COVID-19 and CHOP could benefit Snohomish County real estate

An estimated 40% to 55% of work formerly performed in an office building will be done remotely by 2025.

Tom Hoban

Tom Hoban

Tech company owner Peter Rex had seen enough. In late June, The Wall Street Journal published his goodbye letter to Seattle. He was on his way to Texas, citing politics and “a loss of freedom” for him and his dozens of employees. On the heals of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) and the fallout from it, it surprised almost no one.

He is not alone in his reaction to the current circumstances. Reports of shorter-than-normal lease renewal terms in Seattle office space the past two months are indicators that others are considering following his lead as they struggle to coax their employees back. They proved they can work from home safely and effectively. Christopher Lee of CEL Associates forecasts that 40% to 55% of work formerly performed in an office building will be done remotely by 2025. Office space will transform into more collaborative space, he postulates.

For regions like Snohomish County, this all may be good news because the most likely landing place for these businesses and the jobs they bring are the suburbs around Seattle. Smaller cities even farther out — like Chelan, Wenatchee, Cle Elum and Ellensburg — may now be a good fit for people looking to start a new life as the high cost of urban living squeezes them.

Real estate experts across the country are nearly unanimous that we can expect meaningful structural change in many other forms. People are re-prioritizing their lives. They have new ideas about where to live and work, how to shop and what they consume.

Previously drawn to smaller apartments in mostly urban settings, for example, millennial renters were already looking to the suburbs as household sizes grew. Now they are looking for larger units, explained Lee Menifee, PGIM Real Estate’s head of Americas Investment Research, in an interview with GlobeSt.com. “With COVID and the response to that, work at home, at least part of the time, may become more common. To do that comfortably definitely requires more space.”

The director of Western Washington University’s Center of Economic and Business Research, James McCafferty, is focused on our bruised psyche to track what might be coming our way. The speed of so much coming at us so quickly triggers fear, he explained in a June webinar, “where demand shock from closing stores is laid against supply shock from people not being allowed to patronize them.”

If it feels like you’re pumping the pedals but not sure where you’re going, you’re not alone. Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Where that movement leads us is still somewhat unclear just now, but it’s looking like the suburbs — until Seattle can heal itself and lure people back.

Occasional contributor Tom Hoban is chairman and co-founder of Hoban Family Office, a real estate investment and services enterprise in Everett.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

The Westwood Rainier is one of the seven ships in the Westwood line. The ships serve ports in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast Asia. (Photo provided by Swire Shipping)
Westwood Shipping Lines, an Everett mainstay, has new name

The four green-hulled Westwood vessels will keep their names, but the ships will display the Swire Shipping flag.

A Keyport ship docked at Lake Union in Seattle in June 2018. The ship spends most of the year in Alaska harvesting Golden King crab in the Bering Sea. During the summer it ties up for maintenance and repairs at Lake Union. (Keyport LLC)
In crabbers’ turbulent moment, Edmonds seafood processor ‘saved our season’

When a processing plant in Alaska closed, Edmonds-based business Keyport stepped up to solve a “no-win situation.”

Angela Harris, Executive Director of the Port of Edmonds, stands at the port’s marina on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Leadership, love for the Port of Edmonds got exec the job

Shoring up an aging seawall is the first order of business for Angela Harris, the first woman to lead the Edmonds port.

The Cascade Warbirds fly over Naval Station Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald file)
Bothell High School senior awarded $2,500 to keep on flying

Cascade Warbirds scholarship helps students 16-21 continue flight training and earn a private pilot’s certificate.

Rachel Gardner, the owner of Musicology Co., a new music boutique record store on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024 in Edmonds, Washington. Musicology Co. will open in February, selling used and new vinyl, CDs and other music-related merchandise. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Edmonds record shop intends to be a ‘destination for every musician’

Rachel Gardner opened Musicology Co. this month, filling a record store gap in Edmonds.

MyMyToyStore.com owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Burst pipe permanently closes downtown Everett toy store

After a pipe flooded the store, MyMyToystore in downtown Everett closed. Owner Tom Harrison is already on to his next venture.

Melrose and Vine Collective owner Kara Langus in her vintage collection room at her store on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New and vintage women’s boutique aims to dazzle in downtown Everett

Add some sparkle to your wardrobe: Melrose and Vine Collective opened inside a former bank building on Pacific Avenue.

Garry Clark, CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
CEO steps down at Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Garry Clark, who has led the nonprofit chamber of commerce for three years, is leaving to “seek new opportunities.”

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Ex-Seagen CEO to return to Bothell to lead newly relocated biotech firm

Clay Siegall, who resigned from Seagen over allegations of domestic abuse, is now CEO of cancer therapy developer Immunome.

Molbak’s Garden Cafe in Woodinville, Washington. Photographed in 2016. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
‘Shocked and heartbroken’: Woodinville garden store Molbak’s to close

After 67 years, Molbak’s Home + Garden, a mainstay just across the county line, will cease operations early next year.

Good Cheer’s two thrift stores are great places to find Christmas decorations and other knick-knacks. (File photo by David Welton)
A guide to gift buying on Whidbey Island

Consider these unique gift idea suggestions from the South Whidbey Record and the Whidbey News-Times

Senior Hailey Jardine uses the new heat press for DECA to make school apparel at Snohomish High School in Snohomish, Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.  DECA is a national nonprofit for students interested in business. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hot off the press! Snohomish High School students create custom swag

New heat presses allow teens to make T-shirts, hoodies and gear at the school’s merch store, Panther Pause — with the copyright.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.