It’s no secret that Seattle is growing quickly, and that much of the growth is driven by the city’s tech boom. And we’re not finished. With Silicon Valley’s massive out-migration due to its high cost of living, Redfin Seattle-area real estate agents represented twice as many Bay Area residents looking to move here this year, as compared to last year.
How will all this growth impact Seattle? And how will we make sure that the city is livable and affordable? No one wants to be priced out of the city we call home, and economically integrated neighborhoods provide Seattleites with an opportunity for upward mobility.
We surveyed 985 people searching for a home in Seattle about their expectations for Seattle in 2025. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed believe Seattle will become more urban and dense, and 61% believe it will be prosperous in 2025. However, only 28% believe the city will be economically diverse.
We also asked what Seattleites believe their government should provide. Only 37% support local government getting involved in creating denser development, the least favored form of involvement. Considering how many Seattleites expect the city to become denser by 2025 (82%), this is problematic. We don’t have a strategy for dealing with growth. Seattleites don’t want density, but we likely also don’t want sprawl. So what are we to do? How we deal with growth will define what Seattle looks like in the years to come.
Question: “To make Seattle more livable over the next 10 years, I think local government should…”
Homebuyer Concerns About Affordability
Seventy-two percent of current Seattle residents are concerned about finding a decent home given the hot housing market, 66% are concerned about affording a home purchase and 34% of Seattleites are worried about a downturn home in prices. In other words, less than half of Seattleites believe we’re in the midst of a bubble — they’re not worried about home prices plummeting after they buy.
Tech Industry and Affordability
The tech boom is here. Forty-nine percent of tech workers believe they can afford to live in Seattle 10 years from now, while only 33% of non-tech workers believe the same. This is a notable split, indicating some anxiety about getting priced out of the city.
Question: “Ten years from now, do you think you will be able to afford to live in Seattle?”
Affordability Concerns Impacting Housing Market
Sixty-one percent of those over 40 aren’t changing their lifestyle in order to afford a home. For people under 40, it’s a different story. Twenty-seven percent of those under 40 are delaying changing jobs (27%), saving for retirement (21%) and having children (23%).
Question: “Have you or are you considering delaying any of the following major life decisions because you’re concerned about affording a place to live?”
What about increased income streams? Eighteen percent of those surveyed are renting out a portion of their current home long-term and a whopping 14% are using AirBnB to save up money to pay for a home, but the majority of survey respondents (66%) are not trying the approaches we asked about.
The outlook for Seattle is positive; growth is good, as long as we plan for it. What does that plan look like? It’s a question that doesn’t yet have an answer, but that holds the key to how successful Seattle will be in 2025.