Traffic congestion. Sprawl. High home costs. Lack of variety of home choices.
Home prices continue to rise in Washington despite the news elsewhere of slowing markets and falling prices. Record-high prices will continue to rise here, experts say, putting homes further out of reach for many middle-income families.
We're lucky -- we're producing jobs. People want to live here. Our state population is growing but the supply of middle-income homes isn't keeping up. We just don't have enough homes that are affordable for middle class families.
The primary cause is the failure to plan for enough homes to meet the demands of growth. Local government has not provided the infrastructure (roads, sewer, water) required for new homes, and has not planned for enough homes to keep up with job growth.
If we continue to pretend that growth isn't happening, we can look forward to home prices beyond the reach of most of the middle-class families. They're the backbone of our communities, but sky-high home prices are pushing them out of communities and onto the freeways, forcing them to live farther and farther from work.
Our state's failure to accommodate growth is the underlying cause driving increased traffic congestion, sprawl, and lack of home choices affordable to working families. The steady increase of home prices over the last five years is shocking, and makes clear why middle-income families are shut out of the housing market. Between the second quarter of 2001 and 2006, home prices increased by more than 60 percent in Snohomish, King, and Clark counties. The increase was 75 percent in Thurston County and an unbelievable 160 percent in San Juan County. No wages anywhere in the state came close to matching these increases.
The reason for the stunning price increases is simple: demand for middle-wage homes far outstrips supply. The shortage of homes that families can afford is pushing them out of our communities and onto the freeways. Teachers, firefighters, police officers and other middle-wage people should be able to live in the communities they serve.
Poor planning has limited home choices near where people work. Too many people are frustrated by the lack of home choices, sky-rocketing home costs, traffic on our freeways and our already crowded streets.
Washington REALTORS® is providing real solutions to the housing crisis that is driving up prices and driving away the American dream of home ownership.
We need our lawmakers to address this crisis and work for state and local solutions. It's time we make this issue a priority!