Daily Archives: November 26, 2013

Housing market gets some upbeat news | Cross River Homes

U.S. single-family home prices rose in September and posted their strongest  annualized gain in 7-1/2 years, a closely watched survey said on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained  0.7 percent in September on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, matching the  Reuters forecast.

Earlier, the Commerce Department said permits for future U.S. home construction rose to their highest level in nearly 5-1/2 years in October.

“Housing continues to emerge from the financial  crisis: the proportion of homes in foreclosure is declining and consumers’  balance sheets are strengthening,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index  committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

“The longer  run question is whether household formation continues to recover and if home  ownership will return to the peak levels seen in 2004.”

Prices in the 20  cities rose 13.3 percent year-over-year, the strongest gain since February 2006,  topping expectations for a 13 percent year-on-year advance.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said building permits jumped 6.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.03 million units. That was the highest rate since June 2008. Permits increased 5.2 percent in September.

August’s permits were revised to a 926,000-unit pace from the previously reported 918,000 units. Permits lead housing starts by at least a month.

The Department postponed the release of housing starts and completions for September and October until December 18 because the collection of data was affected by a 16-day shutdown of the government last month. November data also will be published at that time.

The partial shutdown of the federal government also delayed the publishing of the September and October permits reports.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected building permits at a 930,000-unit rate in October.

While permits are not counted in gross domestic product (GDP), they are a key indicator of economic activity and the sturdy gains in both September and October should ease concerns the housing market recovery was stalling.

Higher mortgage rates have slowed the pace of home sales, but demand for accommodation as household formation continues to recover from multi-decade lows is expected to keep residential construction supported.

Home resales fell in October for a second straight month and confidence among single-family home builders has ebbed somewhat since nearing an eight-year high in August.

Permits for the multifamily home sector surged 15.3 percent in October after increasing 20.1 percent in September. Permits for buildings with five units or more reached their highest level since June 2008.

Single-family home permits, the largest segment of the market, increased 0.8 percent after falling 1.9 percent in September.




US Home Values Fall for Second Straight Month in October | Bedford Corners NY Homes

National home values fell in October from September, according to the October Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, the second month in a row of falling home values and the first consecutive monthly declines since the market hit bottom in October 2011. The U.S. Zillow Home Value Index was $162,800 in October, down 0.1 percent from September.

Half of the 388 metros covered experienced monthly home value depreciation in October from September. Among the 30 largest metro areas covered by Zillow, 10 exhibited monthly depreciation in October, and two more were flat.

Home values nationwide rose 5.2 percent year-over-year, a much slower pace than annual appreciation rates in the 7 percent range experienced over the summer, and further proof that the market has begun to cool off after months of unsustainable appreciation. For the 12-month period from October 2013 to October 2014, national home values are expected to rise just 2.7 percent, roughly half the current pace, according to the Zillow Home Value Forecast. Seven of the top 30 metros covered by Zillow are expected to see home values fall over the next year, with the biggest declines in St. Louis (-1.5 percent), Philadelphia (-0.9 percent) and New York (-0.7 percent).

“The months-long period of annual home value appreciation rates in the 6 and 7 percent range was great while it lasted, but we knew it would not continue indefinitely. The slowdown we’ve seen these past few months was expected and is largely welcome news for a market still struggling to find its natural balance,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.  “The conditions that led to the robust appreciation experienced earlier this year, including historically low mortgage interest rates, high affordability, low inventory and high demand, are waning. In their place, we’re beginning to see more inventory and rising mortgage rates, which will lead to further normalization in the market going forward.”

National rents rose in October from September, up 0.2 percent to a Zillow Rent Index of $1,300. Year-over-year, national rents were up 2.3 percent in October.

The number of completed foreclosures in October fell to 5.44 homes foreclosed out of every 10,000 homes nationwide, down from 5.5 homes in September. Foreclosure resales represented 8.7 percent of homes sold in the U.S. in October, up 0.5 percentage points from September but down 2.1 percentage points from October 2012.






Residential home sales continue to climb: RealtyTrac | Mt Kisco Homes

Residential property sales, including single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes, continue to rise, increasing to an estimated annualized pace of 5.649 million in October, a 2% hike from a month ago and an increase of 13% from October 2012, the latest RealtyTrac Residential and Foreclosure Sales Report revealed.

But despite the national trend, three top indicator states still posted decreases for the third consecutive month: California, Arizona and Nevada, which are down 15%, 13% and 5%, respectively, from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the national median sales price of all residential properties—including both distressed and non-distressed—sat at $170,000, unchanged from September, but 6% higher than October 2012. This is also the 18th consecutive month median home sales have increased on an annualized basis.

The median price of a distressed residential property, in foreclosure or bank owned, hit $110,000 in October, 41% lower than the median price of $185,000 for a non-distressed property.

