Puget Sound region sees ‘extraordinary’ drop in housing inventory

Puget Sound region sees ‘extraordinary’ drop in housing inventory
Posted on October 20, 2020

Amid the ongoing pandemic, the Puget Sound housing market has become a peculiar one to say the least, thanks in large part to plummeting inventory.

Housing prices across King, Snohomish, and Pierce County have skyrocketed over the last month, with double-digit year-over-year increases in median home prices in all three areas. This comes amid an historically low inventory for prospective home buyers Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner says.

“We have to go back to good old Economics 101,” Gardner said. “When you have net new demand and you limit supply, what happens to prices? They rise, and that’s very much the case.”

According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), all three major counties had under a month’s worth of inventory in September, a year-over-year decrease of 43%. Looking at historical data dating back to 1999, Gardner couldn’t find a single month with inventory supply that low.

“It is quite extraordinary,” he noted. “Yet at the same time, buyers are clearly out in force.”

Despite the economic recession brought on by the COVID crisis, demand has been buoyed by “remarkably, historically low mortgage rates,” and a surge in high-income buyers.

“In most areas, we are virtually sold out in the more affordable, mid-price and upper end segments of the market,” John L. Scott Real Estate CEO J. Lennox Scott told the NWMLS in a recent news release. “We’re also seeing a record-setting number of luxury properties going under contract across King, Pierce, and Kitsap counties.”

Elsewhere, the downstream effects of the recession have largely been felt by lower income renters, rather than homeowners.

“Middle and upper middle classes are doing just fine,” Gardner described. “The wealthy are doing really well, and lower income households are absolutely not. They are hurting more than anyone else.”

~Nick Bowman, KIRO

August pending home sales soar to a record high, fueled by rock-bottom mortgage rates


Pending home sales rose 8.8% in August compared with July, reaching a record high pace, according to the National Association of Realtors survey, which dates to January 2001.

Sales were 24.2% higher than August 2019.

These sales track signed contracts on existing homes, not closings, so they are an indicator of closed sales in the next one to two months.

“Tremendously low mortgage rates – below 3% – have again helped pending home sales climb in August,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Additionally, the Fed intends to hold short-term fed funds rates near 0% for the foreseeable future, which should, in the absence of inflationary pressure, keep mortgage rates low, and that will undoubtedly aid homebuyers continuing to enter the marketplace.”

Yun also noted that not all pending sales contracts turn into closed sales, due to both sampling measures and mortgage and appraisal issues; therefore we may not see record closed sales in the coming months.

Mortgage rates started the month falling to a new low. They jumped sharply mid-month, but only briefly. Low mortgage rates have given buyers more purchasing power and added fuel to fast-rising home prices.

Homebuyers have been pouring into the market, thanks to a coronavirus pandemic-induced stay-at-home culture. They want more space, both indoors and outside for both work and school from home.

Home price gains have been accelerating for the past three months, with some large local markets seeing double-digit annual increases. Nationally, the median price of a home sold in August (by closed sale) was 11% higher compared with August 2019, according to the NAR.

“Home prices are heating up fast,” said Yun. “The low mortgage rates are allowing buyers to secure cheaper mortgages, but many may find it harder to make the required down payment.”

Prices are mostly being fueled by an incredibly low supply of homes for sale. The inventory of homes for sale at the end of August was down 18.6% annually, putting the market at a 3.0-month supply.

“The increase in contract signings is shrinking the limited number of homes for sale to some of the lowest levels in recent history,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at realtor.com. “This is causing a massive imbalance to the market’s supply and demand, which is rewarding sellers with home price increases that more than double the pace of wages. Looking forward, with no signs of these dynamics shifting anytime soon, more price increases are likely on the way and affordability will likely continue to be a challenge for many buyers.”

Homebuilders are ramping up production, but not nearly fast enough. Sales of newly built homes in August, which are also measured by signed contracts, came in a remarkable 43% higher than August 2019, according to the U.S. Census. The homebuilders are benefiting from the lack of existing homes for sale, and their soaring sales are evidence that existing home sales would be higher if there were more on the market.

Regionally, pending home sales rose 4.3% month to month in the Northeast and were 26.0% higher annually. In the Midwest, sales rose 8.6% for the month and were up 25.0% from August 2019.

