Northwest Mirrors National Shift Away From Single Family Homes

By Chris Lehman

New housing starts are a key economic indicator. But not all new houses are created the same. A new report issued Friday shows that Oregon and Washington are following a national shift away from single family homes towards more apartment complexes.

Multi-family buildings are defined as those with five housing units or more. That type of building makes up more than a third of new residential construction in both Oregon and Washington. That portion has nearly doubled over the past decade. Chris Fick is with the League of Oregon Cities. He says the trend is a mixed blessing for local governments. It's a way to grow without extending a city's boundaries. But Fick says Oregon's property tax on multi-family buildings is proportionally lower than single-family homes.

Chris Fick: "The people who are residing in that house will have the same needs for transportation, public safety, parks and libraries and schools as anybody else, but local governments aren't recouping an equal amount of money."

Fick says it's not clear whether the shift towards more apartments and condos is temporary or reflects a long-term trend. He says one theory is that millennials are less likely to buy single-family homes due to uncertainty in the job market.


Census bureau report on new residential construction:

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