Wall Street Journal: “Renting Beats Owning” in Seattle

The Marketwatch column from the Wall Street Journal caught our eye this week with its article on the 5 housing markets where renting beats owning…and guess what fair city was smack-dab in the middle of the short list? It turns out it still makes good financial sense to rent in Seattle–as well as in some other key cities around the country.

The article explains that as housing prices and interest rates have fallen over the past few years, it’s been easy to wonder whether it might not start to be practical to look at home ownership again; and yet, even with these incentives, housing sales dropped again in May. The US Census put homeownership at 65% at the end of the first quarter this year–the lowest in 15 years. Since homeowners have to do something with the houses they can’t move, they’re renting them out–a win-win, since renting is so popular at the moment.

While renting is popular and convenient all over the country, there are areas where it is currently cheaper to buy a home–but not so in the places listed in the Marketwatch report. Northern New Jersey, Long Island, the whole of California, and Honolulu all made the list–along with Seattle, of course.

According to Marcus & Millichap, average Seattle rents are currently $377 cheaper per month than average monthly mortgage payments; that’s over $4,500 saved per year. The National Association of Realtors puts it this way–if you want to afford a typical home in the Seattle area, you’re going to need a gross income that’s a whole 5% higher than if you rented a similar home. Cost breakdowns are given on owning vs. renting in Dunlap, Maple Leaf, and Green Lake–and renting wins every time.

For the numbers and more info, check out the article. In the meantime, we’ll rest easy knowing that renting in Seattle makes everyone happy–landlords and tenants alike. Kind of sweet, isn’t it?


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