Ready to buy your own home in Seattle?

It’s no secret that buying a home in Seattle, Washington isn’t cheap. Even a six figure income doesn’t seem to go far for renting or buying a home in the Emerald City. So, how can you keep the costs down and not have to settle for living out of an RV on the side of the road?

The House You Choose

Obviously, when you buy the Seattle house you pick and the price tag is going to make most of the difference.

The Seattle neighborhood you buy in can make a big difference. Maybe you don’t need to be near downtown at all. Maybe you just need to be within a reasonable commuting distance a few days a week. Look a little further out and you might find a much better deal, without having to sacrifice for something too small.

If you’re thinking about keeping your long term housing costs down then take association dues and utilities into account too. Condos can seem a little cheaper on the surface. Though you have to add condo dues to that. You don’t have the ability to start putting solar panels on your unit or using your own rainwater harvesting system.

Fixer Upper Or Model Home

The condition of the property will make a big difference too. Are you planning on keeping this house in Seattle long term? If so, are you happy updating and fixing some things over time when you have more cash and maybe a higher income or less expenses?

Or is it more important for you to finance in everything now and avoid having to DIY fixes or call in contractors?

Recognize what you can and can’t change in a home. Remember that you’ll probably be changing the furniture, accessories and paint every few years anyway.

Down Payments

Lack of having enough money for a down payment is one of the top reasons many don’t try to buy Seattle houses. It is true that this can be one of the biggest parts of the expense. At least in terms of out of pocket costs upfront. Yet, you might need far less of a down payment than you think.

If you stay beneath the jumbo loan limits you can typically borrow much more of the purchase price. There are actually still a variety of loan programs which will allow you to put down as little as 3.5% to just 1% of the purchase price on your new home. Not all of that money always has to come out of your own pocket either. Especially as a first time home buyer.

There are even no down payment loan programs that will finance 100% of the purchase price and some of your closing costs. These include USDA and VA home loans.

Don’t forget to check out local down payment grant programs. This can be free money that you never have to repay. That’s free equity in your new home.

Or you may find it smart to ask your family for a little help. Or if you have a 401k or IRA, you can typically borrow or withdraw thousands of dollars to buy your first home without any penalties.

You can also have the seller contribute to your closing costs or give you a repair credit to make improvements, lowering your out of pocket expenses at closing.

Get Rebates & Discounts

Today, a lot of Realtors are offering cash rebates on their services. Some will give you 1% or more of the price of the home back as a rebate at closing. On a $400,000 home that can be at least $4,000 to cover your closing costs. Other service providers many offer discounts as well. It always pays to ask.

Polish Your Credit

Your credit is going to make a lot of difference in how much your house is going to cost and the type of loan you can get. Prepare to get the lowest down payments and mortgage interest rates by getting your credit in shape.

Keep your revolving credit card balances down. Don’t make any new inquiries on your credit or open new accounts. Don’t miss any payments.

Bootstrap Your Move

Moving costs money too. Try to lower your costs as much as possible. You probably don’t need a professional moving service that packs and boxes everything for you. This is one of the things which you can really DIY.

Can you borrow a pickup truck from a friend or family member to move your belongings? Can you use someone’s extra room or garage as storage space between moves? Can you crash on the couch between ending your lease and when you buy your Seattle house to save a little more money and get together the rest of the cash you need?


Although there are a lot of rumors about bidding wars and competition between home buyers, it isn’t always that bad. Most sellers choose a listing or ‘asking’ price with the expectation that
you’ll be offering something lower. Don’t disappoint them.

Offering 20% less may just be an insult in most cases. Yet, you may be able to get them down 2% or more. You might easily be able to knock $10,000 off of the asking price. Talk to your Realtor about timing your offer, and even including a heartfelt cover letter with your offer. You might be surprised at the deals you can get.

About the Author

Helping Seattleites buy their dream homes for over 15 years. Founder of Seattle's Mortgage Broker and author of Homeownership Simplified: The Truth about ZERO Down.