Lease Peeping

Seattle Rent Prices Are Almost Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Well, the concessions were nice while they lasted.

By Benjamin Cassidy July 29, 2021

Seattle apartments

The dark side of "nature is healing."

A new report has confirmed the anecdotes: Seattle rent prices are almost as ridiculously high as they were before the pandemic.

The median monthly cost for a one-bedroom in July is $1,633, and a two-bedroom now fetches $2,037 citywide, according to Apartment List's latest rent review. The site found that rents across Seattle have climbed to just 5 percent below their pre-pandemic levels, a trend that tracks with a national uptick but marks a significant departure from 2020's price free fall.

After coronavirus arrived in earnest last year, Seattle experienced a 22 percent drop in rents, the second-steepest dive of any major American city. This relief wasn't felt universally: A Zillow analysis found that more expensive zip codes saw faster declines than less expensive ones, and Redfin reported that many of the city's residents remained rent-burdened.

But the abundance of rental concessions and lower monthly costs did, for a fleeting few months at the close of 2020, open up housing opportunities for some in the city. For example, a representative of one Belltown building I toured during that period noted that artists had recently moved in, taking advantage of the building's free months of rent. Before, the development had been one of the many pricey provinces of the tech set.

Whether those creative types or others can afford to keep their new units long-term remains to be seen. Demand for our still-tiny apartments has seemingly returned with a vengeance, with more millennials considering perma-renting as roughly 10 percent of locals lean on the latest eviction moratorium. In Seattle's rental market, unfortunately, "nature is healing" isn't going to be pretty.

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