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3000+ Apartments Under Construction in Seattle

By July 11, 2011


Last Friday’s article in the Seattle Times about the upswing in apartment construction contains a lot of juicy information which is why you should give the entire article a read. However, following is a cliff notes version of the bits I keyed into (including this great list of current construction).

A huge majority of the current (3000+ units) and planned construction through 2015 is in the city of Seattle:

The city accounts for 85 percent of all the apartments under construction — and 90 percent of all units in the pipeline — in King and Snohomish counties, says Tom Cain, president of research firm Apartment Insights Washington.

Projections continue to indicate that demand will increase as will rates:

Thanks to the recession, however, there was little new supply on the horizon to meet this surge in demand: In King and Snohomish counties, 2011 is shaping up as the worst year for new-project completions since at least 2004.

Now apartment developers are rushing to fill that gap, inspired in part by projections that growing demand will continue to push rents up — perhaps another 25 percent by 2015, Scott projects.

Demand is attributed to several things, but time and again the large population of echo boomers (people in their 20’s and early 30’s just entering the housing market) make the list:

They’re even more inclined than their predecessors to rent rather than buy, many observers say — in part because the real-estate bust has made them wary, in part because renting gives them more flexibility to go where the jobs are.

And here’s a look at average rates today:

The average apartment in King and Snohomish counties rented for $1,072 this spring, according to Apartment Insights Washington.

In downtown, Belltown and South Lake Union, in contrast, the average rent was $1,464. It topped $1,200 on First Hill, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne and the near North End.

Then there’s the death knell for “for sale” projects happening in the near future (and why we’re so glad to see Sanctuary, Enclave, and potentially Volta come out of the wings):

With many recently built condos still unsold, it will be years before another project is built, Gardner predicts.

“Apartments, in my opinion, are the only feasible development form for now,” he says, “and the city of Seattle has a lot going for it.”

It all amounts to a heck of a lot of apartments coming online from 2012 through 2015. And besides all the construction, the one thing you’ll need to prepare yourself for is:

…many developers are building smaller, comparatively affordable units… [because]

The echo boomers will accept less space if it’s in the right neighborhood, builders say.