As I've said here before, I think renting right now is a no-brainer for people that don't already own a home. That being said, for those in the middle-income bracket like myself that do insist on stretching their finances to afford an overpriced home in King County, the options are fewer and fewer.
Throughout the county, buyers earning solidly middle-class wages have been increasingly unable to find what are traditionally thought of as middle-class houses because escalating prices mean the pool has been shrinking dramatically.It's nice to actually see an article from Ms. Rhodes about the ever-increasing home prices that isn't completely laden with the gung-ho, "isn't this the greatest thing ever" kind of cheerleading. Although I still get the feeling that the given analysis is a bit on the rosy side. According to the Census figures released last August, King County's median household income was/is even lower than they claim, coming in at just $55,114 for 2004. Plus, since (as far as I'm aware) the 2004 "median household income" data is the most recent data available, Ms. Rhodes and Mr. Mayo based their "which areas are affordable" scenarios on home prices and wage information (estimations?) from last year.
King County's median household income in 2003 was $57,857, which allowed buyers easy accessibility to 28 areas — seven within Seattle city limits — whose median home prices were $256,000 or less, a Seattle Times home-price analysis showed. Median means half are more; half are less.
Fast forward to last year: House prices shot up, but incomes barely rose, so median-income buyers found even fewer neighborhoods where they could afford the median-priced home — just nine in the county, including one in the city.
Of course, it apparently isn't possible for Ms. Rhodes to have her hand in a real estate article without slipping in at least a little cheerleading...
"Superstar" Seattle market has grown faster than U.S. market for decades."Twice the rate" kind of depends on whether you choose Money Magazine's May 1st prediction (1.9%) or their May 18th prediction (10.5%). (I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that Ms. Rhodes selected the May 18th prediction.) They never did explain the wild discrepancy. But I digress. Why does the Seattle market remain so "robust?" We've discussed this question before, but it's still a relevant one. I'm of the belief that we're simply a year or two behind the curve. As I have said (probably too many times), only time will tell.
Of course, if moderate-income buyers instead choose a condominium or less-expensive house (often a fixer-upper), the possibilities are greater.
But for how long? King County's single-family-home prices shot up 19.7 percent in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period in 2005, according to The Times analysis. It's based on price per square foot, considered the truest measure of housing cost.
As the residential real-estate market cools in other parts of the nation, one question is why Seattle's market remains robust. Money magazine predicts homes in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area will appreciate 10.5 percent between this June and next. That's twice the rate predicted for the country overall.
(Elizabeth Rhodes & Justin Mayo, Seattle Times, 07.16.2006)