Mortgage rates in Washington, as in most other parts of the country, remain near all-time lows. However, the expiration of the nationwide real estate tax credit has caused a drop in home sales and a similar decline in Washington property prices.
Where is Washington real estate at?
According to experts at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, state residents may have to wait until the middle of 2011 before they see a real bottom in the regional housing market.
Despite fluctuations in mortgage rates locally, Washington residents enjoy relative income and employment stability. The Center's affordability index for median-price home re-sales has grown from year to year, as reported by SeattlePI.com.
The slowdown in new home sales has given mortgage lenders more time to focus on refinance deals. Residents with confidence about their employment status and a significant amount of home equity may wish to apply for refinancing before recovering home sales lengthen the closing process during the summer.
State advocates aim to prevent foreclosures, preserve home prices
Washington mortgage rates and real estate prices have largely escaped downward pressure from foreclosures. State consumer advocates and activists aim to keep it that way, according to a report in the Seattle Times. Only about 1 percent of the year's foreclosure activity has happened in Washington state, with most of the legal action happening in and around Seattle.
Unlike most other states, Washington allows mortgage lenders to process foreclosure actions outside the court system. Attorney General Rob McKenna has taken preemptive action to hold banks accountable to tough consumer protection laws, aiming to prevent a surge of "rocket docket" home seizures like those in Florida and Nevada. Even with local economists anticipating continued reductions in property valuations, mortgage lenders' collaborative approach in Washington has led to more loan modifications and refinance deals.
Mortgage rates may rise in Washington faster than real estate prices, but local experts remind prospective buyers that even a full percentage point increase would still result in some of the best home loan deals in generations.
Although local lenders offer competitive rates, prospective buyers can shop rates and request mortgage quotes from nationwide lenders eager to invest in Washington's relatively stable real estate market.