Real Estate

Seattle home prices keep rising at second-fastest pace in the U.S.

Homes in Seattle are seen from Ella Bailey Park in February. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Homes in Seattle are seen from Ella Bailey Park in February. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Seattle-area home prices have continued to rise faster than nearly anywhere else in the country, despite the pandemic and arrival of the fall season that typically cools the housing market.

Puget Sound home prices in October shot up faster than in any other city in the country except Phoenix, according to new data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The index reports a three-month rolling average of home prices. Seattle-area prices include homes in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

October was the ninth consecutive month that Seattle-area prices grew second-fastest in the country. Prices rose 11.7% in Seattle year-over-year and 12.7% in Phoenix.

Nationally, home prices rose 8.4% in October, up from a 7% increase the prior month.

While much remains unknown about the economic fallout from the coronavirus, continued growth in housing prices is “consistent with the view that COVID has encouraged potential buyers to move from urban apartments to suburban homes,” said S&P managing director Craig Lazzara in a statement.

Because the Case-Shiller index lags by two months, it can’t fully explain the current state of the housing market, but other measures have shown a similar trend. November home prices were up in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties compared to a year earlier, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Local real estate agents say buyers are driven by low interest rates and a desire for more space.

Low rates, short supply and other trends driving price increases could last months, said Zillow economist Matthew Speakman.

“These factors appear likely to remain in place in the near term, and an incrementally improving economy should encourage more buyers to enter the market,” Speakman said in a statement. “Taken together, this torrid pace of home price appreciation appears primed to continue well into 2021.”

In the last year, home prices have grown faster in Seattle than in other West Coast cities such as Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. After Phoenix and Seattle, San Diego ranked third for price increases in October, with an 11.6% rise. 

Prices rose in all 19 metro areas that Case-Shiller tracks. (Case-Shiller usually reports on 20 areas but does not have up-to-date data for Detroit due to the pandemic.)

Homes of all kinds are getting more expensive in the Seattle area, according to the Case-Shiller data. The index tracks three types of houses: those priced under $477,799, those over $716,138 and those in between. The cost of the most-affordable homes has grown the quickest. 

In October, home prices for the most-affordable homes and midpriced homes jumped by roughly 13% from a year earlier, compared with 11% for the most expensive houses.


Heidi Groover

Seattle Times staff reporter

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