Seattle Rents: High, But Not Highest In Washington State

It’s not a news flash that the real estate scene in Seattle has exploded in recent years. The Emerald City has gone from a town most people outside the state only associated with coffee and flannel, to the tech capital of the US (save for our friends in Silicon Valley). As home to some of the biggest tech names in the world and a booming job market to match, it’s fair to say there’s might not be enough housing to meet demand. Or, at least to meet demand AND your budget.

High rises, apartment buildings and condos are going up all over the city, and soon, our beloved skyline will be dotted with more and more buildings and towers, making the Seattle of just 10 years-ago look almost unfamiliar.

Seattle has recently made headlines as one of the most expensive places to live, get this, in the world. That’s right, recent data has placed Seattle’s rent rates at 5th highest in the nation and, supposedly 9th highest in the world! However, San Francisco and New York still dwarf us, tying for number one most expensive, world-wide.

Those of us who are Seattle Natives know that the average rental rate in Seattle has increased fairly dramatically in the last few years, but it’s interesting to note that, while Seattle’s rents have been on the rise, they don’t quite top the list of highest rents in the state.

According to recent data from Apartment List, Seattle ranks at number 5 in the state for highest rents, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at about $1,650.

Surprisingly, Mercer Island tops the list of cities in Washington for highest rents. A one-bedroom on Mercer Island goes for an average of a whopping $1,890 per month. No one said Island living was cheap, I suppose.

Filling in the gaps between number 1 and number 5 on the list are Bellevue at number 2 with an average of $1,860 per month for a one-bedroom (not a whole lot lower than their neighboring Island), Redmond at number 3 with an average of about $1,690 monthly rent for a one bedroom and Kirkland at number 4 with an average monthly rent of $1,660 for a one-bedroom.

Seattle and the Eastside are not the only places in Washington with rising rent rates. Tacoma tops the list nation-wide for fastest growing rent with a year-over-year growth rate of 7.7 percent. Seattle comes close, but not close enough to that figure with year-over-year rental rate growth at 5.3 percent.

Staggering growth aside, Tacoma is still a bargain in the rental market compared to Seattle, with a one-bedroom in Tacoma going for an average of $1,000 per month. For those of you keeping score, that’s a savings of $650 compared to Seattle.

But, proving that some things really don’t change, the cheapest places to live in the Evergreen State are still East of the Cascade Mountains. You can get a one-bedroom for only $600 per month in Walla Walla and it’s not much pricier in the State’s second largest city, Spokane, at around $630 per month.

What a difference a mountain range makes…

Sell Your Home This Spring With These Seven Tips

Spring has sprung in beautiful Seattle, and if you’re looking to sell your home, there may be no better time to do so. Think about it, what a lovely time to showcase your home and really put its best foot forward, so to speak? Here are some tips to get your home looking picture perfect for a Springtime sale.

  1. Spring Cleaning
    Nothing says Spring more than a good old fashioned Spring cleaning, and that may be just what your home needs (probably, even if you’re not going to sell it) to get it in tip top shape. Go through those boxes of STILL unpacked home goods, linens and clothes that have sat in a closet or attic since move-in day and get rid of whatever you don’t need or use anymore (trust me, charitable organizations are just as grateful for the donation this time of year as they are in winter).  Get the windows washed, floors scrubbed and everything looking clean and clutter-free. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of a much easier move after you sell, if there’s less stuff to pack!
  2. Get Your Garden On
    Spring is an excellent time to make your yard look its absolute best. Slip on some gardener’s gloves and pull a few weeds, plant new flowers, prune trees and bushes and make sure any leftover leaves from winter are raked up and the grass is mowed. Potential buyers are definitely going to check out your yard, and just like a delicious meal, presentation is everything. Do your best to seed patchy grass, lay down beauty bark or simply add rock edging to flower beds. Adding more colorful flowers can make a big difference in how appealing your home looks too. It’s the little touches that can make a big difference.

