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Economist’s advice on home buying in Puget Sound’s improving market

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Puget Sound region’s housing market continues to level out, making it a great time to buy a home. In terms of how to approach that, in a growing buyer’s market, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner has some advice.

The Puget Sound housing market has seen sizable decreases in home prices from 2018, marked by an almost 5 percent decline in median residential home prices in King County.

That’s a downturn that Gardner labels “a move back to reality” that the region has been awaiting “for almost 20 years.”

“The big pitch we’re looking at right now is a move back towards balance,” he noted.

Have $150K in household income

Gardner advises a household income of at least $150,000 for anyone looking to buy around the median $625,000 price for a residential home or condo in King County.

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That said, that number is also “very much dependent on what you’re buying, where you’re buying it,” and your total down payment.

Beyond that, he outlines a trio of factors for all buyers in the King County region to consider.

“If you meet all those three criteria, you have my blessing to buy a house,” he said.

Consider level of debt

“Firstly, are you comfortable with the debt level? Don’t stretch yourself,” Gardner said..

That’s something that can be mitigated by mortgage rates averaging just 4.4 percent for a 30-year fixed loan right now. That’s a number that Gardner labels as “remarkably attractive and very unlikely to rise anytime soon.”

Income

Next, a steady source of income is key. Be in a place where jumping around from job-to-job, or working up a ladder is behind you.

“Be comfortable in your career and your job,” Gardner said.

Long-term investment

And finally, he recommends knowing that you’ll be investing in the home of your choice long-term.

“Most important: Will you be in that house for at least seven years?” Gardner said.

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