Thurston County's housing affordability index was 172.0 for the first quarter of 2016 and has experienced a significant drop since the first quarter of 2015 (183.4). However, Thurston County is still more affordable than the first quarter of 2007 (104.8) when affordability was at its lowest.
Thurston County remains:
More affordable than the counties associated with the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett metropolitan area (King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish).
Less affordable than adjacent counties to the west and south (Grays Harbor, Lewis, and Mason).
Housing affordability for first-time homebuyers in Thurston County also experienced a significant drop since the first quarter of 2015. In 2015, the index sat at 97.2 while in the first quarter of 2016 it fell to 88.5. Real estate, however, continues to be more affordable for first-time homebuyers than in 2006 or 2007 (when indices were below 70.0).
Housing Affordability Index
The Housing Affordability Index, calculated by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, tracks the ability of a middle-income family to carry the mortgage payments on a median-price home. When the index is 100, there is a balance between the family’s ability to pay and the mortgage payment. Higher indices indicate that housing is more affordable. For example, an index of 126 means that a median-income family has 26 percent more income than the bare minimum required to qualify for a mortgage on a median-price home. An index of 80 means that a median-income family has less income than the minimum required.
First-time Buyer Housing Affordability Index
The first-time buyer index assumes the purchaser's income is 70% of the median household income. Homes purchased by first-time buyers are 85% of area's median price. All loans are assumed to be 30 year loans with 25% of income used for principal and interest payments. The first-time buyer index assumes 10% down.