House Hacking in Washington State

13 Replies

Hello Fellow BPers!

I am a newbie investor from Southern California and have been spending a lot of time reading forums, books, and consuming as many podcasts as I can over the past several months. That preparation has led my fiance and I to want to house hack to get started. 

Here in Southern California I have been able to find plenty of potential properties (3 and 4 plex) that would pencil to zero or very close to zero (not including CapEx, vacancies, etc). But it would definitely be a better scenario than having a single family mortgage for the next several years and trying to save that way.

However, life has thrown us a curve ball recently. My fiance was accepted to University of Washington in Seattle and her program is fully funded. So we will be moving there in early September. Our goals remain the same, but we are not familiar with that market as we didn't grow up there. I have started looking in areas for multi family homes. I am trying to learn as much about the area as possible. 

Are there any investors in that area that can make any recommendations on which areas to look into? Also, is it difficult in that area to find renters? Here in SoCal it is pretty easy to find renters since the population is so dense.  

Thanks everyone! 


  • King County
  • Snohomish County
  • Pierce County

Hi @Pete Perez !  That's awesome she's getting a full ride up here!  

I am not on the 'west side', but I will tag a couple good colleagues in the area to see if they could connect you with a realtor or otherwise help you out.  Thanks, folks!

@Troy Fisher ,  @Giovanni Isaksen ,  @Cailyn Aune  

Hi Pete,

Just my two cents, a co-worker just purchased a 4-Plex in the City of Auburn about a 30-40 minute drive out of Seattle. He is living rent free with long term tenants occupying the building and when he moved in he kicked out the problem tenant. The building needs updating due to lack of maintenance from previous owner but still livable. That being said and not having done thit myself but with the ambition to do so I think that you will be able to find a deal that will work and hopefully see some positive cash flow. Your prices are going to be lower in south king county and increase the closer you get to Seattle and Bellevue. 

@Tim Angevine

Thanks for the reply, Tim! This is encouraging to hear. 4-Plex is kind of the strategy we had in mind, because it seems that the more units you have its easier to achieve rent free living. Do you know of any agents in the area that you would recommend? 

We are still working out logistics. We are trying to figure out if we should move, and rent short-term and look for properties, or if we should try to buy before we move. We have no experience doign either so part of that is understanding the area's trends. 

Thanks again! 

@Pete Perez - well first off, congratulations to your fiance for her acceptance and fully funded status. Great accomplishment there, it is a beautiful campus and my alma mater. I believe your options will, like so many plans, have to depend on your budget to a large extent.

Near the UW, and in the neighborhoods of Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford that are nearby, you're looking at housing prices that verge on Bay Area madness. Do not expect to cash-flow, I wouldn't even really expect to break even on a house hack in those areas.

Light Rail just finished a connection to the UW that I believe you should consider taking advantage of. Look up a map of Light Rail stations and begin your search in those areas. Especially in the blue-collar Rainier Valley, there are still reasonably priced options for a house-hack and they have been steadily appreciating in value. It is more than possible to commute to the university without using a car, in fact, due to pretty horrendous rush hour traffic, I would strongly advise against trying to regularly commute via car.

Do not limit yourself to searching only for 4-plexes, consider purchasing a large house with multiple bedrooms and renting those out as well.

I live on Beacon Hill which is no longer reasonably priced, but I am happy to answer any questions you have about Seattle. I am sure other locals will chime in as well.

Welcome to the PNW @Pete Perez

I live and have all my rentals in Everett, WA (Snohomish County). We are about a 30 min commute to UW Seattle. I attended UW back in 08 and used to take a 45-60 min bus ride to school every morning (no fun, would not recommend, but it works).

I follow both King and Snohomish County Multi-Family RE, but focus on Snohomish County with a main focus on Everett. I grew up here and the numbers make more sense for buy/hold rentals in my price range here. In general, prices/rents are lower here. King County/ City of Seattle is getting over populated while growing at a record pace. This is pushing a lot of the population to live in Snohomish County and Commute daily. I personally know a lot of people that commute as far as Monroe and Arlington to King County. It is a 40+ minute commute one way but people seem to enjoy the extra space.

I could talk about and compare Snohomish / King County all day. For rentals, I would say it depends on the style/age of building and type of tenant you are looking for. From there, I can give you specific neighborhoods/areas and general price ranges. Feel free to connect for more info, I would be glad to share my knowledge and get some input from an out-of-towner. 

Good luck and hope you enjoy your stay in the PNW!

@Alex Chin

Thanks for your post! We were approved for about $300,000 here in SoCal for a SFR. When I talked to the lender they mentioned that we could possibly use the rental income from a MFR to qualify for more if we needed to. We are used to 1.5hr commute times in SoCal. So we are open to living in our outside the city. Preferably if we could make it work in the city that would be amazing.

Given what we were approved for do you think it would be feasible to live in the areas you mentioned?  

@Roger Vi

Thanks for the welcome Roger! I will connect with you shortly so we can talk about the topics you brought up. 

@Pete Perez

I don't want to sound bias but I would recommend my managing broker because of his experience and time spent in the real estate field. He has over 35 years in real estate starting out with building 4-Plex and moving into building larger complexes up to 150+ units. He now runs our office that specializes in off market deals. To get my co-workers building we generated a criteria and area of focus to create a mailing list. When we mailed we got a few responses that wanted to sell, he chose the one that best worked for him.       

Thanks @Steve Vaughan for the mention. Hi @Pete Perez , these days I'm living up north but can recommend a couple resources to connect with. @Greg Gallagher is an agent who works with a lot of investors south of Seattle and he's also one of the leaders in REAPS, the largest REIA in the area which is a great place to network. Another investor agent who works Redmond north all the way to Bellingham is @Patrick Britton who also runs a meetup for RE investors. Both are great to connect with and will help you find good deals.

Good hunting-

@Giovanni Isaksen

Thank you for the recommendations! I will reach out to them soon and see if they can help me.

You're welcome Pete, not sure what happened to their @links, but they're both BP members so you can find them by searching on here.

Thanks @Steve Vaughan , the market is hot. A quick multifamily search on Redfin in Seattle only show 2 duplexes less than 300k. There are a couple of triplexes in Tacoma for ~$300k but without some serious research and marketing finding a 1% is very tough off the MLS.

@Alex Chin shared some good advice on Seattle.

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