A mere 1 percent of the rentals within Spokane County are currently vacant. Experts say that the lack of rental inventory and the increase in demand are increasing rental costs.
SPOKANE, Wash. -In a Facebook group dedicated to Spokane rentals, there are posts after posts from Spokane residents desperately seeking a place to stay. However, there are only a few advertisements for vacant homes within the CountyCounty.
One of those seeking a new home could soon become Spokane resident Stephen Cartee. He’s moving across the nation in search of Spokane to pursue an artistic career but is trying to find a home.
There’s been no luck whatsoever,” Cartee said.
This is the typical scenario for a lot of people who are looking for rental properties. Cartee added that a further problem is costs; he isn’t sure if the money he spends is worth the available locations.
Edie Rice-Sauer, the director of the local non-profit Transitions, said that searching for a reasonably priced home for rent within Spokane County is arduous because of the low vacancy rate. She said that less than one percent of rentals within Spokane County are currently vacant.
The scarcity of homes and the increased demands for homes have pushed up rents on rental properties.
It’s awful,” Rice-Sauer said.
There are two primary reasons why Spokane is facing a housing crisis.
The County’sCounty’s population has risen significantly in the last few years, but not enough housing is being built. Second, the zone favours single-family homes over apartments and condominiums, which have the potential to accommodate more people.
Rice-Sauer has said that she sees many families who share houses. She advises people to remain in a steady situation during these difficult times. However, this leaves those such as Cartee in a difficult spot.
“I don’t know. I’ve searched on Craigslist All the websites and applications that you can imagine. None of them,” he said.
Potential buyers must turn to rent if home ownership is not an option.
“Landlords have increased the rents because they know those folks don’t have anywhere to go,” he explained. “The problems don’t rise upwards, they descend. Then it’s a great idea to tear down the old building , make homeless those who live there and build new housing there.”
In July last year, Woodward announced a housing crisis that required numerous measures to improve the housing supply in collaboration with the City Council.
Spokane is a native of Spokane. In the year 2000, Watson, as well as his spouse, Cassie, were approved for a loan of $250,000. They also completed the purchase of a 1,400-square-foot house close to Franklin Park.
The home search wasn’t easy since they were faced with numerous offers, and finally, they found a home in a sought-after area that fit their budget, the highly competitive real estate market in Spokane, Watson said.
“It was always a trade-off,” he stated. After we managed to obtain an approval of $250,000 for the house, we opened our possibilities a bit. However, five years ago, the house we purchased wouldn’t have been worth $250,000. It was just not.”
Over three decades ago, his parents bought the house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $60,000.
For people like Watson, there is a widespread understanding that the Spokane region is experiencing a rise in housing demand. Still, the epidemic further aggravates a decreasing housing supply, as people who are not in the area and those working remotely left more significant metropolitan regions in search of a lower cost and a better standard of living.
Since then, the city reduced the amount of time it takes to approve housing developments and also named Spencer Gardner as its new director of planning, a job that was unfilled for several years. The city also appointed Steve MacDonald as director of economic and community development.
Woodward stated that she would like to see developers develop other projects that are like Kendall Yards. She said there’s also the possibility of converting commercial buildings into housing downtown.
The city is in the process of implementing its housing strategy, which aims to provide more housing options to residents. A task force on housing is scheduled to meet in the coming month to talk about how to improve the quality of housing and affordability, Woodward said.
“I would like to expand this to a regional task force. … It is my opinion that I believe this is a good idea to have an international discussion,” Woodward said.
In partnership with the Counsellors of Real Estate’s Consulting Corps, the Realtors association released a report in December that stated Spokane County’s increasing housing demand could be addressed through increasing density, creating mixed-use communities and adjusting zoning regulations as well as city codes to increase land availability.
The team looked at the County’sCounty’s population and housing figures and spoke with local policymakers, developers, builders, and leaders from the civic sector to produce the report.
Tom Clark, a broker with Kestell Co. Realtors and the governmental affairs committee chairman of Spokane Association of Realtors. Spokane Association of Realtors stated that the New York Times story accurately assessed the Spokane housing market.
