Housing needs in high-priced and densely populated markets

3 Replies

I'm working on a project with a team of other Real Estate & Urban Economics college students and we need to learn more about the housing needs of renters who are working and living in (or commuting to) cities like Seattle, WA where the cost of living is very high and affordable housing solutions are scarce.

When the new work-force finishes college and starts working in a city like Seattle, they aren't likely to start an entry-level job earning the level of income necessary to comfortably afford an apartment. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a low income in the city of Seattle is $74,785 (even though that wouldn't be considered low-income in most other places). So what type of housing opportunities do recent graduates and newer professionals look for? Do they just have several roommates? Commute 1+ hours to work from a less desirable location? They have to live somewhere, right?

If anyone on here has experience with this (whether as a tenant, investor, or real estate professional) and would be willing to share their experience, I'd appreciate some insight. Likewise, if you'd be willing to help out some college students with entrepreneurial aspirations and share your insights one-on-one, either I or a member of my team would be very interested in having a quick Zoom or phone interview with you (less than 5 mins of your valuable time).

Can you share an experience about the last time you looked for, invested in, developed, rented, etc. an affordable housing solution in a city similar to Seattle (e.g. San Francisco, New York, D.C.)?

What solutions did you find and how are those solutions working and/not working?

While I'm excited to start investing in real estate after graduation, the purpose of this post is to help my team and I understand more about the needs of our target market for a real estate project for college. It's hypothetical and we're only in the beginning phases of this real estate business plan project. Any insights and feedback are appreciated and if anyone is willing to discuss this one-on-one, please let me know because I'd love to learn more. Thank you!

@Nicolle Schultz welcome to BP.

I have a group of very close friends who met30 years ago by sharing a a few houses over several years in DC. This was long ago but they remain great friends today.

I am talking about very successful people. Yet starting out they could only afford to live in DC by sharing a group house. 

Thank you for the welcome and for your reply, Ned. I would imagine there are many people who choose to share housing in more expensive areas. That’s great that they’ve all remained friends! 

The more people I talk to, it sounds like home sharing is a popular solution. Some of the stories don’t necessarily end in a life long friendship—your friends are very fortunate. 

@Nicolle Schultz As someone that lived with roommates for about 12 years (until I purchased property) it was the only way I survived. I meet some life long friends during college and sparked a friendship post college living with another guy. At one point he got engaged and moved out while we were living together. That was the tipping point for me. I had researched my market for 2 years, analyzed deals, saved for a down payment, and knew I was done paying rent. 

I can dream of making $75k a year OR get my money working for me and DO something about it. I make about half that amount at my 9-5 but housing in my market is cheap compared to Settle. I think every city has a shortage of affordable housing because every city has less fortunate people living there. I think some people "ride the system" because it's easier for the government (aka tax dollars) to pay for them. The more we build affordable housing the more the cycle continues. I'm sure people will disagree with that statement but as someone who works for a living I don't care. I worked two jobs numerous times in an attempt to get ahead and watched people get fired for not even showing up. As a real estate investor it's not my responsibly to cater to that demographic. I'll continue to buy, flip, or rent properties at a FAIR market value.

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