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Apr 28, 2014, 5:17pm PDT
Home improvement: Porch rolls out at Lowe’s stores nationwide
Matt Ehrlichman is CEO of Porch.
Contributing Editor-Puget Sound Business Journal
Porch, a Seattle startup that provides an online database allowing consumers to search for and compare contractors and home repair companies, announced Tuesday that its service is now available in the more than 1,700 Lowe’s home improvement stores across the U.S.
Shoppers at all 1,717 Lowe’s stores will now be able to use Porch in the store to help them find home improvement professionals for nearly any project outside of services that Lowe’s already offers. If a Lowe’s customer needs, for example, a handyman, painter, plumber or landscaper, employees can access the Porch database on their mobile devices and in-store terminals to identify local providers.
Porch’s database has more than 1.5 million professionals and more than 100 million projects.
The nationwide rollout is a "massive accomplishment" for a company that started up 10 months ago with 12 employees in the basement of CEO Matt Ehrlichman‘s rental home.
How We Got the Data
Median prices and sales counts of single-family homes and condominiums were supplied by the online real estate database and marketplace Zillow, headquartered in Seattle. Median home values represent a combination of single-family homes and condos in each neighborhood or city, not just homes recently sold or currently on the market. Rental value index represents median monthly rent for all rental units in each area.
by Marc Stiles
Staff Writer-Puget Sound Business Journal
The median price of houses and condos that sold last month in King County was 8 percent higher than in March 2013, a new report states.
Homeowners, if you’re thinking about selling, real estate agents have a message for you: Get off the dime already.
A report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service on Thursday said housing prices in the metro Puget Sound area rose in March compared with a year ago. The main reason is an inventory shortage.
The listing service said that in King County, there’s only a 1.8-month supply of houses and condos for sale. Industry analysts say a four- to six-month supply is needed for a balanced market.
The shortage is less acute in other areas, but supply is still tight. For single-family houses, Snohomish County has a 2.3-month supply, while Pierce and Kitsap counties’ supplies are around 3.5 and 4.5 percent, respectively.
The lack of inventory has sent housing prices higher. Compared with March 2013, the median price of condos and houses that sold last month was up 8 percent to $378,000 in King County, and up 9.3 percent to $295,000 in Snohomish County. In Pierce, prices rose 11.5 percent to $222,950. The median price fell 2.4 percent to $225,000 in Kitsap.
In Snohomish County, condos are especially hard to come by. The county has a supply of only 1.8 months. As a result, the median sale price last month was $193,500 — 29.4 percent higher than in March 2013.
If you’re looking for a place where there’s plenty of inventory, head to Ferry County. There, in northeastern Washington, you’ll find a 50-month supply of houses, though there’s hardly any demand. Only one house sold last month, and the price was $82,500, according to the multiple listing service.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Once this year’s harsh weather has faded, the U.S. economy could be poised for a breakout year — its strongest annual growth in nearly a decade.
The combination of an improving job market, pent-up consumer demand, less drag from U.S. government policies and a brighter global outlook is boosting optimism for the rest of 2014.
Many analysts foresee the economy growing 3 percent for the year, after a weak first quarter that followed a stronger end of 2013. It would be the most robust expansion for any year since 2005, two years before the Great Recession began.
One reason for the optimism: The government estimated Thursday that the economy grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, up from its previous estimate of 2.4 percent. Fueling the gain was the fastest consumer spending for any quarter in the past three years.
The numbers pointed to momentum entering 2014 from consumers, whose spending drives about 70 percent of the economy.
Analysts cautioned that the brutal winter weather has depressed spending in the January-March. And they think economic growth has likely slowed to an annual rate of 2 percent or less this quarter. Yet that slowdown could pave the way for a solid bounce-back in the April-June quarter. Many think growth will be fast enough the rest of the year for the economy to grow at least 3 percent for all of 2014.