“The fact is it’s not a mystery to us we are in a housing crisis,” said the president. “We have some serious housing issues.”
Clark stated that addressing the housing crisis in the city will require a multi-faceted approach that must include changes to zoning laws, construction codes, building codes, and permitting procedures.
Woodward believes that the city has to be proactive in addressing Spokane’s housing problem.
Zillow economists predict remote workers to keep looking for moderately priced markets that are affordable such as Spokane, and Realtor.com predicts that Lilac City will be the third most crowded housing market across the country this year, just behind Salt Lake City and Boise.
Greg Deckard, CEO and chairman of Spokane-based State Bank Northwest, said the demand for home loans has slowed down even though the number of loans refinanced.
“In my perspective, there are too many buyers chasing too few homes,” he stated. “Most buyers buying homes are making an installment. If you are in a situation in the market, when home sales are over asking prices, and bidding wars are raging and rate hikes will significantly hurt first-time home buyers.”
Clark expects that Spokane’s prices for homes will continue to increase in the event of a shortage of homes. Clark urges city officials to act.
“I think people are looking for solutions and there is no time like the present,” he added.
Watson, the owner, is happy to purchase a house before prices rise even more.
“We knew that the sooner we got into a house the better off we would be because we have this upward trajectory in housing prices,” he added. “It was higher than we thought we ought to have paid; however, at the end of the day, we’ve got the home. That’s really the biggest aspect – we have shelter and a place to live.”
The spotlight now is on the housing crisis in Spokane that has been raised to a national scale.
The New York Times published a report on Sunday that sheds a spotlight on how Spokane’s city leaders are trying to figure out how best to tackle the growing population and keep Spokane from suffering from the issues with housing affordability that is common in cities of larger size, like Los Angeles and Seattle.
“Being an “it” place was something that Spokane’s officials had been hoping for for a long time. The city and the metropolitan area have spent years trying to convince people from outside the city and business owners that it could be an ideal place to relocate to,” the New York Times report stated. “Now their wish has been granted, and the city is grappling with the consequences.”
Spokane mayor Nadine Woodward revealed to the reporter that even her daughter and son-in-law, newlyweds who relocated from Seattle to Spokane during the outbreak, resided with her and her husband. At the same time, they hunted for a house that they were able to afford.
Woodward admitted that she’s not shocked by the national spotlight placed on Spokane.
“Spokane has been found. I’ve been here for since I was 32 and I believe that a lot of residents are very proud of being in an region of the nation that has been largely unnoticed,” Woodward said. “Spokane has seen a lot of migration during the pandemic and an uptick in people migrating from Seattle and California, which of course makes our housing issue that much more of a challenge.”
The median price for homes in Spokane County of $380,000 was recorded in January, which is a 20.6 per cent increase from the median of $315,000 at the beginning of January in 2021, based on figures provided by the Spokane Association of Realtors. Spokane Association of Realtors. The result is that houses in Spokane which was once a city that, was a place where homes were plentiful and affordable but not accessible for many residents. The median nationwide price at the end of last month was $350,300, as per the National Association of Realtors.
The population of Spokane has increased at an average rate of around 1 per cent per year over the past ten years, but housing development hasn’t been able to keep up with that increase.
Woodward stated that Woodward said that the New York Times article accurately captured what’s happening in the Spokane housing market. First-time homeowners and locals compete with those who sell homes in bigger cities with higher prices. These buyers are taking that equity to purchase houses in Spokane.
“I hope we are able to offer solutions and incentives and get more residential projects built and complete,” she said, adding that the city needs various housing styles.
A first-time purchaser is usually defined as someone who can afford to pay for 5 per cent of the cost to purchase the home and earns at or above 70 per cent of the median earnings in the region, according to James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.
“In Spokane, the median house was affordable to first-time buyers 10 years ago,” Young stated. “Now it’s not even affordable in any way. The price is now overpriced by 11-12 percent based on the price a first-time purchaser is in a position to afford.”
To put it in another way, he said roughly 53% of homes sold by Spokane County in 2012 were affordable for someone who qualifies as a first-time home buyer. In 2020, that percentage had dropped to 14.8 per cent.