Renters In Older Buildings Blindsided By Rent Hikes

rentWith all the talk about record-high rents in the Seattle area, you may look around at the high-rise apartments sprouting up in South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Ballard and think you’ve found the culprits for our status as the U.S.’s 8th most expensive city for renters. But here’s a surprising statistic reported recently by Sanjay Bhatt at The Seattle Times: rents in older buildings are actually rising at faster rates than those in newer ones. Rents in buildings built in the 1980’s grew by a rate of 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, whereas rents in buildings newer than 2010 grew by only 1.4 percent (granted, rents in these buildings are much higher to start with).

Renters who care little about granite counter tops and rooftop decks have historically been able to rent units for reasonable rates in older buildings that offer function without the flash. But as many of these mid-century buildings approach 60 or 70 years old, they’re being sold off to development groups who pass on renovation costs to tenants in the form of rent hikes. For residents such as those at the Linda Manor Apartments in West Seattle (a building built in 1964), those hikes came in the form of a 130 percent increase, according to The Seattle Times. One resident saw her rent rise from $1,000 per month to $2,300 per month.

With the addition of 86,000 new residents over the past four years and just under 29,000 new units built over the same time period, housing is at a premium and a low vacancy rate in King County is creating stiff competition for renters. Because of that, landlords are having no trouble filling units, even with ever-rising rents.

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

 

Renting Half As Affordable As Buying In the U.S.

eastlakecdIf you’re a renter, think about the amount you write on that check every month. Is it inching toward 30 percent of your monthly income? According to a new report by Zillow, gone are the days when mortgage rates made home ownership prohibitively expensive and renting was the affordable option. They report that the average renter in the U.S. is spending 30 percent of their monthly earnings on housing, and Seattle renters spend a little more than 30 percent, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Owning a home can cut that percentage in half, as homeowners pay only about 15 percent of their monthly income on their mortgage. Historically, renters have paid about 25 percent of their income toward rent.

Rents in Seattle are up a staggering 21.5 percent over the past five years, and with incomes only having grown 10.4 percent over that same span, renters are increasingly burdened with monthly housing costs. With mortgage interest rates hovering around 4 percent, first-time buyers in the U.S. are only spending an average of 17.5 percent on housing, even with many only paying a 5 percent down payment. Zillow says that even if interest rates rose to 7 percent, buying a home would be more affordable than it has been historically.

So, if you are looking to save on monthly housing costs, start saving those pennies for a down payment! If you are interested in real estate in the Seattle area, contact your local agent today.

MatchPad App To Help Find Your Ideal Roommate

rentThe dating world has OkCupid, Match.com, and a host of other websites that claim to connect you with your soulmate. New service MatchPad has applied those same principles to connecting potential roommates, using criteria such as desired budget and location, as well as matching up compatible personality traits. According to an article on mynorthwest.com, the service launched in September as a website, and the app for both iOS and Android users will be available in January. Renters in Seattle won’t be able to take advantage of the service just yet, as it currently only operates in New York City, but once it does reach the Northwest it could help take some of the guesswork out of finding that elusive perfect roommate.

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??

Make Your Rental’s Bedroom Feel Like A Retreat

GetMedia (1)With customization options at a minimum, apartments often never quite feel like home for many renters. Living with your landlord’s choices for wall colors, flooring materials and finishes can leave renters feeling dissatisfied with their surroundings. But there are some things you can do to make one of the most important rooms in the apartment – the bedroom – feel less like a hotel and more like your own restful and relaxing retreat. Using some inspiration from the designers at Zillow, here are some ideas:

To start with, overhead lighting in apartment buildings is usually not the most flattering, but since you most likely can’t change the main fixture in your rental, invest in table lamps or floor lamps to give your bedroom a nice glow.  Stylish lamps can often be found inexpensively at stores such as Target or TJ Maxx.

Giving walls a fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to personalize your bedroom, but many landlords are not ready to let you wield a paintbrush of your own. Check in with them first, and if you get the go-ahead, a soft grey or classic white will give you a serene space that is also a blank canvas for the rest of your personal touches.

Once you’ve painted, pick up some new bedding in your favorite color palette to add some interest to the room. Along with a nice set of sheets (Target also carries inexpensive sets that feel much more luxurious), you have an opportunity to make a statement with your duvet cover and unique throws and pillows.

Can’t paint your walls? Paint your furniture! Take an old, tired dresser, give it a good sanding and dress it up with whatever color paint you’d like. Paint the whole thing, just the legs, just the top, it’s up to you! Heavy, dark furniture tends to weigh a room down, especially if there is little natural light, so adding some color in the form of furniture can be a major upgrade and is budget friendly.

Now you’ve got some ideas, so get decorating!

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

Proposed Bill Would Make Micro-Housing More Expensive To Build

Thousands of tiny apartments, often called “apodments”, have been built in Seattle over the past several years, and they haven’t been a huge hit with many neighbors who live near them. More akin to dorm rooms than to traditional apartments, many of the units are only 150 square feet – about the size of a parking space – and occupy tall, narrow buildings that are often out of scale with the neighborhood and usually don’t provide any parking for residents, even in densely populated areas of the city such as Capitol Hill.

