Seattle housing market sees ‘massive changes’ in post-lockdown landscape

With many people continuing to hunker down in their homes during the ongoing pandemic, home-buying habits have gone through a sizable shift, both in Seattle and across the United States.

Puget Sound housing market ‘remarkably stable’ despite pandemic

“Nationwide, the pandemic caused massive changes in buyer behavior,” a recent study from real estate researchers at Point2 noted. “From square footage and number of bedrooms to access to outdoor amenities like pools and gardens, the post-lockdown home seekers are not willing to compromise on anything – and they are willing to pay the (higher) price to get it.”

In Seattle, that’s manifested in a marked increase in searches for homes under 1,000 square feet, as prospective buyers have scrambled to get out of apartments and into permanent homes.

Prior to the pandemic, roughly half of searches tracked by Point2 were for
homes under 1,000 square feet. In the months since, that number has jumped all the way to 83%. In terms of the specific types of homes people have searched for, there’s been an especial focus on homes with designs that emphasize more isolated living spaces, rather than open floor plans.

“Before the lockdown, many homebuyers preferred open-plan rooms and interior design elements that made for seamless transitions between separate living spaces,” said Point2’s study. “However, just a few short weeks of parents, children and couples stuck together has reestablished the importance of and need for privacy and personal space.”

Why Puget Sound millennials are finally looking to buy homes

While searches for smaller homes have become more frequent in Seattle in recent months, the price range of prospective home buyers has also increased. Whereas just 15% of searches prior to the pandemic were for homes between $500,000 and $750,000, 29% of searches sat in that range after lockdowns began.

Across King County, home prices continue to rise, with the region seeing a 7.2% year-over-year increase in median prices from July 2019 to July 2020. Prices have climbed even higher in both Snohomish and Pierce County, where year-over-year prices were up 13.8% and 13.5%, respectively.

Nick Bowman. MyNorthwest