NW REporter

News In Brief: February 2022

  • Originally posted on Puget Sound Business Journal, the highly competitive Bellevue-Seattle-Tacoma metro is likely to stay that way for at least another year, according to a recent study from Realtor.com that identified the 30 hottest markets for 2022. Our market landed at number 8 on the list. The study ranks metros based on the combined forecast of year-over-year price growth plus increase in unit sales. The Seattle region came in high at 17.1%, reflecting a projected unit sales increase of 9.6% in 2022 and a price increase of 7.5%. Salt Lake City took the top spot on the list, with a projected combined sales and price growth of 23.7%. Boise City, Idaho, was second, and the Spokane/Spokane Valley metro was third, with a combined growth score of 20.5%. The rankings found that projected growth could be found in markets all across the country, with a special focus on Midwestern cities. This is because Millennials and other first-time homebuyers have more flexible work options than ever before, and they are likely to put a premium on affordability, settling wherever they can to maximize their buying power. While the effects of the pandemic are still deeply felt in the housing industry, new options for remote work have opened up the possibility for buyers to decide where and how they really want to live – and in 2022, Bellevue and Seattle will be among the most desired locales in the country.
  • Surprisingly, after a decade of record growth, Washington was actually not one of the most popular states to move to last year according to an annual study from United Van Lines. The study, released annually in January, tracks state-to-state migration patterns using available company data. This year’s study found more Americans moved to less densely populated areas and to be closer to their families. The 2021 study found more people moved to Vermont than any other state, while New Jersey topped the list for outbound movement. New Jersey has held the non-enviable spot for the last four years. In Washington, 51.5 percent of movers were coming into the state, while 48.5 percent were leaving it, according to the study. The most common reason for leaving was family, followed by jobs, and retirement. Despite skyrocketing rents and frequently-cited cost of living concerns, just 8 percent of residents said the cost was a factor for moving. As for people moving to the Evergreen State, most said it was for a job (about 35 percent), 33 percent said it was for family reasons and 15 percent said it was to retire here. Also surprising: the biggest movers were actually the oldest. Of new the new crop of Washingtonians, most (32 percent) were 65 and older. People between 55 and 64 made up another 20 percent of Washington’s newest residents. However, the same was true for people fleeing the state, with nearly 30 percent of people leaving the state being 65 and older. 22 percent of ex-Washingtonians were between 35 and 44. South Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida were also revealed as the top inbound states for 2021. Meanwhile, states including Illinois, New York, Connecticut and California again appeared on the list of top outbound states.
  • Seattle Police Department officers will no longer enforce certain minor violations after implementing recommendations from a working group that focused on improving public safety with equity. The department’s top brass said its officers will no longer pull drivers over for some non-criminal minor violations – provided that is the only reason for the traffic stop. The list of infractions that officers won’t actively ticket for include: Vehicles with expired license tabs, Riders who are not wearing a bike helmet, Vehicles with a cracked windshield, and Items hanging from a vehicle’s rear-view mirror.
  • The Q4 2021 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) covers 2,192 programs across the United States, of which 83.6% had funds available for eligible homebuyers as of January 6, 2022 (up nearly 2% from the previous quarter). This quarter’s report highlights the increasing number of homebuyer assistance programs designed to benefit teachers, first responders, law enforcement officers, firefighters, healthcare workers and other providers of critical community services. These programs accounted for nearly 9% of all homebuyer assistance programs available in Q4. Another 11% of programs offer benefits for veterans, members of the military and surviving spouses. Homebuyer programs with special incentives for community servants have been available in markets across the country for decades. These can be standalone programs or provisions that add special benefits or more flexible eligibility requirements when community heroes apply for homebuyer programs that are also open to other applicants. Program providers may structure these programs to help encourage homeownership in a revitalization area, help community heroes to live close to where they work, and help recruit and retain key service personnel. To qualify for a homeownership program, both the buyer and the property must meet certain criteria, which will vary by program. The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC)  Veterans Down Payment Assistance Loan Program enables qualified Washington State veterans to receive up to $10,000 to help with down payment assistance. Community heroes may also benefit from special savings and rebates from Homes for Heroes when they buy, sell or refinance a home.
  • Realtor.com and Redfin are taking a stand against crime data being listed on their websites. The real estate companies have removed the data due to growing concerns that it could perpetuate racial inequity. Realtor.com announced that it has removed its crime map from all search results to “level the playing field.” It is reassessing what safety means to buyers and renters and what information they decide to share about it going forward on realtor.com. Realtor.com® says it plans to examine closely what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use its site to “reimagine how we integrate safety data on realtor.com®. Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair, and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home.” David Doctorow, CEO of realtor.com®, said in a company update this week.
  • Reuven Carlyle, a longtime Seattle legislator who has championed government transparency, digital privacy and key climate-change legislation like the new statewide cap-and-invest law, announced he won’t seek reelection this year. A Democrat from Seattle’s 36th Legislative District, Carlyle won election to the state House in 2008, eventually chairing the House Finance Committee, which handles tax policy. He won his first Senate campaign in a 2016 special election, and won a full four-year term in 2018. Carlyle, who is a business consultant in his day job, isn’t retiring from the Legislature to take another position, he said, and will serve out the remainder of his term.
  • With around 11% of Americans having moved during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2022’s Best & Worst States to Raise a Family, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary. To determine the best states in which to put down family roots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 51 key indicators of family-friendliness. The data set ranges from the median annual family income to housing affordability to the unemployment rate.

