Do you have a mobile lifestyle? Travel frequently, or live in two or more locations? Many downsizers do, and are faced with the challenge of making their home secure when they are gone.
An obvious solution is a condo, especially one with inside hallways. The main entry door and its security system provides a big first layer of protection from the outside world.
You’re not a condo person you say? How about a townhouse? Townhouses usaully do not provide that double layer of security, but there are neighbors close by who can still keep an eye out for your place.
Even with a single-family home there are lock-and-leave options. One solution is to have an accessory apartment in your home. That way some one is there when you are not. Another answer is to hire a house sitter for when you are gone, or even do a house swap. House swaps are easy to do now with websites that specialize on matching people up.
Whatever lock-and-leave option works for you, I would be glad to help you find it!
Homes in Washington state are at record high affordability, thanks to the combination of lower prices and record-low mortgage interest rates.
A report on the Housing Affordability Index (HAI) for third quarter 2011 showed a statewide index of 160.7, which means a median income family had 60.7 percent more income than the minimum needed to qualify to purchase a $225,300 home (the estimated median-price).
Comparing counties, the HAI ranged from a low of 96.4 in San Juan County, where the median priced home sold for $345,000, to a high of 459.4 in Wahkiakum County, where the median price for third quarter sales was estimated to be $62,500.
The index, prepared by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year mortgage.
The HAI for counties served by Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows a range of 96.4 (San Juan County) to a high of 243.4 in Pacific County. As revealed in the chart, first-time buyers remain challenged, with the statewide index pegged at 87.4.
WCRER’s report shows a three-year downward trend in prices, including a 9.5 percent drop in the statewide median sales price for Q3 compared to same period in 2010. Prices range from King County’s high of $350,000 to a low of $62,500 in Wahkiakum County.
The WCRER was created in 1989 by the WSU Board of Regents to achieve the university’s tripartite mission of education, research and service in real estate. The Center strives to provide a wide range of useful and understandable information, analysis and knowledge using academic methods in practical context while reporting findings in common language.
HOUSING MARKET SNAPSHOT
State of Washington and Northwest MLS Counties – Third Quarter 2011
|County||Home Resales (units)||Building Permits (units)||Median Resale Price||Housing
|SAAR||% Change||#||% Change||$||% Change|
|(last qtr)||(year ago)||(year ago)||(year ago)|
- Home Resales are WCRER estimates based on MLS reports or deed recording (Real Market Data LLC)
- SAAR means data presented at Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates allowing quarter-to-quarter comparison.
- Building permits (total) are from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
- Median prices are WCRER estimates. Half the homes sold at higher prices, half lower
- Affordability index measures the ability of a typical family to make payments on median price resale home. It assumes 20% downpayment and 30-year amortizing mortgage. First-time buyer affordability index assumes a less expensive home, lower downpayment and lower income.
I was encouraged to see this. This is the time of year when us Realtors pay our annual bill for our association. It’s not cheap, but its comforting to know that we are getting our money’s worth. The fact is that the housing industry is such an important part of our economy, and that finding ways to facilitate its recovery can leverage huge economic growth for the entire country. Following is the press release:
Immediate policy solutions are needed to stabilize housing and support an economic recovery, the National Association of REALTORS® stated as it unveiled a five-point housing solutions plan.
NAR worked with two well-regarded policy think tanks that organized and conducted a policy meeting in October, when the plan was formulated. The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and the Economic Policies for the 21st Century (e21) convened policy leaders, industry representatives, members of Congress, thought leaders and the media to present ideas and make actionable recommendations.
The bipartisan recommendations, framed around the title “New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis,” are intended to “stimulate the growth necessary for a sustained recovery in housing and extend an ensuing positive effect on job creation and the broader economy.”
In introducing the five-point plan, NAR emphasized, “It’s no secret our nation’s housing markets remain depressed and continue to suffer.” Reiterating its belief that a robust housing industry is key to the nation’s economic strength, NAR stressed that “swift action is needed now from Congress and the Administration that could directly stimulate a housing recovery.”
