Westchester spending out of control | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Wall Street rating agencies gave a collective thumbs-down to Westchester County this week, downgrading its bond rating, based on its past two years of deficit spending and the use of the county’s reserves to balance its budget. 

Whether the downgrade will drive up borrowing costs — and higher county spending — will be determined by market conditions when the county sells $200 million in bonds next week.

But one agency warned it could drop the rating several notches more if the county continues its practice of including phantom revenues in the budget and raiding its rainy day fund at year’s end to erase the red ink.

The downgrades by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings come as the county Board of Legislators reviews County Executive George Latimer’s 2019 budget, which would be balanced by having a county-affiliated agency borrow $22 million in a one-shot deal to pay for day-to-day expenses.

It’s not exactly the sustainable revenue stream that S&P was looking for to assure municipal bond investors. 

For Latimer, and for homeowners, it is a case of pick your poison.

Go with his complex parking-lot deal to glean the $22 million one-shot, or increase county property taxes by 6 percent this year to pay the bills, and cover $98 million in new spending.

There’s also a possible move in Albany to seek an increase in the county sales tax.  

Westchester County Executive George Latimer, left, speaks with Leslie Gordon of Feeding Westchester, John Ravitz, Executive Vice President of the Westchester Business Council, and Susan Fox of the Westchester Institute for Human Development during the annual breakfast of the Westchester Business Council at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown Nov. 28, 2018. Latimer was the guest speaker at the breakfast.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer, left, speaks with Leslie Gordon of Feeding Westchester, John Ravitz, Executive Vice President of the Westchester Business Council, and Susan Fox of the Westchester Institute for Human Development during the annual breakfast of the Westchester Business Council at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown Nov. 28, 2018. Latimer was the guest speaker at the breakfast. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)

The downgrades are the results of seven years of tax austerity under Latimer’s predecessor, Rob Astorino, who held the line on the county property tax-levy from 2011 through 2017. Latimer’s response to the Astorino era, however, has caught the bond rating agencies’ eye as well.

During his first year in office, Latimer settled the Civil Service Employees Association contract, to which no funds were appropriated in the 2018 budget. So the county expects to dip deeply into its reserves to pay for the labor settlement.

“The honeymoon is over,” declared Joe Markey, market president of KeyBank, at Wednesday morning’s Business Council of Westchester breakfast at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown.

How low?

How low can Westchester’s rating go? Certainly much lower than the AA+ rating issued on Tuesday, and the negative outlook issued by S&P. Moody’s Investor Services that downgraded Westchester in 2017.

Lower bond ratings can raise the interest rates because the investment is seen as riskier. Higher rates drive up borrowing costs on obligations that remain on the backs of taxpayers for 20 years.Exactly how much a lower bond rating increases rates depends on market conditions at the time of issuance. 

“We remain concerned over the county’s ability to sustainably align revenue and expenditures and rebuild reserves to a level consistent with that of similarly rated or higher-rated peers,” the report said. 

In other words, Westchester’s rating could go lower if it continues to rely on speculative revenues, and then is forced to backfill the shortfall with reserves.

Here we go again 

That could happen again in Latimer’s first budget.

It remains to be seen whether the Democrat-controlled county board will back Latimer’s one-shot sale of several acres of land, located in the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Westchester County’s first park. Latimer wants to sell the parking lots that serve patrons of the park’s Westchester County Center and provide spaces for White Plains commuters.

The Westchester County Local Development Corporation would pay $22 million for  the park’s parking lots, which generate $2.5 million a year in county revenue. The LDC would sell tax-exempt revenue bonds to raise the $22 million.

It seems certain that the deal won’t be concluded by year’s end. The county has yet to make an application to the LDC for the sale. The LDC needs to change its charter to allow the deal, which requires approval by the state Attorney General.  And the parkland sale must be first recommended by the Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Board, which meets Thursday to discuss the issue.

The Latimer administration wants to remove the parking lots at the Westchester County Center from a county park, and sell them to a public nonprofit.

The Latimer administration wants to remove the parking lots at the Westchester County Center from a county park, and sell them to a public nonprofit. (Photo: David McKay Wilson/The Journal News)

S&P warned that including the park sale in the budget could create problems if the Board of Legislators fails to approve the final deal.

“Should this transfer not occur as planned, management may be required to fill the gap with expenditure reductions, an additional property tax increase above the planned 2 percent, or fund balance,” the report stated.

The report also warned about the Latimer administration’s rosy forecast for a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenues for 2019.

 Latimer has so far said he’s not willing to raise property taxes more than 2 percent for 2019.

Sales tax could be next to go up

The S&P report notes that the county plans to seek an increase in the county sales tax during the 2019 session, though no revenue from the increase was included in Latimer’s budget plan.

The county’s sales-tax rate, which is now 1.5 percentage points – is part of the combined sales tax that’s charged in Westchester. The overall sales-tax rate includes New York state sales tax of 4 percent, 0.375 percent for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; 2.5 percent for the cities of Mount Vernon, White Plains, and New Rochelle; and 3 percent for Yonkers.

Winning an increase in Albany could provide a revenue stream big enough to right Westchester’s fiscal ship and return S&P’s outlook to stable. But if that doesn’t happen, and Westchester does another year of deficit spending, the outlook could grow even dimmer.  

