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Seattle's home buying activity heats up despite the coronavirus pandemic

By Mike Wheatley | April 21, 2020

Despite its reputation as ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., Seattle is yet to see a slowdown in home buying activity, even though most of the city is subject to stay-at-home orders.

Indeed, the city is seeing an encouraging level of home purchases this year, with bidding wars and all cash offers surprisingly commonplace, often taking place just hours after listings go live, the Wall Street Journal said.

At the same time, coronavirus cases in Seattle seem to be on the decline, prompting more buyers to emerge out of the woodwork, even as in-person showings are limited. One couple in the city submitted offers of around $1 million on four different homes in the Seattle suburb of Bellvue over the last three weeks, and each one was outbid and rejected.

One reason for the Seattle market’s resilience is its fast-growing technology sector. Amazon for example, is headquartered in Seattle, and has plans to hire 100,000 new workers in the U.S. in order to cope with rising demand due to the pandemic. Google, Microsoft and others are also based in Seattle, and are seeing rising demand for their services, as are many video streaming firms and computer games companies. As such, home buyers are increasingly looking to live in Seattle.

Some home sellers have removed their homes from the market during this time, decreasing the inventory in Seattle. The number of new listings is down 67% compared to a year ago. Regardless, the number of homes and condos sold in the first week of April was higher than the same time period in each of the past two years. That also follows a 9.1% increase in Seattle-area sales in March compared to a year prior, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. “The market is still very active,” Dean Jones, principal and owner of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, told the Journal. Jones says that clients who work in the tech field are making up most of his company’s new business. “While there’s plenty of concern, there’s a ‘this too shall pass’ perspective.”

One couple, who worked for Microsoft, asked their agent to include an escalation clause in their contract to ensure their offer was the highest the seller received on a home they wanted to purchase. They were concerned about being beat out by another bidder amid the shrinking housing inventory. Clients are approaching the market “a little worried, but they are thinking it is temporary and we will get through this crisis,” Ambili Sukesan, a real estate professional who represented the couple, told the Journal.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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