Brier no exception to rising property costs as some reach $1 million

One million dollar homes in Brier? You can bet your last dollar there are!

Home prices around the Puget Sound area are near all-time highs, and that is true throughout south Snohomish County. But homes going for seven figures are now popping up in local communities that might surprise some.

Such as the sleepy, rural town of Brier.

Over the past eight months, at least eight properties in Brier have sold for $950,000 or more, including one for $1.38 million in November 2016.

While the town of 6,300 residents has seen a few million dollar homes in the past, the latest crop might be the start of a longer-lasting trend, said long-time Brier real estate agent Frank Young.

“Seattle people are discovering Brier and they’re coming up and buying these houses,” Young said. “And it’s driving these prices up.”

Overall, median home prices in Brier have gone up 13 percent over the past year and have risen from a low of $310,000 in October 2011 to more than $500,000 today.

Young, who has been involved in real estate in Brier since 1991, pointed to more than 80 new homes between Brier Road and Old Poplar Road as prime examples of how home costs have escalated recently.

“All those have crept up,” Young noted. “They started in the 6’s ($600,000) and they’ve moved up into the 8’s ($800,000) now.”

A 3,653 square-foot four-bedroom new home in the 2800 block of 226th Street Southwest is the most expensive in the north central Brier neighborhood to be sold. It was purchased last month for $999,999 by a young Seattle couple before the property even went on the market.

Young isn’t surprised that residents of Seattle are looking north to purchase homes. “People are coming up from Seattle because it’s so expense down there,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of people who are discovering that we are really not that far. We’re just above Shoreline.”

“Once you step over that (King-Snohomish) county line, taxes are cheaper, prices are lower, houses are newer — you get more for your money — it’s less dense,” Frank continued.

But Seattle money isn’t the only reason home prices in Brier are soaring. For new builds, just getting an empty lot in line with city codes and ready for construction is costing more, Young stressed.

“Development costs are getting to be huge,” Young said. “It’s costing $80 — $90,000 per lot just to get it to the state where you can build on it, plus the cost of the lot. So that’s why your prices are higher with new construction.”

Developers and building use a three-to-one formula to calculate profitability of a potential house build, Young said. “If you have $300,000 in a lot, you need to get at least $900,000 for the house,” he explained.

Then there’s the low interest rates that are available to home buyers right now — what Young calls “free money” — that helps to veil the true cost of purchasing a house.

“The problem with that is it drives prices up because (mortgage) payments are lower,” Young said. “So people say, ‘I don’t care if it’s $800,000; the payments are only such-and-such.’”

The most recent listing by Multiple Listing Service (MLS) shows one house currently for sale in Brier near the million dollar mark: a 4,114 square-foot five-bedroom three-bath new home at 22711 Brier Road for $999,950 — a home being listed by Young and Brier Realty. And while Young believes the property will sell, he said the price is negotiable.

“We just dropped the price to a million; it was one million, one hundred (thousand). It was too high,” he said.

–By Doug Petrowski

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