Seattle Named 5th Most Expensive City In US, But Is Not Most Expensive City In Washington

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…

Seattle Ranked Among Highest Rent Paying Cities

for-rent-signIt’s no secret that Seattle is one of the hottest cities in the country for young adults in their 20’s and 30’s and beyond. That’s not surprising information given the influx of tech related jobs with popular companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Expedia and many more in and around the area. Add to that a fabulous art and music scene, incredible restaurants driven by award winning chefs and breath taking views, and you’ve got a recipe that has had more young people moving to the Emerald City than ever before.

In spite of  this consistent growth in the city, Seattle has still managed to elude Zillow’s annual Top Ten List of highest rent paying cities in the country,  instead sitting pretty for the last 4 years at #13. That is, until now. Seattle has placed at #10 on the list for 2015, knocking Philadelphia out of a spot it has firmly held on to for the past 4 years. That means that the Big Kahuna of the PNW is up there with the likes of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, to name just a few.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, the list states that Seattleites paid a whopping $10.2 Billion (yes, you read the right) in rent between November 2014 and November 2015. Couple that with the estimated 20,000 more people who found employment in that time and it starts to make sense, and while it may be easy and even logical to assume the tech boom is responsible for all this, it’s not alone.

Tech companies have experienced a 5 percent increase over the last year, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s the construction industry that takes the cake, with an estimated 6.7 percent increase over the last year. Developers in Seattle have been rushing to meet the housing demand of the city (with 10,425 apartment units recently completed or under construction and about a 25 percent increase in apartment inventory over the past three years), but it’s not likely to be quite enough or to help ease rental prices.

“It’s unlikely we’ll see any real rent relief in Seattle any time soon,”  said CEO and co-founder of Cozy Gino Zahnd. “While there’s plenty of new construction, these projects tend to focus on luxury units. Nationwide, we aren’t seeing many new units targeted at middle-income earners.” And though Seattle has plenty of high earners eagerly looking for housing, Zahnd says “Demand will likely remain high, as long as Seattle’s biggest employers continue to expand,” and notes that it’s unlikely we’ve reached a point of saturation, particularly on the high end.

Zahnd also points out that while the construction boom has brought many new jobs to the city, it is unlikely that these construction workers are living in the high-end luxury units they’re building. “Sure people are coming for these construction jobs, but are they living in the luxury high rises they’re building?” he said. “Even with no data, I’m almost certain they are not.”

In any case, with all these new jobs, a housing boom and being ranked among the countries ‘Big Boys’ for the first time, it seems Seattle is finally beginning to be taken seriously as one of the major cities in the country, a fact locals have know for quite some time.

Featured Rental: Mt. Baker Sweet Sophisticated Craftsman-Style Home

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This updated classic Craftsman-style home, located in Mount Baker offers sweet sophistication and a stately influence to its quite residential neighborhood. Outlined with a white picket fence, the home is situated at the corner of a well maintained residential block.

 

Wrapped in lush foliage, there is a private garden as well as a beautiful back patio, perfect for entertaining. The home’s generous rooms are flooded with light and updated with thoughtful touches like crown molding, trimmed windows, and gorgeous hardwood floors throughout. 867188-rental-bmpziz-o

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Nestled behind the house, is a charming office/studio space with vaulted ceilings and wonderful exposed beams. With windows on all sides the studio allows for an abundance of natural light, along with tasteful overhead lighting for nightfall.

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Mount Baker is an excellent neighborhood with a thriving active community. Events such as festivals and concerts in the park, art walks, and holiday parties are often spearheaded

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by members of the community and are open for all to join. In this family friendly neighborhood, it’s not uncommon to across a lemonade stand or have a Girl Scout knock on your door. With views of Lake Washington, it’s a great place to get in on the excitement and watch the theatrics of Seattle’s annual Seafair.

 

Most Expensive Active Seattle Luxury Rentals

Although we usually profile and feature “run of the mill” luxury rentals, today I’d like to feature some of the most expensive active rentals on the market in Seattle and environs. We’re talking like… top 10. Yeah, the big kahunas. Not that the other’s aren’t enviable to say in the least!

10. $8,500

Located in Belltown, this property boasts not only views of downtown, but also Puget Sound and the Space Needle. With a gourmet kitchen, floor to ceiling windows, touch screen sound system, garage parking and two storage units. Listed by Joseph Kelly of Soleil Real Estate of Seattle.

9. $8,500

This contemporary Lake Union home boasts a 270 degree view of the water, heated floors, top of the line kitchen appliances and marble bath. This 1,000 square foot house was built in 2011 and has been on the market for 139 days and is listed by Scott Wasner of Sotheby’s.

