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December 2014

News In Brief

December 2014 - NWREporter

    • Seattle's appeal to millennials and investors is increasing demand for housing, putting us in the company of San Francisco and Los Angeles as hot real estate markets. Houston placed first in the national rankings while Seattle placed eighth.
    • Fast growing job markets are being seen in Seattle and Washington state. According to a recent study out of the Arizona State University, Seattle is the eighth-fastest growing city in terms of job growth, and Washington is the ninth-fastest growing state overall.
    • By bus or train, Seattle's commuters are seen as a lucky bunch. A University of Minnesota study crunched numbers on job accessibility, and it ranked Seattle eighth for commuting via public transit.
    • Where do vets tend to live? They don't gravitate toward big cities, tending to live most often in small towns and rural areas, according to Census data. Real estate site Trulia recently took a look at 500 metros in the country to find those with the highest share of vets. Oak Harbor ranked number two and Bremerton-Silverdale number 10. Military veterans are more likely to be home owners than other adults, with a 79 percent home ownership rate for vets compared to 63 percent for everyone else. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan program, as well as other incentives, is assisting many vets in achieving homeownership. Here are the top housing markets for vets:
      1. Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Fla.: 22.3% of the civilian population is veterans
      2. Oak Harbor, Wash.: 22%
      3. Jacksonville, N.C.: 21.4%
      4. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas: 21.2%
      5. The Villages, Fla.: 20.4%
      6. Sierra Visa-Douglas, Ariz.: 20.2%
      7. Fayetteville, N.C.: 20%
      8. Lawton, Okla.: 19.6%
      9. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.: 19.2%
      10. Bremerton-Silverdale, Wash.: 19.1%

    Where vets live may depend on when they served, the study suggests. For example, the study found that Gulf War vets tend to reside in different places than World War II vets. Overall, vets are more likely to live near military bases and areas with active-duty residents, which is particularly true among Gulf War vets. They are also more likely to live in more affordable, lower-density areas, which was found to be the most evident among Vietnam Era vets. Korean War or World War II vets are more likely to reside in retirement areas, mostly found in Florida.

    • Despite an improving job market and low interest rates, the share of first-time buyers fell to its lowest point in nearly three decades and is preventing a healthier housing market from reaching its full potential, according to a new survey by the National Association of REALTORS┬« and reported by Tom Kelly. The survey additionally found that an overwhelming majority of buyers search for homes online and then purchase their home through a real estate agent. The 2014 National Association of REALTORS┬« Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers continues a long-running series of large national NAR surveys evaluating the demographics, preferences, motivations, plans and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers. Results are representative of owner-occupants and do not include investors or vacation homes. The long-term average in this survey, dating back to 1981, shows that four out of 10 purchases are from first-time homebuyers. In this year's survey, the share of first-time buyers dropped 5 percentage points from a year ago to 33 percent, representing the lowest share since 1987 (30 percent). "Rising rents and repaying student loan debt makes saving for a down payment more difficult, especially for young adults who've experienced limited job prospects and flat wage growth since entering the workforce," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. The household composition of buyers responding to the survey was mostly unchanged from a year ago. Sixty-five percent of buyers were married couples, 16 percent single women, 9 percent single men and 8 percent unmarried couples.
    • Mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae dropped its mortgage rate forecast for next year about two-tenths of a percentage point from its prior forecast, projecting 30-year fixed rates will remain lower than initially thought, at about 4.3 percent next year. This will cheapen the borrowing costs for home buyers and refinancers, helping to make home ownership more affordable. However, with the forecasted rate drop, Fannie Mae economists didn't adjust the forecast for total home sales for 2015.
    • For mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the conforming loan limit for a single-family home will rise from $506,000 to $517,000 next year in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties according to the Federal Housing Financing Agency.