New Inventory Continues to Slow Seattle’s Rent Growth

Seattle-area renters are currently experiencing the least competitive rental market in a number of years. Rent growth has slowed in the region as the number of new units has outpaced the market. According to RealData/Apartment Insights, rents were up just 1.1 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2017—the smallest increase since 2010.

According to RealPage, the Seattle-area is building the 5th-most apartments of any metro area in the nation. Seattle is behind Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.; however, only Dallas is building more t6han Seattle on a per-capita basis.

Although slow rent growth is a national trend, Seattle’s turn from one of the hottest rental markets, to one of the coolest, is due to a historic number of new developments opening. King County and Snohomish County are on pace to see 13,700 apartments open over the next year. This will push the total number of new units this decade past 80,000—the most of any decade in history.

With an increase in inventory and amenities like gyms, rooftop areas, yoga rooms and dog runs becoming the standard at new buildings, renters are able to be more fastidious in their searches as they weigh the options available. In turn, landlords are offering concessions such as 4-to-8 weeks free in order to lure tenants.

This past spring nearly a quarter of all apartments in the downtown Seattle core sat empty, that has now slightly decreased to 17.4 percent. Seattle’s priciest neighborhoods are also those getting a number of new apartments: downtown, Belltown, and South Lake Union.

Thanks to Amazon’s growth, South Lake Union has more than doubled its apartment stock in the last five years. However, rents in the neighborhood have declined 2.7 percent in the past year as new units have outpaced the market.

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