Home Buying in Seattle>Question Details

Natalie, Home Buyer in Michigan

My husband and I are considering moving to the Seattle area from Michigan. We are trying to find a

Asked by Natalie, Michigan Mon Apr 7, 2008

single-family home with 2-3 bdrms for under 250k that doesn't need a ton of work in it to make it livable. My husband's job will take him anywhere from Tacoma to Everett so anywhere within that area will be fine... is this even possible? We've been looking for a few months and are becoming discouraged...

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It would likely make more sense for you to rent first as your price range may take you into some less than desirable areas. You want to be sure to check out any areas selling at $250,000,and you may be happier renting a condo that is in walking distance to shops and amenities, until you get acclimated to the area.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 11, 2008
As a military family I certainly understand the stress that goes along with a long distance relocation! I think an important step in this process is beginning to work with a lender to be sure that you are looking in the right price range for starters. That way there will be no surprises and you will know exactly what a potential home will cost. If you need a referral to a local lender I am happy to make a few suggestions.

As far as the ability to find a home in your targeted price range, a quick MLS search shows that you have plenty of choices. Working with a couple of real estate professionals in several areas in the Seattle I-5 corridor (Everett to Tacoma) will help you to weed out properties in not great areas and hopefully bring you some encouragement.

This is a super Buyer's market with many available financing choices- just be sure to line this up first so when you find the perfect nest you are ready!

Good luck with your decision!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 11, 2008
Natalie,

You're no different than any other buyer in the market; many get discouraged in the beginning, but things will come together. You have a great set of criteria that you'll start working with at the beginning, but criteria will change as you actually look at places and areas around Seattle. The price may not change, but what you desire will. All buyers go through this change; it’s expected. You'll start looking around and realize traffic is crazy here and what one community provides over another. Your flexibility on location will help you meet your criteria and find a new place to call home!

From first hand experience the Seattle area is a great place to move too from the Midwest!

Best Wishes!

Gina
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
No need to become discouraged. There are hundreds of homes under $250,000 in the area you are describing. You will definitely come across many bank owned homes also. These are at least 30% of the market in this price range.

I would look into the territory your husband will be working. I believe Michigan has traffic challenges of its own, but Tacoma through Everett gets very congested. Check out the attached website for traffic information.

Will you be closer to Everett or Tacoma? I was able to find 152 homes, (3 BDRM/2BTH under 250K) within 26 mile radius of Everett/Tacoma. Best of luck with your home search.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 27, 2008
Hi Natalie,
Hopefully you've found your solution by now. I have lived in Seattle (In City) for over 50 years. Things have changed here over the years.
You mention that your husband will be driving between Tacoma and Everett on a regular basis. It now takes 4 and a half days to make the trip from Tacoma to Everett by car up I5 or I405 during rush hour, if it isn't raining. Ok, so it's "only" two hours each way, but why do it?
Do you really want a lifestyle where your most precious person is only available by phone? Cell phone service is pretty good tho'. I think it is totally unrealistic to expect any decent type of life when you spend all day in Seattle traffic.
Most of the people on this post sell real estate in a particular area and aren't making the commute. I was in large computer sales covering the territory you describe. I quit a few years ago, before traffic got even worse. This state has no master plan for traffic. I now work from home and wait until rush hour is over to go view houses I am considering buying. (Sorry, I don't have any for sale in your price range, or I'd tell you.) But, seriously, you (and all who read this) should REALLY consider the commute time and gas. It ain't gonna get any cheaper or faster.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun May 11, 2008
Natalie, unfortunately you have plenty of company in people moving here from other parts of country where housing is much less expensive. Even though there are several homes in the 250K price range between Tacoma and Everett, I doubt any of them would compare to what you can get in Michigan for that price.

If you must have a single family home, your best options for a move-in ready home are Everett and north or Tacoma and south. But I would contact an agent in each of those cities to send there recommendations for listings that meet your specific wants and needs. I would be happy to refer you to reliable and knowledgeable agents in either location. You should really start speaking to professionals in the area to start familiarizing yourself with the neighborhoods that are available to you and their characteristics.

