News In Brief
A growing number of Seattleites can consider themselves as million-dollar homeowners as housing prices continue to climb in the region. Seattle now ranks 10th among U.S. metro areas for percentage of homes worth $1 million or more, according to a newly-released study by Trulia. In 2018, 13.3 percent of all homes in the city are worth at least seven figures, up from 11.8 percent last year. The median house price stands at just under $565,000, Trulia says. We're still a far cry from the Bay Area though, where 81 percent of homes in San Francisco and 70 percent of homes in San Jose are worth $1 million or more. Oakland checks in third at 30.7 percent, Truila says. Seattle's 13.3 percent just a little behind Los Angeles at 13.9 percent. And Seattle's million-dollar homes aren't just clumped in one or two spots. Trulia found out of the city's 95 neighborhoods, 10 of them are classified as "million-dollar neighborhoods" where more than half the homes are worth $1 million or more. But Seattle's not the only city in the region with million-dollar homes. Trulia finds that Bellevue has the highest percentage in the region of Million Dollar Neighborhoods. Of the 23 Bellevue neighborhoods identified by Trulia, nine are over the $1 million mark-- three more than just two years ago. That's 39 percent of all the city's neighborhoods. Other cities noted with at least one million-dollar neighborhood: Kirkland (5 out of 15), and Shoreline (2 out of 14). San Francisco, as mentioned, is pretty much million-dollar city with 87 out of 102 neighborhoods having 50 percent or more million-dollar homes. Nationally, the share of homes worth $1 million or more has doubled since 2012 from 1.5 percent of all homes to 3.6 percent today.
In November Consumer Reports predicted the hottest interior paint colors for 2019. Color experts at the major paint companies told the editors earth tones will be big next year - various shades of green, blue and orange - as people long for the restorative power of nature. Some colors are subtle, like Metropolitan from Benjamin Moore, described as "a stylish gray with cool colors." Some a big and bold, like Orange Slice from Valspar, described as a "zesty" orange. Cavern Clay, a warm terra-cotta from Sherwin-Williams, makes you think of canyons and deserts. Night Watch, a classic green that represents "the deep green hue found in the forests" is PPG's color of the year. Behr's Blueprint is described as "warmer than denim, but softer than navy. It's a midrange blue that makes a statement, but doesn't overwhelm. Stainless Steel from Clark+Kensington is a fresh take on periwinkle that can really brighten up a space. More Info: Hottest Interior Paint Colors of 2019.
The city where the most locals plan to stay put is Spokane, WA. It's also the city that is the most popular with out-of-towners who want to move in, according to a new analysis by realtor.com®. The city is about four hours inland from Seattle and is known for its affordability compared to many other Western cities. Far more buyers around Spokane are looking for homes in the city rather than outside the city, according to realtor.com®'s report. Realtor.com® researchers evaluated the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. to see where views of listings were coming from, whether inside or outside the metro area. About 36.4 percent of Spokane home shoppers were looking at listings from other states. The majority of those views came from consumers in Seattle. In Spokane, the median home price is $290,000 compared to $555,050 in Seattle.
Washington state's October unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent - the lowest level ever recorded - according to figures released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department. The historic low unemployment level was reached after the state economy added 12,400 jobs last month. The department also announced that September's previously reported unemployment rate of 4.4 percent was confirmed. However, September's preliminary estimated gain of 4,500 jobs was revised upward to a gain of 8,300 jobs. The national unemployment rate remained constant at 3.7 percent in October. In October 2017, the national unemployment rate was 4.1 percent. Washington state's labor force in October was 3,782,200 - an increase of 11,500 people from the previous month. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16. The October 2018 report shows the greatest private job growth occurred in construction, up 2,500 jobs; leisure and hospitality, up 1,400 jobs; and information, up 1,300 jobs. Financial activities, manufacturing and professional and business services each were up 1,000 jobs. Other sectors adding jobs were other services, up 800 jobs; wholesale trade, up 700 jobs; transportation, warehousing and utilities, up 600 jobs; education and health services, up 400 jobs; and mining and logging, up 100 jobs. Only the retail trade sector experienced a loss of 2,000 jobs.
FHA's main insurance fund is in good financial health, the agency reports. The capital reserve ratio is 2.76 percent for 2018, an increase from 2.18 percent for fiscal year 2017. The total capital reserves for 2018 are $34.86 billion, a $8.12 billion increase from 2017. This is the fourth year in a row that the fund exceeds the statutory requirement to maintain at least a 2 percent capital reserve ratio.
Seattle's average year-over-year home price increases have dropped to their lowest level in over three years - but still remain well above the national average, according to the latest figures released late November. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index shows that Seattle's yearly home prices rose by 8.4 percent in September - down from 9.6 percent the month before and well below the double-digit percentage increases that have been the norm since late 2015. It was the third month in a row that home price increases have declined in Seattle. Still, Seattle's 8.4 percent increase is well above the national average of 5.1 percent, which dropped from 5.5 percent in the previous month. It was the sixth straight month that home price increases have slowed nationwide. The weaker price gains reflect a broader slowdown in the U.S. housing market. Sales of existing homes rose modestly in October, snapping a six-month streak of declines. But sales are still 5.1 percent lower than they were a year ago. New home sales have fallen for four straight months. The declines can be mostly traced to higher mortgage rates, which have jumped in the past year. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is now 4.9 percent, up from 3.9 percent a year ago. Home prices, even with the slowdown, are still rising more quickly than incomes. Combined with higher borrowing costs, that has made a home purchase less affordable for many Americans. The largest yearly price increases were in Las Vegas and San Francisco, where prices rose 13.5 percent and 9.9 percent respectively. Seattle's 8.4 percent increase was the third-highest of the 20 largest cities.
The smallest home price increases were in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, where they increased 2.6 percent, 2.9 percent and 3 percent. Nationwide, a shortage of homes for sale has plagued potential buyers for the past couple of years, but the inventory of unsold homes has crept higher in recent months.
Washington state leaders are calling for a new way to limit the use of plastic bags. A new bill that's being announced Wednesday morning would put a 2-cent tax on each single-use plastic bag used across the state. Currently, there are 19 cities in Washington that have plastic bag bans in place, including Seattle, Tacoma, and Edmonds. Kenmore most recently approved a ban that takes effect on Jan. 1. Whether those cities would be affected by the legislation and the details of which bags would be taxed are not yet known. Lawmakers tried to pass a tax on plastic bags in the last legislative session, but it failed. The new bill will be introduced in the 2019 session. KIRO 7 looked at a Department of Revenue fiscal note which says that even with bag bans in place, Washington state consumers still use plastic bags at the same rate per capita as consumers across the rest of the country. The agency also says the tax would generate millions of dollars in revenue, nearly $14 million in fiscal 2019.