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How “Zoom towns” are shaking up the real estate market in Methow Valley, WA

A smiling woman working with her laptop

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped so many things, including the housing market in northeastern Washington’s Methow Valley. As remote work transforms from being an emergency measure into established practice, urban dwellers are moving out from crowded, pricey cities into more tranquil rural communities, creating a COVID-driven land rush. 

The so-called “Zoom town” phenomenon has shaken up the Methow Valley real estate market as remote workers seek out the advantages of relocating to rural towns: 

  • A tranquil environment away from the urban hustle and bustle
  • Lower cost of living compared to nearby cities like Seattle
  • Methow Valley’s scenic beauty and natural wonders
  • Outdoor recreation options minimizing the risk of infection
  • Lower prices for larger houses

Surge of new residents 

While the real estate market in the Methow Valley experienced a slowdown at the beginning of lockdown restrictions in 2020, the market has since rebounded. This has resulted in a surge of people moving to the valley, with many Winthrop Realtors deluged by inquiries from people taking advantage of remote work to move to more ideal environs.

The increase in demand coupled with inventory that has never been very high to begin with has resulted in a steep increase in home prices in Methow Valley communities like Twisp and Winthrop. According to Realtor.com, the April median list price for homes in Winthrop has risen to $387,000, an eye-watering climb of more than 55% year-on-year.

Historically low mortgage rates, high demand for housing, and low supply have kept the market running hot, a trend that’s unlikely to die down anytime soon in our 2021 real estate market predictions. 

Threats and opportunities

The demand for houses is so high, desirable properties are inundated by multiple offers above list price and with waived contingencies. Even aggressive bidding won’t guarantee you the home you’re interested in. In many ways, the local housing market has become as competitive as that of the city. 

Besides its effect on real estate market prices, the “Zoom town” phenomenon may also have a long-running impact on the culture of the valley. Bidding wars may result in prices so high, local buyers may be unable to afford a home in their own community. The knock-on effect is especially concerning because a region that derives a good part of its revenue on hospitality and tourism relies on the specialized knowledge of local workers. 

On the plus side, the influx of hundreds of new residents into the valley’s tight-knit, low-population towns also has the potential to reshape local communities. Transplants provide a wealth of new opportunities for local businesses, allowing owners and workers to accumulate wealth and open up opportunities to build new homes for themselves in the region.

Are you looking to own your own slice of the idyllic Methow Valley? Coldwell Banker Winthrop Realty has more than 20 years of experience in the region, with a knowledgeable team of local experts that can get you the best price for the home you wish to buy or the property you want to sell. You can call the Coldwell Banker Winthrop Realty team at 509.996.2121 or email us at info(at)cbwinthrop(dotted)com for all your real estate needs in Methow Valley, WA.