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September 2015

News in Brief

  • The median market time for a Seattle-area home has reached an all-time low of nine days, according to real estate brokerage Redfin. Redfin's barometer of national median time on the market dropped to just 26 days in June, the shortest time on record. Denver homes sold in six days or fewer in June; Portland was 10 days, and Boston was 11 days, according to Redfin. The strength of the local economy, employment and income growth, and low inventories of homes for sale compared to demand are all factors that lead to faster selling times, according to economists. The National Association REALTORS┬« also has a market-time gauge. NAR revealed that national properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, the shortest number of days since it began tracking in May 2011. Short sales spent the most time on the market with a median of 129 days, foreclosures sold in 39 days, and non-distressed homes were on the market for 33 days. NAR reported that 47 percent of homes sold in less than a month in June.

  • Over the next five years, the housing market will see approximately 1.5 million eligible return buyers jump back into home ownership, according to a new study by the National Association of REALTORS┬«. These return buyers, nicknamed "boomerang buyers," lost their homes during the housing crisis. They have restored their credit and are ready to impact the already low inventories of homes for sale. Since 2006, 950,000 of these former owners have already purchased a home again and more are on the way. Close to 700,000 of the 7.3 million homeowners who went through foreclosure or short sales are now are eligible to get a mortgage again this year, reported Daren Blomquist, vice president of Realty Trac.

  • The tight supply of available homes is prompting more house hunters to bid up home prices, according to national housing analysts and reported in mynorthwest.com. "Prices are rising just too fast," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS┬«, the nation's largest trade association. "And certainly far ahead of people's income." NAR recently reported that the limited number of homes for sale was pushing the national median sales price above its 2006 peak. In its latest existing-home sales report, NAR noted that the median home price for all housing types reached $236,400 in June - 6.5 percent above year ago levels and surpassing the peak median sales price set in July 2006 at $230,400. Housing's inventory problem is occurring across housing types. Condos made up just 5.5 percent of all multifamily building in the first quarter of this year, the lowest on record for the Commerce Department, which has been tracking such information for more than four decades. Single-family construction is also about half of what it should be, according to Bob Denk, senior economist at the National Association of Home Builders. As for what's hindering the new-home supply, Denk points to a skilled labor shortage in the building industry as well as a shortage in the number of lots to build on. "We are having these supply chain headwinds," Denk said. "It's hard to just double overnight. But the other part of that is we have produced at this level before, so it's not impossible."

  • Today's first-time homebuyer is older and more likely to be single than first-timers in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Seattle-based Zillow. Americans are renting for an average of six years before buying their first homes. In the 1970s, they rented for an average of 2.6 years. First-timers also spend a bigger chunk of their incomes to buy: In the 1970s, first-time homebuyers bought homes that cost about 1.7 times their annual income. Now they're buying homes that cost 2.6 times their annual income, according to Zillow. Part of that can be attributed to the housing markets where millennials are moving: more expensive cities on the coasts, where there are growing job markets. The average first-time homebuyer is about 33, at the front end of the millennial generation. The median income hovers near $54,340, which is about the same as what first-time homebuyers made in the 1970s when adjusted for inflation. In the late 1980s, 52 percent of first-time homebuyers were married. Today, only 40 percent are married.