Pending home sales in the South increased 8.6% monthly and 23.6% annually. In the West sales rose 13.1% monthly and 23.6% annually.

~Diana Olnick, CNBC

Mortgage demand from homebuyers surges 40% from a year ago amid sales spree

The end of August usually marks the beginning of the slow season for housing, but as with everything else, this year’s trends are like no other.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 3% last week from the previous week and were a stunning 40% higher from a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. The year-on-year comparison is usually in single digits. While it may have been skewed slightly by the Labor Day holiday,which fell earlier last year, purchase demand is still running significantly higher than a year ago.

Buyers are still getting significant incentive from low mortgage rates. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances up to $510,400 fell to 3.07% from  3.08%, with points remaining unchanged at 0.36, including the origination fee, for loans with a 20% down payment.

For the 15-year fixed, the rate declined to a record low of 2.62% on conventional loans.

“There continues to be resiliency in the purchase market,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “The average loan size continued to increase, hitting a survey high at $368,600. Highlighting the strong overall demand for buying a home, conventional, VA and FHA purchase applications all increased last week.”

Applications to refinance a home loan rose 3% for the week and were 60% higher than a year ago. Refinance volume has been extremely high since rates plummeted last March, but the pool of borrowers who haven’t already taken advantage of these low rates is shrinking.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 63.1% of total applications from 62.5% the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity decreased to 2.2% of total applications.

~ Diana Olick, CNBC

Seattle-area home prices rise faster than nearly every other US city, driven in part by younger homebuyers

For the fifth month in a row, home prices around Seattle rose faster in June – 6.5%, year-over-year – than any of the nation’s other top 18 metro areas, save Phoenix, according to new data from S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. That’s more or less the same rate of growth we’ve seen since spring.

Price growth in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties topped national averages for the eighth month straight. National year-over-year home price growth of 4.3% in June pointed to a “stable” market, said S&P Managing Director Craig Lazzara in a statement. Prices rose in each of the 19 large cities that Case-Shiller tracks; among just those metros, year-over-year price growth averaged 3.5%. (Typically, Case-Shiller examines home prices in 20 metro areas, but data for the Detroit metro area has been unavailable since the start of the pandemic.)

A major imbalance between the number of homes for sale and a swell of interested buyers on the market has boosted prices. Until very recently, far fewer people were listing their homes than did in 2019. Many would-be sellers decided instead to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates to refinance their homes.

Price growth in the Seattle metro area has been driven by an uptick in cost for the area’s most affordable homes. Prices rose nearly 9% year-over-year among homes that sold for less than $448,069, which represent the most affordable third of all homes sold this spring. Among the most expensive third of homes, those selling for more than $670,317 – including most homes in King County, where a typical home now runs $727,500 – prices rose relatively more slowly, 5% compared to last year.

The lure of an under-3-percent mortgage has drawn younger buyers to the market, many likely for the first time. Across generations, only millennials are taking out more for-purchase loans than last year, according to data on VA loans from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The number of Seattle millennials who received for-purchase loans in the first nine months of the fiscal year rose 21.8% over the same period the previous year.

Refinances, however, have swollen a whopping 276% across all demographics, compared to the previous period.

Katherine Khashimova Long, The Seattle Times 

Seattle housing market sees ‘massive changes’ in post-lockdown landscape

With many people continuing to hunker down in their homes during the ongoing pandemic, home-buying habits have gone through a sizable shift, both in Seattle and across the United States.

Puget Sound housing market ‘remarkably stable’ despite pandemic

“Nationwide, the pandemic caused massive changes in buyer behavior,” a recent study from real estate researchers at Point2 noted. “From square footage and number of bedrooms to access to outdoor amenities like pools and gardens, the post-lockdown home seekers are not willing to compromise on anything – and they are willing to pay the (higher) price to get it.”

In Seattle, that’s manifested in a marked increase in searches for homes under 1,000 square feet, as prospective buyers have scrambled to get out of apartments and into permanent homes.

Prior to the pandemic, roughly half of searches tracked by Point2 were for
homes under 1,000 square feet. In the months since, that number has jumped all the way to 83%. In terms of the specific types of homes people have searched for, there’s been an especial focus on homes with designs that emphasize more isolated living spaces, rather than open floor plans.

