May 19, 2023 - News

Seattle rent skyrockets from early pandemic

Illustration of a house key covered in price stickers.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite softening demand in the Seattle real estate market and a brief period of rent declines, it's still much more costly to rent here than it was earlier in the pandemic.

Driving the news: Rent in Seattle is up 21% in 2023 compared to 2021, according to an analysis released this month by QuoteWizard, an online insurance platform that analyzed median rent for new leases across the nation.

Why it matters: Seattle already has some of the nation's highest rates of inflation, and housing costs make up a large share of the average person's budget — making any increase hit hard.

  • Lack of housing affordability remains among the most cited reasons people say they want to leave the region, according to Redfin.

Zoom in: Year-over-year data shows that rental prices for an apartment in Seattle, and Washington State, dipped in 2021 but then started to rise again.

By the numbers: In Seattle, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is currently $1,545, per QuoteWizard. Statewide, the cost of a one-bedroom is $1,288.

What they're saying: Seattle's allure as a great place to live and its strong job market keep new people coming, Zillow senior economist Nicole Bachaud told Axios.

  • "That means more people vying for each available rental, which pushes prices up … and there are enough people able to afford rents at these prices to keep them from falling."

Zoom out: Rental prices nationwide are starting to cool after large increases seen early in the pandemic.

  • But that generally means rents are increasing more slowly than before — not that they are actually decreasing, according to QuoteWizard analyst Robert Bhatt.
  • No state has seen prices drop below pre-pandemic levels.

The bottom line: Seattleites who have felt the pinch of high housing prices in recent years are still getting squeezed.


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