Home prices in Seattle have been on the rise in recent years. Even if you're a renter, you may be feeling that pinch. After all, your landlord may increase your rent to reflect the ever-growing value of the property you inhabit. Rising rent, as well as the desire for stability, are great reasons to consider making the leap from renting to owning.
However, the real estate market in Seattle is unique, and you have to know what to expect if you're going to buy a home in the area. Whether you're in the market for a single family home, townhouse or condo, there are properties coming onto the market every day that could fit your needs. You just need to be prepared for the intense and competitive home-buying process in the Seattle area.
Location, Construction Year, Size and Features All Impact Prices
It probably won't surprise you to learn that certain neighborhoods command prices more than double those of others. This is true in any city. You can simply buy more home for your money in some areas. You'll have to decide how important a particular neighborhood is to you. Looking outside of the city can mean getting more home for your money, but it also means a longer commute to work.
The year your home was built will also impact the price. Houses built during the boom years right after World War II tend to be the more affordable on average, while homes built near the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries are going to cost the most.
Bigger houses will come with higher overall price tags, but they can actually cost less per square foot than smaller houses. Carefully consider how long you intend to live in the home and what your plans for the next five to ten years are before settling on the number of bedrooms or total size of the home you need.
Finally, if you're moving to Seattle from another city or state, you may find it surprising that very few homes have central air conditioning. Thanks to the mild climate, most people don't find AC units necessary, even the worst of the summer heat. You can expect to pay a premium for any home with central AC installed.
Expect to Offer More Than the Asking Price
When you receive pre-approval from a mortgage company, you should carefully consider the maximum amount of the mortgage you qualify for. You don't want to look at houses with asking prices at or above that amount. The reason why is simple. With such a competitive local real estate market, buyers often offer well over the asking price. You'll just end up frustrated if you keep offering the asking price on homes, only to lose out to more aggressive and attractive bids.
Look at houses in the middle to bottom of your price range, and carefully consider the maximum amount you would pay for a home. Opening with your best offer is often the key to a successful bid on a home. Sellers don't need to come back and counter your offer when someone else has offered $10,000 more. They'll just take the higher bid and leave you to continue your ongoing home search.
Be Flexible and Focus on Your Home Ownership Goal
Given the highly competitive local real estate market, it's very likely that you won't end up buying the first home you make an offer on. Don't let that discourage you. With high demand and relatively stagnant levels of supply, Seattle has a seller-friendly market. There's a lot of competition for properties in just about any neighborhood.
Know what features and amenities you are willing to compromise on and which ones are necessities for your happiness with a home. If you're flexible and stick with the process, you will eventually make a successful offer on a home that you can fall in love with.