Yesterday, rental housing website Zumper announced that Seattle has fallen off its list of the country’s ten most expensive renter markets. We lost out to Chicago, which has a median one bedroom rental price of $1,750. That’s $30 more than Seattle’s current median, according to Zumper.
Tanguy Le Louarn, head of digital marketing at Zumper, says that’s explained in part by luxury apartments in Seattle becoming more affordable for rich people. “It’s a great headline to say that Seattle is dropping from the top ten,” he says, but “the real underlying driver is the luxury market” in neighborhoods like downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Broadway. “Those are the places where the prices have increased the highest, and we’re hitting the ceiling.
“This [is a] kind of mini correction that we’re seeing,” Le Louarn says. “There’s so much rent price that people can stomach, so the high end luxury complex…cannot increase forever.”
The news that rents are plateauing for only for the rich will certainly evoke bitterness in a city divided by deep wealth inequality. But the leveling-off of luxury rents may be good news for poor renters as well, says Le Louarn. “Now—and this is my opinion,” he says, “more inventory is better than no new inventory. Even if it’s at luxury prices, [luxury developments are] a release for the rest of the market to have new apartments.
“Because guess what? If you don’t build those new luxury condos, then the person that was going to move to Seattle is still going to move somewhere, and that’s going to be an older apartment.
“More supply just means better prices.”