If you've found yourself caught in a bidding war for a Tri-Cities home you may be left wondering, "Who are these people jumping on just-listed houses?" There's a greater than 10 percent chance they aren't people at all; they're companies.

Communities experiencing a real estate boom (what's colloquially called a seller's market) typically see LLC's snapping up available homes as investment properties. Sometimes they rent them out, sometimes they renovate the homes before flipping.

Just because a buyer is an LLC doesn't mean it's a giant corporation. Sure, Seattle Realtors are increasingly working for Chinese companies, but a Tri-Cities LLC might be a husband and wife purchasing 1 or 2 homes to flip. Either way, if you're looking for a roof for your young family to enjoy the American Dream it's frustrating to lose a bidding war to a company instead of another family.

The number of Seattle homes owned by LLCs have tripled in the last 15 years. The Benton County Assessor doesn't store records in a way that makes comparing to 15 years ago possible, but they did say that as of today 12 percent of single-family homes on lots 1 acre or smaller are owned by LLCs.

  • In Benton County it's 5,783 out of 48,232 (12%)
  • In Richland it's 1,723 out of 16,057 (10.7%)
  • In Kennewick it's 2,179 out of 20,475 (10.6%)
Catherine Yeulet