“Should the aforementioned risks to the fiscal 2019 budget materialize and reserves continue a downward tend, providing limited cushion to insulate the financial position from disruptions related to tax reform or economic downturn, we could lower the rating, potentially by multiple notches,” the report said.

read more..

https://www.lohud.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/david-mckay-wilson/2018/11/29/how-westchester-credit-rating-downgrade-affect-homeowners/2140494002/

Plogging to clean your neighborhood | Katonah Real Estate

Many athletes have been doing it for a long time without even knowing it is now a fitness trend. It’s called plogging, a combination of jogging and picking up. And what is being picked up is trash. The Swedes are credited with starting the trend and now it’s spreading in the United States.

A sunny and breezy day is perfect for plogging. Jeff Horowitz, a personal trainer at Vida Gym in Washington, is plogging with a couple of his friends. To him, nothing is new about this routine.

“This is just my personal ethics, where I would go for a run and if I happen to see a piece of garbage laying around and it’s within my reach,” he says. “It was a kind of a little test for me to see if I can grab it and throw it in a near trash can without stopping. That way I thought it gave me a little bit of exercise, a little focus for my run and helped clean up the neighborhood.”

Now, he knows he’s one of a growing number of people worldwide who are plogging. He often organizes plogging events.

Rules of Plogging

Getting ready to plog is similar to getting ready to jog. You have to warm up by doing weight squats, some calisthenics, some balance exercises. Then, grab a trash bag and you’re ready to go, but not before wearing a pair of gloves.

Like other athletes, ploggers have to warm up first. (Jeff Horowitz)
Like other athletes, ploggers have to warm up first. (Jeff Horowitz)

“Gloves are important,” Horowitz says. “You want to make sure this is going to be healthy for you. Even if you’ve good intentions, you never know what you’ll find. It might be broken glass, medical waste.”

Like any other fitness routine, plogging has rules. The first of these rules one shouldn’t suddenly bend over in front of someone else, which seems like common sense.

“You can’t do that.” Horowitz explains. “It becomes like a three stooges’ event and you’ll end up falling over.” So, when plogging with a group a runner usually calls it out, stops and bends, so other members of the group become aware of his move.

Ploggers also need to cover all different territory.

“People kind of naturally follow that rule,” Horowitz says. “So, if I’m a little bit more to the curb side, I’ll look toward the gutter and someone else a little bit closer to the hedges they’re going to pick up there. So, you get a rhythm going between people without sometimes agreeing to it.”

Organizing plogging events encourages more joggers to try it. (Jeff Horowitz)
Organizing plogging events encourages more joggers to try it. (Jeff Horowitz)

Running with Purpose

Sports event organizer Dana Allen finds plogging interesting. Like other runners who consider themselves environment custodians, she likes it when streets are trash-free and clean. That’s why she plogs, but admits she doesn’t do it all the time.

“When I’m running seriously, in training for a marathon, I probably wouldn’t be as inclined to stop regularly because I’m focusing on a certain goal,” she says. “But then there are other days, where I’m out and into sort of a more relaxed running that would be a situation where I might do it.”

On other occasions, a group of runners gets together early on a weekend morning, and goes plogging.

“We go for run, pick up some garbage, then we go for brunch. We kind of make a little bit of event of it.”

Plogger Azell Washington says participating in such events makes him feel better. “It would clear a lot of space for me. And I’m rewarded myself.”

Washington DC: Clean and Fit

Encouraging more people to plog helps raise awareness about Washington’s litter problem, says Julie Lawson, who works with the mayor’s Clean City Office.

“When the street looks bad and it’s dirty, you’re going to feel bad about the neighborhood, about the community. You may even feel less safe because of that,” she says. “So if we’re all doing our part and picking it up, it’s very easy to help beautify it, help build those social connection, you get to know your neighbors, you get to feel some social responsibility and community feel, when you do this.”

Plogging also helps advance a city-wide fitness initiative.

“FitDC is Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to get DC back to number one in the country as the fittest city in the nation,” Lawson adds. “And as part of that our Department of Parks and Recreation put up a couple of plogging events combining fitness activities with beautifying the city. We look to continue to support that.”

Participants of all ages are welcome to plog. (Jeff Horowitz)
Participants of all ages are welcome to plog. (Jeff Horowitz)

Plogger Allen hopes one day there won’t be a need for plogging.

“I would just hope people around would think twice before dropping a garbage on the ground,” she says. “We have receptacles, seems like on every block. So, it’s easy to put your garbage in the trash can. So, I just think people should think about it a little bit more and be cognizant of keeping the city as beautiful as possible.”

read more…

https://www.voanews.com/a/plogging-around-the-us/4673842.html?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=today-at-voa-t46&utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=2018-11-27

New apartment rentals are getting smaller | Bedford Real Estate

Apartments are getting smaller in much of the U.S., even as rents are rising.

The average size of newly built apartments in 2018 is 941 square feet, which is 5 percent smaller than it was a decade ago. For studio apartments, the change is more pronounced — they’re 10 percent smaller. Rents, on the other hand, have jumped 28 percent during the same time period, according to RENTCafe, a nationwide apartment search website.

“Changes in renters’ living habits are literally redrawing floor plans,” wrote Nadia Balint, senior marketing writer for RENTCafe. “The largest share of apartment dwellers, millennials, prefer living in locations close to restaurants and entertainment, rather than having a large kitchen or living room to cook or entertain at home.”

Higher rental costs today, however, have millennials looking for savings by renting smaller units, and developers are clearly responding. Micro-units are becoming more popular, following on the tiny-house trend, as millennials tend to be more environmentally conscious than previous generations. Apartment developers are supplementing the smaller units by adding more common spaces to their buildings, in which residents can both work and entertain.

