What does the West Seattle Bridge reopening mean for real estate values?

by Patrick Regan

Source: Creative Commons

The joy in West Seattle was tangible this month when the West Seattle Bridge reopened for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

Real estate broker Christine Wong was relieved that her commute from the southern end of the peninsula would ease, and she said her sister, who lives on the north end of West Seattle, “felt she won the lottery when the bridge opened up.”

While the easier commute and travel times for thousands of people in the region are clear, the bridge’s reopening has ancillary effects that may be less obvious, such as improved real estate prospects. 

To find out what the bridge reopening could mean for real estate in the region, Seattle Agent spoke with three residential property experts, including Wong of John L. Scott Real Estate; Phil Greely of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty; and David Huynh from Compass and founding broker of the Koi Group.

The shutdown

When the bridge was deemed unsafe and closed in spring 2020, it was unclear how authorities would respond, and that uncertainty may have hampered housing values in the West Seattle peninsula.

There was talk of rebuilding the bridge, which is the main thoroughfare for tens of thousands of drivers a day. A complete rebuild would have taken until 2026 or beyond, by some estimates. 

Huynh said some of his clients looking for homes refused to consider West Seattle because of the bridge uncertainty. Others sought to leave West Seattle, which suddenly had a sense of isolation from the rest of the region.  


“When the West Seattle bridge closed, our world also simultaneously found itself in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak and stay-at-home order,” Greely said. “Our Seattle region was on the front lines of the U.S. outbreak, and we were all reeling for several reasons.”

The pandemic probably persuaded some to stay put in West Seattle because of the rise of remote work, making commutes a nonfactor for so many. 

That, timed with the housing value frenzy across the region, muted what some initially thought could be real harm to property values in West Seattle. 

“People who predicted the bridge closure would negatively impact West Seattle figured it would cause the area to become land-locked and difficult to access,” Greely said. “But remote work also entered the picture and largely negated this potential issue. Then the repair plan was announced and more typical growth resumed.”

Commuting nightmare

As a 30-year resident of West Seattle, Huynh knows and loves the area. But when the bridge closed and his commute more than doubled, he moved. Many others did the same.

The bridge closing dispersed traffic to other routes, and soon anyone going into or out of West Seattle faced travel times not seen since before the bridge was built in 1984. 


Huynh’s trip to his Bellevue office, ordinarily 20 minutes, grew to 50 minutes. “The bridge closing caused a huge backup,” he said. “People were miserable.”

While real estate was booming elsewhere, “home prices in West Seattle didn’t appreciate quite as fast because the commute was so terrible,” Huynh said. 

Plans eventually were announced to repair, rather than rebuild, the bridge. There was no certainty about the timetable, but it gave people hope that the travel difficulties would be only temporary. 

And as housing inventory become scarce over the last two years, some buyers were willing to put up with the bridge closure and purchase in West Seattle in order to find a home. Now that the bridge is open again, that interest is likely to pick up. 

“I’m pro West Seattle,” Huynh said. “There’s an opportunity for buyers to get a beautiful home … with a commute only 15 minutes to downtown.”

‘Accessible again’

The bridge opening is unlikely to dramatically alter property values in West Seattle, but it will give sellers there some more options, Wong said. 


“I think from a real estate standpoint your buyer pool probably increases because now it’s accessible again,” she said. “I think (West Seattle) is going to do more of a catch-up” but she’s not expecting home values to “jump.”

Wong, Greely and Huynh agreed West Seattle has a lot to offer. The area has always been a bit more industrial and affordable, but it has some fantastic views and great pockets of housing, Wong said.

“West Seattle is an awesome neighborhood that offers so much to those who live there,” Greely said. “I expect its popularity to remain and home appreciation to continue as normal once our market stabilizes, and we calibrate to current interest rates.”

Huynh is optimistic as well, especially with the West Seattle Bridge operational again.

“There’s a lot of upside there,” he said. “I would consider moving back now that the bridge is reopened.” 

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