Spokane earns a spot on overpriced housing list | National News

(The Center Square) – Spokane has been listed in a new study as one of 100 cities in the US with the most overpriced housing markets.

Learning that the city is ranked seventh on the list has Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration doubling-down on incentives to create more affordable housing options.

“The cost of housing has grown exponentially in Spokane and at a rate that’s unsustainable,” said spokesperson Brian Coddington to The Center Square. “We are working on policies and programs related to housing and economic development that can make an impact at all levels of the market so that people can enter and move up in it as their needs grow and change. Working our way through this will take efforts on multiple fronts.”

The need for these policies and programs, he said, is evidenced by the Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University research involving Spokane. The findings of the overpriced housing study is based on closing prices paid in cities during the month of April.

To make the list, home prices have to be 54% above where they should be based on past pricing trends.

Researchers relied on a 25-year history of monthly housing prices from Zillow and other public data sources to project what people should be spending for residences.

Spokane’s median closing price for homes and condos on less than one acre exceeded $425,000 for the second consecutive month in April, according to data from the Spokane Association of Realtors.

The nationwide median price for all housing types in April was $391,200, up 14.8% from $340,000 in April 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Strong housing demand and dwindling supply have pushed prices in Spokane and other named cities up to record-breaking highs, putting homebuyers at a disadvantage, say the Florida researchers.

That situation also affects the rental market as people who can’t afford to buy a home at the higher prices are staying in apartments longer, which also decreases the number of available units.

That situation has caused rents to rise rapidly. RentCafe now reports the average monthly rent for an 890-square-foot apartment in Spokane as $1,273.

A Spokane County household must make over $50,000 annually to afford current rents. Yet, more than 46% of the households in the county make less than $50,000 annually, according to a New York Times report.

The Florida study about Spokane’s spiking housing market is not the first time the city has earned such a ranking. In 2021, the second largest city in Washington made Fortune Magazine’s top 10 of most overpriced housing markets in the US

The housing crisis led Woodward to proclaim an emergency in 2021 because construction of new dwellings it not keeping pace with population growth.

Woodward, who took office in 2019, has worked to streamline the process for people to obtain building permits and development reviews to speed up construction of new homes and to facilitate renovations.

Innovation in planning encourages backyard housing units and higher-density development along arterials and transit routes.

As a result, the city issued 695 multi-family unit building permits in 2021, more than double the number of permits from the previous year.

On another front, the city’s Community Housing and Human Services Department recently announced plans to distribute $10 million among entities that can help address residential needs.

Of that, $6 million comes from American Rescue Plan funding and the remainder from local sales and use taxes dedicated to housing and support services, according to city reports.

City officials are also trying to preserve the rental housing market. During 2021, $9.3 million was dispersed for rental assistance to help both landlords and tenants.