As new apartments flood the market, Seattle area sees smallest spring rent hikes in a decade

The recently completed Chroma apartments, at 1212 Harrison Street, offers 275 one- and two-bedroom units. The building, which is brightly painted in a rainbow of colors, is trying to entice renters by offering up... (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)  By Mike Rosenberg

The recently completed Chroma apartments, at 1212 Harrison Street, offers 275 one- and two-bedroom units. The building, which is brightly painted in a rainbow of colors, is trying to entice renters by offering up... (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

By Mike Rosenberg

The slowdown in Seattle-area rent increases that began late last year has continued into the first part of 2018, as the crush of new apartments opening across the region catches up with demand in the fast-growing region.

When the last quarterly landlord survey was released, in January, it showed average rents across the region had dropped nearly $50 from the prior quarter — the first significant rent decrease of the decade.

Now, the newest survey is out and it shows rents have started to tick up again as part of a seasonal pattern that happens in the springtime virtually every year. But the average rent across King and Snohomish counties went up just 1 percent — or $17 — compared to the prior quarter, the smallest springtime increase of the decade. And rents remain below the record highs reached last summer and fall.

It’s a significant turnaround from a year ago, when Seattle-area rents were rising about eight times faster than the national average. Now Seattle rent increases are only slightly bigger than the rest of the country.

In the city of Seattle, only one neighborhood — First Hill — saw rents grow at least 1.5 percent from a quarter ago. Rents actually dropped a bit in Belltown, Fremont/Wallingford and North Seattle, according to the data released by Apartment Insights/RealData, which surveys landlords across the region.

In the region’s suburbs, rents also dipped slightly in some parts of the Eastside — in Kirkland, Mercer Island/South Bellevue and the Woodinville area — as well as in sections of South King County, in Federal Way, Tukwila and Des Moines.

Source: The Seattle Times