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October 2016

News In Brief

By Communications

  • According to The Seattle Times, the University of Washington is ranked 54th in U.S. News & World Report's 2017 list of best national universities and 16th among public national universities. Washington State University is ranked 143rd in the national list and also ranked 95th among best schools for veterans. Seattle Pacific University is ranked 159th on the national list. Among the best national liberal-arts schools, Whitman College is 41st, and the University of Puget Sound is 70th. U.S News ranks schools on up to 15 measures of academic quality, including graduation and retention rates. Also noted for "great schools for a great price in the West" are: Whitworth (5th), Pacific Lutheran (6th), St. Martin's (7th) and Gonzaga (13th).

  • Seattle now ranks in the top ten metropolitan areas that can't keep pace with the demand for single family housing generated by job growth.  In a study just released by the National Association of REALTORS, the Seattle housing market ranked seventh in terms of a construction permit shortfall.  The study measured the number of building permits needed to satisfy the demand for housing as a result of job growth over a three year period from 2013 to 2015.  NAR estimates Seattle needed an additional 73,000 building permits to keep pace with its job growth over that period of time. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of NAR, said a mix of both starter homes and larger units are needed "to ensure home ownership opportunities remain in reach to qualified prospective buyers at all age and income levels".

  • According to a report published in the Puget Sound Business Journal, our state's gross domestic product growth outpaced the rest of the country. Our GDP, which measures the goods and services Washington produces, grew 3.9 percent during the first quarter of 2016 to nearly $456 billion, up from $433 billion the same time last year. The GDP growth rate for the rest of the nation was only 1.2 percent. Washington produces 2.5 percent of the nation's GDP, and tied with Oregon and Arkansas for the highest growth rate in the first quarter.

  • In the past six months, the average apartment rent in Tacoma has increased by $142, or nearly 13 percent, according to data from the apartment search engine Rent Jungle and published in the Tacoma News Tribune. In Seattle, it's gone up $92, or 4.5 percent. As of August, average apartment rent in Seattle was $2,154. In Tacoma, it was $1,246.The rising rent in Tacoma, according to the Tribune, is likely due to increasing demand perhaps by many who have been pushed out of Seattle. Housing inventory is tight in Tacoma, just as it is in Seattle.

  • Seattle property is getting more looks than its sister city to the north, according to a report in mynorthwest.com. The Vancouver Sun reports that figures from Chinese website Juwai.com, which connects investors with international home sellers and real estate agents, shows property buying inquires from foreign investors shot up in August compared to August 2015. Meanwhile, inquiries in Vancouver, B.C. dropped 81 percent in August. The cause, according to the Sun, could have to do with the recently introduced offshore investor tax. The change has been going on for some time, with demand increasing for cities with cheaper entry prices, Dave Platter of Juwai.com told the Sun. The offshore tax adds an extra 15 percent in property tax fees on residential real estate being purchased by foreign buyers. Though the Canadian government said in August it was too soon to conclude how the market would respond to the tax, sales of single-family homes have steadily declined and prices of luxury homes have been getting slashed. That is a drastic difference to Seattle's home prices, which continue to rise at an exceptional rate compared to a year ago. In June, reports showed a double-digit pace of home prices - twice the rate for the country's 20 largest cities. Of course, the foreign buyer tax in Vancouver could increase interest in other Canadian cities as well. Sotheby's reported the Greater Toronto area had a more active market this summer than expected. That trend will most likely continue, particularly for the single-family home market, according to the firm.