What is the top home feature for Washington State homebuyers?

Prospective home buyers usually have specific features in mind when it comes to their future home – perhaps a view of the water with a balcony or having a big gated yard.

Considering the density and growing population of King County, you might expect that parking or convenient accessibility to transportation systems would be desirable features but these did not make it to the top of a recent list.

A new analysis by REALTOR.com® found that the most desired features of buyers in Washington state are alternative living spaces, such as accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Specifically, “ADUs” was the most searched home feature at the time of the analysis. These mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottages provide real, tangible benefits to homeowners, renters, and communities. ADUs and detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) work as much-needed affordable housing options, give renters more access and stability, and appeal to energy-conscious consumers.

According to REALTOR.com®’s Senior Economist George Ratiu, accessory dwelling units “will likely fetch a premium on the open market.”

According to the City of Seattle’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released in October 2018, “less than two percent of Seattle’s roughly 135,000 lots in single family zones have an attached ADU (about 1,600 units).” City of Seattle’s Department of Construction & Inspections shared that the number has since risen to nearly 1,900 units permitted as of January 8 of this year. In addition, the City says that there have been 799 DADUs units either permitted or constructed since they were legalized in 2010.

Regulations permitting ADUs vary throughout the cities in King County. Last year, the City of Seattle passed new rules that drastically reduce the restrictions on ADUs and DADUs. This legislation was adopted in efforts to reduce housing costs, provide more incentive to build, and to provide more housing options.

Seattle King County REALTORS® offers a course on ADUs – “A Step Towards Housing Affordability in Washington State. The next course will be held on March 12 from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Register for the next class on ADUs

Total size of city & Total ADUs – Seattle vs. Portland (2018 data)


ADU production in Seattle, Portland, & Vancouver B.C from 2010-2017

Pictographics from the City of Seattle’s EIS – History & Planning Context


Below are some examples of ADUs and DADUs in King County:

Fall City farmhouse with a DADU
Photo courtesy of Living Shelter Architecture

Modern Home with an ADU
Photo courtesy of Nunes Group Real Estate

DADU Rendering
Photo courtesy of MyKabin

DADU Rendering
Photo courtesy of MyKabin

Photo courtesy of Magellan Architects