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Housing Affordability Index: Homes less affordable today

March 11, 2024

Housing in Washington has grown less affordable since last summer, according to Washington’s Housing Affordability Index for the first quarter of 2024.

Produced by the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Housing Affordability Index examines median income level by county, median prices of all homes and income necessary to purchase median-priced homes.

Home prices rise, less affordable

Despite strides made during the 2023 legislative session, median home prices continue to increase. Median home prices statewide grew from $430,000 in June 2023 to $586,100 in March 2024—a 36% increase.

Income rises faster but not enough

At the same time, the median household income used in the study rose to $90,325. Only 16.2% of Washington’s population makes the $165,100 in household income necessary to afford to purchase a median-priced home. That means more than 83% of households are priced out of home ownership.

And it doesn’t matter if they’re going the conventional route or using a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) First Time Homebuyers loan. While the down payment and monthly payments differ, the end result remains.

Rural counties more affordable

Housing affordability varies from county to county. However, the report shows more rural counties have median home sales prices that allow more than 40% of households to be able to afford a home.

The more affordable counties, those with median-priced homes lower than $300,000, include:

  • Columbia
  • Pacific
  • Pend Oreille
  • Stevens counties

In the least affordable counties, a combination of more costly median-priced homes and lower wages meant only 10% of households could afford a median-priced home. Those counties include:

  • Chelan
  • Clallam
  • Jefferson
  • Whatcom

Median-priced home costs vary greatly by county

Not surprisingly, King County listed the most expensive median-priced homes at $775,000. At that price, 27% of King County households could afford to buy.

Garfield County had the least expensive median-priced home at $230,000. Nearly 40% of households in that county could afford a home at that price.

Attempts to increase access to housing languish

BIAW supported bills in the 2024 legislative session designed to create more housing opportunities and reduce the cost to build new homes. Unfortunately, the bulk of those bills failed to pass.

“While market factors certainly affect affordability, what the Housing Affordability Index shows is that Washington needs more buildable lands and density to meet the state’s needs and reduce market pressure,” said BIAW Executive Vice President Greg Lane. “It also demonstrates a need to reduce unnecessary building costs like costly building codes and exorbitant impact fees.

“Bills to support lot splitting, impact fee reform and expanded access to accessory dwelling units could have helped expand access to housing families can afford,” Lane said. “Unfortunately, those measures weren’t a priority for the Legislature this session.”


The Building Industry Association of Washington is the voice of the housing industry. The state’s largest trade association with nearly 8,000 member companies, BIAW promotes and protects the vitality of the building industry so more Washington families can enjoy the American Dream of owning a home.  Learn more at:

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