Seattle is seeing a flood of new apartments — but many of them are unaffordable

Business Insider | 1/10/2018 | Wolf Richter, Wolf Street
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There are nearly 25,000 apartment buildings with 50+ units under construction in Metropolitan Seattle, according to Apartment Insights.

There is no housing shortage.

Apartments - People - Amazon - Biotech

But there aren't enough apartments that people who don’t work for Amazon or in biotech can afford.

In Metropolitan Seattle, there are currently 24,554 apartment units under construction and an additional 35,009 units in the development pipeline, counting only units in buildings with 50+ apartments, according to Apartment Insights. These are the towers that are sprouting like mushrooms. This does not include condos that are purchased by investors and then show up on the rental market. And it does not include units in smaller buildings.

Units - Axiometrics - Units - Completion - Half

This comes after nearly 12,000 units were completed in 2017. And according to Axiometrics, nearly 8,000 units are scheduled for completion in the first half of this year alone. This is the phenomenon that “crane counters” have been witnessing for a while.

In relative terms, how much of an onslaught is this, and how long might it take for renters to occupy these units (absorption)?

Buildings - Units - Occupancy - Units - Anything

In 2017, in buildings with 50+ units, occupancy increased by 6,906 units. Anything completed in 2017 beyond that is vacant. The neighborhood of South Lake Union – think Amazon headquarters and biotech – has the largest share of this oncoming supply, according to Apartment Insights: 3,949 units under construction (16% of the total) and 3,521 units in planning stages. Redmond is number two, with 3,174 units under construction and 3,269 units in the planning stages.

So what does this onslaught of new supply – much of it in high-end high-rise buildings – mean for the rental market?

Vacancies - Apartment - Units - Towers - Market

Vacancies of “stabilized” apartment units – so called after the towers have been on the market long enough to have reached stable occupancy – “suffered,” as the report says aptly, an increase of 0.8%, pushing the stabilized...
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