The Q3 Rental Roundup: Market Takes a Breather, but Rent’s Still Rising!

Ah, autumn in Seattle…the days turn chilly, the drizzle starts to fall…the rental market eases up?

Anyone who has been in the Seattle area rental market in the past few years can probably tell you that the rental market has been tightening progressively–in fact, the available rentals in the Seattle area have been decreasing at a steady rate for two consecutive years. But according to Jeanne Lang Jones of the Puget Sound Business Journal, this trend took a breather in the third quarter, as vacancy rose slightly to 4.74 percent. So is this the beginning of the end of the ever-tightening rental market? Tom Cain of Apartment Insights, a Seattle-based research firm specializing in rental market trends, assured the Journal that it’s simply a pause in the trend, and there’s no need to worry about continued rising vacancies as we enter the fourth quarter.

As for rent amounts, they increased again this quarter to $1,076. That makes six straight quarters in which rent amounts have risen without fail. What’s more, the third quarter amount ties with 2008’s record-breaking Q3 high. In total, rents have gone up just over 5% since January of this year; meanwhile, incentives are on their way down–the average dropped over 50% per unit, to just $12 each, in the third quarter alone. While almost half of all properties offered incentives in the second quarter, just over a third offered them in Q3.

So where do renters want to be these days? The tightest areas within the market in the third quarter were east Bellevue and Seattle’s First Hill, with a vacancy rate of under 4%. Bellevue is particularly in-demand; more than half of the area units absorbed in the third quarter were in downtown Bellevue alone. This Eastside trend was reflected in construction, too, as the percentage of new units built in Seattle dropped from 90% in the second quarter to 70% in the third.

Want even more of the numbers? The Business Journal article can be found here. In the meantime, here’s to enjoying the new season from the comfort of your favorite fireside chair, as the leaves begin to change outside your window.

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