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State of Seattle

Posted by Johnine Larsen on February 6, 2018
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A report from the front lines of Seattle’s ever-changing real estate world:

1) The number of renters in Seattle has increased 14 percent in the last decade.

2) The number of cranes in Seattle decreased this year, but Seattle remains the #1 crane city in the US.

3) The Seattle area added 12,000 residential units last year and will add the same number again in 2018.

 

 

1) The number of renters in Seattle has increased 14 percent in the last decade.

Across the nation, the renter-to-homeowner ratio been tilting toward renters, and that shift is even more noticeable in Seattle. Between 2006 and 2016, Seattle gained 100,000 new renters, swelling that demographic by 13.6 percent. Meanwhile, the city lost homeowner households—not just as a percentage relative to renters, but as a hard number. Even though Seattle has steadily grown over the past decade, its 350,000 homeowner households in 2006 dropped to just 308,000 by 2016.

A similar situation has occurred in other major cities. Commenting on this trend, rental service site Rentcafé credited the nationwide homeowner decline to the recession and the housing crash.

 

2) The number of cranes in Seattle decreased this year, but Seattle remains the #1 crane city in the US.

Cranes in Seattle now total under 50 for the first time since 2015. But to put that in perspective, that’s still significantly more than any other U.S. city. Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago all tie for second place with 36 cranes. Meanwhile, Toronto outnumbers everyone with a staggering 88.

This decrease might sound like growth is slowing—and it is—but not by much. People keep moving to Seattle, and developers have many major projects lined up far into the future. Much of this future development is mixed-use buildings (one-third of those cranes are working on such projects), followed by residential buildings, followed by educational buildings. The hottest neighborhoods for this development are South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and the U District.

 

 

3) The Seattle area added 12,000 residential units last year and will add the same number again in 2018.

All those cranes have already built 12,008 new residential units in 2017 across the Greater Seattle Area (this includes Everett and Bellevue). If you narrow things down to Seattle proper, the numbers still look good: 8,000 new units completed in 2017. Across the board, these numbers are about 50 percent more than in 2016.

What’s even more encouraging for (a) people looking for a house, (b) renters struggling to find units they can afford, and (c) anyone sick of the fierce housing demand: that residential growth will continue. The Greater Seattle Area is on track to add an additional 11,999 residential units in 2018. A further 18,000 units have also already been approved for the years beyond. That number will undoubtedly increase as time goes own (last year’s start-of-year estimate was 2,000 below 2017’s final count of 12,008).

 

 

Although more and more Seattleites are renting instead of owning, all this new construction will eventually reduce the intense competition for housing. But will it reduce things enough? That’s the multi-million-dollar question. But a better question might be: Will this new construction reduce housing competition enough for you? If you’re in the market for a house, or if you’re on the other side and want to sell, does it make more sense to pull the trigger now, or later?

That answer will depend on your specific situation—and we’re happy to help. Give us a call for a free, no-obligation discussion of your financial situation and housing goals. We don’t want to push you into a house—we want to help you find the best housing decision for your future.

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