Rent VS Buy In The Puget Sound Region

MP900341907Whether to rent or buy a home has been a popular real estate question in recent years. When the bottom fell out of the real estate market, there were homeowners forced into rental situations due to losing their homes. People looking to establish their own households during this time period really had to examine the risks of home ownership versus the benefits. Those with the financial means often took advantage of current home pricing and low interest rates, because they often found it was actually cheaper to own a home. In fact, Trulia crunched real estate numbers for the 100 largest metro areas in the US a year ago, and unearthed that it really was less expensive to buy a home in each of those 100 areas than it was to rent.

However, the rental industry did not go bust in here in the Puget Sound region. In fact, the demand for rental housing locally, especially in the city of Seattle, grew. Not everyone with the means to purchase a home in recent years chose a mortgage. New units have been built, many in the higher-end segment, and reached 100% occupancy. And with this increased demand, there has been an accompanying increase in rent prices across all rental income brackets. The Seattle Times recently published a series about increasing rent prices and how it’s initiating lifestyle changes within the local renting population. The series included an interactive regional map with rental pricing, where you can compare neighborhood statistics like median rental prices, median household income and year-over-year price increases. Readers can also submit their rent stories via this interactive map.

What are some of the ways renters are changing their lifestyles? They’re examining their cost of living in the city in comparison to moving to a suburb and commuting. They’re working more than one job to afford housing. They are downsizing and renting smaller apartments or homes. They’re continuing to rent for now due to finances, possible job changes or frequent business travel. And there is a segment choosing to become homeowners because they’ve discovered the cost of owning a home versus renting is more affordable for them in the long run.

This blog post is the first one in a series examining renting versus buying within the Greater Seattle real estate market. Here at Mercer Island Pulse we’ll examine hot button issues involved in this discussion, like commute time and affordability.

We’d love to hear your opinions about renting versus buying a home. Please use the comment section below to share your opinions and stories. Thank you!