Monthly Archives: November 2015

Year-on-year, new home sales grew 4.9 percent | South Salem Real Estate

Sales of new single-family houses in October 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 495,000, up 10.7 percent from last month but below market expectations.

The inventory of properties for sale reached the highest since early 2010 while both median and average prices decreased.

New Home Sales in the United States averaged 654.25 Thousand from 1963 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011.

New Home Sales in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

United States New Home Sales

 

Mortgage rates average 3.95% | Cross River Real Estate

Freddie today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate declining slightly leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage hasn’t risen above 4 percent since the week of July 23rd of this year, which is helping homebuyer affordability in the face of rising house prices due to low levels of inventory in many markets.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.95 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending November 25, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.97 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.97 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.17 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.01 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.98 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.01 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.59 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, down from 2.64 percent last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.44 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

As of January 1, 2016, the PMMS will no longer provide results for the 1-year ARM. Additionally, the regional breakouts will not be provided for the 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages, and the 5/1 Hybrid ARM.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“In a quiet week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, the 30-year mortgage rate dipped 2 basis points to 3.95 percent. Economic releases over the last week contained no major surprises, and none are expected in the next few days. The year is winding down, and the only remaining market dates of note are December 4 — the last employment report of the year — and December 15-16, the long-awaited FOMC meeting.”

Building your root cellar | Katonah Real Estate

Make this root cellar by burying a new concrete septic tank into a hillside.
Illustration by Len Churchill

 

The cool, moist and dark conditions of a root cellar make it the perfect place to keep many fruits and vegetables crisp and delicious for weeks — even months — of storage. And while there are myriad ways to store vegetables, our innovative root cellar plans show you how to build a root cellar by modifying a new, precast concrete septic tank. By following the plans, you’ll cut an entrance, install a door, add a pair of vent pipes and cover the tank with soil to bring an old-fashioned, walk-in cellar into your modern life.

Choose a Concrete Septic Tank

You’ll want to buy an unused septic tank for this root cellar design, but look for a deal to avoid paying full price. A percentage of all precast concrete septic tanks end up with small manufacturing defects that prohibit them from being used for sewage treatment. Suppliers sometimes offer discounts on these flawed tanks. As long as the tank is solid and sound, a chipped edge or a patchable hole won’t prevent it from being a root cellar. You won’t need the plastic fittings or effluent filter found inside most septic tanks, so ask the supplier to remove these before delivery.

Tank size is another detail you’ll need to consider when planning how to build a root cellar from a septic tank. The capacity of septic tanks is measured in gallons, with different models being taller or shorter. While you might be tempted to buy a 1,000- or 1,200-gallon tank because they’re common, you’ll get more food storage space and headroom with a tank that’s 1,500 gallons or larger. Standard 1,500-gallon tanks typically measure about 5 1/2 feet wide by 5 1/2 feet tall by 10 feet long, while a 2,500-gallon tank provides more than 6 feet of interior headroom. Don’t choose a low-profile tank because it will be much too short to work in. Prices for new, undamaged 1,500-gallon tanks start at about $1,100, and 2,500-gallon models can be found for as low as $1,600. Discounts for damaged tanks may be as much as 50 percent.

Most septic tanks have an internal partition that must be opened or removed to build from these root cellar plans. Try to find a tank without a partition, or ask your supplier to remove it before delivery. You can also punch through the partition yourself as part of the doorway-cutting process.

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http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/buildings/root-cellar-plans-zm0z14amzreb.aspx?newsletter=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=11.25.15%20MEN%20DIY%20eNews&utm_term=DIY%20eNews

HELOCs Continue to Shrink, But at Larger Banks | Bedford Hills Real Estate

According the Federal Reserve Bank of New York the outstanding amount of home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) was the only debt category to record a decrease in the third quarter of 2015. Home equity lines of credit are an important source of financing for home remodeling projects. Over the quarter, the outstanding amount of HELOCs fell by 1.4%, $7 billion, and over the year, it shrank by 3.9%, $20 billion. An earlier postdocumented the decline in the outstanding amount of HELOCs beginning in 2009, and the most recent reportfrom the Fed indicates that the trend continues.

