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With Metro Vancouver creaking under the strain of sub-1 percent apartment vacancy rates and Canada’s highest rents, it’s eye-opening to look just south of the border at what’s happening in Seattle.
The Emerald City – once itself struggling with low vacancies (although not as low as ours) due to its Amazon-centric tech boom – is now awash with available apartments. Which means rents are falling.
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In downtown Seattle, the vacancy rate is a whopping 25.7 per cent, according to the Seattle Times. And in newly completed downtown apartment buildings, around 40 per cent of units are currently empty. In surrounding areas of the city is is not quite as extreme, but still high – South Lake Union vacancies (both new and older units) are now at 13.9 per cent, and in Central/South Seattle they are 11 per cent.
With landlords increasingly desperate to find tenants, rents in downtown Seattle have stopped climbing and are now nearly 3 per cent lower on average than a year ago. In addition, most of the advertised empty apartments have incentives such as $99 damage deposits and the first month’s rent for free.