WCRER Apartment Market Survey                                          Fall 2001

            For the last five years, the WCRER has been providing valuable apartment market research to many businesses and people throughout the state of Washington.  The main goal of the surveys is to find the vacancy rate for each county in addition to finding out the average rent charged to the individuals who occupy these properties.  The WCRER has become the largest apartment market researcher in Eastern Washington along with conducting research in two Western Washington Counties.  With permission and encouragement from D + S, the Seattle-area research firm which conducts apartment research around the Puget Sound, WCRER has positioned itself to facilitate development of consistent, statewide apartment market data – at least from those areas representing a vast majority of the state’s apartments.

Market Coverage/Response Rates

          The response rate for both the D + S market research and the research conducted by the WCRER are combined to give an overall response rate for all the major counties in the State of Washington.  The response rate for both the surveys was 46.4%, a 1.6% increase from the surveys conducted last spring.  Even though a 46.4% response rate may sound low, there are many contributing factors. Reasons for apartment managers not responding range from their complex not having enough units to the apartments manager’s unwillingness to give out private information for the survey.  Since neither the Dupre + Scott survey nor the WCRER survey includes government assisted housing, the response rate for the survey is below 50%. 

WCRER and Dupre + Scott Apartment Market Surveys
Market Coverage  

County

1990 Rental Apartments

1990-2000 Apartment Construction

2001 Rental Apartments

Survey Responses

Response Rate

Benton/Franklin
(Tri-Cities)

8,225

2,073

10,238

5,857

57.2%

Chelan/Douglas
(Wenatchee)

3,200

626

3,803

1,090

28.7%

Clark
(Vancouver)

17,913

7,945

25,691

11,746

45.7%

Cowlitz
(Longview/Kelso)

4,002

950

4,928

1,192

24.2%

Grant
(Moses Lake)

1,498

428

1,917

555

29.0%

King
(Seattle/Bellevue)

168,540

47,856

212,091

102,454

48.3%

Kitsap
(Bremerton)

8,342

4,896

12,988

5,533

42.6%

Kittitas
(Ellensburg)

1,628

856

2,475

1,732

70.0%

Pierce
(Tacoma)

39,953

8,965

48,706

25,486

52.3%

Skagit
(Mt. Vernon/Anacortes)

2,758

1,046

3,768

401

10.6%

Snohomish
(Everett)

31,856

13,050

44,050

28,751

65.3%

Spokane

21,683

9,127

30,467

9,718

31.9%

Thurston
(Olympia)

7,445

2,057

9,454

6,778

71.7%

Whatcom
(Bellingham)

6,884

3,981

10,623

2,064

19.4%

Whitman
(Pullman)

3,268

998

4,238

3,543

83.6%

Yakima

5,887

1,244

7,083

2,371

33.5%

STATEWIDE

348,439

109,728

451,411

209,271

46.4%

Market Summary 

            The statewide vacancy rate for the fall was 5.1%, an increase of 1.1% from last spring.  The county whose vacancy rate rose the most was Kittitas County, where the rate jumped from 4.6% last spring to 7.1% this fall.  The local vacancy rates ranged from a 2.0% low in Benton/Franklin counties to a high of 7.1% in Kittitas County.  The vacancy rate in Eastern Washington was 4.5% while the rate in Western Washington was 5.2%.  Average rent ranged from a low of $461 in Grant County to a high of $880 in King County.  In the populous counties in Western Washington average rent was $793 while in Eastern Washington the average was a much lower $533.  The large difference in rental rates between Eastern and Western Washington can be attributed to a higher average income for households in Western Washington.

Market (County)

Average Size

Average Rent

Number of Units

Number Vacant

Vacancy Rate

Benton/Franklin
(Tri-Cities)

808 sq. ft.

$576

5,857

117

2.0%

Chelan/Douglas
(Wenatchee)

815 sq. ft.

$543

1,090

76

7.0%

Clark
(Vancouver)

898 sq. ft.

$637

11,746

399

3.4%

Cowlitz
(Longview/Kelso)

798 sq. ft.

$491

1,192

72

6.6%

Grant
(Moses Lake)

798 sq. ft.

$469

555

40

7.2%

King
(Seattle/Bellevue)

N/A

$880

102,454

5,533

5.4%

Kitsap
(Bremerton)

N/A

$644

5,533

277

5.0%

Kittitas
(Ellensburg)

711 sq. ft.

$499

1,732

123

7.1%

Pierce
(Tacoma)

N/A

$618

25,486

1,325

5.2%

Skagit
(Mt. Vernon/Anacortes)

N/A

$703

401

14

3.5%

Snohomish
(Everett)

N/A

$799

28,751

1,610

5.6%

Spokane

802 sq. ft.

$522

9,718

508

5.2%

Thurston
(Olympia)

N/A

$616

6,778

224

3.3%

Whatcom
(Bellingham)

N/A

$625

2,064

66

3.2%

Whitman
(Pullman)

791 sq. ft.

$552

3,543

120

3.4%

Yakima

759 sq. ft.

$480

2,371

123

5.2%

STATEWIDE

N/A

$762

209,271

10,627

5.1%

           The WCRER survey includes the average size of units within each apartment complex.  The smallest apartment units are found in Kittitas County where the average size is 711 sq. ft.  The largest apartments are found in Clark County where the average apartment is a significantly larger 898 sq. ft.             While these aggregate statistics are interesting, it is important to compare similar types of properties across the markets.  Since most apartments are either 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom, 1-bath units, as illustrated in the accompanying graphic, those unit types will be analyzed in more detail in the concluding pages of this article.

