How Does Zoning Affect Property Value in Seattle?

Nov 6, 20170 comments

If you’ve been following Seattle’s housing market, you’ve seen the changes that the Emerald City has been going through in real estate. Our city’s population is expanding quickly. We are scrambling to find ways to add more affordable housing in a landscape with almost no new land available for development.

Because the land is so scarce (and expensive), our only other option is to increase housing density; build up instead of out. This means many of our neighborhoods are in the midst of zoning changes to allow for the immense growth.

With rezoning happening all over the Puget Sound, homeowners are understandably concerned about how these changes could affect their property value. Let’s take a look at this issue by first understanding zoning and reviewing how it could affect the value of property around Seattle.

Understanding Zoning

Zoning is a planning tool used to regulate growth and development within cities and neighborhoods. In the United States, zoning is normally controlled by local municipalities or counties. Seattle’s zoning is controlled by the Seattle Land Use Code, which permits different types of zoning depending on the area.

For this article’s sake, we will focus solely on residential zoning, as commercial zoning is a whole new area. Within the residential zones, Seattle has multiple designations based on the type of building that can sit on a lot and how large the lot is (Sq ft).

Single Family

There are a few different single-family zones that are common around Seattle and the surrounding areas:

  • SF 9600 – Single-family home with a minimum lot size of 9,600 for each detached structure
  • SF 7200 – Single-family home with a minimum lot size of 7,200 for each detached structure
  • SF 5000 – Single-family home with a minimum lot size of 5,000 for each detached structure
  • RSL – Residential small lot  is a single-family zone which resides within an urban village where smaller detached homes can be built as affordable housing


Just like single-family, no multifamily zone is created equal. The type of structure on a property is designated by one of these labels:

  • Duplex/Triplex (LDT)
  • Residential, Multifamily, Lowrise 1
  • Residential, Multifamily, Lowrise 2
  • Residential, Multifamily, Lowrise 3
  • Residential, Multifamily, Lowrise 4
  • Residential, Multifamily, Midrise
  • Residential, Multifamily, Highrise HR
  • Residential-Commercial

Additional information and descriptions of each zoning type can be found here.

Zoning and Property Value

The quick answer to “how does zoning affect property value?” is: it depends. In some cases, a rezone of a lot in a particular neighborhood might raise the prices of homes around it, or it may lower them. Not only does it depend on the situation, but it also depends on the current state of the housing market at the time of appraisal.

With that said, let’s use Seattle’s current housing market status (as of October 2017). Our market is so hot that our home price growth is nearly double that of any other city in the United States.

At this time, the rate of supply and demand is so unbalanced that home prices continue to rise, no matter the zoning type (for the most part). Because of the lack of housing inventory, upzones are required to increase housing density and provide more affordable housing for Seattle residents.

Let’s look at the effects of zoning in two different case scenarios: one neighborhood in Shoreline (near the future extended light rail stations) and another neighborhood just 15 minutes south of downtown Seattle.

Shoreline Zoning

Recently, the Link Light Rail expansion has been approved to extend from Everett down to Tacoma. Due to this new expansion, various neighborhoods between these cities are going to have new light rail stations added along the route.

According to the city of Shoreline, property values near these areas are expected to increase because of the addition of new stations. To prove their point, they’ve pulled various studies on transit’s effect on property values in the past. According to a 2014 report from the National Association of Realtors, “transit can increase the development potential of real estate near stations, and as a result, can increase property values.”

With the expanded light rail and new stations, noww is a good time to look into selling your home if you’re located near one of the new station locations. Learn more about how Beachworks is helping Shoreline residents get the most value and sell their home in a way that best works for them.

View more case studies and learn more about how the light rail expansion could affect Shoreline homeowners here.

South Seattle Zoning

If there are no major transit additions but an upzoning happens in a south Seattle neighborhood, how is the value of the property affected then?

The effect of this largely depends, again, on the situation. For example, if single-family homes are being rezoned to allow for multifamily homes, this helps negate the lack of housing inventory. Therefore more affordable housing is brought in and potentially increases the value of your property.

On the same note, the upzones could allow for neighborhood revival. The added density causes the need for more commercial businesses (i.e. coffee shops, restaurants, and more) and a vast improvement on the community overall.

In summary, there’s no one answer to how zoning affects property values in Seattle other than “it depends.” If your neighborhood or lot has recently been rezoned, talk to us. We’ll be able to help you understand how the zoning has affected you and advise on the best next steps for you and your home.

About Beachworks

Beachworks LLC local, family-owned company in north Seattle committed to improving the value of our community. For those who need to sell their homes quickly and privately, we we provide an all cash offer and close on your timeline.

How Does Zoning Affect Property Value in Seattle?
Article Name
How Does Zoning Affect Property Value in Seattle?
With rezoning happening all over the Puget Sound, homeowners are understandably concerned about how these changes. Understanding zoning and reviewing how it could affect your property is a good first step.
Publisher Name
Beachworks LLC
Publisher Logo
Email Marketing Icon - Beachworks LLC

Subscribe to Blog Articles!

Stay updated on Seattle news related to real estate, rezoning, and property tips.

You have Successfully Subscribed!