Following the meeting, NAR sent letters to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, President Obama, and Congress, in which it urged prompt consideration of the five recommendations and pledged its readiness to work with Congress and the Administration to help restore housing and grow our economy.
Recommendation 1: Do Not Risk Weakening Our Nation’s Housing Markets Any Further
NAR called for recrafting the Qualified Residential Mortgage rule mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act and said requiring a 20 percent down payment coupled with stringent debt-to-income ratios and rigid credit standards would be detrimental to prospective home buyers, especially first-time and middle income buyers.
The group also recommended restoring higher loan limits supported by FHA and the GSEs, noting recently adjusted limits has had a harmful impact on the fragile housing recovery. NAR also urged policymakers to resist proposals that call for changing the tax rules that apply to homeownership now or in the future.
Recommendation 2: Restore Vitality to Our Communities and Neighborhoods by Reducing the Foreclosure Inventory
Included in this recommendation were calls to support S.170, The Helping Responsible Homeowners Act, along with bipartisan Senate efforts calling for improvements to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). NAR also favors directing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and servicers to prioritize short sales above foreclosures, and to support all necessary foreclosure/loss mitigation efforts to keep American families in their homes.
Recommendation 3: Open Opportunities for Private Capital to Return to the Mortgage Marketplace to Foster New Demand among Responsible Homebuyers
This would include opening up the FHA Section 203(k) rehabilitation loan program to investors to encourage purchasing of foreclosed property, and requiring the GSEs to temporarily suspend investor financing limitations, thereby giving small, private investors the opportunity to absorb some of the excess inventory.
Recommendation 4: Support a Secondary Mortgage Market Model that Includes Some Level of Government Participation
NAR opposes proposals that call for full privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying it would not be in the best interest of the nation’s housing policy or the consumer.
Recommendation 5: We Call on the White House to Hold a National Housing Summit to Articulate a New National Housing Policy and Move the Provision of Housing to the Front of the Nation’s Domestic Agenda
“We urge caution against dismantling or eliminating vital resources for housing that provide important economic, social, and societal benefits,” NAR stated in calling on the White House to foster a national housing policy to address varying needs across the nation, “whether it’s homeownership or rental housing, production or preservation.”
Baby boomers are part of a growing trend of assisting children or grandchildren become home buyers, according to a new national survey. The research shows one in five baby boomers has already gifted, loaned or co-signed a loan to support their children or grandchildren in purchasing a home, and more than two-thirds of baby boomers want to provide this type of support in the future.
“With historically low interest rates and competitive listing prices, now is a great time to invest in real estate for those in a position to do so,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, which commissioned the study. “However,” she acknowledged, “In today’s economy, saving enough money for a down payment can be a struggle for young adults. Baby boomers are a unique generation that has driven the economy for the past 30 years. Our data shows that they are using what they’ve earned and what they’ve learned to invest in the future and help their children and grandchildren realize the American dream of homeownership.”
Aside from the good investment rationale, baby boomer respondents indicated the willingness to provide financial support to their children and/or grandchildren was out of love. By providing financial support to assist in the home buying process, respondents stated that they could ensure their children and/or grandchildren would benefit from their estate and fulfill a large part of achieving the American dream.
“We have always understood the value of homeownership and our readers’ passion for making their homes serve their lifestyle needs,” says Jill Waage, editorial director of home content at Better Homes and Gardens magazine. “We’re thrilled to see that younger generations’ interest in homeownership is so strong and that their baby boomer relatives want to help them reach this significant milestone.”
Key findings from the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate baby boomer survey include:
- One in five baby boomers have already gifted, loaned or co-signed a loan to their children or grandchildren for a down payment on a home.
- Looking ahead, one in 10 baby boomers say they will “definitely” provide their children or grandchildren with financial support for a down payment on a home, and at least half hope to do so.
- In total, more than two-thirds (68%) of all baby boomers said they want to provide future financial support for their children or grandchildren to purchase a home.
- Those who have already provided past support are also most confident that they will do so again.
- Highest interest in providing support is reported among younger (age 45-54), more affluent (household income of $75,000+) baby boomers who have at least one adult child (age 18-34).
