Seattle rent hikes slow amid apartment boom, but average two-bedroom tops $2,000

Rents across Seattle grew an average 6.3 percent in the past year — but most of that increase was because of pricey new buildings. Rents in older apartments are up just 4 percent.

Seattle rents are rising at their slowest pace in more than five years and the slowdown is likely to continue as a record number of new apartments open, a welcome change for renters dealing with years of hefty cost increases, a new survey shows.

Still, the average two-bedroom apartment in the city topped $2,000 a month for the first time, while rents continue to zoom up in the suburbs south of the city, according to the report from Dupre + Scott, which surveys landlords every six months.

Rents across the Puget Sound region are still rising faster than the historical norm, and the market remains hotter than most other U.S. cities. But the most punishing rent growth is likely behind us.

Some hot neighborhoods have cooled way down. In Ballard, rents are up just 2 percent over the past year — the smallest increase in at least a decade. Capitol Hill’s average rents are up just $35 from a year ago, about the same as inflation. And Rainier Valley rents dropped a bit since the spring.

The report lays out how the market, which has long favored landlords, is finally starting to shift toward giving more power to renters.

Seattle has opened more new apartments in the past five years than in the previous 25 years combined. But until recently that surge hadn’t affected rents, as all the expensive new buildings were quickly snatched up by the many people moving to the region.

That story is changing. The number of new renters has begun to drop considerably, and the number of new apartments continues to grow, with another record-setting year for construction set for 2018.

“Investors should plan for higher vacancies and fewer rent increases,” Dupre + Scott wrote in its report.

In Seattle, average rents went up 6.3 percent in the past year, the slowest growth since spring 2012 and down from double-digit increases in recent years. And when excluding new apartments, the actual rent increase faced by Seattle tenants is more like 4 percent.

Across all unit sizes, the average rent in older buildings is about $1,460, and it’s above $2,000 in new apartments, which usually come with fancy amenities.

At the same time, two other market signs are moving in the right direction for renters: The vacancy rate has grown again, while the average concession…

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