News In Brief
- According to a poll of 140,000 LoanSafe.org members, boomerang buyers - those ousted from the housing market due to foreclosures or short sales, spent years renting to rebuild their credit, and have saved enough to buy again - are now expected return to the residential market. These buyers could flock to the market at an opportune time: investors are pulling back and new government programs aimed at helping consumers with bankruptcies or loan defaults are becoming common. Jon Maddux, LoanSafe.org co-founder, said almost 80 percent of poll respondents who lost homes during the crisis showed interest in buying again. Moreover, 41 percent of respondents interested in re-entering homeownership have higher incomes than during their first purchase; 63 percent have lower debt obligations; 46 percent plan to purchase in a lower price range; and 50 percent expect to make at least a 10 percent down payment.
- Mel Watt was sworn in as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and many in the mortgage industry believe that Watts' confirmation signals a new shift in U.S. housing policy with greater access to credit, Reuters reported according to Tom Kelly. "Today's housing finance system is one of the keys to our economic recovery," Watt said. "I hope to develop a strong foundation for moving this system forward for the benefit of all Americans at this critical point in our nation's history." Those in the mortgage industry also say Watt is likely to expand federal programs that allow underwater borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower their interest rates. As the new FHFA head, Watt will oversee mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which back about 60 percent of U.S. home loans. Watt has already announced that he plans to delay several Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fee hikes.
- Last month King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvis ruled that the $15 minimum wage cannot be enforced at the airport but is legally binding at nearby hotels and parking lots. The upshot is that only about 1,600 hospitality and transportation workers in SeaTac now stand to make $15 an hour minimum wage. The estimated 4,700 people who work at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for contractors, concessionaires and car-rental agencies are not covered for the $15 minimum wage.
- According to the Seattle Times, Seattle transportation officials say the estimated costs of the waterfront seawall replacement project have grown from $300 million to $330 million over the past year as they refined projections for construction and labor, and for mitigation for waterfront businesses and Indian tribes over disruption to tourism and salmon migration.
- According to Seattle-based Apartment Insights Washington, apartment rents jumped 6.5 percent during 2013 to $1,214 a month in King and Snohomish counties, but tenants should see market rents stay level or even decline this year.
- Phinney Ridge neighborhood is the nation's seventh-hottest market and Seattle's hottest market according to Redfin.com. The Seattle online real estate company said it determined the nation's hottest neighborhoods by "tallying hundreds of millions of pages (that online viewers) visited and homes they added as Favorites to monitor for price changes or sales."