Beyond the Buzz: April 1-10

Hi there! How was your spring break? Did you fly south to get some sun, or were you too busy hiding eggs for little ones? We did a little of both. Spring is kind of awesome.

Now that it’s back to reality, we’ve decided it’s time for Ten Days of Buzz to evolve a bit. We love bringing you the headlines, but it’s probably time to start going a little beyond the  quotes. What’s really going on in the world of Northwest rental real estate? Here are the five things you need to know this week–or at least, we hope so!

1. Seattle’s office towers are filling upAccording to the Seattle Times, the vacancy in local office towers hasn’t been this low since spring 2009, and they’re continuing to drop. “Since brokerages use different parameters to develop their statistics, their estimates of the vacancy rate vary widely, from 12 percent to 18. But all agree on the trend. And they say it’s likely to continue.” Good thing companies like Amazon are creating new construction to keep up with the trend!

2. People are spending more on housing than before. A new study by the Center for Housing Policy and covered in the April edition of UNITS found that the percentage of households spending more than 50% of their income on rent and housing-related expenses rose significantly between 2008 and 2010. This was the case for both renters and owners, and it held true across all 50 states. All in all, nearly one in four households are spending more than half of their income on housing. Is this likely to continue? Check out the article for notes on what could happen.

3. If you think it’s time to rent or buy, the Seattle Times has a reality check for you. “Sustainable housing refers to housing — rented or owned — that you can afford to get into, stay in and maintain,” they explain. Before you decide you’re ready to take the plunge–even if the plunge is a high-end lease–you may want to check out these six questions, and see how the answers weigh on your mind, before you go for it. And when you’re ready, happy homemaking!

4. If Sunset magazine told you to build a guest house out of a storage container, would you? This couple commissioned the repurposed container, hired a crane, and invited friends to stay for the weekend. “We made a great udon soup. We bought a guest house,” Wallingford resident Jay Patrikios said; “I think it was all from the same issue of the magazine.” To see photos of the bright yellow guest house going in, check out the article.

Photo from the Seattle PI

5. Rentals are still outperforming home sales–by a longshot. While rents rose two percent in February 2012, home values kept falling during the same month, with the biggest hurdle for home sales continuing to be the steady foreclosure rate. Meanwhile, the rental market all over the country remained strong. “The rental market remains a bright spot in the housing market, where many markets, especially hard hit ones, are experiencing significant annual rent appreciation and drawing the attention of investors,” Zillow says. Check out the article for a table of national average rents, and see how Seattle measures up.

And that’s all for today, folks! We’ll keep our eyes on the news and see you next week for another installment of Beyond the Buzz. Until then, happy renting!

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