Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Zillow Economist Says `Silicon Refugees' Are Helping Fuel Seattle Home Price Increases

Zillow predicts home prices will climb faster in the Seattle area than in the country as a whole in 2016

If you’re a homeowner in the Seattle area, you might be interested to hear that Zillow is forecasting another jump in property values this year, driven in part because many tech workers are opting to live in and around Seattle instead of the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s senior economist, calls them `Silicon refugees.' He gives an example of a tech worker employed by Google comparing home prices in Northern California and the Seattle area.

"The Googler in Mountain View has to pay roughly about $1.1 million for a home in the typical neighborhood where these people live," he said at an economic forecast conference hosted by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County. "By contrast, in Kirkland it’s about $500,000. Salaries don’t vary nearly that much."

That demand from tech workers is one big reason why Terrazas is predicting another climb in the median home price this year. He forecasts a 6.1 percent jump in Bellevue and a 5.4 percent increase for the whole Seattle region.

That's a slowdown from the pace of growth last year, when the median home value rose 10 percent in Bellevue and 9 percent in the Seattle region.

But even as techies snap up properties, Terrazas says many people who would like to buy are struggling to come up with a downpayment. Rent increases are eating up more of their income, making it hard to save. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.