Study: Seattle area rent increase rises 6 percent

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SEATTLE — A new report says the Seattle area's average rent increase of 6 percent a year is among the highest anywhere.

Seattle area apartment rents rose faster in the past year than in 81 other major U.S. metropolitan areas, The Seattle Times reported in Saturday's newspaper.

Reis, a New York-based company that sells data to the commercial real-estate industry reports the average asking rent in the Seattle area climbed 6 percent in the past 12 months, outpacing cities like San Francisco and Boston. The study extended from King County to North Marysville in Snohomish County.

Across all apartment sizes, the Seattle area's average asking rent in the second quarter was $1,150.

Another firm's data put Seattle's rent increases at fourth-highest in the nation, up from sixth just three months earlier, but agrees with the 6 percent growth rate.

According to Reis, rents in the Seattle area grew more than twice as fast as the national average of 2.6 percent.

Strong job growth has fueled record demand for apartments, pushing vacancy rates down to very low levels.

"It's all about the jobs," said Kenny Dudunakis, senior partner at Hendricks-Berkadia, one of the nation's largest apartment-investment advisers.

"People love the Fortune 500 companies that are here that seem to be on a perpetual hiring mode," he said.

Another research firm, Dallas-based MPF Research, also reports that apartments in the Seattle-Tacoma area saw a 6 percent increase in effective rent in the second quarter.

Within the Seattle region, there's a wide range of increases. MPF, which samples half the apartments in the area, found annual effective rent increases in the second quarter ranging from 4 percent in Federal Way to 10 percent in Issaquah.

The vacancy rate in King County last spring was 3.32 percent, the lowest since 1998, according to apartment-research firm Dupre + Scott.

The Seattle-area rent increase is far from unprecedented. Rents increased more than 7 percent annually in 10 consecutive quarters from the beginning of 2006 to the middle of 2008, according to MPF.