Annual Report Names Seattle the Leading U.S. Real Estate Market

By Nat Levy – Geek Wire

As if the forest of cranes dotting the Seattle skyline weren’t evidence enough of the city’s transformation to a region on par with New York and San Francisco, real estate and financial insiders named Seattle the top real estate market in the U.S. in a new report from PwC.

Seattle leapt to the top of the annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report on the back of its strong roster of tech employers, educated workforce and vibrant recreational opportunities. Seattle broke Texas’ stranglehold on the top spot in the report as a city from the Lone Star State was number one each of the last three years.

 To build the report, now in its 39th year, PwC interviewed 800 people in the real estate and finance industries and received survey responses from another 1,600.

Real estate pros rated Seattle, which is in the midst of an unprecedented building boom juiced by the rapid expansion of Amazon, as the number one development market and the number two investment market, behind only Salt Lake City.

There are plenty of cultural draws as well, according to the report. Seattle is among the top rated microbreweries with one per every 19,000 people, which still doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Seattle is also a top five culinary market, and 93 percent of residents have a park within walking distance.

Seattle, along with New York and Chicago, accounted for half of all new downtown office buildings in the U.S. in the past year, according to the report. And the construction boom is not just in the city, as the Seattle area was one of eight regions representing half of all suburb office buildings completed in the last year.

The report quantifies just how fast Seattle will grow as our largest employers continue to truck in people from all over the world. Close to 150,000 people are expected to move here over the next five years, or roughly the equivalent of Seattle’s neighbor to the east, Bellevue, or cities like Syracuse, N.Y. or Dayton, Ohio. And the city is getting younger all the time, with the population of 15- to 34-year-olds expected to rise 17.3 percent over the next five years.

These people are moving to Seattle work for homegrown tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft as well as the more than 100 out-of-town tech companies that have established engineering outposts here. A whopping 12 percent of workers are employed in a STEM job, according to the report, with 4.5 percent of people working in computer programming related occupations. Seattle is also churning out a lot of new ideas, with 6.63 patents awarded per 1,000 residents.

Rising populations are leading to problems for cities across the West Coast. Along with Seattle, cities like San Francisco, San Jose and Honolulu are facing affordability problems that could slow down growth. Even secondary areas on the West Coast like Sacramento and Orange County are struggling with affordability.

All the new people coming to town are also jamming up streets in places like Seattle, Portland and
San Francisco. Several West Coast markets identified new transportation projects as a top priority in the coming years.

As these issues have mounted, investors are looking down the road from major cities. This could lead to greater investment and development in places like Tacoma, Sacramento and the Inland Empire outside of Los Angeles.

“Emerging Trends interviewees have repeatedly mentioned the attractiveness of looking at investments in these markets that are adjacent to major markets in a region when the primary market becomes too competitive,” according to the report.

Homes stay affordable, the American Dream returns

In spite of rising home prices in many markets, homes remain affordable. A report from the Urban Institute highlighted its housing affordability index, which measures median household income against a standard mortgage for a median-priced home. It found that the median household today can afford a house that’s $70,000 above the median price. The First American Real House Price Index, which factors home prices, interest rates and income, found real home prices are 38.4% below the 2006 peak. Their chief economist confirmed, “affordability…remains high by historic standards.”
More folks are indeed finding homes affordable. The Census Bureau reports the homeownership rate rose in Q3 to its highest level since 2014. It’s now risen for several quarters, so it looks like growth is back. What’s definitely back is the American Dream. Now 82% of Americans “say they have achieved the American Dream or are on their way to achieving it,” according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Three years ago, CNN’s American Dream project reported 60% of the country believed the American Dream was unattainable.



This is where you’ll live when self-driving cars rules the roads

By Andrea Requier and William Davis

It’s 7 a.m. on a Monday morning in 2037.

As you start your 60-mile commute, you wonder if there’s enough time to get everything done — meeting prep, scheduling your kid’s appointment, expense reports — and still sneak in a nap. Since the U.S. car fleet went fully automated a few years ago, the speed limit has increased and congestion has eased, so your trip will take less than an hour.

Today’s cars and trucks aren’t just faster and more efficient. Their very shapes have changed, turning them into spaces to work or rest as you travel.

They’re also safer — so much so that municipalities have cut police and first responder budgets in half. Auto insurance costs a few dollars a year. And many people now use shared “transportation as a service” networks instead of owning a vehicle, saving them thousands.

But some of the automated revolution’s most profound impacts aren’t about transportation at all. How and where Americans live — their homes, communities and housing markets — have also been transformed.

10 emerging trends in 2018 real estate

by Patrick Sisson

In its annual look ahead, the Urban Land Institute predicts a soft landing. That may seem totally tone-deaf when considering today’s news cycle and the overall tumult of 2017 thus far. But as far as the real estate industry is concerned, the immediate future promises a relatively smooth ride.

Unveiled during the organization’s annual fall meeting in Los Angeles this morning, the 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, a joint project between ULI and PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers, compiles more than 800 individual interviews and 1,600 surveys from a diverse array of real estate, economic, and development professionals.