    Raising a Family in Washington (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 15th – % of Families with Young Children
  • 6th – Infant-Mortality Rate
  • 18th – Median Annual Family Income (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 16th – Violent Crimes per Capita
  • 11th – % of Families in Poverty
  • 22nd – Separation & Divorce Rate
  • 10th – Percentage of Residents Aged 12+ Who Are Fully Vaccinated

      For the full report, please visit:
      https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-raise-a-family/31065

  • Starting late January, the MyShake app will be available for download by Washington state residents who want to receive as much early notice as possible before the ground starts shaking during an earthquake. The Washington Emergency Management Division said in a written statement that the app, which was designed by seismologists and engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, was available to be downloaded on Jan 26. The app is free for iOS users through the Apple App Store and can be found in the GooglePlay store for Android devices. With the addition of Washington, the entire U.S. West Coast is covered by the app’s early warning system. Alerts based on information from the USGS ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system are already available to all mobile phones through the Wireless Emergency Alert system and/or through a built-in-earthquake alerting system for Android devices. MyShake provides a third option that may be a faster way for users to get an earthquake alert on their phones than the WEA system. According to the state, the app as well as Android’s built-in system will deliver alerts to subscribers during quakes that exceed a 4.5 magnitude, which will cause light to strong shaking in their area. By comparison, the WEA system is set to send alerts for earthquakes larger than a 5.0 which cause moderate to strong shaking. The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning system, run by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with the Universities of Washington, Oregon, California-Berkeley and Caltech, uses ground motion sensors in all three states to detect earthquakes that have occurred and automatically notifies residents and visitors so that they can “drop, cover and hold on” in advance of ground shaking. The Earthquake Early Warning system has been activated in Washington state providing public alerts to mobile phones since its rollout on May 4, 2021.
  • With 17 state capitals being the most populated cities in their states, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Best State Capitals for Safety & More, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.

    To identify the most livable seats of state government, WalletHub compared all 50 state capitals across 49 key metrics, ranging from the cost of living to K-12 school-system quality to the share of residents who are fully vaccinated.

Top 20 State Capitals

1. Austin, TX

11. Des Moines, IA

2. Raleigh, NC

12. Denver, CO

3. Madison, WI

13. Nashville, TN

4. Boise, ID

14. Atlanta, GA

5. Lincoln, NE

15. Helena, MT

6. Concord, NH

16. Olympia, WA

7. Salt Lake City, UT

17. St. Paul, MN

8. Columbus, OH

18. Montpelier, VT

9. Bismarck, ND

19. Annapolis, MD

10. Oklahoma City, OK

20. Santa Fe, NM