News in Brief
- The real estate industry is expected to strengthen this year and continue to get stronger through 2017, according to a new report released from the Urban Land Institute Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, which is based on a survey of the industry's top economists and analysts. Survey respondents said that the residential, single-family housing sector remains in recovery mode and economists predict that housing starts will rise from 647,000 in 2014 to 700,000 in 2015; to 815,000 in 2016; and 900,000 by the end of 2017. Economists predict that existing home prices will rise through 2017-rising rising 5 percent this year, another 4 percent in 2016, and by 4 percent in 2017. Survey respondents were also upbeat with their forecasts for the commercial market.
- Seattle is No. 8 in the 2015 Walk Score's Most Walkable Cities. Topping the list is New York (No. 1), San Francisco (No. 2), Boston (No. 3), Philadelphia (No. 4), Miami (No. 5), Chicago (No. 6) and Washington, DC (No. 7). Walk Score ranked the most walkable United States cities with populations of more than 300,000 by analyzing over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. The Street Smart Walk Score algorithm incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data.
- About one-third of recent homebuyers failed to shop around for a mortgage, saying they were satisfied with the first quote that a lender gave them, according to Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey and reported by mynorthwest.com. Researchers found that higher-income and younger-aged borrowers were the most likely to gather multiple quotes when shopping for a mortgage. On the other hand, "first-time homebuyers and lower-income borrowers are more likely to say that referrals from friends, family, or co-workers had a major influence on their choice of lender," noted Sarah Shahdad and Qiang Cai of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research Group. "Only first-time homebuyers are more likely to say that a real estate agent's or mortgage specialist's referral influenced their choice of lender. These findings suggest that there is an opportunity to help consumers be better informed and improve upon the mortgage shopping process." Shahdad and Cai urge that consumers be provided with more information about mortgage product choices and that buyers be encouraged to seek multiple sources of information.
- Gallup polled over 1,000 adults and found that 31 percent of respondents considered real estate to be the best long-term investment, 25 percent of those surveyed said that stocks and mutual funds are the best long-term investment, followed by gold at 19 percent. This marks a big change from 2011-2012 when gold was the most appealing investment. While confidence in real estate declined during the global banking crisis and recession, real estate is now ranked as the top investment choice or tied for the top choice among all major gender, age and income groups. A recent generational trends study from the National Association of REALTORS® reported that 79 percent of all buyers surveyed considered buying a home a "good financial investment."