All the best.
Web Reference: http://www.MarkDespain.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
On our site, you can do a proximity search. Pick your husband's worksite and search within x number of miles. The thing I would caution you about is the traffic here. We measure commute times in terms of time, not miles. an 80 mile travel range, from Tacoma to Everett for example can take 90 minutes or it can take 4 hours. Much depends on weather, time of day, accidents and construction. I used to be a consultant to Washington Mutual and travelled the same area your husband will be travelling. My office was in Seattle and I live in Lake Stevens. I know the commute well. There are homes under $250k, though most are either in the Tacoma area, south of Seattle, or the Lynnwood to Everett area, North of Seattle. I know the search process can be frustrating and sometimes discouraging, but hang in there. You may want to make a list of your Must Have's, Would be nice, and Don't want items and contact a specific Realtor to work with.
Web Reference: http://www.ziprealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 28, 2008
Renting first is common, and it depends on whether or not you are willing to pay someone else's mortgage while you look around and familiarize yourself with the area. Aside from the obvious downside, if you decide to rent for a while, try to negotiate a 6-month or shorter, lease. As your husband begins his new job, he can ask others where they live, and that will assist you in exploring an area. Once you've picked an area, visit our web site to learn about neighborhoods, schools, etc. and once you find a home, you can hook up your utilities from our site as well.
Web Reference: http://www.ziprealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 26, 2008
I agree with Ardell's answer below. Natalie, I would try renting for a while first to get to know various communities. Tacoma to Everett is a huge span. I recommend finding a place to rent and getting preapproved so that when a home comes along in your price range, you'll be able to move on it. You might try renting around Federal Way (recently written about in Seattle Metropolitant Magazine as a place to buy).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 25, 2008
I am currently working with a couple who are moving to the Seattle area from Michigan. For the past couple of months I've been sending them listings of homes that meet their search criteria. When they find one of particular interest, I go to the property, take a look, take pictures you don't see on the MLS and email them with my comments. I've also put them in touch with two lenders so that financing won't be an issue, and they can review schools and neighborhoods from our web site. When they move here, they can set up utilities, cable, etc. right from our site, so the lights are on when they get to their new home. So don't get discourage, just find an agent who is proactive and will work with your situation in a way that actually works for you.
Web Reference: http://www.ziprealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 24, 2008
Talk to a Realtor and have him/her send you listings based on things you talk about in your conversation. You might have to consider townhouses as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 23, 2008
Natalie, Take a look at my website. I have a link with all of the homes listed in King County priced from $200-300,000. It's always up to date and shows the location on the map and additional pictures. It's a great place to start your search.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
So, have you found someone who can help you in finding your new place? If not, I'll be glad to help you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 11, 2008
Your best bet will be homes either south of or north of Seattle. I can tell you about a very nice 4-bedroom rambler with an indoor shop, sunroom, enclosed entry, RV parking, Fully-fenced and with a 3-year old roof for $247,500, and best of all, it sits on a lot that you can add another house or duplex to, on nearly 1/3 acre and within a mile of the Tacoma Horse Stables and downtown Spanaway. If you'd like to see it, go to http://www.circlepix.com/home2/MG4NT7 for the virtual tour.
Web Reference: http://www.ziprealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 11, 2008
Might consider beautiful Whidbey Island. Happy to help you. John
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 9, 2008
Hi, I know relocation is stressful enough without having to worry about housing. I moved to Washington 18 years ago and currently live in Federal Way. Federal Way is approx 21 min from seattle and 30 min from Olympia. There are several cities that are in between your hubands commute so its all a matter of finding the perfect home for you guys. I can send you some listings in the area is you are still seaching. Feel free to call me with any questions you may have about our area, houses, or just basic questions or concerns you have. As you can see on my profile, I have been working in the Real Estate industry since 1995 and today I have close to 30 agents working for me, so we can help you.

Anatoly Kalchik
A Kalchik Realty
253-569-5849
akalchik@comcast.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
I understand your frustration and confusion. I moved to the Seattle area approximately 20 years ago and it is difficult to even know where you want to live if you haven't spent any time in this area. My recommendation is to rent initially until you become familiar with the neighborhoods and areas in the Puget Sound Region. This would allow you to take a look at various cities and also provide time to look for a great buy in the area. You didn't mention if you have children but you may want to take a look at school districts if you do and also the commuting time to and from work since traffic is also a serious consideration.

Let me know if I may be of assistance to you! Happy to help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
Natalie,
I would like to echo Ms. Porter's suggestion. Although I am in the business of selling real estate, sometimes the best course of action is to rent first.

Here's why: moving to a more expensive area than the one in which you currently reside will require research to find an afforable neighborhood that is acceptable to you.

Also, with your husband's commuting habits, you probably need a location fairly central -- think of gas costs! Unfortuately, for your husband's work region, "central" means Seattle, one of the more expensive areas here.

However, you may be able to find something just north or south of the city. Nevertheless, it is important you are happy with your new community. I like the idea of "trying it on" when it comes to choosing a neighborhood. Have time to visit shops, or walk the neighborhood.

There are a lot of excellent resources online to find rentals, including the MLS if you have a Realtor. Feel free to check out the rental links on my website.

Good luck and welcome to the Northwest! It is a wonderful place to call home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 8, 2008
Natalie,
You could always consider renting for 6 months to a year and visit all the areas between Tacoma and Everett (it's a significant span). I also recommend getting preapproved with a Mortgage Professional in Washington so that you can see what your payment will be and what programs are available.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 4, 2008
HI, I just did a quick MLS search for 2-3 beds, under $260K and the inventory count is 1,886 in Pierce and King County and that didn't include the condos! You are talking about a considerable driving distance.

That is alot of homes to search through and it sounds like you are getting discouraged. I have a free home finder service, however, need more information to find out what's important to you and what does your house look like when you walk in the door, and do you like country or city lots? How close to the interstate do you need to be? Do you have any farm animals, what size pets because many areas in the city have restrictions, what type of community services are important to you. etc.... there's so many questions that we need to talk.

