Monthly Archives: December 2013

Recovery Remains Uneven as Cities Spared in Bust Soar, but Many Others Struggle | Katonah Real Estate

Home prices have zipped back into record territory in a handful of American cities, a milestone that comes seven years after the housing bust ravaged the market and the broader economy.

Values are up more than 13% from their 2007 high in Oklahoma City and by more than 6% in the Denver metro area. Prices are back to all-time highs in 10 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of price data from Zillow, an online real-estate information service. Prices are within 5% of their previous peak in San Jose, Calif.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas.

Prices nationally remain below the highs of the past decade, and many of the cities that have seen the biggest gains largely escaped a boom and bust.

Home prices in some parts of the country that did experience a bust have benefited from low supplies of homes for sale and historically low interest rates that have boosted prices—and sparked concerns that prices could again be overvalued.

The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, but experts say they underscore the uneven nature of the U.S. housing recovery.

“The main story in a lot of these places is that they didn’t have much of a housing recession. It’s much easier to be back at peak levels when you didn’t have a big boom and bust,” said                                     Stan Humphries,                                 chief economist at Zillow.





Housing market could face new bubble, home price expert warns | Bedford Hills NY Homes

The housing market could be in the  early stages of yet another bubble, warned Robert Shiller, co-founder of  the closely-watched Case-Shiller index on home prices.

“In the housing market, it has its own  momentum right now as people see it coming back. We’re sort of in the  beginnings of another housing bubble,” the Nobel Prize-winning economist told CNBC on Tuesday.

Single-family home prices rose less than expected in October, but  posted their strongest annualized gain in more than seven years, the closely watched survey said on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case  Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.2 percent in  October on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, below economists’  expectation of a 0.7 percent gain. Prices rose 0.7 percent in September.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices were up 1 percent.

Compared to a year earlier, prices were up 13.6 percent, beating  expectations of 13 percent and marking the strongest gain since February  2006, when the increase was 13.8 percent.

Housing prices have been rising since early 2012, and a rebound in the sector has helped the U.S. recovery gain steam.

But the more subdued monthly gains “show we are living on borrowed  time and the boom is fading,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index  committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

“The key economic question facing housing is the Fed’s future course to scale back quantitative easing and how this will affect mortgage rates,” he said.

“We have a futures market that’s predicting the increase won’t stop  until after 2018 so we still have time to go, but it might be weaker,”  said Shiller.

The Fed recently said it would start  trimming its asset purchases by $10 billion a month in 2014. That could  push up bond yields and mortgage rates, slowing the housing rebound.

Prices in all 20 cities rose on a non-seasonally adjusted yearly  basis, led by a 27.1 percent gain in Las Vegas and followed by a 24.6  percent increase in San Francisco.

“Things are changing  fundamentally and it seems people are less excited about big homes,”  said Shiller, referring to housing trends. “The financial crisis kind of  put a damper on that enthusiasm, especially big homes far away from the  city center. There’s this new urbanism afloat. Housing is not one  thing. It’s not monolithic. I think there might be a trend toward more  urban living.”

Hamptons Agents Sum Up 2013 in Real Estate, Part II | Bedford NY Homes

800px-Sag-flags.jpg [Everyone loves Sag Harbor, via wikipedia]

Susan Breitenbach, Corcoran What neighborhood saw the most change this year? North Haven/Sag Harbor, with lots of big waterfront transactions. A few years ago hardly anyone ever heard of it; one new transfer will be coming in over $30 mil (just one house and not extremely large property!).

Sum up 2013 in three words Four: One of best in Hamptons!

Your favorite town this year Montauk.

Biggest building trend in 2013 Outside living: amazing exterior pool houses with nano doors, Kalamazoo kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, firepits, gyms, etc.

Any predictions for 2014? All signs are pointing to one of the best in Hamptons real estate history.

Gary De Persia, Corcoran What neighborhood saw the most change this year? Sag Harbor ended the year with two record setting deals, including a waterfront that went to contract on Robertson Drive not far below its $36M ask and my listing on Main Street priced at $9.95M, also in contract at what will prove to be a benchmark price. These go along with the other robust sales in that area this year.

Sum up 2013 in three words Action never stopped.

Your favorite town this year and why Sag Harbor. The only village in the Hamptons that you actually see people cramming the streets at night before and after dinner. Other towns people tend to go to dinner then get in their cars to go home.

Biggest building trend in 2013 Third floor roof decks capturing amazing views of ocean, bays and surrounding countryside, as in my two Town Line Road listings by Lifton-Green which sold within in months of each other, and my current listing Rose Hill Point on Mecox Bay.

Any predictions for 2014? Based on 2013 year-end deals, a normally quiet period, I predict an exciting start to 2014 for new construction, re-sales and land.

Chris Chapin, Douglas Elliman What neighborhood saw the most change this year? Sagaponack has nearly completed its transformation from rural farm settlement to whatever it is now. But at least they are still growing corn and potatoes among the mansions.

Sum up 2013 in three words Sellers’ market returns.

Your favorite town this year and why Noyac still looks as if could be another place or another time. Even at the height of the summer season you can find quiet places to jump in the water.

