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(Kurt Schlosser / GeekWire)

The battle for most expensive housing market outside of California has been a neck-and-neck affair for the past several months between Seattle and Boston. But the Pacific Northwest tech capital finally overtook its Northeast counterpart in September, when the median home value in the Seattle metro area hit $401,000.

According to data from Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate media company, it’s a significant milestone for Seattle’s housing market, as the only cities ahead of it — out of the top 50 largest metros in the United States — are all to the south in California.

Seattle’s metro area includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, where median home values break down like so:

  • King — $503,500, up 14.2 percent year over year
  • Pierce — $276,000, up 10.4 percent year over year
  • Snohomish — $370,600, up 10.4 percent year over year

Here’s how the top five metro markets in the country compare in median value:

  • San Jose — $943,000
  • San Francisco — $812,000
  • Los Angeles — $578,000
  • San Diego — $518,000
  • Seattle — $401,000

Boston isn’t that far behind, at $400,000, but the wave of tech-related jobs fueling Seattle’s economy are giving the city — and people looking to sell their homes — an advantage.

“Historically the Boston and Seattle housing markets have been very similar with relatively well educated populations,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas told GeekWire. “For much of the past decade Boston homes have been more expensive than Seattle homes, but that changed last month. Seattle’s exceptionally strong labor market, strict building rules, and close ties and geographic proximity to California have all helped push up home values in Seattle, and home buyers and sellers are noticing.”

According to a chart from Zillow, which shows the rise and fall of both markets over time, Boston eclipsed Seattle in June 2009 when the median price in Beantown was $314,000 compared to Seattle’s $313,500. That advantage held until September.

Seattle vs Boston
(Via Zillow)

Earlier this month, Zillow reported that Seattle was third in the nation, behind Portland and Dallas-Fort Worth, in home-value appreciation year over year for the month of September. Rent appreciation was tops in the country.

The booming tech economy and influx of residents is being led by massive growth at Amazon and the continued strength of Microsoft and other major players in the region such as Expedia. Newcomers setting up shop range from Facebook to Salesforce and a host of smaller engineering hubs and startups. All of it is continuing to make it easy to sell, but tough to buy.

“Want-to-be home owners in Seattle are facing extremely tough competition and often have to put in a few offers before getting a home,” Terrazas said. “Sellers have the luxury of being able to list their home ‘as-is’, without fixing it up because they know demand for homes in the area is so high.”

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