House Hunting in Seattle

House Hunting in Seattle

 Don’t get too excited, haha, this is NOT our new house :) Bummer, huh? Yeah.

All of the photos in this post are from the listing photos of homes in Seattle we either saw online, saw in person during the time we were looking at homes. Some we considered, some homes were out of our price range, some not in the location we wanted, and some just weren’t the right ones for us for various reasons. The homes are just for fun to illustrate the ups and downs of house shopping and all the cute houses we enjoyed dreaming about. The house we chose is not shown in this post :)

So, if you’ve been following along on our adventure, you know we sold our house! It was pretty hard to make that decision, but we really felt peace about it. For months I’ve been sharing about our desire to move to the city of Seattle (the surrounding area, actually) in order to bring our family closer together (you can catch up on the details in this post). Moving to a city like Seattle isn’t something we wanted to take lightly, not only because of the impact on our own family, but the cost of living is high and the housing market makes moving into it rather challenging (especially if you aren’t moving in from another more expensive, hot market!).

House Hunting in Seattle

A few weeks ago we decided to take a leap of faith and put our house up for sale, to see what might happen. We had a deadline of September 1 due to the new school year, so the pressure was on. If we sold in that short time frame, great! If not, we’d stay.

We’ve had some really challenging house selling experiences in the past, trying to sell in hard markets, and with houses that were even just days away from closing where buyers walked away at the last minute. So needless to say, we were holding our breath about the sale once we received the offer, not wanting to get our hopes up until the deal was done. You can read about our house selling here and our moving day, here.

House Hunting in Seattle

Even though we weren’t sure what would happen with our sale, we started house hunting in Seattle last spring. We didn’t plan to find or buy a house before selling ours, but we really wanted to get a feel for the market, the neighborhoods and what kind of house we might be able to afford.

My husband and I took a couple of days off and we drove up and down streets in various neighborhoods, trying to decide which ones felt right to us. The house you see at the top of this post was MY DREAM HOUSE! If that had been an option, I would have moved right in. :) But at a sales price of over a million dollars, it would remain a dream. Sigh.

But that’s OK. This wasn’t a move to find a dream house at all. House hunting had very little to do with what awesome house we might find, and more about what life we would have in whatever home we chose. For a house-lover like me, that isn’t my normal default. You know me, I’m all about finding a charming home so my contentment skills had to kick into high gear. :)

House Hunting in Seattle

Finding any home to buy can be a stressful experience, especially in this kind of market where there are few houses for sale so there is a lot of competition. When everyone is lining up to make offers for the same house you would want and they are willing and able to spend way more than asking price, you have to get realistic about what you are going after and even then, you pray for miracles. But no matter the outcome or house we ended up with, we have been aware every step of the way that we are in a season that many would love to be in, so we are humbled and grateful to even have the option to house hunt.

The neighborhoods we were looking at were Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard, Sunset Hill, Greenlake and the surrounding neighborhoods (for those of you who know Seattle, you might enjoy knowing where exactly we were looking!). Those are some of the desirable neighborhoods, so that made house-hunting even more challenging.

House Hunting in Seattle

Mostly our neighborhood choices centered around wanting to be near our girls, who live in Magnolia, and also close enough to where our son would go to school. We didn’t want to move all the way to Seattle to be near our family and then have to drive for 45 minutes through traffic to visit them. So, we were open to whatever popped up in those areas.

As far as features of homes or sizes, our goal was to find something that was not overwhelmingly in need of a complete overhaul to begin with. We did not want a total fixer upper because we needed to be able to move in right away and work on improvements while we lived there.

We wanted to find something that we could put our own improvements into, but whether those were minor cosmetic changes or an addition or a brand new kitchen, we were open. Houses that were pretty perfect were out of our desired price range. And so many houses looked amazing online but were disappointing once you actually drove by or got inside. And the truth is, we grew much more realistic as time went on. It’s easy to look online and find adorable houses you think you will like, but getting one that worked for us wasn’t as easy as one would wish.

House Hunting in Seattle

I liked all of those neighborhoods for different reasons. We even found a very tiny itty bitty house in Magnolia we liked the location of (above), but we would have wanted to add on and remodel to be comfortable with our family, dogs and working at home, so we decided that was a project we couldn’t handle since we had to live there at the same time. We were open to everything, but we really thought through each possibility and tried to make the best move we could.

We discovered that we really liked the Sunset Hill area of Ballard because we could walk out our door and within a few blocks we could be overlooking unbelievable views of the water (Puget Sound). We love walking in neighborhoods and water views, plus it seemed a little more affordable than similar streets near the water in Magnolia.

