Bellevue and Mercer Island have become two of the most sought-after cities in America - great places to establish a family and business, especially those raising children and seeking topnotch tech jobs and renowned private and public schools. For years, Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Expedia have lured tech personnel to offices in Bellevue, thanks to a lower cost of living compared to the Bay Area, coupled with the benefit of no state income tax. Furthermore, with Vancouver, B.C. introducing a 20% foreign homebuyer’s tax, global citizens from across the world have set their sights southward. A similar diversion can be felt from southern markets too, as living in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego means higher-priced real estate and a hefty state income tax.

Once a sleepy bedroom community tied to Seattle’s job market, Bellevue – aptly named in French (“Beautiful View”) for its proximate views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains – can now boast a couple of “Most Livable City” acknowledgments as well. Situated squarely between Lake Washington to the West and Lake Sammamish to the East, Bellevue also features 100 parks whose lush, green fields include free entrance into the 53-acre year-round sanctuary known as Bellevue Botanical Gardens.

Bellevue’s bustling community, just a short ride across the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge or I-90 from Seattle, is small enough to provide an authentic sense of community, yet decidely upscale with high-end shopping opportunities with the likes of Gucci, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton at the Bellevue Square and Bravern malls over Seattle flagship locations. Foodies rejoice restaurants like Bellevue’s popular BIS on Main, Cantinetta, with its handmade pastas, Chef Jason Wilson’s Lakehouse, featuring vibrant farm-inspired craft cooking, and Carmine’s Bellevue that echoes its Seattle sister establishment, yet with a larger kitchen, and rustic interiors serenely tucked along the edges of Bellevue Park.


Known as a haven for outdoors enthusiasts, Bellevue offers miles of hiking and cycling trails, swimming beaches, world-class golfing at the Golf Club at Newcastle, as well as athletic clubs like The Bellevue Club, a private social club and boutique hotel with 200,000 sq. ft. of wellness, including three swimming pools, squash and racquetball, yoga, Pilates, full service spa and four state-of-the-art-workout facilities that await you. Likewise, on Mercer Island, families flock to The Beach Club with lakefront sports and activities, as well as tennis and even community grill nights. A boat ride around nearby Medina on Lake Washington reveals the homes of several local billionaires, including Jeff Bezos and Bill and Melinda Gates, who venture into local restaurants without fanfare. Nearby Woodinville, just a 12-mile bike-ride away, offers 115 winery tasting rooms, the highest density of tasting rooms in Washington, as well the world-famous Herbfarm and Barking Frog restaurants located on the grounds of Willows Lodge.

Mercer Island, says Dean Jones, CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, is another Seattle community that’s an ideal place to raise a family. Perfectly centered between the two largest pistons driving the Pacific Northwest economy - Seattle and Bellevue - it offers a close proximity to job centers with nationally ranked public schools. Phil Greely, one of Jones’ realtors, has co-created a website to help newcomers easily determine Seattle area school rankings:

“Neither Mercer Island nor Bellevue are ever going to be a one-dimensional cul de sac lifestyle stuck in time,” says Jones. “They are both established markets with a dynamic city atmosphere yet they retain their unique, small town spirit of place – it’s the best of both worlds.”

Looking ahead, Jones points to the Sound Transit 3 Transportation initiative that will connect these two regions as a real game changer. “Over the next decade or so,” he says, “our transit authority will expand by five times with 116 miles of contiguous track that will allow Bellevue and Mercer Island to be connected by LINK light rail to downtown Seattle and Redmond and eventually as far south as Tacoma and as far north as Everett.”

In this booming market, real estate is not just an investment in a lifestyle, but a financial one as well. The median price for 2017 home sales in West Bellevue was $2,270,000 and on Mercer Island it was $1,550,000 with values in the region increasing more than 1-percent per month. According to Jones these markets have among the highest average household income per capita. “The growth at the top,” says Jones. “is accelerating making buying new homes there an appreciating asset.”


JayMarc Homes is one of the largest and most respected luxury, custom and spec home builders in the Puget Sound area. The company responded to the growth occurring on Seattle’s decidedly international Eastside with a refreshingly transparent process coupled with savvy land buys. Owners Marc Rousso and Jay Mezistrano, who have built more than 120 homes in just 7 years, believe their success is correlated to turning the builder/contractor paradigm on its head by operating on a very customer-centric philosophy.

When most people think of buying or building a home, they think of all the challenges, cost overruns, frustrations and ballooning fees. “Convenience and financial confidence are what set us apart from everyone in the industry,” says Rousso, “We offer guaranteed pricing. We’ll put our name and a fixed dollar amount to what it’s going to cost to build a house without the typical contractor response of ‘It’s going to cost you more.’” Rousso adds that they can deliver great economies of scale to their clients, owing to their ongoing relationships with vendors and suppliers. Finally, customer care, often overlooked once a house is built, is a high priority for JayMarc Homes.

“With today’s anemic housing inventory,” adds Jones “buyers can find themselves in a competitive bidding environment with a slim likelihood of perfectly aligning a move between the sale of an existing home and a new occupancy. Timing the market is difficult to do so the notion of building a custom home makes a lot of sense.”

