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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Housing Market Back to “Pressure Cooker Situation”

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Housing Market Back to "Pressure Cooker Situation" But Brokers Remind Sellers "Pricing Is Still Important"

Latest Press Release



KIRKLAND, Washington (April 5, 2018) - Job growth and a recent run-up in mortgage rates has created an "extremely intense market for each new listing," stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate in commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
MLS figures for March show a surge in both new listings and pending sales compared to February as the spring market heats up. Compared to a month ago, pending sales climbed more than 29 percent (from 7,980 in February to 10,311 in March), while the volume of new listings jumped more than 45 percent from February to March.
"What used to be a quick action market for buyers is now, once again, an instant response market, and this has been the case since the first of the year," remarked Scott, adding "This is especially true in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in all markets, and also pertains to luxury properties close to the job centers."
Whether defined as $1 million or more or $2 million-plus, Northwest MLS figures confirm sales of luxury homes are surging. A comparison of first quarters show the year-over-year volume of sales of homes priced at $2 million or more is up 30 percent. Members reported 136 such sales during first quarter 2017; this year, the number is 177. For homes priced at $1 million or more, sales rose from 941 during first quarter last year to 1,204 this year, a gain of nearly 28 percent.
Prices overall are up about 13.2 percent from a year ago, and even more so in the four-county Puget Sound region. Among these four counties, Kitsap had the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, but King County homes are still the priciest. The median price for last month's sales of single family homes and condos combined in King County is $625,000, up 17.9 percent from a year ago. For single family homes, excluding condos, the median price for last month's sales was $689,950.
Year-over-year prices are up more than 18 percent in Pierce County and about 14.3 percent in Snohomish County.
Commenting on rising prices, veteran broker Mike Grady said "The market continues to trend hot" with no apparent end in sight. The slight rise in mortgage interest rates since January 1 could mean "some minor impact on non-cash first-time homebuyers," he suggested, adding, "Only time will tell." Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, said his company's tracking and analysis based on average prices (instead of median prices) shows that "along the I-5 corridor, our average sales price is tracking slightly higher than what the NWMLS median sales prices show."
Northwest MLS member brokers continue to scramble to replenish supply. They added 10,595 new listings during March, slightly more than a year ago when they added 10,321 properties to the selection. Last month's additions marked a big gain from February when 7,284 new listings were added.
As has been the pattern, pending sales nearly equaled the number of new listings. Brokers reported 10,311 pending sales last month, a slight drop from the year-ago figure of 10,415. Tight inventory may be to blame as the number of total active listings stood at 8,825 at month end, down nearly 9.7 percent from the year-ago total of 9,772. Fourteen of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS market area reported drops in pending sales.
"We have returned to an extremely intense market for each new listing due to extremely strong job growth and eager buyers who want to purchase before interest rates go higher," Scott reported. "The housing market is back to a pressure cooker situation and we are witnessing high levels of sales activity intensity for each new listing coming on the market," he commented.
Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, commented on the frustration many would-be homebuyers are experiencing. "I think this last quarter especially, many buyers are feeling like they brought a knife to a gunfight, there's been so much competition to buy a home."
The tri-county area comprised of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties added essentially the same number of new listings during first quarter 2018 as the same period a year ago, Beeson noted, while the actual number of sales dropped slightly. "Why? Because there are too few properties for sale and rental rates are through the roof. People are desperate to find a home," he stated. He likened the situation to Nordstrom not being able to keep their clothing racks filled because customers storm the store each day buying everything that's available.
Housing inventory remains well below "normal" ranges based on a level of 4-to-6 months of supply used as an indicator of a balanced market. Area-wide, Northwest MLS figures show there is about 1.2 months of supply, with four counties reporting less than a month's supply. Snohomish has the sparsest selection at 0.67 months, followed by King (0.83 months), Kitsap (0.95 months), and Pierce (0.99 months).
"Despite the low inventory and sellers' market, proper pricing is still important," emphasized John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.
"In March we saw more listings where sellers pushed the price envelope causing the property to go past their offer review date with no offers in hand," Deely reported. "It is not uncommon for buyers to consider a property on the market over 10 days as having something wrong with it," he added.
Nevertheless, Deely said many buyers are returning from taking a break during the winter after having lost out on several attempts to win in the multiple offer competition. "Throwing caution to the wind, these seasoned veterans of the multiple offer bidding wars are pulling out all the stops (contingencies) to win."
Rising interest rates and keen competition are motivating some buyers to make compromises, according to George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties.
"I was asked recently why some communities are seeing a higher sales volume then last year," Moorhead stated. "I explained this was simple logic with buyers in that instead of competing at their maximum price point in closer in communities and losing out on the perfect home, they compete in a lesser priced area where they can be more aggressive on the better homes in those areas. They may compromise on schools, public services, and commute times, but the opportunity of ownership increases significantly. The second key reason is that 30-year mortgage interest rates have increased .5% since the beginning of the year which erodes home affordability and pushes some buyers out of market places."
Commenting on the uptick in interest rates, the president of a mortgage firm who trains brokers around the country recently noted, "While $100 a month might not sound like too much, it might adjust a client's debt-to-loan ratio, which could push the size of a house they can afford down by $40,000 or $50,000."
Moorhead dismissed "chatter about a looming real estate bubble" based on prices and what used to be the norm. "The key is to understand the normal cyclical pattern of our real estate market. A healthy market has corrections and booms with a mix of flattening cycles," he stated, noting "Markets without these healthy cycles have catastrophic events much like we experienced in 2007 to 2011."
Instead of competing in today's market, some current owners are opting to remodel. "We are getting more and more requests for quality contractors for current homeowners looking to make updates to their home, instead of trying to move up to a better home or community," Moorhead said. "Just in the last 30 days we know of 12 homeowners starting home improvements in the $100,000 and up range, more out of sheer frustration that they cannot find or secure a move-up home to purchase. What this means on the larger scale is a continued lack of inventory coming on the market to feed the voracious appetite of the buyers in our marketplace."

