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January 2021

News In Brief

January 6, 2021

  • Rents in Seattle are continuing to decline month after month amid the coronavirus pandemic. November data from ApartmentList found that Seattle rents declined 5.6% month over month and are down nearly 20% since the start of the pandemic in March. For the past eight months straight, Seattle has seen its rents fall, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Median rents in Seattle were $1,395 for a one-bedroom and $1,739 for a two-bedroom. The only city that has seen rents decrease more than Seattle since the start of the pandemic is San Francisco, where rents have declined about 25.4%.

  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has issued an executive order extending the moratorium on residential and small business evictions through March 31, her office announced last month. With the order, property owners still are not allowed to initiate evictions unless there is an "imminent threat to the health and safety of the community." The order also prevents tenants from incurring late fees, interest or other charges due to late rent payment, though the tenants are still legally obligated to pay rent during the moratorium, the order states. Other pandemic relief efforts were also extended, including the suspension of late fees on delinquent utility accounts, closures of all public-facing customer service counters at the city of Seattle, and suspension of enforcement on the 72-hour parking rule and City permitted events.

  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has again extended the state's eviction moratorium, this time through the end of March. Inslee said in a news release that the moratorium has been critical for many people as they cope with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium has been in place since March and extended several times. It bans, with limited exceptions, residential evictions and late fees on unpaid rent. It also requires landlords to offer residents a repayment plan on unpaid rent. Inslee said additional details about the latest extension would be provided at the end of December. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced earlier this month that she was extending the moratorium on residential and small business evictions in the city through March 31.

  • The Seattle City Council has voted to require certain groups that spend money to build public pressure on city politicians to register and disclose their finances. The Seattle Times reports the City Council approved an ordinance this week establishing rules meant to shed light on such activities, and the rules are set to take effect in about six months. The vote was 8-1. Councilmember Kshama Sawant opposed the ordinance, describing the rules as too onerous for grassroots groups and warning they could discourage political organizing by ordinary people. Council President M. Lorena Gonz├ílez and other supporters said the changes are needed because sophisticated groups have been able to spend on public politicking without disclosure requirements.

  • Tourists may soon find it harder to book an Airbnb near Leavenworth, Lake Chelan and other popular areas in Chelan County. The Seattle Times reports county commissioners are considering new limits on short-term rentals and could approve restrictions as soon as next week. Though final details are still being debated, the rules could create a new permitting scheme and limit the number of short-term rentals starting in three years. Locals pushing for the new rules say the explosion of Airbnb, VRBO and other rental sites is transforming their residential neighborhoods. Rental owners counter that their properties help fuel the region's tourism-dependent economy and create jobs.

  • A new study by Redfin has concluded that six of the nation's 10 most competitive real estate markets are in Western Washington, with five of them in the greater Tacoma area. And no area is hotter right now than Spanaway, where the report finds nearly 69% of homes sell above list price and are only on the market an average of five days -- eight days fewer than last year, Redfin reports. Overall home prices in the area were up nearly 21% from last year and supply was down nearly a third. The town rated a 98 on Redfin's 100-point scale determining which markets are most competitive. Close behind on the list are Lacey and Tacoma, both scoring a 96, where homes typically last just six days on the market -- a whopping 12 days fewer than 2019. Pierce County neighbors Frederickson and Graham also scored Top 10 rankings at 6th and 7th. Eastmont, just north of Mill Creek in Snohomish County, was the lone market to make the Top 10 (at No. 5) that wasn't in the South Sound. Housing prices in Spanaway are roughly half what you might find in Seattle where the median sale prices in November was $740,000. The median sale price in the city of Seattle was $740,000 in November, significantly higher than $388,500 in Spanaway, $395,000 in Lacey, $392,000 in Tacoma, $415,000 in Frederickson and $425,000 in Graham.