UW News

August 24, 2016

Statewide housing market strong in second quarter of 2016

UW News

A home with a for-sale sign in front. Story says: Washington state's housing market remained strong in the second quarter of 2016.Washington state’s housing market remained strong in the second quarter of 2016. Home sale prices and the number of sales were up, although new building permits were down compared with a year ago, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

The statewide median sales price for a single family home rose to $317,500 in the second quarter of 2016, 11 percent higher than the second quarter of 2015, breaching the all-time high of $316,700 set in the second quarter of 2007.

Similarly, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales rose 3.4 percent from the second quarter of 2015 — to 109,359. This means that if the quarter’s pace continued unchanged for a year, that number of homes would be sold. Although robust, the current annual rate of sales is well below the high in 2003.

A graph of home prices, second quarter 2016Home sales rose in 28 of the state’s 39 counties in the second quarter of 2016. The highest increase in home sales in counties with more than 1,000 sales was in Clallam County at 84.6 percent. Interestingly, King County, the largest in sales volume, was the only county with at least 1,000 sales to show a decrease (-1.8 percent) over this time last year.

Home prices in King County rose a healthy 14 percent over 2015, reaching a median price of $568,400. Jefferson County had the largest price increase overall of 24.3 percent reaching $325,000 for a median priced home. Median prices were lower than a year earlier in seven counties.

Housing affordability for all buyers statewide reversed its recent course and fell slightly in the second quarter. That index — where 100 means a middle-income family can just qualify for a median-priced home, given a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at prevailing rates — was 133.7, down from 143 in 2015, meaning affordability continues to be more and more elusive.

Statewide, the first-time buyer index showed another decrease, of 4.7 points, ending the quarter at 76.3. This index assumes a less expensive home, lower down payment and lower income. It means that a household earning 70 percent of the median household income, as may be true of first-time buyers, had only 76 percent of the income required to purchase a typical starter home statewide.

Affordability remains a challenge in the state’s housing market, compounded by permitting activity that fell from 7,755 new units in the second quarter of 2015 to 6,627 under construction compared with a year ago, a drop of 14.5 percent.

The Runstad Center produces home sales statistics in partnership with Washington Realtors. Each quarterly release coincides with information from the National Association of Realtors regarding median home prices by metropolitan area.

Sales, median home prices and affordability data for all Washington counties are available at the Runstad Center’s website.


For more information, contact Orser, acting director of the Runstad Center, at 206-795-7008 or porser@uw.edu.