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November 2017

Seattle tops among "Markets to Watch"

Seattle's strength across a number of factors, including its young, educated population, its technology readiness and even its top-notch microbrews helped propel it to the top of the "markets to watch" list for 2018, according to a survey by PwC. The firm compared 78 metropolitan markets for the 39th edition of its Emerging Trends in Real EstateĀ® report.

The Emerald City moved from the number four spot a year ago due in part to the positive outlook for all property sectors, particularly for "investment and development in Industrial and Single Family housing." Strong investor demand and an abundance of capital available for real estate investment and development were also cited as positive factors.

Demographics and livability also help catapult Seattle, described as an 18-hour city, to its high ranking. The report's authors noted population growth in Seattle is double the national rate, with the market expected to welcome nearly 29,000 new residents each year over the next five years. Also noteworthy were top rankings for outdoor activities, as a top 5 culinary market, and the number of quality microbreweries.

When measured by cost, Seattle's affordability index was at 106.2 and its home prices were found to be 123 percent of the previous peak. Five-year disposable income growth is projected to be good but its high productivity market with a cost of doing business pegged at 103 percent.

Seattle's technology readiness is superior, coming in at twice the U.S. percentage (12%) of employees in STEM occupations. An impressive 94 percent of households have a computer, with 88 percent having access to high-speed internet.

With its No. 1 ranking, Seattle outperformed Austin (#2), Salt Lake City (#3), Raleigh/Durham (#4), and Dallas/Fort Worth (#5). Rounding out the top 10 list were Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Jose, Nashville, and Boston.

Among "top trends for 2018" PwC listed:

  • A housing shortage, which it suggests is "an opportunity for homebuilders willing to scale product to their preferences - smaller and more energy-efficient homes, townhouses, condos and 'affordable' starter homes;"
  • Strong prospects for multifamily investments to help satisfy a need for more affordable rental units for the millennials and gen Z;
  • Growing momentum for senior housing, a cohort projected to grow by 25 million in the next 15 years.

PwC has a network of firms in 158 countries. Its services include audit and assurance, tax and consulting across a wide spectrum of industries.