• Redfin predicts Amazon's HQ2 could create a buyer's housing market in Seattle

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Freddie Larsson is feeling the softening of Seattle's real estate market.

    He's selling a townhome in Queen Anne after his family moved to a larger place.

    "We were putting it on the market and thought we would get three, four, five offers in the first few days, but it's slowed down a little bit," Larsson said.

    Seattle-based Redfin predicts the city's market slowdown could intensify once Amazon announces its second headquarters in the city.

    "We think there's going to be a significant impact on the housing market," said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. "We estimate if just one in 20 Amazon employees put their house on the market, that would lead to 100 more listings. That's a 10 percent increase of how many listings we see now."

    Fairweather expects the pace of Amazon hiring will be much swifter at HQ2, with less new hiring here.

    "We hear from our Redfin agents that buyers have actually postponed their decision to buy until they find out where HQ2 is going to be, because maybe they'll want to leave. And we heard from sellers that they're nervous about when to sell, do they want to sell now or later, because of that same decision," Fairweather said. 

    Coldwell Banker Bain realtor Ken Graff doesn't share Redfin's prediction that Seattle could quickly become a buyer's market.

    "We're not as reliant on one business as we were back in the days when the Boeing bust happened in the '70s.  We're a very diverse economy," Graff said.

    Graff said there's still less than two months' worth of inventory on the market.

    While that's more than the two weeks we saw in the last couple of years, it's far from what's called a balanced market for buyers and sellers.

    "It’s really important for my clients to know that a balanced market would have four to six months of inventory. It's still a decidedly seller’s market," Graff said.

    Graff sees the market slowdown as a good thing, because it's a step back from the frenzy where buyers waived inspections to win a home.

    "It wasn't sustainable, the price increases we've seen the last few years. It wasn't good for the market, wasn't good for consumers," Graff said.

    Amazon's HQ2 announcement is expected before the end of the year.

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