Is Seattle a Good Place to Invest in Real Estate?
Should you consider investing in Seattle real estate? Well, to answer that question we should take a look at its economy and jobs. Many real estate investors have asked themselves if buying a property in Seattle is a good investment. You need to drill deeper into local trends if you want to know what the market holds for the year ahead.
Seattle is a fairly walkable city in King County of Washington. It has a mixture of owner-occupied and renter-occupied housing. According to Neighborhoodscout.com, a real estate data provider, three and four-bedroom large apartment complexes are the most common housing units in Seattle's real estate market.
<<<Also Read: Seattle Housing Market Trends & Forecast>>>
Other types of housing that are prevalent in the market include single-family detached homes, duplexes, rowhouses, and homes converted to apartments. Single-family homes account for about 40% of housing units in Seattle. At the national level, single-family rental homes have grown up to 30% within the last three years. The Seattle real estate market always looks nearly as expensive as an overheated market. We all know that Seattle is an expensive real estate market that gives many investors pause. However, there are many compelling reasons to invest in Seattle.
After a significant decline in Seattle home prices in the past year, the prices have taken a good jump in the latest quarter of 2020. The shortage of homes for sale in the Seattle housing market is causing prices to rise. And so for all those reasons and more, rising property values are a positive development for homeowners and sellers in the Seattle area. The ongoing nationwide crisis has affected the real estate market of Seattle as well but not as much as we expected. As housing inventory in Seattle remains tight, it would make things very challenging for buyers.
Last Year's Housing Trends for Seattle
In the last year, we had record-breaking sales in the Seattle housing market despite record-low inventory levels. No month had a supply greater than a month. By and large, industry analysts define a balanced market as having an inventory of four to six months. The Seattle area home prices continue to rise beyond the reach of many buyers. The median home sold for $828,111 in King County, up 14.2 percent from 2020.
Prices increased even faster in Snohomish County, where the median price of $680,000 increased by 23.6 percent, and in Pierce County, where the median price of $502,500 increased by 19.6 percent. San Juan County had the highest median sale price: $860,000, an increase of 26.8 percent over a year ago. Seattle's median home price reached $859,000, an increase of 7.4 percent from 2020. Other areas of the county experienced greater increases.
Members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 107,354 closed sales in 2021. This was the first time the annual volume of sales exceeded 100,000 transactions. Completed sales exceeded $75 billion last year, surpassing the figure for 2020 by nearly $18.9 billion, representing a year-over-year (YOY) increase of nearly 33.6 percent.
Residential (single-family) home and condominium sales in 2021 exceeded those in 2020 by 11,594 transactions or 12.1 percent. Around 86 percent (92,713) of completed sales were single-family homes, while the remaining 14 percent (14,641) were condominiums. Buyers found themselves in competitive bidding situations for last year's sales, frequently paying above the asking price. Across the board, buyers paid an average of 104.7% of the listing price. King County homebuyers paid 106.6 percent, followed by Snohomish County homebuyers who paid 106 percent.
Condo prices area-wide (NWMLS members) rose 11.8%, from $380,000 in 2020 to $425,000 for last year's sales. In King County, which accounted for about six of every 10 condo sales (59%), the median price was $459,000, up a modest 6.7% from 2020. Less than 6% of last year's sales of single-family homes system-wide sold for less than $300,000. About half (48.8%) had sales prices between $500,000 and $1 million dollars. Almost two-thirds of condos (63.1%) sold for a half-million dollars or less.
The highlights in MWLS's annual compilation of statistics for the tri-county areas were showed that the average prices for single-family homes (excluding condos) in the tri-county areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish have skyrocketed since 1991.
- From 1991 to 2001 prices rose 88.8% in King County, 57% in Snohomish County, and 32.3% in Pierce County.
- From 2001 to 2011 prices increased 31.2% in King County, 16.2% in Snohomish County, and 23.5% in Pierce County.
- From 2011 to 2021 prices surged 249% in King County, 274% in Snohomish County, and 258% in Pierce County.