8. $9,800

Want a penthouse? Who am I kidding, of course you do. And nowone is up for grabs! For rent at least. This 26th floor, 3,081 square foot residence boats three bedrooms and enormous 290 degrees of skyline, mountains, and water. Oak floors, maple cabinetry, gas fireplace, and a chefs kitchen. On the market for 44 days, this property is listed by Julia Tsurusaki with Pointe3 Real Estate.

7. $10,000

Out next most expensive property calls Mercer Island home. Originally listed at $12,000, this 3,880 square foot gorgeous waterfront home features a newly remodeled kitchen with an ensuite deck and jacuzzi tub (uh, that’s awesome). 85′ of waterfront with moorage and dock, two jets lifts and a boat lift. Nicely settled near some parks, what could get better? Not much, that’s what. Listed by Anthony Yap of TAG Realty.

6. $10,000

Tied at $10,000, this Laurelhurst home has only been on the market for a month. Fully furnished with views of Lake Washington, this 4,660 square foot contemporary northwest home comes with Laurelhurt Beach Club access. Offering five bedrooms and four bathrooms, it’s listed by Timothy Lenihan of Windermere Real Estate.

5. $11,000

Now, this one has me drooling. This unit is within the Four Seasons Private Residences Seattle. Two bedrooms and a den, valet parking, 24 hour security and concierge, mile high views, this 2,082 square foot overlooks the Great Wheel through floor to ceiling windows. With a gas fireplace and an ultra modern kitchen, it’s enough to make anyone go gaga. Listed by Scott Wasner of Sotheby’s.

4. $11,000

Another beauty at $11,000, the stunningly designed Arthur Erickson Highlands home is a looker. Having seen this sumptuous property myself, the views and grounds as well as the guest house, I can say will all certainty that it. is. worth. it. Listed by our own Betsy Terry of Our Distinctive Home Shop in Madison Park, this 7,470 square foot masterpiece is constructed  from polished concrete, with a glass ceiling. Mountain and sound views, and a Pemberley-esque (We got any Jane Austen fans out there? No? Just me? Okay) park off the swimming pool.

3. $12,500

Located in Hunts Point and built in 1995, this home is nestled on prime waterfront with lake, city, and mountain views. Designed by Curtis Gelotte, the house is nestled between manicured landscaping and old growth trees. With moorage and a dock, this 3,710 square foot home is full of natural wood and stone details, evoking the architectural style of the pacific northwest. Listed by Anna Riley of Windermere Real Estate.

2. $18,000

Another jewel of Hunts Point, this residence boasts a stunning Chihuly glass chandelier hanging from a sky-lit ceiling. This 3,000 square foot west-facing residence features rustic timers, posts, and beams embodies pacific northwest architecture and art. Listed by Tere Foster and Moya Skillman of Windermere Real Estate.

1. $20,000

Topping our list is a mansion in Clyde Hill. At 6,000 this european designed six bedroom, eight bathroom masterpiece was custom built in 2007. With a gated entrance and a large pool in the backyard, a large up to date kitchen, and an indoor jacuzzi. Listed by Robert Radulescu with The Force Realty.

Well folks, which one is your favorite??

Walkability Score- What is it and why does it matter?

Pioneer Square Pergola

Pioneer Square Pergola

Walkability- it’s a word that some of you may be familiar with already, and one that real estate marketing often uses. But what exactly does it mean?

Used by Walkscore.com, it’s intended definition is to indicate how easily and readily connected a property is to the neighborhood and community around it. For instance, is the nearest grocery store within easy walking distance? Or would it be necessary to drive there?

The higher a property’s Walk Score (or Transit Score or Bike Score) on a scale of 1-100, the more connected the neighborhood is with the property. Take this chart example. But what makes a community walkable?

  • A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.
  • People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
  • Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
  • Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
  • Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.
  • Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
  • Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

Now, why is this score important? It’s generally known that those who walk more, whether it’s just a few steps or hundreds of steps a day are generally healthier than those who don’t. By walking more, not only do you get outside, but you also use your car less, and thereby reduce your carbon footprint. If you were able to find a property in a highly walkable area, you might be able to forgo the car altogether!

And here’s some great news: Seattle is rated as one of the most walkable cities in the U.S.! With a Walk Score of 71, a Transit Score of 57, and a Bike Score of 64, Seattle is the 8th most walkable city, with it’s most walkable neighborhoods being Downtown, the Denny Triangle, and Pioneer Square.

How important is the walkability of the neighborhood to you when looking for a new property?