“Before the lockdown, many homebuyers preferred open-plan rooms and interior design elements that made for seamless transitions between separate living spaces,” said Point2’s study. “However, just a few short weeks of parents, children and couples stuck together has reestablished the importance of and need for privacy and personal space.”

Why Puget Sound millennials are finally looking to buy homes

While searches for smaller homes have become more frequent in Seattle in recent months, the price range of prospective home buyers has also increased. Whereas just 15% of searches prior to the pandemic were for homes between $500,000 and $750,000, 29% of searches sat in that range after lockdowns began.

Across King County, home prices continue to rise, with the region seeing a 7.2% year-over-year increase in median prices from July 2019 to July 2020. Prices have climbed even higher in both Snohomish and Pierce County, where year-over-year prices were up 13.8% and 13.5%, respectively.

Nick Bowman. MyNorthwest

Real Estate In The Pandemic Era: The Winds Of Change Are In The Air

To say that this is the strangest year most of us have ever experienced is an understatement. Let’s talk about the changes that are happening in the real estate industry as a result of the pandemic.

First, the good news. The combination of historically low interest rates and people leaving big cities in droves has fueled the single-family housing market around the United States. These low rates are helping people who previously could not afford to buy a home to do so now. To get that ultra-low rate, lucky buyers who still have a job will be required, in some cases, to put at least 20% down and must have a credit score over 700 with proof of their ability to pay. Those unable to meet these requirements will largely remain in the rental pool.

But does a robust homebuying flurry hurt the residential rental market? Not really, except for rentals in large cities from which people are fleeing. Amid lockdown, people learned that they can actually work from home or anywhere that has an internet connection. Productivity levels overall have increased, and parents can be home with the kids. An office space is the newest must-have for a family home.

Even after the pandemic, will workers want to go back to the office? Likely not. Months of sheltering in place have soured many on big-city living. The effect we can predict is that rents in large cities, which have historically been extremely high, will go down as inventory increases. For those who are staying in the big cities, co-living, which had become popular, may see waning interest. Co-living offers the cheaper alternative of a commune-like experience as opposed to renting an apartment and shorter-term or month-to-month leases. As rents drop and traditional apartments become more accessible, these new alternatives may lose popularity.

The commercial office space rental industry has also changed. Because of the work-at-home requirement, companies (which are often locked into long-term leases on large amounts of office space) are finding that their employees do not want to come back to the office setting. Those who do want to work in an office may be accommodated in smaller venues with meeting rooms for the occasional gathering of larger groups and space for smaller meetings as needed. Companies are needing to renegotiate leases and downsize on space while their employees continue to work from home is changing the face of the commercial office space market.

Once a viable, sought-after asset, building owners are scrambling to do conversions of office space to live-and-work or residential-only space. In addition, the days of call centers may be numbered now that we know people can actually be at home for both sales and customer service jobs. If these changes prove to be reliable and growth-oriented, the days of large rooms full of sales and customer service staff may be gone. The potential is that the cost of brick-and-mortar space for companies will decrease, thus adding a potential profit to the bottom line.

But this is not good news for the investors in those buildings, who will have to quickly adapt or die with a paucity of commercial tenants wanting office space. Smaller businesses — like accounting offices, legal groups and medical dental space, gyms and spas — will not be changed much in terms of their ongoing need for commercial office space.

Many small shops and retail outlets are suffering greatly from the lockdown. Rolling restarts and subsequent shutdowns are moving restaurants closer to insolvency. The fear is that when the PPP funds run out, it will be curtains for many of them. I have been through small towns around Idaho and see empty storefront after empty storefront. Sadly, these businesses are not coming back. Many small-town businesses were already operating month to month with little in reserve for slowdowns and simply could not weather the storm. It is not just the business owners who have lost; it is also the owners of those rental properties that are now sitting vacant. Those investors still must make mortgage, insurance and tax payments, and there is no money coming in from rents to support those cost outlays. They, too, will suffer if they cannot re-rent the spaces and make the mortgage and tax payments as required.

For the restaurants, bars, small retail businesses and large office-space holders, the near-term future is bleak — that is the bad news. Banks have not forgiven payments but in some cases have delayed them. That means that for many borrowers, large payments will be due before long. Because reopening is still not a sure thing, many will not be able to catch those payments up. Foreclosures loom unless there is a way found to give short-term support to investors with mass vacancies.

