Three things recently brought this question to mind.
1. I noticed a proliferation of high-end real estate porn: 10 homes for sale on Mercer Island at more than $5 million. Some have been listed for a while:
4737 Forest Ave SE, $7.75 million, has been on the market 320 days.
Some are newer:
9022 N Mercer Way just came on the market 12 days ago. It’s only $5.5 million.
2. The Seattle Times writes about “How One Couple Got an Affordable Mercer Island Home.” The title implies that “Mercer Island” and “affordable” are terms with opposite meanings.
3. I came across the account of a scooterist (?) who recently circumnavigated the Island. He says: Mercer Island is a place for rich folks…Mercer Island’s landscape features McMansions with killer views. Paul Allen lives here. This was not always the case, however. There used to be quite a few modest homes, but during the Gilded Age just ended, everything on Mercer Island became a potential teardown.
I have to admit, I used to think Mercer Island was all waterfront mansions selling for $5 million or more. But the Island does have a plenty of moderate homes.
The scooterist also takes a dig at all the homes for sale on West Mercer Way. Easy to do in the middle of a financial crisis– but unfair to dig at the owners. When homes aren’t selling normally, people’s lives are still changing. They change jobs, retire, have another baby, and need to move. So inventory builds.
High Price, But What About Value?
We looked in the city about a year and a half ago, and found better value here. By value I’m talking about lot size, home size, and home quality. People with kids get even better value from the great school system. Commute times are short to most everywhere, which is a quality of life issue. The character of the Island doesn’t feel mega-rich.
Redfin says the median price of houses (not condos) sold on the Island in the past year is just over $1 million ($1,010,000). I’ve done quantitative posts in the past, but this time I’m asking a different question. Is Mercer Island a place for rich people? How does home value here stack up to homes elsewhere? We bought here a year ago, so I answered with my feet. What do you think?