Home & Leisure

Want a home in Seattle area? You'll need an $11,000 raise

Mike Rosenberg, The Seattle Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

In some cases, rising prices put pressure on people to settle and buy now to avoid getting priced out later.

Tiffany French and her boyfriend talked about that a lot during their home search as they looked to move to Seattle from Lynnwood this year. The first house they looked at was a 106-year-old foreclosure in Ballard priced at more than $500,000 that was such a dump it still had rotting food in the fridge.

"It was very much like, are you kidding me -- they want that much for that?" French said.

And yet, after searching around some more and seeing their options only get worse, they went back and bought it in April with John L. Scott Real Estate. They recently completed a full down-to-the-studs remodel, putting their all-in cost at $680,000.

"We realized we had to jump on this now or we're really going to be closed out of the market," French said. "It was the emotional equivalent of the ice-bucket challenge. It was like a cold hard slap of reality in the face.

"It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's what's real in this market. We had to very quickly determine if we had to jump both feet into the deep end."


The salary needed to afford a mortgage only went up slightly in previous years as mortgage interest rates dipped nationally, helping offset rising home prices. But interest rates have started going back up while prices have soared at their fastest rate since last decade's bubble.

Altogether, the salary needed to afford a mortgage locally has grown $16,000 over the past four years.

As always, Seattle homebuyers can take some solace in knowing that at least they're not in California.

The household income needed to afford the median home in the San Jose area is $216,000, according to It's $171,000 in the San Francisco region, and about $115,000 in both San Diego and Los Angeles.


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