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May 2016

News In Brief

  • College Choice (http://www.collegechoice.net/), a leading authority in college and university rankings, has published a ranking of the top fifty master of business administration (MBA) programs in the United States available here:  http://www.collegechoice.net/rankings/top-mba-programs-2016/  University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, and Harvard University occupy the top five spots on the list, which is based on factors such as cost of attendance, each program's reputation in its field, and return on investment. The University of Washington is ranked in the top fifty MBA programs. Other schools include University of Wisconsin, MIT, Northwestern University, Texas A&M, and University of Texas at Austin.

  • According to career expert websiteZippia, Snoqualmie, WA is the 4th hardest working small city in the United States. The website's staff crunched numbers from the latest American Community Survey, using average hours worked, average commute times, workers per household, labor force participation rates, and adults with college degrees, as criteria to determine the 10 "hardest working" small cities in the country. Small cities ranked ahead of Snoqualmie are: Highland Village, TX, Plainfield, IL and Suwanee, GA.

  • Last month, the U.S. Senate passed S 2012, the U.S. Energy Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Two provisions relate specifically to the real estate sector: (1) The SAVE Act would allow federal mortgage underwriters, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to consider the energy savings from efficiency upgrades when determining a homebuyer's ability to make payments. (2) The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation fund, which acquires land from willing sellers to create parks, greenways and other outdoor recreational spaces. The provision also reforms the program by redirecting more funds to non-federal and private land acquisition programs. The bill now heads to a conference with the House energy bill, H.R. 8, to reconcile both pieces of legislation before it can get to the President's desk for a signature.

  • The Street recently identified three housing trends emerging this spring as follows: 1) Inventory favors sellers - buyers are competing for limited inventories, inventories of less expensive "starter homes," in particular of dropped, which is making it difficult for first-time buyers to break into the market. Home buyers need to act fast. 2) More buyers may consider a new home - because the inventory of existing homes is small, some home buyers may seek greater alternatives to limited inventories and consider building a home and buying new. 3) Buying is cheaper than renting - seven in ten respondents of a recent Freddie Mac survey believe it's cheaper to pay rent than a monthly mortgage on a home. Saving for a downpayment may be a big hurdle for many prospective home buyers. However, studies show that buying trumps renting in 98 of the largest metros in the nation.