COVID, millennials changing King County housing market landscape

by Lindsey Wells

Limited housing inventory and new net demand have caused home prices to surge in King County, according to Matthew Gardner, chief economist for Windermere. 

Gardner was the main speaker at the Seattle King County Realtors’ Young Professionals Network’s sixth annual Get the Edge event on Nov. 10, according to a press release.

During his presentation, Gardner noted that homeowners who purchased homes in King County before 2012 have seen their properties double in price. However, prices can’t appreciate indefinitely. As a result, median sale prices will likely slow.

Gardner anticipates that housing demand will be affected by the new COVID work landscape. Work-from-home arrangements will create more demand in exurban and suburban markets. COVID, according to Gardner, will create the “resurrection of the suburbs.” 

However, many employees may be waiting to buy homes until they conclusively figure out their future work schedules.

As remote work becomes more common, dedicated Zoom spaces will become more attractive to potential buyers, the release noted.

The country’s nine-and-a-half million millennials are poised to become significant players in the housing market. As a result, agents and developers should anticipate housing demand from millennials, which will look substantively different from previous generations. “If you know any developers who ask you, ‘What should I build for millennials?’ they don’t care about full dining rooms — they love dog showers,” Gardner said.

Average price growth in King County is historically around 5%, and Gardner believes it will return to that. The reason is affordability — not for low-income housing but workforce housing. Nurses, vital members of the workforce, do not have an income that supports a seven-figure home.

The takeaway, Gardner said, is, “If we want to keep the region competitive, we must house everyone.”

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