Tech Employee Relocation Guide For Buying a Home in Seattle, WA

Published:
February 16, 2024
Last updated:
February 21, 2024
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We’ve published many Seattle real estate market reports over the years, and most were geared toward home buyers. Today, we’ll offer some helpful insights for tech workers relocating to Seattle in 2024.

Read on to find out helpful tips for buying a home in Seattle.

Overview of the Tech Industry in Seattle

Along with Austin, Raleigh, and Silicon Valley, the Seattle metro area is one of the nation’s major tech hubs. Many tech companies are headquartered in Seattle or have a major office presence here. This includes well-known names like Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Zillow, and many up-and-comers.

For several years, Seattle has been the fastest-growing job market in the U.S. for young tech talent in particular. It tends to attract recent tech grads with less than three years of experience, according to a report from CBRE Americas Consulting.

The Seattle area has more than 280,000 tech workers, according to The Seattle Times. That puts it among the nation’s top 10 metropolitan areas for this type of employment. Even during the nationwide tech-industry layoffs of 2022, Seattle remained one of the top three cities for job growth in that sector.

Seattle Metro Area at a Glance

Tech workers relocating to Seattle need all the information they can get. We’ll provide some real estate market information for those planning on relocating to Seattle and buying a home. But first, some key facts about the metro area in general.

Geography & Landscape

  • Water Everywhere: Seattle is nestled between Puget Sound (saltwater) and Lake Washington (freshwater), with the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Prepare for water views and close access to outdoor adventures.
  • The Emerald City: This nickname reflects the lush greenery due to ample rainfall. Get ready for a mild climate with less dramatic seasonal shifts than many parts of the U.S.

Living in Seattle

  • Neighborhood Vibe: Seattle has a lot of distinct neighborhoods with their own unique “personalities.” Options range from urban density (Capitol Hill, Belltown) to quieter, family-friendly areas (Queen Anne, Ballard) and more suburban spots on the Eastside (Bellevue, Redmond).
  • Cost of Living: Seattle can be an expensive place to live, especially when it comes to housing. According to Zillow, the median home price for the metro area is approaching $700,000. The median for Seattle itself is currently over $800,000. This is why many tech workers in the Seattle area end up using “jumbo” mortgage loans when buying a home.
  • Getting Around: Traffic can be tricky, especially during peak hours. Therefore, many tech companies offer employee shuttles and other commuter benefits. Seattle has a growing public transit system (light rail and buses), but a car can help explore broader Washington.

Culture & Things to Do

  • Coffee Central: Seattle is obsessed with coffee and has a robust independent cafe culture.
  • Outdoorsy: Hiking, biking, skiing/snowboarding are all easily accessible. Many folks own rain gear and get outside even when it’s drizzly.
  • Music & Arts: The area offers a diverse music scene (it’s the birthplace of grunge, after all) with live shows aplenty. You’ll find many museums and independent art spaces as well.
  • Pacific Northwest Feel: Seattle offers a slightly more laid-back vibe than some East Coast cities.

Real Estate Market Update for 2024

Here are some real estate market trends you should know if you plan to buy a home after relocating to Seattle.

Ongoing Tight Inventory

Inventory is often the biggest challenge for people buying a home in Seattle. Seattle had one of the lowest supply levels among the nation’s largest metro areas in early 2024.

But we’ve been seeing some improvements on this front lately. According to a February 2024 housing market report from Realtor.com:

“In January, more than half of the 50 metros included in the analysis saw new listings increase over the previous year, with some of the largest growth happening in Denver (+21.3%), Seattle (+20.6%) and Miami (+20.2%).”

Wide Range in Home Prices

As for home prices, these can vary widely depending on the neighborhood where you plan to buy. Read our market comparison of popular Seattle neighborhoods for more on this.

As mentioned, the median price point in Seattle is currently north of $800,000. Some of the surrounding cities can be more expensive. For example, the median home price in places like Bellevue, Redmond, and Sammamish is well over $1 million.

At the other end of the spectrum, the median price in nearby Tacoma, Washington, is less than $500,000. So, there’s a broad spectrum regarding housing costs in the area.

Relocating tech workers should also know that home sellers in Seattle rarely lower their asking prices. It does happen, just not that often. The Realtor.com report mentioned earlier showed that only 7.9% of real estate listings in the metro area had a price reduction.

Tips for Buying a Home in Seattle

With low supply and steady buyer demand, the Seattle-area housing market tends to favor sellers. Even so, buyers can find a way to succeed with the right approach.

Do you plan to buy a home after relocating to Seattle? Here are some tips for navigating the real estate market and finding a home:

  1. Work with an experienced agent. You’ve heard this one before, but it bears repeating. The Seattle real estate market can be complex and confusing, especially for those relocating in from other parts of the country. An excellent real estate agent can help you find the right home in the right neighborhood and price.
  2. Be ready for competition. The Seattle housing market has calmed down a bit over the past year but is still competitive due to tight inventory conditions. So expect to compete with other buyers. Making a solid offer with few (or no) contingencies could give you an advantage.
  3. Have your financing squared away. A mortgage pre-approval can help you narrow your housing search and make a stronger offer without unwanted delays. Try to partner with a local mortgage company that knows the market—like us!

Buying a home in Seattle can be challenging given the relatively high home prices, competitive real estate market, and tight inventory. That said, Seattle is a fabulous place to live and continues to attract an increasing number of relocating tech workers. Be sure to work with the right agent and mortgage specialist to streamline the home-buying process!

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