Houses, Condos, Co-ops, and Cats

Wednesday Links: May 10

The sun has been making regular appearances and the mercury is rising, so check out this map of Washington State’s depressing place names and the stories behind them.  My favorite is #4, Desolation Peak, but I do have a literary bias so it was cheating by getting Jack Kerouac involved.

Rent prices are continuing to do interesting things, by which I mean, they’re still going up, but not uniformly and not at the rates we’ve been seeing.  (Rents showing a slight drop in Capitol Hill? I’m wondering if that’s a data blip, or a settling out now that the light rail has been open for a while.)  We’re still ranking in the top 10 nationally across a variety of sources.  Rent prices in the region are a very important metric to watch for assessing the state of the housing market as a whole.  We have a lot of outside investors, but not enough to power the entire market, and rents are a good indicator for where the locals are going to stand when they assess their relationship to the market.

That’s important because this year may or may not be the year that kicks off a genuine housing bubble.  The housing stats since November have been an ambivalent will-we-won’t-we mix, and that’s continuing.  So far we’ve been leaning more toward the won’t-we side, but March showed signs of a shift.  April doesn’t appear to have supported that.  Inventory is still low, but the number of sales finally dropped, and there are some indications that prices are starting to plateau.  Those are both really good signs that the market isn’t getting frothy and the growth we’ve seen in the last few years have been a natural correction in response to the recession.  It’s not definitive, though, and we’ll have to keep watching the numbers as the year continues.  If sales continue to fall and prices hit a definitive plateau, we’ll be in good shape.  Give us a couple years for inventory to correct toward something reasonable, and we might even see a sane market again.

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