More than two-thirds of Tri-City residents own their home, a higher-than-average figure that beats Washington and the U.S.
Home ownership rates remain healthy at the local level, but have been in decline since the housing-led Great Recession. In 2005, prior to the economic collapse, 71.5 percent of Benton and Franklin county residents owned their homes, according to this week’s report from Benton-Franklin Trends, a research initiative of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University.
Affordability has always been a hallmark of the local economy and it’s one economic indicator where the Tri-Cities outshines the state and nation.
According to the Trends report, the local ownership rate stood at 66.4 percent in 2014. The state average was 61.7 percent, and the U.S. average was 63.1 percent.
Taking a closer look, ownership trends differ dramatically by city. Pasco has a growing ownership rate, rising to 66.3 percent in 2014, thanks to rapid development.
In Richland, 66.2 percent of residents owned their own home in 2014, down about a point from 2010.
+5.5% Pasco, 2012 to 2014
-2% Richland, 2010 to 2014
-6.8% Kennewick, 2010 to 2014
-4% Washington, 2005 to 2014
-5% U.S., 2005 to 2014*Time spans vary based on data availability
Kennewick had the area’s lowest ownership rate, 59.1 percent, and the sharpest decrease. It is down more than three points from 2010.
The numbers don’t surprise Dennis Gisi, co-owner of the local John L. Scott Realty office.
“As much as we complain about real estate prices, compared to the rest of the region it’s pretty darned cheap,” he said.
Kennewick has a lower ownership rate because the area’s larger apartment complexes are generally concentrated there, as are the senior housing and assisted care facilities.
“That makes sense to me,” he said.
Asja Suljic, regional economist for the Washington Employment Security Department, said housing development in west Pasco altered its trajectory, boosting the number of homes and owners.
Patrick Jones, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy, said income and age influence ownership rates. Pasco, with younger families often including three generations, is more likely to see families living in houses rather than apartments. Kennewick’s mix of ages translates to a more “balanced” mix of renters and home owners, he said.
Benton-Franklin Trends measures the economic, educational and civic life of the community based on state and federal data. It is free and available online at bit.ly/BFTrends.