For those investors who have free cash available to invest, there will be some good buying opportunities and grateful owners who are only too willing to sell. This pandemic too shall pass, and for those who played and lost, there is hope that they can come back another day for the big win.

Timmi Ryerson, Forbes

Mortgage Interest Rates Decrease Yet Again, Nearly Reaching Lowest Rate On Record

Two weeks ago mortgage interest rates slipped below 3% for the first time on record and after briefly inching their way back across that threshold last week interest rates have returned to just under 3% once again. According to data released from Freddie Mac, interest rates on a 30-year loan are 2.99%, not quite the 2.98% they reached two weeks ago but slightly better than the 3.01% they settled on during the week in between.

For a 15-year loan the rates landed at 2.51%, down from 2.54% last week and 2.58% the week before that. This steady decrease, without the slight uptick we saw with 30-year loans last week, is another indication of how willing lenders are to give loans to buyers with a strong financial profile on their application.

“It’s Groundhog Day in the mortgage market as rates continue to remain near historic lows, driving purchase demand over 20 percent above a year ago,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, referring to the June data released from the National Association of REALTORS this week. “Real estate is one of the bright spots in the economy, with strong demand and modest slowdown in home prices heading into the late summer. Home sales should remain strong the next few months into the early fall.”

Not only did June see record sales, but home showings increased by 14.5% compared to May, according to data from ShowingTime which manages bookings for most of the home showings in the U.S. Showings are considered a leading indicator for how home sales will perform, typically 60 to 90 days in the future.

While demand is expected to stay strong, the applications for a mortgage did take a slight dip over the past week. According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, purchase applications decreased by 1.4% compared to the week before. However, this is still 21% higher than it was one year before so demand is very comfortably on the increase.

Refinance applications saw a tiny decrease, of .4%, which is still 121% higher compared to the same week a year ago. The biggest shift took place with FHA refinance applications, which decreased by almost 18%. This is because rates for FHA loans increased, by about 14 basis points, to 3.37%, according to MBA data. FHA loans typically make up about 10% of all loans, and that held true last week when they were 9.6% of applications (down from 10.8% the week before).

Amy Dobson, Forbes



4 Things You Can Do To Get Your Home Ready To Hit The Market After Coronavirus


While the spring market would typically be in full force right now, coronavirus has put a temporary halt to most real estate activity. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take the time to get your home ready to go up for sale once the pandemic is under control.

With that in mind, I’ve brought you four suggestions on things you can do to get your home ready to hit the market after quarantine. Read on below to learn more.

Address any minor repairs

Even the most conscientious of homeowners typically have a list of minor home repairs that they’ve been meaning to get around to when they have time. For example, you might have a toilet that’s been running for a while or a patch of broken fence that needs to be mended.

Whatever fixes may be on your to-do list, it’s important to take care of them before you put your home up for sale. While these repairs typically won’t take a lot of effort on your part, they will go a long way towards improving buyers’ opinions of the overall condition of the home, which can lead to higher-priced offers.

Pump up curb appeal

The term “curb appeal” refers to the way your home looks when viewed from the street. To that end, when you’re selling your home, the way it looks from the outside is just as important as the way it looks on the inside, maybe even more so. After all, the view of your home from the street often serves as the buyers’ first impression of the property.

That said, as the seller, you’ll want to take the time to make sure that your home’s exterior looks its best. Make sure your lawn stays mowed and that any plantings are weeded and pruned. If you want to take things a step further, consider power-washing your home’s exterior, as well as your deck or patio. 

Start decluttering

On the inside of your home, quarantine is the perfect time to start decluttering. Often, when there is too much clutter laying around a home, it makes it hard for potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the property. Given that is an important step for many buyers before deciding to make an offer, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible. 

With that in mind, do your best to get rid of some of the clutter around your home. Start tackling projects like cleaning out closets and reorganizing the various rooms in your home. Each task you take care of now will also be one less thing that you have to do once it’s time to move. 

Get your paperwork in order

Marketing your home is about more than just making it visually-appealing to buyers. It’s also about providing them with the information they need to be able to make an informed decision about buying the home. 

In light of that, you’ll want to start collecting any important documents that might be of interest to a potential buyer. These could include recent utility bills, the permits for any renovations that you’ve done to the home, or a land survey, which outlines the boundaries of the property.

