FAQ – Missing Middle Housing Legislative Proposal

Updated December 15, 2021

What Does The Proposed Legislation Do?
It provides that local zoning and development regulations allow for a variety of residential housing types, including single family detached, duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes. Landowners and developers would have the ability to decide what type of housing to build, but would have a greater variety of residential housing types that will increase housing supply within existing neighborhoods. The legislation would provide for different housing types depending on the size of the city, and the distance from certain neighborhoods to transit services.

Why is Washington REALTORS supporting this bill?
We are supporting this bill because our members support it. In our most recent legislative survey of nearly 1000 members- which was equally weighted to represent the makeup of our membership, the top two priorities were 1) Stopping real estate tax increases on brokers and their clients and 2) increasing the availability and affordability of housing. Last session, Washington REALTORS was successful in its efforts to exempt real estate from a new State Capital Gains tax, but the Legislature did not pass any bills that would substantially increase new housing inventory. The Governor’s proposed legislation represents the most significant effort in the state’s history to increase market-rate housing supply. 

Is this the best strategy to increase housing supply? 
In our member survey, 71% of our members supported “Encouraging local jurisdictions to change zoning laws in single family home neighborhoods to allow for more housing choices, like town homes and condominiums.” That is what the proposed legislation would do, while being focused only on larger cities that have better access to transit, infrastructure, and proximity to job centers. Elements of the legislation are similar to recent legislation passed in Oregon and California, also supported by REALTORS®. 

Will this bill limit or affect single family detached housing?
No, the bill will add to the types of residential housing that can be constructed in residential zones.  Existing single-family homes will be unaffected, and developers can still build new single-family detached homes. But now, there will be additional residential housing types allowed in certain cities.   

What are the next steps for the proposed legislation?  
This bill is an “Executive Request” bill, but still must go through the normal legislative process. The bill will be introduced and assigned a bill number, and then will go through the normal committee hearing process. As it moves through that process there will undoubtedly be changes to the bill. Washington REALTORS® will review the final bill language once the bill is introduced, and through our Legislative Steering Committee will actively participate in the legislative process along with other housing stakeholders. The 2022 Washington Legislature convenes on January 10, 2022. 

For questions, please contact Nathan Gorton, Director of Government Affairs at 360.943.3100 or nathan @warealtor.org.