Housing Affordability at Record Highs, According to Report from WSU

Housing_affordabilityHomes in Washington state are at record high affordability, thanks to the combination of lower prices and record-low mortgage interest rates.

A report on the Housing Affordability Index (HAI) for third quarter 2011 showed a statewide index of 160.7, which means a median income family had 60.7 percent more income than the minimum needed to qualify to purchase a $225,300 home (the estimated median-price).

Comparing counties, the HAI ranged from a low of 96.4 in San Juan County, where the median priced home sold for $345,000, to a high of 459.4 in Wahkiakum County, where the median price for third quarter sales was estimated to be $62,500.

The index, prepared by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year mortgage.

The HAI for counties served by Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows a range of 96.4 (San Juan County) to a high of 243.4 in Pacific County. As revealed in the chart, first-time buyers remain challenged, with the statewide index pegged at 87.4.

WCRER’s report shows a three-year downward trend in prices, including a 9.5 percent drop in the statewide median sales price for Q3 compared to same period in 2010. Prices range from King County’s high of $350,000 to a low of $62,500 in Wahkiakum County.

The WCRER was created in 1989 by the WSU Board of Regents to achieve the university’s tripartite mission of education, research and service in real estate. The Center strives to provide a wide range of useful and understandable information, analysis and knowledge using academic methods in practical context while reporting findings in common language.

State of Washington and Northwest MLS Counties -  Third Quarter 2011



  1. Home Resales are WCRER estimates based on MLS reports or deed recording (Real Market Data LLC)
  2. SAAR means data presented at Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates allowing quarter-to-quarter comparison.
  3. Building permits (total) are from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
  4. Median prices are WCRER estimates. Half the homes sold at higher prices, half lower
  5. Affordability index measures the ability of a typical family to make payments on median price resale home. It assumes 20% downpayment and 30-year amortizing mortgage. First-time buyer affordability index assumes a less expensive home, lower downpayment and lower income.

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