Houses, Condos, Co-ops, and Cats

Wednesday Links: November 15

If you’re looking for a different kind of good news in the market, you can find it from this Housing Views analysis of the flow-of-funds data from the Federal Reserve.  It finds that, nationally, home equity wealth is at a high.  What that means is that the money owners could turn on selling their homes, after paying off their mortgage, is at a high.  Given that less than a decade ago a startling percentage of homeowners had negative equity, meaning the amount they owed on their mortgages was more than they could get if they sold their house, that’s actually pretty great news.  The analysis is looking at the whole country, so of course there will be local differences, and some areas do still have an unhealthy level of low and negative equity wealth, but it’s nice to see a national trend that indicates home owners are in a fairly comfortable situation, relatively independent of what the market will pay for their homes.

In more local news, the Seattle City Council passed a tax on short term rentals.  It’s not yet active and the implementation details are still forthcoming, but it’s a measure explicitly meant to target the Air BnB market.  The fund will go toward affordable housing, which is handy.  It’ll be something investors in the local market will want to watch, though I suspect it isn’t going to have a significant impact on revenue for the AirBnB crowd.

Perhaps related to the previous news item, Curbed Seattle pulled out the locally relevant bits of an Apartment List report.  According to it, nearly half the renters in the Seattle area were cost burdened, meaning they spent more than 30% of their income on housing.  That 30% figure is the magic number that a healthy budget spends on housing, and is what banks use as a target when deciding how much of a mortgage you qualify for.  The article does a good job of putting the numbers in context, both nationally and historically, so I’d suggest checking it out.

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