  3. Create A Patio Worth ‘Sitting A Spell’ On
    Once the yard is looking good, it’s time to turn your attention to any outdoor living space your home offers. Simple improvements like clean, well-kept patio furniture with bright and colorful pillows and a few nicely potted plants can create a lovely and inviting outdoor space as well as help to evoke images of enjoying the Summertime there, in a home-buyer’s mind. That’s the kind of image that may just get you an offer. Also, it’s a good idea to stage the patio area with a pitcher and glasses of a refreshing beverage on the patio table when showing the home, especially on a nice sunny day.
  4. De-Gunk the Driveway
    A very simple yet often overlooked way to add extra curb appeal and freshen your homes appearance is with a good power wash to the driveway and any sidewalks outside. Moss, oil stains and other undesirable things can collect on paved surfaces outside of your home and make it look neglected or just plain grungy. A nice power wash should do the trick and rid those surfaces of any ‘blemishes’, instantly boosting the overall ‘put-together’ look of your home.
  5. Let There Be Light
    We are blessed this time of year with much more abundant sunlight than just about any other time of year (save for summer, of course). Why not take advantage of it by opening your house up to more light? Weather permitting, open windows and patio doors to let in plenty of light, fresh air, and maybe even the oh-so-Springy scent of freshly cut grass and flowers.  Use light the way ladies use lipstick for a night out, as an easy finishing touch that adds immense appeal, quickly and easily.
  6. Make Sure Things Are Up to Snuff
    Hiring an inspector to give your place the old once over is usually a good idea, no matter how well maintained it may be. If you have even a tiny inclination that something may need to be fixed before it hits the market, you should have a pro take a peek. Plus, getting things fixed and in great condition can significantly drive up the selling price of your home, which is generally a good thing. Your realtor (or a potential realtor) should be able to help you find a professional in your area to conduct an inspection.

7. All The Home’s A Stage
Staging can play a BIG part in attracting a buyer. Just as garden improvements and      landscaping are hugely important for the outside of your home, staging is key for the inside of your home. Regardless of whether you’re currently living in the home, or moved into your new abode, you want to create a space that’s warm, inviting and, well, homey. People need to be able to picture themselves living their daily lives there, so making it feel like home is important. Add a vase of fresh flowers to the dining table, a basket of fresh apples to the kitchen counter, have art on the walls (but not too much, and try to minimize the presence of personal or family photos) and fun throw pillows/blankets on the couches. You can even add the scent of fresh laundry or freshly baked cookies (a scented candle should do the trick) to get an extra edge, as our sense of smell is most directly tied to memory and scents like that can ‘take you home’ in an instant.

With these tips, the task of readying your home for sale should be a little bit easier. Remember to take it easy though. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew and do it all in one weekend. Home buying and selling can take time, and you should take the time needed to get all your ducks in a row before you put that sign out in the yard. Preparing your home for the market can be a breeze if you just take it one step at a time to get your home looking it’s best, and, with any luck, it will be someone else’s home in no time!

Washington State Home Sales Soar Past Previous Highs

sold-sign2015 may have been an interesting year for many reasons, but in the world of Washington real estate, it sure felt like the good old days.

Not since the way-back-when of 2007 had so many homes and condominiums sold in the Evergreen State. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, 2015 saw a whopping 88,331 homes changed hands last year, about  14% more sales than in the previous year. Those who have done the math say that works out to about 75,975 single family homes and 12,356 condominiums, valued at  approximately $34 billion, about 23% more than the dollar volume sold the year before. Those impressive figures make 2015 one of the best years for Washington State real estate in recent memory.

The last time this state saw real estate figures like that was in 2007, before the bubble burst and sent the country into what is not-so-affectionately known as The Great Recession. Even in 2007, the figures only added up to about 82,197 sales valued at $32.3 billion, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Furthermore, despite a ‘lower inventory’, so to speak, prices and number of sales continue to grow. In King County, the median home price was $480,000 and more than 26,600 homes sold. Compare that to a median price of  $440,000 and 26,600 homes sold, in 2014 and you’ll notice a jump of close to 10%. Snohomish and Pierce counties can top those figures with growth figures for both median home price and number of homes sold over last year at nearly 16.80% ($355,000, up from $326,360 with 11,303 homes sold) and 17.39% ($249,950, up from 230,000 with more than 13,200 homes sold) respectively.

Overall, region-wide, the growth was about 8.8% from 2014, with a median price for single family homes and condominiums at about  $310,000, up from $285,000  last year.

Numbers like this are a positive and encouraging sign for the state of the  real estate market and the country’s economy as a whole. Let’s just hope nothing comes along and tries to ‘burst our bubble’ this time.

Amazon’s SLU Sale Is the Largest in the US for 2012

The mammoth $1.16 Billion Amazon sale of their South Lake Union headquarter went through last week, and was officially dubbed the largest commercial office sale of 2012, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The stats are tracked by New York research firm Real Capital Analytics, and the Amazon transaction was recently ranked as the 27th largest commercial office sale in US history. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Amazon had plenty of incentive to close the deal prior to the new year; Amazon made a $51 million deposit that the company would forfeit if the transaction did not close this quarter. amazon

The sale certainly blows other substantial commercial transactions out of the park, with the next largest deal estimated at $868.6 million being a 1.2 million-square-foot building in San Francisco. The question still hangs in the air as to where all of the Amazonians will live around SLU once the expansion is full installed? Is there enough condos and rentals available in the neighborhood, or will it become overbuilt with highrises in upcoming years?

