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What you need to know: Washington State's New Laws Regarding Middle Housing & ADUs

As realtors in the King County and Maple Valley area, we have witnessed firsthand the challenges that many families and individuals face when trying to find suitable housing. Washington’s housing market has been a hot topic for years, with skyrocketing prices and rates and a limited supply of affordable housing. However, recent changes in legislation regarding middle housing offer a glimmer of hope in addressing these issues. This blog post aims to educate you on the changes regarding middle housing and ADUs in Washington state. We will discuss what it is, its benefits, and how it is transforming the real estate landscape.

picture of townhouses, these are classified as middle housing

What is Middle Housing?

Middle housing (also called “missing middle” housing) refers to housing types between single-family residences and large multifamily developments. Examples include duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, courtyard apartments, cottage clusters, and townhomes. In the past, zoning regulations and land-use policies often favored single-family homes, limiting the availability of middle-housing options. However, Washington state has recognized the need for diversity in housing and has taken steps to promote middle housing development.

Recently, Washington State Legislature passed E2SHB 1110 (2023). This bill increases middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing. These bills go into effect July 23, 2023.

Benefits of Middle Housing

  1. Affordability: One of the most significant advantages of middle housing is its potential to increase housing affordability. Single-family homes have become increasingly expensive due to rising home costs and interest rates, making it difficult for first-time home buyers and middle-income families to enter into the market. Middle housing options often come at a lower price point, providing more affordable options to homebuyers.
  2. Diverse Housing Stock: Middle housing offers a range of diversity in housing for all households at all income levels and life stages. Allowing home-buyers to choose from a broader range of housing options and living arrangements that suit the buyer’s specific needs.
  3. More Sustainable & Environmentally Friendly: Middle housing helps neighborhoods become less car dependent. Welcoming more neighbors creates walkable communities that can support more local shops and better transit. The easier it is to live without a car, the lighter our carbon footprint, and the less we have to worry about parking and traffic.

 

How does this impact the you?

  1. Increased Inventory: Currently, we are experiencing historic lows in inventory. Together with the high rates and home prices, the low inventory has priced many buyers, especially first-time homebuyers, out of the market. These middle housing projects exist to increase the inventory of available homes and investment properties.
  2. More Options to Purchase: Middle housing types such as townhomes boost homeownership options. Washington has an especially acute shortage of affordable housing because the vast majority are detached houses on large lots (also known as ADUs).

Check out MRSC – Major Changes to Washington’s Housing Laws for more details regarding the new Bill.

But what about ADU’s?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are small, self-contained units on the same lot as an existing single-family home. They can either be attached or detached from the main home. A new bill (EHB 1337) has been passed that allows for 2 ADUs per lot, no larger than 1000 square feet, with no requirement for owner occupancy of the principal residence or ADU. This bill makes it easier for homeowners to create and start construction on their accessory dwelling units.

Are ADUs classified as Middle Housing?

ADUs are not the same as middle housing. However, it offers more opportunities to make a worthwhile investment into your property and adds more housing for the community.

Conclusion

With the passing of this new bill, the Washington State real estate landscape could be reshaped, offering more affordable, diverse, and sustainable housing options. These changes will open up more opportunities to find your new home that suits your needs. Middle housing isn’t just a policy change; it’s a step towards building stronger and more inclusive communities in Washington State. So if you are in the market for a new home or looking to invest, don’t look over the potential of middle housing – it could be the key to unlocking your real estate dreams!

If you want to start your search for investment property, we are here to help! Feel free to Contact Us, we are happy to answer all your questions.

For more information about both bills Major Changes to Washington’s Housing Laws

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