Tuesday, October 17, 2006


A week ago the Hood River News had a banner headline about the affordable housing report: "The $385,000 Question." I think they had the right instinct-- give people a number to help them understand such a difficult to pin down concept. Unfortunately they chose the wrong number. It seems $385,000 is the average sale price in Hood River County last year. An average can be easily skewed by a few multi-million dollar sales, which is not at all uncommon in our real estate market. Economists prefer looking at medians (out of 100 sales, the price of the 50th most expensive), or other specific points in the market price distribution-- and compare them with some similar measure of household income. Those numbers will not be distorted by the high end of the market. That comparison can give a much more accurate picture of how hard it will be for a local worker to buy a house.

Why does this matter? Without a good metric in place, it will be very difficult to track our progress. The affordable housing report recommends a long list of items for the city and county to consider to address the problem. We'll be discussing affordable housing for a while. Let's agree now on what numbers we'll be tracking.


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