In a recent Seattle Commercial Real Estate Article, we dealt with the multifamily rental market. There is another dynamic segment of multifamily that needs attention and that is the condominium market. In Seattle alone, there are 1,000 units under construction and another 2,800 in planning. In Bellevue, the story is much the same. Like Seattle, the Bellevue units in a typical project will run about 1,500 square feet and the prices will range from $1.2 to $7 Million dollars. This is not “affordable” housing and the buyers are typically allied with the Internet or empty nesters leaving their traditional single family homes. A typical case would be the widow of a dentist leaving the suburbs for an urban life style in downtown Bellevue.
While the obvious growth factors of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and the like as wealth creators drive the housing market there are other and more subtle factors at work. The basic driver was established in 1970 when the State of Washington passed the Growth Management Act. This act mandated that each municipality make accommodations for growth within their urban services boundaries. The goal was to stop the rapid expansion to the suburbs and the preserve open spaces and green belts. This goal seems to have succeeded so if you want to see the future of Greater Seattle, go north to Vancouver, British Columbia and accept that the cheap condo of today is a relative term.
Seattle Commercial Real Estate professionals watch carefully for these trends to assist our clients in making good long term decisions.