Thanks to affordable mortgage rates that offset economic uncertainty and job cutbacks, Washington’s resale housing market set a sales record in 2001, according to statistics released by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) at Washington State University.

“About 125,000 homes were sold last year, 5,000 more than in 1999, the previous record,” says Glenn Crellin, WCRER director. The median price for an existing home in Washington was $178,200 during the quarter, 0.5 percent higher than in 2000. King County had the highest median price ($260,000), Pacific County the lowest ($77,000).

The recession notwithstanding, slower increases in prices, low mortgage rates, and continued increases in incomes resulted in a surge in housing affordability. The housing affordability index, which measures the ability of a middle-income family to purchase a median-price home with a 20-percent down payment on a 30-year mortgage at prevailing interest rates, reached 135.1. That means a typical family could afford to purchase a home priced 35 percent higher than the median. During the quarter, housing was rated as affordable in every county except Jefferson.

Data for homes in 34 of Washington’s 39 counties can be found here.