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March 2015

News In Brief

By NWREporter

March 2015

  • The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that last year, the number of foreclosures in our area fell by more than 40 percent, according to RealtyTrac's year-end 2014 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report. The data indicates that foreclosures are down throughout the U.S., and that 2014 showed that foreclosure filings were almost as low as they had been in 2006.

  • According to Tom Cain of Apartment Insights, apartments in Seattle are renting for only about 8 percent more than last year. And in the final quarter of 2014, rents actually fell by $5 and the vacancy rate rose to 4.55 percent. Cain believes that rents won't rise as much in 2015, and the vacancy rate will increase modestly as well. Vacancy rates were reported to be the lowest in the University District and Burien (2.75 percent) and highest in Ballard (10.48 percent). The average rent for new leases in apartments in King and Snohomish counties during the fourth quarter was $1,313. Developers are expected to open thousands of new apartments during 2015.

  • According to the Seattle Times, the University of Washington, its medical complex and branch campuses generate $12.5 billion in jobs, sales of goods and services, and other economic impacts for the state. The UW's state economic impact is larger than that of any of the other 200-plus colleges and universities that the consulting firm Tripp Umbach has ever studied.

  • Home improvement business could reach record levels this year, according to a new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. What's behind the increase? Potential trade-up buyers are fixing up their existing homes for sale, federal and state subsidies are increasing the desire for energy-efficient upgrades, and landlords are sprucing up their properties to justify raising rents, according to the report. A strengthening job market is also helping to lead more homeowners to take on home remodeling projects, following years of delaying projects. Spending on discretionary home improvement projects jumped by nearly $6 billion between 2011 and 2013 - the first rise since 2007, according to the report. The top remodeling projects continue to target the kitchen and adding a new bathroom, but baby boomers also are increasingly retrofitting their homes for better accessibility and with age-in-place features. Also, more homeowners are tackling home projects centered on energy efficient upgrades, such as for windows and heating and cooling systems.

  • Relationship status may affect when and where buyers purchase a home and how much they spend on a home, according to the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of REALTORS┬«. NAR analyzed the median age, income, and size of home purchased for married couples, unmarried couples, single men, and women. Researchers found that married couples throughout the country tend to spend the most on their home purchase, averaging $240,000. Unmarried couples average $186,600 on their home purchase, followed by single males who spend $173,700 and single females who spend $153,600. Researchers also identified the following most important neighborhood features among the group:
    • Single females: convenience to friends and family
    • Single males: convenience to entertainment/leisure activities
    • Unmarried couples: affordability
    • Married couples: quality of and convenience to school district
  • Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1976, has had the sharpest drop in home ownership since the recession, according to U.S. Census data. Home ownership among the age group has plunged 9 percent since 1994, with researchers pointing to unemployment to blame. Although there is much talk about millennials and baby boomers in real estate, Gen X is still an important generation. As the economy continues to recover, they're re-entrance into home ownership is expected to recover as well. A report by RealtyTrac uses Census data to find which metros Gen-Xers are gravitating to, and the following metro areas have the largest bulk of Gen Xers:
    1. Raleigh-Cary, N.C. : 18.54% (the percentage of the population that is Gen-X)
    2. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA: 18.01%
    3. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, North & South Carolina: 18.01%
    4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: 17.94%
    5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA: 17.58%
    6. Washington, DC-Arlington-Alexandria, VA: 17.57%
    7. Austin-Round Rock, TX: 17.50%
    8. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX: 17.50%
    9. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: 17.12%
    10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: 17.11%