“Across our 72,000-unit portfolio we have seen an increasing demand for relatively smaller units,” said Toby Bozzuto, CEO of apartment developer the Bozzuto Group. “We attribute this to a lifestyle shift that is based on our residents’ desire to be less encumbered by things. Our residents value flexibility and convenience, and appreciate a thoughtful approach to unit design.”

Despite an apartment construction boom in the last several years, occupancies remain high, and rents are still gaining. Yet rents are rising fastest for those who can afford it least. Rents for low-end properties, defined as those with rents less than 75 percent of the regional median, are gaining faster than luxury rentals, according to CoreLogic.

“We’ve seen a slight uptick in rent prices over the past few months as strong employment growth continues,” said Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic. “The strength stems from the low-to-middle price tier, which has seen monthly average growth of 3.2 percent since January 2018.”

All real estate is local, and so are size trends, apparently. Overall, including old and new apartments, the Southeast has the largest units in the nation, while California has the smallest. The average apartment size in California is 837 square feet, compared with 975 square feet in the Southeast.

California saw the biggest size decrease for newly built apartments, an average decline of 12 percent over the past decade. The Pacific Northwest as well as the Northeast are next, seeing 10 percent decreases. Only in the Midwest, where rents and demand are lowest, are apartment sizes increasing, up 1 percent in that time.

Of the nation’s largest cities, Seattle has the smallest apartment units, with an average size of 711 square feet. Manhattan and Chicago are second- and third-smallest. Tallahassee, Florida, boasts the largest units on average at 1,038 square feet. Marietta, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, come in second- and third-largest.

While all types of floor plans are shrinking, new studio apartments are minimizing most at an average of just 514 square feet this year. Studios also represent a shrinking share of the rental market, just 5 percent of all units nationwide. One-bedrooms lead at 43 percent of the market, but their size is down 4 percent over the last decade. Two-bedroom apartments have not changed much, just 0.5 percent smaller on average.

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https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/27/renters-pay-more-for-less-space-as-apartments-shrink.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief

Westchester loses AAA bond rating | Pound Ridge Real Estate

  • County used reserves to pay retroactive salary increases
  •  S&P cuts Westchester rating to AA+ and it could go lower

New York’s Westchester County, home to the wealthy suburbs of Scarsdale and Bronxville, lost its AAA grade from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings after drawing down its cash reserves to cover retroactive raises given to government employees.

The county, which borders New York City to the north, had its grade cut one level by both companies Tuesday to AA+. S&P said there’s a one-in-three chance that it will downgrade the county’s bonds again in the next two years as the government contends with budget shortfalls, given how “narrow” its reserves were at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

The downgrades came ahead of the county’s planned auction of $200 million of general-obligation bonds on Thursday.

“We remain concerned over the county’s ability to sustainably align revenue and expenditures and rebuild reserves to a level consistent with that of similarly rated or higher-rated peers,” said S&P analyst Nora Wittstruck.

Westchester’s general fund balance could fall to less than 4 percent of spending at the close of fiscal 2018, about half the level of reserves the county had previously maintained, S&P said.

The new federal limit on deductions for state and local taxes and mortgage interest could further strain the county’s budget. That cap could make it harder for residents who pay the the highest property taxes in the U.S. to sell their homes, while others could challenge their real-estate tax assessments, potentially weakening Westchester’s biggest source of income.

The average property-tax bill in the county last year was $17,179, the highest in the the U.S., according to a report by Attom Data Solutions. The federal tax law changes set a $10,000 limit on deductions for state and local levies and capped the mortgage-interest deduction to loans of $750,000.

There are some signs that high property taxes and the federal shift are having an impact.

The median price of single family homes in the county dipped to $675,000 in the third-quarter of 2018, a 3.6 percent decline from the previous quarter, according to an October 11 report by Miller Samuel Inc. and and Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Luxury homes prices fell even more, with a 6.4 percent decline to $2.1 million.

Westchester is New York’s third-wealthiest county by median family income, after Nassau and Putnam and has the second-highest per-capita income after Manhattan.

The county’s new executive, George Latimer, has proposed selling parking lots in White Plains to plug a $22 million hole in his 2019 spending plan, according to the Journal News.

If the parking lot sale falls through, the county would have to cut spending, raise property taxes above the planned 2 percent increase or tap reserves again. The county’s $1.94 billion proposed budget includes $453 million in sales-tax revenue, 5 percent more than the year end-estimate of fiscal 2018, based on the expectation that the state will allow collections on Internet purchases.

“We believe the revenue forecast assumes a couple of significant risks,” Wittstruck said.

In a statement, Latimer said the downgrades weren’t a surprise.

“As we have said these past few months, the county is in serious financial stress,” Latimer said. “Regardless of the many steps we are taking to improve our footing, these problems were not created overnight and they will not be solved overnight.”

read more…


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-27/westchester-county-loses-aaa-rank-after-using-reserves-for-pay

Freddie Mac real estate predictions | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Freddie Mac November Forecast: Expect Modest Housing Market Growth in 2019


According to Freddie Mac’s  November Forecast, the biggest unknown about the housing market next year is whether current negative trends, such as lack of housing supply, will persist or the market will adjust to the shock of higher mortgage rates and resume modest growth.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Almost all the trends in the U.S. housing market have been negative in recent months as housing market activity continues to adjust to higher mortgage rates.”Khater added, “If new home sales are to resume growth in 2019, builders may have to shift their focus to more modestly priced homes and smaller sized homes to help offset housing affordability concerns. But with cost pressures pinching profitability, this will be a significant challenge.” 

Forecast Highlights 

Expect GDP growth to average 3 percent in 2018 before slowing to 2.4 percent in 2019 and 1.8 percent in 2020.

