Federal Way residents are paying considerably more in rent than in the past.
According to the September 2017 Federal Way Rent Report released by Apartment List, Inc., rent prices increased 7.3 percent in Federal Way since August of last year — 2 percent within the last month alone.
The reason can be attributed to Seattle’s economic boom.
Apartment List housing economist Chris Salviati said Seattle is a big technology hub now, providing more well-paid jobs than the city currently has housing to accommodate.
“Seattle adds 2.3 new jobs to every new housing unit,” Salviati said. “One to two jobs per unit is what we consider an adequate supply. When new construction isn’t keeping up with job growth, it will result in an increase in rent. It’s a large demand with not enough supply.”
According to Seattle’s Renting Crisis: Report & Policy Recommendations released by Washington Community Action Network, because job availability is outstripping the housing market in Seattle, property owners are taking advantage by raising the cost to lease their rentals, targeting people willing to pay the higher amount in exchange for convenience of staying in Seattle, while others are being forced to move south of the city. Salviati stated that people getting those new jobs in Seattle are also being forced to search for housing in neighboring cities, such as Federal Way. In turn, property owners are raising rent here.
Zaran Sayre, president of Zaran Sayre & Associates Property Management and Real Estate Services, said the rise in rent by this latest percentage is not only normal, it is a good thing because it indicates the economy is doing well.
“When things are going great, rent has a tendency to go up,” Sayre said.
That may be true, but Realtor Cari Franklin, of Federal Way’s Keller Williams Reality, said affordability is becoming a huge problem.
“Affordability is what’s important,” Franklin said. “When rent keeps going up, it pushes some people out of the market. If you have a family that is not making a lot of money, affordability is a huge issue. The farther away you get from Bellevue and Seattle, the cheaper the rent, so you have people driving very far distances to work every day just so they can afford their rent.”
Federal Way’s Berkshire Hathaway real estate agent Shari Song concurs, stating, although the additional jobs are a good thing, affordable housing is becoming scarce in the community.
“Prices going up is bad and much more challenging for the customer, although it is good for the landlords,” Song said. “I’m surprised it’s only gone up 7.3 percent. I was expecting that number to be higher.”
According to the September 2017 Federal Way Rent Report, renters on average pay $1,360 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Federal Way, while the average two-bedroom apartment is $1,700.
In Seattle, renters pay a median price of just $20 more a month for a one-bedroom apartment, and $10 more a month for a two-bedroom, according to the September 2017 Federal Way Rent Report.
“The core city [Seattle] tends to have high ends, but also a lot of low ends in the area, but we look at the median,” Salviati said. “Federal Way is very similar to Seattle in that aspect, which is why we see such comparable housing prices. It’s a reasonable result.”
Nationwide, renters on average $1,160 per month for a two-bedroom apartment cost, according to the September 2017 Federal Way Rent Report — $540 less than Federal Way’s average.
The average rent for an one-bedroom apartment also costs more.
Federal Way’s two-bedroom apartment average rent price is also higher than the average in Washington DC, Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, Denver, Colorado, Miami, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.
Federal Way’s 7.3-percent growth also exceeds the growth rate in those cities as well as San Francisco, New York City, Boston and Los Angeles.
Rent is not just going up in Federal Way, however. Almost all major cities in Washington are experiencing the same trend. The average rent in Puyallup has gone up 9.9 percent since last August, according to the September 2017 Federal Way Rent Report.
Salviati said Federal Way residents don’t necessarily need to worry at the moment, but if rent averages continue to go up in the next few years, it could become a bigger issue.
“It’s a good thing the area is adding good and high-paying jobs in Seattle and the surrounding area,” Salviati said. “At the same time, rent growing so fast brings affordability issues that need to be addressed.”
For the full rent report, visit www.apartmentlist.com/wa/federal-way?embargo=true#rent-report.