“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” Yogi Berra.

May was a good time for the housing sector, as several reports came in strong.

New Home Sales hit their highest level in seven years in May, rising 2.2 percent from April to an annualized rate of 546,000. April’s figures were also revised higher to 534,000. Sales of new single-family homes are up nearly 20 percent from May 2014! Existing Home Sales also rose 5.1 percent in May from April.

However, the economy overall isn’t batting as well, as the final reading for first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) showed that economic growth contracted by 0.2 percent, though less severe than the -0.7 percent from the second reading. In addition, the negative reading for the quarter was the fifth time in the six-year recovery that the economy couldn’t produce at least an anemic reading of 1 percent.

Growth in the first quarter was stunted by a negative trade balance due to the stronger dollar, harsh weather and the West Coast port closing. And with inflation still tame, rest assured the Fed will be watching economic reports closely this summer, as they determine when to raise the benchmark Fed Funds Rate (the rate banks charge each other to lend money overnight).

Overseas, the uncertainty surrounding Greece continues. Mortgage Bonds reversed course and moved lower in recent days, in part because signs have pointed to a possible deal. This will be a key story to watch in the next week.

Home loan rates are near 2015 highs, but are still very close to historic lows. If I can answer any questions at all for you or your clients about a home purchase or refinance, please get in touch!

-Candice

Painted brick

I would absolutely love to do this to my house but it would take sooooo long.  If I could get about 100 people to volunteer, I would do it! ;)

But seriously, I really want this on my home. Instead of this rainbow theme however, I think I would do different shades of blue.

Seattle Traffic Update!

Highlights:

June 26 – 28: Multiple Pride Weekend events will close streets on Capitol Hill.

June 26 – 29: Full closure of SR520 Friday night to Monday morning: eastbound lanes closed between I-5 and Bellevue; westbound lanes closed between Bellevue and Montlake Blvd.

June 27: Greenwood Car Show will close Greenwood Ave. N. between N. 90th St. and N. 65th St. Saturday.

June 27: Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean concert Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

June 27 – 29: W. Emerson St. closed over 15th Ave. W. Saturday morning to Monday morning.

June 28: Seattle Pride Parade will close 4th Ave. between James St. and Denny. Wy. Sunday.

July 1: Construction along the central waterfront pauses for the summer, and businesses reopen.

July 4: Annual Seafair Summer Fourth fireworks show will close streets in neighborhoods around Lake Union next Saturday.

Apartment rents rise as vacancy rates plummet

Jun 24, 2015, 12:48pm PDT Updated Jun 24, 2015, 1:04pm PDT

Rob Smith – Puget Sound Business Journal

The Seattle-area apartment market is booming.

The apartment vacancy rate in King and Snohomish counties has dropped to 4.05 percent, the lowest since Seattle company Apartment Insights Washington began tracking the market 10 years ago.

The Seattle-area apartment market is booming.

Rents, however, are surging. Average rent rose more than 6 percent to $1,408 per unit when compared to the previous quarter. Rents have increased 10.4 percent the past year.

The increase adds to concern that rising costs are pricing out traditional renters, though some data suggests otherwise.

  • — The average rent in Bellevue is now slightly more than $2,000 per month.
  • — At an average of $2,226 per unit, rents in Seattle remain the highest in the region.
  • — Average rents in Des Moines and Edmonds cracked $1,000 per month for the first time.
  • — The Ballard neighborhood has the highest vacancy rate, 17.3 percent.

The report, by Tom Cain, also found that 22,948 units are under construction, 19 percent more than last quarter and 42 percent more than a year ago.

The Seattle company had previously predicted that developers could break a 26-year-old construction record based on projects that have either opened or are under construction with a 2015 completion date, but now says construction delays will prevent that.

Apartment Insights analyzed properties with at least 50 units in King and Snohomish counties.

The Companies Where Millennials Want to Work the Most

Google dominates in popularity whether among business or engineering students, men or women

June 24, 2015 — 6:00 AM PDT
Google Corners the Marker on Millennial Workforce

If you want to attract the largest generation in history to work at your company, you’re going to have to give them two things: a sense of purpose and the ability to innovate.

A new survey from Universum, a global research and advisory firm specializing in employer branding, gives insight into which employers are winning this key demographic. The survey asked more than 240,000 business and engineering students from across the globe what was important to them and which companies they would most like to work for.

“Students are seeking platforms for their own performance and growth,” says Petter Nylander, chief executive officer of Universum.