Expect total home sales to decrease 1.6 percent to 6.02 million in 2018 before slowly regaining momentum and increasing 1 percent to 6.08 million in 2019 and 2 percent to 6.20 million in 2020.  

Expect home prices to increase 5.1 percent in 2018 with the rate of growth moderating to 4.3 percent in 2019 and 2.9 percent in 2020.

Expect single-family mortgage originations to decline 9.9 percent year-over-year to $1.63 trillion in 2018, falling slightly to $1.62 trillion in 2019 and dropping once more to $1.60 trillion in 2020. This is the result of shrinking refinance activity.Adjusted for inflation in 2017 dollars, an estimated $14.2 billion in net home equity was cashed out during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages in the third quarter of 2018, down from $18.3 billion a year earlier and substantially less than the peak cash-out refinance volume of $102 billion during the second quarter of 2006.

Pre-fabs for all budgets | Chappaqua Real Estate

Once regarded as uninspiring look-alikes with no personality or pizazz, modular homes can now be found in just about any configuration you can imagine, and at just about any price point. Not only that, modular homes have become incredibly of the moment, incorporating modern design and sustainable practices for maximum efficiency.

The problem is, many potential buyers don’t know much about modular homes. That’s why we’re here to clear up any confusion—after all, modular homes make great dwellings for today’s modern families looking for energy-efficient and affordable options. 

NEWSLETTERJoin the Prefab Homes Mailing ListSign up for Prefabs Newsletter

Exterior, Flat RoofLine, Wood Siding Material, House Building Type, and Prefab Building Type Based in New York City, Cocoon9 takes a unique approach to prefab homes, offering a line of tiny homes with high-quality construction and finishes, smart technology, energy efficiencies, and versatile spaces that are ready for the modern market. Their models start at 160 square feet and go up to 480. Although design and production of each prefab takes about four weeks, on site installation typically takes under one week to complete.
Based in New York City, Cocoon9 takes a unique approach to prefab homes, offering a line of tiny homes with high-quality construction and finishes, smart technology, energy efficiencies, and versatile spaces that are ready for the modern market. Their models start at 160 square feet and go up to 480. Although design and production of each prefab takes about four weeks, on site installation typically takes under one week to complete.

Modular homes are built as several large pieces in climate-controlled indoor factories, then pieced together at the site the homeowner has chosen. During construction, modular homes are subject to extremely rigorous quality control standards. The truth is, modular homes are just as—if not more so—sturdy as stick-built homes that are constructed fully on site. Today’s modular homes are made to withstand wind speeds up to 180 miles per hour.  

Are modular homes less expensive than regular homes, and by how much? You’ll be glad to know that another major benefit of prefab homes is that they are generally less expensive than stick-built homes; choosing a modular design can save as much as 15 to 30 percent over traditional homes. Most of that savings is reflected in the much shorter build time. 

Since they are constructed in indoor factories on assembly lines, modular homes are much less labor intensive than traditional, stick-built homes. Be aware, however, that the price you’re quoted for a prefab home often won’t include additional costs like land, permits, site work, customization, and transportation. 

Here, we’ve rounded up a sample of modular homes at a variety of different price points for every budget. The modular home prices featured here are just for the homes. Additional costs mentioned above will apply. 

Modular Homes Under $200K 

No matter where you live across the United States (and even worldwide), you shouldn’t have any trouble finding modular homes under $200,000. Given that modular homes are often cost-effective choices, the modular homes under $200,000 that we’ve included are spacious with lots of stylish customizations.

FUSE Series by IdeaBox – Oregon

Price: $188,000 

Exterior, Shed RoofLine, Metal Roof Material, Prefab Building Type, and Wood Siding Material Constructed with durable Montana timber, corrugated metal roofing, and energy-efficient windows, the FUSE 2 by Ideabox is a 1,360-square-foot modular home.
Constructed with durable Montana timber, corrugated metal roofing, and energy-efficient windows, the FUSE 2 by Ideabox is a 1,360-square-foot modular home.
IdeaBox expertly makes small spaces seem much larger with seamless views of the outdoors, 8-foot ceilings, tall windows, and light, airy interiors. These features make the FUSE series a popular option for modular homes under $200K.
IdeaBox expertly makes small spaces seem much larger with seamless views of the outdoors, 8-foot ceilings, tall windows, and light, airy interiors. These features make the FUSE series a popular option for modular homes under $200K.

Ma Modular – Texas

Price: varies by location 

At 550 square feet, Ma Modular’s "Grand Ma" model is one of the larger modular homes under $200K on our list. Prices vary—modular home prices in Texas for this model are $225 per square foot, bringing the Grand Ma to about $124,000. Modular home prices in Pennsylvania for the same model are somewhat less, at $118,000. Finally, to own the Grand Ma in Florida, you’ll pay about $107,000.
At 550 square feet, Ma Modular’s “Grand Ma” model is one of the larger modular homes under $200K on our list. Prices vary—modular home prices in Texas for this model are $225 per square foot, bringing the Grand Ma to about $124,000. Modular home prices in Pennsylvania for the same model are somewhat less, at $118,000. Finally, to own the Grand Ma in Florida, you’ll pay about $107,000.

