It’s the best of times and the worst of times to look for a new apartment: Seattle rent seems to be dipping ever so slightly during the pandemic, but of course it’s also an insanely inconvenient time to tour properties and ask friends to come help you carry boxes.
A report from Apartment List says that rent’s dropped .4 percent over the last month — so a unit that was $2,000 is now $1,992, what a steal! A Zillow report looks back a bit further, noting that median rent has dipped a whopping $18 since March. But a quick check of Zillow’s apartment listings, which note when rent has declined, shows that some units have dropped by as much as a couple hundred dollars after sitting unoccupied for months.
Outside the city, the story is flipped, according to Apartment List. Rent in Lakewood, Kent, and Auburn are up over last year; and despite a drop of 1.2%, Bellevue is now the most expensive place to rent in the region with an average two-bedroom running around $2,390 a month.
One reason for Seattle’s drop could be that rent was always way overpriced here, so we’re seeing a slow collapse of a bubble that was too ridiculous to sustain. Other overpriced cities are seeing similar declines: Rent is down by about 4% in San Francisco, and 3% in New York and Boston.
Washington and Seattle currently have eviction moratoriums, set to expire on October 15 and February of 2021 respectively, but the $600 boost in federal unemployment is about to run out so we could soon be looking at tons of people thrown out on the street. CNBC cites a report that around 28% of renters in Washington are at risk of eviction right now, which is a crisis so massive it’s hard to even imagine, unless you are a grad student studying the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, a 2019 survey by the Puget Sound Regional Council indicates that even before the pandemic, a quarter of the people who left Seattle were forced to leave due to economic reasons outside their control.
I usually try to end these kinds of articles with at least SOMETHING optimistic or hopeful about the situation, or some kind of action that you can take to improve your circumstances. So … uh … let me know if you hear of any.