The Olympia-based Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) has launched a consumer-education program to inform new homebuyers how government regulations add to the cost of a home.

The program puts a label, much like a new-car sticker, in every new house built by BIAW members. The New Home Label will break out every government-related cost so those shopping for a home can see for themselves how much extra they have to pay in impact fees, sewer hook-ups and taxes, as well as fees associated with energy-code compliance and numerous other regulations that have escalated the price of housing in Washington, says BIAW President Duane LaPierre. The cost of complying with zoning and other regulations and the taxes and fees levied at the local, state and federal levels can add as much as 26 percent to the price of an average home, according to LaPierre.

Such regulatory burdens have combined to make this state’s housing market among the most expensive in the nation, the LaPierre contends, and helps explain why Washington ranks 40th in the nation in terms of homeownership.

Fewer than 25 percent of the homes on the market in the state are within the price range of average buyers, says BIAW.

As Gov. Gary Locke’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board of Washington State observed in a statement issued in August 1998: “An estimated 78 percent of homeowners could not qualify for a mortgage on their own home at current prices.”

“When we see that more than 25 percent of the cost of their new home was a direct result of government, they will be shocked and outraged,” LaPierre says of potential homebuyers. “Until now, the only explanation they’ve heard for the sky-rocketing costs of housing has been that greedy builders are lining their pockets. This program will fight this misconception with facts — we’re going to post those facts right on the kitchen counter.”

The Building Industry Association of Washington is the largest trade association in the state, representing 7,900 member companies, which employed 210,000 workers and built 33,000 homes in 1998.