Mortgage applications fell 5.9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey of mortgage applications for the week ending April 25, 2014.
Applications perked up last week by 4.3%, breaking a four-week streak of declines.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell 5.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.
The Refinance Index decreased 7% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 4% from one week earlier.
“Both purchase and refinance application activity fell last week, and the market composite index is at its lowest level since December 2000,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist. “Purchase applications decreased 4% over the week, and were 21% lower than a year ago. Refinance activity also continued to slide despite a 30-year fixed rate that was unchanged from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 7% to the lowest level since 2008, continuing the declining trend that we have seen since May 2013.”
The homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2014 is at the lowest since June 1995.
The rate of homeownership at the end of 1Q2014 was 64.8%, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than the first quarter 2013 rate of 65%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rental vacancy rates inside principle cities, in the suburbs and outside MSA’s were not statistically different from the first quarter 2013 rates.
Anthony Sanders, distinguished professor of real estate finance at George Mason University, says on his blog Confounded Interest, that he knows exactly why.
“Here is the reason why: declining real median household income, declining wage earnings growth, declining mortgage purchase applications,” he says.
magine walking into your newly built or remodeled home and seeing it exactly as you had imagined it at the start of construction: the windows are all in the right places, the flooring is the right color, and the kitchen cabinets are a perfect fit.
Now allow me to pinch you on the arm, because for most people, reality is often different from that idyllic scenario. You might see missing trim around the bedroom doors or wonder why that small change in the kitchen cost so much. Looking back, you might ask, “And why did we have to hire another subcontractor to finish the bathroom?”
Of course, there are things you just can’t plan for, but there’s plenty that you can. Costly changes and additional time-consuming work can be kept to a minimum if you fully understand what you are building before you start. By understanding the construction process, being part of the team and keeping a firm grip on the budget, your construction project can result in the home of your dreams.
Given the busy lives most of us lead, we don’t have the time to research every type of technology and material that might be used on a construction project. Use professionals to save some of the time that would otherwise be spent learning and perfecting the process.
Architects are trained not just to make a project pretty but to match building systems, thermal envelopes and other properties to the client’s needs. They have a broad, up-to-date knowledge of these systems as well as of materials and processes for a wide variety of project areas.
Now, I sympathize with the awful feelings associated with a project’s going over budget. I’ve been there; I’ve gotten that dreaded call from the contractor that the structural and mechanical designs are in conflict. And dealt with preexisting conditions that the contractor hadn’t anticipated.
A design pro can provide guidance on what team members will likely be required for the project. And not just for the big ones, like a full custom home construction. Smaller projects like additions and remodels also can benefit from a pro’s expertise.
Architects can usually recommend other team members, too, such as engineers.
In the early 1960s, faced with the imagined scenario of total nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a dozen intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos were constructed in the Adirondacks in upstate New York near the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. The crisis lasted less than two weeks, and because the silos didn’t work very well anyway and had a lifespan of around three years, most were decommissioned by 1964.
The military didn’t know what to do with the silos, which were vast, cavernous underground structures that went 185 feet down and housed Air Force squadrons. They donated the silos to different counties, who didn’t know what to do with them either. So they remained abandoned for more than 50 years.
Eventually, people like Australian architect Alexander Michael came along. He snatched one up near the Plattsburgh base in 1996 for $160,000 and has spent the years ever since plunking down more than $300,000 and restoring his silo to its original glory, while making it a part-time home along the way. He’s got a full kitchen, sleeping quarters and even the original launch control console to tinker with.
He’s spent more than 15 years restoring the silo, financed by his work as an architect and the sale of a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney. “I didn’t like that apartment, so I thought I’d buy a nuclear missile silo instead,” he says. “I can’t tell you how much joy it’s given me.”
The front door, seen here, is known as the entrance portal. It leads to a stairway that immediately descends underground about 30 feet to the control center. The entrance portal was built with reinforced concrete designed to be expendable, Michael says.
