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…

Is Everyone Moving to Interbay?

seattle sunset“Location, location, location,” has been said is the key to success in real estate. So on the heels of Expedia’s announcement to move to Interbay, Lennar Multifamily Communities couldn’t have been more on the mark in building a seven-story, 221-unit apartment project. Located just north of the new Expedia headquarters, which plans to house 4,500 employees, the apartment project plans to wrap construction in late 2017 or early 2018. Perfect timing to welcome Expedia to the neighborhood.

Lennar Multifamily wasn’t aware of Expedia’s plans to relocate when they took on the project late last year.  The complex will go up where the Quest Church currently resides, which is moving into the previously owned Mars Hill flagship church, located in Ballard. Brad Reisinger, of Lennar Multifamily, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that, “even without Expedia, we always thought Interbay had a lot of potential.”

The sentiment rings true for a number of developers and investors, as the Lennar complex is one of three apartment projects going up in surrounding area of QFC at 15 Avenue West and West Dravus Street. Beyond the development deals happening, it seems that the investment already shows promise as new apartment complexes in the area are already full.

Nestled in between Ballard and downtown, two neighborhoods that are growing at an exponential rate, it’s not surprising the Interbay neighborhood has piqued the interest of developers and investors alike. With dependable public transportation along the 15th Ave./Elliott corridor, the area offers a lot in terms of expansion and mobility. This area will be one to watch over the next few year, if it isn’t already.

Downtown Seattle Steadily Attracting New Residents

downtown condo1The Downtown Seattle Association held its state of downtown economic forum yesterday, and one of the major takeaways of their economic report was that the state of the downtown housing market is strong. Not only are increasing numbers of people calling downtown home – 16 percent of Seattle’s total population growth between 2010 and 2014 happened downtown – but more and more of them have families, with the number of children living downtown having increased by 17 percent since 2010. Overall, downtown residents tend to be younger, more well-educated, and more likely to live in a single-person household than the rest of Seattle as a whole.

Though only two condominium projects are currently under construction downtown, 3,089 residential units (the majority of which are apartments) are set to be in the construction phase in 2015, with 2,642 more in the works for 2016. Currently, the majority of apartment units downtown are small – an average of 638 square feet – but with the influx of families we could see a trend toward larger two- and three-bedroom units.

Overall, it’s going to cost you more on average to rent downtown compared to other areas of the city. Average rent downtown in 2014 was $1,904 per month, whereas the average for Seattle as a whole was significantly lower at $1,485 per month. Similarly, the median price for condos downtown stood at $409,500, a staggering 40 percent higher than the $292,500 median price for condos in the city of Seattle as a whole. Despite the relatively high prices, the vacancy rate remains under 4 percent. Visit the DSA website to read the economic report in its entirety.

If you are interested in renting or buying a home in Downtown Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today!

Seattle Housing: What To Expect In 2015

Wash park home11Millenials

In Seattle’s housing market, where the supply of homes over the past year never exceeded two months’ worth of inventory, a whole new generation of home buyers could be poised to make an even bigger dent in the pool of available homes in 2015. Millenials – people born after 1980 – have been putting off home purchases due to factors such as high student debt, stagnant wages resulting from the recession, and a desire to not be tied to a permanent home, but they could be a bigger force in the housing market in 2015, according to a new report in The Seattle Times. With the median rent in King County now standing at $1,750 per month, home ownership is beginning to look more appealing to many in their late 20’s and early 30’s who have thus far been exclusively renters.

Rental Market

Rents in the Seattle area (King and Snohomish counties) grew at a staggering rate of more than 8 percent in 2014 and are projected to continue to rise in 2015. An estimated 12,273 new apartment units slated to go on the market next year are expected to increase competition for renters and help ease price hikes somewhat, but the glut of new units likely won’t provide much relief for those with budgets at the lower end of the spectrum. For example, in Ballard, where many of these new buildings are going up, apartments built after 2010 are renting for an average of $1,731 per month – not exactly affordable for many single renters. Overall, Seattle remains the 8th most expensive place to rent in the country, with a median rent of $1,580 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Home Prices

Seattle median home prices continue to rise on a yearly basis, having grown 11 percent in 2014, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, but most are predicting slower, yet steady growth for 2015. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle in November this year was $357,000. In King County as a whole, the median price was $440,000 in December, just slightly lower than the 2007 peak of $455,000. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, told The Seattle Times that he expects to see continued moderation of price gains over the next year, compared with the double-digit growth the market saw in 2013 and early 2014. OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said in a statement that he expects price growth of 4-6 percent in 2015.

