November 7, 2013 in Business

Spokane County home sales up 40 percent; prices among most affordable

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Read the report

• Find the Housing Market Snapshot at realestate.washington.edu/research/wcrer.

Spokane County’s housing market is one of the most affordable in the state for both middle-income families and first-time buyers, a new report says.

The Housing Market Snapshot from the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington says the median resale price of a home in the county was $181,700 in the third quarter. That compares with a median resale price of $438,000 in King County and $228,300 in Pierce County.

The number of existing homes sold in Spokane was up nearly 40 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago, the report said, and up more than 12 percent from the second quarter.

A news release from the Runstad Center noted that the July-September period was the fifth consecutive quarter that home sales increased statewide. Healthy sales activity has had a negative effect on affordability, however.

The quarterly housing report uses a “housing affordability index” to gauge how well a middle-income family can afford a home at the median price in each county, assuming they have good credit and put 20 percent down.

Statewide, the affordability index was 144.4, meaning that family could afford a home selling for 44 percent above the median price. In Spokane County, the affordability index was 180.5, meaning a middle-income family could afford a home selling for about 80 percent above the median price.

A separate index measuring affordability for first-time homebuyers showed Spokane County is much more affordable for those entry-level buyers than most others. Of the 39 counties in the state, only 11 were more affordable for first-time home buyers and nearly all of those were rural counties.

Spokane County’s affordability stems from the relatively low 3.7 percent increase in the median resale price in the third quarter, said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center.

Rob Higgins, of the Spokane Association of Realtors, said Spokane County is historically among the most affordable in the state. “That’s more so the case right now because on the West Side in the metropolitan counties, prices are accelerating somewhat faster than they are in Spokane,” he said.

Home prices increased by more than 15 percent in King County during the quarter, for example.

Of the counties nearest Spokane, only Whitman County, home to Washington State University, has a higher median sales price and lower affordability than Spokane County. Both Lincoln and Stevens counties have lower median prices and are more affordable.

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