NWMLS - Market Update

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Housing Market Back to “Pressure Cooker Situation”

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com



Housing Market Back to "Pressure Cooker Situation" But Brokers Remind Sellers "Pricing Is Still Important"

Latest Press Release



KIRKLAND, Washington (April 5, 2018) - Job growth and a recent run-up in mortgage rates has created an "extremely intense market for each new listing," stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate in commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
MLS figures for March show a surge in both new listings and pending sales compared to February as the spring market heats up. Compared to a month ago, pending sales climbed more than 29 percent (from 7,980 in February to 10,311 in March), while the volume of new listings jumped more than 45 percent from February to March.
"What used to be a quick action market for buyers is now, once again, an instant response market, and this has been the case since the first of the year," remarked Scott, adding "This is especially true in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in all markets, and also pertains to luxury properties close to the job centers."
Whether defined as $1 million or more or $2 million-plus, Northwest MLS figures confirm sales of luxury homes are surging. A comparison of first quarters show the year-over-year volume of sales of homes priced at $2 million or more is up 30 percent. Members reported 136 such sales during first quarter 2017; this year, the number is 177. For homes priced at $1 million or more, sales rose from 941 during first quarter last year to 1,204 this year, a gain of nearly 28 percent.
Prices overall are up about 13.2 percent from a year ago, and even more so in the four-county Puget Sound region. Among these four counties, Kitsap had the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, but King County homes are still the priciest. The median price for last month's sales of single family homes and condos combined in King County is $625,000, up 17.9 percent from a year ago. For single family homes, excluding condos, the median price for last month's sales was $689,950.
Year-over-year prices are up more than 18 percent in Pierce County and about 14.3 percent in Snohomish County.
Commenting on rising prices, veteran broker Mike Grady said "The market continues to trend hot" with no apparent end in sight. The slight rise in mortgage interest rates since January 1 could mean "some minor impact on non-cash first-time homebuyers," he suggested, adding, "Only time will tell." Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, said his company's tracking and analysis based on average prices (instead of median prices) shows that "along the I-5 corridor, our average sales price is tracking slightly higher than what the NWMLS median sales prices show."
Northwest MLS member brokers continue to scramble to replenish supply. They added 10,595 new listings during March, slightly more than a year ago when they added 10,321 properties to the selection. Last month's additions marked a big gain from February when 7,284 new listings were added.
As has been the pattern, pending sales nearly equaled the number of new listings. Brokers reported 10,311 pending sales last month, a slight drop from the year-ago figure of 10,415. Tight inventory may be to blame as the number of total active listings stood at 8,825 at month end, down nearly 9.7 percent from the year-ago total of 9,772. Fourteen of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS market area reported drops in pending sales.
"We have returned to an extremely intense market for each new listing due to extremely strong job growth and eager buyers who want to purchase before interest rates go higher," Scott reported. "The housing market is back to a pressure cooker situation and we are witnessing high levels of sales activity intensity for each new listing coming on the market," he commented.
Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, commented on the frustration many would-be homebuyers are experiencing. "I think this last quarter especially, many buyers are feeling like they brought a knife to a gunfight, there's been so much competition to buy a home."
