Seattle’s rental market shows no signs of cooling so far this year

A “for rent” sign in front of a row of houses. 

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Seattle’s rental market stayed red-hot by most of last year, and a new report from Zumper — an online rental platform — indicates rent prices in the area show no signs of cooling so far this year.

Seattle managed to stay out of the report’s top-10 U.S. cities where rent is most expensive — it landed at identify No. 13 — but its individual figures are nevertheless eye-popping.

The report says the average rent prices for one-and two-bedroom apartments in Seattle are currently $1,820 and $2,570 per month, respectively. Both figures represent a approximately 5% increase over what renters paid on average during December.  

That isn’t uncommon by Seattle standards. But by looking at what the average renter paid during this time last year, you really start to understand how much rent prices increased during 2021.

The current average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment — $1,820 per month — represents a 16% increase over what one-bedroom renters paid during this time last year, and the current average rent price for a two-bedroom — $2,570 per month — represents a 25% increase over what two-bedroom renters paid during this time last year.

The top 13 cities where rent is the most expensive, according to a new report from Zumper. 


To put those figures into perspective, one bedroom renters were paying about $1,517 per month in January 2021, while two-bedroom renters were paying approximately $1,917 per month.

Zumper analysts offer two comparatively simple reasons for the spike in rent prices over the last year.

First, people in urban areas migrated to the suburbs once the pandemic began. That drove rent prices down. Scond, once COVID-19 vaccines became widely obtainable at the start of last year, pandemic restrictions began to lift. That drew people back into urban areas, which pushed rent prices back up.

This is especially apparent in places like New York City and Boston, which secured the first and third spots, respectively, on the report’s list of 100 cities where rent is the most expensive.

In New York City, the average rent price for a one-bedroom is now 25% more expensive than it was at this time last year. Two-bedroom renters are paying 27% more now than they were at this time last year.

In Boston, the average price for one-bedrooms increased 26.5% over the last year. The price for two-bedrooms increased by 26%.

It’s nevertheless unclear what the long-term outlook for Seattle’s rental market is. But after regular month-over-month increases in rent during 2021 — which translated to a pretty steep year-over-year increase — it’s safe to say rent will keep expensive for the foreseeable future.

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