Brightbuilt Barn – Maine

Price: starting at $160,000

Kitchen, Undermount Sink, Cooktops, Refrigerator, Track Lighting, Light Hardwood Floor, Laminate Counter, Wood Cabinet, Dishwasher, and Wood Backsplashe Despite the small size, Brightbuilt Homes’ modular homes under $200K are tastefully designed with modern touches, like light-toned hardwood floors and stainless-steel appliances.
Despite the small size, Brightbuilt Homes’ modular homes under $200K are tastefully designed with modern touches, like light-toned hardwood floors and stainless-steel appliances.
Exterior, Cabin Building Type, Prefab Building Type, Gable RoofLine, and Wood Siding Material Brightbuilt Homes has been constructing beautiful modular homes in Maine since 2005. Modular home prices in Maine reflect the somewhat more expensive Northeast market: this tiny but tasteful, fully customized, net-zero energy barn runs about $280 per square foot.
Brightbuilt Homes has been constructing beautiful modular homes in Maine since 2005. Modular home prices in Maine reflect the somewhat more expensive Northeast market: this tiny but tasteful, fully customized, net-zero energy barn runs about $280 per square foot.

Modular Homes Under $100K 

The modular homes under $100,000 on our list don’t scrimp on high-quality materials and stylish accents. At this price point, choices abound, so be sure to find the model that speaks to your individual taste.

K6 Series by KitHaus – California

Price: starting at $80,000

Exterior, Metal Roof Material, Wood Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, Glass Siding Material, and Prefab Building Type The handsome K6 Series, one of KitHaus’ largest models, offers modular homes under $100K. These can be customized to include an Ipe deck and hardwood siding, as well as corrugated roofing. All KitHaus frames are lightweight but durable, made with M.H.S.** structural anodized aluminum framing. 
The handsome K6 Series, one of KitHaus’ largest models, offers modular homes under $100K. These can be customized to include an Ipe deck and hardwood siding, as well as corrugated roofing. All KitHaus frames are lightweight but durable, made with M.H.S.** structural anodized aluminum framing. 
Exterior, Flat RoofLine, Wood Siding Material, and Prefab Building Type Modular home prices in Pennsylvania tend to be lower than in California or New York. But most pricing variations come down to external factors, such as land, customizations, transportation, and zoning costs. KitHaus serves many markets across the U.S., so final pricing may vary.
Modular home prices in Pennsylvania tend to be lower than in California or New York. But most pricing variations come down to external factors, such as land, customizations, transportation, and zoning costs. KitHaus serves many markets across the U.S., so final pricing may vary.
KitHaus modular homes offer modern touches, like sleek, angular designs and vanities made of timber.
KitHaus modular homes offer modern touches, like sleek, angular designs and vanities made of timber.

M.05 Studio by Honomobo – California

Price: $98,000 

Exterior, Prefab Building Type, Glass Siding Material, and Flat RoofLine One of the most popular models of modular homes under $100K, the M.05 Studio by Honomobo offers small-space living with a unique twist; all of Honomobo’s beautiful homes are made out of shipping containers. The M Studio is a 200-square-foot modular home made of extremely durable Cor-Ten steel, which is made to withstand the harshest weather conditions.
One of the most popular models of modular homes under $100K, the M.05 Studio by Honomobo offers small-space living with a unique twist; all of Honomobo’s beautiful homes are made out of shipping containers. The M Studio is a 200-square-foot modular home made of extremely durable Cor-Ten steel, which is made to withstand the harshest weather conditions.
Offering a truly seamless indoor/outdoor experience with floor-to-ceiling windows, the M Studio, like all Honomobo models, can be customized with a variety of upgrades, like this high-gloss white cabinetry and premium countertop.
Offering a truly seamless indoor/outdoor experience with floor-to-ceiling windows, the M Studio, like all Honomobo models, can be customized with a variety of upgrades, like this high-gloss white cabinetry and premium countertop.

Steel Homes Tulip Model – Florida

Price: $80,000 

Steel Homes, a Florida–based modular home company, faces a unique problem: how to design and build a modular home that can withstand the frequent hurricanes the state sees. That’s why these modular homes under $100K use light-gauge steel. The high strength-to-weight ratio maximizes building design flexibility and provides rigid structural integrity. Modular home prices in Florida are comparatively cheaper than in markets like California, New England, and D.C. At 1,010 square feet, the Tulip is Steel Homes’ smallest model, with a price tag right around $80,000.
Steel Homes, a Florida–based modular home company, faces a unique problem: how to design and build a modular home that can withstand the frequent hurricanes the state sees. That’s why these modular homes under $100K use light-gauge steel. The high strength-to-weight ratio maximizes building design flexibility and provides rigid structural integrity. Modular home prices in Florida are comparatively cheaper than in markets like California, New England, and D.C. At 1,010 square feet, the Tulip is Steel Homes’ smallest model, with a price tag right around $80,000.

Modular Homes Under $75K 

Go big on style and small on size with our selection of modular homes under $75,000. Though these modular homes may have less square footage, they make innovative use of the space. 

Wings Laneway LW596 by Jenesys Buildings – Canada

Price: $42,000 (shell package only) 

Based out of Canada, Jenesys Buildings offers three different designs of "Laneway" houses. The Wings model is an attractive, contemporary design, with an angled roof, modern finishes, and cladding. It’s a great option to consider if you’re looking for modular homes under $75K.
Based out of Canada, Jenesys Buildings offers three different designs of “Laneway” houses. The Wings model is an attractive, contemporary design, with an angled roof, modern finishes, and cladding. It’s a great option to consider if you’re looking for modular homes under $75K.