The tri-county area comprised of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties added essentially the same number of new listings during first quarter 2018 as the same period a year ago, Beeson noted, while the actual number of sales dropped slightly. "Why? Because there are too few properties for sale and rental rates are through the roof. People are desperate to find a home," he stated. He likened the situation to Nordstrom not being able to keep their clothing racks filled because customers storm the store each day buying everything that's available.
Housing inventory remains well below "normal" ranges based on a level of 4-to-6 months of supply used as an indicator of a balanced market. Area-wide, Northwest MLS figures show there is about 1.2 months of supply, with four counties reporting less than a month's supply. Snohomish has the sparsest selection at 0.67 months, followed by King (0.83 months), Kitsap (0.95 months), and Pierce (0.99 months).
"Despite the low inventory and sellers' market, proper pricing is still important," emphasized John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.
"In March we saw more listings where sellers pushed the price envelope causing the property to go past their offer review date with no offers in hand," Deely reported. "It is not uncommon for buyers to consider a property on the market over 10 days as having something wrong with it," he added.
Nevertheless, Deely said many buyers are returning from taking a break during the winter after having lost out on several attempts to win in the multiple offer competition. "Throwing caution to the wind, these seasoned veterans of the multiple offer bidding wars are pulling out all the stops (contingencies) to win."
Rising interest rates and keen competition are motivating some buyers to make compromises, according to George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties.
"I was asked recently why some communities are seeing a higher sales volume then last year," Moorhead stated. "I explained this was simple logic with buyers in that instead of competing at their maximum price point in closer in communities and losing out on the perfect home, they compete in a lesser priced area where they can be more aggressive on the better homes in those areas. They may compromise on schools, public services, and commute times, but the opportunity of ownership increases significantly. The second key reason is that 30-year mortgage interest rates have increased .5% since the beginning of the year which erodes home affordability and pushes some buyers out of market places."
Commenting on the uptick in interest rates, the president of a mortgage firm who trains brokers around the country recently noted, "While $100 a month might not sound like too much, it might adjust a client's debt-to-loan ratio, which could push the size of a house they can afford down by $40,000 or $50,000."
Moorhead dismissed "chatter about a looming real estate bubble" based on prices and what used to be the norm. "The key is to understand the normal cyclical pattern of our real estate market. A healthy market has corrections and booms with a mix of flattening cycles," he stated, noting "Markets without these healthy cycles have catastrophic events much like we experienced in 2007 to 2011."
Instead of competing in today's market, some current owners are opting to remodel. "We are getting more and more requests for quality contractors for current homeowners looking to make updates to their home, instead of trying to move up to a better home or community," Moorhead said. "Just in the last 30 days we know of 12 homeowners starting home improvements in the $100,000 and up range, more out of sheer frustration that they cannot find or secure a move-up home to purchase. What this means on the larger scale is a continued lack of inventory coming on the market to feed the voracious appetite of the buyers in our marketplace."

NWMLS - Market Update

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Downtown Seattle Poised For Even Bigger Residential and Hotel Boom

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Downtown Seattle poised for even bigger residential and hotel boom

Downtown Seattle is experiencing explosive growth—but not all Seattleites have access to opportunity

