Viaduct closure already affecting rental market in West Seattle

WEST SEATTLE - West Seattleites have one of the best views of downtown.

“I think West Seattle is amazing,” Janet Andersen said.

Andersen says with the viaduct closure coming she is grateful she doesn’t work in Seattle. But she is going to miss her friends across the water.

“We are saying our long goodbyes for now because I don’t know when I will see her,” Andersen said.

The main artery that connects West Seattle to downtown Seattle closes permanently this Friday.

“It’s definitely a part of Seattle’s history it’s going to be weird not to have it,” Cindy Ibale said.

“With the closure everyone takes I-5 it will be stressful,” West Seattle resident Nicole Velazquez said.

And that pending stress is not just about the traffic nightmare it’s about the rental market.

“The fact that landlords are reacting to this must mean they are feeling the heat,” Joshua Clark an economist at HotPads said.

HotPads is a rental search site owned by Zillow. The company says landlords are reacting to the Viadoom by increasingly advertising the water taxi as an alternative to driving.

“I was really surprised by the clear signals of landlords that the water taxi matters,” Clark said.

Maybe it’s because the rental market is competitive here more than ever.

Clark says rent appreciation is down all across Seattle but especially in West Seattle.

Rent is rising at 1.7% right now in West Seattle compared to 10.2% in September 2017. Rent appreciation is at a similar rate all across Seattle and of course there are other factors affecting the rental market. But Clark says viaduct closure is having a more noticeable impact in West Seattle.

“I don’t think it was any coincidence that 15 months ahead people started thinking oh if I sign my lease now I am butting up against the end of the viaduct,” Clark said.

Velazquez says she loves West Seattle but is now considering moving closer to North Seattle where she works.

“My lease is up in the summer time,” Velazquez said.

As renters make those kinds of decisions how will the viaduct closure affect home sales in West Seattle?

“It’s going to take a minute to see where people are going to settle into,” Clark said.

Clark says he’s not expecting home sales to dip just because of the viaduct issue because it’s a short term issue but he says some buyers may take the new tunnel into consideration.

Once the viaduct closes permanently there will be a 3 week gap before it is replaced by the new SR 99 tunnel in early February.

The new tunnel will eventually be tolled.

“That could be a big concern for people who want to buy and be there long term,” Clark said.

Clark says the slow down in rental appreciation will mostly likely be short lived. He says it’s possible that we will see the rental market pick back up slightly after the viaduct issue is over.