If the silo were ever destroyed in a nuke blast, the entrance would deliberately collapse, and the only exit would be through an emergency escape hatch, a concrete tube filled with sand that leads from the control center to the surface. You’d open the hatch, release all the sand, put a big ladder up there and hightail it out. “Though I’m not sure why anyone would want to get out if there’s been a nuke blast,” Michael says.
All of the best things are not necessarily shiny and new — think of the gorgeous patina on an antique chest, the gleam of old silver and the complex flavor of a really special aged bottle of wine. So why does it seem like we’ve been trending toward disposable furniture and away from well-made old stuff? It may be easy to fill a home quickly with goods from a chain store, but we may be missing out on some pretty spectacular benefits by going all-new. Here are five reasons to consider adding vintage pieces, antiques and good old hand-me-downs to your home, and to appreciate the old stuff you already have.
Summer’s heat is not far behind the bursting of spring blooms and windy rains. This summer imagine yourself cooling off by floating in a backyard pool that feels immersed in nature.
Natural swimming pools use plants or a combination of plants and sand filters to keep the water clean and clear without chemicals. They were developed in Austria and Germany in the 1980s and have since grown in popularity worldwide. They can be designed in a multitude of ways: Some look like natural ponds; others may be disguised as standard tiled pools.
Whatever look you are trying to achieve, the principles of function are the same for both natural swimming pools and traditional ones. But natural pools are better for your hair and skin because they’re chemical free.
A specialized water skimmer removes large debris that falls on the water’s surface in the swim zone. The skimmer is fitted with a fine sieve that removes small debris before the water is circulated into a biological filter. Additional equipment, like UV light filters and filters that use sand to remove phosphorous, is helpful in maintaining the balance in a natural pool system.
Foreclosure judgments on Westchester homes spiked 514 percent in February and 200 percent in March, which Westchester County legislators said was a ripple effect from the housing crisis and isn’t a reflection of the county’s economic health in 2014.
Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni said that about 90 percent of the foreclosures were filed two-to-three years ago. The number of judgments had dipped 41 percent in 2011 and 32 percent in 2012, but rose 23 percent in 2013.
“We’re starting to see that kind of stuff clearing out,” he said at a meeting of the county Board of Legislators Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing Committee Tuesday.
In some cases banks haven’t taken the title on a foreclosed home because of new obligations placed on them by the courts to maintain the property, said Norma Drummond, deputy commissioner of the Westchester County Planning Department. As a result banks don’t want as much inventory and are handling foreclosures differently than they used to before the recession.
A few renderings and pricing have been revealed for the uppermost penthouse at the Norman Foster-designed 551 West 21st Street. True to the hype, one of the building’s three extravagant penthouses will feature a 61-foot-long lap pool as part of its 4,000-square-feet of private outdoor space. The rather rare outdoor amenity is on a terrace overlooking the Hudson River, the Observer has learned. Prospective buyers may find the $50 million penthouse a relative bargain compared to the city’s other penthouse-with-private-pool (PDF!) which will ask $100 million at 50 UN Plaza—also designed by Norman Foster.
As a region, Sacramento still ranks in the top 10 in the nation for turning over home inventory, but as other metrics have also shown, sales are quite a bit slower than a year ago.
According to rankings compiled by Trulia, 45 percent of all homes for sale in the region have been on the market for two months or more, good enough for ninth nationally. The figure was 41 percent a year earlier, when Trulia noted both investor buys and rapid price appreciation fueled by bidding wars were much more common, making the market that much more active.
The slight cool down, only 4 percent below a year earlier, reflects mostly more inventory on the market, which is still a sellers’ market overall, according to Trulia.
By comparison, in Virginia Beach, Va., 72 percent of homes on sale now were also on the market two months ago.
Of the overall list, every city above Sacramento was on the West Coast and almost all on or near the Pacific Ocean, with Denver, at fourth, the only exception.
In Oakland, which topped the list, 29 percent of the homes on the market had been there two months or longer, and asking prices were 22.7 percent higher than a year earlier. Sacramento asking prices have risen by 22.2 percent, according to Trulia figures.