Biggest building trend in 2013 Farrellization.

Trend you’d like to see crushed in 2014 Farrellization.

Any predictions for 2014? Hamptons real estate will level out a bit as buyers pick up oceanfront on the Jersey Shore for pennies on the dollar.


Elliman, Corcoran, Halstead leaders named Inman influencers | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Several of the top names in New York City-area real estate cracked Inman’s annual list of the 100 most influential real estate leaders, released today.

The list — which spotlights industry leaders “whose ingenuity, strength, conviction, power and persistence are driving change” – included brokerage chiefs such as Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman, Halstead Property CEO Diane Ramirez, Corcoran Group CEO Pamela Liebman, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing CEO Susan de França and Madison, N.J.-based Coldwell Banker CEO Budge Huskey. Century 21 CEO Richard Davidson was recognized for guiding the brokerage as it broke into the Manhattan market, as well as internationally – in Kosovo, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia.

Other locals recognized included Warburg Realty agent Nicole Beauchamp, Douglas Elliman associate broker Maria Babaev, and Matthew Shadbolt, Corcoran’s director of interactive products and marketing. There was also Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, Urban Compass’ Robert Reffkin and Redfin’s Glenn Kelman.

Rentals in demand: Studios dethrone one-bedrooms | Bedford Corners NY Homes

Manhattan renters were hungry for studios last week, searching out such modest digs with more frequency than any other type of apartment, according to Zumper, an apartment listings website.

Studios were 55 percent of total inquiries, and the median rent query was $1,795 per month. One-bedrooms, often the most popular type, had 35 percent of the leads and the median query was $1,895. Two-bedrooms had the smallest chunk of leads – 10 percent – and an average query of $2,695.

“The searched prices for studios remained stable, [while] one-bedrooms dropped 16 percent,” Zumper COO Taylor Glass-Moore told The Real Deal. “Two-bedrooms climbed 45 percent.”

The top five most in-demand neighborhoods in Manhattan were, in order, the Upper East Side, Greenwich Village, Upper West Side, Soho and Lower East Side, data show.




5 Tips to Manage Snow & Ice This Winter | Chappaqua NY Homes

If it hasn’t already found its way to your home, it no doubt will. Winter is here, and if you live in a part of the country where snow and ice are likely — an increasingly larger swath of the country these days — then you’ll be shoveling, salting, deicing, scraping and blowing or throwing snow on your property soon. Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for whatever winter sends your way.

Man removing snow from a driveway

No. 1: Upgrade your snow shovel

There are a surprising number of snow shovel designs — including one that looks like a unicycle! Basic rules, however, apply. Don’t buy a snow shovel with a wide blade if your idea of a workout is watching a football game. A small scoop may lengthen snow removal sessions, but it will help save your back and keep your cardiologist happy. Choose a shovel with a securely fastened, comfortable D-shaped grip. Some models come with an auxiliary grip that reduces the need for you to bend your back, which can cause back strain. Look for a sturdy steel or wooden handle. The blade’s edge should be reinforced with galvanized steel.

Plow-style shovels or snow pushers, some of which come with wheels, allow users to push snow out of the way instead of lifting and tossing it. These are ideal for long, straight runs and for clearing decks. With blades up to 3 feet wide, however, strength and endurance are required.

No. 2: Buy a good windshield scraper

Treat yourself to the sturdiest scraper you can find. Cheap ones break when you need them most. Opt for one that includes a handle that’s at least 2 feet long and that has a brush or squeegee on one end. If your vehicle is large, get one that extends to 3 feet. The Thor ice scraper includes a squeegee and double scraper that removes ice on both the push and pull strokes. The stainless steel handle extends to 3 feet and includes an extra grip for improved leverage.

No. 3: Stock up on ice melter

The best ice melters contain magnesium chloride or calcium chloride. They melt ice at temperatures near 0 degrees Fahrenheit and are generally less harmful to the environment. Rock salt is slightly less expensive, but it melts ice more slowly, ceases to be effective below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and may damage concrete, lawns and plantings. It may even be harmful to animals. That said, not all “green” melts are safe around pets (and wild animals), so look for a salt-free ice melter or a product that is made from magnesium chloride. Typically, such products will be labeled “pet friendly.” Sand or kitty litter, although not an ice melter, is useful for improving traction on icy surfaces too.

No. 4: Invest in a roof rake

If you’re plagued with ice dams, despite keeping your attic insulated and ventilated, consider a snow rake. Ice dams often form on roofs, such as a cathedral ceiling, under which there is no attic. Use the rake to remove snow buildup from the lower 3 or 4 feet of your roof, so that melting snow can drain off before ice dams have a chance to build up. Snow rakes are typically fitted with a 2-foot-wide blade that’s perpendicular to the handle. The handle may be telescoping or extendable with snap-on sections. Better models have wheels that protect roof shingles as you push and pull the rake. Handle lengths range from 15 to 22 feet. An innovative “rake” design that doesn’t fit the mold is called the Avalanche. Its blade cuts through snow accumulation instead of pulling or pushing it. As chunks of snow break loose, they slide to the ground on the plastic sheeting attached to the bottom of the blade.

