Nearly every aspect of life has changed in the year-and-a-half since the pandemic began. One shift that seems likely to remain is the rise of remote work options for employees. With employers offering more flexible options for their workforce, many formerly urban residents are heading out of major metro areas in search of more space — both for leisure and their home office — now that commuting is no longer an issue.
Counties around Washington have certainly felt the impacts of these shifting priorities, as areas like Snohomish, Whatcom and San Juan counties have recently seen their home prices rise even faster than the competitive markets in Seattle and Bellevue.
In September, the median price of a single-family home in King County was still up 10% from the same time last year, demonstrating that there is still great demand for housing in the region’s largest metro area. But while low inventory and high demand have continued to push prices up in both Seattle and the Eastside, this autumn has seen price increases slow slightly in these areas, whereas prices in some outlying counties have continued to rise at impressive rates. In September 2021, Whatcom County saw the median price of a single-family home increase by 18% over the same time last year and 37% from pre-pandemic prices in 2019. The median price in Snohomish County was around $675,000 — an 18% increase from last year. Thurston County also saw a year-over-year increase of 20.5%
Bellingham in particular has felt the impact of buyers expanding their search radius. With plenty of nature trails, the waterfront and its own downtown art and music scene, the college town has lately seen an influx of buyers from the Seattle and Bellevue areas. Those who have been priced out of the larger metros are now bringing their cash up north, where some estimates suggest that Bellingham listings are selling for $50,000 – $60,000 over list price.
Even the smaller cities near Bellingham have experienced more competition, with Ferndale, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley and Blaine reporting a rise in buyer activity.
Although the intense competition across counties can be a headache for buyers, the flexibility offered by remote work has given workers more freedom to choose where they want to live. While the region’s urban core remains desirable to home buyers, so do Western Washington’s outlying areas, and the proof is in the numbers.
This article was originally posted on the Seattle Times by Heidi Groover.