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Olympia: One of the Affordable Housing Markets in Washington

This is the first in a series of in-depth reports on some of the more affordable housing markets in Washington State. Home prices in the Seattle metro area have risen sharply over the last few years, creating affordability issues for some buyers. But other housing markets in the state are much more affordable by comparison. And today, we’ll look at Olympia, Washington, the state capital.

Olympia: Affordable Housing Market Snapshot

Affordable Olympia Housing Market in WashingtonLet’s start by putting “affordable” into context.

Here’s a look at the median home prices for Olympia, Seattle, and the nation as a whole, as of July 2018:

  • Olympia, WA: $303,000
  • Seattle, WA: $764,000
  • National median: $216,000

Note: These figures were obtained by Zillow in July 2018 and rounded to the thousand.

From this comparison, we can see that Olympia is a more affordable housing market when compared to Seattle. The median home price in Olympia is a bit higher than the national median, but it’s miles below Seattle. So it’s a more budget-friendly option for home buyers who want to get more for their housing dollar.

The median house value in Olympia rose by around 10% from June 2017 to June 2018. But housing analysts are predicting smaller gains over the coming months. In this way, it mirrors other real estate markets across the country. The large, above-average price gains of the last couple of years are starting to give way to smaller (and more “normal”) levels of appreciation.

See also: Camas real estate market

View Washington State Mortgage Rates Oct, 15, Tue, 2019

A Highly Competitive Real Estate Scene

But don’t let the relatively affordable nature of the Olympia housing market fool you. The local real estate scene is still highly competitive, with buyers competing for scarce inventory. That’s the situation as of summer 2018, and those conditions could persist for the foreseeable future.

Economists say that a “healthy” and balanced real estate market has somewhere around four to six months of inventory. As of May 2018, Olympia, Washington had less than a two-month supply of homes for sale. The national average for the same timeframe was about two and a half months worth of supply, and even that is well below normal.

Fact box: Olympia is the capital of Washington State and home to around 51,000 people. It’s located roughly 60 miles southwest of Seattle, at the southernmost point of Puget Sound. The State of Washington is the largest employer in the area. The indigenous Coast Salish people used to refer to it as the “place of the bear” in their native language.

Also in May, the typical home listed for sale in Olympia spent less than ten days on the market. This is indicative of a fast-moving real estate market where properties get scooped up quickly. In fact, the median days on market in Olympia was nearly as low as Seattle’s, which is definitely one of the “fastest” markets in the country right now.

Related: Is more inventory on the way?

The take-home message is that home buyers in Olympia should start their searches early and be prepared for competition. With steady demand and scant inventory, the housing market in Olympia could create challenges for some buyers. But with a relatively affordable price tag, compared to the state’s other major population centers, it’s still an attractive market for budget-conscious buyers.

Here’s a recap of the key points in this report:

  • Compared to Seattle and the cities that surround it, Olympia is a relatively affordable housing market in Washington State.
  • As of summer 2018, the median home value in Olympia ($303,000) was less than half what it was in Seattle ($764,000).
  • Despite its more affordable nature, the level of competition among home buyers is still high. Like most cities in Washington, Olympia is experiencing a shortage of housing supply.

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