According to bank-level analysis of the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income, commonly referred to as “call reports”, the decline in the outstanding amount of HELOCs reflects a decrease at larger-sized banks. In contrast, the outstanding amount of HELOCs at smaller sized banks has risen in recent years. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, in 2001 the outstanding amount of HELOCs at the 20 largest banks as measured by total loans and leases, was equal to the combined amount of HELOCs on the balance sheets of all other banks. The outstanding amount of HELOCs was split nearly evenly until 2003, even as the total amount was rising.

Presentation1

However, beginning in 2003, the outstanding amount of HELOCs on the balance sheets of the Top 20 banks soared, peaking at $475.9 billion in 2009. Since 2009, the outstanding amount of HELOCs has collapsed, falling to $314.7 billion by 2015. Meanwhile the outstanding amount of HELOCs held at all other banks doubled between 2001 and 2004, but then declined to $131.6 billion by 2006. Instead of an up-and-down cycle, the outstanding amount of HELOCs held at all other banks remained steady through the financial crisis. In recent years, the outstanding amount of HELOCs held at other banks has risen slightly. Since the outstanding amount of HELOCs on the balance sheets of all other banks is rising while declining at the Top 20 banks, then the gap between the two cohorts is converging.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/11/home-equity-lines-of-credit-continue-to-shrink-but-mostly-at-larger-banks/

The Ultimate Kitchen Design Tips | Bedford Real Estate

The “triangle” is so yesterday. Read up on our top do’s and don’ts of kitchen design before getting started on your remodel.

Redesigning your kitchen? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you decide what your new space is going to look like.

DON’T forgo a professional designer

We’re sure that your cousin who just remodeled his kitchen has lots of advice for you. But unless he’s Nate Berkus, use a pro. “The biggest mistakes come from people who don’t know what they’re doing in one of the most expensive areas in your home,” says Joe Maykut, director of product management for Sears Home Improvement Products.

DO bring your cabinets up to the ceiling

The days of cabinets stopping short and leaving a gap between them and the ceiling are over. Better to use that extra space to store things inside and out of the way, banishing clutter and dust and creating a clean look all at the same time. Also, think twice before installing glass doors on your cabinets. Unless your dishes are perfectly matched and stacked with military precision, displaying the inside of your cabinets can make the room look cluttered and messy.

DON’T do your cabinets and drawers on the cheap

It might be tempting to cut your remodeling costs by choosing low-end cabinetry, but think about how many times in any given day you open and close those doors and drawers. Now multiply that by how many years you’re going to live with that kitchen. See what we’re getting at? You want good-quality wood, strong hinges, sturdy pulls and drawers that glide smoothly.

DO choose your countertops based on durability

The last thing you want is a stain on your new countertop. Before you choose the material, know how to care for it and use it properly. Granite and wood are beautiful but stain easily. Porcelain tile is ultra-durable and won’t stain, but the grout between the tiles does collect grime. It goes without saying that stainless steel won’t stain, but it really shows off fingerprints and can look grubby as a result. Quartz is stain-resistant and antibacterial — but it’s expensive. Solid surface acrylic is similarly durable and low-maintenance, and it has a smaller price tag.

DON’T forget to plan for enough storage space

You don’t want your sleek new countertops cluttered with various small appliances. Make sure you have enough deep cabinets where you can tuck away your Magic Bullet blender and George Foreman Grill.

 

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https://www.searshomeservices.com/blog/the-ultimate-kitchen-design-tips?sid=HSRx2014xNwsLtr14&utm_source=promo&utm_medium=em&utm_campaign=hss-nws-1115&utm_term=int&utm_content=gen

Existing home sales drop 3.4% in October | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors, decreased 3.4% in October, and the annual share of first-time buyers in 2015 fell to its second-lowest level since the survey was launched in 1981. Total existing home sales in October decreased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.36 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, down from 5.55 million units in September. October existing sales were up 3.9% from the same period a year ago.

Existing Home Sales October 2015

Existing sales were flat in the Northeast and fell 0.8% in the Midwest, 3.2% in the South 8.7% in the West. Year-over-year, all four regions increased, ranging from 8.6% in the Northeast and 8.3% in the Midwest to 2.7% in the West and 0.5% in the South.

Total housing inventory decreased by 2.3% in October, and is 4.5% below its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the October unsold inventory represents 4.8-month supply, compared to a 4.7-month supply in September. One-third of homes sold in October were on the market for less than a month.

The distressed sales share fell to 6% in October, the lowest since the series began in October 2008. Distressed sales are defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. The October all-cash sales share remained unchanged at 24% in October, compared to 27% a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 13% share in October, unchanged from September but down from 15% during the same month a year ago.

