New Data Shows Seattle Rents Up 6.2% Over Year

RentalsSeattle rents continue their upward trend, and a the median price for a one-bedroom apartment will now set you back a whopping $1,858 per month. But while many markets are seeing rental rates rise at a faster pace than home values, that is not the case in Seattle, where home prices this April were 6.9 percent higher than April 2014, compared with a slightly lower 6.2 percent increase in rents. Whereas in other cities rising rents may finally push renters to take the plunge into home ownership, Seattle renters looking for a respite from high rents find an even bigger challenge in the home-buying market.

While Seattle continues to hold the final spot in the top 10 most expensive cities for renters in the U.S., prices are still well below the sky high median of $4,225 per month in San Francisco, and rents here are growing at a snail’s pace compared to Portland (8.6 percent over the year), where rents are rising twice as fast as home values.

The jump to a $15/hr minimum wage could have an impact on Seattle’s rental market, according to The Seattle Times. With the current $11 per hour minimum wage (the first phase of the planned increase to $15 per hour), even those who pay rent that is in the bottom 25 percent of all rents in the city are spending close to 45 percent of their monthly income on housing, far above the 30 percent threshold that signifies one is “overburdened” by housing costs. A $15 per hour wage would lower that percentage to a still high but more manageable 33 percent.

If you are looking for rental housing in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

Proposed Bill: 90 Days Notice For Some Rent Increases

housing-marketMost renters have probably experienced it – opening your mailbox to find a notice that your rent is going up. Often, increases come in $50 or $100 increments, but in Seattle’s booming rental market, some are seeing their rents rise by $1,000 or more at a time. Most renters can’t absorb these exorbitant hikes, and Washington State’s Landlord Tenant Law only requires landlords to give 30 days notice for rent changes (60 days in the City of Seattle), giving tenants a short window to find a new home. But according to Crosscut, Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) is planning to introduce legislation that would require landlords across the board to give 90 days notice if they raise rents by more than 10 percent. The notification period for increases of 10 percent or less would remain at 30 days. For renters who don’t have much cushion in their savings account, this would give them more time to save up enough cash for move-in fees such as first and last months’ rent and a security deposit. According to King-5, the Rental Housing Association of Washington will fight the bill.

Kohl-Welles will also introduce legislation to prohibit landlords from discriminating against potential tenants on the basis of their participation in a government assistance program such as Section 8, which provides rent vouchers for households making 30 percent or less of the area’s median income. The bill would be aimed at landlords who either prohibit those in such a program from applying for housing altogether, or who don’t give them equal consideration with those not enrolled in an assistance program.

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

Renters In Older Buildings Blindsided By Rent Hikes

rentWith all the talk about record-high rents in the Seattle area, you may look around at the high-rise apartments sprouting up in South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Ballard and think you’ve found the culprits for our status as the U.S.’s 8th most expensive city for renters. But here’s a surprising statistic reported recently by Sanjay Bhatt at The Seattle Times: rents in older buildings are actually rising at faster rates than those in newer ones. Rents in buildings built in the 1980’s grew by a rate of 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, whereas rents in buildings newer than 2010 grew by only 1.4 percent (granted, rents in these buildings are much higher to start with).

Renters who care little about granite counter tops and rooftop decks have historically been able to rent units for reasonable rates in older buildings that offer function without the flash. But as many of these mid-century buildings approach 60 or 70 years old, they’re being sold off to development groups who pass on renovation costs to tenants in the form of rent hikes. For residents such as those at the Linda Manor Apartments in West Seattle (a building built in 1964), those hikes came in the form of a 130 percent increase, according to The Seattle Times. One resident saw her rent rise from $1,000 per month to $2,300 per month.

With the addition of 86,000 new residents over the past four years and just under 29,000 new units built over the same time period, housing is at a premium and a low vacancy rate in King County is creating stiff competition for renters. Because of that, landlords are having no trouble filling units, even with ever-rising rents.

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.