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July 2014

News In Brief - July 2014

By NWREporter

July 2014

  • According to Fannie Mae's April 2014 National Housing Survey, Americans' optimism about the housing market has grown, with 42 percent saying now is a good time to sell a home. Meanwhile, 69 percent of Americans say now is a good time to buy a home. Fewer Americans report being concerned about losing their job, which may urge more potential home buyers off the fence. However, 39 percent of respondents indicated that their household expenses are significantly higher than they were 12 months ago. Fifty percent of survey respondents say they believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months. The share of Americans who expect home prices will fall was at 5 percent, an all-time survey low.
  • Recent statistics have suggested a slow housing market based on the drop in the number of houses sold. Trulia has drawn a different conclusion, according to seattlebusinessmag.com, by looking at how long houses remain on the market. Looking at the speed with which homes are sold, you can come to a very different conclusion. As of mid-April, for example, only 43 percent of homes in Seattle were still for sale after being on the market for more than two months, down from 49 percent a year ago.
  • Joblessness in King and Snohomish counties rose in March from a year ago even as more people found work, according to recent data released by the state Employment Security Department. In both counties, an increase in total employment was offset by a surge in the pool of available workers amid signs of a strengthening economy. The non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in King inched up to 5.2 percent in March from 5.1 percent a year ago, though it was unchanged from February. A year-over-year increase of 2.8 percent in the county's labor force, which includes people who are working or actively looking for work, was nearly matched by a 2.6 percent rise in total employment.
  • Home prices in the Seattle metro area ticked up in February, snapping a four-month slide, even as prices in most other cities lost ground, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index released in May. The average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties inched up 0.6 percent from January, when the average price fell 0.8 percent. February's increase was the area's biggest monthly gain since July, which saw a 1.9 percent jump. Over the past 12 months, the Seattle area's home prices have risen 12.8 percent.
  • Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in May fell one point on the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). "Builders are waiting for consumers to feel more secure about their financial situation," said David Crowe, NAHB chief economist. "Once job growth becomes more consistent, consumers will return to the market in larger numbers and that will boost builder confidence." Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. The index's components were mixed in May. The component gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose one point to 57 and the component measuring buyer traffic increased two points to 33. The component gauging current sales conditions fell two points to 48. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South rose one point to 48 while the Midwest fell a single point to 47 and the West posted a four-point drop to 47. The Northeast held steady at 33.
  • Seasonal damage to a home isn't always easily visible, but if it's not repaired, spring and summer weather can add to the problems, according to Paul Sullivan, National Association of Home Builders' Remodelers chairman. NAHB provides homeowners with the following five tips for preparing a home for the warmer months ahead:
    1. Inspect the roof. Roofs should be checked for any loose, warped, or missing shingles. Also, examine the chimney flashing and skylight seals are intact.
    2. Clean and repair gutters. Clear winter storm debris from gutters and downspouts. Make sure that they are still securely attached to the house. Blocked or loose gutters can allow water to seep into your home and damage the trim, according to NAHB.
    3. Seal any leaks. The most common culprits for "hidden" leaks: Attics, crawl spaces, and around washing machine hoses. Also, look under sinks for damage from frozen pipes, and check your water heater for signs of corrosion.
    4. Clear exterior drains. Remove any leaves from underground or exterior drains to prevent any backups from rain and storms.
    5. Inspect siding. Inspect siding for pieces that may have come loose during winter storms.