Tri-Cities comes in second for housing market recovery

Tri-City home prices are expected to grow by 3.4 percent this year, ranking the area second in the nation for best recovery in the housing market.

The recent rating by the Housing Predictor, an independent real estate market forecaster, is more evidence of how well the Tri-City economy is doing, said Rene Dahlgren, Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities director of government affairs.

Housing Predictor said the only housing market expected to see more growth in home prices is El Paso, Texas, which is expected to see a 3.7 price increase.

It's hardly the first time the Tri-Cities has made lists of best housing markets, Dahlgren said.

In February, the Tri-Cities was named the fifth best housing market, according to Builder Magazine. In 2010, the Tri-Cities was fifth on the list of best performing large cities based on job and salary growth as rated by the Milken Institute, and ranked first out of 372 areas for employment growth in the last five years by Garner Economics.

And despite looming layoffs at Hanford, Dahlgren said they hope the market will remain strong and that the economic slump will be less than in the past.

"We've definitely come a long ways in diversifying our economy," she said.

Having a strong housing market is a good indicator of whether the economy is going well because that means people are willing and able to invest in real estate, Dahlgren said.

In 2011, 890 single-family homes received building permits as of July, according to the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities. Pasco had the most new home permits, at 321, while Kennewick had 192 and Richland 175. West Richland issued permits for 80 new homes.