The Seattle area real estate market is “on steroids”; see what’s happening near you

In the year since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Seattle area housing market hasn’t just rebounded. The market is “on steroids,” said Raché Boston, a Seattle area broker.

The prices are on the rise. Stocks are flying off the market. Home visits draw lines of potential buyers down the aisle and multiple all-cash offers. List prices may seem like a mere suggestion.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” said buyer Lis Manning, who, along with her husband, recently bought a four-bedroom home in North Edmonds after making seven other offers. “But I didn’t think it would be a multi-month process.”

Single-family home prices soared across the Puget Sound area last month from February, according to monthly data released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

King County topped other counties, jumping 10% from February, the largest month-over-month peak since last June, when dwindling stocks started to overfeed the market. In March, the middle King County home sold for $ 824,997.

In Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties, median prices increased single-digit percentages month over month to $ 640,000, $ 480,000 and $ 450,000, respectively.

The month brought good news and bad news to buyers. Across the region, more new homes hit the market last month than in any month since the spring peaks of 2018 and 2019. But the homes were bought almost as quickly as they arrived. .

At the end of the month, fewer than 1,000 homes were listed for sale in King County, up from around 2,100 last year in March and 3,300 in 2019.

Prices in all four counties have increased over the year since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from a jump of 14.5% in King County to 17% in Pierce County and 21, 9% to Snohomish. In the King County Eastside, the median home price is up 30.4% from a year ago. (While the onset of the pandemic may skew last year’s figures, the effects of the virus on the housing market took hold mainly in the months that followed. Prices fell in April and May, but then started to climb again over the summer, with buyers looking for more space and potential sellers staying put.)

Even in generally cheaper areas, the cost of entry for first-time home buyers is on the rise. Pierce County broker Jenny Wetzel predicts that in the coming months, “it will be very difficult to find a home in Pierce County for $ 350,000 or less.”


In King County, prices are rising, especially outside of Seattle.

The median price in North King County jumped 15% from February to March, an increase of more than $ 100,000 to a new level of $ 805,250. The median is up about 19% from last year.

Compared to last year, parts of South King County have seen dramatic price increases. The median home sold last month to Skyway was $ 656,500, an 8% jump from February and a 44% increase from a year ago.

In Seattle, the median home sold last month for $ 825,000, up 3.4% from the previous month. In the Eastside, the median home price has exceeded $ 1 million for nine straight months.


Across the region, liquidity is fueling more competition as tech companies benefit despite the slowdown in the pandemic.

“When do you know a 28 year old who is able to buy a property for $ 700,000 and have $ 300,000 or $ 400,000 in cash? said Boston, a broker with John L. Scott. “It comes from their stock options.”

Luxury sales are on the rise. In the 26 counties included in the Northwest MLS, brokers reported 400 sales at $ 2 million or more in the first three months of this year, more than double last year, according to MLS.

Developers and pinball machines also see opportunities: even extreme repairers are attracting multiple bids, Boston said. A Beacon Hill home in “terrible condition” drew seven all-cash offers. She expects to close the sale at “close to $ 470,000”, well above the asking price.

Trevor Walker and Brooke Moody began their search for a home under $ 600,000 near Lynnwood and Bothell, but within months they were “valued out of everything between Renton and Everett”.

Prices seemed to continue to climb. Home visits were crowded. On a recent weekend, the newly married couple visited 14 homes.

“It hits you in the guts every time you show up in a house and there are already 15 people standing there,” Walker said.

For months, a cocktail of low stocks, high demand and low interest rates pressed buyers.

In King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties, all homes currently listed could sell in less than two weeks at current demand, according to MLS. At that time in 2019, the sale would have taken more than a month in all four counties.

Similar trends are occurring nationwide, with nearly half of homes selling in a week and 41% selling more than list price, according to Red tuna. The Seattle area is a top destination for shoppers leaving San Francisco, according to a recent analysis by Zillow.


Condos offer respite

Buyers who are not attached to a single family home can turn to the condominium market.

A flood of new condominium listings arrived in March and demand has increased, although it remains lukewarm than the single-family home market. At current demand, it would take a little over a month to sell through the available condos in King County.

In Seattle, condos stay on the market longer than elsewhere in King County. At the same time, the number of pending condo sales in the city last month was higher than in March 2019 or 2020.

In all the frenzy of single-family homes, homebuyers are increasingly being expected to forgo protections, called contingencies, designed to guard against financial loss.

In one home, Manning said she was offering a higher price than a competing buyer, but sellers weren’t interested.

“They’re like, ‘It’s not about the money. We just don’t want contingencies, ”she said.


On their winning bid, the couple were pre-subscribed, failed to conduct a home inspection, and waived their appraisal and financing contingencies. They paid $ 715,000 for the house, initially listed at $ 629,000, Manning said.

Walker and Moody said they felt comfortable giving up most eventualities. Like Manning, they skipped an inspection of the home they ultimately secured in Kent.

“On some of these houses we were the highest bidder and we were losing because people were forgoing the appraisal or bringing in money,” Moody said. “How is a first-time buyer supposed to get a house? ”

Buyers who forgo appraisal and finance protections may risk higher costs or lose part of their down payment. Ignoring inspections can lead to costly repairs down the road.

“Knowing what a home is sold for is very important, but it doesn’t tell the story of what buyers have to do, the risk they have to take to get their offer accepted,” said Wetzel, of the company. Tacoma Windermere brokerage. Remains.

Forgoing the unexpected and speeding up the closing process are ways for buyers to compete for money, said Boston, who frequently represents sellers.

“You have to give up everything in the market that we are in right now… You have to be able to give your grandma to the seller in the offer to be able to win,” she said.

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