Street Cents
5:00 am
Tue July 2, 2013

In Seattle's hot housing market, expert says 'buy; don't rent'

Richard Hagar and John Maynard weigh the pros and cons of renting or buying.

Say you have out-of-town friends who are moving to Seattle. They want advice on whether to buy a house right away or rent first. What would you say to them? Seattle real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU's John Maynard that he would urge them to buy right away.

Hagar says the economy is good here and people are buying houses non-stop. In fact, he says there's less than a 45-day supply of homes available right now in the Seattle area. That means most people aren't getting the house of their dreams but rather what's left over. So there are not a lot of choices.

High demand, low supply pushing up value of homes

That may sound like a downer but Hagar sees a bright side.

"The good news is that our housing market is going up. In fact, we've calculated that it's going up about $500 a week for the average house," he said. That works out to about $24,000 a year—money that Hagar says you lose out on if you're renting.

"If they rent, they're locked in while the housing market is increasing its value."

Don't wait for the perfect house to come along

So, even if you end up buying a house that's not the perfect fit, Hagar says that's OK.

"You can buy it for 5 percent down and then in a year or two, move up to a better home. Maybe even keep the first house as a rental," he said. 

The big bonus of buying over renting, Hagar says, is that you haven't missed the market. You've ridden along with it instead of being left behind.