Washington: 2013 hottest US rental markets

Cathy Fontana
Cathy Fontana | 3 min. read

Published on August 27, 2013

With its majestic views, oceanfront properties, and location near the Canadian border, it’s no wonder Washington makes the list as the fourth hottest rental market in the US. REALTOR® magazine, the official magazine of the National Association of Realtors, produces the annual list each June, and measures its “winners” according to a combination of both GDP growth and population change. The great state of Washington earns its rank with GDP growth of 3.6% and a 1-year population change of 1.08%.

GDP is derived from a combination of sectors, including livestock, crops (Washington produces 64% of the nation’s apples), manufacturing, mining, fishing, and services. Attracting residents from all over into its workforce in these sectors and others, Washington has managed to drastically shrink its statewide vacancy rate down to 3.7%. To keep up with demand, 22,755 new construction projects were in the works from 2010 to 2012, equaling a total of 491,252 apartment units today.

King County Rental Market

Seattle, Washington skyline
Seattle, Washington skyline (Flickr/dherrera_96)

Home to Seattle and Bellevue, King is the most populous county in the state, with just over 2 million residents. It alone offers a total of 133,240 apartment rental units. It is also on the list of the 100 counties of highest earners/incomes in the nation, which should come as no surprise because Seattle is where brands such as Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nordstrom reside.

The good news is that more than 30% of the people who call King County home do so in a rental unit. Here are some quick facts about the area:

  • Average unit size is 815 sq. ft.
  • Average rent rate is $1,173
  • Number of vacant units in March 2013 was 4,397, or 3.3%

Kittitas County Rental Market

Mountains near Ellensburg, Washington
Mountains near Ellensburg, Washington (Flickr/i eated a cookie)

Home to Ellensburg, Kittitas County is another area of Washington that property investors, owners, and managers have grown to love. With an average unit size of 851 sq. ft., the rental rate runs an average of $1,057. While 1- and 2- bedroom units appear to be all the rage across the state, it’s 3- and 4- bedroom units in high demand in Kittitas, the demand for which is assumed to be mostly from students interested in larger spaces to share.

Ellensburg is not a large city. In fact, the entire county of Kittitas is home to only 41,629 residents. What is attractive, however, is that of this limited population, 42% are renters, according to the most recent data. That’s 6% higher than the state average. What’s more, all of Kittitas County has only a 3.3% vacancy rate.

Chelan County Rental Market

While it only boasts a total population of just over 66,000 and total rental units at 932, Chelan County manages to keep its vacancy rate at the lowest for the state while still demanding an average rent of $748. The most recent statistical data for the county reveals that there were 10,143 renter-occupied apartments in 2010, with 35% of residents choosing to rent.

Also Making the List…

Want to know more about the other nine states that made the list of the hottest rental markets in the US? We have them all right here in our 10-part series, including: Texas, North Dakota, Oregon, Minnesota, California, Utah, Indiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Stay tuned for more.

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Cathy Fontana

Cathy Fontana is with Class A Management in Hurst, Texas.

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