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Home-owning families with children on the decline around Seattle


While the cost of living continues to increase around Seattle, the number of home-owning families with children is declining.

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RentCafe found that the number of families with children who own a home plummeted across the country by 3.6 million between 2006 and 2016 — a decrease of 14 percent. At the same time, families with children who are renting their home rose by 1.9 million or 16 percent.

RentCafe notes:

Whether it’s a single-family home for rent or a 2-bedroom apartment, family-sized rental housing is in high demand. With just less than a third (30 percent) of the apartments built in the last decade being family-sized units (2 bedrooms or larger), the Seattle metro area lags behind the national level, which is 52 percent.

There are a few reasons for the dramatic change in a relatively short period of time, according to RentCafe. Many families lost homes to foreclosure during the Great Recession. But also, many young families cannot afford to jump into the housing market. Another reason is that there are many couples who own homes and whose children are too old to count as minors.

Seattle numbers

While the trend is similar across the nation’s largest metro areas, Seattle stands out in the top 30 cities that have experienced this change. Seattle ranks 13th.

  • Seattle saw a decline of home-owning families of about 6,000; a change of about 2 percent.
  • There was an increase of 40,000 renting families at the same time; a change of about 31 percent.
  • There was a 79 percent change in the price of a single-family home between 2006-2016.
  • There was a 45 percent change in rental prices between 2006-2016.

Seattle has experienced a massive population boom in the past decade. It is the fastest growing city in the nation. For example, the Emerald City had a net gain of 21,000 residents between July 2015 and July 2016. That’s 3.1 percent growth, or 57 new people each day. That boom is only expected to grow with 1.8 million more people in the Puget Sound region by 2050.

It seems many of the newcomers prefer renting. After all, the median home price in King County continues to skyrocket. Latest numbers in May indicate the median home price is approximately $725,000, an all-time high. Just north in Snohomish County, the median home price is just over $500,000.

Only two cities experienced home price increases more drastic than Seattle’s — San Francisco at 80 percent; and Detroit at 155 percent. The only other city to experience a higher change in rental prices is Sacramento — 46 percent, just 1 percent higher than Seattle.

Cost of living in Seattle

Rental conditions in Seattle aren’t much better than home owning prospects. Seattle saw rent prices grow 13.5 percent in 2017 alone, according to an analysis by ABODO, an apartment rental site. Housing prices continue to rise as well, with Northwest Multiple Listing Service reporting a jump in median price to $777,000 in 2017, up $20,000 from the previous January record.

Today, $2,300 can rent you a one-bedroom apartment in town. Too high? You can rent a 370-square-foot studio in the U-District for $1,400. That’s not far from the now infamous parking-space sized studio for $750, where you can sleep just feet away from your toilet.

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Washington state’s fair market rent is around $1,229 (without paying more than 30 percent of income). That adds up to an hourly wage of $23.64. In Seattle, however, a person would have to make $29.69 an hour to make ends meet.

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