August 2016 Real Estate Market Update

September 12, 2016 | by Erin Sirianni

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The market of new listings on Mercer Island slowed a bit in August but not by much.  We saw 52 total new residential and condo listings in August, compared to 56 in July. Sales increased – August brought 43 sold homes compared to 32 sold homes in July.

This month, we have included unlisted home sales in our monthly market report.  With a new rule created by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), real estate brokers are now required to record unlisted transactions with the NWMLS, which was not previously the case.

Note that the numbers below do not include all off-market sales on Mercer Island, but simply sales of unlisted homes that involve a real estate broker.  As a possible scenario, a home seller might decide to sell his/her home to a neighbor or a family member, but hires a real estate broker to facilitate the transaction.

With the new rule, we are now seeing more unlisted home sales in the monthly data, including 4 single-family residential home sales on Mercer Island last month.

Mercer Island August 2016 Market Report

Overview of residential / condominium market:

  • 88 active listings (as of  9/12/2016)
  • 52 new listings in August
  • 43 sold homes, including 4 unlisted sold homes, in August (August 2015: 50 sold homes)

Single-Family Residential Homes*

  • 41 new listings
  • 37 sold homes (August 2015: 40)
  • Average sales price:  $1,568,551
  • Median sales price:  $1,465,000
  • Lowest sales price:  $851,000
  • Highest sales price:  $3,800,000
  • Homes sold under $1 million: 7
  • Homes sold between $1 – 2 million:  22
  • Homes sold over $2 million:  8


Waterfront Homes on Mercer Island

  • 5 new listings (1 North End; 3 Westside; 1 Eastside)
  • 1 sold home (Westside)
  • Sales price:  $3,431,000

Downtown Condos

  • 5 new listings
  • 5 sold listings
  • Lowest sales price:  $440,000
  • Highest sales price:  $785,000

Hot Topic of the Month: New Construction

People were talking about this article last month – The Seattle Times’ “A teardown a day: Bulldozing the way for bigger homes in Seattle, suburbs.”

The report includes an interactive heat map comparing greater Seattle areas with the most teardowns. Mercer Island is a deep-shade of red (indicating a high number of teardowns), though Medina and Clyde Hill have even more teardowns per capita.

The article discusses the accelerating pace of demolitions and new home construction around the Greater Seattle area.  Perhaps the most striking observation in the article is this one:

More houses have been demolished and replaced in the past 18 months than in the four previous years combined, a review of property data shows.

As for Mercer Island, we have experienced a more steady rate of demolition and new home building over the last few years. I created the chart below from data on residential home demolition and construction available on the City of Mercer Island’s website. Here’s a look at the past 10 years:
This year, however, may very well mark all-time highs for new construction on Mercer Island, with the completion of the new downtown townhomes development (only four units left available for sale last time I heard!) and Summerwell Homes in the works.

Builders on Mercer Island may have also picked up the pace recently since the City is reviewing Residential Development Code and will likely be updating the code soon.  There’s little question that the code is outdated and in need of updating and revision, and we hope that this review will seek a similar public input process as the recent update to the Town Center Development code.

Notable Listings

Listing photo courtesy NWMLS / Robyn Hsu & Rachel Schindler, Windermere Mercer Island

Listing photo & info courtesy NWMLS / Robyn Hsu & Rachel Schindler, Windermere Mercer Island

As an alternative to demolition, some builders and contractors purchase properties on Mercer Island and completely renovate them before reselling.

You might call this a flip, though our favorite homes in this category involve dramatic transformations rather than cosmetic facelifts.

This new listing in Mercer Island’s East Seattle neighborhood is a perfect example. This mid-century home was purchased last year by True Home Design Build, who completed  a studs-out remodel. The result is a classic Craftsman-style home with a modern layout and gorgeous finishes.  Priced at $1,650,000, this home also has a great location in Mercer Island’s historic East Seattle neighborhood.
In other notable listings, there are two new listings located on adjacent lots on West Mercer Way. One of the properties includes a 2-bedroom, 450-square-foot cabin. Speaking of demolitions, this is an example in which the land is far more valuable than than the house that sits upon it, and the future owner of this property will almost certainly be replacing the cabin with a new home. Both properties have beautiful lake and Seattle city skyline views.

Looking Ahead

New listings should continue to pick up this September and October and then will likely wind down before the holidays.  We’re following reports that suggest mortgage interest rates may increase before the end of the year.  We’ll keep you posted!

We are also working with clients looking to buy on Mercer Island in various price ranges, and we are eager to help them find the perfect house.  If you are thinking of selling your home, I’d love to chat with you – feel free to email me or call me at 206-992-5272.