Minim Homes – Pennsylvania

Price: $70,000 

Exterior, Wood Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, Metal Roof Material, and Prefab Building Type Minim Homes are wrapped in beautiful, shiplapped cyprus that will gently age to grey. And a 960-watt solar array on the roof can be battery powered, allowing the home to be completely off-grid if desired.
Minim Homes are wrapped in beautiful, shiplapped cyprus that will gently age to grey. And a 960-watt solar array on the roof can be battery powered, allowing the home to be completely off-grid if desired.
Living Room, Medium Hardwood Floor, Bookcase, Coffee Tables, Sofa, and Console Tables On the inside, genius design meets modern styling. Minim offers one of the most innovative modular homes under $75K. The company has won numerous American Institute of Architects awards for their incredibly space-conscious designs.
On the inside, genius design meets modern styling. Minim offers one of the most innovative modular homes under $75K. The company has won numerous American Institute of Architects awards for their incredibly space-conscious designs.

Modular Homes Under $50K 

If you’re looking for modular homes under $50,000, be sure to find a local prefab company to get the most bang for your buck. Steep transportation fees can make even the most affordable modular home prices rise quickly.

Nano by Unity Homes – New Hampshire

Price: $50,000 

Unity Homes, a well-known modular home company in New England, now offers a small home at an affordable price. It’s called the Nano, and at 477 square feet, it’s available for just $50,000. That lands this adorable, energy-efficient cottage on the lower side of modular home prices in Massachusetts and other states surrounding its factory in New Hampshire, where prices are typically much higher.
Unity Homes, a well-known modular home company in New England, now offers a small home at an affordable price. It’s called the Nano, and at 477 square feet, it’s available for just $50,000. That lands this adorable, energy-efficient cottage on the lower side of modular home prices in Massachusetts and other states surrounding its factory in New Hampshire, where prices are typically much higher.

Modular Homes Under $40K 

While it’s definitely possible to find modular homes under $40,000, you’ll find smaller spaces with few customizations. Still, we’ve included some can’t-miss models on our list of modular homes under $40,000.

Bonsai by Bamboo Living – Hawaii

Price: Starting at $17,980 

The Bonsai tiny home is one of Bamboo Living's many homes that use timber-grade structural bamboo as a building material. These innovative modular homes under $40K use bamboo-framed exterior wall panels, which are now available as single-wall (for warm climates) or double-wall (for a wider range of temperatures). On the exterior, the Bonsai uses natural split bamboo siding. Based in Pahoa, Hawaii, the company seeks to protect and restore the planet by pioneering the use of timber-grade structural bamboo as a tree-free building material.
The Bonsai tiny home is one of Bamboo Living’s many homes that use timber-grade structural bamboo as a building material. These innovative modular homes under $40K use bamboo-framed exterior wall panels, which are now available as single-wall (for warm climates) or double-wall (for a wider range of temperatures). On the exterior, the Bonsai uses natural split bamboo siding. Based in Pahoa, Hawaii, the company seeks to protect and restore the planet by pioneering the use of timber-grade structural bamboo as a tree-free building material.

Casa Ti by Green Modern Kits – Virginia

Price: Starting at $30,000 

Designed by architect David Day and manufactured and constructed by Green Modern Kits, Casa Ti is a passive solar, one-story modern modular with a whopping 1,200 square feet and three bedrooms. That makes it one of the largest modular homes under $40K that we’ve seen.
Designed by architect David Day and manufactured and constructed by Green Modern Kits, Casa Ti is a passive solar, one-story modern modular with a whopping 1,200 square feet and three bedrooms. That makes it one of the largest modular homes under $40K that we’ve seen.
The net-zero, off-the-grid prototype is clad in SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). Green Modern Kit homes come without anything included, and you’ll have to contract your own builder, but the kits are fully customizable.
The net-zero, off-the-grid prototype is clad in SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). Green Modern Kit homes come without anything included, and you’ll have to contract your own builder, but the kits are fully customizable.

Modular Homes Under $10K 

For the most part, modular homes under $10,000 aren’t stand-alone living spaces, but rather add-on spaces. Consider these tiny spaces if you need an extra bedroom, a pool house, or a dedicated studio space.

K3 Series by Kithaus – California

Price: Starting at $8,000 for an outdoor shower and going up to $60,000 for a larger space with a lofted bed, bathroom, and kitchenette 

If you’re willing to sacrifice space for a super-low price tag in your search for modular homes under $10K, the K3 by KitHaus is an option. It’s adaptable as a backyard studio, home office, pool house, or play room, to name a few options. Its exterior is clad in corrugated galvalume or smooth, natural cement board with corrugated roofing, and floors are natural hardwood or finished plywood.
If you’re willing to sacrifice space for a super-low price tag in your search for modular homes under $10K, the K3 by KitHaus is an option. It’s adaptable as a backyard studio, home office, pool house, or play room, to name a few options. Its exterior is clad in corrugated galvalume or smooth, natural cement board with corrugated roofing, and floors are natural hardwood or finished plywood.

Oregon Timberwerks Cabin – Oregon

Price: $6,000 

From Oregon Timberwerks comes one of the lowest modular home prices we could find. These adorable log cabins make great options if you’re considering a (seriously) tiny home. They’re well insulated and fully weatherproof, constructed with solid wood and plywood. The floors are constructed of pressure treated lumber and exterior plywood, and the walls are covered with tapered lap siding over plywood sheathing and a vapor barrier. 
From Oregon Timberwerks comes one of the lowest modular home prices we could find. These adorable log cabins make great options if you’re considering a (seriously) tiny home. They’re well insulated and fully weatherproof, constructed with solid wood and plywood. The floors are constructed of pressure treated lumber and exterior plywood, and the walls are covered with tapered lap siding over plywood sheathing and a vapor barrier. 

read more…


https://www.dwell.com/article/modular-home-prices-4f640bf9?utm_medium=email&utm_source=postup&utm_campaign=Contemporary,%20cool,%20and%20cost-effective.&list=1

Pending home sales down 10 months in a row as rates rise | North Salem Real Estate

Pending home sales declined slightly in October in all regions but the Northeast, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 2.6 percent to 102.1 in October, down from 104.8 in September. However, year-over-year contract signings dropped 6.7 percent, making this the tenth straight month of annual decreases.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said that ten straight months of decline certainly isn’t favorable news for the housing sector. “The recent rise in mortgage rates have reduced the pool of eligible homebuyers,” he said.

