Home affordability in Whatcom County drops in second quarter

With home sales very strong this spring in Whatcom County, affordability was on the decline.

This area’s housing affordability index was 130.9 in the second quarter of 2015, down from 140.1 in the first quarter, according to a report released by the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, which is based at the University of Washington. In the second quarter of 2014, Whatcom’s index was at 132.6.

The median price of Whatcom houses sold in the second quarter totaled $294,800, up from $273,700 in the first quarter.

In recent years Whatcom’s peak affordability index was at 159.5, set in the first quarter of 2013.

The affordability index measures the ability of a typical family to make payments on a median-price home.

What does Whatcom’s latest index number mean? A family earning the median income has 30.9 percent more income than the bare minimum required to qualify to buy a median-price home, with a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year mortgage. Along with home sales price and income, interest rates are factored into the index.

Nearly every county in Washington state had an affordability index above 100, according to the report. The one exception was San Juan County, which had an index score of 93.1. King County had an affordability index of 103, despite the median price for homes sold being $495,500 last quarter.

The statewide index number last quarter was 143.1.