Micro Apartment sketch from Biz Journal

Micro Apartment sketch from Biz Journal

But the Puget Sound Business Journal is reporting that a new bill proposed by a Seattle City Council committee would put in place new regulations that could dramatically curtail this type of building. Under the new legislation, micro-housing would be subject to the Design Review Board, which can cost developers an extra $200,000 (currently they do not have to go through the design review process); units would have to be a minimum of 220 square feet; and builders would have to provide some parking spaces and possibly bicycle parking areas. The council vote on the new legislation is scheduled for October 6.

If you are interested in rentals in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Things You Can Do To Secure Your Rental Deposit Back

When tenants move out of their rentals, there are many things that landlords and tenants tend to disagree on in terms of acceptable  wear on the living space. Some landlords won’t charge tenants for minor scratches on the wall and floors, but if you want to receive most of your damage deposit back, here is a nice checklist of things you can do to ensure the deposit lands in your bank account. Be sure to do a walk through with your landlord upon moving in and out of your rental, and take photos of any damage to the walls, windows, appliances etc to make sure you are not held liable for those damages when you move out. windermere

If you live with a pet or have some noticeable stains to the carpets, be sure to give your carpets a good cleaning prior to the move out inspection, as this is something many tenants are charged for. You also want to make sure you have it in writing for who is responsible for cleaning the carpets when you move out. When you’re doing the move out walk through with your landlord, be sure to take note of any damages they intend to hold you accountable for, and review your move in notes and photos to be certain they weren’t there before you moved in. Any discrepancies should be brought to their attention prior to your move out. If you are interested in finding a new rental home, contact your local real estate agent today.

Average Rent In Seattle Area Nearing $1,300 Per Month

98121After rising by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, the average rent for an apartment in the Seattle area is continuing to rise as the year progresses, and the average now stands at $1,284 per month, according to a report in The Seattle Times. Since this statistic includes not just the city of Seattle but the surrounding cities, as well, there is quite a bit of variation in the average price when broken down by city, and even by neighborhood. The average in West Bellevue tops the list at $1,912 per month, while the average in SeaTac is more than $1,000 cheaper at $901 per month. In the city of Seattle alone, the average is $1,445. There is also a significant difference in rental costs depending on when the unit was built. For units built after 2010, the average is $1,754, whereas the average for a building built in the 1970’s is $1,019.

Among Seattle neighborhoods, rents in Ballard have gone up by the highest percentage, having risen 12.3 percent over the quarter to $1,628. For a neighborhood that has historically been home to mostly single-family homes, the apartment-building boom is significantly changing the residential face of the neighborhood, and while rents are high, Ballard also posted the city’s highest vacancy rate of 8.6 percent in the second quarter. There are many units still under construction, and when they are complete apartment inventory will have quadrupled over the past six years. To go along with that, vacancy rates are expected to rise to 18 percent.

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

 

 

Learn To Compost In Your Apartment With Seattle Tilth

Seattle Tilth

Do you live in an apartment, or just have limited space in your home, and want to learn how to compost? Seattle Tilth, an organization whose mission is to educate the public about sustainable food systems, is hosting a free workshop on July 15 geared specifically toward composting in small spaces.

The workshop will teach participants about “vermiculture”, or worm composting, which creates a rich compost that is ideal for fertilizing your garden. If you live in an apartment and are able to keep a balcony garden, this is a great way to make it sustainable by using leftover food scraps. The workshop is free and will be taking place at Victor Steinbrueck Park, just west of Pike Place Market. Pre-registration is required, and you can do that here.

If your building isn’t ideal for gardening but you still want to find somewhere to put your food scraps other than the landfill, take advantage of the the City of Seattle’s food waste recycling program. Every apartment building with more than five units is required to have a food waste cart available for residents to use, so check with your building to make sure they do!

If you would like more information about renting an apartment in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

 

 

 

Data Shows Half Of Seattle Renters Live Alone

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According to the most recent census data reported by The Seattle Times, Seattle’s population of renters is living up to the city’s reputation for introverted residents. 51 percent of the city’s rent-paying tenants live alone, which is a surprising statistic considering that the average rent in Seattle is now $1,480, up 21 percent from five years ago. Only Atlanta has a larger percentage of solo renters, and most other cities toward the top of the list (Cincinnati, St. Louis and Pittsburgh) have average rents significantly lower than Seattle’s.

But despite the significant rental costs, it appears Seattleites are willing to pay more in order to not have to share their space. No sinks full of your roommate’s dishes (just your own), no fighting over the parking space, and no sharing any of that precious square footage. Single-occupancy units are clustered more heavily in certain areas of the city, including downtown, where three out of every four units is occupied by a single person, and other densely populated neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Eastlake, and Fremont.

Though the rate of solo renters is high comparable to other cities, the percentage has dropped from 56 percent in 2009, so it appears renters may be starting to feel the squeeze of rising rents. For more information about renting in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.