Lease Peeping

Despite a Second Monthly Decline, Seattle Rents Are Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Despite the seasonal slowdown, rental prices are still way up from last year.

By Angela Cabotaje December 2, 2021

A traditional seasonal slowdown can't conceal the fact that renting in Seattle got way more expensive this year.

According to a new report from Apartment List, the median Seattle rent in November declined for the second month in a row, down 2.1 percent from October. While that seems like good news for current and would-be renters, it's not exactly a major win when you look at the bigger picture.

Rental prices are up 22.6 percent from November 2020, which outpaces the year-over-year growth seen across the state and country at 20.3 percent and 17.7 percent respectively. Those numbers are even more staggering when you compare them to typical pre-pandemic rent growth: Between January and November, rents nationwide averaged a mere 2.6 percent growth between 2017 and 2019.

That wild 2021 upswing is largely due to the free fall of 2020—Seattle rents are basically returning to Before Times levels. In fact, prices are more or less back to where they were in March 2020, rebounding just as quickly as they fell. This trend tracks with other big cities like Boston and Chicago, which also experienced dramatic price drops and rebounds, although places like the Bay Area have yet to recover (San Francisco is still way off at 14 percent below March 2020). 

The biggest pandemic-era surges, however, seem to be in warmer climates and more traditionally affordable real estate markets—two particularly appealing variables in our newfound remote work environment and perpetual winter SAD status. Since March 2020, rents increased 34–37 percent in four Arizona cities and 38 percent in North Las Vegas. But there's also a local hot spot: Spokane rents grew 34 percent since the start of the pandemic.

It's all relative, though. The median rent for a two-bedroom in Spokane is $1,361. That same rental in Seattle will run you $2,130.

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