“After a surge in short sales in late 2011 and early 2012, the favored disposition method for distressed properties is shifting back toward the more traditional foreclosure auction sales and bank-owned sales,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

“The combination of rapidly rising home prices — along with strong demand from institutional investors and other cash buyers able to buy at the public foreclosure auction or an as-is REO home — means short sales are becoming less favorable for lenders,” Blomquist added.

As a result, short sales made up 5.3% of all sales, a 6.3% drop from the previous month and down from 11.2% in October 2012.

Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Michigan and Illinois ranked as the states with the highest percentage of short sales last month.





As a general rule, leave the leaves | Armonk Real Estate

If you had driven past my house in recent days, you might have thought you were watching a movie in reverse. There I was, opening trash bags, dumping out leaves and spreading them over the ground.

These were bags left curbside for me by neighbors near and far.

It does seem crazy, doesn’t it, gathering up all these bags and dumping out all those leaves? But dried, dead leaves contain stored energy, the sun’s energy. Put them on or in the soil, as I have been doing, and they release their energy to support the growth and activity of fungi, earthworms and other soil organisms. Mostly, these are friendly creatures, and nurturing them allows them to thwart unfriendly organisms, such as those causing some plant diseases.

Besides disease prevention, when leaves are gobbled up by soil organisms, the nutrients in them are being released. Think of all those minerals taken in by a tree’s wide, spreading and deep roots. Just falling to the ground all around you, leaves are, pound for pound, about as rich in minerals as is manure.


Of course, spreading leaves over the ground or just leaving them there in the first place is not an option for every site.

I have spread leaves over a hayfield in which I’ve planted chestnut trees. In coming years, these trees will shade out the grass; I’m just helping the ground become the leaf-blanketed forest floor that it will eventually turn into.




Sept. home prices up 13.3% from year ago | North Salem Real Estate

Home prices continued rising in September, but many cities posted smaller monthly gains, according to a closely-watched barometer of the housing market.

The 20-city Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Index increased 0.7% in September from August and was 13.3% ahead of a year ago, S&P said Tuesday.

While 13 of 20 cities showed higher year-over-year growth rates than in August, 19 cities had lower monthly increases in September than August.

On a month to month basis, Las Vegas and Tampa showed the most weakness — rates fell 1.6 percentage points in both markets from August. Charlotte was the only city in the index to show a decline in prices — 0.2% — its first since November 2012.

Detroit’s 1.5 percentage point monthly gain was the strongest in the 20-city group, but Detroit is also the only market where prices are still below their January 2000 level, according to S&P.

Year over year comparisons show Las Vegas’ prices were up 29.1% in September, the highest percentage. Other cities with gains over 20% were San Francisco, 25.7%; Los Angeles, 21.8%; San Diego, 20.9%.

“Housing continues to emerge from the financial crisis: the proportion of homes in foreclosure is declining and consumers’ balance sheets are strengthening. The longer run question is whether household formation continues to recover and if home ownership will return to the peak levels seen in 2004,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Two other reports on the housing market released Tuesday provided data on building permits and mortgage rate trends in October.





Furnace check-up or tune-up is much like a visit to the doctor | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Heating & Cooling

Nobody wants to think about a  heating system when it’s still warm and sunny outside, but winter is never that  far away, and servicing a heating system now will ensure that the heat  will click on when you want it to.



Furnace Check-up A furnace check-up or tune-up is much like a visit  to the doctor or taking your car to a mechanic. However, specifically in the  case of your home, a furnace check-up consists of the following steps:

  • Inspect thermostat for proper operation.
  • Inspect filter and change or clean as needed.
  • Check all electrical components and controls.
  • Oil motors as needed.
  • Inspect heat exchanger for possible cracks. A crack in the heat exchanger  will introduce carbon monoxide into the living space.
  • Check air flow. If diminished, it may be necessary to clean the evaporator  coil.
  • Check air fuel mixture, where appropriate. 


    Furnace Maintenance While having your furnace tuned and checked  each year before the cold weather is wise practice, there are also a few things  you can do to assure that your furnace is operating properly, safely, and to its  fullest capacity.

  • The very first thing to check before turning on your unit is to make sure  nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer. Many,  many people have set their weedeaters, lawnmowers, and gas cans against their  furnace in the garage. This is just asking for a fire or an explosion.
  • Run your heater for a few minutes before you actually need it. Waiting  until the first cold morning to discover it isn’t working will land you at the  bottom of a waiting list before a heating and air specialist can come to fix it.
  • Change the filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict air flow, reducing  efficiency and worst case, can cause the heat exchanger to overheat. Disposable  fiberglass filters should be replaced.
  • Electrostatic or electronic filters need to be washed regularly.
  • Be sure all access panels are secure, with all the screws in place.
  • Be sure the thermostat is set in the heating mode. Just setting the dial  above room temperature will not activate the heat if still set in the air  conditioning mode. 

