Real Estate Median Pricing for State of Washington
The general real estate median pricing for the entire state of Washington, for the 3rd quarter of 2010, was $248,900. Compared to the national median home prices in the rest of the country, this was above the national average for 2010. The counties which saw the highest growth in median resale prices in Washington State were Columbia and Whitman, which saw increases of 35.5% and 23.1% respectively.
The three Washington counties which saw significant drops in resale prices were San Juan, with a decrease of 21.9%, Douglas, with a decrease of 11.6% and Clallam, with a decrease of 10.2%. Grays Harbor and Pacific counties landed highest on the resale affordability index, which figures the average family’s ability to repay a 30 year amortized mortgage with a 10% down payment. Both counties scored a 190 on the index, with median resale prices between $133,000 and $134,000 this year.
Popular Cities to Live in and Fastest Growing Cities
There are plenty of places to live in Washington State, from the coast to far inland and from the population centers of the state to the outlying and sparsely populated countryside. The most populated cities in the state are Seattle, Spokane, Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Vancouver and Tacoma. These are highly popular places to live, with Seattle taking the lead for activities and lifestyle. The combined cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland are usually always referred to as the Tri-Cities, due to their location and connection to each other. Tacoma is a neighbor of Seattle and, regarding the international airport, they are referred together as Sea-Tac.
Seattle is situated as the largest city in the Pacific Northwest United States and is the northernmost major population center in the contiguous US. Seattle is a seaport and is located on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Seattle is the 15th largest city in the United States and is the county seat of King County, Washington. Sea-Tac International Airport and the Port of Seattle are both major gateways to Alaska, Asia and other global destinations.
Approximately 271 miles East of Seattle is the major city of Spokane, Washington. Spokane is the county seat of Spokane County and is located on the Spokane River, 20 miles from the border of Washington and Idaho State. The first long-term European settlement in Washington State was established in 1810 in Spokane by the North West Company. In addition to a rich trading history, the Spokane area was one of the most productive mining regions of the Northwest in the late 1800s.
Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Tacoma
The tri-cities region is located at the convergence of the Columbia, Yakima and Snake rivers. Situated in Southeastern Washington State, each city either borders one of the other cities or one of the rivers, making the whole are a connected community.
Vancouver is located on the north bank of the Columbia River and holds status as the fourth largest city in the state. The first permanent European settlement was founded in Vancouver in 1824 with Fort Vancouver joining in the fur trade for the Hudson Bay Company.
Tacoma, Washington is the county seat of Pierce County and is located on Puget Sound, approximately 32 miles Southwest of Seattle. Tacoma is the third largest city in the state and is the second largest city on Puget Sound, behind Seattle. Tacoma was recently named as one of the most livable areas in the country and the 19th most walkable city in the United States.
Recourse vs. Non-Recourse
Washington State is considered by the Federal Banking Reserve as a non-recourse state when it comes to mortgage foreclosures. Nationally, there are only a few states that are non-recourse when it comes to first mortgages. Washington is one of the states that, though they are non-recourse on the first mortgage, can take recourse if there is a second mortgage or equity line of credit on a property.
Judicial vs. Non-Judicial Foreclosure
Lenders in the State of Washington can use either judicial or non-judicial foreclosure proceeding to recover property collateral. Judicial means would process the foreclosure through a civil court suit, with the supervision of a judge. Non-judicial foreclosure proceedings utilize a deed of trust sale to recover the amount of the loan from the sale of a foreclosed property. If the lender utilizes judicial foreclosure proceedings, the borrower has a one-year right of redemption in order to attempt to reclaim their house by paying off the loan. If the lender uses a deed of trust sale, the borrower has no right of redemption and they are not provided any mechanism by which to recover the property.
How Mortgage Rates Compare to National Average and Why
Although the median resale amounts in Washington State were above the national average, the mortgage rates throughout the state were on pace with the rest of the country. The median rate for both the state and the country were in the mid 4% range for borrowers with good credit and a 10-20% down payment. The rates in Washington State have not suffered from any significant fluctuation, either up or down, within the last year. Borrowers with better than average credit can take advantage of lower interest rates when they are shopping for a first mortgage or refinance.
Traditionally, fixed rate mortgages will carry the lowest of interest rates as compared to adjustable rates, second mortgages and equity lines of credit. Second mortgages not only carry a higher rate, in the State of Washington lenders have recourse against borrowers for the unpaid amount of a foreclosed second. This means the lender can file a civil suit against the borrower and receive judgment for the amount of the second mortgage that remains unpaid after a foreclosure action is completed. Home equity lines of credit also offer lenders the ability for file for recourse against a borrower who defaults on a loan. Only the first mortgage on a home in Washington State is a non-recourse loan, with the lender unable to file a civil suit to recover the unpaid portion of a defaulted loan.
Refinancing a First Mortgage in Washington
It is relatively simple to refinance a first mortgage on a home in Washington State. Provided the mortgage currently on the property is current, the home is not too far underwater, owing more than the home is worth, and the borrower does not have very poor credit. In the cases of borrowers who are seriously underwater on their home, have very poor credit or are several payments behind on their mortgage payment, refinancing may take extra work. Borrowers should look into refinancing their loan to keep their payments current if they feel they are getting out of hand and may be unable to, in the near future, make their mortgage payments on time.
For those homeowners who are currently burdened with both a first and second mortgage on a property, care must be taken to keep their payments as current as possible. It is no longer common for a second mortgage holder to foreclose on a property to get their loan paid. Today’s borrowers are usually paying loans on properties with little or no equity. Second mortgage holders are now letting the first mortgage lender foreclose on the property and filing civil suits on borrowers for breach of contract in order to get their money back. Once a civil suit if filed and completed successfully, a second mortgage holder can gain judgment, garnish wages and force borrowers into a bankruptcy situation. It is always best, if possible, for borrowers to avoid going into debt with a second mortgage if they are unable to afford the additional payments.