The median cost of a single-family home in King County was a record $725,000 last month, while home prices in Snohomish County have surpassed $500,000 for the first time.
The sky-high cost of living has overtaken traffic as the most-hated part of living in the Puget Sound region, as local home prices continue to set records in King and Snohomish counties.
A new poll commissioned by the Puget Sound Regional Council asked people across the region what they like least about living here.
The last time the regional planning group asked this question, in 2003, more than half the people answered traffic and the lack of transportation options. Traffic jams were also the top concern in the survey before that, in 1993.
Now, 29 percent of people regionwide said the cost of living was the worst problem — including 35 percent in pricey King and Snohomish counties. That was followed by homelessness (picked by 12 percent of respondents), transportation (10 percent), the political environment (9 percent) and the climate (8 percent).
All sorts of things are getting more expensive here, but most poll respondents specifically cited housing costs. Rents have soared about 60 percent in seven years, while home prices have grown faster here than anywhere else in the country for the last year and a half.
Monthly home-sales data released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service showed things only getting worse for homebuyers, yet again, amid the spring real-estate rush.
The median cost of a single-family house in King County hit a record $725,000, smashing the old high of $690,000 set just one month prior. Compared to a year ago, prices were up $100,000, or 16 percent.
Every part of the county except Vashon Island got more expensive. Home values gained more than 20 percent in downtown Seattle, West Seattle, Lake Forest Park/Kenmore, Maple Valley/Black Diamond and Kent.
Seattle’s median house price held at $819,000, unchanged from a month ago but up 13 percent from a year ago. On the Eastside, the median price of $943,000 was a bit below the record of $950,000, set a couple months ago but still up 7 percent from a year ago.
Competition remains fierce. Coldwell Banker Bain noted a home in Magnolia recently sold for 82 percent more than the list price, while other listings have attracted as many as 56 offers.
The options for an escape to affordability are few, and dwindling. In Snohomish County, the median house surpassed half a million dollars for the first time. The typical house there cost about $506,000 in April, up 15 percent in a year.
Elsewhere, Pierce County home costs grew 14.8 percent to $341,000. Kitsap County home values were up 12.5 percent to $335,000. But both counties saw a slight dip from the record highs reached a month prior.
Condo prices continue to soar even faster, growing 20 percent in King County. The typical Seattle condo sold for a record $546,000 last month.
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The only piece of good news for homebuyers is that the number of homes for sale in King County has finally started to tick up again after years of steep declines. King County’s inventory of houses on the market was up 12 percent over a year ago — the biggest increase in 10 years. However, inventory remains historically very low, and was still down throughout the rest of the region.
“We are still way below a balanced market,” said Mike Grady, president of Coldwell Banker Bain.
Rising home prices are pushing people further out. In the Puget Sound Regional Council’s last poll 15 years ago, 19 percent of people said the cost of living was the most important factor in deciding where to live, tied with community character and behind access to jobs. Now 31 percent are choosing their home based on the cost of living, far and away the top driver for people.
About three-fourths of people in the poll said it would be better to build in dense areas near transit rather than outside urban areas near highways.
But the respondents were evenly split on whether the region’s growth over the last decade has been good or bad. About half of the people said it was both good and bad, while one-fourth said it was mostly positive and one-fourth said mostly negative. But older residents, those who have been here a long time and white respondents were more likely to say the growth was negative, while newcomers, millennials and people of color were more likely to see development as a positive.
The survey conducted by Cocker Fennessy reached a representative sample of 2,000 adults in the four-county region in March. Respondents answered online and over the phone in English, Spanish and Chinese. The poll was commissioned to help the regional council plan its new growth strategy for 2050.