Seattle Centric: Amazon Purchases, Multifamily Lending & Seattle Cost of Living

Sigh…it really is fall now, isn’t it? Oh well, turn up the wood stove and curl up with all the pertinent Seattle-area rental market news for the week–that’s right, it’s Seattle Centric! This week, we’ve got more news about Amazon, plus good news about the cost of living in Seattle. Dig in!

Amazon to buy 11 buildings in South Lake Union

Amazon’s plan for a permanent Seattle headquarters just keeps growing; on Friday, Vulcan announced that the online sales giant plans to buy their 11-building campus in South Lake Union, with a cool price tag of $1.16 billion. The deal, hailed by the Seattle Times as “the richest office deal in Seattle’s history,” reinforces Amazon’s commitment to Seattle; as Vulcan’s Ada Healey put it, “”We know [Amazon] will be excellent stewards of this property and will continue to play a vital role in revitalizing South Lake Union and creating a thriving urban neighborhood in the heart of Seattle’s urban core.” Huzzah! Read more from the Seattle Times.

$103 Million in Multifamily Financing Granted for 880 Units in Renton

“Multifamily continues to be the strongest property sector in the greater Seattle MSA, as this financing proves.” Those are the words of Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Markets’ Holly Minter, on the occasion of reporting a $103 million deal that will allow Fairfield Residential Apartments LLC to buy two multifamily buildings in Renton. The buildings together, built in 2010 in the Landing, house 880 units that will be managed by Fairfield Residential. The move signifies multifamily’s continuing strength in the northwest market, as Gen Y-ers are lured to Seattle by employment or lifestyle; according to Dave Young, also of Jones Lang LaSalle Capital Market, “We’ve witnessed a strong economic recovery in this region, and a steady uptick in job growth leading to a surge in demand for apartment housing.” Read more at GlobeSt.com.

Short-Sales Set September Record in King County

Foreclosures can be lose-lose situations for both homeowners and lenders, while short sales provide a kinder alternative, if the lender is willing–and in Q3, in King County, a record number of homeowners opted for that alternative, avoiding foreclosure during their transition out of home-ownership. Short sales, in which the lender agrees to a sale price that is less than the mortgage balance because the value of the home has fallen below that balance, made up 16% of all King County sales in the third quarter–that’s up 10% from a year ago, and it’s actually the highest number since the NWMLS started tracking short-sales. So why are so many short sales happening? It may be due to a sea change with lenders: “In the eight years I’ve been negotiating short sales I have never seen banks so eager to make short sales happen,” said Richard Eastern of Washington Property Solutions. Lenders are preferring not to add more distressed properties to their portfolios, while homeowners are avoiding the dreaded F-word of real estate–works for us! Read more in the Seattle P.I.

Seattle Wins at Keeping Incomes in Line with the Cost of Living

Just how well have incomes done at keeping pace with the costs of living over the years? A new report from the Center for Housing Policy aims to answer just that question, and while the title starts with the words Losing Ground, it isn’t all bad news–especially for Seattle. The report, which analyzed data from the country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas, found that our city’s gap between housing/transportation cost increases and family income increases was the smallest of all areas analyzed. While housing/transportation costs in Seattle rose 33 percent between 2000 and 2010, and family income rose 28 percent (a gap of just about 6%), the nationwide averages showed far higher gaps: combined, a 44 percent housing/transportation increase with only a 25 percent family income increase. Mind the gap! Read more in the Seattle P.I.

Method Homes Tops List of Washington’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

Speaking of employment, do you know who Washington’s fastest-growing companies are?  Could you guess? We were surprised by many of the companies on this list, from the Puget Sound Business Journal. Method Homes, LLC rang in at #1, with revenue growth of 784% between 2009 and 2011; Realogics Inc. dba Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty came in second, with C2S Technologies in third place. Check out a slideshow of the top twenty fastest-growing companies from the Journal–tomorrow, your renters may be working for them!

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