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Spring analysis shows Capitol Hill rent rise has… slowwwed… dowwwn…


Analysts say all the construction may be making a mess of Capitol Hill streets but it might, indeed, be making a small dent — or at least slowing down — the juggernaut that is rent across the area’s neighborhoods.

Overall, rents across Capitol Hill and Eastlake are up 3.9% compared to spring 2016, according to Mike Scott of industry analysts Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors. The firm’s seasonal reports based on interviews and tracking continue to be one of the city’s most watched indicators through an ongoing affordability crisis — and a boom for landlords and City Hall’s coffers thanks to an around 75% leap in taxable activity in Seattle’s construction sector since 2010.

While the continued rise in rents is further hardship for tenants — up some 48% compared to 2012 and a whopping 88% since 2007 — the rise has moderated.

Last spring, this area of Central Seattle turned in a near-8% jump whether counting all units including new buildings or just existing. Across the city and county, Seattle Times looked at the numbers and asked, “After brief slowdown, Seattle-area rents surge back up again; when will it end?

Scott says more recent trends show a slowing with rents across the Hill staying steady since last fall.

Urbanists, developers, and more than a few city officials hope that Seattle can continue to build its way out of its affordability crisis as the area around the city continues to gain around 1,100 new residents… a week. Last year, Scott put numbers to the boom documenting some 26,000 new market-rate apartments set to open from 2016 to 2018 in Seattle.

On Capitol Hill, the area gained only three new buildings in the survey compared to last spring. But good news — at least in the raw unit end of things — Capitol Hill and Eastlake’s new buildings continue to squeeze in more and more units. Buildings in the survey currently average 47 units per building. In 2007, that number was 34.

A new wave is coming, this time centered around Broadway where more than 400 units will open in late 2019 around Capitol Hill Station. Capitol Hill Station’s “transit oriented development” plans call for 444 apartments with 38% of units to rent for below market rate for 12 years and Site-B North’s 110 units designated for “permanent affordable housing.” A quarter of the units will have at least two bedrooms.

And the city’s HALA process should, eventually, also boost the totals with a blanket upzone allowing that unit/building metric to continue its rise while also opening up areas around southern Capitol Hill and Madison and the Central District to larger multifamily development projects.

While its purpose goes well beyond lowering rents, the newly approved Seattle Renters’ Commission should also help to give tenants further relief. Mayor Ed Murray is set to sign the new legislation to form the commission Friday morning at City Hall. And a initiative could be on the ballot to give the city even more data to look at about tenants, rents, and affordability.

Thanks to Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors for sharing their reporting and insights with CHS.


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28 thoughts on “Spring analysis shows Capitol Hill rent rise has… slowwwed… dowwwn…

  1. 3.9% is likely from voter approved tax increases and utility increases. That number equals the bump in homeowner dues for our condo complex for these two line items.

  2. 88% in only ten years? How is that even real world? Driving out layers of workers and with many gainfully employed people still paying over 50% of their income on rent, this is criminal. I know some very conservative people who have told me they don’t know what the answer is but they now feel allowing housing costs to float on a free market of whatever goes is wrong and unsustainable. And the surrounding areas in the region are now close in cost to Seattle rents. We are in a housing disaster.

  3. The 88% over ten years etc etc more maps to the increase in the underlying property price and tax as much as anything.

    Next up – interest rates start to go up, the cost of owning / renting out a property will also… Go up.

    Would be nice if the new renters commission pushed for an income tax – then they would have more transparency into costs associated with property tax…

  4. The only reason rents and house prices are are hight is because of the “low-rise” legislation. What do we have to show for it, tents and ugly facades? High-rise should have been a requirement for ten miles around the space needle.

    • I agree with you and sadly we’re the minority.

      Those on Capitol Hill seem to only want small boutique apartments that advocate an artificial lifestyle. Yet they cry that they are not affordable.

    • So you want the whole city to look like Belltown huh… I’ll pass. This city is great because it is made of neighborhoods and not row upon row of sterile apartment blocks.

    • “row upon row of sterile apartment blocks” You just described the new Pike/Pine corridor!

      I invite you to visit both Capitol Hill and Belltown. Then you will learn that they will never be alike. Belltown is made up of arterials while Capitol Hill has mostly side streets and few arterials.

      If we built higher along Capitol Hills arterials (looking at you CH LR Station), we could have more diversity in architecture, residents and lifestyles. I’d rather have this than the boutique cookie cutter pressboard apartments that few can afford. The future of Capitol Hill is bleak if it stays on its current track.

    • Ummm I live right out back of Capitol Hill… I know exactly what it looks like.. and I know what Belltown looks like too. I would invite you to walk around further than just the main streets and experience the neighborhood, not just the newest construction.

      Only high rises for a 10 mile radius around the space needle sounds horrific.

    • Actually, there’s a recent study that shows, smaller apartment buildings tend to be more affordable.

      This did not focus on Seattle, where ever more burdensome regulations are making it tougher all the time on smaller landlords. For example, the law that requires renting to the first applicant to meet written qualifications and limits on security deposits, which put much more risk on landlords. These kind of rules might be appropriate for larger property owners or management companies, but can really hurt people who own only a few units. But, to our doctrinaire city council, all landlords are the same and more regulation is the solution to every problem. So, likely Seattle will continue to have more units in the hands of larger landlords, and bigger projects, alas.

    • ”This city is great because it is made of neighborhoods” .. yes .. and there’s nothing wrong with a few high rises like the ones on belmont, The lamplighter, the Shannon, the one I can never remember ..

