Homes for Under $1M on Mercer Island

April 24, 2015 | by Erin Sirianni

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So did you hear about that house that got 17 offers? Or what about the one that went $75,000 above asking?

Stories of bidding wars and steep market competition are popular these days – on Mercer Island and in the greater Seattle area. And yes, the inventory of Mercer Island homes listed at $1 million or less on Mercer Island is low. But is it a reason for buyers to give up and look elsewhere?

Here’s my take.

Just this week, a mid-Island house came on the market, listed at $750,000. This home is just 1,760 square feet, but is located in a walkable neighborhood just south of the Mercer Island library, has 4 bedrooms plus a recreation room, and a large fully fenced backyard with a play set.

This family friendly house will be snapped up.


$750,000 | 541 88th Ave SE | 4 Beds, 2.75 Baths | 1,760 Sq Ft | Lot Size 8,775 Sq Ft | MLS #774812

More pictures & details | Listing Courtesy of: NWMLS/Jay Agoado, Windermere RE Mercer Island

State of the market

Currently, there are five houses on the market under $1 million. Since January 2015, only 40 homes under $1 million have been listed, ranging from $629,000 to $999,998. (In the same time frame last year, nearly 70 homes under $1 million were listed.)

One of the listings did not sell and expired, and of the 34 remaining pending/sold listings, the average days on market was 7.44, meaning these properties are going quickly.

Crazy as they say it is?

If you’re looking to buy on Mercer Island, it’s true that you may be competing with cash buyers and offers with contingency waivers and escalation clauses, characteristic of bidding wars.

Of the 16 homes that closed since January 2015, eight of those homes went for more than the listing price, ranging from $21,000 to $150,000 above asking (the latter being an “as-is” home, aka “tear-down,” located on a pretty lot with a view).

However, the other eight were sold at list price or below.  That sounds like a 50/50 sanity ratio to me.
Of course, living on Mercer Island is not “affordable” by any means, with the single-family home market starting around $650,000.

The takeaway for buyers is that moving quickly is key (have your pre-approval in hand!).  And have patience and perseverance.  You may be in a bidding war or you may not be. Not all new listings are surrounded with frenzy.
Speaking from experience, when Charlie and I moved to Mercer Island almost five years ago, there were bidding wars then too, and we lost on a couple of them.  But we persevered and finally got a great (under $1M) house that we love.

Our house may be smaller than what we could buy elsewhere, but we’re also getting a great public school system, a strong community, and a safe neighborhood – those intangibles that are harder to match with a price. But they have made our move worth it, and then some.

Considering buying or selling a home on Mercer Island? We’d love to help. Erin is a local neighborhood expert and a residential real estate broker with Windermere Mercer Island. She is co-founder of the Sirianni Group, in partnership with her husband, Charlie Sirianni. Charlie is a Mercer Island native, Managing Broker with Windermere Mercer Island, and former real estate attorney of 10+ years. Get in touch with Erin (email / phone) or Charlie (email / phone) today.