UW News

November 14, 2014

Home prices up, sales down in third quarter of 2014

A house for sale.In the third quarter of 2014, home sale prices increased, but sales themselves were fewer in Washington state.

The statewide median sales price for a single family home stood at $277,100 according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. This is an increase of 2.3 percent from the second quarter and a 5.2 percent increase over the $263,400 median resale price recorded in the third quarter of 2013.

Conversely, while the seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales rose 11.2 percent from the second to the third quarter of 2014 (86,690 to 96,390 homes), it dropped 2.6 percent from the same quarter last year. This means that if the quarter’s pace continued unchanged for a year, that number of homes would be sold. And though most economic statistics are reported with seasonally adjusted annual rates, these are not forecasts of future activity.

Third quarter home sales for 2014, as reported by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

Third quarter home sales for 2014, as reported by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.Runstad Center

It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats, which in the third quarter of 2014 was true in all but one of the state’s metropolitan counties. While Walla Walla County saw a decrease of 4.6 percent in home values, Chelan County recorded the highest relative increase of 13.7 percent, followed by Douglas and Snohomish Counties with increases of 8.4 percent and 8.2 percent respectively.

Median prices were lower than 2013 in 12 of the state’s 39 counties, with prevailing prices in Columbia County 30 percent below last year. Given the state’s market diversity, median house prices are highly variable, ranging from $82,500 in Lincoln County to $462,100 in King County.

Housing affordability for all buyers statewide continued to fall in the third 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 slightly lower at 143 from 144.2 the previous quarter.

The least affordable county continues to be San Juan, with an all-buyer index of 78.5. Conversely, homes in Lincoln County also continue to offer the most affordability registering a value of 356.5. For first-time buyers in metropolitan areas, Benton County was again the most affordable and King County the least affordable. Affordability is by far the largest concern in the state’s housing market, despite strong permitting activity of over 9,000 new units (primarily in multifamily housing units in metro areas), a 16.4 percent increase over a year ago.

Statewide, the first-time buyer index also showed a very small drop of 0.6 points, ending the quarter at 80.4. The first-time buyer index assumes a less expensive home, lower down payment, and lower income. This means that a household earning 70 percent of the median household income – as may be true of first-time buyers — had only 80.4 percent of the income required to purchase a typical starter home statewide.

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 Alon Bassok of the Runstad Center at 206-356-1331 or abassok@uw.edu.