The Seattle Times has had a good handful of real estate stories in the last few days, but none of them have been interesting enough to merit their own post. However, now that I’ve got a little collection of them in the inbox, here’s a roundup with snippets from all four.
Of course, there are still many options for first-time buyers, including FHA and VA loans, interest-only loans, conventional loans (with higher rates) and 40-year loans.However, Myrick said lenders in general are showing signs of returning to stricter lending criteria — and that may make shopping increasingly hard for first-time buyers.
“In some ways, though, it seems lenders are going back to the old-school math.”
By that, Myrick said, she’s referring to the percentage limit of total debt to gross monthly income that lenders will generally approve.
In the past, she said, lenders didn’t want to loan to a borrower whose total debt (including housing costs) would account for more than 36 percent of total monthly income.
In recent years that limit adjusted up to the current 45 to 50 percent range as lenders got increasingly creative — some say lenient — about packaging mortgages for buyers. Some lenders make loans to borrowers at the 65 percent level — and that, Myrick said, is a loan type that will likely vanish.
Will first-time and middle-income buyers increasingly sit out the market?
“That’s hard to answer,” Myrick said. “There are two issues: There’s the payment comfort level of the borrower and the question of approvability from the lender.”
Some borrowers may be willing to take on interest-only or higher-interest loans in order to secure a home and cross their fingers that their incomes will either rise or they’ll have refinancing options later.
Others may find that the terms under which they can buy are not attractive enough to warrant an offer.
“Cross your fingers,” now there’s a sound financial plan. Awesome.
Bob Young, Affordable rentals vanish as apartments go condo:
Julie Martin has daily headaches and sleepless nights.Her apartment in West Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood is going condo and Martin, a single mother, is stressed about finding a new home near her daughter’s school and her job at the local YMCA.
It won’t be easy. Vacancies in the Seattle area have sunk to their lowest level in years and rents are climbing.
Renters across the Puget Sound region are feeling a similar pinch. Nearly 7,000 apartments in the area were converted to condos last year.
Never mind the piles of “investor” condos and homes that can be found on Craigslist. Renters are feeling a pinch, because we say so.
When Seattle city officials sold the Alaska Building two years ago, they expected developer Kent Angier would turn the 15-story office tower into downtown housing.That’s what Angier said he was going to do and what he indicated on a proposal to buy the Alaska Building.
Now Angier plans to convert the historic building into a Marriott hotel. Mayor Greg Nickels is disappointed, along with some City Council members, who thought they had a commitment from Angier to bring market-rate housing to the northern edge of Pioneer Square.
Sounds like a smart developer to me. By the time they’d be able to finish any kind of apartment or condo project, the downtown market will likely be absolutely flooded with all of the projects that are already in the pipeline.
Sharon Pian Chan & Ashley Bach, Megahomes multiplying, but how big is too big?
In an area with little land to build new houses, residents are fighting the megahome — McMansions that balloon to the edges of their properties, three-story giants that block views from quaint craftsman bungalows.Seattle is considering new laws to limit the size of houses replacing those torn down on single-family lots. In Bellevue, residents came to a meeting with city staff Wednesday night to complain of huge homes that block out the sun and “overpower” the neighborhoods.
Those advocating restrictions say megahouses hurt the character and scale of single-family neighborhoods.
I’ll bet those same neighbors haven’t been complaining about how the “character” of their neighborhood was changed by skyrocketing house values the last few years. Go figure.