"We think that once temperatures return to more normal levels, we will see a lot of pent-up demand released," said Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services. "People will be buying cars and homes and making other purchases that they put off during the winter."
Economists have suggested before that the recovery appeared on the verge of acceleration, only to have their expectations derailed by subpar growth that left unemployment at painfully high levels.
This time, there’s a growing feeling that the improvements can endure.
"We are looking for progressively faster growth as the year goes on," said Doug Handler, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.
The National Association for Business Economics predicts that the economy will grow 3.1 percent this year, far higher than the lackluster 1.9 percent gain in 2013.
If that forecast proves accurate, it would make 2014 the strongest year since the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, expanded 3.4 percent in 2005. Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, annual growth over the past four years has averaged a weak 2.2 percent.
The U.S. economy has been hit by a series of blows since then — from a Japanese tsunami and European debt crisis, which hurt U.S. exports, to Washington budget fights, which fueled uncertainty about the government’s spending and tax policies.
Tax increases and deep spending cuts that took effect in 2013 subtracted an estimated 1.5 percentage points from growth last year.
With Congress having reached a budget agreement and a deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit, companies now have more certainty about federal fiscal policies.
"We now seem to have a truce on budget issues, which means uncertainties have faded." Faucher said. "That is a big reason growth will be stronger."
Also helping will be an improving outlook overseas. Economies in Europe are strengthening, which should boost U.S. exports. In addition, the U.S. job market is improving.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits last week reached its lowest level since November — an encouraging sign that hiring should be picking up.
In February, U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs, far more than in the two previous months. Though the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent, it did so for an encouraging reason: More people grew optimistic about their job prospects and began seeking work. The unemployment rate rose because some didn’t immediately find jobs.
With more people working, more consumers will have money to spend to boost the economy.
"The last missing link to a stronger recovery was income growth, and now we are seeing that," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics.
Unexpected events might yet prove that analysts are overly optimistic. But at the moment, economists don’t expect the standoff with Russia over Ukraine or the Federal Reserve’s paring of its economic stimulus to destabilize global markets or derail the U.S. recovery.
Naroff said the consensus view might even prove too pessimistic. He said he thought economic growth could achieve a vigorous 4.4 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter if pent-up consumer demand tops estimates. And he said growth could exceed 3.5 percent in the second half of this year.
"Once we get past this winter of our discontent, things should be looking a lot better," Naroff said.
How Seattle’s Neighborhoods Got Their Names
filed under: History
Seattle’s modern history dates back to the Denny Party’s landing in 1851. Since its founding, the city has divided itself into neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality. But where did the names of those neighborhoods come from? The answers range from references to the area’s American Indian heritage to lost coin flips, American presidents to misidentified foliage. A vast (though not 100% exhaustive) list of these histories is HERE.
Alki Point is the westernmost neighborhood in West Seattle (so you know it’s really far west) and is also the southern boundary of Elliot Bay. It was also the first landing point for the Denny Party, who were the first western settlers in Seattle. The area was originally named “New York Alki,” after the state that many in the party had originally called home, and the Chinook Jargon (a language used to bridge communications between natives and early western settlers in the Pacific Northwest) word Alki which means “eventually.” The name remains relevant today, as “eventually” is a succinct answer to the question, “If we leave now, when will we get to Alki?”
Fauntleroy, in West Seattle, was named by a US Coast Guard lieutenant in 1857 in honor of his fiancée’s family. More interesting is the sub-neighborhood contained within named Endolyne, which is centered around the spot where the Fauntleroy streetcar line once ended. “End of the line” became “Endolyne,” and the name stuck.
Highpoint, This community contained within the West Seattle neighborhood of Delridge is named because it has the highest elevation in the city limits of Seattle at 520 feet.
West Seattle is the peninsula that sits southwest of Seattle. Notably, it was on this peninsula where the Denny Party first met the Duwamish Chief Sealth, after whom Seattle as a whole takes its name.