5 Rental Market Trends for Washington State

Posted By: Chris Molinari Buying Property, Market News, Portfolio Growth,

In the last decade since the recession, the rental market in Washington State has recovered quickly, thanks to desirable locations like Seattle, Tacoma and the larger Puget Sound area. 

Companies like Microsoft and Boeing have attracted a large number of workers, who all needed housing. That demand for housing drove prices up, but the tides may be turning.

Here are five rental market trends to watch for in Washington State.

1. New Upzoning Laws Could Change the Rental Game

In June 2019, Seattle unanimously passed new zoning laws to eliminate multi-family building restrictions and allow for denser housing construction. Developers interested in building in re-zoned areas have to include a certain amount of low-income housing.

It remains to be seen how rezoning will affect rental prices in the long term. Many have welcomed the new laws as a way to ease high rents by providing more affordable housing options. Others are more cautious about the changes, fearing they will devalue neighborhoods.

2. Rental Market Is Stabilizing in the Seattle Area

Proponents of upzoning may already have some proof that more rental units can stabilize prices.

While rent prices are still high in Seattle the median rent for a one-bedroom at the time of this — posting being $1852, according to Rentometer — there are more vacancies than there were a year ago. As a result, rent prices for the area have leveled off a bit.

According to the Seattle Times, a record number of new apartments were set to open up this spring and summer, and in January, 1 in 10 apartments were vacant. Because of the boom in building, Seattle now has one of the slowest rent increase rates in the nation. In fact it inched up less than 1 percent between winter and spring.

Seattle-area residents are seeing a bit of a relief from high rent prices as the market turns from a landlord’s market to a renter’s market.

3. Rent Is Still Expensive, But Going Down in Some Neighborhoods 

While rent is still expensive in the Seattle area, the recent flood of new properties has actually forced some neighborhood rents downward. 

Ironically, this downward trend has been most apparent in some of Seattle’s trendiest neighborhoods, according to the Seattle Times. Neighborhoods like First Hill, Belltown and South Lake Hill saw a 6 percent drop in rents last year.

That’s because all those new apartments are popping up in those neighborhoods and competing for tenants. Some are even offering high-end amenities to entice would-be renters. 

So while rents increased in the Seattle region overall, there are some pockets within the city where renters can find a better deal, and landlords have to consider how to price their properties to remain competitive.

4. Tacoma Housing Market Among Hottest in the Nation

Further south on Puget Sound, Tacoma has become one of the hottest rental markets in the nation. According to the News Tribune, several real estate websites reported a 9 to 10 percent increase in rent in 2018, making it one of the highest increases across the U.S.

Currently, a one-bedroom apartment in the Tacoma area costs about $1,135, still a bargain compared to Seattle-area rent prices.

Source: Rentometer City Rent Comp Report for Tacoma, Washington

Landlords who haven’t considered what they’re charging for rent can visit Rentometer for a report of rent prices in their neighborhood to determine whether they are still competitive.

5. Rural Areas Are Still Facing a Housing Crisis

A lot of attention has been paid to the Puget Sound area, which has led to an increase in housing construction.

In other, more rural parts of Washington, however, a lack of new building has led to a housing crisis and an increase in rent prices.

Statewide, Democrats are considering housing reform to ease rent prices and allow for more building overall, according to the News Tribune.

For those looking to invest in rental properties, rural areas, where the need for housing is greater may be a good investment.

Across Washington State, limited housing and the high rents it creates seem to be on the decline. Hot areas like Tacoma and Seattle, however, will most likely take some time to completely cool off.

Rentometer provides essential rent data for the rental housing industry. Everyone from landlords, property managers, owners, and renters can research and compare rental rates on Rentometer.com. In addition to the rent comparison tools exclusively found on Rentometer the website offers landlords and property managers information and resources used to help in rental housing operations and maintenance.