2017 was a big year for construction, with more than 5,700 homes, 3.6 million square feet of office space, and more than 600 hotel rooms coming online in the city center alone. But the future outlook is even bigger.
Downtown neighborhood association Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) released its annual State of Downtown report this morning, which explored the trajectory of the city center’s growth over the past eight years—and forecasted even more explosive growth in the future.
DSA’s work covers not just the downtown retail core and waterfront, but some surrounding core neighborhoods: Uptown, South Lake Union, Denny Triangle, First Hill, parts of Capitol Hill, the International District, Pioneer Square, and Belltown.
Out of those neighborhoods, South Lake Union had the biggest year for new homes and homes-in-progress, with 5,473 units finished or in active construction in 2017. Next came First Hill, with 2,503 new homes, and Denny Triangle, with 2,445.
While 5,703 units were completed in the area in 2017, the real boom year to watch is 2020. If all permitted and planned projects move forward, those neighborhoods combined could have nearly 17,500 homes built in that year alone.
The outlook for hotel rooms is similar. 637 rooms were added in 2017, and nearly 2,200 are planned for 2018—largely because of the Hyatt Regency under construction, which will be the largest hotel in Seattle when it’s done. In 2020, though, that number skyrockets to 2,923.
DSA president Jon Scholes did acknowledge while presenting the report on Wednesday morning that despite the boom, many are being left behind.
“The welcome mat to our city is narrow,” said Scholes, limited to those “who can afford the high cost of housing.”
In previous Seattle eras, said Scholes, “rich, poor, and in-between” contributed to downtown. And while the expansion of the region’s light rail “will allow more people to have access to the jobs and opportunity” downtown, said Scholes, Seattle needs even more homes to address affordability problems—or, as he puts it, “lift the limits on housing supply.”
Scholes voiced support for the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) plan, which trades extra building height for either physical affordable housing units or payment into an affordable housing fund. The plan is currently undergoing a public comment period while under a hearing examiner appeal.
At a media availability after the presentation, Scholes acknowledged that MHA isn’t the only way to work toward housing affordability. “But if we’re going to spend $7 billion on one of the most expensive rail systems in the country... we will not realize the return on that investment if we’re not building housing around it. We need to do that, and we need to get ahead of it and not chase it.”
Scholes argued the Link light rail corridor, which currently stretches from the University of Washington down through the Rainier Valley to just south of Seatac Airport, should have been rezoned before transit went in. “Now we’re trying to catch up.”
Brookings Institution centennial scholar and former Housing and Urban Development chief of staff Bruce Katz, appearing at the event with Scholes, agreed. “You did lose a bit of time here,” he said.
Much of the corridor that the light rail line serves runs through an area acknowledged by the city as having a high risk of displacement. Still, said Katz, “going up on height is critical, you have to go up on height... think you can do this in a very smart and sensitive way.” He said other regions have used “policy techniques” successfully to address displacement, but didn’t provide specifics.
Aside from MHA, Scholes said he’d like to see “a property tax rebate to existing landlords of existing properties if in exchange they keep some of those units restricted to a certain income” to “take some of the older supply that’s not at that market rent” and “bridge some of that gap.”
He said this would be a “great opportunity to set aside thousands of [affordable] units,” but would need action in the state legislature to come to fruition.
Katz said that said that to address many of Seattle’s problems, we “need private capital to come in and fill what are growing gaps, because the federal government and states are backing away.” He other cities are leveraging private capital toward large-scale neighborhood regeneration, giving Cincinnati as a notable example.
“You have the wealth. You have enough crises to get you motivated,” explained Katz. “But the cultural of collaboration that is backed by capital doesn’t quite exist here in the same way it exists in other parts of the United States. I do think it would be really important just to choose one thing and say, okay, we’re going to bring together leaders and institutions from multiple sectors, put real money on the table, then play it out for two years.”
When asked about Seattle’s plethora of public-private task forces, Katz said that “most of those task forces have no force... in the end a lot of people come together and they put together policy ideas and then those ideas never get executed or implemented. [Other groups are] meeting to decide—they’re not meeting to discuss.”
“You are much wealthier than these places,” said Katz. “It’s a cultural difference.”
Katz said Seattle has to get out of its “consensus-driven” comfort zone—which, to be fair, is somewhat codified for certain projects and policies through the Washington State Environmental Policy Act, which leaves governmental action open to environmental appeals. It’s the process that brought both the current MHA appeal and a delay to the city’s plan to allow more accessory dwelling units.
Still, said Katz, the Northwest is in a “quiet crisis”: “The question is whether cities can remain complacent about it.”

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy -1 in 10 Seattle Residents Live Downtown

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Study: 1 in 10 Seattle residents live downtown and nearly 75% of commuters don’t drive alone to work

Seattle is speeding toward some of its density and transportation goals, according to a new study from an organization that works to improve the city’s downtown core.
The Downtown Seattle Association studied commuting habits, real estate development, and other metrics for its State of Downtown 2018 report. The group found that more than 70,000 people — or one in 10 Seattleites — live in the downtown area, which includes the downtown core, Capitol Hill, First Hill, the International District, SODO, and Uptown.

The study area as defined by the Downtown Seattle Association. (DSA Graphic)

Downtown is also seeing record public transit ridership, according to a related report by Commute Seattle, a partner organization of DSA. The report indicates that just over 25 percent of commuters get downtown by single-occupancy vehicle, a 10-point drop since 2010. The number of single occupancy vehicles on the road is 6 percent less than the 71,000 car commuters in 2010. That decline happened as some 60,000 jobs were added downtown. Nearly 75 percent of commuters take public transit, walk, or use a new mobility service, like rideshare.
This post has been updated to clarify the change in single occupancy vehicles since 2010.

