How the pandemic is leaving a lasting footprint on the Puget Sound housing market

Feb 7, 2021, 8:24 AM | Updated: Feb 8, 2021, 7:14 am
Puget Sound pandemic housing market...
Home offices have never been more important to Puget Sound home buyers. (Pexels)

Over the last year, the pandemic has indelibly changed Puget Sound’s housing market in a number of ways. Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner spoke to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross about that lasting COVID-induced footprint, and what buyers can expect once the virus is fully brought under control.

First and foremost, Gardner points out that the need for a home office has become more important now than ever, which, for many employees, is likely to continue past the end of the pandemic.

“The work from home situation that many of us are in, it’s not going to be temporary,” he noted. “Because of that, several things are occurring, the first of which is people, obviously, if they’re working from a dining room table and they are thinking of moving, then a home office is increasingly important.”

Prior to the pandemic, Gardner says home offices were largely going away, as prices in the Puget Sound region rose and affordable spaces shrank in square footage. But “that’s turned around now,” he says.

Why the pandemic has Puget Sound residents leaving cities for the suburbs

Gardner sees that need fueling more sales in the months ahead, as people look to upgrade their work-from-home situations.

“I do expect that we’ll see more homes come to market and therefore likely more sales because of people’s newfound ability to work from home,” he predicted.

As that plays out, he also expects recent rapid growth in King, Snohomish, and Pierce County home prices to slow considerably as it begins to reach a ceiling of affordability for buyers. In those three counties, median home prices rose over 9%, 14%, and 16% year-over-year in January, respectively.

Simply put, homes can only get so expensive before the average person can no longer afford to buy one.

“You cannot sustain that,” Gardner said. “There must always be a relationship between incomes and home prices, so I think that’s really going to be the ceiling.”

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How the pandemic is leaving a lasting footprint on the Puget Sound housing market