West vs. East Seattle Homes for Sale

Keith and the Scooterist known as Orin faced off in the comments in What’s a Normal Home Price… Followers of Mercer Island history know that the MI’s first name was East Seattle, making this an epic battle of East versus West.

At issue: are there more listings in Mercer Island or West Seattle? A worthy investigation. I turned to the US Census and Redfin for data.


As it turns out, West Seattle has over twice as many homes per sale as a percentage of its total housing stock than Mercer Island. Kirkland’s next, and the rental-heavy areas of Capitol Hill, U District, and Wallingford are at the bottom. Orin the Scooterist is right about one thing: the median asking price for Mercer Island homes is higher than most in the Seattle area.

Why Sell in This Market?

Orin: I’d be willing to be that most of the houses for sale on Mercer Island are owned by people who can’t afford them.

Some home-sellers in each area probably are under water. But my point in the last post was that many people sell because life events demand it, whether a relocation, retirement, or more family joining the household. Those people are stuck selling in a bad market and don’t deserve to be mocked, just like those who sold in 2004-2007 aren’t virtuous as a result of their timing.

And as Keith says, the lack of jumbo financing makes it hard for higher-priced listings (i.e. Mercer Island homes) to move.

What About Value?

Do Mercer Island homes deliver enough value to justify their higher prices? The answer is specific to every family, but commute time and schools weigh heavily for many here. And plenty of people on Mercer Island seem happy with their bargain.


  1. Census data: Census Quickfacts and Seattle.gov
  2. # of listings and average list price: Redfin
  3. Visualization created with Tableau Software

8 responses to “West vs. East Seattle Homes for Sale

  1. wwo nice post.
    very helpful for people who deals with real estate.
    too bad there are no comments here…

  2. That’s great data! I’m curious…is that single-family only, or does it include multi-family (condos)?

    And, how hard would that be to re-run for “Bank-listed foreclosures”? That would truly show the sales where people couldn’t afford their homes (whatever the circumstances).

  3. Just thought of another factor – whether the homes are owner-occupied. I imagine that the precentage of investment properties (usually rented out) would be more heavily weighted towards the affordable areas. Without home appreciation, the business case for owning them changes.

  4. mercerislandblogger

    @Keith: I included all housing inventory: houses, condos, townhouses, and multi-family. I thought doing otherwise would skew the data, as some neighborhoods have a higher inventory of condos or townhouses vs. houses.

    You can run a search on Redfin for all King County and limiting to foreclosures:

    There are 88, and it looks like none on the MI.

    As for rentals, I think there’s another effect: city neighborhoods have more. For example, Capitol Hill is cheaper than Redmond, but has more rentals (I’m assuming, based on my knowledge of the areas. Census data could tell us for sure).

  5. Thanks for the Redfin search tip – I should have thought of that. 18 REOs listed in Seattle, 2 in West Seattle, 1 each in Bellevue and Redmond, and zero on Mercer Island. Way too small to draw any conclusions.

    BTW, I just today received a copy of Windermere’s “Year in Review” for Mercer Island. A decline of 37% in homes sold, median home price decline of 5.9%, and “still a challenging time for home sellers”. They also have a separate section that calls out waterfront homes sold: 16 homes, average age 36 years, 4,203 sqft, 88′ of waterfront, and…$4,356,514! Someone on the island must be “bringing home the bacon”!

  6. I just wanted to say thanks for writing this blog! I just moved to MI, and I check here frequently to help me learn what the important issues are in my new home. I moved from Capitol Hill and didn’t expect a neighborhood blog in MI, and I appreciate that you’re putting your effort and energy into this project. So, thanks!

  7. mercerislandblogger

    Glad to hear you like it Molly! I moved here from Capitol Hill too and was surprised there was no blog (tho Richard Sprague was writing in his personal blog). It’s a fun thing to do, and thanks for the note.

  8. Pingback: How to Get a Scooter to Mercer Island « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

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