The October median sales price of $219,600 declined to the lowest level since April, but was 5.8% above the same month a year ago, and represented the 44th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. The median condominium/co-op price of $207,100 in October was up 1.6% from the same month a year ago.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/11/existing-sales-realign/

Custom Home Building Flat | Bedford Corners Real Estate

NAHB’s analysis of Census Data from the Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design survey indicates that the number of custom home building starts (homes built on an owner’s land, with either the owner or a builder acting as the general contractor) posted a slight increase on a year-over year basis as of the third quarter of 2015.

Over the last four quarters, there were 157,000 construction starts of custom homes, compared to 154,000 for the four quarters prior that began with the fourth quarter of 2013.

Note that this definition of custom home building does not include homes intended for sale, so this analysis uses a narrow definition of the sector.

As measured on a one-year moving average, the market share of custom home building in terms of total single-family starts is now 22.2%, down from a cycle high of 31.5% set during the second quarter of 2009.

custom bldg_3q15

The onset of the housing crisis and the Great Recession interrupted a 15-year long trend away from homes built on the eventual owner’s land. As housing production slowed in 2006 and 2007, the market share of this not-for-sale new housing increased as the number of starts declined. The share increased because the credit crunch made it more difficult for builders to obtain AD&C credit, thus producing relatively greater production declines of for-sale single-family housing.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/11/custom-home-building-flat/

Permits to build new homes increased 4.1% | Chappaqua Real Estate

Permits to build new homes increased 4.1% in October to a level of 1.15 million per year. Both single-family and multifamily levels increased by 2.4% and 6.8% respectively. On a year-to-date basis, total permits are up 11.9%; single-family are up 8.6% and multifamily are up 17.2% as the housing market continues its modest pace of recovery.

Housing starts were down primarily due to a fall in multifamily activity which was up significantly in September and expected to readjust. October multifamily starts at 338,000 were the lowest since March 2015 but increased by 10.4% year to date compared to last year.

Multifamily Construction (000s)

Single-family starts were down 2.4% to 722,000 on an annual basis. Three of the four census regions reported slight increases while single-family starts in the South were down 6.9%. The drop appears to be due to especially stormy weather throughout the southern coast in October. Year-to-date single-family sums are up across all regions as are single-family permits suggesting that the slight October drop is temporary.

Single-family Construction (000s)
The steady increase in residential starts in 2015 has produced a steady increase in the number of homes under construction although carrying them through to completion slowed a bit as labor shortages, especially finishing carpenters, slow the ability to get finishing touches done.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/11/housing-construction-continues-forward/

Round Homes | Armonk Real Estate

circular building, yurt, round home, mandala home, wood panel round house

Wind and tsunami waves move naturally around a round building rather than getting caught at (and potentially ripping off) corners. A rounded roof avoids ‘air-planing’- a situation where a strong wind lifts the roof structure up and off of the building.

There are dozens of interconnected points in a round home. These are sites where builders can connect parts of the building together. In the olden days, the connecting materials were rope, vine and hides. Modern materials are  engineered components- like a center radial steel ring,  steel brackets,Seismic and hurricane ties, bolts and steel cables. These connect the structural pieces and give the building a unique combination of flexibility and strength- qualities which causes them to be significantly safer in severe weather conditions like earth quakes, extreme winds and heavy snow­fall.

hurricane ties, roof trusses for round roof, engineered scissor trusses, simpson ties

The roof structure incorporates a unique architectural design that has its origins in the mountain steppes of Central Asia. Roof trusses meet in a center ring, producing inward and outward pressure which holds the roof in a state of compression. In modern round buildings using the ancient Yurtdesign, 1-3 airplane grade steel cables circle the outer perimeter where the trusses meet the wall and hold the natural outward thrust. Because of this combination of a central compression ring at the top of the roof and the encircling cables where the roof meets the walls, long roof spans are possible without any internal support system (like beams or posts). The interconnected tension in the building goes all the way to the ground and uses gravity and compression to hold it together with incredible strength.

