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Ballard & Capitol Hill & Fremont & Get Educated & Neighborhood Dating & University District

The Great Search For a House in Seattle: Are You Looking For a Unicorn?

Ah, the wonderful, sparkling, perfect mythical beast that only exists in fairy tales… allow me to present to you, the unicorn house.

Many buyers find themselves in the trap of searching for this elusive creature… you know, that $500k home with a yard and a 98 walk score.

In case you are new to the Seattle housing market, that is a very hard home to find. Does this house exist? Does YOUR dream home exist?

Before getting to work, I usually will have my clients write down all that they want in their new home, and decide the order of importance. For example, if you LOVE Capitol Hill but schools are more important to you than nightlife, then you will need to choose a different neighborhood to live in. A lot of people do have to make sacrifices, but it’s all about figuring out what you can and can’t live without.

Getting Started: 3 Things to Ask Yourself

  • Keep your mind open about the neighborhood you’d like to live in.

I strongly advise not to settle on a neighborhood right away. Keep your options open! Sure, you probably have a couple neighborhoods that you know you like,

Whether you already live in Seattle or are just moving here, consider: What do you need around you? What do you need to be happy? How far can you be from certain things? How important is your commute time? Are schools important? (Then what makes a good school, to you?)

  • What kind of a home do you need?

A lot of people move here are coming from an area where they get a lot more house for their money, and homes are just cheaper in general. Unfortunately, that’s just not Seattle. Think about what type of home you want—are you looking for a single-family home with a yard? A townhouse? What are your space requirements?

  • Be real about your price point.

It’s important to come into this with open eyes. Start by looking online and seeing what kind of price points are available in the neighborhoods you want. My typical client is looking in the $600-700k range, and can you find a house for $700k in Capitol Hill? Sure you can, but it’s going to take a lot of patience and maybe putting up with situations that aren’t so perfect. On the other extreme, $700k will get you a fantastic house in Columbia City, Madison Valley, Ravenna, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Green Lake, Bryant, West Seattle… and more!

A Real Life Example: Meet David & Erin

I recently worked with a younger couple in their early 30s—we’ll call them David and Erin. They really wanted a house, because David likes to work outside, but they could only spend up to $500k. When they came to me, they were moving from Colorado, and they expect that this budget would be able to get them a pretty good house in Seattle.

They started thinking that they wanted to live in Capitol Hill, or maybe Bryant or Queen Anne. It’s really hard to find a house in these neighborhoods with their price point… in fact, it’s pretty impossible! So I asked them to keep an open mind on neighborhoods. After getting to know them a bit, I had this great little pocket neighborhood in north Beacon Hill that I really wanted to show them; I just had a feeling they would like it! And guess what: they totally ended up buying here!

Although it wasn’t in the first neighborhood that they wanted, the home they found in Beacon Hill had a great view, met all of their other criteria, and was still in an excellent neighborhood. David and Erin were surprised by how much they ended up loving the neighborhood.

North Beacon Hill isn’t a neighborhood that most people know of or think of when they’re considering where to move (especially from out of town), but that’s where your Realtor comes in handy!

Moral of the story? David and Erin were willing to keep their minds open, and they got a great house in a neighborhood they love.

Would you like to chat with Matt? You can email him at mattminer@cbba.com or give him a call at (206) 353-0169!

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Matt Miner

Real estate guru and Seattle know-it-all


In everything that I do as your REALTOR®, I have one guiding principle in mind: To make certain that your home-buying or selling experience is a happy, successful, wonderful life experience! We build trust and security with our clients using knowledge and transparency.