Whether it’s urban row houses, transit-oriented development, or a new type of tract housing, practical and affordable mid-market homes, as well as starter homes and affordable rental units for young adults, remain potential goldmines for developers who figure out the right balance of price, land costs, location, and amenities. The higher-end market remains well-served. While margins are still good for those types of projects, building affordable housing at scale, in nearly any urban market in the country, would be welcome.


Seattle’s housing market growing twice as fast as San Francisco

SEATTLE, PR Newswire – Oct. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Booming West Coast markets Seattle and San Jose, Calif. are leading the nation in home value growth. After one of the most competitive home shopping seasons in recent history, demand for homes in the West remains high as people flood the area for jobs.

Nationally, home values are 6.9 percent more expensive than a year ago, with the median U.S. home now worth $202,700, according to the September Zillow® Real Estate Market Report.

Seattle and San Jose reported double-digit home value appreciation over the past year. In Seattle, home values are 12.4 percent higher than at this time last year, and home values are just over 10 percent higher in San Jose. Following these two metros in home value growth are Las Vegas, Charlotte, N.C. and Orlando, Fla. This is the ninth month in a row that Seattle home values have been the fastest growing in the nation.

Home shopping season has ended, but demand for homes remains high, while inventory remains at record-level lows. According to the 2017 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, the typical buyer spends just over four months searching, and almost half of all buyers don’t get the first home on which they make an offer. Housing markets on the West Coast are exceptionally tight, but the theme of tight inventory echoes across the country.

“In these West Coast markets, heightened demand is being met with limited supply of homes for sale, which naturally causes prices to rise,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “That limited supply and high demand dynamic is a widespread phenomenon impacting high-growth metros like Seattle, as well as slower-moving markets, like Indianapolis. It might be easy to assume another bubble is emerging, with home values growing 10 or 12 percent per year, but don’t worry. The market is reacting to basic economic laws, and is behaving exactly the way we would expect it to given good overall growth, limited supply of homes for sale and decent housing affordability thanks to low mortgage interest rates.”

Tight inventory and strong demand are two factors driving up home values; across the U.S., there are 12 percent fewer homes to choose from than a year ago. Inventory has dropped most significantly in San Jose, Seattle and San Diego over the past year. In San Jose, there are 60 percent fewer homes on the market than at this time last year, and 35 percent fewer in Seattle and San Diego.

Mortgage rates on Zillow ended the month of September at 3.70 percent, the lowest month-ending rate since May 2017. Mortgage rates on Zillow hit a high of 3.72 percent in the last few days of the month with the month low at 3.56 percent. Zillow’s real-time mortgage rates are based on thousands of custom mortgage quotes submitted daily to anonymous borrowers on the Zillow Mortgages site and reflect the most recent changes in the market.

Jeff Bezos-backed indoor farming startup in Seattle region

Written by  Taylor Soper, Geekwire

An indoor farming startup backed by some of the biggest names in tech has arrived in Seattle, expanding its effort to change how people eat fruits and vegetables.

Plenty today announced that it will open a 100,000 square-foot farm in Kent, Wash., where the 3-year-old company will grow pesticide-free, “backyard quality” produce for consumers in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. It’s the first time the startup has expanded beyond its home markets in South San Francisco and Wyoming; it will also be the company’s first “full-scale” farm.

Plenty grows its plants in 20-foot tall towers inside a climate-controlled facility with LED lights. It does not use pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs. The system uses thousands of infrared cameras and sensors to collect data in the farms, which is then analyzed using machine learning to optimize how the plants grow.

Plenty said its technology can achieve yields of up to 350 times greater than traditional agriculture while using 1 percent of the water and barely any land compared to conventional methods. Plenty’s farms can also grow plants — up to 300 variants of produce — year-round, regardless of season, which helps increase efficiency. Its proximity to cities also means that produce doesn’t sit in trucks for days or weeks before ultimately arriving on your kitchen table.

“As we looked at the West Coast, Seattle was the best example of a large community of people who really don’t have much access to any fresh fruits and vegetables grown locally,” he explained.

Plenty will hire 50 people at the farm in Kent, and expects to double the size of its team, Barnard said. Fresh produce will start shipping to a few restaurants initially in mid-2018, and then to other buyers that will be announced at a later date. It also plans to open more farms across the country and eventually around the world.





How To Personalize Your Home On A Budget

Editor’s Note: Article contributed to Forbes by Lisa Batson Goldberg, Houzz on AUG 23, 2017. Link to Forbes article here.

Taking a personalized approach to your home decor lets you have even more fun with your design, and save a whole bunch of your hard-earned dollars along the way.

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Construction begins on Google’s massive Seattle campus in Amazon’s backyard

Editor’s Note: Original article written by NAT LEVY on May 15, 2017.  Link to original GeekWire article here.

Crews have started work on Google’s new campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, on the edge of Amazon’s global headquarters.

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The Advantages of Hiring a Real Estate Pro

Buying a home is quite a bit more complex than buying a new refrigerator or even a smartphone. Working with a real estate agent has numerous benefits which you may not even realize. Here’s why it’s a smart choice.

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