A closer look at 8,580 condo sales within six “sub-areas” of King County (where nearly 60% of all condo sales were located) shows Seattle accounted for 3,373 of them (about 39%), followed by the Eastside with 36%. The priciest condos, with a median sales price of $550,000, are on the Eastside, followed by Seattle ($495,000). Head south for more affordably priced condos. In the Southwest part of King County, the median sales price was $280,000, followed by the Southeast segment at $340,000.
Seattle Housing Demand is Strong
What does the state of Silicon Valley real estate have to do with the Seattle real estate market? Quite a bit. Seattle has long been a second-tier technology hub, bolstered by companies like Boeing, Amazon, F5, and Real Networks. Seattle’s strong tech ecosystem has led to several startups choosing to start here, but more importantly, many tech giants are setting up “outposts” here.
They’re moving jobs to Seattle so they can afford to expand or simply afford to remain in business. The influx of new high-paying jobs plus relocating employees to Seattle is driving demand for homes in Seattle. Over the past 10 years, Amazon has grown more than tenfold in the city of Seattle, from about 4,000 employees in its hometown to over 45,000.
Much of the growth in the local housing market can likely be attributed to growth at Amazon. The Seattle real estate market shares many of the constraints that drove up real estate prices in San Francisco. You can’t realistically build on water. It is hard to build in the mountains. You can build up, but that takes time and is expensive. And all the while, everyone wants to live close to the city center and jobs. This helps keep property values in the Seattle housing market high.
Seattle Housing Market Predictions
Seattle housing prices are going to rise in 2022 and 2023 albeit at a slower rate. Let us look at the price trends recorded by Zillow over the past few years. For the past 6 to 7 years an extreme drop in inventory led to an astronomical rise in Seattle home prices, as buyers competed over a dwindling number of properties on the market. Seattle has a track record of being one of the best long-term real estate investments in the U.S.
Since the last decade (Aug 2012), the home values in the city of Seattle have appreciated by nearly 154% — Zillow Home Value Index. As you can see in the graph given below, the home values increased consistently, starting in late 2012 and continuing through 2018. After that, it marked the beginning of a sustained downturn in prices which lasted for over a year. In 2018, prices took a steep drop. From July 2018 onward the home values started declining and they continued so until November of 2019. The trajectory has shifted from last Oct 2019 to an upward trend.
The current typical home value of homes in Seattle is $982,604. ZHVI represents the whole housing stock and not just the homes that list or sell in a given month. It indicates that 50 percent of all housing stock in the area is worth more than $982,604 and 50 percent is worth less (adjusting for seasonal fluctuations). In June 2021, the typical value of homes in Seattle was around $857,000. Home values have gone up 14.5% since then.
Similar growth has been recorded by NeighborhoodScout.com. Their data also shows that Seattle's real estate appreciated 124.93% over the last ten years, which is an average annual home appreciation rate of 8.44%, putting Seattle in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation.
As of now, Seattle prices are up across the board. Condos are still below their peak price, but this is the highest the condo price has been since the peak of 2018. Houses have surpassed the peak breaking records month over month. During the latest twelve months alone, the Seattle appreciation rate has been 11.58%, and in the latest quarter, the appreciation rate has been at 1.69%, which annualizes to a rate of 6.92%.
This figure also corroborates Zillow's positive forecast, so the home prices in this region are expected to increase by a single digit in the next twelve months. It means that there is a situation in which demand exceeds supply, giving sellers an advantage over buyers in price negotiations. That's how housing prices increase in a region.
Here is the housing forecast for Seattle, King County, and Seattle MSA. The home appreciation has been incredibly strong over the past year.
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metro home values have gone up 21.1% (current = $793,263) over the past year.
- The Seattle metro housing market forecast ending with June 2033 is positive.
- Zillow predicts that Seattle metro home values may grow by 6.6% by June 2023.