Soaring Rental Home Market Could be Good for Renters

Photo credit: www.third-estate.com

Photo credit: www.third-estate.com

More and more rental homes in the surrounding Puget Sound are becoming owned and managed by big investors and hedge fund companies; could this be a step in the right direction towards home-ownership for renters? According to the Seattle Times, a National study suggests yes! A study by Wall Street Analysts suggested that somewhere between $7 billion and $9 billion dollars in distressed family homes have been purchased over the past 5 years, and turned into rental homes by these big name investors. Unlike your average ‘mom and pop’ rental investor, these guys are buying dozens and on occasion hundreds of properties at a time through short sales, foreclosures, etc.

Although single family rental homes have always been a part of the rental scene, the involvement of these large scale companies is really allowing the category to take off. According to a different study,  single family homes account for 52% of all rental units in the country; 27% of all renters nationwide. The study also suggests that the boom in rental homes isn’t just a good opportunity for first time home buyers, but also those affected by the bust. About 60% of rental home tenants have expressed interest in buying in the next 5 years, compared with 44% of apartment and multifamily building renters. The study’s synopsis showed that single family rental homes are going to continue to be a growing part of the housing market, and a safe bet for future home buyers. For more information on the study, visit the Seattle Times.

West Seattle’s Blake Apartments to Begin Construction Soon

It’s official; according to the folks at the West Seattle Blog, Indigo Real Estate Services has announced that plans for the 5020 California SW apartment complex are scheduled to begin construction in January 2013, and their aiming to be open for tenants the summer of 2014. That means for those West Seattleites who have anxiously been waiting for 5 or so years for  an update on the former Spring Hills project: the Blake Apartments are back on! big-house-01

The Blake was named after the most visible island that can be seen from the building rooftop deck, the complex will also offer views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains for its residents. The Blake will be an upscale, pet friendly establishment, with 101 units including two story town homes, studios, 1 bed 1 bath, and 2 bed 2 bath apartments. It will have 87 underground parking stalls, and a secure indoor bike storage, with a greater ratio for tenant parking than most complexes in the Junction. For more updates and information on the Blake, submit your contact information today.

City Council Approves Registration & Inspection of Rentals

There has been alot of hype in the real estate realm around whether the City Council should approve the program which will require the registration and inspection of all rental properties. But yesterday afternoon  City Council must have agree with the tenant and landlord groups who’ve advocated that tenants have the right to healthy and safe living conditions, because the program was approved.

While many tenants and support groups are excited for the change to take place in 2014, other landlord groups are concerned about the potential fees from rental inspectors that could begin at $150 a day for those refusing to correct the problems. Under the program, all properties that have 10 or more units will need to register with the city prior to Dec 31, 2014, and properties with 1-4 units by Dec 31, 2016. According to the Seattle Times, the vote was 5-0 in favor of the program. For more information on rental property inspections, visit the Seattle Times.

Seattle Ranked #2 City to Live In!

You probably have several personal reasons of why you love living in the Seattle area as much as you do, but do you know where our city stands among the rest of the nation? According to a poll run by Businessweek.com, a national Bloomsberg site, our very own Seattle was ranked the number two city to live in across the United States! Ranked only second to San Francisco, Seattle is highly regarded for having a high median average income, mild year round weather, clean air, and being a lovely waterside metropolitan area.

We have top companies like Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, and Google that provide tens of thousands of jobs throughout the area, and a variety of neighborhoods sure to please every palate. According to the survey, the median household income is $90,303, we have 9 park acres per 1,000 residents, and have 16.8% locals with a graduate degree or higher. Do you think they missed some of the best reasons to live here? Check out who ranked after Seattle at Businessweek.com.

Influx of Hotels Planned for Downtown Seattle

The Downtown Seattle metro area has not seen any hotels break ground in the past two years, and there are no current plans for any to go under construction in the next upcoming months. But according to the Seattle Times, all that might change this year, with current hotels having successful bookings, with little trouble filling rooms, and they’re able to have consistently higher rates. Developers are feeling more confident with those statistics in place, and are moving forward by proposing more hotels pop up in the downtown area.

Downtown Seattle Sheraton, photo courtesy of destination360.com

According to the Times, one of those proposals includes a hotel with 1,200+ rooms, which is larger than any hotel in the area except for the Seattle Sheraton hotel. If all of the projects presented were to be built, the Seattle hotel industry would increase by more than 15%! Developers like Touchstone, Kauri, and Daniels Development among others all have projects in various stages of planning for construction, and Seattleites looking for hotel living should keep an eye out for upcoming hotel projects that have apartment rentals planned into the space as well. For more information on upcoming projects in the Downtown Seattle area, visit the Seattle Times.