The Puget Sound Regional Council projects that the number of workers in the Puget Sound area will increase by 40% between now and 2040. The number of residents will hit 5 million. Sooo many people. How will we all fit? How will we get around? The state says $40 billion is needed to meet transportation and infrastructure needs. (Update on 1/30 – new projection from PSRC: 6 million people by 2050!)
According to Seattle Times, that’s the percentage of brand new South Lake Union apartment units that are empty. In the downtown core, two-thirds of new apartments are vacant! Compared to the last quarter, rents in December fell more than 6% in SLU and downtown, as well as other popular areas like Belltown, Ballard and even Redmond and Sammamish/Issaquah. Rents may fall further in 2018 as 24,500 apartments are under construction across King and Snohomish counties. Seattle is getting more apartments this decade than the last 50 years combined, even as construction costs have risen 35% over the past 5 years.
30,000 and 30,000
Wall Street Journal says that’s the number of vacant apartment units in metro Denver, up from 5,500 three years ago. 12,000 apartments have been built since 2015, and 22,000 more are on the way. Almost all are luxury units. Meanwhile, there’s hardly any availability when it comes to affordable units below median rent. So Denver has partnered with local employers and non-profits to create a subsidy program that houses lower income residents in market rate apartments.
(Update on Jan 26) The Guardian reports that more than half of the ultra-luxury apartments built in London last year remain vacant. Local builders say that it would take a least 3 years to sell the glut of high-end flats if sale continue at their current pace and no new construction is started. As in other cities, most of the housing demand in London is at more affordable price points, but such homes are not being built.
54% vs 64%
National Association of Realtors is touting ATTOM Data’s finding that buying is cheaper than renting in 54% of 447 counties it analyzed. While this is true, it doesn’t tell the real story: 64% of the US population live in areas where it is more affordable to rent. In particular, renting is cheaper in 76% of the counties with populations of a million or more.
Seattle Office Space News reports that there are 614,000 immigrant residents in the Seattle area. They paid $6.4 billion in taxes in 2014.
HousingWire reports that 80+% of homeowners nationwide now have tappable equity (the amount they can borrow against while remaining under 80% loan to value). The total available equity is $5.5 trillion, versus $3 trillion back in 2012. But due to rising interest rates, refinancing activity dropped 14% between Q3 2016 and Q3 2014. The math favors home equity lines of credit for those with high balances and don’t plan to capitalize on a large amount of equity.