I’m just coming of a week full of great information.  I attended the Lones Group’s Real Estate Success Summit, which I attend every January.  Normally, my favorite part of this event are Denise Lones’ predictions for the coming year.  While this segment did not disappoint, and I believe she is right on in her predictions, what I was most excited about were the guest speakers she had this year who all talked about the housing shortage in Washington State.  The speakers included Greg Lane, BIAW; John Wilson, King County Assessor,  Dave Somers Snohomish County Executive and Denny Heck, Washington State Lieutenant Governor. 

It’s no secret to anyone that we have a severe housing shortage in this state and across the country.  What was encouraging was that it seems that everyone, despite political affiliation, is starting to talk the same language.  This is not a partisan issue.  We have a shortage of housing, it’s been looming for many years and we have to make changes to start to reverse the trajectory we are on.  Even with changes to help increase housing it will take a years to get out of the predicament we’ve gotten ourselves into.  Per Lt. Gov. Denny Heck we underbuilt housing units between 2000-2015 by 225,600 and it’s only getting worse. 

Why should everyone care that some can’t afford a home?

When I say some, I mean most.  It now takes on average in Washington state an income of $170,000 to qualify for a home loan. 

This is having a devastating effect on our community.  Seattle is a fantastic place to live but increasingly people are being forced to leave because of housing costs.  Communities are not as rich and vibrant when they do not have many different types of people, which includes people of different socio-economic classes.  People in the service sector have been struggling for years to live near their jobs and travel great distances to work.  They are increasingly finding this simply is no longer feasible and not coming into Seattle to work.  Many public servants, such as police, fire fighters and nurses can no longer afford to live locally.  They too will migrate to other areas if they cannot afford housing. 

What can be done? 

Cut the Red Tape – Per the NAHB 23.6% of development and building costs are Governmental fees.  In Washington that $130,000. 

Change Zoning Regulations – We need to build the right kind of housing that people can afford.  This will require zoning changes in Washington State. 

Make Permitting Easier and Faster – Time is money in construction.  If it takes 6 months to obtain a permit that adds on average $25,000 to the average Washington home.  Sometimes it takes longer than 6 months.  We all pay more for houses because of these delays. 

Provide Free Trade School Education – We have a huge shortage of trained tradespeople.  Just like the housing shortage this is a known issue.  We should be encouraging people to join the trades to train an entire new generation before the aging trades population retires and we have a much greater problem than we already have. 

While this is not a fun topic, I feel it’s a very important one.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to reach out any time.

If you are interested in more information here are some resources.