Inventory for REALTORS® to Sell

With less than a two-month supply of inventory on the market, Lack of Inventory continues to be a major challenge for REALTORS® in King County. Seattle-King County REALTORS® is on it, working to increase inventory levels going forward!

Newly constructed inventory can help to ease the shortage of homes and condos to sell, but the amount of new housing that can be constructed will depend upon the regulations in the Comprehensive Plans and Development Regulations adopted by each of the 39 cities in King County.

State law requires each King County city’s Comprehensive Plan to be updated by July 1, 2015.  Seattle King-County REALTORS® is working to influence those updates to expand the opportunities to construct new housing.

Here are just four examples of how the Association of REALTORS® is working with local governments to advocate for changes to increase the supply of housing available for REALTORS to sell:

1. King County Initiative:  The Association is working with the office of the King County Executive and the Executive’s Regional Planning Staff on proposals related to:

  • Transit-Oriented Development opportunities around transit and Link-Light Rail stations
  • Increasing Housing Supply to ensure prices remain within reach of Median Income Earners (so that a Median Income Household is able to afford the Median Priced Home/Condo in King County)
  • Up-zoning Unincorporated Urban Areas, and
  • Making more efficient use of the land in designated Urban Centers

2. Federal Way

The city of Federal Way is working to provide a variety of new housing ownership opportunities.

In many cities the focus on housing issues has been largely directed to subsidized housing.  However, the State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) makes it clear that cities must plan to accommodate “…the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population of this state” while also promoting a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encouraging preservation of existing housing stock.  RCW 36.70A.020 (4)

The city of Federal Way has done a good job of developing amendments to the Housing Element of its Comprehensive Plan that will help provide a variety of new housing ownership opportunities in the City.  In response to the Association’s suggestions the City has also buttressed its decision to do so by including in the proposed amendments to its Comprehensive Plan long-standing language from the state GMA law that references the importance of housing for “all economic segments of the population.”

3. Maple Valley Comprehensive Plan Designations for Master Planned Developments

REALTORS® are supporting changes to the “Housing Element” of the City’s Comprehensive Plan that would increase multifamily units in order to meet the County-wide goal of accommodating housing affordable to all economic segments of the population.  By including senior housing in the mix, this could be achieved in ways that minimize adverse impacts on the school district and traffic congestion, which are significant concerns for the City.  It would also encourage new private investment in areas that are currently zoned for commercial development but have not been able to attract any solid commitments during the last 8 years.  The approach would also help to increase both the short term and long term tax revenues for the City over what would likely be received relying upon only commercial development.

4. Seattle Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee 

Mayor Ed Murray announced an ambitious goal to add 50,000 housing units (20,000 units would qualify as affordable housing and 30,000 units will be market rate) phased in over the next ten years.

This past fall, the Mayor convened the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory committee (HALA).  The committee has been tasked with developing housing recommendations for everything from homelessness on up through market-rate housing. REALTOR® Terry Miller is participating on a HALA subcommittee tasked with developing strategies to preserve housing.

Earlier in the year, Seattle King County REALTORS® President Tyler McKenzie sent a letter to the HALA committee explaining the severe shortage of single-family housing inventory in Seattle and the impact of restricted supply on prices.  Mr. McKenzie cautioned that diminished supply is of greatest concern at the lower economic end, where people literally do not have or cannot find affordable shelter.

Seattle King County REALTORS® continues to press for these solutions to the housing supply and affordability crises:

  • Increase zoned density significantly around transit stations and transit corridors.
  •  Increase the housing levy and drive greater unit yield from each levy dollar invested.
  •  Use surplus public property for housing.
  • Ensure incentives like the multifamily housing tax exemption are compelling enough to deliver units.
  • Recognize that strategies relying solely on subsidies will not yield the supply needed to create affordability.

An additional measure urged by the Coalition for Housing Solutions is the use of existing tax revenues derived from building and development related activities for affordable housing.  Currently the city directs zero dollars from its general fund to affordable housing.

Seattle King County REALTORS® is urging that the city not pursue new taxes and fees that target a narrow band of payers and have the contradictory effect of making housing more expensive such as the linkage fee (discussed above) and expansion of REET.