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How Racist Real Estate Shaped Seattle

redlining-map-seattle-all-zonesWe all know the “bad” neighborhoods. We all know the “rich” neighborhoods. So, too, did 1936 Seattle.

Much of the city we live in today was shaped by early 20th-century home loans, as you can see in this Great Depression map from the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC). HOLC took all sorts of data from mortgage lenders, real estate appraisers, and developers and produced a clear, easy-to-understand map of credit risk and worthiness. It divided the city according to “Grades of Security.”

  • Green = “Best” (Madison Park, Laurelhurst, Seward Park)
  • Blue = “Still Desirable” (Queen Anne, most of West Seattle, Green Lake)
  • Yellow = “Definitely Declining” (Beacon Hill, Ballard, Magnolia)
  • Red = “Hazardous” (Downtown, Central District, Pioneer Square, Georgetown, Highland Park)

This map (along with the data behind it) has affected real estate rules for almost the entire last century. It clearly shows the connections between racism, economics, city administration, and development. At the time, high densities of African-American and other minority groups was enough to discourage people from living in a particular area, and so those areas often appear on this map as red, “hazardous” places.

But now, in a way that hasn’t happened in the past 100 years, gentrification is changing the Seattle landscape (just look at the demographic moving into Georgetown, for instance). This is an important change. We’re laying the groundwork for our future city, and I, for one, want a future city that’s based less on racism and inequality and much more on equality and diversity. Let’s make this next century better for everyone, Seattle!

  • Brian Heagler
    Brian Heagler
    16:55 02 Jun 19
    I have worked with Johnine and her team for 19 years and have always received personal, knowledgeable and professional service and attention! There is never and pressure and they will guide you away from a property when appropriate, which is always appreciated when a market is hot and the tendency is to move quickly. I trust them and have never been let down!
    Anne Slater
    Anne Slater
    18:03 25 May 19
    Johnine Larsen is fabulous! She listened and came up with ways we could get what we wanted in a house and stay within our limited budget. When we found the house we wanted, she moved super fast to get the house inspected and implemented creative ideas to make our offer appealing. And out of 13 offers, we were selected and got our house. I recommend her to anyone buying a home.
    Amy Burdick
    Amy Burdick
    19:13 24 May 19
    Real Estate Gals made sure we found our perfect house! Then, when we were up against other bidders, Johnine worked tirelessly to ensure we were tops! Her extensive real estate experience combined with exceptional character and integrity provided peace of mind throughout the process. She also made sure we received the right value as a seller and got the transaction done quickly and efficiently. Simply stated: there is nobody better to help you find your dream home.
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    Bill Hollman
    22:21 19 May 19
    I'd give Real Estate Gals 6 stars if I could. We have used them multiple times, both in selling and buying homes in Seattle and the surrounding area. I can't say enough about the professionalism, knowledge, and patience they bring to the task of buying a new home, or selling your current residence. And they know the Seattle area so well, they'll offer valuable insights into the pros and cons of any location you may be to considering. Look no further, call Johnine at Real Estate Gals. You will be glad you did!
    Beth Guerra
    Beth Guerra
    01:14 18 May 19
    Johnine was a breath of fresh air in the real estate market. She listened intently to our wishes and goals, and was tireless in her search for our perfect house. She is well versed in both Seattle and the surrounding areas. She made sure all the details were taken care of after the inspection, and made the closing process seamless. She even gifted us with a housewarming present. Nearly 7 years later, we still receive holiday cards and well wishes. I highly recommend Real Estate Gals and will look no further in the future.
    Aidan Key
    Aidan Key
    15:44 17 May 19
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