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Is Seattle’s skyrocketing rent showing signs of slowing down?

A report shows rent still going up, but at a slower rate


Could our long, citywide rental nightmare be subsiding, at least a little? Rent increases, while still dramatic, may not be progressing as quickly as they have been in the past.

A new report by Zillow on March 2017 rental data showed a 6.7 percent increase in rent in the Seattle metro area, which includes King, Pierce, and Snohomish County, compared March 2016.

It’s not a tiny increase for a struggling renter—that’s around $140 a year on a median rental. Median rent, according to the Zillow Rent Index, is $2,106, which is not a tiny number, although it includes everything from single-family homes to apartments.

The more optimistic figure: The increase is less than this time last year. Between March 2015 and March 2016, Zillow saw an 8 percent increase.

Trends would indicate that the decrease is not a total fluke, too. Zillow says that month-over-month appreciation has slowly been going down since this past August.

At the beginning of the month, median rent numbers were all over the place, depending on who you asked. Apartment List showed a 5 percent increase overall, within a couple of points of Zillow’s figure.

In some instances, median rent in Seattle went down year over year; Zumper clocked a decrease in two-bedroom rent year over year, and Abodo saw a decrease in one-bedroom rent.

Notably, the studies we covered at the beginning of the month looked at city limits and not metropolitan areas, so they’re not directly comparable. The main takeaway from looking at everything together: It really depends on how you look at it.

It’s still comforting to see rental costs that could be starting to stabilize—at least to people who can still afford to live in the city and continue to shoulder some increases for a while.

And there’s hope: The San Francisco metro saw virtually no change from March 2017. Again, though, how comforting that figure is depends on your lens. One could see it as a sign that the rental market is starting to stabilize—or, with only a 0.1 percent decrease, one could see it as Bay Area rents remaining high.

It’s the same with the Seattle data. While a distant future could have better outcomes, to many, this is just more of the same: The rent is high, and it’s getting higher.