Published January 2001

Northwest MLS reports 'work-force housing' scarce

By Mike Benbow
Herald Economy Editor

Most homes for sale in Snohomish and King counties are too expensive for the average working man or woman, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service recently reported.

An analysis of sales data for the listing service, which serves real estate brokers in 11 Western Washington counties, showed only 14 percent of current sales listings are priced at $160,000 or below.

In King County, the number is only 5.8 percent.

The $160,000 figure is what the listing service considers to be workforce housing, homes in the middle to lower end of the price spectrum.

Broker Vern Holden, who owns Windermere offices in Mill Creek and elsewhere, said in an interview earlier this year that the continuing rise in prices of the past several years was a big concern.

I think pricing has caused a problem for many people, he said. I think most of us in the business would be happy to see a bit of a correction take place. I think pricing has just gotten way out of hand.

Prices have moderated this year, but are still near record highs.

The combined median price for condominiums and single-family homes sold in Snohomish County in November was $194,808, up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

For single-family homes, the median was $202,000. That means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Strong job growth, particularly in King County, has kept home prices high in both Snohomish and King counties.

The median in King County in November was $233,000.

In Pierce County, by contrast, the median price was $154,500, and 40 percent of the listed homes were priced under $160,000.

No areas of Snohomish County had a median sales price below that figure in November.

A larger number of affordable homes were available in north and east Snohomish County, which had medians in the $170,000 range.

The more expensive homes typically were in south Snohomish County. In the Maltby area south of Snohomish, an area with a lot of new construction, the median price was about $257,000.

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