IN OCTOBER 2021, we saw pretty much the same thing we’ve been seeing all year: It’s a hot time for the suburbs. Closing prices in Pierce County and Snohomish County grew by the same rate last month, at around 20 percent compared to the same time last year, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
There’s the obvious explanation—that with flexible work-from-home policies and a greater desire for space spurred by the pandemic, buyers looked farther away from the city for their home bases. But it gets a little more complicated. According to James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, baby boomers and millennial first-time buyers are both eyeing the outer regions as their work circumstances continue to change.
Remote work fuels younger buyers
For millennials, the question is whether they’ll be going back into an office and how often. Much of this depends on what employers decide, but Young notes “the extent to which employees are going to be willing to come back to the city all the time” is a factor, too. Although that doesn’t extend to everyone who could work in an office (and certainly not to those whose work is reliant on showing up, like nurses or service-industry workers).