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October 2015

News In Brief

  • What's the effect of soaring Seattle home prices? As reported in mynorthwest.com only two percent of renters in the local area plan to buy this year, more than five times fewer than the national average, according to a new survey sponsored by Zillow. The national percentage of renters who say they plan to buy a home in the next year fell from 12.1 percent to 11.4 percent in the first six months of this year, and a smaller percentage of those surveyed said it was a good time to buy. The percentage of those surveyed who believe people who have recently bought a home will be better off in 10 years fell from 61 percent to 59 percent. The Zillow Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI) is derived from the U.S. Housing Confidence Survey (HCS), which polls 10,000 homeowners and renters about housing market conditions, expectations for the future and their attitudes toward homeownership in 20 of the large metro areas in the United States. Zillow sponsors the ZHCI and HCS, which were developed and are maintained by Pulsenomics LLC, an economics research and consulting firm. Seattle rose from number 10 to number two for housing confidence overall, and those surveyed expressed higher expectations for the housing market in the future. The Zillow study showed Seattle homes have appreciated 6.6 percent in the past year, yet agents report double-digit appreciation in many neighborhoods.

  • Livability.com has released its third-annual Top 100 Best Places to Live list for 2016. More than 2,100 cities (with populations between 20,000 and 350,000) were evaluated. More than 40 data points were analyzed that were then grouped into eight categories: economics, housing, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education, and health care. Nine Washington cities were featured as top 100 best places to live by Livability.com: Bellevue (2), Olympia (20), Kirkland (25), Richland (64), Renton (66), Bellingham (72), Bothell (80), Pullman (91) and Issaquah (95).

  • According to CNBC, real estate developers are hoping to entice young professional renters into home ownership by wooing them with tiny, more affordable condos. Downtown Washington, D.C. serves as one example of the tiny condo movement's gain in momentum. For example, Ontario 17, a new condominium building in D.C.'s Adams Morgan neighborhood, offers studios that are just 380 square feet and cost $275,000 - which is about half the neighborhood's median price. The building, which is not yet finished, is already about 70 percent sold. About 80 percent of the buyers have all been first-time home buyers. The studio units have a bed that pulls out of the wall, a dining table that pulls down from a hanging picture frame, a sofa that is built into the bottom of the bed, high-end kitchen appliances that are slightly smaller to fit the space, and in many cases a small terrace as well.

  • New mortgage disclosure rules took effect October 3, and lenders and real estate brokerages are quickly preparing for what has been predicted to be big changes to home closings, according to a report published on mynorthwest.com. New lender forms will merge the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, the Good Faith Estimate, and the Truth-in-Lending disclosure form into two new closing documents: a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure."There's going to be a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning," said Matt Culp of the Bainbridge Lending Group on 97.3 KIRO-FM's "Real Estate Today" program. "Consumers may face slightly longer closing times as the industry adjusts to the new process." Consumers will have more time to review the total costs of their mortgage prior to closing. The Loan Estimate form is due to consumers three days after they apply for a loan, while the Closing Disclosure form is due three days prior to closing. The Loan Estimate form shows the loan amount and interest rate, what the borrower's monthly payment will be, estimated taxes and insurance, and how much cash is required to close. Borrowers will face delays to closing if there are any last-minute changes with the financing of their loan. For example, if borrowers decide to change loan products at the last minute - such as switching from a fixed-rate mortgage to an adjustable-rate loan - borrowers will face a three-day delay in the closing to allow for reviews of the new Closing Disclosure form. Borrowers will not have a choice to waive the three-day review period. Some mortgage experts are recommending that borrowers lock in their mortgage rates 45 or 60 days, rather than the more common 30-day lock, in case there is any delay in closing.