Curbd Seattle has the roundup of rental listing prices for November. Overall, it looks like rent is up a bit year-over-year and flat or slightly down as compared to September, which is in line with a lot of what we’ve seen over the course of the last year. Despite the slower, flatter rate of rents this year, the effects of rent increases are still being felt across the city, including a uptick in homelessness. If rents remain relatively flat this may wind up easing some of the pressure on the purchase market’s inventory by allowing potential buyers to continue renting rather than enter the market. It’s not the best way to correct the market, and it isn’t enough by itself, but it’s something that could have enough of an impact to be worth watching.
And the market is in need of some correcting. The sellers have all the advantages in this current market, with a continuing trend of quick sales and rising prices. I’m going to take the 11% year over year increase in inventory and cling to that as some good news. Realistically, most sellers are buyers, too, so a balanced market will make everybody happy.
The NWMLS numbers are out, and the exciting news from last week was real. Inventory in June really truly did go up. Now, let’s all cross our fingers for a a repeat performance in July.
Data from the large rental listing sites on July rent changes in the area is out, and Curbed has handily compiled it here. Most of the numbers are comparing median one-bedroom rent listing prices to the same for July of 2016, and saw increases from 4-6%, but one of the sites actually reported a decrease of 17%. Because nothing is every quite as straightforward as you might hope.
Speaking of straightforward, the city of Seattle has passed an income tax on high-earners, to be implement in income earned beginning January of 2018, collected in April of 2019. The tax is intended to, in part, lower the burden of property taxes, which is good news for a lot of people. Rules around the tax are still in development and should be released in November.
Everybody knows the first three rules of real estate are location, location, location. This story gives you a pretty good idea of why. A mining company is having to pay to move a town out of the risk zone created by its mine, and it’s expected to cost around one billion (not a typo) dollars. It really is easier to move house than to move a house.
The Seattle Bubble has the breakdown on the preliminary stats from May. The big takeaways are that inventory was up month over month, but down year over year. May being up over April is to be expected – we should see that continue through August and a taper in September or October – but I am perennially hoping for inventory to be up year over year, too. Or at least to be the same. Inventory, please! We needs it.
Rent price stats are out, too, and Curbed Seattle has a good breakdown of them. The headline takeaway is that median rent prices are up year over year, but that’s not what’s most interesting about this article. Read past the headline for a breakdown on where the data is coming from and how it’s calculated. There are meaningful differences in methodology across sites that means you’re going to have a preference for one over another depending on why you’re looking at rental prices.
A very long saga involving redevelopment of Key Arena took a significant step forward today with the Oak View Group getting selected for the project. They’ve already had additional partners sign up in the relatively short time since the official announcement. Queen Anne and the city at large are going to be watching the progress of this project pretty closely, especially since it’s being touted as one with low risk to public funds.
Redfin, the owners of WalkScore, has released its list of the 10 most walkable cities, and Seattle ranks as number 8. Our current walk score is 73.1, up 0.2 points from last year. Walkability across the board is increasing, and the article goes into depth on trends and specific areas that have shifted.
The Count Us In report for 2017 has been released. This is a more scientific, thorough analysis that was implemented this year to replace the previous one night count conducted in previous years in January. The new report gives a much more comprehensive view of the homeless population in the city and its surrounding areas and has a wealth of good information for anybody interested in this and related issues.
Also out is Zumper’s spring map for median one-bedroom rental prices, broken down by neighborhood. Rental prices don’t perfectly match to sale prices, but this is a good reference for demographic breakdowns of the city and is particularly useful for anybody looking at investment property.
The are-we, aren’t-we question of a housing bubble question remains very present with the latest Case-Shiller numbers with the March data come out. As always, the Seattle Bubble has a great analysis for you to take a look at and continue to chew this question over. It’s definitely starting to look like we’re a bit bubbly, though I’d like to see the numbers in the last graph adjusted for inflation and get a line for what reasonable growth (a percentage based on population growth) would look like.
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.