Monthly Archives: June 2015

Want to buy a home in Seattle? You need to make $71,000 a year.

Yes, the flood of tech workers is driving up home prices in the Seattle area. But at least it isn’t as bad as San Francisco.

The median home price in the Seattle area is $352,400, which puts the city No. 7 on a list of the most expensive cities in the country to buy a home, according to new data released this week by mortgage finance company

To afford that, a person would have to make $71,702 per year, according to the company. Nationally, a person needs to make $47,253 per year to afford a home.

But compare that to No. 1-ranked San Francisco, where the median home price is $748,300 and a person would have to make $141,416 to afford to buy a home, and things look pretty good here in Seattle.

In many of the hottest Seattle neighborhoods, though, home prices are far higher than the median. That’s driving buyers outside the central core, which is helping the markets in nearby Snohomish and Pierce counties.

The median prices of condo and house sales that closed in April were up more than 13 percent in Pierce and Snohomish counties compared to a year ago.

Demand from buyers from outside the region is driving prices up as tech companies open offices in the Puget Sound region and bring workers here from away.

One out of four people in the Bay Area has searched for a home outside that region, and many are looking here. One in every 13 prospective homebuyers who live in the Bay Area is looking for homes only in the Pacific Northwest, according to data from online real estate brokerage Redfin.

 Emily Parkhurst, Puget Sound Business Journal

Quarter of a million homes regain equity in first quarter

Finally some good news for a change! Although 5.1 million properties under water 6 years after the recession ended seems like a lot still.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — In the first quarter, 254,000 properties regained equity, CoreLogic reported. The total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity is now at 5.1 million, or 10.2% of all mortgaged properties, down from 10.8% in the fourth quarter and 12.9% in the first quarter of 2014. Negative equity, often referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” refers to borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The national aggregate value of negative equity was $337.4 billion at the end of the first quarter.

By Steve Goldstein
Published: June 16, 2015 8:35 a.m. ET

And you thought Seattle’s housing market couldn’t get any tighter

The number of condo and house sales in the central Puget Sound region jumped 15 percent last month over the previous year, even as the number of residences for sale dropped precipitously.

The result: an even tighter housing market with home prices climbing at more than 9 percent, according to data the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) issued on Thursday.

In a balanced market, there is a four- to six-month supply of inventory. But in King County there was only 1.2 months of inventory last month, and several neighborhoods near Seattle’s job centers had less than a month of supply.

It’s not just King that has an acute shortage of homes for sale. NWMLS Director Dick Beeson of Tacoma said inventory in Pierce County is at a record low of 1.6 months.

“The stressed market is exhausting everyone in its path with no relief in sight,” said Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals.

As inventory has fallen, sales activity is at record high. During the first five months of the year, the number of pending sales in the four-county metro outpaced the previous record set in 2005, according to J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Inc.

Across King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, around 6,330 sales closed in May, or about 825 more than a year ago. Meanwhile, listings fell nearly 20 percent to around 10,250. That’s more than 2,500 fewer homes available for buyers to choose from, causing prices to increase.

Combined, the median sale price for condos and houses in King County jumped 9 percent to $434,000 last month compared to May 2014. Snohomish County’s median sale price hit $335,000 last month, up 9.8 percent. Kitsap’s median price climbed 15.2 percent to $265,000, and prices in Pierce jumped almost 9.2 percent to a median of $250,000.

“We’re still in desperate need of inventory,” OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate said. “The irony is that there are plenty of people who want to sell, but won’t put their home on the market until they can buy something new,” Jacobi said. “But they can’t buy something new until there are more homes on the market. It’s the proverbial chicken and egg situation for which I see no end in the near future.”

Marc Stiles

Puget Sound Business Journal

This is how much a 500-square-foot apartment will cost you in Seattle

Want a 500-square-foot apartment in Belltown? You’re looking at paying $1,275 a month in rent. That’s according to data released Friday by Seattle online real estate company Zillow.

No, $1,275 isn’t as much as you’d pay in New York City – 500 square feet will run you $2,250 in the Big Apple.

But it’s still evidence that rents are very much on the rise in fast-growing Seattle. Tech companies are drawing thousands of new workers to the city every month, and that’s driving up rents. A source told me the other day that Amazon is hiring 250 people a month in Seattle. They have to live somewhere.

The increasing cost of living has some Seattle City Councilmembers pushing for rent control. Developers and other civic leaders, however, are saying rent control is unlikely to work. Just look at New York City, where they’ve had rent control for decades.

Seattle is No. 6 on the list for most expensive 500-square-foot apartments, and No. 15 on Zillow’s list of the most expensive places for apartments. After New York, the other cities on the list are pretty much the ones you’d expect to see there: San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C.

Here are the top five most expensive neighborhoods, ranked by the average price of a 25-foot-by-25-foot box. I mean, apartment.

  • Belltown: $1,275
  • Downtown: $1,263
  • First Hill: $1,258
  • Capitol Hill: $1,089
  • Eastlake: $1,056 

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