UW News

November 14, 2016

State’s housing market strong in third quarter of 2016

UW News

Washington state’s housing market remained strong in the third quarter of 2016. Home sale prices and the number of sales were up, though new building permits were down dramatically compared with a year ago, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

Runstad_Q3_2016“Prices stayed strong but as a result, affordability continued to be elusive for the average homebuyer in the year’s third quarter, a trend compounded by a drop in permitting activity,” said Peter Orser, Runstad Center interim director.

“Unfortunately, affordability across the state improved only slightly for first-time homebuyers, as improving incomes and low interest rates have helped to mitigate the problem, but their capacity still remains well below the affordable benchmark.

“Affordability for all buyers, first time or otherwise, is most distressed in King County where all indices are well below affordable norms.”

The statewide median sales price for a single family home rose to $305,000 in the year’s third quarter, 4.3 percent higher than the third quarter of 2015, but falling from the all-time high of $317,500 set in the second quarter of 2016.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of existing home sales rose 10.1 percent from the third quarter of 2015 to 120,420. 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 its high in 2003.

Home sales rose in all but five of the state’s 39 counties in the third quarter. The biggest increase was 42.3 percent in Chelan County. While King County sales were up 15.1 percent, residential building permits were off 40.6 percent.

Also in the third quarter of 2016:

Home prices statewide: Up 12.5 percent over 2015 in King County to a median price of $552,400, placing it among five highest-priced counties nationwide.

First-time buyer index: Increased from 78.7 to 80.7, with 100 being where a middle-income family earning 70 percent of median income can qualify for a median-priced home, given 20 percent down and a 30-year mortgage.

A “snapshot” of sales, permits, median home prices and affordability data for all Washington counties is available at the Runstad Center’s website.


For more information, contact Orser at 206-795-7008 or porser@uw.edu.