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Seattle home
Looking for a soft landing after owning a home? Seattle sellers who owned a place for 9 years gained 53.1 percent on their investment with a 2016 sale. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

The problem for homeowners who decide to sell in a hot real estate market like Seattle, is that it turns you into a buyer in a very competitive environment. But for those who do decide to cash in, perhaps because they’re leaving the area for someplace cheaper, there’s big money to be gained in Seattle and other cities across the West.

A new analysis by Zillow, the Seattle-based real estate technology company, found that sellers who had held onto their home for a little bit of time are seeing huge returns on their investment. Oakland and Portland lead the way, followed by San Jose, Calif., Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif., and Seattle. Philadelphia, New Orleans and Boston round out the top 10 and are the only cities outside the American West.

Zillow reports that the typical seller in Oakland in 2016 sold their home for an average of $590,000 after living in it for just over seven years. That’s an increase of 78 percent more than what they initially paid. In Portland, the typical 2016 seller sold for about $145,000 more than what they paid nine years earlier, a 65 percent gain.

Seattle sellers, bowing to dollar signs and the influx of well-paid technology workers looking to purchase in the area, gained 53.1 percent or $185,000 on a 2016 sale for a home in which they lived for an average of about nine years.

“The housing market can change a lot in 10 years, and you see that reflected in this top 10 list,” Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell said in a news release. “Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions people will make in their lifetime, and it really paid off for sellers in these cities. Every city on this list has been growing extremely fast over the past decade, with the majority passing peak home value hit during the housing bubble. It’s extremely difficult to time the market, but if you’re a longtime homeowner in one of these cities, you could potentially see a great return on your investment.”

That ROI potential doesn’t appear to be slowing, especially in Seattle where home values rose 15.5 percent year over year. That figure makes the city the fastest growing on Zillow’s top 10 list, followed by Boston and Sacramento.

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