West Seattle Bridge

(written in my West Seattle home office – on 49th street)

I was driving California Ave this morning at 7:47AM and passed an entire block filled with people waiting in line at Bakery Nouveau. With future patrons following social distancing protocol, the line stretched from the bakery all the way to Easy Street Records. At this very instant, I paused, completely in awe of this amazing community here in West Seattle.  It’s week 6 of the official COVID19 and “Stay Safe Stay Home” orders and people in our community are still eagerly waiting in long lines to support our local businesses. To see people show up for each other and our neighborhood establishments is something special and precisely why I love being a part of this community.You may be asking, “What does this have to do with the WS bridge closure, Christina?”. But, this is my point exactly. The West Seattle community is unlike any other.  It’s filled with people-first neighbors who consider themselves West-Seattle-until-they-die inhabitants, whether the bridge is open or not.  

If you haven’t seen the news, it’s true. Smack dab in the midst of this pandemic we got hit with WSDOT’s news: The West Seattle Bridge is closed until 2022. It was closed officially and abruptly, on March 23rd, due to cracking along the center of the Bridge. The cracks have continued to grow, and the Department of Transportation reported issue requires further investigation before announcing a more concrete go-forward plan.Not knowing the go-forward plan begs the question: Will this “issue” require a bridge repair OR a full teardown and rebuild. (Engineers and Seattle DOT are working to figure this out)

Sam Zimbabwe – Seattle DOT director stated “The cost of installing bracing for the 590-foot (180-meter) span, which arches above the Duwamish Waterway, is estimated at $33 million. That includes related traffic control and maintenance on the lower-level bridge and would require the rest of this year to complete.”

He also said it’s too early to know whether the bridge, once reopened, would revert to its original six lanes, or again handle heavy trucks and buses. That uncertainty creates a greater challenge for Seattle City Council members, who at a late March briefing hoped for a near-term, interim repair to allow at least some traffic to flow.

The West Seattle Bridge carries on average 100,000 vehicles PER DAY, and 25,000 transit riders per day (prior to Coronavirus). Current West Seattle Population: 79,914

There are a vast amount of unknowns, and until we know more from the department of transportation, we have to play (yet another) waiting game. 

Our company, Coldwell Banker Danforth, hosted an informational seminar (via Zoom) with a local Seattle economist and renowned real estate expert, Denise Lones. She is an avid researcher and has been involved in Seattle’s Real Estate market for the past 30 years.  She shed light on the WS bridge closure and also did a deep-dive on the effects of other communities who’ve faced similar bridge closures.. The conference call launched me into research mode, compelling me to share what I deem as important information, how real estate is being impacted,  and a few ways I feel our city will pivot to get through this unexpected time, together.

  1. Commute Dependent Sellers. Yes, there will be people who will move. Commute-dependent sellers may become motivated to sell. Folks not wanting to deal with a lengthy commute — unwilling to ‘wait it out’ — will find it in their best interest to move. 
  2. Work From Home: The New Norm. I believe a fair number of companies will become more lenient with West Seattle-ites and their work from home rules. We have been sheltering in place with COVID-19 since March 23rd, 2020 and the tech companies here in Seattle are reporting that it is going better than expected. Local company, Zillow, reported last week they will allow all employees to Work from Home for the remainder of 2020. CEO Rich Barton stated that “His views on Work from Home have turned upside down and this experience has changed his views on the entire concept.”  (5000 employees at Zillow currently working from home) Will the traditional work setting start to change? I believe so. Will tech companies in our city start to enforce a We Work-style setting, allowing employees to come as you please and open space for collaboration? Maybe.
  3. West Seattle Buyers. I believe buyers (not already living in West Seattle) will be more hesitant to buy here. Yes, there will be good investment opportunities as investors will prey off fire sales and fear-stricken sellers, but I believe buyers looking to purchase in the Seattle area will rethink before purchasing in West Seattle with the bridge repair project. For buyers who have been looking in West Seattle for some time now will be their time! There will be some great homes getting listed and if buyers are in it for the long-term investment, now is a great idea.
  4. West Seattle Community. The hardcore West Seattle residents will not move. If you live here, you understand how vibrant the community here truly is here. Take a peek inside of one of many West Seattle Facebook groups, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Residents are volunteering to go grocery shopping for others, childcare services are being offered for those in need,, residents are baking bread and giving it away … you name it, there is always someone providing a helping hand. I’m not here to sell West Seattle, but between the parks, beaches, restaurants, bars and so much more, it is truly a one-of-a-kind neighborhood in Seattle.

Denise Lones compared the two types of people we can expect from West Seattle residents. The concerned v not concerned:

Credit for infographic above: Denise Lones, The Lones Group

Denise Lones predictions on short & long term for West Seattle:

Lets take a look at the stats specifically for West Seattle Real Estate since March 23rd when the bridge shut down. We have just over a month of data to report. 

Active Listings since 3/23 bridge closure: 96 homes – Average Listing Price – $755,718

Pending Listings since 3/32 bridge closure: 108 homes – Average Listing Price (pending) – $659,132

Sold Listings since 3/23 bridge closure: 144 homes – Average Closed Sales Price – $742,282

Months of inventory reflects an estimate of the amount of time it would take to sell all of the current listings in a given area if no new listings became available.

  • If there are 0-4 months of inventory, meaning that all current listings can expect to be sold within 4 months, it is considered a seller’s market because homes are selling very quickly.
  • If there are 5-8 months of inventory, it is considered a balanced market.

Here in West Seattle for March 2020, we were at 0.9 months inventory.

This time last year, we were at 2.1 months.

We are under 1/2 the amount of inventory as last March.

Our housing market is still proving to be strong. We still have low inventory and the pending sales are proving there is still demand, even amidst the bridge closure news.

We predict values will maintain their value, maybe take a slight dip with increased inventory, but in reality we will remain stable as the long term rewards for the West Seattle neighborhood are very favorable.

If you are in it for the long-term you are completely fine.

What are people in our community thinking? We asked, and here’s what they said:

“I think tech companies will be more lenient with work from home. Im going to work from home as much as possible. The good thing out of COVID19 is that it has shown that we CAN work from home.”Alison Mitchell, West Seattle Homeowner, and Dwell Home Team client
“We moved to West Seattle from the Midwest 6 years ago and we immediately fell in love with the feel of living in a small, caring community while still being in a larger city. We definitely wouldn’t give that up by moving somewhere else, especially for a situation that is ultimately temporary”. – Kristina Mathieson Darnell, West Seattle Homeowner, and Dwell Home Team client
“I think it’s going to be very hard for commuters obviously, I do think some people will try to work from home a couple times a week, my husband and I have been brain storming ways for him to get to his office in Fremont, I think he’s going to try biking, the ferry or just ride out the traffic. I think a lot of people are stressing about the best ways to get to work and everything is going to congested no matter how you decide to commute. I do believe people who don’t have ties here will move, especially people living in apartments or don’t have kids. We are planning on staying, we love West Seattle and I actually think it’s going to be nice to be so secluded and I’m excited that our beaches won’t be as busy this summer, so that’s a win for locals.” -West Seattle Homeowner, Andi Hempton

In conclusion we feel very strong about the West Seattle market. We will be fine & it is a remarkable place to call, Home. If you want to continue the discussion further, shoot us a message. @dwellhometeam

NWMLS System
Denise Lones Group (infographics)
Seattle PI 
Komo News