Recent real estate news has made much of how King County, and in particular Seattle, are slowing down somewhat. Prices may still be fairly high, but they've fallen nearly $100,000 since the spring heyday, and those price increases are now decreasing there faster than anywhere in the country.
But areas around King County? Well, those are experiencing a bit of delayed heat from their proximity to one of the strongest job markets in the country.
Last year, that same effect was observed primarily in places that were close to King, and let buyers in at a cheaper price without sacrificing too much proximity – Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, for example.
But more recently that trend has extended to counties even farther away than an "average commute" could promise: Thurston County, where one broker noted that there were "the most affordable options when compared to the other major counties along I-5," kept demand very high in September despite King County starting to cool.
And the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service report says it's not alone. In December, the last month for which data was available, Thurston, Cowlitz, and Lewis counties all experienced a year-over-year price gain of at least 12.4 percent.
As transportation in the region continues to improve, many of these counties aren't as distant as they might seem, and boast prices far lower than what Seattle can.
"Regardless of what the news is saying about the Seattle market, at the end of the day, the Kitsap median home price is significantly lower than a home in King County," said Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. "This will be what keeps our inventory low due to the improved mobility between Colman Dock and Kingston, Bremerton, and eventually Port Orchard."
Which is true for King County versus any other county in the state: King's median sales price in December 2018 was $597,000, a good $80,000 more than the next closest county (San Juan) and more than $200,000 than Thurston, Kitsap, and Pierce counties. Heck, Lewis' $213,500 and Cowlitz's $199,000 could fit into King County's median price a few times over, let alone Seattle's $699,000.
And so it seems this will be the fate of Washington for a while: Although King County might be cooling off, everywhere else is just getting started.