When you think of Seattle, Washington, you probably do not immediately think “affordability” in terms of its housing. After all, a metro area with a median home price of $610,000 is not necessarily accessible to the average home buyer. However, when that average buyer is, more than likely, an IT expert of some sort, the equation changes. Which is how Seattle recently received the somewhat confusing title of “Most Affordable Tech Hub” in the United States and Canada from Point2 Homes[1].

Tech Salaries and the Housing Market

“Seattle has been only steps behind San Francisco in terms of tech salaries while its real estate market does not even compare in terms of affordability,” the Point2 Homes report stated. Seattle software engineers tend to make just under $110,000, on average. Even with this salary it may not necessarily enable those engineers to buy a house in the area. However, it will accommodate the average rental rates of about $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The report also considered “extra living costs” the engineers are likely to accrue, such as public transportation and wi-fi. Seattle also is more affordable when it comes to buying groceries, but public transport costs about $300 more than San Francisco.

The city is certainly not known for housing affordability in general. The city’s Housing Affordability and Livability program, which has resulted in a number of policies intended to protect renters from “sub-standard housing and discrimination.” It also creates new opportunities for households to access housing that meets national affordability standards. This led to the creation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program to “create and preserve 6,000 rent- and income-restricted homes” over the next decade[2]. It remains to be seen if the initiative will result in the kind of widespread affordability its supporters are hoping for. At present, most Seattle counties markets require buyers to put nearly half of their income toward homeownership[3].


[2] http://www.seattle.gov/hala

[3] https://www.attomdata.com/news/heat-maps/home-affordability-index-q1-2017/

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Carole Ellis is the editor for Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at cellis@thinkrealty.com.

  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at SelfDirected.org or reach Carole directly by emailing Carole@selfdirected.org.

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