According to new reports from Greater Seattle’s two major apartment survey firms — Dupre + Scott and Apartment Insights Washington, rents are on the rise again. After a brief dip, renters became hopeful that the high price of rent in the region was beginning a descent. Nope.
Average rents across the region are up about 1.1 percent from last quarter and up 8.3 percent from a year ago. Overall, rents in the city of Seattle are up 57 percent in the last six years. The average renter is now paying $1,749 a month, or an extra $635 compared with 2011, reports the Seattle Times.
Rents fueled by rapid job growth in the technology sector are highest in downtown Seattle ($2,173), West Bellevue ($2,125) and Issaquah and Mercer Island (above $1,900). Average rents are grazing $1,800 in several Seattle neighborhoods, including Ballard, Green Lake/Wallingford, Queen Anne and First Hill, as well as in Kirkland and Redmond.
South King County saw the most extreme jumps, with annual rent increases topping 10 percent in Burien, Rainier Valley, Des Moines, Kent, Federal Way and White Center. In SeaTac (of all places), rents are up more than 15 percent. Most of those markets didn’t have a single new apartment added in the last year.
Despite the bleak numbers, there are still reasons to believe that the rental market will soften. Seattle is anticipating nearly 9,000 new apartments this year, thousands more than any year in the city’s history. Construction forecasts set for 2018 and 2019 are even larger. The whole Greater Seattle region is experiencing its second-biggest apartment surge ever, with more than 60,000 units in the pipeline this decade, according to Dupre + Scott.
But don’t get too excited. Those apartments don’t come cheap and most new apartments are coming to expensive neighborhoods like Belltown and South Lake Union at prices about 40 percent more expensive, on average, than older rentals.
As a result, a recent survey by a local non-profit organization found that 45 percent of Seattle Millennials fear they will have to leave the area because of high housing costs. With home prices also skyrocketing, more people in Seattle and throughout the region are stuck as long-term renters, unable to save up enough for a down payment on a house, while trying to pay higher rent bills.
Will Seattle ever return to the sparsely populated, rainy grunge haven of yore? Not likely.