~Tara Mastoeni, Forbe

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a home can be nerve-racking, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer.
These tips will help you navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes.

1. Start saving for a down payment early

It’s common to put 20% down, but many lenders now permit much less, and first-time home buyer programs allow as little as 3% down. But putting down less than 20% may mean higher costs and paying for mortgage insurance, and even a small down payment can still be hefty. For example, a 5% down payment on a $200,000 home is $10,000.

 Some tips for saving for a down payment include setting aside tax refunds and work bonuses, setting up an automatic savings plan and using an app to track your progress.

2. Explore your down payment and mortgage options

There are lots of mortgage options out there, each with its own combination of pros and cons. If you’re struggling to come up with a down payment, check out these loans:

  • Conventional mortgages They conform to standards set by the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and require as little as 3% down.

  • FHA loans Loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration permit down payments as low as 3.5%.

  • VA loans Loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs sometimes require no down payment at all.

Making a higher down payment will mean having a lower monthly mortgage payment.

If you want the smallest mortgage payment possible, opt for a 30-year fixed mortgage. But if you can afford larger monthly payments, you can get a lower interest rate with a 20-year or 15-year fixed loan. 

3. Research state and local assistance programs

In addition to federal programs, many states offer assistance programs for first-time home buyers with perks such as down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, tax credits and discounted interest rates. Your county or municipality may also have first-time home buyer programs.

4. Determine how much home you can afford

Before you start looking for your dream home, you need to know what’s actually within your price range. 

5. Check your credit and pause any new activity

When applying for a mortgage loan, your credit will be one of the key factors in whether you’re approved, and it will help determine your interest rate and possibly the loan terms.

So check your credit before you begin the homebuying process. Dispute any errors that could be dragging down your credit score and look for opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts.

To keep your score from dipping after you apply for a mortgage, avoid opening any new credit accounts, like a credit card or auto loan, until your home loan closes.

6. Compare mortgage rates

Many home buyers get a rate quote from only one lender, but this often leaves money on the table. Comparing mortgage rates from at least three lenders can save you more than $3,500 over the first five years of your loan, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Get at least three quotes and compare both rates and fees.

As you’re comparing quotes, ask whether any of the lenders would allow you to buy discount points, which means you’d prepay interest up front to secure a lower interest rate on your loan. How long you plan to stay in the home and whether you have money on-hand to purchase the points are two key factors in determining whether buying points makes sense.

7. Get a preapproval letter

You can get pre-qualified for a mortgage, which simply gives you an estimate of how much a lender may be willing to lend based on your income and debts. But as you get closer to buying a home, it’s smart to get a preapproval, where the lender thoroughly examines your finances and confirms in writing how much it’s willing to lend you, and under what terms. Having a preapproval letter in hand makes you look much more serious to a seller and can give you an upper hand over buyers who haven’t taken this step.

8. Hire the right buyer’s agent

You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer’s agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.

9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

You may assume you’ll buy a single-family home, and that could be ideal if you want a big yard or a lot of room. But if you’re willing to sacrifice space for less maintenance and extra amenities, and you don’t mind paying a homeowners association fee, a condo or townhouse could be a better fit.

But even if the home is right, the neighborhood could be all wrong. So be sure to:

  • Research nearby schools, even if you don’t have kids, since they affect home value.

  • Look at local safety and crime statistics.

  • Map the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use.

  • Drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.
10. Stick to your budget

Look at properties that cost less than the amount you were approved for. Although you can technically afford your preapproval amount, it’s the ceiling — and it doesn’t account for other monthly expenses or problems like a broken dishwasher that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Shopping with a firm budget in mind will also help when it comes time to make an offer.

In a competitive real estate market with limited inventory, it’s likely you’ll bid on houses that get multiple offers. When you find a home you love, it’s tempting to make a high-priced offer that’s sure to win. But don’t let your emotions take over. Shopping below your preapproval amount creates some wiggle room for bidding. Stick to your budget to avoid a mortgage payment you can’t afford.

11. Make the most of open houses

When you’re touring homes during open houses, pay close attention to the home’s overall condition, and be aware of any smells, stains or items in disrepair. Ask a lot of questions about the home, such as when it was built, when items were last replaced and how old key systems like the air conditioning and the heating are.

If other potential buyers are viewing the home at the same time as you, don’t hesitate to schedule a second or third visit to get a closer look and ask questions privately.

