Investing in Seattle in the Midst of New Housing Affordability Laws

Posted on: February 25, 2016

There is so much happening in the Seattle housing market right now that, if you blink, you just might miss something. One of the top real estate headlines we’re reading about lately is affordable housing, which is an issue that has elicited a mixed response from area residents, investors, and developers. The underlying concern that is driving the conversation about affordability, of course, is that our city is struggling to meet the housing needs of our rapidly-growing population. It’s a classic case of supply-and-demand. While available residential inventory remains historically low, the influx of newcomers continues. Our city’s desirability has led to a sort of housing crisis, and Seattle authorities have responded by offering incentives to those who are willing to provide affordable rental units to lower-than-average income families. If you’re interested in investing in Seattle, you’ll want to take notice of the programs that will become available to you if you choose to participate in one of the various forms of affordable housing.

Provide Housing for a Veteran

In October 2015, an initiative was set forth by the King County Housing Authority to end homelessness among veterans in King County. In the months since, 40 veterans have found housing through this extremely important program, but there are approximately 65 more veterans who are still seeking a rental property. That is where prospective investors play a vital role.

In addition to making a positive contribution to our society, there are a number of very valuable benefits to landlords who participate in the veterans’ housing program. You will:

  • Always receive your rent payments on time.
  • Be paid fair market value for the rental property you own.
  • Enjoy stable occupancy.
  • Have confidence that your property is being cared for, as all units in the program are inspected annually to ensure that the home is being properly maintained by its tenant.

These are benefits that many landlords will never experience.

The vouchers that are held by these servicemen and women must be used by the March 31, 2016 deadline. You will need to act quickly, but it is not impossible. If you are in the market for an investment property and might be interested in participating in this noble cause, contact me to begin your property search today.

Apply for Participation in the State Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program

Under the state Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program, property owners and developers are given a tax break for providing housing to low or moderate income tenants. According to the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, the credit applies to all residential rental buildings located in the state of Washington.

This program is competitive, meaning that it offers the most funding to those property owners who:

  • Serve the lowest-income tenants.
  • House them for the longest amount of time.
  • Own properties in the areas of greatest need (those that have been targeted for revitalization).

The LIHTC even offers extra incentive points for those who set aside units for larger families, disabled renters, elderly individuals, and those who were formerly homeless.

The benefit to you, as an investor, is tremendous tax savings. To learn more, check out the plan overview provided by our state’s housing finance commission.

Take Advantage of Multi-Family Tax Exemption

The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program provides a tax exemption to owners of multifamily projects in one of Seattle’s targeted areas for growth.  In exchange for this exemption, you are asked to set aside 20% of the homes on your property to be used as part of our city’s affordable housing initiatives.

The overarching goal of MFTE is to support the development of mixed-income multi-family properties in order to revitalize the areas of Seattle that need it most.

Property owners who are interested in applying to the MFTE program can learn more by visiting this page.

Keep an Eye on HALA

The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (known to Seattle locals as ‘HALA’) has been set forth to create a mutually equitable solution for both landlords and renters. This comprehensive, 65-point plan is still in the works, but it should certainly not be viewed as a deterrent for those wishing to buy a property in Seattle. As more of the individual aspects of the plan are introduced into our local ordinances, property owners will find that more money-saving incentives will become available to them. Whether you are searching for your primary residence or an investment property, our city remains one of incredible opportunity. Our housing market is thriving because this is a place that people love to call home.

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