the 2005 Power Brokers are comprised of an elite group of firms and brokers. Last year alone, CoStar Power Brokers conducted billions in lease and sale transactions.

Commercial real estate companies and brokers were recognized in each market based on the total square footage of 2005 office and industrial leasing and sales transactions.

Awards were based on information contained in one of CoStar’s suite of products, CoStar Property, CoStar Commercial MLS, CoStar COMPS and CoStar Tenant.

"Being named a 2005 CoStar Power Broker is a tremendous honor as CoStar is recognized as the leader in commercial real estate information,” said Paul Glickman, Executive Vice President of Cushman & Wakefield and 2005 Power Broker winner for New York City Office Leasing. “The CoStar Power Broker Award is highly coveted in the real estate industry."

This year, in addition, the awards are co-sponsored by Real Estate Forum magazine and will be prominently showcased on and in Real Estate Forum magazine.

A complete list of award winners by market can be found at

Demo of Parking Garage in Downtown Seattle Leads to New Four Seasons Hotel

An article at this week talks about the new Four Seasons Hotel being built in downtown Seattle at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Union Street (next to Pike Place Market and across the street from the newly remodeled Seattle Art Museum).

One thing I found particularly interesting is that the project includes 149 hotel rooms on the lower levels and 30 condos on the top floors. The condos will be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. This seems to be a very popular way for hotel developers to limit their risk these days.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Albertson's Grocery Stores to Be Sold

According to a story at Business Week online 1,1124 Albertson's grocery stores will be sold to Supervalu Inc. which will become the second largest supermarket operator in the US. The price is to be about $18.5 billion in cash, stock and assumption of debt.

Kahala Mandarin Hotel to be Renamed

According to Hotel Business Kahala Hotel Investors which is owned by Honolulu-based Trinity Investments LLC will be renaming the AAA Five Diamond resort hotel Kahala Mandarin to The Kahala.

This is a great property in one of Oahu's best neighborhoods and is unusual in that it has a large outdoor pond where dolphins live.

It also happens to be where our good friends Ray and Patty Hironaka were married.

I hope the new group keeps this hotel as nice as I remember it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Condo Converters Still Buying

According to an article by Brian Miller of, Jeff Wysong of Seattle-based Wysong Capital Corp has purchased the 84 unit Kirkland Gardens West apartment complex for $14.68 mil, which translates to $175,000 per unit. He plans to covert this property to condos, just like he's doing at the other 4 properties he's purchased in the past 12 months.

It's my feeling that there are fewer and fewer convertable properties available and those that are command huge prices. It's hard for me to believe that an apartment complex with a cap rate of 4.25% is much of a 'deal', but I supposed Jeff knows what he is doing.