- If this forecast is correct, Seattle metro home prices will be higher in the 2nd Quarter of 2023 than they were in the 2nd Quarter of 2022.
- Seattle (City) home values have gone up 14.5% over the past year.
- King County home values have gone up 20.7% ($933,537 as of June 2022).
- Pierce County home values have gone up 17.8% over the past year.
- Pierce county is comparatively affordable with a typical home value being $571,129.
- The typical home value of homes in Snohomish County is $783,516, up by almost 24.5% over the past year.
The chart below, created by Zillow, shows the growth of median home values since 2012.
Seattle Real Estate Investment Generates Excellent ROI In The Long Term
Seattle's housing market has been one of the hottest in the country for years. In the past ten years, the annual real estate appreciation rate has amounted to nearly 9.26%. This puts Seattle in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation. Seattle has repeatedly hit lists as being among the top cities for real estate sellers to get the highest return on their investment.
Property values have gone up consistently for years. Rental rates are high and continue to rise, guaranteeing ROI for those who buy and hold properties for the long term. We’ve already addressed the fact that you can raise rents as necessary to match the market. This means you will certainly be able to profit from the large rental market in Seattle whether you buy and hold or buy and flip.
Seattle Has Friendly Business Climate
Businesses aren’t just relocated to Seattle to tap into a growing, skilled labor market. Others are simply relocating because they cannot stay in business in California. California has the highest income taxes in the United States. Incredibly intrusive and endlessly proliferating regulation only makes it harder for businesses to operate. While many businesses are moving to Texas, Seattle is closer both in culture and geography. That they can find cheaper talent and real estate while gaining more freedom to operate their businesses only adds to the bottom line.
Seattle's Tech Landscape Is Rapidly Evolving
Seattle was the fastest-growing major city in the country in 2015. It has ranked among the top 5 fastest growing cities since 2010, hitting a 3.1% annual growth in 2016. Many young people move here because it is seen as an excellent place to live and get started, and that’s aside from the strong job market. The exodus from California to Seattle is only part of the equation, since Seattle attracts people from all over the country, and in truth, around the world. Seattle's tech landscape and real estate market are rapidly evolving.
Google has upped the size of its new Seattle campus. Facebook has been on a hiring spree in the Seattle area, particularly for its virtual reality arm Oculus, which is growing fast in Microsoft’s backyard of Redmond. GeekWire reported on new HQ leases for top Seattle startups Rover and Outreach. Other companies continue to grow and that will pick up any slack. Tech has blown up Seattle. For the past 5 years, we have seen 50% price growth in this market which has priced out many middle-class buyers.
Seattle Rental Market Is Very Strong
Around a third of people in the U.S. rent. However, in Seattle, the rate is over half. This is partially due to the cost of homes in the Seattle housing market. Another contributing factor is that Millennials are less willing to be tied down to a home and thus prefer to rent, while Seattle is one of the top cities for attracting these young adults.
They’re probably going to continue to rent instead of buying homes. Environmentalist protections for large swaths of land around Seattle limit how far the city could spread out. This prevents the value of homes in the Seattle housing market from coming down as people relocate to distant suburbs, trading home values for commute time. Building up is increasingly an option, but you can’t do that here the way they’ve done it in Miami.
The financial district allows buildings to be as tall as FAA regulations allow, but that’s pretty much it. Nor does that designation matter much, since the area is mostly built-up. The rest of Seattle is zoned low, preventing demand from being met by building condo towers. That keeps Seattle rental property rates high.
Seattle Rent Prices Are Rising in 2022
Rental prices are rising in Seattle due to an increase in demand. As of October 03, 2022, the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Seattle, WA is currently $2,009. This is an 18% increase compared to the previous year. The average monthly rent for a studio apartment in Seattle jumped by 1 percent to $2,009 during the last month. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment remained flat.
- Two-bedroom apartments in Seattle rent for $2,799 a month on average which is a 22% increase from last year.
- Three-bedroom apartment rents average $3,495 which is a 13% increase from last year.
