Rents on the rise in Thurston County

Work continues on the 138-unit apartment buiding in downtown Olympia at 123 Fourth Ave. W.
Work continues on the 138-unit apartment buiding in downtown Olympia at 123 Fourth Ave. W. Staff writer

As the job market returns and the economy improves, so does the cost of living.

That’s the case with Thurston County apartment rents in the second quarter, which rose to an average of more than $900, according to Apartment Insights, a Seattle-based company that compiles data on central and south Puget Sound apartments.

Apartment Insights’ data stems from surveys of apartment buildings in the county with 50 or more units, across all sizes of apartments: studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, Principal Tom Cain said Monday.

About 90 apartment complexes in Thurston County are surveyed, he said.

This is what the data found in the second quarter:

▪ Rents rose $24 to an average of $917.

▪ Rents have increased 3.5 percent in the past year.

▪ Apartment vacancy rates remain low at 4.3 percent. Tumwater’s apartment market had the lowest vacancy rate at just under 4 percent.

Another reason rents are rising, other than job growth and improvements in the economy, is that there currently is a limited supply of new apartments coming to the market, Cain said.

In Thurston County, 279 apartments are under construction. In comparison, King County has 23,000 units under construction, he said.

“More supply will tend to keep the pressure off rental prices,” Cain said.

Another factor is that rents were flat for several years during the recession, but expenses to operate and maintain them continued to go up, said Pat Rants, president and chief executive of The Rants Group, an Olympia-based commercial real estate company that manages about 250 apartments.

“There’s been a little catching up to do,” Rants said about rent increases.

Of the 250 apartments managed by The Rants Group, downtown Olympia has been one of its strongest markets, he said. The current vacancy rate for those downtown units is 2 percent, he said.

And more downtown apartments are on the way. Developer Walker John has announced plans to break ground on a 36-unit development at Legion Way and Adams Street, and a 138-unit development is under construction at 123 Fourth Ave. W.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403



Apartment rent rises

Thurston County average apartment rents for the second quarter since 2011:

2011: $837.

2012: $837.

2013: $853.

2014: $886.

2015: $917.

Source: Apartment Insights Washington