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All Blog Entries by Tom Covello

Found 102 blog entries published by Tom Covello.

Not enough housing has been built in Washington to meet in-migration and job growth, which has fueled home price and rent escalation, longer commutes as people drive farther for affordable housing, and lower quality of life, according to a January report that calls for more high-density housing walkable to transit corridors and other amenities. More high- and medium density housing and fewer single-family homes would improve lifestyles, the environment, Gross State Product (GSP) and tax revenues, it projected.

The report, Housing Underproduction in Washington State: Economic, Fiscal, and Environmental Impacts of Enabling Transit-Oriented Accessible Growth to Address Washington’s Housing Affordability Challenge, was authored by Up For Growth, a

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It was a seriously strong start to 2020 in the mortgage business for new home loans and refinances.

Total mortgage application volume surged 30.2% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

Refinancing led the surge, thanks to a drop in mortgage rates. Those applications jumped 43% for the week and were 109% higher than a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 62.9% of total applications from 58.9% the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) decreased to the lowest level since September, 3.87%, from 3.91%, with points decreasing to 0.32 from 0.34 (including the

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Despite seeing a dip at the start of 2019, housing prices increased in the Puget Sound region in 2019, all while supply continued to dwindle.

“Inventory shortages persisted throughout 2019,” said the Northwest Multiple Listing Service in a newly-released report on 2019’s housing market.

The NWMLS reported the addition of 110,040 listings in 2019, a 5.3 percent decrease over the previous year. All while the median price of single-family homes sold by NWMLS brokers jumped from $410,000 to $435,000 between 2018 and 2019.

According to a recent report from Redfin, that trend persisted in Seattle city limits as well, punctuated by a 6 percent increase in the median price of a home year-over-year, while seeing a 39.7 percent decline in available

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The interest rate for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.9% for 2019, the fourth lowest annual average since 1971, according to Freddie Mac. For 2020, Freddie’s outlook mirrors that of the real estate industry’s top economists, who discussed their predictions at the National Association of REALTORS®’ first-ever Real Estate Forecast Summit earlier this month: Low mortgage rates and an improving economy will help drive steady home sales, construction, and increases in home prices.

“While the outlook for the housing market is bright, worsening housing affordability is no longer a coastal phenomenon and is spreading to many interior markets, and it is a threat to the continued recovery in housing and the economy,” says Freddie Mac Chief

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In September, home prices rose 0.9%, declining 7.6% year over year, First American said in its Real House Price Index. According to the company, unadjusted house prices sit 8.1% above the housing boom peak.

Consumer buying power, which measures the influence of income and interest rate changes on house-hold spending, increased by 0.2% between August and September, rising 15.8% year over year.

When consumer house-buying power is factored in, home prices are actually 42.2% below their 2006 peak and 18.8% below prices from January 2000.

Although housing affordability improved during the month, Mark Fleming, First American’s chief economist said the growth just wasn’t enough.

“Two of the three key drivers of the Real House Price Index,

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Beginning in January, homeowners in Washington state will soon pay a real estate tax that increases based on the sale price of their home.

 Under the new provision, the tax rate on properties that sell above $1.5 million will more than double, rising from 1.28% to 2.75%. Homes that sell for more than $3 million will be taxed at 3%.   And Washington isn't the only state changing the way it taxes real estate. New York also recently expanded its "mansion tax" -- an additional tax that targets higher-end home sales.    Most real estate deals in the US trigger what is known as a transfer tax. But certain states -- including Connecticut, Hawaii, New…
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Another new report is shining a light on Seattle’s rapid growth among leading tech hubs.

CBRE’s annual Tech-30 report, which measures the tech industry’s impact on North American office real estate markets, shows Seattle is the sixth fastest growing tech market in overall office rent growth. Rents jumped 12.4 percent between Q2 2017 and Q2 2019, up from 11.7 percent in the previous two-year period, CBRE reported.

Seattle is also fourth in tech employment growth, with a rate of 23.7 percent during 2017 and 2018. The 34,000 new jobs added in the market were the highest number among any of the Tech-30 cities.

Vancouver, B.C., San Francisco and Toronto were the top three markets ahead of Seattle in the overall ranking of the 30 markets.

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According to Freddie Mac’s latest set of predictions, issued on October 31, the U.S. real estate market will “continue to firm” as home sales increase. In fact, they believe housing is currently one of the brighter spots in the U.S. economy.

Their chief economist, Sam Khater, said that despite a global economic slowdown the U.S. real estate market “remains on solid ground with housing starts, building permits, existing home sales, and new home sales all outperforming the broader economy.”

Home Sales Expected to Increase Slightly

The first and most notable prediction has to do with home sales in 2019 and 2020. The group issued a mostly positive outlook for residential real estate sales activity in 2020. Home sales nationwide are expected to

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Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported year-over-year gains in pending sales, closed sales and prices, but its report summarizing September activity also showed an 18% drop in inventory compared to a year ago.

"The transition into the fall housing market creates opportunities for homebuyers," suggested J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. "Although there are fewer listings than what buyers find during peak summer months, there is also less competition" for the available inventory, he added.

 Scott noted "It appears we are headed toward a more intense winter market than last year." He said he expects the number of unsold listings will continue to decrease once the winter "clean-up" of inventory

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While supply problems hamstrung most of the market during the end of summer — what's normally known as the peak real estate season — September was a different beast entirely, more like a "roller coaster" where prices were up in certain areas and down in others.

But as the summer season gives way to fall, that can open up avenues for those trying to break in to the market.

"The transition into the fall housing market creates opportunities for homebuyers," J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said in the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service report. "Although there are fewer listings than what buyers find during peak summer months, there is also less competition."

By the end of last month, NWMLS brokers reported

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