- Four-bedroom apartment rents average $4,000 which is a 0% increase from last year.
Only 15% of the apartments can be rented for less than $1500, and more than 50% of the apartments are priced at more than $2,000 per month. This shows that overall rent prices are very high in Seattle and a huge drop in rent prices can help new renters to lock in a long-term lease.
These are some of the most affordable neighborhoods where the rent prices are below the Seattle average rent:
- Innis Arden
- Richmond Beach
- The Highlands
The Zumper Seattle Metro Area Report analyzed active listings last month across 6 metro cities to show the most and least expensive cities and cities with the fastest growing rents. The Washington one-bedroom median rent was $1,566 last month. Bellevue was the most expensive city with one-bedrooms priced at $2,510 while Renton was the most affordable city with one-bedrooms priced at $1,720.
Here are the best areas to invest in a rental property in the Seattle Metro Area in 2022. Investors should consider the suburbs of major metropolitan areas for residential rental opportunities, as they're an ideal investment and have seen an increase in buyer demand in this pandemic.
The cities should be within driving distance of major cities or metro areas. Locations with growing employment opportunities attract more tenants. Most importantly, vet the local neighborhoods thoroughly — their livability, vacancy rate, average rents, quality of the local schools, and amenities such as parks, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters.
The Cities With Fastest Growing Rents in Seattle Metro (Y/Y%)
- had the fastest growing rent, up 35.5% since this time last year.
- Seattle saw rent climb 21.2%, making it second.
- Bellevue was third with rent jumping 13.6%.
The Cities With Fastest Growing Rents in Seattle Metro (M/M%)
- Seattle had the largest monthly rental growth rate, up 1.5%.
Seattle's Large Student Market Is Great For Rental Property Investment
While we cannot say this just about the Seattle housing market, the fact remains that large cities with a strong network of educational institutions always create an opportunity for those who want to own rental properties. Students don’t buy houses – they rent. A college town with a single university sees property values rise and fall relative to the popularity of the university. Seattle’s nearly two dozen four-year colleges provide a diverse market for landlords catering to students, while the strong local job market means you can rent the property out to locals if the students move out.
Seattle Is Friendly To Foreign Real Estate Buyers
The United States is pretty friendly to foreign real estate buyers. Canada has limited the ability of foreign buyers to buy up properties in Canada, a major reason why Vancouver became one of the most overvalued real estate markets in the world. This has led many Chinese investors to buy up Seattle real estate instead, making the city the third destination for foreign real estate investors.
Some hope to send kids to study in the U.S., while a few have children here. Others buy the properties as a way to park money overseas in a relatively low tax jurisdiction with likely returns if they choose to sell later. Since foreign buyers don’t always rent the properties out, this drives up prices in the Seattle real estate market while indirectly constricting supply.
The Seattle Housing Market Is Landlord Friendly
Many investors are reluctant to buy properties in liberal markets because they’re afraid they won’t be able to protect their investment. However, there are several points in favor of Seattle, especially in comparison to Oregon and California. Washington State outlawed rent control, so you can raise rents to keep up with inflation and demand.
If a tenant breaks the lease without the landlord’s consent, the tenant is liable for rent through the end of the lease. Landlords have significant freedom in their screening questions. If a tenant has a month-to-month lease, the landlord can only end it for one of 18 approved reasons, but they can end it with a written notice three weeks before the end of the month.
Is Buying a House in Seattle a Good Investment?
Seattle has long been second to Silicon Valley, but its strong economy, diverse population, and better regulatory climate are bringing refugees from California and migrants from around the country and world to live here. Regardless of the area’s weather, the Seattle housing market’s outlook can only be described as sunny.
Good cash flow from Seattle investment property means the investment is, needless to say, profitable. A bad cash flow, on the other hand, means you won’t have money on hand to repay your debt. Therefore, finding the best investment property in Seattle in a growing neighborhood would be key to your success.
