Image: Joe Anderson

As a thirty-something millennial, I’ve consumed a lifetime’s worth of discourse about what my generation can’t do—graduate from college debt-free, drive a stick shift, retire. Chiefly: Buy a home. And in Seattle? Forget it.

Except don’t! Because it’s possible—even in Seattle proper. First, though, I had to reconsider “Seattle proper,” as I wasn’t going to find a deal north of Rainier Beach nor south of Greenwood. The good news: Seattle’s famously hot housing market is mostly competitive over three-bed, two- bath homes in good school districts. But generally crowds aren’t waiting to make outrageous opening offers in outlying neighborhoods on smaller, more affordable homes. My wife and I are childless with dual incomes (neither from tech), so affordable meant under 500k—on the low end for Seattle but still a privilege. 

With more of a selection than expected, I suddenly had to form actual opinions about houses. I’d lived most of my adult life in a rogues’ gallery of questionable apartments and spent little time considering the nuances of, say, window trim. So we took a weekend going to open houses to discuss things we didn’t like. “This kitchen sucks.” Why? “Well, it’s very long and has bad natural light.” Great! Now why does that fireplace feel weird?

The most important lesson: We found an agent and a lender who explained things like we were five. Once the seller accepted our offer for a little home in south West Seattle, things happened fast. I had only a few days to come down from the fact that, wait, they said “yes”? Then I was ordering a property inspection to learn if I was about to make a huge mistake, and a nice person from the bank dug into a financial interrogation. So you’ll want that agent on hand, as an adult in the room. Then, suddenly, you’re the adult in the room, which you now own—with good natural light.

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