Yun notes that a similar period of decline occurred during the 2013 Taper Tantrum when interest rates jumped from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent. After 11 months – November 2013 to September 2014 – sales finally rebounded when rates decreased. “But this time, interests rates are not going down, in fact, they are probably going to increase even further,” Yun noted.

While the short-term outlook is uncertain, Yun stressed that he is very optimistic about the long-term outlook. The current home sales level matches sales in 2000. “However, mortgage rates are much lower today compared to earlier this century, when mortgage rates averaged 8 percent. Additionally, there are more jobs today than there were two decades ago,” said Yun. “So, while the long-term prospects look solid, we just have to get through this short-term period of uncertainty.”

All four major regions saw a decline when compared to a year ago, with the West seeing the most pronounced drop. Yun said that decline is not at all surprising. “The West region experienced the fastest run-up in home prices in a short time and therefore, has essentially priced out many consumers,” Yun said.

Yun suggests that the Federal Reserve should be less aggressive in raising rates. He cites the collapse in oil prices and the decrease in gasoline prices. “The inflationary pressure is all but disappearing. Given that condition, there is less of a need to aggressively raise interest rates. Looking at the broader economy and keeping in mind that the housing sector is a great contributor to the economy, it would be wise for the Federal Reserve to slow the raising of rates to see how inflation develops.”

Yun pointed to year-over-year increases in active listings from data at realtor.com® to illustrate a potential rise in inventory. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., Columbus, Ohio, San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. saw the largest increase in active listings in October compared to a year ago.

Yun expects existing-home sales this year to decrease 3.1 percent to 5.34 million, and the national median existing-home price to increase 4.7 percent. Looking ahead to next year, existing sales are forecast to decline 0.4 percent and home prices to drop roughly 2.5 percent.

October Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 0.7 percent to 92.9 in October, and is now 2.9 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 1.8 percent to 100.4 in October and is 4.9 percent lower than October 2017.

Pending home sales in the South fell 1.1 percent to an index of 118.9 in October, which is 4.6 percent lower than a year ago. The index in the West decreased 8.9 percent in October to 84.8 and fell 15.3 percent below a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s November Housing Minute video will be released on November 30, Existing-Home Sales for November will be reported December 19, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be December 28; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

read more…

https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-slip-2-6-percent-in-october

Towns that pay you to move there | Armonk Real Estate

  1. Detroit, Michigan                           Several employers in Detroit, Michigan, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Quicken Loans, will pay their employees to live downtown, close to where they work. New renters can receive $3,500 over two years toward the cost of their apartment, and those who renew leases can receive $1,000. And if you buy a new home in an eligible neighborhood, you could be looking at $20,000 in forgivable loans toward the purchase of a primary residence.
  2. Baltimore, Maryland                        It pays to buy a home in Baltimore—literally! Qualifying buyers can receive $5,000 toward the purchase of a primary residence through the Buying Into Baltimore or City Living Starts Here programs. Those willing to buy a home that has been vacant can apply to the Vacants to Value Booster Program, which awards $10,000 to eligible home buyers to put toward closing costs.
  3. Niagara Falls, New York                    Niagara Falls wants to attract more than just tourists—and they’re looking for young people, in particular. In an effort to combat its population decline and recruit new residents, the city of Niagara Falls promises to pay off up to $7,000 in student loan debt over two years for any recent graduates who live near Main Street.
  4. New Haven, Connecticut                     New Haven, Connecticut, is really rolling out the red carpet for new residents. First-time home buyers can receive up to $10,000 in forgivable loans to put toward down payments and closing costs. And for anyone buying a historic (and out-of-date) home, New Haven may provide up to $30,000 in forgivable loans to perform energy-saving upgrades. Plus, parents of school-age kids may not have to sock away money for college, thanks to the city’s commitment to provide free in-state college tuition to any child who graduates from New Haven public schools.
  5. Anywhere, Alaska                                    Do you dream of living in Alaska? If you do, you could earn $1,000 a year just for living there. The state of Alaska maintains a Permanent Reserve Fund that pays dividends to residents who have lived in the state for at least one calendar year and plan to remain there indefinitely. So, pack your thermals and head out for a new life of adventure.
  6. Harmony, Minnesota                              With a population that hovers around 1,000, Harmony, Minnesota, wants to grow. If you build a brand-new home there, the Harmony Economic Development Authority will give you up to $12,000 in the form of a cash rebate. Nestled in the midst of some of the Midwest’s biggest farms, “The Biggest Little Town in Southern Minnesota” may be the perfect destination for anyone who loves country life but still wants modern amenities like shops, restaurants, and quality schools.
  7. Marquette, Kansas                                  Marquette, Kansas, will give you land to build a home—for free. This small town in the heart of America wants to attract new families to the Westridge area, where residents can enjoy spectacular views of the sunset and rolling hills, typical of the big-sky prairie. With only 650 residents, it’s a place where neighbors know each other and parents feel comfortable letting their kids play outside and walk to school.
  8. Lincoln, Kansas                                         Lincoln, Kansas, has built a completely new subdivision filled with zero-dollar lots for eligible newcomers to build a home. The small-town neighborhood boasts proximity to the city park, baseball field, and the junior-senior high school as well as the Lincoln Carnegie library, the golf course, and the rolling hills overlooking the Saline River.
  9. Curtis, Nebraska                                         Free home sites are available to build new homes in the Roll’n Hills subdivision of Curtis, Nebraska. Described as Nebraska’s Easter City—a nod to their annual Palm Sunday pageant—Curtis has a 9-hole golf course and is home to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.