First-time home buyer mistakes to avoid

With so much to think about, it’s unsurprising that some first-time home buyers make mistakes they later regret. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls, along with tips to help you avoid a similar fate.

12. Not budgeting for closing costs

In addition to saving for a down payment, you’ll need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can be significant. Closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. You can shop around and compare prices for certain closing expenses, such as homeowners insurance, home inspections and title searches. You can also defray costs by asking the seller to pay for a portion of your closing costs or negotiating your real estate agent’s commission.

13. Not saving enough for after move-in expenses

Once you’ve saved for your down payment and budgeted for closing costs, you should also set aside a buffer to pay for what will go inside the house. This includes furnishings, appliances, rugs, updated fixtures, new paint and any improvements you may want to make after moving in.

14. Buying a home for today instead of tomorrow

It’s easy to look at properties that meet your current needs. But if you plan to start or expand your family, it may be preferable to buy a larger home now that you can grow into. Consider your future needs and wants and whether the home you’re considering will suit them.

15. Passing up the chance to negotiate

A lot can be up for negotiation in the homebuying process, which can result in major savings. Are there any major repairs you can get the seller to cover, either by fully handling them or by giving you a credit adjustment at closing? Is the seller willing to pay for any of the closing costs? If you’re in a buyer’s market, you may find the seller will bargain with you to get the house off the market.

16. Not knowing the limits of a home inspection

After your offer is accepted, you’ll pay for a home inspection to examine the property’s condition inside and out, but the results will only tell you so much.

  • Not all inspections test for things like radon, mold or pests, so be sure you know what’s included.

  • Make sure the inspector can access every part of the home, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.

  • Attend the inspection and pay close attention.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your inspector to take a look — or a closer look — at something. And ask questions. No inspector will answer the question, “Should I buy this house?” so you’ll have to make this decision after reviewing the reports and seeing what the seller is willing to fix.

17. Not buying adequate homeowners insurance

Before you close on your new house, your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare insurance rates to find the best price. Look closely at what’s covered in the policies; going with a less-expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Also, flood damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, so if your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.

Amazon: 15,000 new jobs coming to Bellevue

Amazon is continuing to expand its Bellevue reach.

On Thursday, Feb. 6, the company announced it was on track to create more than 15,000 new jobs in the city within the next few years. Currently, there are about 2,000 Amazon employees in Bellevue.

Amazon’s first Bellevue office opened in 2017. However, when CEO Jeff Bezos started the company some 25 years ago, it was in a home in West Bellevue.

Many of Amazon’s incoming employees will be working out of an in-the-works 43-story building, which is known as Bellevue 600. The building, which will be Bellevue’s tallest, takes up 1 million square feet of office space.

It is anticipated that the tower will be open within the next four years.

In a statement released on Feb. 6, Bellevue city officials shared their thoughts on the announcement.

“With the downtown area’s successful growth over the last several years, we’ve created a dynamic and thriving neighborhood, and one that’s attractive to businesses, workers and residents,” Mayor Lynne Robinson said. “Accelerated growth does come with impacts, and we hope to mitigate those by proactively working together as a community to address our resident needs. We appreciate Amazon’s eagerness to be a partner during this process and to take the role as an engaged Bellevue stakeholder.”

The city noted prior planning in the press release.

“While Bellevue, specifically Downtown, has seen major growth over the last decade, it’s taken a lot of work and planning to get to this point,” city manager Brad Miyake said. “It’s exciting to see that Amazon and other businesses want to invest in Bellevue, and we look forward to strengthening all our partnerships. Just as important, the city is committed to ensuring the high quality of life that residents, visitors and workers have come to expect.”

Amazon is hoping to start construction on the 43-story tower in 2021 and move in in 2024.

An additional tower at 600 108th Avenue Northeast will stand 33 stories and take the place of the Bellevue Corporate Plaza building, though the starting “phase” for the additional tower’s construction has not yet been determined.

Bellevue 600 also will come with a commons space, retail, possible daycare and meeting center during its first phase. An included below-grade, six-level parking garage is planned to have some 1,815 stalls.

“We look forward to continue growing our presence in Bellevue, bringing more jobs to the city, collaborating with its leaders and being an active member of this thriving community,” Amazon said on its website.

~Mercer Island Reporter