Case in Point


This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

“A Focus on the Ellensburg housing market” (letter to editor)


Table Topics

Ellensburg Daily Record

Last week this column ran a story on house buying, which gave several national trends. This week we are focusing more on the Ellensburg housing market.

Locally, the housing market is strong and healthy, with a number of reliable financing packages available. The average price of a home in the Ellensburg area is around $50,000, with a slow but steady appreciation rate. This increase in housing value is due in large measure to the fact that the local housing stock is diminishing, or at least, staying stable. Therefore, despite the lack of population growth, housing is a good investment because of its relative scarcity.

If one wants into the housing market, there is money available from the local banks to help finance the purchase. The current fixed-rate FHA and VA mortgages are 13%, and this is with little or no down payment required, and one can get a 30-year loan at this rate as well. There is even conventional housing money available for under 14%. And there are special FHA/VA programs from local lenders under 13%!  FHA and VA programs require that “discount points” are paid by the seller to the lending bank, but locally that requirement does not pose any serious problem since most homeowners in Ellensburg understand the nuances of home financing.

The other major method of financing a house purchase is through seller financing. This is when the seller of the house, rather than taking all cash at the time of the closing of the sales transaction, takes monthly payments for a period of time — in effect, loaning the purchaser the deferred amount. Because many agriculture properties are sold this way, this method is also quite common in Ellensburg and homeowners are used to it. Generally, the terms of seller financing are even better than bank financing.

In short, housing is available and so is the money for financing the purchase of a dream home. Second, housing has always been a safe and sound investment in Ellensburg because of the limited housing stock.
To turn to a couple more subjects touched on in last week’s “Table Topics,” the federal tax structure has always been slanted, for, the benefit of the homeowner since mortgage interest can be deducted from a purchaser’s income tax. The tax benefits from home-ownership drop the effective interest rate from as little as 2 percentage points to as much as 9 percentage points, depending on your income and mortgage interest rate. Furthermore, various additional tax benefits (energy saving improvements, real estate taxes, basis adjustments, etc.) are all in place to encourage home-ownership.

To further demonstrate the government’s commitment to homeownership, the Washington State Legislature in 1983 passed the Washington State Housing Commission Act, which even further assists first-time home buyers in their efforts to purchase housing. Since this is a brand new program, it has not yet been implemented, but the program will offer house financing at an interest rate at least one percentage point under FHA/VA or conventional rates.

Ultimately, of course, one owns a home because it can accurately reflect one’s personality, value system and sense of belonging–something tenancy has a diffi¬cult time accomplishing.

Ellensburg has a great variety of homes available in all prices, locations, floor plans and amenities. Buying your shelter needs in our city can be easy and enjoyable with professional assistance. Contact one of the local realtors for further guidance and help in beginning an exciting and profitable life in your own home.

Robert Case II
Kittitas County Board of Realtors


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