This isn’t the first year that this survey has been done, and there was little movement in the top five companies from last year’s report. Google once again led the way as the No. 1 choice for both business and engineering students. Other firms with high rankings were PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Microsoft, Apple, BMW Group, and General Electric.

Here is a breakout of the top employers according to business students:

Goldman Sachs entered the top five after coming in at No. 8 last year, with Deloitte and Apple slipping a few spots. One of the biggest gainers was Barclays, which climbed eight spots from 35 to 27. The biggest loser was luxury brand LVMH, falling to No. 34 from 19. New names this year include Grant Thornton, General Motors, and Samsung.

When it comes to engineering students, there was again little movement in the top five, but Samsung came in at No. 11 after not even making the top 50 in 2014.

Universum also broke down the results for men and women in each industry. For business students, it appears men are more drawn to large banks such as Goldman Sachs than women are. This isn’t necessarily surprising, given the small number of female executives in the industry, although a number of the firms have developed programs aimed at changing that.

Here are the rankings according to female business students:

And here they are for male business students:

When looking at engineering students, the key difference between men and women was that men preferred companies like BMW while women gave the likes of L’Oreal Group and Johnson & Johnson higher rankings.
Here’s the female breakout:

And here’s the male breakout:

The key standout in all of this is Google, which topped every single breakout provided by Universum.

“Millennials want to truly understand a company’s purpose, align with it, and work with others to propel the organization’s performance,” Universum said. “Millennials are highly attracted to entrepreneurial energy in the workplace. They want to work in innovative settings, unencumbered by infrastructure, while still delivering strong financial results. Consequently, the tech industry generally attracts this kind of talent.”

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

Jun 17, 2015, 7:47am PDT Updated Jun 17, 2015, 8:05am PDT
Puget Sound Business Journal

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

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 HSH.com.

 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 home buyers who live in the Bay Area is looking for homes only in the Pacific Northwest, according to data from online real estate brokerage.

Here’s how much they’re asking for new condos in Seattle

May 14, 2015, 7:20am PDT Updated: May 14, 2015, 7:26am PDT
Luma exterior section

Asking prices for the 168 condos in the Luma tower on First Hill, were released this week. They start at around $375,000 and go up to nearly $1.38 million, according to the project website. Prices for penthouses were not disclosed, but based on the asking per-square-foot price, they would list for between around $1.6 million and $1.7 million. Luma is under construction and is scheduled to be done in a little over a year.
Construction of Luma, a 24-story condo tower in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood, started in November. Now the market knows the asking prices for most of the 168 residences.

Luma developer Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group this week posted prices on the project website. They show that you can buy a one-bedroom on the second floor for nearly $375,000. The list price for a two-bedroom on floor 22 is nearly $1.38 million.

Prices for the four penthouses weren’t disclosed, though Luma representatives said the per-square foot price is around $1,000, meaning the units would be listed between $1.6 million and $1.7 million.

Now the question is how much Lowe will actually get for the residences. That will help other developers decide whether to build condo projects, which have been few and far between in recent years, or keep building apartments.

Only one other large condo project, the two-tower Insignia, is going up downtown.

The first closings at Insignia are expected this summer. Sales are Luma are expected to start closing in the spring of next year, and the project is projected to be done in June 2016.

The rule of thumb for downtown condos is you need to sell units for at least $750 a square foot to make a project worth your while, though that also hinges on “your land costs and assumptions on construction costs,” said Suzi Morris, a senior vice president with Lowe Enterprises.

A Swedish pension fund called Alecta owns the quarter block at 1321 Seneca St. where Luma is rising, and Alecta got a good deal when it bought the property for $4 million in late 2010. Three years prior, a different developer had paid $11.5 million for the same site, and lender ended up taking the property back.

At Luma, the asking prices range from around $525 to $600 a foot for units on the lower floors to the $1,000-plus for the penthouses. Asking prices for units on the upper floors are between $800 to $900 a foot.

Seattle residential marketing sales company Red Propeller and McAvoy Real Estate are co-listing the Luma units for sale. They opened the sales center at 907 E. Pike St., late last month and will begin accepting offers June 1, Red Propeller Partner Stephen Fina said Wednesday.

Luma is one of the first new condo towers in Seattle since the market tanked at the start of the Great Recession, and it’s the first condo high-rise on First Hill since 2002, according to Lowe.

Seattle architecture firm Weber Thompson designed the project, whose rooftop deck will have a fire pit and hot soaking pool along with a club room and private dining room.Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor.