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Washington Home Prices Hit All-Time High


The median price for a single-family house in Washington state hit an all-time record of $317,500 in the second quarter of 2016.

That beats the prior record of $316,700 set in 2007, just before the housing market crashed, according to an analysis by the University of Washington's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

"Literally nine years later, that's sort of an indicator of how this market has slowly recovered," said Runstad Center director Peter Orser. "We've now breached the price point, but are coming nowhere close in terms of the volume." 

Back in 2007, home prices were soaring nationwide because of banks' lenient lending policies.

But today, it's due in part to all the jobs produced in the Northwest, according to Orser. Lots of people are moving to the region, and the supply of houses isn't keeping up with demand.

"The markets are great if you own a home," Orser said. "But not so much if you're trying to own a home." 

There's more grim news for homebuyers. The Runstad Center report shows that far fewer building permits are being issued statewide, including in King, Pierce, and Kitsap counties. 

That's a sign fewer houses are going up — and that means prices are likely to remain high.

Orser said the dip in building activity is likely due to a shortage of tradespeople and urban counties running out of buildable land.

"We just don't have the trades to support the volume that we need to create to meet this demand," he said.

Peter Orser, director of the University of Washington's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, explains the upward trend in the state's median home price.


Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.