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January 2016

News In Brief

  • Eight years after the housing crash, 10 percent of all Seattle-area homeowners with a mortgage owe more than their home is worth while 25 percent have less than 20 percent equity in their home and would have difficulty in selling and buying another, according to a new study by Zillow. Almost a million fewer U.S. homeowners were "under water" in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year. The improving rate means those people may be able to sell or refinance their homes before mortgage interest rates rise, as they are expected to do in the coming weeks. Las Vegas has had the highest negative equity rate in the country for the past four and a half years, and Kansas City and Cleveland, with 16.6 and 16.8 percent negative equity respectively, are not far behind. San Francisco and San Jose are the only large markets where less than five percent of homeowners are underwater.

  • King County home sellers are seeing an average of a 48 percent profit since purchase, according to RealtyTrac's October 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report. King County was tied for seventh in the poll with Travis County, Texas; and Contra Costa County, California. Six of the top 10 spots were held by California markets. Seattle's median home prices rose 10 percent from a year ago in October, according to RealtyTrac. Here are RealtyTrac's top 10 counties where sellers, on average, sold for the largest percentage profit since purchase:
    1. Alameda County, California: 75 percent gain
    2. Santa Clara County, California: 61 percent gain
    3. San Mateo County, California: 58 percent gain
    4. San Bernardino County, California: 52 percent gain
    5. Multnomah County, Oregon, in the Portland metro area: 51 percent gain
    6. Denver County, Colorado: 49 percent gain
    7. King County: 48 percent gain
    8. Travis County, Texas, in the Austin metro area: 48 percent gain
    9. Contra Costa County, California: 48 percent gain
    10. Orange County, California: 46 percent gain

  • Total sales for existing and new homes are expected to reach six million for the first time since 2006 next year, according to a 2016 housing forecast issued by realtor.com. Gains in new-home construction and existing home sales are both expected to push total home sales to the highest levels in years. The new-home construction market is expected to see the most gains in 2016, with a 12 percent year-over-year increase in housing starts and a 16 percent year-over-year growth in new home sales. The gains in existing-home sales are expected to be more moderate, with expectations of a 3 percent year-over-year gain.

  • Be energy wise and cut energy costs. According to Sunnova, a solar-power company, here are six ways to trim energy costs: 1) consider installing a timer on the water heater - it will shut off when you're not home, 2) use cold water instead of hot water when washing clothes - nearly 90% of the energy consumed by washing machines goes to heating the water, 3) use a slow cooker and microwave when you cook - you can reduce up to 50% of energy consumed in meal preparation this way, 4) keep your computer in sleep mode when you're not using it, 5) unplug certain electronics and appliances that use "phantom power," and 6) keep the refrigerator between 36 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer between zero and 5 degrees. Defrost any ice build-up thicker than a 0.25-inch to improve efficiency.

  • CBB names new VP of marketing: Coldwell Banker Bain | Seal has named Robert Wachter as vice president of marketing, promoting him from his prior role as inbound marketing manager. He joined the company in 2012 after operating a creative services firm. Wachter holds degrees from the University of Washington and Northwest University and is a regular contributor to Inman News and Coldwell Banker's national blog.