People living outside the Puget Sound region outnumber locals among those shopping for homes in every ZIP code between the Ship Canal and the stadiums, while locals are searching in Snohomish County.
In every part of Central Seattle, from the Ship Canal to the stadiums, a majority of homebuyer searches come from people living outside the Puget Sound region.
That’s according to new research from Trulia, which looked at every ZIP code across the metro area to see where home shoppers on its website were coming from.
The home-search data breaks down which neighborhoods were dominated by locals looking for homes, and what sites were popular with out-of-towners looking to buy. It’s especially timely given our population boom (top in the country) and our home-price growth (ditto).
Some clear trends emerge: Generally, people who live here are more likely to be looking to buy a home in the less expensive, outlying areas — think Lynnwood or Renton — while people who don’t live here are looking in well-known and pricey neighborhoods like downtown Seattle or Capitol Hill.
That probably isn’t surprising — someone from Los Angeles might have heard about the neighborhood near the Pike Place Market but not the area around Alderwood mall.
The numbers themselves are pretty jarring.
In 15 ZIP codes, there were more home searches by people living outside our metro area than by those who live in the region, including every neighborhood in the middle of Seattle.
The most lopsided ZIP code was 98101 (downtown Seattle core, which is dominated by condos), where 60 percent of home searches came from people not living here. Also near the top were Belltown, South Lake Union, Pioneer Square, Madrona and Magnolia, where 55 percent or more of the searches came from outside the region.
Out-of-towners also made more searches than locals in three West Seattle ZIP codes (98126, 98116 and 98136), the University District and Vashon Island.
Two neighborhoods, Delridge and the area around Golden Gardens Park, were split evenly, with half the home searches coming from locals and half from outsiders.
For perspective, across the country, only about 40 percent of home searches are made by out-of-towners.
People looking to move here either have big budgets or are setting their sights high. Among the ZIP codes where outsiders outnumber locals for home searches, the median home value is about $703,000. That’s 40 percent pricier than the typical house across the full metro area.
The areas where locals dominate home shopping were all in Snohomish County, led by north Lynnwood, where 78 percent of searches were by people living in the metro area. Next were Mountlake Terrace, Alderwood Manor, central Lynnwood and Marysville.
A lot of longtime residents have said they are being priced out of Seattle and the Eastside and moving somewhere more affordable, and those destinations match up with those stories. Among the top 15 neighborhoods favored by locals in the home-search data, the median home costs $400,000 — 20 percent below the metro-wide figure.
Trulia did a similar exercise for other regions across the country and found the same geographic pattern: typically, locals go to the edges of the metro area, and newcomers crowd into the downtowns. (It’s the first time Trulia has done this, so there is no data to compare to previous years).
The Trulia research doesn’t dive into where, exactly, the home searchers want to move from. But LinkedIn looked at its job-search data and found Seattle is gaining the most workers from the Bay Area, followed by New York and Los Angeles.
Of course, home searches don’t always translate to purchases. Some people from outside the region no doubt start looking for homes in popular neighborhoods, then abandon their dream of moving to Seattle. Others will start looking in pricey neighborhoods, then realize they can only afford something farther out. Some are probably bored and clicking around home pictures.
Also, the data only looks at searches on San Francisco-based Trulia’s site. While Trulia is fairly representative because it’s so widely used by home shoppers, two other popular real-estate sites — Zillow (which owns Trulia) and Redfin — might be favored by locals since the companies are based in Seattle, skewing the out-of-town numbers higher in Trulia’s analysis.