It can be tough to get around in Seattle and on the Eastside. As we add hundreds of people per week to our expanding city, and even more to the whole area, the problem is not going to go away anytime soon. More-flexible work schedules and people working from home will certainly help, but in the coming years, as Link light rail expands, the value of properties around those light rail stops were expected to go up. But now there is a study that substantiates that!
Sound Transit has put forth an ambitious plan, called the Sound Transit 3 Plan, to extend Light Rail service throughout the Puget Sound area. The plan is currently receiving public feedback from a number of neighborhood meetings being held throughout the different neighborhoods that will be affected. The finalized plan may be on the ballot in November. All residents (not just homeowners – renters too!) need to be aware of the expansion plan, the timeline, and the bottom line. I encourage you to go to one of the live meetings if you are able to do so. Continue reading
According to the Seattle Times, Amazon has leased a full city block in South Lake Union which was originally occupied by Troy Block. This is a two building development with 817,000 total square footage leased. The first of these two buildings will be open in 2016 and the other in 2017. The total square footage occupied by Amazon could accommodate 50,000 employees which would make Amazon the largest employer in Seattle.
While there are some concerns about Amazon occupying 25% of Seattle’s available inventory of premium office space, I would like to focus on what this could mean for our local real estate market.
As you probably are aware, we have a shortage of available homes in our Seattle real estate market. There is a shortage of condos, residences, and rentals causing rental rates to increase excessively. There are some apartment buildings in the area that are renting apartments in excess of $4,000 per month for a two bedroom apartment just over 1,000 square feet. The City of Seattle and King County have turned density and growth into hot, highly debatable, topics. Unless we allow for areas of higher density, house prices are going to continue to rise, causing would-be workers to be priced out of the urban core due to high rents or housing prices.
The second hot topic is transportation. Sound Transit and Light Rail are going to be a part of our long-term solution for dealing with the increase in traffic that more jobs in the Downtown core creates. Although I mentioned Amazon earlier, Facebook is also expanding Downtown according to Geekwire, along with Zillow, Twitter, Tableau, and Google which means more employees at these companies as well.
What do homeowners and would-be homeowners need to know? If you are renting, please talk to a real estate agent about what the next five years could look like for you in terms of rent versus your purchasing a home or a condo. There may be loan programs available that will allow you to purchase property with a lower down payment than you expected.
I will be keeping an eye on what Seattle and King County are doing to handle the density problem which could affect homeowners in our area. In other cities where additional dwellings are allowed on a city lot, the value of those lots have gone up significantly. I will be sure to keep you in the loop if something like that comes to the Seattle real estate market! In the meantime, please contact me with any questions you have about our local housing market: (206) 226-5300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the last few years, you may have noticed an increase in the number of listings and rentals that are touting the benefit of being in close proximity to a Sound Transit station. With demand in the city center driving real estate and rental prices up, buyers and renters are being forced to find housing further away from the city core. However, light rail is leading the charge in bringing people in from the outskirts into Seattle and people are expected to flock to areas surrounding the planned new stations in the coming years.
For example, when Sound Transit came to Tukwila a few years ago and the station near the airport opened, there was an uptick in real estate interest in the area surrounding it. Commuting via light rail from Tukwila only takes a little more than a half an hour according to the Seattle Times. In Tukwila the median sales price in April, 2014 was $205,000. In Seattle, the median sales price for the same period is $415,000*. It is much more affordable to live in outlying areas and simply commute in!
Developers, potential homeowners, and landlords are watching light rail plans very closely and are investing in areas where Light Rail will be connected. Here are just a few of the light rail projects in various planning stages which are targeted over the next several years according to www.soundtransit.org:
East Link Extension: There will be 10 stations along this route which will include Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Bel-Red, and Overlake in Redmond. This is expected to be completed in 2023.
Lynnwood Link Extension: This will link Lynnwood to Northgate. This is targeted for completion in 2023.
Northgate Link Extension: This will link Northgate, Roosevelt, and U District Neighborhoods to downtown Seattle and the airport. Ride time will be 14 minutes from Northgate to Downtown. It is expected to be completed in 2021.
University Link Extension: This will link the University of Washington and Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle and the airport. There will be two stations at UW and Capitol Hill. This project is expected to be complete in 2016.
So what does this mean for housing? Here is an example of how our market is impacted by Sound Transit’s transportation projects: University Manor Apartments near UW were recently snapped up by an investor who was very interested in the property due to its proximity to future Light Rail. The 80 unit apartment/commercial building received an amazing 14 offers. The new owner indicated that due to the amount of increased traffic in the area may call for converting the ground floor apartments back to retail. Rentals around Light Rail in the Puget Sound can command higher rent. Opportunities abound!
In addition to commuting via Light Rail for work, people are also opting to use Light Rail for traveling for recreation and events in Seattle. This helps avoid the headaches associated with battling traffic, and finding and paying for parking.
Homeowners, potential buyers, and investors should keep a close eye on opportunities surrounding planned Light Rail stations. For additional information on how our area’s transportation plans impact you, please contact me: (206) 226-5300 or email@example.com.