You already know Seattle's housing market isn't normal. Supply and demand out so far out of balance that prices are rising high enough and fast enough for people to be worrying about bubbles. The irony is that people are causing the bubble. So many people are moving to Seattle that demand is rising faster than supply. It takes less time to pack up a U-Haul and drive across country that it does to build a house. But, where are they (now part of we) coming from?
Sparefoot put together a census of where newbies came from. The top five out-of-state cities are: 1) Los Angeles, 2) Phoenix, 3) San Diego, 4) Portland, and 5) Chicago. Californians moving to Seattle is an old stereotype, especially when their real estate markets are profitable enough to create cash sales here. Phoenix can be a bit of a surprise; maybe the drought that hit California convinced some Arizonans to decide to get wet for a while. Has Portland become so trendy that the trend is to move to the next city up I-5? At least they already know good coffee, beer, and have the right clothes. Chicago may be fifth, but considering its size, they could be the start of a new trend with a lot of people behind it; especially, when they learn there's a lot less to shovel around here - while also being able to drive to record setting snowpacks.
About 50 percent as many new Seattle-ites came from within the state, by county: 1) Snohomish, 2) Pierce, 3) Spokane, 4) Clark, and 5) Kitsap. The local moves from neighboring counties is easy enough to understand; either job relocations, commute decisions, or maybe a desire to be closer to Seattle's cultural activities. Spokane is the second largest city; so, just like Chicago, it has more people to move around. Clark County is the overlap, a bit of in-state moves, a bit of Portland's situation.
Few, if any, are moving here because of more affordable real estate. According to Zillow, Seattle's median house price is $530,100 versus Los Angeles ~ $562,800, Phoenix ~ $187,200, San Diego ~ $528,700, Portland ~ $345,500, Chicago ~ $199,500, Snohomish County ~ $344,300, Pierce County ~ $256,800, Spokane County ~ $174,300, Clark County ~ $271,000, and Kitsap County ~ $279,700. The only place with higher prices is LA, which is having a bit of a problem with water - too little then too much.
Maybe Seattle's real estate is just another measure of something Seattle has that is worth hundreds of thousands to dollars to tens of thousands of people. But, that's another survey.
· State of the Seattle Housing Market: 2016 [SB]
· Sparefoot [SF]
· The Dream of Portlandia is Alive in Seattle [CS]
· All State O'The Market coverage [CS]