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What Craigslist says about Seattle housing

Sep 7, 2016, 1:56 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 12:00 pm
NLIHC , Tacoma rent, affordable housing,...
(Mark Moz, Flickr)
(Mark Moz, Flickr)

Seattle housing — it may or may not be fair, but Seattle can afford it, according to Craigslist.

A recent study produced by PhD candidates at the University of California Berkeley confirms what most already know — rent is high. That’s especially true for popular metro areas throughout the nation. Seattle housing was one such consideration in the study. But it seems, according to the study, Seattle’s housing is faring better than in other major cities.

Why tech is not entirely responsible for high Seattle rents

The study, performed at US Berkeley’s Urban Analytics Lab, was recently published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research. It scoured through 11 million Craigslist rental listings across the United States for the summer of 2014. PhD studies take a while to be approved, which is why the data is two years old.

Seattle housing sticks out, according to the study. Most high rental regions are along the Boston to Washington DC corridor, and along the coast of California. But Seattle is among a handful of notably popular rental markets.

Seattle housing: Fair or reasonable?

What did the study find about Seattle? Keep in mind, 30 percent of earnings is generally considered reasonable rent — aka a rental burden. The local rental burden is in the low 20th percentile — below that 30-percent mark.

That could be because Seattle’s salaries have also been on the rise. According to PayScale, many of the top-paying jobs in town — mostly in the tech industry — are set pretty high. For software engineers, the median pay can be between $98,000-$123,000 a year. And that’s the median — midpoint — of the pay scale.

That brings us to fair-market rent. This basically refers to how fair the rent is for a particular space. The study states that a city wants to have 40 percent of its housing at a fair-market rate. For Seattle housing, we’re right at that 40 percent mark.

According to the Department of Housing, fair rents for King County-area rentals are:

• 2016: $1,049 for efficiency; $1,225 for a one bedroom; $1,523 for a two bedroom.

• 2017: $1,093 for efficiency; $1,249 for a one bedroom; $1,544 for a two bedroom.

The study also offers a few main national takeaways:

• There are incredibly few rental units below the fair market rental level in the most popular housing markets.
• Difficulty finding fair rent is not just a problem for the poor. This is an issue for households earning typical salaries for their area.
• Craigslist posts correspond with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s own estimates, though Craigslist is more up to date.

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What Craigslist says about Seattle housing