JLS Broker Shane Raff – Redmond
Home prices charge ahead, driving some buyers farther
by Blanca Torres, Seattle Times
May 5, 2016
This is an excerpt of a feature article about the NWMLS May Market Update with stats and charts. Read the full article here.
With prices rapidly escalating in Seattle and the Eastside, some would-be homeowners are finding new answers, and extending the definition of what qualifies as a Seattle suburb.
The list of cities some might call suburbs of Seattle now stretches to places like North Bend, Poulsbo and Cle Elum. More homebuyers are willing to trade longer commutes to buy a house they can afford or for more space and features.
Some would-be buyers are looking at such alternatives as a lack of available homes on the market drives up prices in the hot housing markets of Seattle and the Eastside.
The median price of a home in King County soared by 12.5 percent to $540,000 in April, from $480,000 a year earlier.
In Seattle, the median price for a single-family home climbed by 15.3 percent to $637,250 in April, up from $552,500 last year. The most expensive local submarket is in Bellevue, west of Interstate 405, where the median home price hit $1.8 million in April, up from $1.66 million a year ago, according to data released Thursday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Areas more distant from these urban centers saw smaller increases. For Snohomish County, the median price for a single-family home rose by 4.2 percent to $375,000. In Pierce, the median home price went up 8 percent to $269,925. The Kitsap median home price crept up by 5.1 percent to $269,950.
Meanwhile, the number of homes on the market for the four-county region plunged by 20 percent from a year ago.
“A lot of people are being willing to move out of their comfort zone and are finding that Seattle and the Eastside are becoming too expensive,” said Shane Raff, a real-estate agent with John L. Scott. “People are just getting priced out of the market and there’s nowhere for them to go.”
Raff, whose job is based in Redmond, and his wife, who works for T-Mobile in Bellevue, recently decided to move from North Bend to Cle Elum. They estimate their drive to work to be around an hour and 15 minutes.
“My wife and I have always wanted more land and more space,” Raff said. The couple, who have two young children, purchased a one-acre lot in Meadow Ridge, a new subdivision being built by developer Trailside.
For $500,000 to $600,000, homebuyers in Cle Elum can buy a sizable home with high-end finishes that would cost $100,000 to $150,000 more in an area closer to Seattle, Raff said. Besides more “bang for your buck,” Cle Elum offers a natural setting, access to outdoor recreation and a small-town feel, he said.
The Raffs are willing to brave the commute even in winter conditions that can shut down Snoqualmie Pass.
“It is a risk you run,” Raff said. “But that’s the risk we’re willing to take on.”