Seattle Department of Transportation

That massive job growth is driven by Amazon — which is headquartered in the downtown area, in South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle — as well as other tech and healthcare companies ranging from startup to titan.
To accommodate those workers, downtown Seattle added 3.6 million square feet of office space in 2017, amounting to a total of 11.2 million. There are currently just over 15,000 residential units downtown with an additional 26,000 scheduled for completion in the next three years.

Seattle cranes
Seattle has more construction cranes in operation than any city in the country. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

That growth has been a challenge and point of contention in Seattle, as anyone who has tried to navigate Mercer St. at 5 p.m. could tell you. In addition to increased traffic, rising housing costs are displacing some longterm residents. The downtown-adjacent Central District’s African American population was 74 percent in 1970. In 2019, it is expected to be 14 percent.
Despite these challenges, DSA is optimistic about Seattle’s potential to navigate growth in its urban core.
“Since 2010, downtown has added more than 60,000 new jobs and we have one of the fastest growing residential populations of any downtown in the country,” said DSA CEO Jon Scholes in a statement. “Looking forward, we must expand housing options across our city and maximize our major investment in new light rail to sustain our vibrancy and economic progress. We have an incredible opportunity in Seattle to lead the way nationally by increasing prosperity and opportunity at the same time.”

BY  

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy -Mortgage Rates Reach Highest Levels In Four Years



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Mortgage rates are now at their highest level in four years and poised to move even higher. The timing couldn't be worse, as the usually busy spring housing market kicked into gear early this year amid higher home prices and strong competition for a record low supply of homes for sale. 

Add it all up, and affordability is starting to hurt.
The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed is now right around 4.50 percent, still low when looking historically, but buyers over the past six years have gotten more used to rates in the 3 percent range. Mortgage rates have not been at 5 percent since 2011.
A 5 percent rate would cause more than a quarter of today's homebuyers to slow their plans, according to a Redfin survey of 4,000 consumers at the end of last year. Just 6 percent said they would drop their plans to buy altogether. About one-fifth of consumers said 5 percent rates would cause them to move with more urgency to purchase a home, fearing rates would rise even further. Another fifth said they would consider more affordable areas or just buy a smaller home.
Despite rate concerns, the bigger issue for buyers is changes to tax laws that had lowered the cost of homeownership. Specifically, the deduction on property taxes is now limited to $10,000. While that does not affect homeowners in the majority of the country, it does hit those in high-cost states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois, and those in higher-priced housing markets like California.
Some have claimed that higher rates and the new tax law will put downward pressure on home prices, alleviating some of the current sticker shock, but other factors are fighting that assertion.
"Tight credit, lack of inventory and high demand are the major factors that tell us there's no housing bubble, despite rapid price increases," said Redfin's chief economist, Nela Richardson. "There are still many more buyers than the current housing supply can support, with no major relief in sight."
Unlike during the last housing bubble in the mid-2000s, mortgage lenders today are much more strict with regard to the borrower's ability to repay the loan. They are required by new regulations in the industry to be that way. Higher mortgage rates may mean some borrowers on the margins will not qualify for the size of the loan they need or want.
Mortgage rates have been quite volatile in recent weeks especially given the wide swings in the stock market. Rates loosely follow the yield of the 10-year Treasury, which moved higher again Monday. Things could change Wednesday, with the release of the monthly read on the consumer price index.
"The most informative and disconcerting reaction would be a weak CPI reading followed by a knee-jerk rally that then gives way to more selling. That would be the worst case scenario in terms of implications for the bigger picture," wrote Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily. "Conversely, an eventual rally that follows stable or stronger CPI would suggest bonds are increasingly ready to hold their ground near current levels."
Diana Olick

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Higher Rates Aren’t Deterring Home Builders, At Least For Now.

