Seattle Is Upzoning: What That Means For Investors

Seattle Is Upzoning: What That Means For Investors

Last week the Seattle City Counsel passed a new measure to rezone 27 neighborhoods across the city.  The new ordinance sparked debate from some but passed with an overall vote of 8-0, with one council member not in attendance.  Upzoning has been a hot debate for local residents, as some people fear it will lead to gentrification, skyline views marred by skyscrapers, and overcrowding.  Supporters cite opportunities for affordable housing, welcoming newcomers to the city, and breaking down the social barriers created by zoning regulations. 

The new zoning does come with its caveats intended to prevent and counteract the fears of opposing viewpoints to the new upzoning. Some neighborhoods received lesser zoning changes in a response to public outcry, and an effort for the current residents to adjust to milder changes.  Most of the changes will take place around locations close to transit hubs.  One of the largest changes will be in Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood, which also functions as a large transit hub with Light Rail services in construction.   Some areas allow builders to go from one house to two on a lot, while Northgate will see some of largest changes with multi-level buildings.

The most compelling phase of the Mandatory Housing Affordability Act requires developers to dedicated 5-11% of their projects to low-income housing.  In an effort to combat homelessness and skyrocketing cost of living, this change is estimated to create a total of 6,000 affordable apartments over the next 10 years.  Additionally, if developers do not comply with an adequate supply of affordable housing, they will be required to pay a fine ranging in $5-$32.75 per square foot.  This money paid in fines will contribute to the city efforts to build additional affordable housing.

What does this mean for investors?

This is a great opportunity for investors to start looking at duplexes or houses with ADUs (Additional Dwelling Units).  Seattle is not a cheap city, and people are looking for ways to subsidize their mortgages.  Multi-use properties are the perfect way for buyers to become homeowners, and afford locations and spaces that wouldn’t be possible without supplemental renters.  However, investors need to be mindful of the legality of altering a property.  Just because the zoning has changed, it does not give you an automatic permit to alter a property into an ADU or multi-family property.  Visit our blog post on illegal dwelling units to learn more about turning your investment property into

Ready to invest in a new up-zoned area? Get in touch and we’ll help you get started!

Sydney Chestnut
sydney@heatondainard.com
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