An article published this week in Seattle Weekly titled A Letter to the Investor Buying Our Apartment Building pinned the blame for the lack of affordable housing in the Seattle area on investors and their dirty obsession with profits.
…Eve and Charles told us they were putting the property up for sale. Who could blame them? The building is a century old and so much work went into maintaining it, especially for a couple of people who, also, are aging. But it’s prime real estate, right on the water with a view that would make even Donald Trump drool. So we had a good idea of what would happen after the sale went through. Skyrocketing rents and a landlord we’d never see, much less ever know.
No one begrudges your interest in a profit. After all, spending millions on a building is no small thing; you should indeed expect a sound return on your investment. But if that means that low-income, older tenants who have lived in the same place for decades must leave their homes, and likely their city, in search of affordable rents, then let’s be honest. You aren’t just in the real-estate business. You’re in the business of creating unaffordable housing.
Yes, it is sad that the long-time tenants of this apartment will need to move. No, it is not the investor’s fault. If you must assign blame, point the finger at basic supply and demand.
On the supply side, building policy in the Seattle area makes new construction expensive, time-consuming, complex, and in some places thanks to restrictive zoning and height restrictions, downright impossible.
On the demand side, the Seattle-area economy is currently booming, with high-paying tech jobs leading the way. People are moving to King County in record numbers.
Investors are not causing unaffordable housing. They are an effect of an economic system running on overdrive.
When the timer expires on your longtime bargain on a water view rental it feels good to have someone to point the finger at, but blaming the investors is just dumb.