Rent Declined in 2017 in Portland’s Newly Constructed Buildings

City's annual State of Housing in Portland report includes some hope for struggling renters.

(Aaron Mesh)

Rents for apartments in newly constructed buildings declined last year—marking a real change, at least temporarily, in the upward trajectory of housing costs.

"Properties built in 2014 or later were reducing their asking rents across all unit sizes last year—particularly among newly constructed studio apartments, where asking rents decreased up to 6 percent over 2016 prices," according to the Portland Housing Bureau's 2017 State of Housing in Portland report, which was posted to the city's website on Thursday.

Other highlights, as WW has previously reported: After four straight years of upwards of 5 percent increases in the average rent in Portland, 2017 saw a more modest rise of 2 percent.

But that doesn't mean those declines helped everyone. Generally, the newest buildings—the ones in which rent declined—are the most expensive.

The rental situation varied for different sized units. The cost of the average studios citywide declined, while one-bedrooms saw small increases. But rents for two bedrooms increased on average by 5 percent, and rents for three bedrooms increased 10 percent.

There were geographic disparities as well.

"Neighborhoods across the city experienced increases in rents with the exception of MLK-Alberta, Interstate, Northwest, and West Portland," the report shows.

"Rents for new apartments along the Vancouver/Williams corridor, Interstate Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and Alberta Street may be reaching a peak and have likely contributed the decrease in average rents in North and Northeast Portland following several years of rapid growth in those areas."

In contrast, some of the least expensive city neighborhoods saw the sharpest hikes.

"Many East Portland neighborhoods have continued to experience larger-than-average rent growth, with Parkrose-Argay and Pleasant Valley both seeing double-digit average rent increases," the report notes.

The data on rent comes as construction continues to boom: 9,639 was the number of new units of housing produced in 2015 and 2016– that's more than the five-year period of 2009-2013.

"Housing production and permitting levels in the private market are higher than any point in the last 15 years—yet rents in too many of our great neighborhoods remain out of reach for a Portland family making the median income," notes Mayor Ted Wheeler, in his introduction to the report.

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