Rents continue to rise in Thurston County, increasing $14 to an average of $931 per month, according to new third-quarter 2015 data released by Apartment Insights of Seattle.
Rents rose $14 from the second quarter, but they also are up 4.5 percent in the past year, the data show.
Demand, reflected by lower vacancy rates, is driving those rental costs higher. Thurston County vacancy rates fell to 4 percent in the third quarter, from 4.31 percent in the second quarter, the data show.
The following are average rents and vacancy rates for the county’s three largest cities in the third quarter:
▪ Olympia: $932; 4.2 percent.
▪ Lacey: $927; 4.21 percent.
▪ Tumwater: $939; 3.53 percent.
One reason for the increased demand for apartments is the overall improvement in the economy, said Tom Cain, Apartment Insights principal.
Other factors include the increased cost of a single-family residence — which makes it more difficult for those wanting to transition from an apartment to a house — and the lack of inventory if they want to buy, Cain said.
The median price of a single-family residence in Thurston County in September was $253,900, up 7.5 percent since September 2014. And months of inventory — the amount of time it would take to exhaust the current supply of homes for sale — stood at 2.7 months.
Another factor likely pushing rents higher in the third quarter was the start of the college school year, as students at The Evergreen State College, Saint Martin’s University and South Puget Sound Community College sought housing.
Cain said the near-term outlook for the rental market will continue to favor landlords over tenants as demand keeps vacancy rates low and rents high.
But at least Thurston County is not the King County apartment market.
Average rents in the third quarter for the Seattle area stood at $1,451 per unit, Cain said. In downtown Seattle, average rents were $2,263, his data show.
Apartment Insights surveys about 90 apartment buildings in Thurston County with 50 or more units, across all sizes of apartments: studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.