Known as one of the most beautiful major cities in the world, Seattle is a lot more than just rain and coffee. In fact, this city of more than 600,000 residents has a total of 4 million living with the metro area, making it the 15th largest metro area in the United States. Those who live in Seattle tend to love the outdoors, with endless waterway and mountains to explore – all located a short drive from home in the city. It is a very multicultural city, and is also known for an active arts scene with many famous musicians growing up and getting their starts in Seattle. Because of the topography of the area, large pieces of land within the city limits are hard to come by, and usually come along with a serious price tag.
For many years, Seattle was based around two things when it comes to the economy – aerospace and shipping. The presence of Boeing and the Port of Seattle were the center of business activity in the area for a long time, but that has changed drastically in the last couple of decades. Seattle is one of the hotbeds of technology in the country, serving as home to Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Nintendo of America. Other major corporations that are centered in Seattle include T-Mobile USA, Costco, PACCAR, Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, among many others. A large percentage of the residents of Seattle have originally come to the city because of an opportunity to work for one of these big businesses.
Housing is generally expensive all throughout Seattle, but the neighborhoods near the water tend to be costlier than those inland. Seattle is bordered by Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, so communities along both of those shorelines are known to have high housing costs. Among the places in Seattle where average home listings can rise above $500,000 includes Magnolia, Belltown, Queen Anne, West Seattle, Madison Park, Sand Point, and Montlake. For less expensive housing options, the neighborhoods along the I-5 corridor are where a buyer should look. Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Northgate, Roosevelt, International District, Georgetown, and more all have listings that can average around $200,000 and below.
Seattle has a reputation for being a culturally diverse city because there are many different races that are represented. However, the numbers show that it remains one of the whitest major cities in the country. Two thirds of those living in Seattle are White, with a 14% Asian population making up the next biggest demographic. There are also 8% Black residents, and 6% Hispanic or Latino. Another contributing factor to the reputation of Seattle as being diverse is that the city is known for being open-minded and accepting to other races, sexual orientations, etc. Consistent with what would be expected of a major city with high housing costs is that the per capita income in Seattle is comfortably above the national average.
Single family homes in Seattle make up about two thirds of the living accommodations, with high rise condos and apartments accounting for most of the rest. Renters and owners are split about 50/50 in Seattle, which is a slighter high percentage of owners than is seen in other big cities. Much of the housing is older within the city, and half of the properties for sale are built before 1960. The square footage of properties available depends mostly on the location – in downtown or near to downtown, space is at a premium. The farther one gets away from the downtown area while remaining in the city, the bigger a property is likely to be.
2013 has been a good year in terms of real estate for the city of Seattle. Pretty much all numerical indicators are up over last year, and the city looks to be in for a longer term period of growth in the real estate market. The median sales price in the city has almost reached $400,000, placing Seattle as one of the more expensive real estate markets in the country. That number indicates a 3% rise over last year, and the average listing price of $729,000 has gone up almost 3% as well. Where the big increase can be found is in the number of listings on the market. Sales are up 33% as compared to 2012, making for a fast paced and competitive market as more people are looking to both buy and sell. A good property within the city of Seattle will always be a hot commodity, but perhaps now more than any time in the past few years, buyers need to move quickly to land their ideal piece of the city.
One visit to Seattle and many people are sold on everything the city has to offer. Natural beauty is something that can’t be faked, and Seattle has it to no end. There are world-class dining and entertainment options, professional and college sports teams, outdoor recreation, and employment opportunities with some of the biggest corporations in the country. Add that all up and the high price of Seattle housing becomes easy to understand.
Bell Real Estate - Broker
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