News In Brief
By Northwest Reporter
- Last year, Seattle grew faster than any other major American city, according to population estimates recently released by the Census Bureau and reported by the Seattle Times. From July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, Seattle grew by 2.8 percent - the highest rate among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities. Seattle added nearly 18,000 residents in the one-year period, bringing its population to about 652,000.
- Homebuyers are showing some willingness to pay more for certain amenities in a home, according to the latest PulteGroup Home Index Survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 25 to 65 and reported by Tom Kelly. What's surprising is that buyers say they'd give up some pretty alluring draws about a property for certain amenities: Forty-four percent surveyed say they're willing to give up a location near public transportation in exchange for certain amenities, and 35 percent say they'd give up better schools and proximity to entertainment and shopping. So what are these amenities that homebuyers want so badly? Fifty-one percent surveyed say they want their next home to be larger than their current residence, and 64 percent say they prefer a move-in ready home. Among the most important features homebuyers identified:
His-and-her closets in the master bedroom (31 percent) and spa-like master bathrooms (23 percent)
A large eat-in kitchen area (23 percent) and a kitchen island (22 percent)
At least one bathtub in a home (54 percent)
In addition to the more common home options, we're starting to see regional trends emerging among home buyer preferences," said Ryan Marshall, PulteGroup Inc.'s executive vice president of homebuilding operations, marketing and sales. "Shoppers are increasingly discerning when it comes to home features that could be the deciding factor in their next move." The most important areas to homebuyers when choosing a new home: kitchen (29 percent), bedroom (22 percent), and living room (18 percent).
- The Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area is ranked 25 out of 379 metropolitan statistical areas that Area Development has analyzed from economic and workforce data in order to identify and understand which cities across America are emerging as front-runners in this new era of economic development possibilities. Many factors can move a city's attractiveness as a business site into the foreground, and chief among those drivers for 2014 are economic benefits from domestic manufacturing, oil and gas fields, and the spread of high-technology to urban epicenters, according to the Seattle Market Review.
- FEMA Releases Refund Guidance
FEMA has released information on providing refunds to property owners who overpaid for flood insurance. Refund amounts will be determined using rates made available in Bulletin W-14026 issued on May 29, 2014. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act requires FEMA to restore Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) subsidized rates and issue refunds of excess premiums collected for: pre-FIRM properties not insured when the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012 was enacted; pre-FIRM properties purchased after Biggert-Waters was enacted; and policies for Pre-FIRM properties that were rated full-risk under Biggert-Waters due to a lapse in coverage, but only for policies where the lapse was due to a property owner no longer being required to purchase flood insurance. The issuance of refunds will begin on Oct. 1 and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2014. For more information, contact Russell Riggs, 202-383-1259.
- International Buyers Flock to U.S. Markets
Favorable exchange rates, affordable home prices, and rising affluence abroad continues to drive international buyers to the U.S., according to NAR's 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity. Between April 2013 and March 2014, the total international sales are estimated at $92.2 billion, an increase from the previous period's level of $68.2 billion. Pass on more information to your members about the top destinations for foreign buyers, where they're coming from, and what types of homes they're purchasing.
- As reported by Tom Kelly, Washington ranked No. 2 in a recent study of energy expenses conducted by WalletHub, a personal finance social media network. With summer having the highest energy consumption of the year and Americans relocating to start a new job, WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on the most and least energy-efficient. The company used six metrics to explore a number of different factors: Electricity (price and consumption), Natural Gas (price and consumption), Automobile Fuel (price and consumption). According to WalletHub, energy costs take about 7.1 percent of the average consumer's total income.
|Least Expensive States||Most Expensive States|
|1 Colorado||42 Texas|
|2 Washington||43 Alaska|
|3 Montana||44 Wyoming|
|4 Rhode Island||45 West Virginia|
|5 Nebraska||46 Alabama|
|6 District of Columbia||47 Oklahoma|
|7 Pennsylvania||48 Georgia|
|8 Arkansas||49 Connecticut|
|9 Delaware||50 Mississippi|
|10 Iowa||51 Hawaii|