It’s harder than it used to be to buy a house. Banks have reverted to their conservative ways when determining who they will trust to pay their bills on time, and the cost of other important consumer commodities Americans spend their money on (of course gas, but also food like eggs and milk) has gone up. If you do have good credit and solid income, your buying power is still less than it was.
And just yesterday I read that vacancy is down and rents are up in the Seattle area. In short, downtown Seattle rent is up nearly 8% (to $1,350 from $1,253) and vacancy is down to 3.2% from 5.3%. For the broader area including King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties the numbers are similar: rent is up 7% to $981 and vacancy is down to 4.5% from 5.2%. Apartments are more expensive and harder to find around Seattle.
This isn’t conclusive evidence, of course, that the first situation above caused the second. Maybe there has been a recent hiring boom of out-of-towners who are eating up apartments. Or perhaps these are people who are in between homes waiting for their new house to be built or vacated. But I do wonder to what degree the housing problems have driven would-be homeowners back into apartment life–or foreclosures have sent them there. It could be that people who are in apartments and hope to make the leap to home ownership have decided to stay for the time being.