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King County’s skyrocketing home prices a ‘good problem’

(File, AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

First-time buyers looking to purchase a home in King County may be cringing at the news of prices jumping by $100,000 in one year.

The average home price in the county, according to Northwest Real Estate, is now $658,000.

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But a planning commissioner and advocate for expanding housing stock in San Francisco — another city that’s seen tremendous growth over the past decade — says it’s a good thing, up to a point.

“The Seattle market is doing a lot of things that are good,” Christine Johnson told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don. “The big thing to remember is that this is a good problem to have.”

The question becomes: How does the county accommodate not only the people moving here, but those that were here before the booming tech industry.

Johnson says the City of Seattle is on the right track with its strategy surrounding urban villages. The city council has approved upzoning for the University District, downtown, South Lake Union, a portion of the Central District, and, most recently, the International District. It’s moves like these that allow the city to grow the way it has, without pushing more people out, Johnson says.

Those that argue against development and growth in their neighborhoods, she says, have it wrong. Because if you don’t create more housing, “you’re just creating pressure on the existing housing supply.”

But even with new housing being built, people are being priced out. It can become an issue of supply and demand that favors the wealthy.

“Yes, up to a point,” she said.

That means for people looking to buy for the first time, there’s an even bigger hurdle to overcome as they compete in the housing market.

Listen to the entire interview here.

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