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Seattle No 1 for techies fleeing California
Seattle No. 1 for techies looking to flee California

For Silicon Valley residents battered by the housing market, a West Seattle spot at less than $1M is a welcome option.

We know that young people aren’t buying homes in Seattle — so who’s fueling the bidding wars that have broken out across the city?

New data points to a familiar scapegoat: Californians, specifically refugees from Silicon Valley’s brutal housing market.

The online real-estate brokerage Redfin recently reported a surge in the number of searches from people in the Bay Area looking for homes in other places. Seattle was listed among the market areas seeing a big increase. So I asked the firm if they could share some more of their data.

They did, and the data shows that for Silicon Valley folks hoping to relocate, Seattle is the No. 1 city in the country — or at least in the 36 states, plus Washington, D.C., where Redfin operates. So far in 2015, 1 out of every 8 home searches by a Silicon Valley flight risk is in the city of Seattle.

It’s no mystery why people are leaving the Bay Area.

The median price for a house in the greater San Francisco / San Jose market has now surpassed $1 million. As Redfin’s report notes, even though tech jobs in Silicon Valley pay better than anywhere else, they still don’t pay well enough to offset the ridiculous cost of housing.

A software developer in Silicon Valley makes about 12 percent more than one in Seattle, but a home there costs 86 percent more.

And for tech workers looking to move to Seattle, here’s some good news: We’re hiring. According to a 2012 Forbes/Praxis Strategy Group study, Seattle is leading the nation in the creation of tech jobs in recent years. We posted 12 percent growth in tech employment over a two-year period, and 7.6 percent growth in STEM jobs — higher even than Silicon Valley.

Redfin’s data shows that folks interested in relocating here from the Bay Area seem to prefer city living — 2 out of 3 searches in our market are in Seattle proper. Still, four other cities in the area made the Top 25: Tacoma (No. 16), Bellevue (No. 17), Issaquah (No. 22) and Everett (No. 24).

The top neighborhood here by far is West Seattle, which garnered nearly 13 percent of the search activity in our market. In fact, West Seattle is not just the No. 1 neighborhood in Seattle. It’s No. 1 in the country. They don’t call it California Avenue for nothing.

I spoke with Shelby White, owner of West Seattle Realty, who told me he’s seen evidence of the uptick. He says the Bay Area buyers he’s been working with find West Seattle appealing because of its family-friendly lifestyle and the reasonable home prices — you get more bang for your buck than in Queen Anne or some other desirable neighborhoods in North Seattle.

“You can still get a pretty great house in a walkable area near one of the Junctions for $750,000,” White says.

Great, I’ll take two.

Kidding aside, it’s true — that must seem like an incredible bargain to someone battered and bruised by the Bay Area housing market.

Queen Anne and Ballard round out the Top 3 Seattle neighborhoods, in that order.

Capitol Hill — where complaining about tech-industry transplants has surpassed bike polo as the neighborhood’s favorite pastime — only ranked fourth.


December Housing Report 

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