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November 2020

News In Brief

November 5, 2020

  • Home prices skyrocketed in September by more than 18% in Seattle, and Tacoma was the fastest-selling real estate market in the nation for the third month in a row, a new analysis shows. The study, by real estate company Redfin, also found that average home prices shot up by more than 14% nationwide in September over the same month last year - the steepest increase ever recorded. In Seattle, the median home sales price in September rose by 18.5% over the same month last year to $640,000. The average home price in Tacoma was $435,000 - a 14.5% increase over last year. For the third month in a row, Tacoma also was the fastest market in the nation, with half of all homes pending sale in just six days, down from 16 days a year earlier. Seattle was tied with Indianapolis and Grand Rapids, Mich., as the second-fastest market in the nation, with half of homes pending sale in seven days. Tacoma also was the second most competitive market in the nation, with 59.6% of homes selling above list price.

  • U.S. homebuilder confidence advanced in October to a fresh all-time high as record-low interest rates continued to fuel sales and the demand outlook. A gauge of builder sentiment climbed to 85, the highest in records back to 1985, from 83 a month earlier, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Market Index released Monday. The October reading was stronger than the median forecast of 83 in a Bloomberg survey of economists, and marked the sixth straight month builder sentiment has exceeded the consensus estimate. The booming housing market has been a bright spot for the economy since the coronavirus lockdowns eased. Declining mortgage rates are making it easier for buyers interested in purchasing larger homes or relocating to suburbs as houses are increasingly viewed as remote workplaces in light of the pandemic. The NAHB's gauge of current single-family home sales rose by 2 points to a record 90 in October, while a measure of the outlook for purchases climbed 3 points to an all-time high of 88. The group's index of prospective buyer traffic held at 74. By region, builder sentiment in the West and Northeast rose to the highest levels on record, while confidence eased in the South and Midwest.

  • The Eastside suburb of Sammamish was named the Best Small City to Live in America by a new survey, though it was quite a bit of company from fellow Eastside neighbors near the top of the list. Wallethub compared 1,200 cities across the nation with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 and scored them against 43 indicators ranging from housing costs to school system quality to restaurants per capita -- even how they are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. They were broken into 5 main categories -- affordability, economic health, education & health, quality of life, and safety. Out of 1,200, Sammamish ranked No. 1 in Economic Health and 11th in Education and Health. It also scored extremely well in Safety (34th). It was above average in their affordability rank (146th) and only fared poor in their Quality of Life rank, which factored in such items as average commute time, entertainment & shopping options and even parks per capita. Sammamish just edged out Lexington, Massachusetts for the top overall spot, with Carmel, Indiana, Needham, Massachusetts and Sugar Land, Texas rounding out the Top 5. But fellow Eastside suburb Redmond ranked No. 10 overall, still placing in the 99th percentile. Other small Puget Sound cities to score in the top percentiles were Kirkland (98th), Bothell (98th), and Issaquah (96th).

  • Residents of Washington state have the third-highest average credit score in the nation, according to a new study. The study, by personal finance website WalletHub, found that Washingtonians have an average credit score of 709, which is solidly in the "good" range and well above the national average score of 680. The number to strive for is at least 750, which marks the beginning of the excellent credit range. The study also found that many people are struggling to maintain a good credit score as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on their finances, leading them to take out loans or fall behind on their payments. Minnesota has the highest average credit score in the nation, at 720, according to the study. It is followed by Hawaii at No. 2. North Dakota and South Dakota rank fourth and fifth highest, while Oregon comes in sixth best, with an average score of 707. Residents of Mississippi have the lowest average credit score, at 657. Alabama is second lowest, at 662.

  • Home prices around the country continued to shoot up as summer drew to a close - and the Seattle area was no exception, according to the Seattle Times. Prices around Seattle rose year-over-year by 8.5% in August, the second-highest rate of growth in the country after Phoenix, which clocked a 9.9% increase, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday morning. August was the seventh consecutive month that Seattle was second to Phoenix in average home price growth, and the 10th straight month that Seattle price growth topped national averages. Nationally, home prices rose year-over-year by an average 5.7% in August, compared to 4.8% the previous month.