    • I never said there isn’t a place for some larger buildings – a neighborhood is made up of buildings of all sizes – large, small, commercial, residential, mixed use – put in their proper places.

      I object to the idea that there should be nothing but high rises all for the sake of stuffing in more people at cheaper rents, at the cost of the reasons that people actually want to live here… wouldn’t be much emerald left in “the Emerald City” if we did that.

    • The problem with Seattle is that we don’t even allow medium density in most neighborhoods. Most of the city is zoned for single family housing. We don’t even allow duplexes in most of the city.

  5. The ‘Capitol Hill Rent Chart’ is a ridiculously accurate match for my rent from 02/98 when I moved here at $595/mo to $1547/mo now for the same unit. So yeah, that’s 160% increase over 20 years (give or take) not taking into account the higher cost of new rental units across the street which is more like $2800/mo.

    • @CD Neighbor, that just means your (and one’s landlords) property values went up 800%ish higher than the average parcel, thanks to the Eyman 1% cap. i can’t feel bad for you in any way.

    • 1) that is absolutely untrue – property taxes have remained pretty steady at around 10% of assessed value, so your math totally wrong.

      2) Property value doesn’t benefit a person at all unless they wish to leave the area or significantly downsize. As I have no intention of leaving, value of this property to me is that it is my home, not in the “wealth” that it represents on paper.

      Even if I did desire to sell, in my case, my house is already on the low end of the value spectrum and I still would have to leave the area to find something affordable.

    • excuse me typo not 10%, it is true that tax rates are around 1.0% of assessed value, but they’ve been very steady over the last 10 years, and property assessments are actually quite in line with market rates – property values have in no way increased by 800%…

    • @CD neighbor: property taxes cannot rise more than 1% across the entire city. if your property taxes went up 10%, that means your property appreciated ~20% more than the rest of the city.

      If property value doesn’t matter to you, then i’ll let you live on the property in perpetuity if you sell it to me for the price you paid for it. i never believe any NIMBY when they tell me they don’t care about property values – they do.

    • You can spin it however you like – buying a multifamily in Seattle will at best get you 5% return (look at Redfin where you can see rent per unit, tax etc etc). You get to manage a bunch of units, repairs, first in line et al.

      The underlying property value drives up rent – the influx of new arrivals (1k people a week was quoted) and lack of more buildable land, make for scarcity.

    • Sorry Zach – I don’t give a flying F about property values – if I did I’d be cheering on all the rezoning and wanting it to happen. Rezoning will make my property value go up, but this is my home, not an investment and I plan to live here until I am too feeble to wipe my own backside. As such I care very much about the quality of life in my neighborhood first and foremost.

    • I feel exactly the same way as CDneighbor as far as my property’s value goes. I get letters and phone calls every week, offering to buy my little home for way more than its assessed value. But I love my home and will stay here as long as I can. A realtor/developer would only demolish it and build some ugly monstrosity.

    • I’ve been thinking – Tell you what Zach – you think I shouldn’t make any money from owning property right? Let’s forget the more nebulous things like saving, planning and delaying gratification and just talk cold cash. You want to buy my house for what it cost me? OK then – come and see me when I’m old and feeble and ready to leave and we’ll talk about what it cost – that would be what the list price for the property was… + all of the interest and fees I paid on the loan + all of the taxes I’ve paid + all of the maintenance and upgrades – so every time I’ve painted the siding, unclogged the sewer, cleaned the gutters, the new furnace I had to put in and the new roof it will need soon, all of the work I’ve done redoing and refinishing rooms – I’ve rehabbed pretty much the whole thing. I’m sure we can come to an equitable rate for all the hours I’ve spent stripping and refinishing wood work, mowing the lawn, planting the garden, tiling the bathrooms….

  6. @CD neighbor, dude i wrote 800% *higher than the average parcel*. read what I ACTUALLY wrote. you became around twice as rich as the average land owner. congrats on being rich! now please stop opposing zoning changes to allow the rest of us to stop suffering.

    • No – I’m not any richer at all – what’s on paper is meaningless and I don’t have to feel bad at all for you whiny babies – You think suffering means not being able to afford the neighborhood you want? Please… cry me a river. You want cheaper rent – Renton isn’t very far away.

      Do what responsible people do – live under your means, even if it means forgoing any luxuries like cars, electronics, living in the cool neighborhoods, eating out – save your money until you can afford to get something that isn’t going to be the best or even close to your day dreams, work hard to fix it up and make it a home. Stop complaining that the people who have done these things need to give up what they worked hard for.

    • Right on CD neighbor.
      All you (probably white) male, build it they will come, property value purveyors sicken me.
      Nothing wrong with progress and environmentally wise development.
      But for the sake of? And to make room for? Who?
      We’ve lived here 50+ years and yes, we DO have some rights.

    • They are coming here regardless if we build it or not. So we might as well build it to keep costs stable. I hate seeing small homes leveled for boutique apartments. I’ve been saying all along we should build in scale where appropriate (arterials) and leave quiet side streets alone.

      I am in the same boat as CD Neighbor. I own my home (small condo) and its value is meaningless as intend to stay put until my lifeless body is carted out.

  7. One can want to destroy the homes, lifestyles and neighborhoods that those of us who bought long ago desire to maintain. But many of us will fight hard for our quality of life just as some may fight to upzone. Neither has moral authority. Want cheaper housing – move or don’t show up. Then my home will get cheaper as fewer want it, and you can build community and create jobs elsewhere.