Dear Ray,

Does Seattle have any up-and-coming neighborhoods? Or am I too late? I’d like to invest in a neighborhood that is showing signs of improvement.

— D.G.

You’re not too late to take advantage of several up-and-coming neighborhoods. By buying now, you can be part of the renaissance of those neighborhoods in the coming years.

Seattle offers a number of investment opportunities in locations that have been overlooked. Even in the perennially popular neighborhoods like Queen Anne and Capitol Hill, you can find pockets that have been overlooked.

For example, you’ll find more affordability and upside potential on the lower east/southeast section of Queen Anne. Interbay, between Queen Anne and Magnolia, is on the city’s radar screen for future development.

On Capitol Hill, the Broadway district is going to explode with new energy when the light rail begins operating there. You can expect the area around Yesler Terrace (roughly Jackson to Cherry streets) to attract more interest in the coming years because of the redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace site.

If you cross the ship canal, you’ll find a number of overlooked areas. Check out the east side of Ballard, where it adjoins lower Phinney Ridge. There are also some under-appreciated neighborhoods located between Northgate and Lake City.

After years of being ignored, growth is pushing developers to look north along the Highway 99 corridor (Aurora Avenue North). There’s been an emphasis on cleaning up some of the trashy motels. The car lots are slowly disappearing, and new in-fill development will continue. I expect to see more interest in the neighborhoods between Aurora and Greenwood avenues North, including Greenwood, Oak Tree and Licton Springs.

Farther south

In West Seattle, there’s a lot happening around the Junction, within a few blocks of California Avenue Southwest. There’s also development anticipated along 35th Avenue Southwest. Of course, the area that’s getting a lot of buzz is the Delridge corridor, extending through White Center; White Center is eclectic, hip and diverse. West Seattle is one of the city’s largest and also least-dense neighborhoods, so there’s a lot of potential for more density there.

The Rainier Valley has been steadily improving for more than a decade. Columbia City is thriving, and its renaissance has received national media attention. Hillman City — just six blocks south — was recently ranked the city’s No. 1 up-and-coming neighborhood.

There are many other opportunities in the Rainier Valley, including south Mount Baker-Genesee Park, Brighton-Dunlap, Othello and Rainier Beach. Being located along the light-rail corridor will protect your investment in the future.

Beacon Hill is a favorite of mine. A largely suburban neighborhood, Beacon Hill offers some of the shortest commutes to downtown — an under-appreciated benefit. Beacon Hill neighborhoods are quiet and stable (similar to West Seattle or Crown Hill). There’s a walkable shopping district that rivals Columbia City. Beacon Hill has some of the most-affordable homes in the city; the center and South Beacon Hill neighborhoods are particularly affordable. Beacon Hill is great for bike commuters, and don’t forget the light rail stops there.

You shouldn’t overlook Georgetown and South Park. Georgetown offers some pockets of charming, early Seattle homes, plus a historic commercial area of old, brick buildings featuring new start-up businesses and a growing community of artists. Georgetown has character like Fremont used to have.

When was the last time you thought about South Park? The new South Park bridge is scheduled to open this spring. The bridge has been under construction for three years, leaving South Park isolated during that time. Although there was a chorus of complaints when the bridge initially closed, many residents say they’ve actually enjoyed the peace and quiet from reduced traffic — that will change in a few months.

South Park, like Georgetown, has some charming homes and its own unique character. I expect to see renewed commercial development happening almost immediately after the bridge reopens. 

Waterfront living

Believe it or not, Seattle offers affordable waterfront in the up-and-coming neighborhoods. There are Lake Washington waterfront homes (with moorage) for as little as $600,000 to $900,000 and waterfront condos priced in the $200,000 range. Surprised? Then, check out Rainier Beach, which feels more suburban than urban.

My advice: Find yourself a knowledgeable agent, and get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then you’ll be prepared to take advantage of some great investment opportunities in Seattle’s lesser-known neighborhoods.

RAY AKERS is a licensed Realtor for Lake & Co. Real Estate in Seattle. Send your questions to or call (206) 722-4444.