Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious.
GOOGLE, APPLE MARK DECADE-LONG STINT ON LIST OF BEST U.S. PLACES TO WORK
While big paychecks and healthy work-life balances make Silicon Valley companies highly attractive to talented tech workers, shaping innovative products with exceptionally bright colleagues cannot be underestimated when it comes to overall employee satisfaction.
For the 10th consecutive year, Glassdoor has named Google and Apple to its list of 2018’s 100 best U.S. places to work, the only other businesses besides consulting firm Bain & Company to make the list every year since its inception. Google ranks in the No. 5 spot, after having placed in the top 10 every year since 2012, while Apple comes in at No. 84, having cracked the top 10 just once.
Google employees cite the company’s legendary benefits — including free meals, cooking classes, and fitness facilities — as key selling points, along with the ability to easily change teams or projects. Apple workers take pride in the ubiquity of the company’s devices and the knowledge that their contributions make a global impact. Employees of both companies acknowledge that working with brilliant colleagues is a key part of why they are top-notch places to be employed.
The best U.S. company to work for in 2018 is also located in Silicon Valley: Facebook, which moved up from the No. 2 position on last year’s list. The social-networking titan had previously ranked No. 1 on Glassdoor’s list in 2013 and 2011 and also ranks in the top 10 on this year’s list of America’s highest-paying companies.
AMAZON CONTINUES ITS SILICON VALLEY EXPANSION
While Amazon.com may or may not choose the Bay Area as the location for its highly publicized new headquarters, the company has leased multiple work spaces in Silicon Valley, a move that should continue to fuel already seemingly unquenchable demand for housing in the region.
As The Mercury News reports, the e-commerce titan has leased four offices in Sunnyvale near Moffett Field, enough to accommodate 5,000 employees. Earlier this month, Amazon rented a 64,000-square-foot building in San Jose after leasing an office in East Palo Alto in March that can accommodate 1,300 employees.
Stephen Levy, director of Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, told The Mercury News that sky-high housing costs, gridlock, and natural disasters are not deterring tech companies from having a Silicon Valley presence. “They still plan to expand here,” he said.
FEDERAL RESERVE EXPECTED TO RAISE INTEREST RATES FOUR TIMES IN 2018
The Federal Reserve last week jacked interest rates for the third time this year, and more increases are expected in 2018, as the U.S. economy continues to expand.
HousingWire.com interviewed several prominent economists who think that the Fed will raise interest rates four times next year rather than the currently projected three. Realtor.com Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner expects that the Fed’s latest hike will push mortgage rates past 4 percent in the coming weeks. Freddie Mac puts 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.93 percent for the week ended Dec. 14, down on both a weekly and yearly basis.
Rising mortgage rates might actually benefit first-time homebuyers despite deteriorating affordability conditions.
“Today’s increase is likely the first of a series in 2018, which could ultimately make it more difficult for financial institutions to sell mortgages and prompt a loosening of qualifying standards,” Kirchner told HousingWire. “With mortgage qualification being one of the largest barriers to ownership, homeownership may get easier for these groups in 2018.”
QUICK TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING SPACE IN A SMALL HOME
Homeowners or renters who are working with small indoor living spaces are benefiting by incorporating outdoor elements and making décor decisions that flatter a room.
A recent Houzz survey of people who live in homes that are 1,000 square feet or smaller found that 57 percent are making use of natural light. A nearly equal amount of respondents, 54 percent, prioritize easy access to outdoors, and almost one-third who have renovated their homes in the past two years have improved outside areas.
When it comes to optimizing small spaces with design elements, nearly half of those surveyed matched area rugs to the room, while more than one-third incorporated mirrors and minimized furniture.