Latest Study Shows Renting Cheaper than Buying in Seattle: Are You Still Opting to Rent or Consider

Posted By: Tim Hatley Education, Management,

Small mom-and-pop housing providers are facing their annual dilemma – are you up to continue the lease with your current tenant at a modest (if any) rent increase? Are you seeking a new tenant as they have decided to move on? Or, are you selling your family’s long-cherished asset(s) because it is becoming increasingly difficult, expensive, and frustrating to manage with all the local rental ordinances?

Welcome to Summer 2024 Dilemma! 

RHAWA is here to help you think this through and provide the resources you need to be a successful and happy housing provider.

Let’s review the annual dilemma.

First off, most small housing providers prefer to simply renew their rental agreement with their existing tenants, especially those who meet and/or exceed the expectations in their rental agreements. They maintain their homes, they are good neighbors, and of course they pay rent – preferably on time. If you have a renter like this, you are very unlikely to want to change tenancy and more likely you want to work with them to identify what types of needed maintenance and potential upgrades the property may require for the upcoming year. Working together with the tenant makes things so much easier for both you and your resident. While this may result in a modest increase in the rent to the tenant and limit the housing provider's potential profit, it results in a more harmonious, long-term, and financially beneficial relationship for both the tenant and the housing provider.

According to our internal surveys, this is where RHAWA’s services are most beneficial to our members. By providing up to date forms for every jurisdiction in the state, we make it simple for our members and their tenants.

Coming into summer your second dilemma may require you to seek a new tenant as your previous tenant may have decided to move to a larger property, relocate out of town, or the relationship was no longer properly working for both parties. This happens.

So now you get to find a new tenant for the next year or longer. So, what do you do?

Clean, paint, fix, and screen. All services RHAWA helps facilitate. RHAWA has an extensive list of vendor members who are eager and ready to help you with your tenancy transition. By being a member of RHAWA you have access to lists of specialized contractors, locksmiths, cleaning services, roofers, plumbers, and more! 

RHAWA’s blog, educational programs, and the monthly CURRENT provide insights into the best techniques and technologies to keep your rental unit up to date.

And finally advertising for a tenant by preparing your screening criteria and unit available as well as screening any applications. Once a tenant is selected, you will prepare and sign your leasing documents. Then off you go until next summer when you may have to do it all over again.

RHAWA provides easy access to all these services. From our comprehensive library of rental forms, screening services, and professional and knowledgeable membership services, we can help with most any issue.

But what if you are concerned about the future of the rental housing industry? You keep hearing that the state or your local city is going to propose new rental restrictions.

Well – that’s where RHAWA has one of the strongest advocacy reputations in the state – if not nation.

The RHAWA government affairs and advocacy team successfully defeated every anti-housing provider bill this past Washington State legislative session and have embarked on an aggressive effort to reform and defeat local governmental policy measures being proposed this summer.

But with the housing market warming up, maybe you feel that this is too much of a hassle. Is now the time to sell? Nope. just published an interesting study that is worth considering, and may give you pause one way or another, and perhaps help explain our current housing affordability crisis.

The main takeaway from the April 29, 2024, report which can be found online – is that in some areas of the country like Puget Sound and Washington State – it’s cheaper for someone to rent a two- or three-bedroom house rather than try to buy - by as much as 37%!

What does this mean to someone who is approaching the Summer 2024 Dilemma and trying to figure out should they stay, or should they go?

If I’m a renter thinking long-term and not necessarily interested in buying a house, I’d have to consider one data point from the typical monthly rent in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA metro area is $2,191 and the typical monthly mortgage for the same type of unit in that area is $4,930. That is a buy-to-rent ratio of 125%. I’d be thinking maybe I would stay a renter.

The takeaway – now is a good time to be both a housing provider and renter.