Most real estate investors have probably noticed the high rise in the cost of property, and most have used it as an excuse to either sell, or refrain from buying. An influx of new high-pay jobs in the area, as well as a low availability of housing have led to the boom and many houses in the area sell for as much as $300,000 or more per home. As a result, more and more people have been skipping the purchase and going for a rental instead, which while good for property managers in the area, is not good for the market. Talk of a new boom turning into a bubble has quickly dissipated as experts compare sales from now to sales in adjacent years and conclude that while prices are high, there simply aren’t enough sales to warrant calling it a bubble.
Housing Availability Still Low
Part of what has contributed to both the high prices and the lack of a bubble in the King County and Seattle real estate market is that housing is estimated to be at an all-time low. Earlier this year an estimate of for-sale properties showed less than 3,000 homes on the market, which are slim-pickings by any considerations for an area the size of Seattle. Added to the rapid expansion of tech companies like Microsoft in the area, jobs are growing and some experts suggest that the ratio of homes to buyers is at a whopping 1:19 percent. Houses are selling well above their suggested list price, with some going as much as 50,000 or more over the original asking price.
Profits Not Matching Boom
Despite the high demand for housing, there simply isn’t enough property to satisfy the demand. Property managers in Seattle note that the recent rental boom is at an all-time high, a single unit sometimes renting out for upwards of $1,200. While expensive, many still look for rentals as opposed to attempting to find a home in the nearly nonexistent Seattle market. While developers are continuously working on apartments, with development twenty times that of the past few years, housing availability remains about the same, meaning that more and more buyers are moving to rentals instead of making a purchase. Rent in Seattle alone jumped an average 10 % compared to a nationwide 3.4% average but when faced with this or the option of purchasing a costly home with little to no options, buyers are often more inclined to rent.
As a result, sales as for the end of the first quarter were at a shocking low compared to booms in 2006 and 2007. In fact, most experts compared the value closer to the markets in 2004. In 2007, the market peaked at some 1.84 billion in revenue, currently it is at just 1.45 billion, or more than 20% below peak. While housing is at a nearly record price value, people just aren’t buying enough to move the market into a bubble.
For Seattle property managers, the best thing right now is to invest in apartments and multifamily units. With high rent budgets, more and more job seekers are looking for a place to stay rather than a place to buy, making this the ideal market for the landlord rather than the seller.