Apartment Developer Takes Over Central District Park Space

Yet another Seattle apartment building is in development, and this time it is taking over what could have been a small neighborhood park in the Central District. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Spectrum Development Solutions bought the property located at 1023 E Alder Street for just over $2.2 million, and plans to build an 84 unit apartment building on the land. The City Parks department had attempted to absolve the property for a pocket park, in a neighborhood which currently only has one small open space, Horiuchi Park. central district park

Spectrum has since received the nod of approval from Ed Murray to move forward with the building development, squashing further disputes between Spectrum and the City Parks Department. In an area that could use more open spaces, the Central District currently has 3 apartment projects planned by Spectrum in various phases of development, but this is certainly becoming commonplace around other urban areas of the city. More people are moving in, and new housing options are needed to accommodate population growth. One of the goals presented by the City is to have two acres of parks in this area by 2024, stay tuned for further updates. For more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Market for Seattle Area Apartment Rentals Softening in 2014

apartmentsThe average rent for an apartment in the Seattle area rose to $1,214 a month in 2013. A new report suggests that rental prices will at least stabilize if not decline in 2014. Rental prices have dipped $5 and the number of vacancies is up which is a sign of the market softening. The Seattle metro area is experiencing its largest apartment building boom in the past 20 years. All of the upcoming vacant units will cause competition for tenants and slow the rent hike. Bellevue has the area’s most expensive rates for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,434 a month. Belltown, Denny Triangle and South Lake Union are the most expensive submarkets with rates averaging $1,624 a month for a one-bedroom. The most expensive neighborhoods are Fremont/Wallingford ($1,514), Capitol Hill ($1,449) and First Hill ($1,421). Lower rents were found in North Seattle ($957).

Apartments Sold on Greyhound Station Block to Become Mega Hotel

Last week there were some notable commercial sales in and around Seattle, including one in the Denny Triangle that is staged to make way for a Mega Hotel downtown!

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle based R.C. Hedreen Co. purchased two high rise apartment buildings on the same block as the Greyhound bus terminal for $7 million, and they have plans to build a 1,200 room hotel. Hedreen hopes  to get traffic from the convention center, and has since met with city officials to discuss early design guidance, and a possible office tower could be constructed on 8th and 9th Streets along Howell & Stewart. For more information on this project, follow the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Fall is Here! Maintenance Tips to Safeguard Your Home

As you know fall in Western Washington can be quite wet, and it’s important whether you rent or own your home to take proper precautions to ensure your home is prepared for fall and winter conditions.

Photo Courtesy of Seattle Pacific University

You can check the foundation for cracks in caulking around the exterior where pipes and wires enter the house, and especially around windows and door frames in older homes, to stifle heat from escaping through the cracks! Be sure to tell your landlord if you notice anything problematic, because even the slightest crack can cause water to get in and freeze, sometimes resulting in extensive mold damages. Check with your landlord if the roof was checked recently for damages that could lead to leakage, and put away summer tools and lawn furniture. Ask your landlord if they’re going to clean your screen doors, and store for the winter, as winter conditions can damage these as well. For more information on how to best prepare your home in the fall, visit Zillow.

Vacationing Late Summer? Review Home Security Tips to Keep Your Residence Safe

Summer is prime time for vacationers to pack up and get in the car, and it’s smart to make sure your home is secured before leaving the humble abode for an extended weekend or longer. Zillow has compiled a precautionary checklist to review before leaving your home alone, and the first item on the list is to consider having a house sitter or consulting with your friends and neighbors to see if they’re able to check on the house while you’re gone, which could be simple if you’re having someone check on your pets, or water your plants.

It might be wise for a neighbor to park in front of your home while you’re away, creating the illusion that someone is home at all times. Shutting off a main valve might be a cautious step to take before you leave to avoid any pipes leaking, which can cause extensive damage, and become very costly. You could consider putting up motion sensor lights (check with your landlord to see if this is feasible) or electrical timers for inside lighting, again you could also have your neighbors stop by and do the same thing. For other tips on securing your home, visit Zillow.

Seattle Gets Stinky: Waste Management Strike Continues

As the waste management strike continues, commercial and residents are starting to feel the effects of the pile up, and so is Seattle’s Waste Management. According to the Seattle Times, Seattle Public Utilities has strong warned Waste Management that if could face very hefty fines if the contractual problems are not resolved by Wednesday afternoon. Fines can reach up to 1.25 million a day if the trash strike continues, and possibly more than that if problems continue throughout King and Snohomish counties. Last week 153 recycling drivers walked off the job as well, due to walk they called unfair labor practices.

SPU has since expressed that if all three waste services are being affected by the strike at the same time (recycle, garbage, and yard waste) and if one particular block has 3 or more containers on the same side of the street not being collected, they will begin issuing fines, and installing consequences. Waste Management has since hired replacement drivers for hospital, nursing homes, and day care pick ups. With the weather heating up, and garbage and waste bins piling high, a stinky city could create hostility from seattleites effected by the strike if an agreement doesn’t begin to to take shape this week. For more information on the strike, visit the Seattle Times.