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Can I Afford to Buy a Home in Seattle?

Whether you are a recent Seattle transplant or a lifelong resident finally ready to invest in your dream home, buying a house in Seattle may be a daunting process. The booming tech industry has made our city a destination for many professionals across a number of industries, driving real estate prices up. 

If you are hoping to invest in Seattle real estate but aren’t sure where to start, Seattle Mortgage Planners is here to help. Here are a few things to consider when determining if you can afford to buy a home in Seattle.

Seattle’s Housing Market

A predominant cause of the high real estate prices in Seattle is the low-inventory housing market

While both demand and supply sharply decreased at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic earlier in 2020, supply is taking a bit longer to catch back up. Active listings for sale dropped by almost 45% in a year-over-year comparison to October 2019, and prices remain high.

A low-inventory housing market puts homebuyers (and even renters) in a place where large percentages of their incomes need to go toward their rent or house payments — an estimated 30 percent by some accounts. 

According to, in order to rent an average-priced apartment in Seattle comfortably, you’d need to be earning $53,133 a year, or $26 an hour. With Seattle’s current minimum wage between $13.50 and $16.39, affording living in the city is out of reach for many households. 

However, working with professional mortgage planners can help you explore your housing options in the current real estate market. Check out our pro tips below, and contact us today to learn more about your housing options!

[Related: Guide to Renters Curious About Owning in Seattle]

Affording Housing in Seattle

While Seattle’s current real estate market can make the home buying process difficult, having a few tricks up your sleeve can help you navigate it and find the best options for your family. A few best practices we suggest when exploring housing in Seattle include the following.

Get to Know the Neighborhoods

Seattle’s unique neighborhoods make our city special. From West Seattle’s ocean views to Phinney Ridge’s quirky charm and beyond, each of our city’s divisions offers its own special brand of appeal. Understanding the pros and cons of each area will also help you in your home buying search, and find the perfect neighborhood for you and your lifestyle.

For example, some neighborhoods, such as Capitol Hill and Lower Queen Anne, are highly walkable with easy access to public transportation. This may open up the opportunity to live without a car, making higher housing prices a bit more affordable without the associated costs of parking, gas, and insurance. 

These neighborhoods also boast an exciting nightlife scene, which may be considered a pro or con depending on your preference (or where exactly your home is located). 

On the flip-side, rent in the neighborhoods further away from the city center is often cheaper, but living in those areas may require having a car or spending more time on transportation.

Explore our blog’s neighborhood spotlights for detailed breakdowns of the various places to live in Seattle!

[Related: Important Tips for Millennial Homebuyers]

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is key to finding quality Seattle real estate. While some moves may be unforeseen, taking a few steps ahead of time may put you in front of others when applying for housing. Remember these pro-tips during your housing search:

Notify References

Whether you are renting or buying, you may need references from your place of work, previous landlords, or others before sellers will consider your application. Simply asking your workplace or supervisor to keep an eye out for a call about your housing may prevent them from missing these calls and help get you ahead in the process.

Leverage Your Network

While you may be brand new to a city, it never hurts to leverage your network when looking to buy a home. 

This step may mean posting on workplace job boards or asking friends if they know of people selling homes in a certain area. These simple and quick questions may help speed up the process and ultimately help you find good housing faster.

Consider Looking During Winter

Searching for homes during the winter may also help you find housing in Seattle, since fewer people tend to move to the city at this time. Prices may also be lower, since sellers want to knock unsold homes off of their “to-sell” list before the end of the year.

Be Ready to Make an Offer

Being ready to make an offer if you feel right about the property is another way to get in line ahead of others. While doing your research and being sure about investing in a home are key, being ready to make an offer promptly can get you to the front of the line for Seattle real estate.

Work With a Professional

Working with an experienced mortgage planning professional is a final tool to have during your housing search. Our team is happy to help you navigate this process and find a home that works for your living and financial needs.

Contact Seattle Mortgage Planners Today

To learn more about affording housing in Seattle and making the move to the city, check out our real estate budgeting tips and our complete guide to buying a home in Seattle. To work with our team and find your perfect Seattle home, contact us today!

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