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October 2020

News In Brief

October 8, 2020

  • A new study has found that Seattle ranks as the No.1 overall best city in the nation for coffee and coffee lovers. It isn't exactly a surprise that Seattle - home of Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee and a host of excellent local coffee shops that roast their own beans - would take the top ranking. But it turns out that Seattle has plenty of competition - many other cities love their coffee, too, and take pride in their local java joints. The study, by personal finance website WalletHub to honor National Coffee Day on Sept. 29, ranked the 100 largest U.S cities across 12 key indicators of a strong coffee culture. The criteria ranged from coffee shops per capita to the average price of coffee to the number of coffee-lover meetups per capita. Seattle had the highest overall score of any U.S. city - and also ranked No. 1 for most affordable high-quality coffee shops per capita and most coffee and tea manufacturers per capita. In addition, the study found that Seattle households rank sixth in the nation for average spending on coffee per household - but only 54th in the nation for the percentage of households that own a coffee maker. A recent survey by the National Coffee Association found that 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every day, with the average coffee drinker consuming three cups daily. Rounding out the top five coffee cities in America were San Francisco, at No. 2, followed by Portland. Ore,; Miami, Fla.; and Tampa, Fla. The least coffee-friendly city in the country? That would be Toledo, Ohio. Other cities in the bottom five for coffee culture were Laredo, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Detroit, Mich.

  • Paint company Sherwin-Williams on Tuesday announced its 2021 color of the year: "urbane bronze." The hue is said to instill calmness and has ties to nature, Sherwin-Williams says. The color trends of 2020 ushered in a return to bolder hues, moving away from the popularity of cooler neutrals that dominated most of the 2010s. Now, Sherwin-Williams describes the 2021 choice as "bold and understated at the same time." Urbane bronze can work inside or out in a home, used as a primary or accent color in bedrooms, living rooms, dens, or home offices, Sherwin-Williams says.

  • A new housing report shows 73.9 million Americans reside in a community with a homeowners association or condominium board. That is more Americans than ever, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. California now leads the nation with 49,200 associations, followed by Florida, with 48,500; Texas, with 21,000; Illinois, with 18,800; North Carolina, with 14,100; and New York, with 14,000, the report says. In 2019, there were about 351,000 community associations in the U.S. The Foundation for Community Association Research estimates that the number in 2020 will increase to 354,000. Most residents say they appreciate the work of their community association in helping to maintain standards in their neighborhood, according to the report. Seventy percent of homeowner and condo association residents rate their overall experience living in a community association as "very good" or "good," according to the Foundation's 2020 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey. The value of homes in a community association is nearly $7.2 trillion. About $96 billion in assessments is collected annually from homeowners to fund essential maintenance in their communities, according to the foundation's report. As many local cities face financial challenges, many communities are requiring builders of new developments to create an association to assume many responsibilities that traditionally belonged to local and state governments, such as road maintenance and trash removal. Seventy-seven percent of new housing built for sale now falls in a community association. Homeowners contribute $27.4 billion to association reserve funds for the repair, replacement, and enhancement of common property areas, such as swimming pools and elevators, or resurfacing of streets.

  • More Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August, suggesting the hot U.S. housing market will continue to churn well into fall. The National Association of Realtors said that its index of pending sales rose 8.8% to a record high of 132.8. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001. It had sunk to a low of 69 in April, when buyers and sellers were sidelined as the coronavirus swept through the U.S. Contract signings are a barometer of finalized purchases over the next two months, so this month's numbers point to continued strong sales into October. The housing market has been one of the highlights of the U.S. economy, which is still trying to get back its pre-virus momentum. Contract signings are now 24.2% ahead of where they were last year, after falling behind last year's pace earlier in the year because of the pandemic. The positive pending home sales numbers follow a pair of indicators showing continued strength in the housing market. The National Association of Realtors said that sales of existing homes rose 2.4% in August to its highest level since 2006. Sales are up 10.5% from a year ago and back to pre-COVID-19 levels of early 2020. Also last week, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes rose a solid 4.8% in August after surging 13.9% in July. Historically low interest rates of less than 3% are pushing buyers into the market, even as home prices rise due to lack of available properties. The median price for an existing single-family home reached $315,000 in August, up 11.7% from August 2019. The median price of a new home sold in August was $312,800. All four regions of the U.S. saw more contract signings for the third straight month

Ā·        The2020 REALTORSĀ® Conference & Expo, originally scheduled for Nov. 13-16 inNew Orleans, will transition to a fully virtual format given the ongoing healthand safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Inrecent surveys designed to look at member and association staff interest intraveling to New Orleans for an in-person conference, more than two-thirds ofrespondents reported that they'd be unwilling to do so. They cited safetyconcerns, including their desire to avoid crowds and the unlikelihood of avaccine being available by November. NAR will announce details, includingregistration information, in the coming weeks. The virtual format will allowthe association's full governance processes to proceed normally during theconference, which will also include educational speakers, energizing livestreamedcontent, networking opportunities, and an industry expo