- According to the Wall Street Journal, Mortgage financing giant Freddie Mac has announced it will offer low-cost loans to multifamily property owners who keep their buildings affordable to middle-class families. Landlords will receive lower interest rates if they agree to make the majority of their units affordable for tenants who earn 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. The units also must remain affordable for the term of the loan, which typically spans about a decade. To launch the program, Freddie will back $500 million in loans to the Bridge Investment Group, which is a landlord with a portfolio of about 30,000 apartments around the country. Bridge has pinpointed 38 metro areas across the country for investment. Freddie Mac’s initiative will help the GSE meet a mandate from the Federal Housing Finance Agency to grow its lending arm to more underserved communities. Freddie backs loans for purchases of existing buildings; it does not make development loans. About two-thirds of the $73 billion of multifamily loans that Freddie purchased in 2017 went to apartments affordable to households earning less than 80 percent of their area’s median income, the Journal reports. However, that is down from three-quarters of its loans that were allocated to such units in 2013.
- Zillow announced the Top 10 Most Popular Neighborhoods in our Emerald City. They determined that the most popular of them all is Laurelhurst. Laurelhurst is not only the most popular neighborhood in Western Washington, but it’s also the 10th Most Popular Neighborhood across the entire country. Our other neighborhoods that rounded off the list include: Meydenbauer, Bellevue; Westlake, Seattle; Market, Kirkland; Downtown, Seattle; Madison Park, Seattle; North Queen Anne, Seattle; Madrona, Seattle; Adelaide, Federal Way; and Hidden Valley, Bellevue.
- California will become the first state to require all new homes to have solar power, according to the New York Times. The new requirement, which was approved by a five-member California Energy Commission on Wednesday, will take effect in two years.
California has been the first to approve such a move on a statewide scale. By 2020, builders will be required to make individual homes available with solar panels or build a shared solar-power system that could serve a group of homes. The rooftop panels can either be owned by the homeowner and rolled into the cost of the home, or leased on a monthly basis. The mandate could add up to $16,000 more to the cost of a home. But homeowners’ lower energy bills will make up for the extra costs of adding solar, state officials and clean-energy advocates say. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment. The commission also estimates consumers could save $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and electricity bills. California’s new mandate stems from a requirement that at least 50 percent of the state’s electricity needs to come from non-carbon producing sources by 2030. Solar power is becoming an increasingly important part in meeting that goal.
- WiFi hotspots make it easy to stay connected. Just remember, public WiFi is not secure, anyone can see what you’re doing. That’s why it’s called “public” WiFi. Which is why you don’t want to use it to do your banking or make purchases or any other sensitive transactions while you’re on the go. I wouldn’t even update my Social Media accounts this way. To play it safe, you need to have a Virtual Private Network (VPP) on your computer or smartphone, according to komonews.com. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your computer or smartphone and the website you’re visting. No one, not even the Internet Service Provider, can see the data in that VPN tunnel as it moves back and forth. Some VPNs are free. Consumer Reports says most of these free services keep a log of your activity. They may also sell your data. That’s how you’re paying for the service. Security experts say it’s best to pay for privacy. You can get good VPN service for about $10 a month or less. The top-rated NordVPN scored 5 out of 5 points in PC Magazine’s recent tests. The editors say it’s best for general purpose users. PC Magazine recommends Private Internet Access VPN for power users and TunnelBear VPN for first-time users.
- With summer arriving and 52% of Americans reporting having unused vacation days last year, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2018’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations. To identify the best spots for staying local, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities across 40 key indicators of a fun-filled yet wallet-friendly staycation. The data ranges from movie and bowling costs to spas and wellness centers per capita to cost of house-cleaning services. The top five spots for staycations are: 1) Orlando, FL, 2) Honolulu, HI, 3) Chicago, IL, 4) Seattle, WA and 5) Portland, OR. To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-staycations/4341/