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Homebuilders shrug off higher mortgage rates, stay optimistic on economic boost from tax cuts


  • The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index checked in at 72, close to a cyclical high.
  • Higher rates aren't deterring home builders, at least for now.
Homebuilder sentiment unchanged in February  
Tax cuts are still making homebuilders feel better, even as mortgage rates rise to the highest level in more than four years.
Builder confidence was unchanged in February from the prior month, remaining at 72 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment.
The index is up from 65 in February 2017 and hit a cyclical high of 74 last December, just as the Republican tax cut plan was being passed.
"Builders are excited about the pro-business political climate that will strengthen the housing market and support overall economic growth," said NAHB chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, LA.
"However, they need to manage supply-side construction hurdles, such as shortages of labor and lots and building material price increases," he added.
Future sales expectations appear to be driving builder confidence. That component of the index rose to a post-recession high of 80, while the index measuring buyer traffic held steady at 54. Current sales conditions, however, fell one point to 78.
"With ongoing job creation, increasing owner-occupied household formation, and a tight supply of existing home inventory, the single-family housing sector should continue to strengthen at a gradual but consistent pace," said NAHB chief cconomist Robert Dietz.
One headwind for builders, however, is rising mortgage rates. Mortgage applications to purchase a newly built home jumped 18 percent in January year-over-year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, but rates moved even higher in the first two weeks of February.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now up more than 50 basis points since the beginning of the year. Not only do higher rates translate to less purchasing power for buyers, they also make it harder for some buyers on the margins of good credit to qualify for a home loan.
Builders are benefiting from the severe shortage of existing homes for sale, but new construction comes at a premium. Buyers may have rushed in in January, fearing rates would rise even more, which they did. If rates continue to move higher, some buyers will be priced out.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest rose two points to 72, the South increased one point to 74, the West remained unchanged at 81, and Northeast fell two points to 56.


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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Higher Rates Aren’t Deterring Home Builders, At Least For Now.

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Homebuilders shrug off higher mortgage rates, stay optimistic on economic boost from tax cuts


  • The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index checked in at 72, close to a cyclical high.
  • Higher rates aren't deterring home builders, at least for now.
Homebuilder sentiment unchanged in February  
Tax cuts are still making homebuilders feel better, even as mortgage rates rise to the highest level in more than four years.
Builder confidence was unchanged in February from the prior month, remaining at 72 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment.
The index is up from 65 in February 2017 and hit a cyclical high of 74 last December, just as the Republican tax cut plan was being passed.
"Builders are excited about the pro-business political climate that will strengthen the housing market and support overall economic growth," said NAHB chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, LA.
"However, they need to manage supply-side construction hurdles, such as shortages of labor and lots and building material price increases," he added.
Future sales expectations appear to be driving builder confidence. That component of the index rose to a post-recession high of 80, while the index measuring buyer traffic held steady at 54. Current sales conditions, however, fell one point to 78.
"With ongoing job creation, increasing owner-occupied household formation, and a tight supply of existing home inventory, the single-family housing sector should continue to strengthen at a gradual but consistent pace," said NAHB chief cconomist Robert Dietz.
One headwind for builders, however, is rising mortgage rates. Mortgage applications to purchase a newly built home jumped 18 percent in January year-over-year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, but rates moved even higher in the first two weeks of February.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now up more than 50 basis points since the beginning of the year. Not only do higher rates translate to less purchasing power for buyers, they also make it harder for some buyers on the margins of good credit to qualify for a home loan.
Builders are benefiting from the severe shortage of existing homes for sale, but new construction comes at a premium. Buyers may have rushed in in January, fearing rates would rise even more, which they did. If rates continue to move higher, some buyers will be priced out.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Midwest rose two points to 72, the South increased one point to 74, the West remained unchanged at 81, and Northeast fell two points to 56.


Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – 4 Money Lessons Every Teenager Needs To Know

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com




4 money lessons every teenager needs to know

It's time to talk to your teenager about money.

