Jun 6, 2024 - News

Million-dollar homes are the norm in 18 Seattle-area cities

A Seattle-area home with a For Sale sign in front.

A Seattle-area home for sale in April. Photo: David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the fourth-highest home sale prices and some of the tightest inventory in the nation, million-dollar homes are now the norm in 18 cities near Seattle.

Why it matters: Rising home costs coupled with relentlessly high interest rates are making it even harder for new, young or single prospective homebuyers to break into a market during a decades-long housing crisis.

By the numbers: The Seattle area saw a 9.6% year-over-year increase in April, according to the latest Re/Max National Housing Report.

  • The current median home sale price in Greater Seattle is $740,000, per Re/Max.
  • But many individual municipalities start much higher, according to Zillow.
  • Issaquah, Mercer Island, Sammamish, Bellevue, Redmond and Woodinville are among the region's cities with typical home prices at $1 million or higher, per Zillow.

Zoom in: Despite a slight cooldown in the rise of prices post-pandemic, it's rare to see real reductions in the Pacific Northwest, Jon Bergerson of Re/Max Metro Realty in Seattle told Axios.

  • Generally, he said, cities on the coast with mild weather and plentiful job opportunities are in high demand.
  • And in Seattle — which is tied for the lowest inventory nationally with Manchester, New Hampshire, per Re/Max — housing expansion is limited geographically to the east and west by mountains and water.

What they're saying: Many would-be buyers stepped back two years ago when interest rates — now around 7%started to climb, he said.

  • "But people have come to accept that the interest rates are the new normal and something they can't control," said Bergerson. "We're back to seeing multiple offers on homes and that's driving the prices up again."

Stunning stat: With so much wealth in the region, homes that are priced between $1 million and $2 million "are normal homes for regular working people," John Manning, managing broker for Re/Max Gateway in Seattle, told Axios.

Zoom out: The number of U.S. million-dollar cities climbed from 491 to 550 in the last year, partly because demand for homes outside cities has grown since the pandemic, Stephanie Anton, president of the Corcoran Affiliate Network, tells Axios.

  • In Washington state, the number of cities where the typical home is $1M+ has grown from 16 in 2023 to 18 in 2024, per the Zillow report.
  • Of the 18, 17 are officially in the Seattle, Tacoma and Bellevue area as defined by Zillow.
  • Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County is also on the list, but not included in Zillow's definition of the Seattle metro.

Between the lines: People with cash who don't have to worry about high mortgage rates are pushing more homes higher into the so-called luxury price range.

A map showing the share of cities with typical home values above $1 million, by U.S. state. Hawaii has the largest share, at 25%. California is second at 21.8%, and New Jersey a distant third at 9.8%. States with the highest share of "$1m cities" tend to be in the West and Northeast.
Data: Zillow; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
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