OPINION: The Cost of Rising Home Prices in Seattle

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels.

Even before the pandemic, the housing prices in Seattle, and more so the Eastside have been trying their best to imitate San Francisco and Manhattan. But through all of that, one city has managed to cross the line from trying to imitate the most expensive housing markets in the United States, to actually beating the most expensive housing markets in the country. That city is Bellevue. Here, the median sale price for all houses and condos is currently sitting at $1.5 million, which has gone up by 72 percent year-over-year. To put all of this into perspective, a graph from Redfin showed that while the median sale price of Bellevue homes was at $1.5 million in January of 2022, the median sale price in January of 2020 was $835 thousand. The median sale price’s growth to nearly twice its original prices in 2020 strongly represents how much the housing market has grown or adapted, but none of this will end well. 

This exponential growth in housing prices will serve to make it difficult, if not impossible, for more people to buy a home within Bellevue and the cities that surround it. The increase in housing prices has happened due to a lack of available homes for sale, so people are paying far more than the asking price for the house in order to secure the house for themselves. That’s good for those who are looking to sell their houses during the next few years, but if your rent has grown far higher than what you can afford, you are fresh out of luck. The worst thing about the rising housing prices in Bellevue is that income in Bellevue and surrounding areas likely will not rise high enough to make up the difference. This forces the average American to spend more and more of their monthly income on housing, which makes their position even more precarious. While it is true that when home prices and income are compared, the average income has stalled long before the pandemic when compared to the average home price. However, the problem is that situations like the housing market in Bellevue will only serve to make the problem worse. In turn, all of these effects will exacerbate the housing instability issues those living on the Eastside are facing, and force more people to move far away from their jobs. Additionally, because housing instability will be made more prevalent by the rising housing prices, wealth disparities will only increase, with low-income communities being more likely to suffer the most. Overall, this shows that the high prices of housing in Bellevue and surrounding communities are not sustainable for the economy in the long term.