Bidding Wars Continue in Seattle, Once a COVID-19 Hot Spot

April 17, 2020

Seattle—which was ground zero for the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in March—isn’t seeing a slowdown in its housing market, even as stay-at-home orders in Washington State remain in place. Seattle continues to see a lively level of home purchases marked with bidding wars and all-cash offers hours after listings go live, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Cases of coronavirus have slowed in the city, which has prompted more buyers to emerge, though in-person showings remain limited. One couple submitted four written offers on homes over the past three weeks in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, and those offers—each around $1 million—were outbid and rejected.

The city’s fast-growing tech sector appears to make local housing resilient against overall economic slowdown from the coronavirus. Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, is hiring 100,000 new workers in the U.S. in response to the pandemic. Google and Microsoft, also based in Seattle, are seeing a rise in consumer demand, as are streaming video companies and online videogame makers. Home buyers are looking to move to Seattle suburbs, and new residents continue to move in from out of state, real estate pros report.

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.

Despite Stay-at-Home Order, Seattle’s Real Estate Market Continues to Show Up,” The Wall Street Journal (April 13, 2020) [Log-in required.]