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Snohomish County housing prices surge as demand outpaces supply

Prices have soared, as Snohomish County saw a 16% increase in home sales over this time last year and a low inventory of houses for sale.

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. — Larry Newton's summer pastime this year has been sitting in his yard and watching the property values grow.

"The houses here are on the market for a day or less," he said. "They want the house because the demand is well beyond the supply."

Three houses on one block alone recently sold in Newton's Snohomish County neighborhood. But that is an extreme rarity, these days.

The number of available houses across the county is down more than 50% from last summer.

"I haven't seen this low a level of homes for sale in over 20 years," said Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.

King County remains king of the hill when it comes to home prices with the median at $615,000. Snohomish County is next at $470,000, and Pierce County settles in at $369,000.

Despite the lack of inventory, Gardner said Snohomish County is leading the way with a 16% increase in home sales over this time last year.

"Am I concerned about a bubble? No," he said. "Things are very different from 2008 when we were lending money to anyone with a heartbeat."

The market's heartbeat is strong even as coronavirus spreads.

"We essentially didn't have a spring selling season this year because of coronavirus," Gardner said. "So, the spring shifted to summer and summer is going to move into fall."

The market has also been buoyed by historically low interest rates and the fact that upper-income earners have, for the most part, kept their jobs during the pandemic.

"The pandemic has hit renters much harder than homeowners," Gardner said.

The bedroom community of Mountlake Terrace is one of the most popular hot spots right now. Mountlake Terrace, which is Snohomish County's closest city to Seattle, will be even more convenient in a few years when the Link light rail moves in.

A 3-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot house in the city just sold for $725,000.

As for when this hot market will begin to cool off, Gardner said not until the holidays, and he expects it to pick right back up in the spring.

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