Seattle Rents are Beginning to Rise Again After the Pandemic

After a watershed year due to the pandemic, Seattle is slowly starting to return to its typical patterns in the real estate market. Most notably, rents across the city have begun to rise after experiencing a sharp drop at the onset of the pandemic last March.

According to the rental site Apartment List, for the second month in a row rents in the city have increased. From February to March, new leases saw a median increase of 2.2%. However, while rents are slowly increasing, they are still down from this time last year.

The rising trend in rents has impacted different neighborhoods and rental types differently. High-end rental units in popular neighborhoods like Central Seattle, Downtown and Lake Union saw the biggest drop in prices, while the city’s most affordable units saw little change.

In some areas, like North Seattle and West Seattle, the most affordable rental units have actually increased in price over this time last year. As of March 2021, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle was $1,397.

Seattle is not alone in these price drops. It actually ranked third among large cities for year-over-year price drops, and no. 6 for month-over-month growth, along with cities like San Francisco. This monthly growth could suggest that the price plummets induced by the pandemic are finally at their end.

Outside of Seattle, even the most expensive units are seeing an increase in price in cities like Auburn and Everett.

To entice renters in the early days of the pandemic, particularly for new construction units, about a third of properties in Seattle offered incentives like a month of free rent. As of last month, nearly half of the Seattle rentals listed on Zillow were offering similar promotions.

As remote work and social distancing continues, demand is still high for single-family home rentals in the area, which serves to keep prices up. Two-bedroom condo units in Seattle are also starting to see a rise in interest from renters, while one-bedroom condos haven’t yet seen the same return in demand.

With the light at the end of the COVID tunnel finally visible, it’s likely that rents may continue to rise as workers return to the city and reevaluate their futures in a post-pandemic world.

This article was originally posted on The Seattle Times by Heidi Groover.

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