Region two years behind in housing production

810,000 more housing units needed by 2050 to keep up with demand

Jobs and population boomed in the last decade, but housing didn’t keep up.

For people seeking a place to live, it’s meant more competition for housing, fewer options, and higher costs.

Prior to 2010, the region built housing at a pace that more than kept up with growth. But the recession hit the building industry hard, and it hasn’t fully recovered.

New households grew at a faster pace than construction from 2011 to 2016. Since the recession, construction has slowly come back from its decline, but the region is still trying to fill the gap of 40,000 to 50,000 housing units—the equivalent of about two years’ worth of housing production.

The central Puget Sound region’s exceptional job growth from 2013 to 2020 contributed to a surge in population and corresponding increase in housing demand.

In the past decade, the region has averaged nearly 60,000 new residents and just under 19,000 new housing units per year, exceeding the region's typical ratio of about 2.5 people per house.

With strong employment and population growth, the need for housing accelerated faster than production. It’s caused shrinking vacancies, quicker sales, and a tighter housing market—all factors that put pressure on home prices and rents.

Not keeping up with population and job growth exacerbated the upward pressure on housing costs.

The region needs to address the housing backlog soon to soften the impact on home prices and rents. From 2012 to 2018, home prices climbed 67%. A household had to earn $145,000 annually (equivalent to $70 per hour) to afford a median-priced home in King County in 2018.

810,000 new housing units needed by 2050

There will be 1.6 million new people in the region by 2050, according to VISION 2050 estimates.

Taking into account factors such as average persons per household and vacancy rates, the region needs to build another 810,000 housing units by 2050 to address the current backlog and future demand .

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment covers this topic and a lot more data about housing trends in the region. This analysis will help support development of the Regional Housing Strategy.

Later this month, PSRC will continue this blog series with a post about housing near transit. Look for it soon.

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