Best regards,
Elaine Gibney, Realtor ABR
Keller Williams Realty
866-442-2696
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 21, 2008
Hello Movers,

The great Northwest is a wonderful place to live. I moved here with my family several years ago. I have also helped people find homes here who have moved from other states. I gew up in the mid-west, Missouri, so I know what it means to move from place to place. There are lots of homes in you rprice range outside of Seattle. You might want to narrwow down your search from Tacomo to Everett is a 62 mile spread. With the traffic on I-5 and the high cost of gas, the closer you purchase to your husbands work the better. Narrwo down your search area and I will be happy to send you a list of home for sale.
Don;t forget to visit my website at http://www.rogersellsseattle.com/ for more information.

Good Luck and let me know how I can help. Let's Make Moving Fun!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 21, 2008
Welcome to the Pacific NW! My family relocated here 11 years ago from the East coast and I remember all the logistics of moving a family and selling a house to coincide to buying a house and not having to rent in between.

We started looking at Seattle and Bellevue and drove around with an agent for a day and got very discouraged because the market changes there daily and it's very competitive with multiple bids on the same house ... we chose Olympia because it was so very affordable and more options available. The average home sale in the King county area is $400K, vs $250K in Olympia!

Here's some info about Olympia you will find interesting:
Recent Recognition

#8 on Forbes Magazine 2008 list of Best Places for Business and Careers, and #10 on the 2007 list.
#16 on Sperling's 2007 ranking of Best United States Cities.
#36 on the 2007 Country Home Magazine list of Best Green Cities in America.
Featured in the 2006 edition of 50 Fabulous Places to Raise Your Family.

check out this website for community info: http://www.ci.olympia.wa.us

Keller Williams is the 4th largest RE company is North America and if I can't find a property for you, I can refer you anywhere!

Check out my website:
Good luck to you in your cross country adventure!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 19, 2008
Jeepers, look on the map at Olympia, the state capital. Would this be too much commute? Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater might have a little more house for the money.

You can look at listings on my website--select Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater.

Best wishes! Let me know how it works for you! Linda
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 18, 2008
Hello Natalie;

My team works the South end of Puget Sound. There are wonderful cities South of Auburn that could fit your houssing needs at the price you desire. Edgewood and Milton are 2 such possibilities. These are growing areas with 3 bedroom ramblers with decent lot sizes for the $200's. We just closed on a listing in Edgewood on Friday that was a move in ready rambler for 229k.

I lived and worked in Michigan for a short while. The housing is much different and much more affordable. Moving to Washington will be change, however, you may appreciate the areas beauty and lifestyle.

See the link to Edgewood, Washington.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 8, 2008
Hi Natalie,

As others have said, there are homes that can be found under $250K. I just did a quick look from Frederal Way going north to unincorporated Seattle and found 10 homes, all with 3 bedrrooms, for under $250K that were not major fixers ( there were 19 more of those) though they could almost all use updating.

I choose those areas because they tend to be the most affordable, and those areas are also along the I-5 corridor so that your husband would have easier access to getting to Tacoma and Everett.

Best wishes on your move to the Seattle area, it's really beautiful here!

~Deborah
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Hi Natalie,

When you look at properites on line, you might start by taking all the parameters except price out of the search terms for a while. That way you can see exactly what $250,000 will buy you, and either make adjustments to your expectations or to the amount you will spend. If you haven't yet met with a mortgage broker, s/he will give you some definite numbers to work with so you can be sure you are looking in the appropriate price range, and not limiting yourselves unnecessarily (nor getting your hearts set on things that are out of reach). If you want to work with a mortgage broker here, the one I use is Susan Langendorfer at 206-440-1000. It doesn't cost anything to have a consultation with her. I would be happy to set you up with a custom search that will email new listings that you might be interested in every day. Feel free to contact me via my website if you need any more assistance.

Sandra
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Hi Natalie,
It is definitely a possibility to find that home around 250k, but you will most likely have to choose which direction you would rather live, south of Seattle or north of Seattle? In that price range and within your preferences you are most likely going to have to search further from the Seattle area. In and around Tacoma or Everett both have homes to offer that suit your needs. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Natalie -

You are noticing what many out of town buyers often notice...our market is drastically higher than the midwest market! My family is starting to move out here from Indiana and stress out about what they can get for their money. But just a few weeks here and you will quickly understand why our market has so much demand!

Don't get discouraged yet. At that price you should be able to find some nicer homes...though unless you are willing to settle for a townhouse or condo you will have to focus your search more on the outside areas. Tacoma and the south part would offer you the best selection for your money. You can find some occasionally deals up in the Everett area...especially if you are willing to move a little farther north to Marysville.

Honestly, there are just too many properties that could work to mention them on here. Contact a realtor or two directly and have them do some specific research for you once you talk with them about what specifically you want. Schools districts and crime must be looked at closely...especially when you are moving more to the outside areas of the Puget Sound. Your realtor can help you focus your search based on your preferences here as well.

I hope that helps. Don't get discouraged as there are lots of deals and homes to be found! It sounds like you just need someone a little more knowledgeable about this area to help get you excited!
Web Reference: http://www.agentsamuel.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
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