The teen years may be the first time kids start to earn their own money. And establishing good habits now can pay dividends well into their future.
Plus, teaching kids to be smart about money will have benefits for parents too.  Clients that have been more transparent with their kids tend to have children that are smarter with money,' said Bill Van Sant, a certified financial planner and senior vice president at Univest Wealth Management. "Parents that may not be as transparent tend to have children that stay in the house a little longer."
But it's hard to know where to start -- especially if parents don't have a solid grasp on their own finances.
The first step is to avoid making money talks into lectures, said Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education. "Do it in reasonable sound bites and make it a discussion."
And don't forget: While talking about money is important, children are also very observant so parents need to practice what they preach.
1. How to create a budget
Experts recommended teaching kids how to track their money before they start earning paychecks and the stakes are higher.
If a teen has a cash flow from a part-time job or an allowance, set up a budget that documents how much money is coming in and how much is designated for savings and spending.
Parents can also show their children their own budgets. If they aren't comfortable with divulging their own finances, parents can also create a fictional scenario of an income and living expenses. Bonus points if it's based on the teen's wanna-be profession and living location.
It can also help to have a teenager be responsible for funding part of their lifestyle to help teach the value of money.
"When they make the connection that they will need to go shovel more dog poop or take out the trash to get more money to spend, they will make the connection between working and money and not spending other people's money," said Gregg Murset, a CFP and founder of chores app BusyKid.
2. The real cost of life
Our increasingly cash-less society can make it hard for children to understand the true cost of their spending. Experts recommend parents take the time to walk teenagers through their financial transactions.
For instance, the 16th birthday milestone is often marked with a driver's license and freedom to hit the road. But this new freedom comes at a hefty cost to parents. Beck recommended sharing the insurance policy with a teen"Share the policy and the huge jump in rates for the child compared to the parents. Don't forget to also show the cost of gas and maintenance."
Having a child watch you pay bills can also help show the importance of living within your means, said Murset. Have them watch from start to finish: show them your bank account balance, the bill amount and then the pending transaction in your bank account where the payment will come from.
3. How to read a paycheck
It's important to show children the source of the funds that cover all those credit card swipes, bill payments and cash injections, said Van Sant.
Show them how much is taken out for taxes, retirement and health insurance, he recommended. "This shows there isn't an endless amount of money," he said.
Teaching a kid how to read a paycheck can also avoid future head scratching when the first one comes in and it's a lot less than what they expected
4. The difference between "good" vs. bad debt
Debt can be a necessary part of adulthood, but parents should teach their children how to distinguish the "good debt" from the bad.
Money borrowed at a relatively low interest rate that helps you grow wealth over the long run -- like a mortgage or a student loan -- is considered good debt. High-interest consumer debt is the "bad" kind.
"If you borrowed money on a credit card for a road trip, that might be a good memory, but you should be using debt to acquire an asset or skill that is going to prove to serve you, Beck said. "Look at what you are getting over time from the debt."




Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – 4 Money Lessons Every Teenager Needs To Know

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com




4 money lessons every teenager needs to know

It's time to talk to your teenager about money.

The teen years may be the first time kids start to earn their own money. And establishing good habits now can pay dividends well into their future.
Plus, teaching kids to be smart about money will have benefits for parents too.  Clients that have been more transparent with their kids tend to have children that are smarter with money,' said Bill Van Sant, a certified financial planner and senior vice president at Univest Wealth Management. "Parents that may not be as transparent tend to have children that stay in the house a little longer."
But it's hard to know where to start -- especially if parents don't have a solid grasp on their own finances.
The first step is to avoid making money talks into lectures, said Ted Beck, CEO of the National Endowment for Financial Education. "Do it in reasonable sound bites and make it a discussion."
And don't forget: While talking about money is important, children are also very observant so parents need to practice what they preach.
1. How to create a budget
Experts recommended teaching kids how to track their money before they start earning paychecks and the stakes are higher.
If a teen has a cash flow from a part-time job or an allowance, set up a budget that documents how much money is coming in and how much is designated for savings and spending.
Parents can also show their children their own budgets. If they aren't comfortable with divulging their own finances, parents can also create a fictional scenario of an income and living expenses. Bonus points if it's based on the teen's wanna-be profession and living location.
It can also help to have a teenager be responsible for funding part of their lifestyle to help teach the value of money.
"When they make the connection that they will need to go shovel more dog poop or take out the trash to get more money to spend, they will make the connection between working and money and not spending other people's money," said Gregg Murset, a CFP and founder of chores app BusyKid.
2. The real cost of life
Our increasingly cash-less society can make it hard for children to understand the true cost of their spending. Experts recommend parents take the time to walk teenagers through their financial transactions.
For instance, the 16th birthday milestone is often marked with a driver's license and freedom to hit the road. But this new freedom comes at a hefty cost to parents. Beck recommended sharing the insurance policy with a teen"Share the policy and the huge jump in rates for the child compared to the parents. Don't forget to also show the cost of gas and maintenance."
Having a child watch you pay bills can also help show the importance of living within your means, said Murset. Have them watch from start to finish: show them your bank account balance, the bill amount and then the pending transaction in your bank account where the payment will come from.
3. How to read a paycheck
It's important to show children the source of the funds that cover all those credit card swipes, bill payments and cash injections, said Van Sant.
Show them how much is taken out for taxes, retirement and health insurance, he recommended. "This shows there isn't an endless amount of money," he said.
Teaching a kid how to read a paycheck can also avoid future head scratching when the first one comes in and it's a lot less than what they expected
4. The difference between "good" vs. bad debt
Debt can be a necessary part of adulthood, but parents should teach their children how to distinguish the "good debt" from the bad.
Money borrowed at a relatively low interest rate that helps you grow wealth over the long run -- like a mortgage or a student loan -- is considered good debt. High-interest consumer debt is the "bad" kind.
"If you borrowed money on a credit card for a road trip, that might be a good memory, but you should be using debt to acquire an asset or skill that is going to prove to serve you, Beck said. "Look at what you are getting over time from the debt."




Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Mortgage Wire Fraud Is A Much Bigger Threat Than You Realize

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com

Sounding the alarm: Mortgage wire fraud is a much bigger threat than you realize

If you think mortgage wire fraud is a problem only for vendors, think again



Fraud is one of those issues that we don’t like to think about in the mortgage industry.  Yet it always seems to be there, lingering on the fringe of our focus. From time to time, the topic bubbles up in the news or at a convention.  We talk about it a bit, giving it the proverbial “15 minutes of fame.” But rarely are we forced to drastically alter the way we do business or invest large amounts into protecting ourselves from it. Inevitably, it seems a vendor comes along with a new technology, and the fraud (or, at least, the coverage of it) goes away. Or our service providers tweak the way they operate.  At the very least, the issue always seems to go away to the extent that we can return our full attention to emerging markets, new loan products and sales strategies.
That’s about to change.
The latest mortgage fraud to affect the mortgage industry is being called wire fraud or down payment wire fraud. Each case tends to involve a combination of email hacking, identity fraud and wire fraud.  A scammer hacks the sensitive data of an impending mortgage transaction, assumes the identity of a party involved (such as a real estate agent or title/closing professional), and attempts to convince another party to change the down payment wiring instructions so that the down payment is actually sent to the fraudster’s account. Sounds simple enough. Should be easy enough to quell, right? 
Wrong. 
The speed at which these scams are evolving, and the lengths scammers are willing to go to in order to fool us are at once impressive and terrifying. The latest iteration of wire fraud is one that will take an entire industry to stamp out. 
Let’s start with the scope of the threat. If you’re a mortgage originator of any kind (lender, broker, etc.) …or involved in the mortgage transaction in any way, but feel this threat isn’t something you’ll ever encounter, consider these numbers:
  •  $5.3 billion: The amount targeted by perpetrators in the mortgage industry alone in 2016 (source: FBI) 
  • 480%: Year-over-year increase in wire fraud scams reported by title companies to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) in 2016.
  • 15%: The amount of perpetrated fraud attempts actually even reported in 2016! (Source: IC3)
  • 2,370%: Increase in identified exposed losses to the most typical of wire fraud scams between January 2015 and December 2016. 
  • 103:  Number of nations to which fraudulent transfers have been rerouted (Source:  IC3 and ALTA)
The threat from wire fraud is wide. It’s international in nature. It’s difficult to track. And, its perpetrators are growing increasingly more sophisticated in their ability to disguise its true nature.  Some fraudsters are now even using things like phone porting technologies to camouflage their phone numbers to resemble those of authorized parties to the transaction.  Even “call and verify” is no longer a foolproof way to thwart wire fraud.
New technologies aimed at thwarting this epidemic are already starting to come online. But there are other things that can be done as well. I start by imploring readers to ask themselves this question: “How confident am I that my service providers are working actively to protect my interests?” This applies especially to lenders and originators, but can be fairly asked of real estate professionals, settlement services firms and more. The fact is that numerous parties touch each mortgage transaction. Multiple entities are asked to protect sensitive data that can be used by hackers to separate lenders and consumers from their funds.  And many of these entities are falling well short in that task.
Even now, in the wake of an industry-wide scramble to comply with TRID, lock down vendor networks and protect personal data, many firms still trust service providers they know little or nothing about.  Many times, these service providers have no vested interest in the outcome…and it shows in the way they go about their business.
Ask yourself what you really know about your title agent; closing professional; vendor manager; correspondent lender and so forth.  Are you sure they’re constantly and consistently working to make themselves as “fraud-resistant” as possible? Are they regularly educating themselves (and even you) about the latest fraud scams?  Do they research and invest in technology and trained personnel positioned to protect you? And if they were doing the right things when you first sent an order their way years ago; are they still doing those things today?
It seems that, like any other criminal, the typical wire fraud perpetrator looks for the easiest target. Even if we can’t prevent 100% of wire fraud at the moment, we can make ourselves and our clients “harder targets.” But that starts with the questions above—and the answers you get.  Because if you’re not even asking them, chances are, you’re not far from learning about wire fraud the hard way.









































































































Joseph Murin

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com