    Things You Should Know About Your Furnace Many homeowners find that  when they turn their furnace on for the first time that it emits a noxious  smell. This is not Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is odorless, so you wouldn’t  be able to smell it even if it was. What is happening here is that dust has  settled on the heat exchanger over the summer and turning on the unit for the  first time is just burning off the dust. Be sure to open some windows to dispel  the odor quickly.


RIP Fail Whale: Twitter’s iconic error image bites the dust | North Salem Realtor

There was a time when the sight of the Fail Whale was common on Twitter, back when the growing startup struggled to keep pace with its users and the sheer volume of tweets. Much has changed since then — including many more users and, of course, Twitter’s recent IPO — and now the company has admitted it killed off the cult whale this past summer.

Christopher Fry, senior vice president of engineering at Twitter, confirmed in an interview with Wired that the iconic image of birds lifting a whale has been replaced by robots.

The Fail Whale is a thing of the past. Actually, this summer we took the Fail Whale out of production. So if you come to Twitter, and there are always gonna be problems, no service is ever perfect. But right now you will see robots instead of the Fail Whale. So the Fail Whale image is not served by Twitter anymore. It had a long history and some of our users feel very connected to it. But in the end, it did represent a time when I don’t think we lived up to what the world needed Twitter to be.

Twitter had already effectively slayed the whale by improving its service and minimizing downtime, so the chances of spotting it were fairly remote. Still, those of us who were acquainted with it will mourn the passing of a symbolic image.





High Wind Watch In Effect For Tuesday As Heavy Rain Arrives In Chappaqua | Chappaqua Real Estate

Temperatures will be climbing on Tuesday, but watch out for the winds — and then rain.  The National Weather Service has put a High Wind Watch in place for late Tuesday into Wednesday afternoon.

Strong southerly winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of 50 to 60 mph are possible with downed trees and limbs as well as power outages possible, the weather service said.

The heavy winds were expected as a storm system tracks up the East Coast on Tuesday, with the potential to bring 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to the region.

Urban and small stream flooding are possible, and the weather service warned a Flood Watch may be declared if the storm increases in strength.

The forecast calls for increasing clouds Monday night, with a low around 26. Southwest wind 6 to 8 mph.

Tuesday: A chance of rain after noon. Cloudy, with a high around 40. West wind around 7 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tuesday Night: Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Temperature rising to around 50 by 4 a.m. East wind 8 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Wednesday: Rain before noon, then showers after noon. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 60. Breezy, with a south wind 13 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 48 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New precipitation amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.

Wednesday Night: A chance of rain before midnight, then a slight chance of rain and snow between midnight and 3 a.m., then a slight chance of snow after 3 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 26. Breezy, with a west wind 17 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

Thanksgiving Day: Sunny, with a high near 33. Breezy.




Coastal Walter Gropius Design With Ocean Views Asks $2.2M | Bedford NY Real Estate

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Location: Brooklin, Maine Price: $2,200,000 The Skinny: Three years after Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius formed his American firm The Architect’s Collaborative in 1945, he designed this handsome, low-slung residence on the far southern tip of Maine’s Naskeag Point. While it’s a far cry from the radical modernism of the architect’s more famous designs, it does hew closely to the Bauhaus ideals of simplicity and efficiency. The long, narrow floor plan and large windows allow light to fill the home, while the butterfly roof creates high indoor ceilings and allows for taller windows on the seaward side of the house. The parallel siting of the house with the shore maximizes the views of Naskeag Harbor and a pair of private islands across the narrow strait, and the living room opens out onto a partially covered deck that juts out towards the water. For getting out onto the water instead of just gazing at it, the three-bedroom, three-bathroom home also comes with access to a common dock. The house, which has been on and off the market since August 2012, is asking $2.2M.




NYC’s stalled construction sites drop 12 percent: report | South Salem Real Estate

The revival of development projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn resulted in a 12 percent year-over-year drop in the number of stalled construction sites in New York City, according to the latest report from the New York Building Congress. There were 610 stalled construction sites citywide in November 2013, compared to 690 in November 2012 and a peak of 709 in November 2010, according to data from the New York City Department of Buildings.

The number of stalled sites in Manhattan dropped 26 percent over the past 12 months – from 122 in November 2012 to 90 in November of this year. Reignited projects in Manhattan include the Alexico Group’s 56 Leonard Street , Silverstein Properties’ 30 Park Place and Elad Group’s 5 Franklin Place in Tribeca

Brooklyn leads the city with 267 suspended projects, though it too has seen a 17 percent year-over-year decline, according to the report.

“In our annual construction forecast report released in October, we estimated that residential construction spending will double between 2012 and 2015,” said New York Building Congress president Richard Anderson in a statement today. “That rosy outlook was based largely on the fact that a number of luxury developments, which were shelved during the great recession, have come roaring back to life.”