A Guide to Buying a Condo in Seattle: A Market Update

September 19, 2016
Last updated:
December 6, 2021
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Are you considering purchasing a condo in Seattle, Washington? If so, you’ve got plenty of company. The condo market may have cooled somewhat over the recent past in Seattle, but it is still competitive. This article will outline what the condo market is like in Seattle in 2020.

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Many homebuyers turn to condos as their dwelling of choice, and for good reason. There are plenty of perks of buying a condo, including affordability, less maintenance, and on-site amenities.

But before you buy in Seattle in 2021, you’ll want to gather as much information as you can about the market. Here are some things you should know about buying a condo in this highly competitive real estate market.

Related: Seattle is One of the Best Places to Buy Investment Properties in the U.S.

Benefits of Buying a Condo Vs. a House

Have you considered the pros and cons of buying a condo in Seattle? If not, that’s always a good place to start. How does a condominium unit stack up to a “regular” detached home, from an ownership standpoint? Here are some pros and cons to consider.

Possible advantages of buying a condo in Seattle:

  • Less maintenance. When you buy a condo in Seattle, you’ll probably have a lot less maintenance to do compared to a regular detached home. Landscaping, building upkeep, and other exterior maintenance chores are typically included with the association dues. And there’s a lot to be said for having more free time on the weekends.
  • It might cost less. The cost of a Seattle condo versus a house depends on the size of the home, neighborhood popularity, and other factors. But in many cases, buyers will spend less when buying a condominium unit. This makes condos an attractive alternative to higher-priced single-family homes in Seattle. (Of course, luxury high-rise condos and penthouse suites are a different story.)
  • Proximity to downtown. If you want to live in or near the heart of downtown Seattle, buying a condo might be the best option for you. There are plenty of condominium units available downtown, but few detached homes. You won’t find “regular” subdivisions with detached homes until you get farther from downtown. The same is true for many city centers. Many of the condos in downtown Seattle are located within walking distance of restaurants, shops, etc.
  • Amenities. Some condominium projects offer attractive amenities, such as fitness centers and gated parking. Some of the higher-end luxury condos in downtown Seattle even have on-site spas and swimming pools. It’s hard to complain about that.

Today’s Seattle Mortgage Rates

Potential downside to condo ownership:

  • Adjoined units. Unlike a detached home, homeowners who live in condos typically share at least one common wall with a neighbor. Some units have neighbors above, below and beside. This is all well and good if you have quiet neighbors who keep the same hours as you. But if your neighbors are noisy and/or active when you’re trying to sleep, it could become a quality-of-life issue.
  • Association dues. This could be viewed as both a pro and a con. When buying a condo in Seattle, you’ll likely end up paying association dues each month. This could add hundreds of dollars to your monthly housing expense. The upside, as mentioned earlier, is that these dues could reduce or eliminate the maintenance you have to do. But it’s an added cost you have to consider.
  • Rules and restrictions. When you own a home, you have more flexibility when it comes to home improvements, additions, remodeling and the like. But when you buy into a condo project, you’ll likely encounter more restrictions. Some people would view this as a disadvantage to buying a Seattle condo.

Many of these pros and cons are a matter of lifestyle. If you’re a busy urbanite who eschews property maintenance and prefers to live within walking distance of downtown attractions, a condominium might be the best option for you. If you like a little more space around you and don’t mind some occasional yardwork, you might be better off buying a detached home in an outlying neighborhood or subdivision.

Seattle Condo Market Is Stable

The Seattle condo market was hot for years, but it has settled since.

Seattle’s condo inventory declined 27% from November to December 2020, according to the NWMLS. That said, there were 72% more condo listings for sale in Seattle in December 2020 compared to last December.

Condo prices are more reasonable right now than they have been in years past. And while the demand for condos may have been great a few years ago as people flocked to the city for jobs, there has been more demand for single-family homes as more and more people are finding themselves working from home as a result of the current pandemic.

The median sale price for condos in Seattle is around $466,500. Compare that to the median home price for all home types of $813,154.

Forecasts for the broader Seattle metro-area housing market also suggest that the market will continue to be hot over the coming months in 2021.

What the market will inevitably do over the coming months remains to be seen. That said, buyers should be prepared to move quickly when they find the right unit.

Get Pre-Approved to Increase Your Chance for Success

When shopping for a home in a hot real estate market like Seattle, it helps to have your financing lined up ahead of time. In fact, the seller will probably ask about it up front, when you present your offer. This is true whether you’re buying a house or a condo.

This is where mortgage pre-approval comes into the picture. It’s wise for buyers to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, before entering the market (unless, of course, you’re paying cash). Pre-approval shows the seller that you’re a serious, financially qualified buyer.

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Need a Loan in Seattle?

Will you need mortgage financing to buy a condo in Seattle? We can help. Sammamish Mortgage has been serving buyers across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado since 1992. We offer a wide variety of mortgage programs with flexible qualification criteria. Please contact us today with any financing-related questions you have.

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