Moving to Seattle: buy or rent?

8 Replies

Hi everyone,

I’m currentky in Columbia SC and have received a job offer which requires me to move to Seattle. I have 4 rentals here in a Columbia which I plan to keep, and my home, which I will likely sell if I move (for the capital gains tax benefit).

The question I have is that Seattle is a hot hot hot market and while I’m totally fine jumping in with both feet, part of me wonders if it might not be a better market to rent in, which would  allow me to use the cash from the sale of my house for other investments. I’m also a bit worried about a market correction (and spending $700k on a fixer upper and finding myself in the middle of a correction!)

Any thoughts on the pros and cons of the Seattle area market? My job will be in Bellevue btw.

Hello @Heidi Wilson ,

There are some pros and cons in WA right now. As a licensed Realtor in Washington, I can tell you that our market has never been this hot and there are some quite insane offers being placed by buyers due to the lack of inventory right now. In my opinion, a big correction isn't likely to happen in the next few years unless there is a catastrophic event like a major earthquake or a volcanic eruption. 

Homes are still appreciating rapidly due to many factors and people are starting to flood the greater Seattle areas right now due to the home/rent prices in King County. Areas in Pierce county like Tacoma, Edgewood, Puyallup, Sumner, and Lake Tapps are areas that I can see having a tremendous amount of appreciation in the next few years. Hope this helps!

Let me know if I can help in any way. 


@Heidi Wilson

I’d say if you plan to move again within the next 3-5 years then I would rent. If you work in tech you will have recruiters flocking to you on a daily basis trying to poach you. More times than not you’ll come across an opportunity that you’d like to jump on but, if you’re tied to a 30 year mortgage, some complexities will be adding in.

If you’re planning to be here long term then I would definitely try to buy. If you want to live in Bellevue please be prepared to get into a bidding war, pay above asking, and pay a very, very hefty amount.

If you want something more affordable and would like to avoid a bidding war, the Pierce County area as mentioned above would be fantastic. My wife and I bought a new build in Edgewood last December for $425k. It’s 2100 sq ft, has a yard, 2 car garage, and are in a really nice neighborhood. The only downside for you would be commuting to Bellevue. Depending on what time you’d be getting to work it could take up to 2.5 hours. The travel home would be the same. If you can work from home I’d highly suggest buying in Pierce County as opposed to King.

Let me know if you’d like to talk any more about this!

Hi Heidi,

Congrats on your new job offer, how exciting! I have had a few friends make the exact opposite move that you are making after accepting a Boeing offer. I like that you are hanging on to your rentals in Columbia! 

Yes you are correct about Seattle being an intense market. It seems that we see the same article is in the newspaper every week regarding record high prices for homes around the greater Seattle area. With that being said, every market has both its similarities and differences. If you are planning on buying a home smack dab in the middle of downtown, you will obviously pay a hefty price. Same goes for Bellevue. However, that doesn't mean that you won't be able to find a place that works for you in those cities or the surrounding areas. There are parts of Seattle and Bellevue that are more affordable than others. It all depends on what kind of property you are looking for. 

I grew up in the Bellevue area and if you are willing to live right outside the city limits, there are other areas that can work well for both rental homes and or a primary residence. Renton is a great area with all sorts of options. Tukwila, Des Moines, Kent, Maple Valley and White Center are all great options if you are looking to buy or rent.

I understand your concern about a market correction! However, as long as you aren't breaking the cardinal rule of overspending on your purchase, you "should" be fine. Even if the market does correct, the corporate job opportunities won't let that last long. We have decided to sell a few of our rentals for the same reason only to continue to reinvest in more foreclosure opportunities. 

Let us know if we can help guide you to the right area. Congrats again and enjoy the wonderful summers here in Washington, they are hard to beat!

Satbir Gill

@Heidi Wilson    Is your job downtown Bellevue or somewhere outside of downtown. If it's downtown, I'd enjoy the safe and fun, and car-free downtown life and rent. If you have to drive and want a detached home, I'd look at suburbs even more east like Issaquah, North Bend, Redmond. It's all pricey, but could continue to appreciate.

Thanks for your replies! The other constraining factor is I have a pit/lab mix dog which probably precludes me from renting most places. I’ve looked around and there are a lot of “no pets” and “small dogs only” requirements. Plus she needs a yard (she’s bad with other dogs so dog parks are not fun)

Rentals went up this year for the downtown Seattle area about 8%. Compound that with the 20% from the last two years and you can see urban living is a tough road for 2018. the only good news is price hikes are likely tapped out. I am seeing studios at 1450. Some go for 1750 when short term leasing is needed. You can imagine what having rooms will cost. Add new taxes in the mix that just came online this year and next year prices will reflect the tax hikes. All the new buildings here are mixed use and the city announced plans for a head tax coming soon. Might be viewed illegal, but politicians don’t seem to notice the little things.