Seattle’s Strong Economy Translates into Real Estate Success
In April 1971, drivers leaving Seattle on their way to SeaTac airport passed a billboard with a striking message: “Will the last person in Seattle please turn out the lights?”
At the time, the sign reflected a struggling economy and widespread job losses in the region. For many, it appeared the city couldn’t rebound. Yet over the next 50 years, the blue-collar fishing and logging town completely transformed, becoming one of the fastest-growing cities in America. The billboard became history.
Seattle’s commercial real estate growth
Currently, Seattle ties Los Angeles for the most cranes in the nation. Of those 59 Seattle cranes, 15 are in use for residential-only projects and 25 are for mixed-use developments. This flurry of commercial development projects is largely motivated by major technology companies’ desire to expand in Seattle; from that expansion comes continued growth for residential real estate. As companies hire new employees, the need for housing increases, which contributes to the boom of the construction cycle. It’s not all commercial buildings being erected, though; apartment construction in urban areas shows no signs of slowing, either.
To anyone living here — new or native — it’s apparent that Seattle is booming.
Staggering population growth
The U.S. Census shows incredible growth for the Emerald City. From April 2010 to July 2018, the population grew by 22 percent, compared to just a 6 percent growth for the rest of the country. Everyone is drawn to Seattle, from H1B workers to families and most of all, tech workers.
Washington’s population has topped 7.5 million, with growth stemming from newcomers. The State has also been named the best state in the nation, ranked for its healthcare, education, economy, and infrastructure among other factors important to its residents.
Relocating to Seattle for work
While Seattle boasts stunning scenery and favorable seasons, most move to the PNW for employment opportunities. The retail giant, Amazon isn’t the only big name in town (although it dominates, occupying 19 percent of the downtown real estate). Starbucks, Nordstrom, Expedia, Zillow, Boeing are just a few big names. And, then there’s Microsoft, who started the tech transformation of the Seattle area in the early 90s. Silicon Valley mainstays — think Facebook and Google — have also set up shop as the number of tech workers grows. At present, Seattle’s tech workers are the 2nd highest wage earners in the world.
It only makes sense that a huge portion of the new-to-Seattle crowd is from California. I myself decamped from the Bay Area, looking for new opportunities in a city that felt similar to San Francisco. And I’m not alone: California is the top state for Seattle transplants, followed by Texas, Florida, Oregon and New York.
My own housing journey
In 2015, my husband and I packed our belongings along with our baby and headed to Washington to escape the high cost of Bay Area living. We purchased our primary residence in NE Seattle during Seattle’s real estate peak. Earlier that same year, we also purchased a townhouse in the affluent neighborhood of Magnolia as part of a 1031 exchange. Our decision has been favorable as we return to our PNW roots (originally from Vancouver, Canada) to be closer to family and plan a better future for our small family.
As a landlord and homeowner, I witness the city’s boom and have since followed Greater Seattle’s housing market trends, using it to grow my business and advise others to take advantage of the thriving economy as well.
Each time I interview tenants for our property, I’m impressed by the variety of places new Seattleites hail from: India, California, Tennessee, Michigan, Las Vegas, and Texas, too. All relocate here for work. Upon lease termination, I notice the same reason for a tenant leaving over and over again: a desire to purchase a home of their own and put down roots in this city they’ve also have grown to love.
Investing in homeownership
There may be some bitterness over housing costs and traffic, but a growing city also presents incredible opportunities, especially for anyone connected to the real estate industry. Those new to Seattle look for a place to call home. Buying a home in their new city is an investment they want to take.
Recently, we’ve seen the housing market soften a small amount. The bidding wars of 2017 have lessened and home values are slightly declining, but the median home value still hovers at $723,300, one of the highest in the country. We likely won’t be posting a billboard outside of SeaTac anytime soon as the hub is now it’s the eighth busiest airport in the U.S., and Seattle job numbers are still on track for growth, with a 2.4 percent increase year-over-year.
Just because the home values have declined slightly has not made it any easier on first-time buyers, many of whom are Millennials or those new to the city, to jump into homeownership. Millennials, in particular, are often saddled with student loans, and putting a down payment on a home on a house priced over $700,000 can feel out of reach. There are alternatives – townhomes – and gentrifying neighborhoods – can provide a little bit of respite from the high costs of Seattle single-family homes.
Stand out in a growing city
As a marketing professional with a background in real estate and an understanding of the Seattle metro market, I partner with lenders and real estate agents who seek to stand out and take advantage of these new opportunities. As many looking to buy are younger, Millennial buyers, highly educated with high salaries and some new to the area, they want to know that their real estate team is savvy, well-connected and able to speak to their specific needs.
Having witnessed the city grow and economy thrive, I am eager to help others’ small businesses grow too. Reach out today to explore marketing ideas to help you meet these new Seattleites’ needs.