The three most important factors when buying real estate anywhere are location, location, and location. The location creates desirability. Desirability brings demand. You should focus on neighborhoods with relatively high population density and employment growth. Both of them translate into high demand for housing. There should be a natural and upcoming high demand for rental properties. Demand would raise the price of your Seattle rental property and you should be able to get a good return on your investment over the long term.
The neighborhoods in Seattle must be safe to live in and should have a low crime rate. The neighborhoods should be close to basic amenities, public services, schools, and shopping malls. A cheaper neighborhood in Seattle might not be the best place to live in. A cheaper neighborhood should be determined by these factors – Overall Cost Of Living, Rent To Income Ratio, and Median Home Value To Income Ratio. It depends on how much you are looking to spend and if you are wanting smaller investment properties or larger deals in Class A neighborhoods. The inventory is low, but opportunities are there.
There are 75 neighborhoods in Seattle. Some of the other popular neighborhoods in Seattle where you can invest in Seattle investment properties are Maple Leaf, Central District, Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Columbia City, Belltown, Beacon Hill, Green Lake, West Seattle, Wallingford, Madison Park, Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Northgate.
Here are some of the best neighborhoods in the Seattle metro area where you can buy a house or an investment property.
North Redmond is in King County and is one of the best places to live in Washington. According to Niche.com, living in North Redmond offers residents a sparse urban feel and most residents own their homes. In North Redmond, there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many families live in North Redmond and residents tend to lean liberal. The public schools in North Redmond are highly rated. The typical value of homes in North Redmond is $1,809,188, up 32.6% over the past year.
North Delridge is quite an affordable neighborhood in Seattle. It lies in King County and is one of the best places to live in Washington. According to Niche.com, living in North Delridge offers residents an urban-suburban mixed feel. The area is known for its lush natural beauty and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. The public schools in North Delridge are highly rated. The typical home value in North Delridge is $670,846. North Delridge home values have gone up 8.6% over the past year. About 48% of the residents like to rent a home.
Capitol Hill is a densely populated residential district in Seattle (Not be confused by Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.). It is located east of the city's Downtown on the other side of Interstate 5. Capitol Hill is the 9th most walkable neighborhood in Seattle with a Walk Score of 91 and is bikeable. It is one of the city's most popular nightlife and entertainment districts. Made up of a few smaller neighborhoods, rents in Capitol Hill average around $1,900 a month. The community is made up of young professionals, singles, and families with kids. This neighborhood exists alongside 536 submarkets in the greater Seattle market.
According to Redfin.com, the Capitol Hill housing market is somewhat competitive. In October 2021, Capitol Hill home prices were up 18.2% compared to last year, selling for a median price of $780K. On average, homes in Capitol Hill sell after 7 days on the market compared to 20 days last year. There were 37 homes sold in October this year, up from 32 last year.
On Apartmenthomeliving.com, the pricing for Studio Apartments in Capitol Hill currently ranges from $675 to $8,049 with an average price of $3,228. On average rent for a studio apartment in this residential neighborhood is $1,768, and has a range from $675 to $3,945. One-bedroom apartments average $2,350 and range from $770 to $3,980. A 2 bedroom apartments averages $3,350 and ranges from $1,192 to $4,995. Three-bedroom apartments average $5,392 and range from $2,650 to $8,049.
Highland Park is a neighborhood in King County. Living in Highland Park offers residents an urban-suburban mix feel and most residents rent their homes. The public schools in Highland Park are above average. The median home value in Highland Park is $651,903. Highland Park home values have gone up 13.8% over the past year. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Highland Park, Seattle, WA is $1,711. Highland Park rent is 21% lower than Seattle's average rent. The price range for a studio apartment in Highland Park, Seattle, WA is between $1,850 and $2,299. The price range for a 1-bedroom apartment in Highland Park, Seattle, WA is between $1,850 and $2,299.
South Hollywood Hill is in King County and is one of the best places to live in Washington. According to Niche.com, living in South Hollywood Hill offers residents a sparse urban feel and most residents own their homes. In South Hollywood Hill there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. The public schools in South Hollywood Hill are highly rated.
