Seattle residents ‘getting hungry’ for homeownership options

Sep 19, 2017, 7:45 AM | Updated: Sep 22, 2017, 9:41 am
A housing advocate says Seattle residents need to accept their changing neighborhoods and to embrac...
(File, MyNorthwest)
(File, MyNorthwest)

Last year in Vancouver, British Columbia, condos made up 60 percent of new housing. In Seattle, that number was less than 10 percent.

“What’s happening is each city has created disincentives to build the type of housing that they’re not getting,” Sightline Institute reporter Margaret Morales told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. She wrote about this dichotomy here.

Morales explained in Vancouver in the 1970s the tax code changed to dis-incentivize the construction of rental units. Meanwhile, in Seattle, they were instituting higher liability risks for building new condos.

“The other thing going on in Seattle is that apartments have been so strong that it’s been tough for builders to say no to a market that looks so strong and has been so strong for so many years,” Morales said.

In King County, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median home price has increased by 17 percent over the last year. This means without condos as a stepping stone, it’s really hard for people to transition from renting into property ownership.

“In Seattle, really the only major homeownership option that most people have here is the single-family home,” Morales said. “As those prices continue to skyrocket, they’re further and further out of reach, and people are getting hungry in Seattle for other homeownership options.”

What’s Seattle doing to change this? So far, not much. Morales said people should only expect about 500 more condos in the city between now and 2020.

“Last year, no condos were built in Seattle,” Morales said. “It’s been such a slow pace of adding supply to that housing type.”

Morales expects this problem is just going to get worse unless the city starts doing a better job of encouraging construction.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle residents ‘getting hungry’ for homeownership options