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January 2017

News In Brief

  • NAHB Economics recently released its 2016 "Priced Out" Estimates showing that, nationally, a $1,000 increase in the median new home price (triggered, for example, by additional regulation) will leave 152,903 households priced out of the market. This means that 152,903 U.S. households could qualify for a mortgage on the median-priced new home before, but not after, the price increases. The number of priced-out households varies across both state and metropolitan area. The differences are largely driven by the size of the population and the affordability of new homes. Among all the states, California registers the largest priced out effect where a $1,000 new home price increase pushes 15,328 households out of the market, followed by Texas (13,674), and Pennsylvania (9,374). The initial affordability of new homes is an important element in determining the size of the priced out effect. On a percentage basis, priced out effects are higher in areas where new homes are more affordable. For example, in Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, where 33% of households are capable of buying a median-priced new home, a $1,000 price increase leads to 5,148 households priced out of the market. In New York-Newark-Jersey City, which has an even larger population, only 13% of households can afford the median-priced new home, and 4,054 of them are squeezed out of the market if the price increases by $1,000. The NAHB estimates also show the number of households priced out of the new home market when interest rates rise. For example, in 2016, around 965,000 households nationwide would be priced out of the market for the median-priced new home if mortgage rates increased from 4.00% to 4.25%.

    More details on the estimates, model and its methodology are available on the NAHB website.

  • Washington state's unemployment rate dipped to 5.3 percent in November and the state added 3,600 jobs. November's unemployment rate was the lowest since June 2008. According to numbers released mid-December by the Employment Security Department, the private sector added 4,700 jobs, while the public sector saw a decrease of 1,100. The national unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November. The rate in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area dropped from 3.8 percent in October to 3.7 percent in November. The biggest job growth was seen in education and health services, with 3,200 new jobs created. Losses were seen in leisure and hospitality, with 3,100 positions lost.

  • Congratulations to Cheri Brennan of Alliance Communications who does public relations work for the Northwest MLS and Seattle King County REALTORS┬«. She was honored as one of three 2016 Hall of Achievement recipients by WSU Murrow School of Communications.

  • Nineteen states, including New York and California, will ring in the new year with an increase in the minimum wage. Massachusetts and Washington state will have the highest new minimum wages in the country, at $11 per hour.

  • The Labor Department indicated that weekly requests for jobless aid fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 during the last week in December. Claim tallies below 300,000 often point to healthy hiring levels. The low level of applications indicates that employers are holding onto workers and possibly looking to expand. Claims have stayed below 300,000 for 95 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970.