Home Economics

Good Luck Finding a Place to Live, Home Hunters

The latest U.S. Census data shows inventory is at historic lows in the rental and home-buying markets.

By Angela Cabotaje May 27, 2022

Searching for a home in Seattle? Good luck. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey shows that vacancy rates in both the rental and home-buying markets are the lowest they've been since the 1980s (the unpredictable early-pandemic years, notwithstanding).

According to the survey, which looks at data from the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas, the rental vacancy rate in the first quarter of 2022 was just 5.8 percent, the lowest it's been between 1985 and 2020. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0.8 percent, a new pre-pandemic low in the 66-year history of the survey.

Look at numbers from Washington state, though, and it's an even grimmer picture. In the first quarter of the year, our rental vacancy rate was 4.9 percent and our homeowner vacancy rate was a staggering 0.4 percent. 

There's good news and bad news in that. Believe it or not, Washington's most recent rental vacancy rate is actually an improvement from where it was in the last quarter of 2021 at 3.6 percent, one of the lowest among states. That could mean easing up on rapidly rising rents. The homeowner vacancy, on the other hand, is a continued decline from last year, indicating an already pinched amount of inventory is only getting squeezed tighter. 

Where the numbers go once the markets open up in the traditionally hotter spring and summer seasons is anybody's guess.

And elsewhere in real estate news...

Now accepting transplants

According to Apartment List's migration trends data from the first quarter of 2022, 33 percent of Seattle-area apartment hunters are looking to leave the city. Their most searched destinations? Portland, Spokane, and Los Angeles. Don't fear for our population—around 34 percent of out-of-town apartment seekers are looking to move here, mostly from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland. There's irony in there somewhere.

A new agency comes to town 

The Agency, a luxury real estate brokerage firm with locations around the world, just opened its newest franchise here in Seattle. Coming from a firm that brags its average agent sales price is $1.92 million, we have to assume that means more bonkers real estate transactions

A Capitol Hill apartment building files for IPO

Well, this is new. Lex Markets recently announced it will take the Solis apartment building in Capitol Hill public, the third building it will help do so but the first residential one. According to Capitol Hill Seattle, this could value the building at $33 million when it opens up to trading. 

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