Seattle is known for being modern. Its icon, the Space Needle, is a prominent spike of modern architecture. The city was only incorporated about 150 years ago, very modern relative to cities around the world. But, how modern are the houses? And, are other, newer cities in the county more modern? A quick trip through the real estate listings hints at a surprise.
Six of the biggest cities in King County (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Federal Way, and Kent) account for over half the population (~52%) and over half the listings (~58%.) That seems about right. They are the various centers for modern houses with over 81% of the modern houses for sale in the county.
Seattle is the oldest, the biggest, and the most recognizable city in King County. It should have a great supply of old houses, houses that were probably considered modern in their time but are now seen as historic. Much of its growth is more recent, however, as we noted in a recent article on Amazon’s impact on the Seattle housing market. The city has about thirty percent of the county’s population and about thirty one percent of the listings. More than ten percent of the listings are for modern houses.
Head down south to where about four percent of the people and listings live, and find a surprise of, at least when we checked, there were no modern houses listed. That must be a fluke because for several years Federal Way was known for the very green and very modern headquarters of Weyerhauser. While, Weyerhouser has recently moved to Pioneer Square in Seattle, their new headquarters are just as green-oriented, and still very modern.
It is easy for many people to overlook Kent. It lacks the icons, the waterfront, and the sitcoms; but it is houses big businesses like REI, Boeing, and Amazon – places known for defining how we play, travel, and shop. (Growing Up Boeing) As the third largest city in the county, it has about five percent of the people and listings. Of those listings, five, almost six percent are for modern houses. Modern houses in modern neighborhoods, perhaps? Kent is growing thanks to land to the annexations and new neighborhoods
Thank Microsoft and its cloud of similar companies for redefining the Eastside in the last thirty years. The city may be the home of one of the most valuable and influential companies in the world (see our recent article on Microsoft’s impact on housing); but it has less than three percent of the county’s population and slightly over three percent of the listings. Ah, but maybe such a modern culture will inspire modern design. Alas, only one house was listed as modern when we checked.
Redmond’s neighbor is actually bigger with about four percent of the population; and busier, with over six percent of the listings. The Seahawks and Costco had homes there for a while (hence Costco’s “Kirkland” brand). Now, it is known for prime waterfront houses along Lake Washington and an artsy downtown. Maybe that’s why they bump up to six percent of the houses being modern.
The Eastside’s most prominent skyline that reflects across Lake Washington is the hub for the second largest city in the county (about six percent). It is also the second busiest market, with over eight percent of the listings. Surely all of that glass and steel should embody modern design at its maximum. The only city with more moderns listed is Seattle. Yet in terms of percentages, Bellevue stays in the single digits with just under eight percent of the listings being labeled as modern.
Think back to the top of the article and realize Seattle rules. The Big City has thirty one percent of the listings, and over sixty one percent of the modern houses. The old city is the modern city, at least when it comes to finding modern houses.
Such titles can quickly change. Ignore the labels and look at the houses. These data were derived from the data provided by brokers through the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Some brokers will emphasize a house as modern. Others are busy enough with the myriad of other details that are part of every real estate transaction. It is no surprise that some boxes don’t get checked. The photos tell a better tale.
Despite those caveats and clarifications, it is heartening to see that modern houses are everywhere, regardless of the age of the city. As for Federal Way, there are probably just a few boxes that need to be checked.