Composition of Apartment Market
Selected Washington Communities, September 2001

1-Bedroom Apartments

       The most popular type of apartment unit in the state is the 1-bedroom which accounts for 35.9% of all the units in both the WCRER and D + S surveys.  The statewide vacancy rate for 1-bedroom units rose from 3.9% last spring to 4.6% for the fall survey.  The average rent from the units climbed from $687 last spring to $703 for the fall survey.  Vacancy rates varied from county to county throughout the state, with Benton/Franklin and Whatcom Counties having the lowest rate at 2.0%.  The highest vacancy rate can be found in Kittitas County where the 1-bedroom vacancy was an astonishing 10.1%, a 4.1% increase from last spring.  The average rent also ranged from a low of $297 in Grant County to $777 in urban King County.  The average size for a unit basically unchanged, to 672 sq. ft.  The survey reveals that rental rates and unit size do not correspond throughout the state.  The largest 1-bedroom apartments were found in Snohomish and Cowlitz Counties where the average size was 714 and 718 sq. ft, respectively. 

                            Apartment Summary Characteristics - September 2001
One-Bedroom Unit

County

Average Size (Sq. Ft.)

Average Rent

Vacancy Rate

Benton/Franklin

649

$483

2.0%

Chelan/Douglas

612

$456

6.7%

Clark

698

$533

2.5%

Cowlitz

714

$433

4.9%

Grant

403

$297

6.8%

King

673

$777

4.6%

Kitsap

683

$555

3.9%

Kittitas

589

$396

10.1%

Pierce

667

$513

5.5%

Skagit

700

$636

4.4%

Snohomish

718

$685

5.2%

Spokane

649

$450

4.8%

Thurston

665

$542

3.7%

Whatcom

663

$545

2.0%

Whitman

543

$386

5.2%

Yakima

578

$420

5.3%

STATEWIDE

672

$662

4.6%

2-Bedroom/1-Bath Apartments

          The second most popular unit type in the state was the 2-bedroom/1bath unit which accounted for 25.7% of all the units responding to the survey.  The average rent for a 2-bed/1-bath was $703, a $16 increase from the survey conducted last spring.  Benton/Franklin counties had the highest average rent in Eastern Washington at $577, while King county had the highest rent in Western Washington with an average of $839.    Even though the average rent increased from last spring the average unit size remained the same, indicating size increases are not driving rental increases. The vacancy rate for 2-bedroom/1 bath units throughout the state remained at 4.3%, the same as last spring.  The rates ranged from a high of a high of 7.4% in Kittitas County to a low of 2.3% in Benton/Franklin counties.  In terms of unit size, Benton/Franklin had the largest average size in Eastern Washington (858 sq. ft.) while the largest average 2 bed/1-bath unit size in Western Washington is found in Snohomish County (883 sq. ft.).   

Apartment Summary Statistics – September 2001
Two-Bedroom/One Bath Units

County

Average Size (Sq. Ft.)

Average Rent

Vacancy Rate

Benton/Franklin

858

$577

2.3%

Chelan/Douglas

849

$547

6.5%

Clark

873

$600

4.0%

Cowlitz

850

$513

7.9%

Grant

827

$436

6.3%

King

805

$839

5.2%

Kitsap

843

$607

5.2%

Kittitas

725

$541

7.4%

Pierce

877

$611

5.0%

Skagit

874

$678

4.0%

Snohomish

883

$752

5.1%

Spokane

831

$527

5.1%

Thurston

831

$599

3.5%

Whatcom

871

$615

3.8%

Whitman

793

$504

2.5%

Yakima

844

$512

5.5%

STATEWIDE

837

$703

4.3%

Time Trends  

          In order to obtain a more complete understanding of the time trends associated with different apartment markets, consistency is the key.  In addition, those seasonal patterns vary from community to community  (e.g. academic year in Whitman and Kittitas counties; agricultural cycle in Yakima and Chelan/Douglas counties).  For consistency, both WCRER and D + S conduct surveys in March and September – months which are less subject to seasonal variables.  The following table is a chart of last fall’s survey compared to the most recent survey done in September 2001.  The vacancy rate over the last year has gone up 1.2% while the average rent of units increased 5.5%.  King County had the largest increase in rent over the last year with a $61 increase or (7.4%) while the average rent in Yakima County fell five dollars(-1.0%) over the past year.  The largest increase in vacancy rate is in Chelan/Douglas counties where the rate jumped from 4.8% to 7.0% over the past year, while Benton/Franklin counties exhibited the biggest decline in vacant units- paralleling the surge in employment in the Hanford cleanup this year.  Grant County is excluded from this table since the survey ahs not been conducted there for an entire year.   

 

 

    September

  2000

    September

   2001

Counties

Vacancy Rate

Average Rent

Vacancy Rate

Average Rent

Benton/Franklin

4.4%

$525

2.0%

$576

Chelan/Douglas

4.8%

$532

7.0%

$543

Clark

3.7%

$610

3.4%

$637

Cowlitz

6.0%

$480

6.6%

$491

King

3.5%

$819

5.4%

$880

Kitsap

5.6%

$622

5.0%

$647

Kittitas

6.1%

$496

7.1%

$499

Pierce

4.2%

$589

5.2%

$618

Skagit

5.4%

$631

3.5%

$703

Snohomish

4.5%

$755

5.6%

$799

Spokane

4.8%

$504

5.2%

$522

Thurston

2.2%

$594

3.3%

$616

Whatcom

2.8%

$613

3.2%

$625

Whitman

4.2%

$536

3.4%

$552

Yakima

7.7%

$485

5.2%

$480

Statewide

3.9%

$722

5.1%

$762

 

Washington Center for Real Estate Research Center

Copyright© 2002 WCRER All Rights Reserved