House Hunting in Seattle

We love Queen Anne, which is where my girls went to school, but the houses we saw in our price range were in need of much more serious work than we were up for and in all likelihood we would have been far outbid, anyway.

While in my house hunting dreams, I always want an adorable house with amazing curb appeal, we wouldn’t be holding our breath or even necessarily trying for that as we knew they would likely be over our budget and the houses everyone fought over.

We didn’t want to go crazy trying to out-bid or outspend everyone in order to win a house. And to be honest we couldn’t have been in a bidding war, even if we wanted to, so we weren’t exactly in the best possible position for house buying. But in a way, I think we were in the best possible position because we had to keep our head on straight and not go crazy. Those limitations probably saved me from myself, HA!

The cutest house we might have liked during that time sold for over $100,000 more than asking price (gah) and even at that it was scrunched in between other houses so it didn’t feel ideal to us even though it sold for way over our budget! We really wanted a little more room to breathe, but in a city, you can’t always get that. Unless of course, you decide to move just a little outside those neighborhoods.

Sadly, even houses that needed A LOT of help went for $100,000 over asking and over our budget. It was pretty shocking.

House Hunting in Seattle

Since we weren’t confident at all that we’d find what we needed in the neighborhoods we were looking in, we started to look in an area just a wee bit outside those neighborhoods. As far as convenience went, we realized we had hit the jackpot in finding a quiet area that was within five miles of everything we wanted to be near. It was also near the water, within walking distance of a beach, so that was a bonus. That area was still expensive (because, hello, close in to Seattle and few houses to choose from) but I felt like you could get a little more bang for the buck. It was nice to have another area to consider. In fact, it ended up being the area we found a house in! Although I don’t want to share the specific location for privacy reasons, I think it’s a good idea to look just outside of the more well-known neighborhoods when you are house hunting on a budget.

House Hunting in Seattle

It was after all that searching just to get a feel for houses and neighborhoods that we actually put our house up for sale. If our house sold, we’d begin house shopping for real. But we felt good that we had done so much research ahead of time, so we wouldn’t regret our choice when it came time to buy. Then when our house sold immediately, it was finally time to start hunting!

As I mentioned in a previous post, right after we got the offer on our house I had to leave on a business trip. Of all the timing! But right before I left, we found a house. It had been totally redone already and yet we still saw such great potential for it. It was larger and more ‘done’ than we had ever expected to be within our reach, but we were super excited about it and made our best offer. But, alas, our best wasn’t good enough to get the house. Hopes dashed.

House Hunting in Seattle

To help us get another jump start on looking while I was out of town, our girls went with our realtor and previewed more houses. To be honest, they were really discouraged at that point about house hunting in Seattle. Reality was hitting us. Nothing we would want was available at that time. Everything that was for sale was in bad shape or too much money or on a busy road.

Everything, except for one house they were surprisingly excited about! (Again, it isn’t pictured in this post). They texted me details and pics and I made plans to see it as soon as I got off the plane. Even though it might not have necessarily made my top list in the beginning, we found a house that ended up being THE ONE! I can’t share photos yet until everything is finalized, but as soon as I can I’ll share details on this house and what happened next! Thanks for coming along on this journey, we can’t wait to get started on our next adventure.

If you want to catch up with all of our moving posts, click here and scroll to the bottom to start from the beginning!

PS. If any giant ads have appeared anywhere on my site this week covering up your screen, I apologize! It’s just as annoying to me as it is to you and we are working hard to have it removed! :)


  1. That’s so exciting, Melissa! Starting in with a new-to-you house can be so much fun. I’m glad your home sold quickly and you found another! Looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Hope you’ll take us along on the journey.
    House prices are so relative. Our Vancouver based kids (youngest and hubby) have thought about moving to Seattle because they might be able to afford a house there – something completely unattainable in Vancouver where the tiny, junk-filled, dirty house they just rented would go for 1.2 million. ACK!

    • Ack, isn’t that awful? That is so true, it really depends on where you are moving from (and what your own situation is)! I’m sure people in some areas of California think Seattle is pretty affordable, too, haha! If only we were moving from somewhere like that! :-)

  2. So glad to hear this news.. You are so right in searching outside your targeted area. Can’t wait to see your new gem..

  3. How can I say this? I am usually not willing to read lots of paragraphs in a blog — most of the time I just want to stare at photos. Your blog, however, is very readable + enjoyable! So there’s that. My fave of the above houses is the brown-ish stone one with the chimney out front. Hope we get to see you house soon!

  4. Linda Grubbs says

    Excited and happy for you and your family!! Looking forward to more details. Love your photos of homes….anxious to see “the one”.

