Tech layoffs slow Bellevue real estate market

Bellevue’s median home price fell 21% in February as both listings and the number of people willing to pay for homes are down.

BELLEVUE, Washington – If you’re looking to buy a home, you may have noticed that there are fewer properties to choose from.

According to recent data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, not only is the number of listings down, but also the number of people willing to pay for homes with mortgage rates of 6-7%.

This is impacting the median home price in King County, which fell 7% in February compared to the same period last year.

But it’s Seattle’s tech hub, the East Side saw one of the biggest drops of 21%.

“Any time there’s uncertainty in your job as a buyer, you’re going to walk away,” said Dan Edwards, chief broker at The Eastside Real Estate Team.

Between Twitter, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon – more than 5,000 tech workers in Seattle have been affected by the wave of tech layoffs since October.

Edwards said that’s now influencing Seattle’s once hot market.

“I got a phone call from someone who was looking to get after buying his house that he was like he was ready for our permanent home and about two weeks later he said he there was a reorganization right now, so we’ll wait,” Edwards said.

Edwards said it was not a massive decline, but rather an easing of the market after sellers took advantage of years of historically high prices and profits.

“The suburbs had the biggest impact because they saw the biggest price increase,” said Edwards, who now sees prices return to where they were in the fall of 2021.

The decline has hit those looking to take advantage of the price spike hard.

Newly retired Mark Griffin and his wife Mary Gleason were thinking of selling their Sammamish home at the above asking price and putting a down payment on their new Nevada home.

But by the time they remodeled and painted their home, which they bought in the late 1990s for $500,000, mortgage rates were skyrocketing and tech layoffs were imminent.

“We were watching it go up and up and up and up and up and up…and then of course we decided to take advantage of it and yeah, it just started going down,” Gleason said.

While Edwards said East Side residents are still making plenty of profits, Griffin said he and his wife hope to earn enough from the sale of their home to cover closing costs and retirement while leaving a part of their investment to their adult children who still live in Seattle.

“You get older, you realize you’re going to pass something down to your kids eventually, right,” Griffin said. “And home equity is one of the first things people cling to.”

The couple eventually sold their home for 20% less than the asking price and said it wasn’t enough to cover what they wanted to pass on to their children.

But Edwards said the good news is that families like Griffin and Gleason are still able to sell, once the new reality sets in.

“You have to be realistic if you want to get started and you’re expecting multiple offers, it’s better if your price is at least 8% below market,” Edwards said.

Leave a Reply