The Rise and Fall of Seattle and San Francisco’s Housing Markets

The comparisons between Seattle and San Francisco continue to make headlines, but one area where they dramatically differ is the housing market. Although the addition of thousands of new jobs and thus, thousands of new residents have affected both cities, since the year 2000 Seattle has added 70,000 new homes while San Francisco has seen only 38,000. This discrepancy is largely due to the more complicated process of building new development projects in San Francisco. Any new Bay Area project is subject to approval by numerous groups at both the neighborhood and city level, while in Seattle the process is fairly streamlined. One example of this much less rigorous development procedure is a new complex called Laconia, a 370 unit, 42 story tower which got approved in only eight months. Beyond this, the city of Seattle plans on adding 70,000 new housing units from 2015 – 2035, according to Seattle-based Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors.

While Seattle is certainly meeting the housing demand more so than the Bay Area, neither are where they need to be in regards to population, and both cities are growing quite concerned over density, loss of neighborhood character and loss of middle-income residents. Seattle’s median home price is currently around $620,000, which pales in comparison to San Francisco’s median of $1.198 million. However, Seattle’s is certainly on the rise as it has increased 11 percent during the past year while the median price in San Francisco has remained flat.

While both cities are grappling with a low inventory, high demand environment – they are also coming to terms with the resulting shifts in culture, population makeup and growing density.

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Aaron FreemanComment