Seattle is Among the World's Most Future-Ready Cities

In a recent article published by the Seattle PI, Daniel Demay declares “Seattle among the World’s Most ‘Future-Ready’ Cities,” according to a report released by Dell. As Demay begins, “say what you will about the tech boom in Seattle – it’s good for having a future-ready economy” as it was ranked 13th among 50 cities around the world.

Referencing the release from Dell, the article reads, “‘We live in a digital age in which the power of innovation to transform our world is all around us,’ said Liz Matthews, Dell’s executive director for corporate brand and purpose, in the release. ‘The cities where we live are faced with new challenges every day, from supporting a growing population and building a thriving culture, to fueling economic opportunity for everyone.’”

Demay continues with an explanation of the study, describing that it “measures whether people had the right skills to drive social and economic change, whether the infrastructure was ready to support progress and whether the economy could help sustain innovation and growth.”

Among the highlights? Education, “with 92 percent of adults holding a high school diploma and 23 percent having earned a master’s degree or higher” in addition to “internet access, with 88 percent internet adoption, putting it sixth in the world and No. 3 among large U.S. cities.”

Given that the Daily Journal of Commerce reported last December that Seattle’s population could surpass San Francisco’s by 2040 and that there are exciting new projects in the pipeline including NEXUS, recently announced by The Burrard Group, preparing for growth in the Emerald City is increasingly important and it feels good knowing that Seattle ranks well among the most renowned cities worldwide.

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Yelp Highlights "Magnolia's in Bloom"

A recent feature in Yelp says that “Magnolia’s In Bloom,” referencing both the gorgeous flowering trees and all of the opportunities for exploration in the affluent Seattle neighborhood. As the article describes, “from parks to pubs to restaurants, you can fill a whole day with adventures in this affluent corner of the Emerald City.” A few highlights include Oliver’s Twist, where craft cocktails meet delectable dishes; Discovery Park, home of the iconic Homes at Fort Lawton; and Petit Pierre Bakery, where the satisfaction of a sweet tooth evokes a feeling of Parisian perfection.

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Seattle Housing Market Ranked 4th in the Nation

Seattle has experienced a "hot" housing market as of late, and has garnered national attention as Rebecca Troyer from The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that "Seattle is the fourth-best U.S. city for homeownership since the market bottomed in early 2012." What contributed to the recognition? As Troyer writes, not only has Seattle "experienced an 8.8 percent increase in job growth and 9.9 percent increase in average wages in the past three years. Unemployment has dropped by almost 42 percent and home values are up almost 30 percent."

Seattle is Poised for Tremendous Population Growth: Could Surpass San Francisco by 2040 according to Daily Journal of Commerce

Can you imagine a population in Seattle greater than that in San Francisco? Well, according to an article from The Daily Journal of Commerce, that imagined scenario may become a reality as early as 2040. As Nat Levy reports, “The Puget Sound Regional Council [PSRC] predicts another 1 million people will live in the central Puget Sound region by 2040” and “at least 160,000 of those new people will live in Seattle.”

A Washington Department of Licensing Report reveals growth now, as “a total of 20,979 out-of-state drivers obtained a Washington driver license” in October, a number up 6,382 from the previous year. Further, “the weekly average for the month of October 2015 compared with the same month a year ago increased by 15 percent.” Growth increase, largely attributed to the thriving technology sector, will mean a lot of things for Seattle, including increased demand for housing and affordability concerns. So what will the city to do address this growth?

First, the PSRC has established a Vision 2040 plan to anticipate and handle growth in the Puget Sound area. In addition, other groups are working to ensure the city handles consistent population growth well. Back in October, Annie Zak of The Puget Sound Business Journal described an initiative by the University of Washington called Urban@UW which addresses issues related to the nearly 62,000 residents the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area added in 2014. As Zak describes, the group “aims to bring UW’s urban researchers together with Seattle officials and citizens to address the most pressing issues in the city and the Puget Sound region. These include transportation, homelessness, affordability, growth, the minimum wage and much more.”

Condos Stage a Comeback; First Presales in a New Development Cycle Begin Closing

Following a five year absence of condominium development the first presales at Insignia have begun closing in July 2015. The 700+ unit twin tower was the first large condominium project to break ground and commence presales in 2012 as the in-city housing market signaled a rebound and Bosa Development kick started a new cycle of for-sale development. The last major development was Escala, which broke ground in 2007 and delivered in 2009/10 amidst the Great Recession. Until recently, developers have focused on building apartments, noting that the region’s robust job growth has attracted many new residents that prefer to rent, helping to drive up lease rates despite the fact thousands of new apartments have been delivered and more are in the pipeline.

The Daily Journal of Commerce recently tapped Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) to evaluate the success of Insignia and what this means for the in-city housing market ahead. Reporter Nat Levy noted that the only substantial condominium projects being developed currently are the Insignia in Belltown and LUMA on First Hill.

“About half the condos being developed are already presold,” said Jones. “Values are rising for both new construction and resales alike, which will be needed to pencil new condominium projects ahead. Consumers need to recognize that their purchasing power is dwindling as inventory shrinks and interest rates expand. What we see is what we get for new supply until the market values support new towers. Without this new inventory, the market will only get tighter and more expensive.”

Jones says high rents and low capitalization rates means apartments are selling at similar prices with the typical condominium. So unless a developer is targeting a luxury segment and builds a tower that will command the premium necessary to edge out apartments, consumers will find fewer condos to choose from, especially at more affordable price points. That means higher prices ahead.

Meanwhile, RSIR has suggested that it may actually be less expensive to own than to rent. RSIR has partnered with Caliber Home Loans on an educational platform called #NoPlaceLikeOwn to help renters understand the market fundamentals and explore ownership opportunities. Consumers are encouraged to register for upcoming events and market information.

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