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3 Fundamentals Shaping Multifamily Next Year

Seattle Multifamily

The Seattle apartment market continues to amaze going into the new year, Colliers International's Dylan Simon tells us. Here’s how it could be:

1) Wage Growth vs. Rent Growth. Given that rent levels are escalating greater than average wages in the region, continued rent growth will depend on the influx of new jobs, says Dylan (snapped "testing Millennial-capturing amenities at Google’s PNW headquarters in Kirkland"). In each of the last three years, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett MSA has added over 50,000 new jobs, many in professional or STEM fields. Thus, competition for rental housing has driven pricing levels higher in a sustainable fashion. For this to continue, in 2015 wage growth must continue, mainly from the addition of new jobs in the region.


2) Rental Rates vs. Construction Costs. It’s no longer just apartment developers competing for labor and materials, Dylan explains. In addition to more than 40,000 apartments in the development pipeline, over 1M SF of spec office is now underway and more than 4M SF more is likely to get started soon. In 2015, apartment developers will be faced with the question of what rent levels justify new development in the face of sharply rising construction costs.


3) Public Policy vs. Private Apartment Industry. The Seattle apartment market is unique compared to the likes of S.F., NYC or Boston in that the market is relatively pro-development and has no rent control. “In 2014, we witnessed record rent growth and so affordability concerns,” Dylan says. “In 2015, several public policy initiatives will likely be decided in an effort to maintain affordability of rental housing. Keep a watchful eye on the mayor’s affordability task force, the possibility of implementation of a linkage fee and more rules on micro-housing.” Pictured: the 160-unit Cyrene, which broke ground recently.

Related Topics: Colliers, multifamily, Dylan Simon