The Tri-City rental market has tightened a bit from this spring, but vacant apartments remain easier to find thanks to new apartment complexes.
Richland, which has seen the most new apartment construction in recent years, saw its vacancy rate narrow from 8 percent in May to 3 percent in October, according to a recently released survey by EverStar Realty of Kennewick.
Apartment vacancy rates in Kennewick and Pasco remained unchanged from this spring, at 6 percent in Kennewick and 5 percent in Pasco, according to the survey.
The tightening market in Richland is good news for developers, since two more apartment complexes are under construction now and a third is expected to be permitted soon.
Some of the 106 new apartments being added in the second and final phase of Belle Vista Apartments, at 2101 Steptoe St. in Richland, are almost finished, said Rick Simon, Richland’s development services manager.
And in Pasco, a 38-unit project by the Housing Authority of Pasco and Franklin County is under construction at Fourth and Pearl streets. Plans are to open that complex sometime this spring.
Kennewick is getting close to permitting the first phase of Badger Canyon Apartments, said Greg McCormick, the city’s planning director. That phase is for about 144 units, although a total of 642 units are planned. The complex at the southwest corner of the intersection of Ridgeline Drive and South Clodfelter Road in Kennewick is proposed by Edward Rose & Sons of Farmington Hills, Mich.
The drop in Richland’s vacancy rate could just be a matter of timing. The Lofts at Innovation Center was starting to rent out 80 new apartments this spring, and it takes some time for the market to absorb new units, Simon said.
The Tri-Cities has seen a boom in apartment construction after vacancy rates reached 2 percent and less in 2010 and 2011. The Tri-Cities and West Richland have seen 2,100 new apartment units open up since 2008. New apartment construction, including even more apartments under construction now, reached $212.8 million between 2008 and this year.
Some of the newer apartment complexes were completely full. West Richland’s Quail Springs Apartments, a 118-unit complex built in 2011, was 100 percent occupied in October, according to the survey. Also at 100 percent occupancy was Richland’s 180-unit Mosiac on the River and the 144-unit Island View Apartments.
Richland’s average rent — the highest of the three cities — was up in October. The average rent for a one bed-room apartment was $779 a month, $36 more than the average rent in May, according to the survey. The average rent for a three-bedroom apartment was $1,079, up $35 from May.
Kennewick actually saw the average rent for a three-bedroom apartment decrease to $944 a month, $66 fewer than in May. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment did increase, but only by $8 to $652, according to the survey.
Pasco’s average rent remained the lowest of the three cities. Average rent for a one-bedroom was $645 a month, up $5 from May, according to the survey. A three-bedroom averaged at $910, only $4 higher than the May average.