- Baby boomers are driven to provide financial support primarily by their belief in the overall investment value for them and/or their children or grandchildren, and the role homeownership plays in fulfilling the American dream.
- Older (age 55+) and more affluent ($100,000+ household income) baby boomers are more likely than their younger or less affluent counterparts to have previously provided financial support.
- Across prior support and future interest, baby boomers show more interest in “gifting” or loaning money; they are least interested in co-signing loans.
About the Survey
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, in partnership with Meredith Research Solutions, surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 45 and older for this study. Data were collected from those who qualified as a baby boomer and who had at least one child or grandchild over the age of 18.
TED video by Graham Hill
Writer and designer Graham Hill asks: Can having less stuff, in less room, lead to more happiness? He makes the case for taking up less space, and lays out three rules for editing your life.
Washington state ranked as the second best state to make a living. If you want to make a living — in other words, make enough after tax and fixed expenses to prosper — your chances of getting a job that pays enough to live in comfort varies dramatically based on the state where you live and work. MoneyRates.com pulled unemployment rates, average wages, tax rates and cost of living from all 50 states and found that the best places to find a job were not necessarily the best places to make a living. MoneyRates rankings are based on their analysis of what you have left to spend, after adjusting for paying your state taxes and dealing with the comparative cost of buying groceries and keeping a roof over your head, among other things. MoneyRates noted that Washington state has a higher cost of living than the average, but so is the average wage and the state imposes no income tax. Adjusted average income is $41,456. Illinois was ranked as the first or best state to make a living, and Texas followed behind Washington.
Investment Alert!!! Vulcan is doing a project in downtown Bothell. Seattle Times story.
Bothell is determined to re-invent itself and has the talent and will to pull it off. It’s always attracted couples who work on both sides of the lake, has 2 colleges including UW, lots of tech and biomed employment, and with its new riverfront work will attract the downsizers too!
Want to get in on the ground floor but don’t have Paul Allen’s budget? Call me, I know the area and have lots of ideas!
See listings in Bothell:
McMansions are rapidly becoming the housing equivalent of “harvest gold” or “avocado green” appliances as more Americans are opting for smaller residential footprints, according to a new Relocation.com consumer lifestyle survey.
Nearly half the respondents of the survey said their ideal home size would range from 1,000-1,999 square feet. Nearly three of every ten buyers (29 percent) prefer homes that are 2,000 to 2,999 square feet. Only 2 percent reported a home would have to be larger than 5,000 square feet to match their ideal residence.
Five years ago, the average home’s size was 2,400 square feet — about 400 square feet larger than what is desired today — according to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).
Relocation.com conducted the survey to gauge lifestyle factors that drive moving and relocation decisions in the U.S.
Its latest research found many Americans are still attracted to a suburban lifestyle. Fifty-four percent indicated a preference for living in a suburban neighborhood. About one-quarter of those polled (24 percent) said they prefer an urban setting, while 22 percent desired a rural neighborhood.
When asked about commuting, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they wanted to live less than 10 miles from their work place, while another 45 percent reported that they wanted to live within 11 to 30 miles of their workplace. Only 10 percent said they would like to live more than 30 miles away from where they worked, while 18 percent said that it did not matter, since they worked from their home and had no commute to worry about.
Survey sponsors said a surprising finding was that the cost of a residence is not the main deciding factor when purchasing a home: only 29 percent of respondents stated living costs were the most important reason when considering a move.Sixty-one percent said it was somewhat important; 10 percent said it was not important.
“We’re definitely seeing more Americans downsizing due to the current state of the economy,” said Relocation.com chairman and founder Sharon Asher. “But as more homeowners rethink how much space they need, I think we’ll continue to see more innovative approaches to living well and sustainably within a smaller footprint.”
Researchers also asked participants to compare household amenities or features, and to rank factors they deemed to be most important in determining a neighborhood’s safety.
Survey respondents were also asked to rate the importance of various factors in their moving decisions. By a wide margin, “neighborhood safety” outranked all other factors:
Top 2* Importance Rating % Comparisons
The Relocation.com survey, conducted in mid-October 2010, polled 1,500 home owners and buyers.