The housing market in Washington is red hot – but who can afford to buy a home here, anyway?
The collapse of the housing market during the Great Recession temporarily made homes more affordable. Unfortunately, that relief didn’t yield a more buyer-friendly market for long. Housing has gotten more expensive as demand. As home costs go up, though, wages remain stagnate. Most industries just pay workers enough to keep up.
Those who want to buy a home in Washington are being forced to wait longer and save more. Even then, they may not be able to find afford it.
In 2011, 40.6% of total employment in Washington was in occupations with a median wage sufficient to afford a median-priced home.* As of 2021, that was the case for just 9.9% of jobs.
Among the state’s five most populous counties, King County has the least affordable homes: less than 1% of total employment in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area is in occupations with a median wage sufficient to afford a median-priced home. Pierce County is the most affordable of the group, though just 15.4% of total employment in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is in occupations with a median wage sufficient to afford a median-priced home there.
This data shows what many workers already know: Their wages simply aren’t enough. In order to buy a home in Washington, residents need more income.
*Affordable is defined as purchasing a home equal in value to no more than 5 years’ full-time income.
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