Seattle Condos that Allow Short Term Rentals (Airbnb & VRBO)
September 28, 2023
Short Term Rentals: Where to Invest in Seattle Condos
The Airbnb short term rental dream is alive and well for would-be real estate investors. It’s easy to see why. With nightly rates that far exceed what one could achieve with a traditional rental property (even after accounting for the additional cost and hassle of running one), short term rental investments seem like a no-brainer for most.
While it’s obvious (or is it?) that anyone can rent out their personal home to nightly guests, the same is not true for condominium owners. The vast majority of Seattle HOAs do not allow for short term rentals of less than 30 days. This means that most condo buildings are non-starters when it comes to Airbnb/VRBO. But not all.
Here are 12 Seattle condo buildings that, as of now, allow short term rentals. Keep in mind, that each of these buildings may have other restrictions related to rentals, such as a rental cap or fees. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to explore any of these options in more detail.
2727 Franklin Ave E
The only Eastlake condo to allow short term rentals, 2727 Franklin Ave E is a three-story, 15-unit walkup. Situated on tree-lined Franklin Ave, this quaint 1988 condo building will make you feel right at home in the residential neighborhood of Eastlake.
2727 Franklin Ave E is tucked in between Lake Union and I-5, and sports a roof deck with panoramic lake and city views. Though few would think of Eastlake as a foody paradise, those who dwell at 2727 Franklin Ave E know better. The building is a short walk from multiple chic, upscale eateries such as Italian trendsetter Serafina, and an even shorter walk to one of Seattle’s best omakase experiences at Sushi Kappo Tamura.
750 11th Ave E – 750 on the Hill
750 on the Hill is located in the idyllic urban locale of North Capitol Hill. From here you can walk a short block to volunteer park, where you may see a play, live music, or perhaps just sit and fetch with your canine companions. Being so close to all of Capitol Hill’s many attractions makes this a prime location for a short term Airbnb/VRBO rental. One recent listing bragged of making ~$4000 a month in rental revenue, and that was for a 535 sqft studio unit!
2324 1st Ave – Austin A. Bell
The Austin A. Bell (or more simply, the Austin Bell), is one of the most historic buildings on this list of condos suitable for short term rentals. No rental cap, no pet restrictions, and a killer Belltown location tout the highlights of this brick beauty.
The Austin A. Bell was originally built in 1908, making it a Seattle original. However, it underwent significant renovations and modernization efforts in 1999. This is one of the few Seattle condo buildings to offer multi-level lofts within a traditional apartment-style structure, a feature which is sure to provide a feeling of urbane grandeur to your hip rental guests.
Located just a block away from the Austin A. Bell, Belltown Court provides a more contemporary take on the downtown condo experience. This building is loaded with amenities such as an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, gym, party room, rooftop deck with BBQ and Elliot Bay views, rentable guests suits, and 24 hour concierge/security. You can expect to see multiple one-bedroom units come on the market each year in this 249-unit complex. And, with price tags in the low-to-mid $400,000’s, Belltown Court provides the perfect opportunity for first timers looking to test the waters of short term rental investment.
We’d describe Elektra as a great place for short-ish term rentals. The caveat with this building is that there is a three-night minimum stay requirement for any rental occupant. However, this may be of little concern to the savvy investor, who is likely aware that the average Airbnb stay is 4.3 days.
The Elektra sits directly adjacent the newly enlarged and updated 573,770 sqft Seattle Convention Center. With an estimated 300,000 guests per year pouring into the Convention Center, Elektra is uniquely situated and may be an attractive enough location to overcome the three-day minimum rental restriction.
2132 5th Ave – Fifth Avenue Court
Fifth Avenue Court brings a touch of old Seattle to the Amazon-dominated area of South Lake Union. Local tech employees looking to split their time between Seattle and elsewhere may find this an intriguing prospect. The key to any good short term rental is to keep it occupied. Thankfully, recent seller-provided data indicates that 80+% occupancy may be the norm at Fifth-Avenue Court.
With Fifth Avenue Court, you get a quaint building within blocks of work when you have to be there, and easy, consistent short-term rental income when you don’t. That’s a win-win if we’ve ever seen one!