The natural ther­mal dynam­ics of open-at-the-top architecture round space uses no external energy to circulate temperature. It works like this; heated air naturally rises till it reaches the insulated ceiling, it moves up the domed ceiling till it reaches the center skylight, which is cooler, the air reacts by dropping to the floor where it moves across to the walls and rises again till it meets the skylight and drops again. This action constantly circulates the air and temperatures in the home.
building round houses, round home construction, less waste

Round buildings use less wall, floor and roof mate­ri­als to enclose the same square footage as a rec­tan­gu­lar struc­ture.  15 to 20% less mate­r­ial is used to cre­ate the same square foot build­ing com­pared to a rec­tan­gu­lar design! This means the possibility for a smaller eco-footprint and more living space for less cost. It also means less sur­face area in con­tact with adverse weather con­di­tions, which improves the over­all dura­bil­ity and energy effi­ciency of the home.

The acoustics of round space can be out of this world. The curve soft­ens the sounds inside the build­ing mak­ing it the per­fect place for rest and reflec­tion or for social­iz­ing and lis­ten­ing to and play­ing music (…think long winter evenings of storytelling around the central fire….) The shape also pre­vents noise from pen­e­trat­ing in from the out­side. Sound waves dis­si­pate as they wrap around the build­ing, shield­ing the interior from loud out­side noise.
modern day yurt, circular house, round buildings,

Our ancestors also understood a round home quality that is less measurable than the intelligent use of energy, the clever space allocation and the powerful and natural movement of air and sound. David Raitt, yurt builder, describes it “Circular living provides a balance of looking inward and outward, looking out at the natural environment and surroundings but then coming in again to the self and the hearth.”  You might call it curve appeal.

Affordable Housing Victory for Westchester | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Another Affordable Housing Victory for Westchester

Westchester won another victory Thursday in the ongoing affordable housing settlement with the federal government when U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein ruled that the county had provided financing for enough units to meet its 2014 benchmark.

The ruling further states that there was no basis for the county to be held in contempt. Thursday’s decision follows a September victory where a federal appeals court found that the county had not discriminated as it relates to affordable housing.

“This is another win for our residents,” said County Executive Rob Astorino in a statement. “From the beginning, the county has worked hard to comply with the terms of the settlement. But we have also stood firm against overreaching by the federal government to force the county to do things that are not in the agreement. The magistrate’s decision clearly shows that the county has met its obligations and that the federal government’s contention of contempt was wrong and without legal merit or justification.”

From an Astorino press release on the ruling:

The latest ruling centers on 28 units of affordable housing being developed in New Castle under the name Chappaqua Station. The units are part of the 2009 affordable housing settlement reached between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the administration of former County Executive Andrew Spano. Under the terms of the agreement, the county must ensure the development of 750 units of affordable housing in 31 mostly white communities by the end of 2016.

The settlement also calls for the county to meet annual benchmarks. By the end of 2014, the county had to have 450 units with financing in place. In November of 2014, the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved financing for the Chappaqua Station project, putting the county over the benchmark by four units. However, the federal monitor assigned to the case, James Johnson, who serves at the pleasure of HUD, and the Department of Justice claimed the units should not count because the financing was “subject to” the development receiving all the necessary approvals. Not counting the units would have left the county 24 units short.

However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein dismissed the federal government’s contention, saying the 28 units “should be counted.” “The record is devoid of evidence that the inclusion of this [‘subject to’] provision makes the financing any less available for the Chappaqua Station development,” wrote Judge Gorenstein.

The magistrate also sided with the county on the contempt issue, saying the federal government had failed to meet the standard for showing such a charge was warranted. The county argued successfully that its behavior had to be measured against what the settlement actually says, not what the Monitor claimed it said in his report.

“We cannot conclude on the current record that the Settlement language was clear and unambiguous … such that the County could be held in contempt for not taking the additional actions stated in the Report.”

Astorino said the ruling was critically important for showing once again that the county has been complying with the terms of the settlement. In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit gave Westchester a resounding victory when it declared that “there has been no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination.” That finding by the nation’s second highest court clearly repudiated the allegation that Westchester’s zoning laws are discriminatory and exclusionary.

“The federal government has tremendous power and can do tremendous damage to the reputations of people and institutions simply by throwing out charges like contempt even if they are later found to be baseless,” said Astorino. “The U.S. magistrate’s ruling corrects the false narrative by the federal government that Westchester County has done anything wrong with respect to implementing the housing settlement.”

For 2015, the county has already surpassed its 600-unit benchmark for financing with 635; and has 466 units with building permits, 59 short of the goal with 101 applications pending.

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http://patch.com/new-york/newrochelle/