Newcastle homes

Don't believe the list prices on the Eastside.

Buying a home "above asking" almost goes without saying these days in Seattle. Real estate prices in and around the city have experienced a one-year price hike steeper than any in history. But just how much "above" has changed drastically since early 2020, per a new Redfin report.

Through June 16, 2021, a whopping 4,658 homes in the Seattle metro area sold for at least $100,000 more than their list prices, up from 378 during the same span of 2020. And close your eyes, home shoppers: 580 went for $300,000 or more over the sticker price, compared to just 16 a year ago. Nearly 90 of those homes were in Bellevue, and bidding wars in Redmond (70, up from zero), Sammamish (54, up from one), Kirkland (46, up from two), and Issaquah (35, up from zero) were nearly as ghastly.

Of course, a substantial chunk of the 2020 period studied by Redfin included the real estate freeze brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, making the year-over-year difference more extreme. Still, nothing was stopping buyers in January and February of 2020 from shunning list prices and shelling out wads of cash as liberally (recklessly?) as now. "I’ve never seen anything like this housing market,” Seattle-area Redfin agent Scott Petrich said in the report. “It’s fueled by employees of local tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft and companies with big offices in the area like Google and Facebook. A lot of them didn’t want to work remotely during the pandemic in small apartments, and that pushed them to seek out large homes with office spaces. Most of those people have the money to compete with other buyers and drive up prices.”

That perspective jibes with findings in other major cities, including the only other place where final sales have exceeded initial asks more in 2021: the tech-dominated Bay Area, where homes have gone for about $90,000 over asking on average. Seattle's a bit more forgiving so far, with an average of $47,878. But that's hardly any relief for house hunters.

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