Eastside market heats up as major tech news hits

A real estate snapshot from John L. Scott Mercer Island.

By Sandra Levin

Special to the Reporter

Sure as the cherry blossoms blooming every spring, the residential housing market on Mercer Island began heating up in March. Brokers in the Mercer Island office are seeing the market perk up, with a backlog of buyers starting to look very seriously. We’re seeing more open houses, homes on the market and buyers out looking for a new place to call home.

“We are seeing more listings coming on, which I think will continue this spring,” said Frank Ceteznik, a John L. Scott Mercer Island broker. “I have been seeing multiple offers occurring on the Eastside, especially on homes priced under $1 million. This is a good time to look into owning a home because interest rates have come down from the last six months, and inventory is up.”

In his monthly comments following the Northwest Multiple Listing Service release of March’s housing numbers, John L. Scott chairman and CEO J. Lennox Scott said the frenzy market is back on the Eastside in the more affordable and mid-price ranges. Additionally, unsold inventory on the Eastside remains higher than it was in 2018, though still at a severe shortage level.

The local market is heating up just as major local tech news hit – Amazon announced they are moving their entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue over the next four years, with the migration beginning in April. This will bring several thousand jobs to the Eastside in the years to come, which could significantly affect the job and housing markets of Seattle and the Eastside.

This migration over the next four years is great news for our local market. Many Amazon employees who value a short commute will be moving out of the Seattle area to the Eastside, which bodes well for home values. With a significant change like this, neighborhoods that may have been slower to grow could garner newfound interest and encourage further development.

On Mercer Island, residents benefit from our central location when commuting to Seattle or Bellevue. Currently, car and bus commutes are easy for Mercer Island residents, and when light rail is complete, it will add one more convenient way to get around for work or play.

Aside from the continuing tech boom, homeownership in general in the U.S. is back in, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Their recent Housing Vacancies and Homeownership survey found the decade-long decline in the homeownership rate abruptly reversed, growth in renter households stalled and owner-led households began rising. Additionally, the homeownership rate has regained all ground it lost since 2014.

Experts say this reversal is caused by demographic pressure that has been building since the housing crisis hit. Though obstacles like student loan debt are still challenges for many millennials, as many in the demographic get older they have been overcoming barriers to homeownership. John L. Scott Mercer Island broker Cindy Verschueren said her millennial buyers have paid off most of their student loans and are typically looking for the stability and lifestyle homeownership offers.

“It is a great time for millennials to buy,” said Verschueren. “With interest rates continuing to be reasonably low, a monthly house payment that doesn’t fluctuate is something you can count on versus being at the mercy of a landlord raising rental rates.”

Sandra Levin is office leader and business coach at John L. Scott Mercer Island.

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