read more…

https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/9-towns-that-ll-pay-you-to-move-there-50850#new-haven-connecticut-housing-incentive

Record number of million dollar homes | South Salem Real Estate

The million-dollar home is no longer such a rare species.

The number of U.S. homes valued at $1 million or more increased by 400,702 this year, the largest annual rise since the housing price recovery began in 2012, according to a new study by real estate research firm Trulia. Slightly more than 3 million homes nationally, or 3.6% of the total, are worth at least $1 million, up from 3.1 percent last year and 1.5 percent in 2012.

Not surprisingly, many of the freshly minted million-dollar units are in California, which already boasts the most in the country. The San Jose and San Francisco metro areas have the largest shares of $1 million homes and also notched the biggest increases over the past year.

Meanwhile, 29 cities and towns joined those with a median home value of $1 million or more this year, bringing the total to 201. Nineteen municipalities joined the million-dollar club last year.

They include San Jose, California, whose median value rose from $930,900 to $1.09 million; Fremont, California ($966,000 to $1.13 million); Burbank, California ($845,700 to $1.01 million); Newton, Massachusetts ($977,200 to $1.07 million); and Shelter Island, N.Y. ($903,500 to $1.15 million)

Trulia Senior Economist Cheryl Young attributed the big jump to widespread home price increases in recent years, with the median national home price climbing 7.6 percent the past year to $220,100. The median, or midpoint, of all home prices is up 45.3 percent since 2012. Housing demand has been strong while supplies are low, driving values higher.

“Home values have been escalating… And at about $1 million, there’s even greater appreciation,” she says.

Of the roughly 15,100 larger neighborhoods around the country analyzed by Trulia, 838 have median home values of $1 million or more and about two thirds of those are in California. Nearly 30 percent of California’s neighborhoods have a median home price of at least $1 million, the most by far of any state. New York, Florida and Washington followed.

The 10 metro areas that posted the largest increases in share of $1 million homes the past year:

San Jose, California

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 55.7 percent

Share, October 2018: 70 percent

San Francisco

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 67.3 percent

Share, October 2018: 81 percent

Oakland, California

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 24.9 percent

Share, October 2018: 30.7 percent

Honolulu

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 16.2 percent

Share, October 2018: 19.8 percent

Orange County, California

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 17.2 percent

Share, October 2018: 20.2 percent

Los Angeles

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 17.5 percent

Share, October 2018: 19.6 percent

San Diego

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 11.8 percent

Share, October 2018: 13.8 percent

Seattle

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 11.4 percent

Share, October 2018: 13.3 percent

Ventura County, California

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 8.9 percent

Share, October 2018: 10.5 percent

Long Island, N.Y.

Share of million-dollar homes, October 2017: 8.8 percent

Share, October 2018: 10.1 percent

read more…

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/real-estate/2018/11/09/million-dollar-homes-number-increased-400-000-year/1936628002/

Mortgage rates fall | North Salem Real Estate

So far this year, the 30-year-fixed has averaged 4.53%, compared to 3.99% in 2017

Rates for home loans tumbled as turmoil rocked global financial markets, but any reprieve in rates may come too late for would-be home buyers or refinancers.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.81% in the November 21 week, down 13 basis points, mortgage liquidity provider Freddie Mac said Wednesday. That’s the biggest weekly decline since January 2015 and the lowest level for the popular product since early October. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.24%, down 12 basis points during the week. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.09%, down from 4.15%.

Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.

Fixed-rate mortgages follow the U.S. 10-year Treasury noteTMUBMUSD10Y, +0.00%  , although with a slight delay. As a global stock sell-off has raged over the past week, bonds have been the best house in a bad neighborhood. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond touched a six-week low Monday. Bond yields decline as prices rise, and vice versa.

Meanwhile, this week has brought a raft of fresh information on the housing market, little of it cheery.

Sales of already-owned homes perked up in October, but are still lower than the year-ago selling pace by more than 5%. Home builders broke ground on more — but not enough — homes. And one fresh data point bears watching: mortgage applications for newly-constructed houses are plunging, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. As the chart above shows, they’re now lower than year-ago levels by double digits.

It’s possible more new-home buyers are making their purchases with cash as interest rates rise. But it’s just as likely that the tumble in applications is an early warning sign on new-home sales in the coming months. If so, that would mean trouble for the housing market — and the economy.

Only about 1.86 million Americans now have an “interest rate incentive” to refinance, data provider Black Knight said earlier in November. And refis made up the smallest share of all mortgage applications since December 2000 this past week, the Mortgage Bankers said. Housing market conditions may be easing enough for motivated buyers to catch a break, and there may be brief windows in which some homeowners can grab a refinance. But if Americans aren’t watching, or aren’t ready to pounce, those opportunities may slip by.


read more…

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mortgage-rates-slide-the-fastest-in-four-years-but-it-may-be-too-late-for-the-housing-market-2018-11-21