Downtown Seattle witnessed fewer condominium resales during the first quarter of 2018 compared with that of the first quarter of 2017, largely because there were fewer homes to choose from. And the lack of available supply is raising further concerns about an affordability crisis. Currently, there are only 44 resale homes available for sale in an urban center of more than 80,000 residents but there are more priced above $1 million than there are at lower price points. Meanwhile, median home prices in Seattle are rising at 19-percent per year, according to analysis of first quarter 2018 data compared to the prior year.
As of January 2018, single-family home prices in the Puget Sound region were 12.86 percent higher than 12 months before, and prices were 0.73 percent ahead of those in December. On a monthly basis, home prices in San Diego grew slightly faster, at 0.76 percent. Yet year over year, Seattle’s nearest West Coast competitor was San Francisco, where home prices are up by 10.2 percent since January 2017. Further inland, Las Vegas home sellers saw prices 11.1 percent higher than this time last year.
Seattle is currently in the midst of a massive update to the streetcar system, which will link the city’s two existing lines at South Lake Union and First Hill, moving past Pike Place Market and some of the most congested areas within the Emerald City. Most recently, SDOT has come under fire regarding the project’s expenses, as a report indicates that city officials may have underestimated the costs to run the system upon its completion in 2020. Seattle Times reports that in response to concern, Mayor Jenny Durkan has requested an independent review of the budget to be completed within the next 90 days.
As a recent Curbed Seattle article outlines, the abundance of luxury construction projects cropping up around downtown Seattle make it “easy to look around and think, condos. But the majority of new residential projects going up in the city – and downtown specifically – are destined to be rentals.” Of all the new homes under construction, there will be 6,324 units available for rent, and just 489 (7.1%) offered for sale.
As Blaine Weber, Senior Principal of Weber Thompson Architects, proclaims in a recent Daily Journal of Commerce article, “the affordable housing crisis is one of the more perplexing problems facing rapidly growing cities like Seattle.” One proposed solution is to add to the supply of small, affordable condominiums in the city, yet as a 2016 paper published by the University of Washington Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies notes, condominiums in Seattle are overwhelmingly “beyond the means of the average-income individual.” So, Weber asks, why is there a lack of supply amidst rising demand in the Emerald City? Though there are myriad reasons, a main one can be attributed to the liability associated with building multi-family units for sale in Washington state, given regulations outlined within the Washington State Condominium Development Act.
First-position unit reservations and deposits were received on 95 percent of the 203 homes planned at KODA Condominium Flats during a recent preview event. The 17-story midrise in the city’s International District is expecting its first occupants by mid-2020.
In a recent feature on Curbed Seattle, Sarah Anne Lloyd writes that KODA Condominiums "experienced a rush of demand" during the launch of unit reservations over the last weekend in February, and that the project is now already 95% reserved. The article describes that "condo-seekers put down a refundable $5,000 deposit for the first right of opportunity," which is held until Da Li Development USA finalizes the product offering.
While Seattle’s lead over other Pacific Coast gateway cities slipped slightly in September and October 2017, by December, the city had recovered its monthly lead over home prices in San Francisco and San Diego. The Puget Sound region ends the year with a record 16th consecutive month leading the nation on the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index.