TACOMA – A review of 2019’s housing market for Western Washington shows buyers priced out of King County continuing to drive up prices in the surrounding counties, including Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston.
As Seattle saw the highest price ever achieved for a home sale in Western Washington ($37.5 million), Pierce County saw an uptick in not only median home prices but the number of high-end homes sold compared with 2018.
According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s review for 2019, Pierce County ended the year with its 2019 median closed sale price for single-family homes at $369,998, up 7.25 percent from 2018’s $345,000.
Thurston County’s 2019 median closed sale price was $340,000 ($313,500 in 2018); Kitsap County: $377,352 ($345,000 in 2018).
Meanwhile King County ended the year at $675,000 (down from $680,000 in 2018) and Snohomish County was at $497,750 (up from $485,998 in 2018).
New listings for single family homes and condos combined compared with 2018 were down for all but a handful of counties in the NWMLS report.
As for high-end sales, those of $1 million or more, Pierce County saw 185 properties sold, up from 2018’s total of 164.
Kitsap County saw 203 properties sell for $1 million or more (up from 189 in 2018); Thurston County saw 28 (up from 19), which included the 40-acre Trinity Farm in Yelm that sold at auction in April for $1.25 million.
Grays Harbor County saw five (compared with none in 2018) and Mason County just one (down from three in 2018).
King County: more than 5,000.
The rising prices and shrinking inventory continue to be a challenge for first-time home-buyers, particularly millennials.
According to a SmartAsset report released this week, home ownership rates among those younger than 35 are declining nationwide but have held steady in Tacoma between 2009-2018 at around 30 percent.
In fact, Tacoma ranked No. 36 among cities, tied with Lakewood, Colorado, with the highest millennial home ownership. (Gilbert, Arizona was No. 1)
Dick Beeson, principal managing broker for ReMax Northwest, told The News Tribune on Thursday that “there are only about 60 houses and condos for sale under $250,000 in all of Pierce County.”
“Finding a home that you can afford when you don’t have equity from another home to use as a down payment is very difficult, almost impossible,” Beeson said.
It’s still better in Pierce County than King County, he said.
“Tacoma has a 2 to 1 edge in affordability factor when compared to Seattle,” Beeson said. “That will not change anytime soon.”
For those not ready or not wanting to buy, the rent scene also is seeing rates climb.
According to at least one new report, Tacoma held the third highest rent growth rate among smaller metros nationwide, at 6.4 percent.
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