clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

It's the Media's Fault You Can't Afford to Rent in Seattle

New, 11 comments

Our bad. If you suddenly feel like you can't afford an apartment in Seattle, Mike Scott of Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors would like you to know that it's not actually true, apparently. Scott told PSBJ that he blames "skyrocketing hyperbole" and the media for the myth that rents are skyrocketing around town.

While Scott admits that rent has increased 8.3 percent in the past year (which sure sounds like a lot), that number does drop when you remove all the new development units (to 7.5 percent, which is still super-high for anyone not making $50K+/year, but, okay). According to Scott, average Seattle monthly rent has risen from $792 in 2000 to $1,266 in 2015 (with the median checking in around $1,850), but it hasn't been a steady climb the entire time. In fact, average rent dipped between 2008 and 2010 before rising again, which, we guess should make you feel better about rent being so high right now?

It sounds like the point Scott is trying to make is that rent, like housing prices, is cyclical. But what that doesn't seem to be taking into account is that both rental and housing prices are rising, rapidly, at the same time, leaving low-income and even middle-income Seattleites with few choices when they get priced out of their current situations.

The argument comes back to what Seattle Times' writer Gene Balk discovered a few weeks back. That Seattle had the smallest percentage of "severely rent-burdened households" among major U.S. cities. Some pointed to that as proof the rent crisis was overblown. But then Balk dug a little deeper and found out that the reason that number is so low is because so many people have already been priced out and moved elsewhere.

When folks are fighting for $15/hour in a market that requires them to earn $22/hour just to be able to afford a market rate two-bedroom apartment, it's hard to sit back and say "it's all good, everything's cyclical." It probably will get better, eventually. But right now, eventually doesn't pay the rent.
· Seattle apartment expert says it's hype that's skyrocketing, not rents [PSBJ]
· Fun With Statistics [CS]
· Seattle's Median Rent Climbs Steadily to $1,858/Month [CS]
· Wage Gap [CS]