Seattle University Gets Approval to Plan Expansion

Yesterday Seattle University received the approval from the City Council for a plan that would more than double the school’s square footage of campus space on Broadway & Madison St. Right now the University is spread across 2.04 million sf of the 4.8 acre campus. According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, the school’s master plan is designed to stimulate growth of the University over the next 10-20 years, and by 2028 the school hopes to add 2.1 million sf of classrooms, parking, housing, retail and other buildings.

The plan includes taller buildings, and expansion of the campus’ boundary lines, and campus officials have said that the plan is necessary in preparation for the projected growth of the university; an estimated 2,500 students by 2028. Will this affect the cost of rent in the area? Most likely, but officials will have plans for housing to accommodate the influx of students who want to live on campus as well. The city’s approval doesn’t necessary approve any specific projects, but does allow the University to continue planning.

Ace Hardware to Move into the Securities Building Downtown

If you live in and around downtown, you’ll be thankful to hear that the city is finally getting a downtown hardware store. The Myers Group announced that they will be opening an Ace Hardware in the Securities building on 4th and Stewart in the first quarter of 2013. The store will be spread across 7,500 sf of retail space, catering to the ever growing population of city dwellers as well as businesses, creating a convenient place to grab your essentials such as hammers, fasteners and tools on the fly.

The Myers Group has said they’ve been looking for the right location for years, and they’re pleased a hardware store will now be able to assist the downtown population.  “The location adjacent to Bed, Bath & Beyond is a very complimentary fit for a hardware store and the Myers Group and Clise Properties were equally eager to make the terms of the lease work,” said Tom Graff, president of commercial at Ewing & Clark, who leased the space to the Myers Group. “When Richard Stevenson came to me to seek a quality retailer of the space, Tyler Myers was one of my first calls. His store will be a tremendous asset to the area and satisfy a steady request from downtown residential focus groups.” For more information and updates about the space, visit the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Seattle Gets Approval to Design First Hill Street Car Extension

Yesterday afternoon, Seattle Major Mike McGinn said that the City of Seattle has gathered enough funds to begin the design and planning process for the First Hill Streetcar line’s Broadway extension. According to the City of Seattle, $850,000 of federal funding have already been secured, and another $900,000 are pending final approval, in which case the City will have enough funding to design a half mile line extension, requested by the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The line would then extend into Broadway’s Retail District, and be able to support residents by moving the terminus from Denny Way to Roy Street.

The Seattle Department of Transportation is currently constructing the First Hill street car line, and ever since the project’s first stages of planning, the Capitol Hill community has been very vocal about obtaining an extension to the North End of Broadway, instead of it’s currently final stop at the Capitol Hill Link light rail station. The extension project would continue the double track street car installation, with two or three additional stops, and the total extension project is estimated to be around $25 million. For more information on the project, visit the Seattle Streetcar’s website.

Art Institute of Seattle Building Sold

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, The Art Institute of Seattle Building on 2323 Elliot Ave has been purchased by a company affiliated with Unico Properties. The Art Institute was actually the seller in the transaction, and the building sold for just under $15.88 Million; a step up from the $11.5 million the property was purchased for in 1998.

Photo Courtesy of the Seattle Art Institute

There has not been discussion of what this means for the Institute, which was founded back in 1946, and offers an array of creative degrees from culinary to advertising and web design. For follow up information involving the building’s use, visit the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Longshore Union Files Suit Against the Sodo Arena Site

Yesterday afternoon the Longshore Union who depend on the the Port of Seattle cargo traffic filed a suit against plans to build the new sports arena a few blocks from the main shipping terminal. The suit states that the city and county officials approved the agreement with Chris Hansen before completing an environmental review, which is required by state law.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers have announced that they plan to challenge the Memorandum of Understanding that was approved on Monday by Seattle and King County councils. The lawsuit suggests that the court should invalidate the MOU and ensure that  environmental process doesn’t secure the Sodo location. A city Attorney has stated that in the MOU, the location of the arena is not set in stone in Sodo, and it also mandates an environmental review of the area. For updates on the suit filed, visit the Seattle Times.

Seattle Home Show This Weekend

Are you thinking about updating your home, but having a difficult time coming up with savvy ideas for improvements? The Seattle Home Show is in town this weekend, and is the perfect place to gain inspiration for new home projects. The Home Show is the Northwest’s largest consumer home show with everything indoor and outdoor home related.

Photo Courtesy of the Seattle Home Show

The expo begins tomorrow at the Century Link Field Event Center, and will showcase hundreds of exhibits from builders, developers and re-modelers, with the latest models of new appliances, fixtures, and landscaping. There will be seminars throughout the weekend, and special events such as wine tasting to boot! Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door for adults,  and $7 in advance for seniors. All ticket pricing includes free parking at Century Link Field Event Center, and a free cup of F.X. McRory’s chowder. For more information on the Seattle Home Show, visit their website.