The Seattle market is rough for buyers right now. Median home prices are through the roof—$426,000 in the metro and $638,000 in Seattle proper—and getting driven higher by low inventory and bidding wars.
On top of that, it’s hard to tell what your actual monthly costs will be. In the Seattle area, as a whole, they may actually be higher in an owned property than a rental property. And that’s without a downpayment.
So it’s hard to blame anyone from staying away—it’s hard to tell what you can even afford. Seattle-based Zillow Group hopes to put more clarity on this question with their new site, RealEstate.com.
Instead of just searching by listing price, the site pulls together property taxes, HOAs, insurance, and closing costs into what they call the “All-In Monthly Price.” You can also search by downpayment amount.
Zillow Group says it’s for millennials—”the next generation of homebuyers,” said CMO Jeremy Wacksman in a statement—but it could be useful to anyone who’s never been through the process before. Zillow’s own data shows that affordability is a top concern for all home buyers.
Of course, it would still be pretty useless if everything within budget returned zero results. We gave it a really quick try with a monthly cost close to Seattle’s median one-bedroom rent, $1,700, and a relatively low downpayment of $5,000. We got a lot of fixers and empty land, but we got a few totally viable condos.
At the very least, it could be a good way of monitoring when homes come up that are actually in-budget or when it’s the right time to consider buying—instead of just wistfully staring at the listings and buying lottery tickets.