Don’t Sign a Lease Right Away – Insider Tips on the Seattle & Bellevue Rental Market

Magnifying class shows enhanced paper cut outs of generic home shapes

It’s easy to feel pressured to find a new home right away when you’re stressed out moving. Especially when agents and rental community staff may try to rush you into making a decision. 

Why do agents and apartment staff push people into choosing housing? The answer is simple, they work off commission. They may pressure you by telling you they have multiple applications in, or that this apartment is the last one open. Don’t feel like you have to commit or you won’t be able to find a place. Their goal is to convert as many rentals as possible, more clients means more commissions.

Finding new listings is often about timing. Construction in Seattle has been insane, and new listings come online every day. That’s why our Relocation Concierge is here to help. Our local area expert is actually local, has lived in Seattle for over 20 years, and will not only find listings they like for you, but will physically take a look at them on your behalf. But even if you don’t need our help, we can’t stress how important it is to not pressure yourself to find a home right away. It causes way too much anxiety. That’s why you (hopefully) have temporary housing. Don’t commit to a year of your life with only a few days in your new city. Even your home finding trip is meant for you to get to know the area and understand the commutes.

“I signed a lease on a 2 bedroom sight unseen for $4,400 a month, now I see nicer places with a shorter commute.”

A client relocating for work with amazon was so worried about finding a place to live, they signed a lease on a 2 bedroom for $4,400/month in Redmond, WA sight unseen. They didn’t know the area, and their commute is over an hour one way on a good day. They now see listings come up that are nicer places, with a shorter commute at a cheaper price and regret committing to the place they live. Their lease break is 60 days of rent so they’re staying, but they know they’ll have to move again when their lease is up, because their new home just isn’t right for them.

The story above is why it’s so important to be patient. When you’re relocating for work you don’t know the area, or the commute. Signing a lease is a big commitment, because lease breaks are expensive. Often 2-3 times the rent with additional fees.

The Seattle Commute can be rough if it includes a traffic bottleneck.

In some cities there are multiple ways to get somewhere, that’s not how Seattle works. Commuting in the greater Seattle area is getting worse every day because of the steep terrain and explosive city growth. If your new job requires any facetime in the office, spend at least a week of commuting before you decide on your location.

Seattle is filled with traffic bottlenecks and no alternate routes because of its steep unstable hills and abundant water features. Our large population growth, land topography, soil quality, and multiple waterways makes commuting in the area a unique challenge. A challenge that involves sitting in standstill traffic for large chunks of your life.

Do not underestimate your commute. Just because it looks close on a map doesn’t mean it’s an easy drive. For example Kirkland, WA to the industrial district can easily take 2 hours one way despite being only 20 miles.

Another example is trying to leave South Lake Union (SLU) through the “Mercer mess,” at the intersection of Mercer Ave and Westlake Ave. Expect to sit at a stoplight for 30 minutes as it cycles through red and green even though you’re first in line. All because you need to take a left to get on the I-5 and there are too many cars from other directions to leave space for you.

Just because the agent or landlord tells you they have 10 applicants, don’t feel pressured to rush into something. New listings come up every day. Take your time, you have temp living for a reason. Drive around, get to know the area, and feel it out. That way you can find a place you’re happy with, and can avoid moving again in a year.

Pro tip: Don’t ever wire money! You will not get it back. Wiring funds doesn’t have the same protections as other payment methods. Make sure to check with your bank on the safest way to put down a deposit on your new place, especially if it’s sight unseen!