425 Vine St – Montreux
Another Denny-Triangle Staple, the Montreux comprises a 132-unit, 7-story complex located at the nexus of Amazon, Belltown, and Seattle City Center (where you’ll find such attractions as the MoPop and iconic Space Needle). Operating a short term rental in Montreux comes with an increased operating cost compared to many of the buildings and towers on this list. As of now, there is a $100 per change-of-guest fee for each rental–alternatively, owners can pay $200 a month for unlimited changes, aka unlimited unique stays. These fees will certainly eat into profits, and long term appreciation here isn’t the best. That said, Montreux units are substantially cheaper than some of the other options on this list, and tend to have solid cap rates. Short-term rental condos in Seattle are limited, and Montreux’s multi-location convenience can’t be denied. So, if the right unit comes up, this may be a viable investment option.
The loftiest Airbnb-able (all the best writers make up their own words) building in Seattle is Newmark Tower in Downtown. This one is sure to appeal to medium-term visitors looking for access to Pike Place Market, Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Art Muesuem, and the various multi-million dollar businesses within Seattle’s premier downtown office buildings. A 1990’s building with substantial amenities, the Newmark Tower brings an air of class to the city-core rental scene.
Keep in mind, however, that I said this will appeal primarily to medium-term visitors. That’s because there is a 7-day minimum rental requirement at Newmark Tower, a regulation aimed at preventing overly burdensome turnover within the building, which seeks to maintain a residential vibe while still being a prime option for rental investors.
303 E Pike St – Pike Lofts***
***Pike Lofts recently introduced an $800 change of occupancy fees. Due to this, we can no longer recommend it as a short term rental option. Despite HOA rules technically allowing for short term rentals, the high change of occupancy fee means that there will be effectively no way to turn a profit using this strategy.***
1500 4th Ave – Seaboard
The Seaboard Building in Downtown Seattle exudes confidence and class. This 1909 classic lords over Westlake Park at the heart of Seattle’s commercial core district. Ok, with that praise out of the way, let’s get on to analyzing this as an investment.
Does Seaboard allow short term rentals? Yes. Is it located in an ostensibly ideal location in the heart of Seattle’s commercial and cultural core? Yes. But, this begs the question: why do listings in Seaboard sit on the market longer than any other building on this list? Is it high dues? Could be. The average one-bedroom unit runs dues of $1,150 per month, with a two-bed looking more like $2,400. Whatever the case, and whatever your thoughts on the long-term prognosis of Westlake and the commercial core, we would advise that those looking to buy in Seaboard pay special attention to the numbers to be sure it all pencils out.
1601 N 45th St – Wallingford 45
Built in 2018, Wallingford 45 is the newest building on our list of short term rental condos. It’s also the only building that sits north of “the cut”, aka the ship canal dividing North and Central Seattle. Being so new, it should come as no surprise that units at Wallingford 45 are among the most modern available.
It would take pages to describe all the awesome amenities of Wallingford along 45th Avenue N. So, let’s just go with a list of some of the 4.5+ star restaurants you’ll find within three blocks of Wallingford 45.
Last but hardly least is Waterfront Landings, Seattle’s premier condo for short term rentals with waterfront views. With 249 units spread across three buildings, this is the second-largest condominium complex on our list, behind just Belltown Court. This building has been designed to maximize the number of units with at least partial water views. As any good landlord knows, views sell. So, if you’re looking to make the most of your investment at Waterfront Landings, be sure to prioritize higher floor units with maximal view windows.
Waterfront landings offers 1,2, and even 3-bedroom units, ranging from 647 sqft all the way up to 2,880 sqft penthouses. Whatever size condo you’re looking at, one thing’s for certain, you’ll pay a premium for it. Waterfront landings is well known among the rental investment community as a premier short-term rental option. Regular two-bedroom units range from $700,000-$900,000, and even single-beds will cost you close to or above $700,000. While those numbers are scary, it’s good to keep in mind that, in terms of waterfront short-term rental investment opportunities: this is really it. There’s not much else out there. Plus, two-bedroom units rent out $300-500 dollars per night (before fees), and some single-bed units rent for up to $371! Combine this with average occupancy rates of over 80%, and you may just have the formula for a winning investment.