I was chatting with a small business owner in December about how his dual-income, no-kids household couldn't afford a home in Tri-Cities. How can that be? I asked. Well, you now need to be approved for $230k to find anything. That's over $1,100 a month. The average price of a home sold last year was nearly $295k.

This was affirmed last month when a friend started looking with his wife and discovered older condos and Eltopia were the only neighborhoods in their budget.

Seattle saw slowing in its market over the winter. It's yet to be seen what will happen during the summer peak. Portland median home prices fell for the first time in 7 years during winter.

But according to the Tri-Cities Journal of Business, permits to start new homes in 2018 were still above the previous year, suggesting "growth" is still happening. Construction companies are stretched thin and the cost of supplies is going up, however. That could mean we've peaked. Since the new homes are still selling well, there's no reason to believe prices will start to come down, however. In fact, if fewer homes get built, but people still want them, it could drive prices up further.

Richland's fastest-growing area is "Badger Mountain South" and the city recognizes the growing disparity between the need for housing and affordability. For example, Richland has approved the construction of 276 low-income apartments (one must apply and qualify to lease).

With new apartments (market rate) coming to Richland's "pit" near Howard Amon Park and Lee Blvd. apartment-living could become cool again, laying the groundwork for higher density residential planning. That could provide more housing at less cost in smaller areas, potentially offering relief to larger families needing affordable houses in the future. In fact, much of central Richland could become an "urban" landscape with mixed residential and retail in multi-story high rises.

In the meantime, if you need a new home for your family remember that Realtors suggest you should be able to afford a mortgage that is one-fifth of your monthly budget. Some will encourage you to apply for as much as one-third, but that is risky. Since the prospect of homes increasing in value over the long-term is good, once you're in you can expect appreciation.