Population growth and housing in Seattle: Going up, up, up!

Aug 7, 2012

As more people move into the Seattle area, the demand for housing goes up. And so does the style of housing with high-rise apartments and condos replacing older, stand alone homes. Real estate appraiser and educator Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard this trend is expected to continue, thanks to our relatively stable economy and mild weather. Both are factors for people moving here, as are the companies that continue to employ thousands of people such as Amazon and Microsoft.

Population charts since  the 1860s show a steady population growth to the Seattle area except for a short interruption in the early 1970s when there were significant layoffs at Boeing. But even then, says Hagar, the population trend picked up again after about a year.

"We grow by roughly two percent a year. And if this keeps going, it won't be too long before we see the City of Seattle double in population."

What does this mean for housing?

"If you look at other cities that have grown into the millions like San Francisco and New York, what you see is that they start growing taller. So the complexion of the city will change."

Hagar says older, detached houses are being torn down and replaced with multi-family structures, many of them far taller than the original house. In fact, he says, detached houses now make up less than 50 percent of all housing in the city. Everything else is attached - apartments, condominiums and side-by-side townhouses.

The high-rise trend is showing up in the number of  building permits for these type of structures, too. Hagar says there's an estimated 10,000 apartments expected to go up in Seattle next year.