Eastside market heats up as major tech news hits

A real estate snapshot by John L. Scott Real Estate.

By Erin Flemming

Special to the Reporter

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Sure as the cherry blossoms blooming every spring, the residential housing market in Issaquah and Sammamish began heating up in March. Martin Weiss, sales manager of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office, said brokers in his office are seeing activity pick up, especially in the low- to mid-price ranges.

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.

“March is always the start of the eight months of prime-time selling season when you look at sales activity in the residential market, and this year will be no exception,” said J. Lennox Scott.

Weiss echoed Scott’s sentiments, saying the John L. Scott Bellevue-Issaquah office is already seeing a spring surge, with more houses on the market and more buyers out shopping. Adding to the effect is interest rates, which are still in the low range.

“Interest rates have dropped which increasing buyers’ purchasing power — add this to an abundance of new listings coming on the market and you’ll get increased sales activity in the area,” Weiss said. “In the most affordable price ranges we are back at surge/frenzy sales levels with 61 percent of new listings selling in the first 30 days. A normal market sees 30 percent of listings selling in the first 30 days.”

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.

Weiss said the move is bound to shake up the landscape of housing on the Eastside as the migration occurs alongside other business and tech growth in the area.

“Job growth is a leading indicator for the local real estate market,” Weiss said. “This news should help to continue to drive demand on the Eastside.”

As many can attest to who witnessed Seattle’s boom when Amazon began expanding rapidly in the city, much can change in a few short years. However, one segment of the housing market hasn’t seen rapid growth since 2009: new condo development. This is due to an unusual Washington condo liability law that has caused local developers to all-but-abandon condo construction to avoid being sued.

Now, there is bipartisan support for a bill that could encourage developers to build more condos, and at press time it had passed the Senate and the House. If it is signed into law and results in new condo construction, Weiss said the area could benefit.

“The passage of this bill is great news,” Weiss said. “We need housing in the affordable price ranges and SB 5334 will hopefully help developers build more condos that focus on the first-time buyer. We believe there is a market for new affordable condo housing.”

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