Tech and Real Estate Boom: 3 Tips for Moving to Seattle

April 26, 2017

The real estate market is currently booming in Seattle, having closed out 2016 as the hottest housing region in the nation. If our state government has anything to do with it, we’re not going to slow down anytime soon either: Seattle aims to accommodate 47,000 additional households within the city by 2024.

Driven largely by the entrance and expansion of notable tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon’s ever growing presence, more and more people are moving here everyday. While this city certainly has a lot of great things to offer potential residents, and each neighborhood boasts its own unique personality and allure, it’s not as easy as picking and choosing might sound. Aside from the cost, you’d be hard pressed to miss the rising inflation that rose by 11 percent last year alone, competition is also fierce. Seattle is home to 10 of the country’s 30 most competitive neighborhoods.

For the many of you looking to move out to the Emerald City, there are a few key tips to keep in mind that will make the process smoother (PS we’re hiring if you want to relocate and join our Seattle team!).

seattle cityscape

Divert From Downtown

While the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle is exciting, it may not offer the lifestyle you’re looking for. The reality is many homeowners in the area look outside the city center to put down roots. Take Bellevue for example. The suburb outpaced Seattle’s growth rate for the first time in 2015, growing by an impressive 2.4 percent.

For a property size that you can grow into, and for a bit of green outside your door versus the concrete jungle, don’t write off the suburbs. Not only are they traditionally more family oriented, they also offer great starter homes for young entrepreneurs coming to the area and looking to build their lives. They also have the added benefit of being easy to get around: you can easily walk to the corner store, or hop in the car and actually find free parking.

Some areas to keep in mind include:

  • Issaquah – Contains a great balance of housing options, from condos and townhomes to contemporary houses and historic homes. The balance of locally owned businesses and well-known chain stores make for a variety of great shopping and dining options.
  •  Bainbridge Island – An accessible 30-minute, stress-free commute to downtown via ferry, Bainbridge is a strong community-centered island where a lot of Seattle’s doctors and lawyers call home.
  •  Bellevue – Quickly growing Bellevue is a great option for the downtown commuter clocking just over 20 minutes away. With the convenience of the Bellevue Collection for your more affluent shopping needs, Bellevue was named the 2nd best place to live by USA Today.
  •  Sammamish – Surrounded by Lake Sammamish on one side and Snoqualmie Valley on the other, this quaint suburb offers historic housing and one of the lowest crime rates in the greater Seattle-area. Fun fact: Forbes ranked Sammamish number one in a round up of “Friendliest Towns in the United States.”
  •  Kirkland – Another ‘burb located east of Seattle, this waterfront city is known for its many beaches, thanks to being situated on the shores of Lake Washington. Kirkland is also known for its support of the arts, and the Kirkland Arts Center plays a big role in the community.
  • Mercer Island – A quick 10-15 minute commute to downtown Seattle, its waterfront properties and accessibility to cyclers make it a prime candidate for the incoming adventurer. Note: Mercer Island is best for renters—its housing prices are known to be astronomical, with the median list price per square foot in Mercer Island coming in at $550, which is more than double the Seattle Metro average of $205.

 

Pay Attention to Pricing

Hand-in-hand with familiarizing yourself with the various neighborhoods and determining which best suites your preferred lifestyle, before making a move you must also look into average home prices per neighborhood. It’s not enough to simply Google “median home price” or “average rent cost” in Seattle, with a city that extends this far out, costs can vary greatly. What might come up for the average two-bedroom condo in downtown Seattle, for example, will not be consistent with the price tag in Kirkland. You also can’t forget to consider the ancillary commuting costs: gas, bridge tolls and montly parking need to be factored in.

Think about where you want to live, but be realistic in terms of where you can comfortably afford. On top of the house’s going price, you must also budget in closing costs, additional fees, and taxes.

Plan a Trip

This tip is twofold. First and foremost, plan a trip out to Seattle before making the final leap. While this may seem obvious, with virtual tours and Zillow at our fingertips, it’s easy to sometimes think you’re able to see all you need to see online. You need to physically experience a city, explore your surroundings, and preferably set foot inside the door of the place you plan to buy or rent before signing on the dotted line—even if it only asks for an e-signature.

Secondly, before deciding on your neighborhood of choice, be sure to plan a couple trips from your potential home, to the most common places you plan to frequent—work, the closest grocery store, your kids’ new school, the gym—whatever they may be. Learn the nearest freeways, back roads and ferry options (in Seattle, that’s a thing). Test your commute time and determine if it’s sensible to do on a daily basis. If sitting in the car for more than an hour in rush hour traffic doesn’t sound ideal, you might want to reconsider the sprawling home in the suburbs and opt for a smaller place closer to the city.

Seattle is a beautiful, unique city full of art, culture, and business opportunities. It can absolutely be the home of your dreams, if you plan correctly. Hope to see you around the neighborhood.

-Morgan

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