If you’re too late in preventing an ice dam, and it’s beginning to back up and leak inside your home, it’s usually best to call a pro. Some homeowners, however, have had success tossing a pair of calcium chloride-filled pantyhose across the dam at 6-foot intervals. Ice melt tablets formulated for roofs may also be effective, depending upon temperature and your ability to safely place them near the ice dam.

No. 5: Consider a snow blower or thrower

Snow throwers and blowers are an attractive option if you live where average annual snowfalls reach 3 feet or if you are physically impaired. Otherwise, most people get by without them. The initial cost, maintenance, fuel and storage space required for such units is simply not worth it. Choose a snow thrower for small- and medium-size clearing, and a snow blower for larger areas. Snow throwers, also called single-stage snow throwers, are smaller both in width and vertical intake. They remove and throw the snow in one continuous motion. Snow blowers, also called two-stage snow blowers, scoop up snow with an auger that feeds it to an impeller. The impeller allows snow blowers to throw snow much farther than snow throwers.

For lighter-duty snow removal, consider an electric snow shovel or an electric snow thrower. The former are typically able to handle 4-inch depths; the latter can handle 10-inch depths. The nice thing about these machines is that maintenance is significantly reduced. Electric snow throwers are available both corded and cordless.




Armonk Could See Some New Year’s Eve Snow Squalls | Armonk NY Homes

As Westchester County residents get set to usher in the new year, they should also prepare for snow showers.

The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook Statement for Westchester as well as Southeast New York, Southern Connecticut and Northeast New Jersey.

Scattered snow showers are expected this afternoon into the early evening hours, with a few snow squalls producing brief whiteout conditions accompanied by heavy snow and strong winds. Snow squalls could arrive as early as 2 p.m., but are more likely later in the afternoon through about 8 p.m. Flash freeze conditions are possible as a result of the snow squalls.

Today’s high temperature is expected to be 32 degrees with temperatures falling into the 20s for the final hours of 2013.

More significant snowfall is expected later this week from late Wednesday night into Friday morning with several inches possible. There is still uncertainty in terms of possible precipitation amounts.

New Year’s Day will be mostly cloudy with a high around 30. There is a slight chance of snow after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and a more likely chance starting in the early hours of Thursday morning, with the likelihood increasing to 70 percent during the day on Thursday. Snow is expected to end Friday morning with Friday’s high temperature only between 14 and 16 degrees.

3 fighting bid-rigging charges at California foreclosure auctions | Katonah NY Real Estate

Two California real estate investors and an auctioneer who were indicted more than two years ago for allegedly conspiring to rig bids at real estate foreclosure auctions in San Joaquin County are finally headed to trial next month, where two other investors who have submitted guilty pleas in the case are likely to called as witnesses.

Anthony B. Joachim of Stockton pleaded guilty today to conspiring to rig bids and commit mail fraud, prosecutors said. Investor Wiley C. Chandler had already submitted a guilty plea.

Auctioneer W. Theodore Longley and investors Andrew B. Katakis and Donald M. Parker are fighting the allegations. Their trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 28.

Prosecutors said they’ve obtained 11 guilty pleas in an ongoing investigation of bid rigging and fraud at real estate foreclosure auctions in the Eastern District of California, a vast area of the state that stretches from the Oregon border in the north to the Tehachapis in the south and from the Coastal Range in the west to the Nevada Border in the east.

Last month the Department of Justice and the FBI said an ongoing investigation into bid rigging in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Contra Costa counties has netted 38 guilty pleas. Source:

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Wells Fargo settles Fannie Mae repurchase claims for $541M | South Salem NY Homes

Wells Fargo will pay Fannie Mae $541 million to settle allegations that many of the mortgages it originated and sold to the mortgage giant before 2009 included false representations and warranties.  When $50 million in loans that Wells Fargo has already repurchased are included, the settlement totals $591 million, Fannie Mae said.


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Look for new companies to keep shaking things up in 2014 with more partnerships, conversations and interactions | Waccabuc Homes

What are the top items on your real estate wish list for 2014? A better alignment of customer service, brand and technology in the industry. A lot of brokerages have amazing branding and customer service, but their technology is not up to speed.

More amazing real estate startups in the real estate space! I love seeing the new companies shake things up — it’s always very inspirational. What are your top New Year’s resolutions for real estate in 2014? Sweating the small stuff with customers. What is a very small thing for us is huge for others. I think everyone can do more in this area.

More partnerships, more conversations, more interaction. Real estate is a people-driven business — you can sometimes forget that sitting behind a desk. What do you expect to be the top trends and hottest issues in real estate in 2014? Beautiful design on more real estate websites. Consumers are developing an almost subconscious eye for things that look good. If it looks good, they trust the brand. Real estate in many ways is stuck in ’90s design, but we are seeing some brokerages lead the pack. I expect to see more design-focused brands emerge in 2014. Simplification of user experiences. More options/buttons/data doesn’t necessary mean better; in fact, it often confuses people. I think we are going to see companies using the “less is more” approach.



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