Monday, May 23, 2011

Seattle Makes List of "Cities Where Rents are Rising the Most"

The folks on MSN Real Estate published a list of U.S. "cities where rents are rising the most", and not surprisingly, Seattle made the cut. Seattle was given the No. 9 slot, and it’s no wonder considering how hot the rental market currently is. The weak housing market coinciding with a decreasing (albeit slow) unemployment rate is forcing Seattleites into renting. If I remember the concepts of my microeconomics class correctly, then yes, it’s likely a large majority of renters will be seeing rent increases in the coming year(s). A recent Seattle Times article published in March revealed that vacancy rates fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest since 2007. Developers are also taking advantage of the trend with proposals for apartment buildings and complexes in multiple Seattle neighborhoods. For example, the Pine Street Group is planning a twin-tower complex in Denny Triangle, Schuster Group changed condo proposal plans to an apartment proposal set for Belltown, and Avalon Bay Communities plans to have two, seven-story apartment buildings in the U-District-just to name a few. Don’t fret, renters. If you’re phased by the increasing rents, consider finding rentals from private parties through agents or a listing database. Not to say their rates won’t reflect the current market, but they could be less likely to systematically raise rents which can often happen with large apartment buildings. Please follow the link if you’re a renter and searching for your perfect Seattle rental.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Program Has Building Owners Tracking Their Energy Consumption

The Seattle Department of Planning Development launched a new program this week to help commercial and multifamily residential business owners measure their building’s energy efficiency over long periods of time. Owners will use the U.S. Energy Star ratings and disclose these ratings to the city and other related parties like tenants, sellers and buyers annually and/or at request. The program is called the Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting, and is aimed to reduce gas emissions and reduce energy consumption in Seattle’s buildings by 20%. Part of the program’s appeal is gaining results at a very low cost, and job creation in the green field. The “benchmarking” portion of the program calls for owners to calculate their rating based on actual utility bills, averaging them with number of tenants, building usage, etc. and comparing it with other local buildings. This process kind of reminds me of Microsofts Hohm website which I previously blogged about, encouraging homeowners to do the same sort of energy use tracking. This is a great way to expose owners to their building’s green footprint, and an easy thing to track. Although benchmarking for large buildings is considerably harder, utilities now have automatic applications to upload energy data to the EPA. All commercial buildings 50,000 sf or greater must comply with the program by October 3, 2011 and report annually every April 1st, and commercial buildings and multifamily building of 10,000 sf or greater must comply by April 1st of 2012, and annually report every April 1st. For more information on the Building Energy Benchmarking & Reporting program, please refer to the official website.