Sammamish Plateau also lies in King County. It is an upscale, picturesque suburb situated between Lake Sammamish and the Snoqualmie Valley. The market in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish is currently very hot. Living here offers residents a sparse suburban feel. The typical home value in Sammamish is $1,372,491, up 28.3% over the past year.
Sammamish Plateau is consistently ranked among the best places to live in the state and the country. The public schools in Sammamish Plateau are highly rated. According to Apartments.com, the average rent in Sammamish is $1,976. When you rent an apartment in Sammamish, you can expect to pay as little as $1,678 or as much as $2,517, depending on the location and the size of the apartment. The average rent for a studio apartment in Sammamish, WA is $1,678 while the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Sammamish, WA is $2,467.
The ten neighborhoods in Seattle have the highest real estate appreciation rates since 2000—List by Neigborhoodscout.com.
- Yesler Terrace West
- Belltown Northeast
- Belltown East
- Central Waterfront
- Belltown Southeast
- First Hill East
- International District
- First Hill
- University of Washington Seattle Campus
Apart from the Seattle real estate market, you can also invest in another hot market in Spokane, WA. Spokane is a relatively cheap real estate market on the West Coast. It is already seeing increased demand and property valuations, while it remains a safe place to invest in real estate. Skip Seattle and Silicon Valley and invest in the future growth of Spokane. One reason why Spokane long lagged behind Seattle was its higher unemployment rate.
Seattle has a roughly 3% unemployment rate, significantly lower than the 5% unemployment rate seen in Spokane. Spokane’s economy, though, is seeing a surge in higher-wage jobs. Out of the tens of thousands of new jobs created since 2010, the majority of them pay more than the average county wage – which is in line with the national average. The promise of better pay will lure many people to Spokane to live, fueling demand for the Spokane housing market.
The next one is the Tacoma real estate market. It is the second-largest city in a state that is often a better choice for investors than the largest city since demand is strong but not so great that investors worry about being priced out of the market or being caught up in a bubble. Tacoma is the third-largest city in Washington state.
Rents and property values in the Tacoma area are rising due to increased demand and constrained supply. This is an ideal time to buy. Roughly speaking, the median house in the Tacoma area is now the same price as the typical house in King County in 2012. Furthermore, there are many reasons to consider investing in Tacoma real estate over homes and condominiums in nearby housing markets.
Then comes the Walla housing market which includes two suburbs, encompassing more than fifty thousand people. The area has become the hub of Washington State’s wine country, though wheat remains a major contributor to the local agricultural economy. Walla Walla is one of the real estate markets in the state that doesn’t depend on Seattle’s growth for appreciation. Walla Walla sits on the Washington-Oregon state line. The Walla Walla housing market is poised for steady price growth. The median home value in Walla Walla is $278,247 and home values have gone up 4.4% over the past year.
For a majority of investors, buying or selling real estate is one of the most important decisions they will make. Choosing a real estate professional/counselor continues to be a vital part of this process. They are well-informed about critical factors that affect your specific market areas, such as changes in market conditions, market forecasts, consumer attitudes, best locations, timing, and interest rates.
Is Seattle a Good Place to Invest in Real Estate?
Not just limited to Seattle or Washington but you can also invest in some of the hottest real estate markets in the United States. All you have to do is fill up this form and schedule a consultation at your convenience. We’re standing by to help you take the guesswork out of real estate investing. By researching and structuring complete turnkey real estate investments, we help you succeed by minimizing risk and maximizing profitability.
Caveat emptor applies anywhere you buy property. Some of this article's information came from referenced websites. Norada Real Estate Investments provides no explicit or implied claims, warranties, or guarantees that the material is accurate, trustworthy, or current. All information should be validated using the below references. Norada Real Estate Investments does not predict the future US housing market.
Why Invest In Seattle
Neighborhoods info & rent prices
Market Prices, Trends & Forecasts