  5. Linda Grubbs says

    ………ha! Also can’t wait to see what Jack has to say about all this funny business! ( he sure does make me smile ) thanks to his sweet humerous Mom!

  6. How exciting you found your home! I can’t wait to see it!! My son just moved to the Green Lake area and we walked to the park last weekend and then went out for dinner. So I know what you mean…so many cool little areas to live in…..congratulations on finding your home!

  7. Welcome! I’ve been in Seattle about aa year a half. Moving from California, it was actually more affordable for me. But indeed a very competitive market. Especially Magnolia and Queen Anne, and especially in the summer!

    • Thank you! Oh yes, moving from California really would make Seattle seem affordable, I can imagine! Lucky you! I actually think about what it might feel like someday if we move away from here, everything in the same price range will seem like a dream house. But we are really happy with what we found so maybe I’ll never leave. :)

  8. We’re getting ready to move to Seattle in December and I’m NOT looking forward to the intensity of house hunting!

  9. How exciting for you! I really enjoyed looking at all the Seattle homes. I grew up just outside of Seattle and spent about 5 years in Queen Anne before getting married. I currently live in southern california, so the home style in definitely different. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of “home”.

  10. So glad you found a new home! Also glad it’s not (hopefully) walking distance from the beach. When that 30 year overdue Cascadia earthquake/tsunami hits, everything up to a mile in will be eliminated.

  11. Oy vay what a thing! I’m so excited to see The Pick!

  12. …will be so excited to see the home you have chosen to bless with your sweet presence…you do…indeed…write the loveliest prose pictures…sometimes…we don’t even need to see the photographs…blessings laney

  13. Thank you for share all the adventure, it´s nice to know that you´re not the only person who´s suffering trying to find a new home, a new nest. Hope to see you new home soon, but take your time and do things at your own time…no rush, the home is not going anywhere. Enjoy it!!!

  14. The suspense is killing me! I can’t wait to see what house you are going to transform in to the home you love. Sounds like you’re half-way there already! I have to say that the photos in this post are so beautiful and sometimes look like they could be computer generated they are so well taken. I’ve read your book and am actually starting it again as I move through our new house…as I make it a home we love :) Thanks for always being so inspiring. Liz

  15. I enjoyed reading about your “search for the right home in Seattle”. It most certainly is a process!! Congrats and finding the “one”!

  16. Amy Driver says

    Good luck with your move!! We were in a similar situation and had to rent for two months with very minimal possessions- a bit crazy with two kids, but they actually thought of it as an adventure! That brick house with drive under garage is gorgeous!! What neighborhood was it in if you don’t mind me asking?
    Fingers crossed your contract goes through smoothly :)

  17. So glad that you found something! We are in the process of selling our place and no offers yet…I hate the waiting game to be able to move forward with finding a new home and getting on with the next phase of our lives. I can’t wait to see the new place!

  18. Melissa,
    As a Magnolia resident and home stager (I’ve staged lots of homes in Magnolia), I see houses fly of the shelf so to speak, multiple offers and over asking offers. It is crazy–even for me, a stager who’s goal is to help sell a home owner sell their house quickly and for top dollar. I’m glad you found a house and maybe you’ll be a neighbor in Magnolia-it’s a great neighborhood and community (not that I’m biased!). Congratulations.

  19. Looking forward to reading about your new home! My husband and I bought in Nashville this last April and we couldn’t believe how crazy it was here! We seriously looked and put offers in for 4 solid months and then ended up getting beating out 13 other offers for our house. I’m sure it is even more crazy in a larger market like Seattle!

  20. Diane Cummings says

    Melissa, I am SO excited that you have found a home there in Seattle! I cannot wait to see the pictures and of course all that you are going to do to it :) Congratulations

  21. House shopping is so complicated. Even when I knew where we wanted to be, finding a house was complicated and scary. I completely get all of your reasons. It seems like so many people go out, snatch up some gorgeous house and it all sounds like it’s no big deal. But house buying is soooo not that easy! I hope you make this one officially yours!

  22. You have a home! Happy dance….can’t wait to see what you do with excited for you… I feel like your my blog sister and can’t wait for details….
    Have fun!

  23. Thanks for sharing your story and all of the pretty pictures. I love the architecture style of all of these houses! Hang in there, I am praying that you got your home and everything went through. I can’t wait to see!

  24. This is so exciting! Good luck moving forward, these homes give you a heck of a lot to choose from! I think it is so important to have back up dream homes because you never know whether your bid on a house will make it as often people fall in love with a specific home and aren’t able to buy due to reasons outside of control! Thanks so much for posting!

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