Despite pandemic, Seattle’s real estate market isn’t slowing down

SEATTLE — The next time you drive through town, don’t be surprised if you still see homes up for sale.

“I feel pretty lucky for sure. I’m really excited about the place, I’m living, or going to be living at,” said Daniel Montoya.

Montoya is closing on a condo in the Gridiron Building in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. He started his search a couple of months ago.

It started out normally but then the state shut down to halt the spread of COVID-19. Because of social distancing, there are no more open houses. Instead, buyers are doing drive-bys, virtual tours, and requesting private showings.

“There’s have been times my realtor has had to join me via Facetime rather than in-person to meet the number of people requirement,” Montoya added.

The pandemic may have upended the way realtors do business but the real estate market has not slowed down, said John Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

“We’ve had such strong job growth over the last five, six years. There’s a pent-up demand of homebuyers and during this time, interest rates have come down to historically low levels,” Scott said.

New listings are at 60% from this time last year. And the backlog of buyers, Scott said, is serious. Even with the economy teetering on the brink of recession, and a record number of people applying for unemployment in Washington, most homes are still getting multiple offers and selling at or above listing price.

“Below $1 million and a half, and $1 million, close to the job centers of Seattle and on the east side, we’re seeing just this shortage of inventory, back-to-back showings for the properties,” Scott said.

As for Montoya, he said he felt pretty fortunate to be where he is. His advice for others on the market - have patience and flexibility.

“It’s certainly strange times, definitely a time of financial insecurity for some. But I feel pretty confident moving forward.”