One of the benefits of building with JayMarc Homes includes the opportunity to use their award-winning designs or bring in an architect or designer of one’s own choosing. Move-in ready luxury homes are also available within the Bellevue and Mercer Island neighborhoods that consumers prefer. “We have all different sizes, styles and price points,” says Rousso. “People can come in with their goals and desires in mind, and we’ll navigate them through a portfolio of homes that are coming available – many with opportunities for presale and personalization, or we can build a custom home exactly to their specs anywhere in Puget Sound.”

Well versed in zoning requirements, building permits and feasibility studies on land values, JayMarc Homes shares this knowledge and much more with potential clients.

“We can help clients find land, partner with architects or work with one they’ve already selected to create a budget that fits their needs,” says Brenda Gage, JayMarc’s Director of Sales. Clients are introduced to their project and field managers during so-called “Dream Meetings” that are held at a client’s home or one of the company’s model homes to introduce them to the builder early on.

“If you want to truly control the schedule, costs and scope of a new home, you need to build it on your terms,” adds Jones, who grew up in a family of custom home builders in Vancouver, BC, and has witnessed many similar trends in the markets of Mercer Island and West Bellevue that remind him of preferred markets of his hometown. “The reality is buying an existing home or even a new spec house may come with certain compromises with design, location, view or price. I think JayMarc Homes has introduced a compelling concept to use your lot or theirs, drawing upon their experience, volume pricing and sub-trades to deliver on all expectations without surprises. The fact they’re willing to guarantee the pricing is unique as most builders see that as an opportunity for change orders.”

Gage notes that to that end, JayMarc is launching a new shared site that will enable clients to view any project updates throughout the process. “Any changes to their permit, for example,” says Gage, “will be seen in real time, along with a move-in date. Builder, architect and client will be able to upload and share information.”


Requests for multi-generational homes are common in today’s market, which especially appeal to Seattle’s growing number of international buyers. “As the population ages,” says Rousso, “there is a huge trend for the master to be on the main floor, and generational suites for in-laws, parents or guests.”

National Kitchen and Bath (NKBA) CEO Bill Darcy agrees: “It’s really about universal living. Data tells us that now through 2036, 10,000 people each day will celebrate their 65th birthday, which means a lot of homeowners are considering adapting their homes for all phases of life.” Darcy adds that staying abreast of technology in homebuilding design is crucial. Some homes are even designed with stacked closets for future elevator shafts, so owners can age in place.

Aimee Upper, JayMarc’s Interior Design Director, says great room triangles are popular today, which include the kitchen, large media room and living room. Master bedroom suite requests include spa-sized multi-head showers, often with hand-held, fixed and rain fixtures, as well as steam units, and heated floors. Larger, more artistic wine rooms are trending. Enlarged mudrooms feature a lockable “Amazon Room” for package drop-offs, a washer and dryer, desk, and even doggie showers.

Hung Le, President of Innovative Home Solutions of Sammamish, which is on the cutting edge of HVAC trends, acknowledges the need for larger HVAC systems for luxury homes, either in the form of multiple large zoned systems or many smaller systems. Such homes are tied into automation systems that allow homeowners to control their comfort from anywhere. Lee Travis, President of Wipliance in Seattle, has integrated home controls into a single app, including HVAC, lights, A/V, motorized shades, voice control and security systems, for use upon leaving or arriving, locally or remotely from a phone or tablet.

Holly Jacobs Designs of Seattle says the fastest growing trend in window coverings is home automation. She recommends “Hunter Douglas’ PowerView,” a new wireless motorization system that allows homeowners to control their window coverings from their smartphone, tablet or a remote. The Hunter Douglas PowerView just released the Amazon Alexa Skill named “PowerView® Scenes, which works with any Alexa Echo device, allowing you to voice-activate your shades and automate them with other Alexa-enabled devices.

“JayMarc Homes far exceeds expectations and sets the highest bar for delivering top-notch customer service and the highest quality home. I wish JayMarc could advise other companies on how to not only conduct business, but on how to develop long lasting relationships by delivering exceptional customer service,” says Aaron Bareuther, JayMarc Homeowner.

Indeed, industry leaders like JayMarc Homes and their trusted vendors are ensuring that as the Seattle/Bellevue metro area joins its West Coast peer group as a world-class, gateway metropolis, the preferred markets of West Bellevue and Mercer Island are poised to evolve and prosper, too.



BUILDER JayMarc Homes

ARCHITECT Medici Architects


CABINETRY Huntwood Cabinets


CLOSET SYSTEMS Organized Spaces


ELEVATOR Olympic Elevator Company



HVAC SYSTEM Innovative Home Solutions NW

KITCHEN APPLIANCES Arnold’s Appliance Wolf Sub-Zero

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Cramer Design Consultants


LIGHTING North Coast Lighting

PLUMBING FIXTURES Monarch Plumbing / Kohler

WINDOWS Western Pacific Building Materials

WINE CELLAR Rhino Wine Cellars

WOOD & TILE FLOORS Riverside Interiors