Monthly Archives: October 2016

Chinese real estate is ‘biggest bubble in history | Katonah Real Estate

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin made his fortune in the country’s real estate market — and now he’s warning that it’s spiraling out of control.

It’s the “biggest bubble in history,” he told CNNMoney in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

Bubble is a sensitive word in China after the dramatic rise and spectacular crash in the country’s stock market last year, which wiped out the savings of millions of small investors who thought Beijing wouldn’t allow the market to drop.

After struggling to contain the fallout from the stock market debacle, China’s leaders could face a similar headache in the real estate sector.

The big problem, according to Wang, is that prices keep rising in major Chinese metropolises like Shanghai but are falling in thousands of smaller cities where huge numbers of properties lie empty.

“I don’t see a good solution to this problem,” he said. “The government has come up with all sorts of measures — limiting purchase or credit — but none have worked.”

It’s a serious worry in China, where the economy is slowing at the same time as high debt levelscontinue to increase rapidly. There are massive sums at stake in the real estate market: direct loans to the sector stood at roughly 24 trillion yuan ($3.6 trillion) at the end of June, according to Capital Economics.

“The problem is the economy hasn’t bottomed out,” Wang said. “If we remove leverage too fast, the economy may suffer further. So we’ll have to wait until the economy is back on the track of rebounding — that’s when we gradually reduce leverage and debts.”

He says, though, that he’s not worried about the prospect of a “hard landing” — a sudden and catastrophic collapse in economic growth.

Wang’s comments carry weight. He is the richest man in China, according to Forbes and Hurun Report data from 2015, and his real estate and entertainment empire brought in revenue of about $44 billion last year.

Wang has been warning of trouble in the Chinese property market for a while. His Dalian Wanda Group, which has developed huge malls and office complexes across China, has been gradually cutting back on its real estate business.

Instead, it’s pouring resources into entertainment, sports and tourism — areas where it sees potential for growth.

Wang has been on an overseas shopping spree lately, with a particular focus on the U.S. movie industry. And he’s on the hunt for more juicy targets.

In January, he bought the Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, which made blockbuster movies like “Jurassic World” and “Godzilla.” Less than two months later, his movie theater business AMC snapped up Carmike Cinemas, forming the biggest cinema chain in the world. And Wanda’s in talks to buy Dick Clark Productions, which produces shows like the American Music Awards and the Golden Globe awards.

But the major prize he’s seeking is control of one of Hollywood’s “Big Six” movie studios: 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Paramount, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney.

“We are waiting for the opportunity,” he said. “It could come in a year or two, or longer, but we have patience.”

His relations with Disney (DIS) came into the spotlight in May when he said the U.S. company“really shouldn’t have come to China” with its giant new Shanghai resort. Wanda is also investing heavily in theme parks in the country.

 

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http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/28/investing/china-wang-jianlin-real-estate-bubble/

Fake divorce is path to riches in China’s hot real estate market | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Hong Kong/Shanghai: Earlier this year, Mr. and Mrs. Cai, a couple from Shanghai, decided to end their marriage. The rationale wasn’t irreconcilable differences; rather, it was a property market bubble. The pair, who operate a clothing shop, wanted to buy an apartment for 3.6 million yuan ($532,583), adding to three places they already own. But the local government had begun, among other bubble-fighting measures, to limit purchases by existing property holders. So in February, the couple divorced.

 

“Why would we worry about divorce? We’ve been married for so long,” said Cai, the husband, who requested that the couple’s full names not be used to avoid potential legal trouble. “If we don’t buy this apartment, we’ll miss the chance to get rich.”

China’s rising property prices this year have been inspiring such desperate measures, as frenzied buyers are seeking to act before further regulatory curbs are imposed. While the latest figures out Friday show easing in some of the hottest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of new homes surged by the most in seven years in September.

On the whole, the real estate market “apparently cooled” in October following targeted measures rolled out in first-tier and some second-tier cities, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. Local governments in at least 21 cities have been introducing property curbs, such as requiring larger down-payments and limiting purchases of multiple dwellings in a bid to cool prices.

The impact of the curbs may be short-lived as regulators have shown no signs of tightening on the monetary front, according to analysts from UBS Group AG and Bank of Communications Co.

“The curbs will show their effect in the initial two-to-three months, but in the longer term idle capital will still likely flow to property in the largest hubs as ‘safe-heaven’ assets,” said Xia Dan, a Shanghai-based analyst at Bank of Communications. The impact of the curbs will gradually abate as “liquidity is so abundant in a credit binge,” she said.

In the first three quarters of 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, average prices for new homes rose 30% in tier-one cities such as Shanghai, and 13% in smaller, tier-two cities.

The boom traces to 2014, when the People’s Bank of China began easing lending requirements and cutting interest rates. The China Securities Regulatory Commission also lifted restrictions on bond and stock sales by developers, helping them raise money for new projects.

Fevered auctions

Soon, properties were selling for ever-larger sums in government land auctions. By June 2016, China’s 196 listed developers had incurred 3 trillion yuan in debt, up from 1.3 trillion three years before. In many cities, the price per square meter for undeveloped land has risen higher than for existing apartments on a comparable plot next door, a situation the Chinese describe as “flour more expensive than bread.”

Officials have been trying to end the exuberance without harming the economy, a task made more difficult by the property fever’s uneven spread. Many smaller municipalities rely on property sales to plug holes in their budgets, giving them an incentive to increase the supply of developable land. So while premier cities have seen tight supply and high prices, smaller ones have too many apartments and not enough buyers.

“Usually the market moves in tandem,” said Patrick Wong, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. “It’s quite dramatic to see tier-one cities need tightening and lower-tier cities need relaxation.”

Rogue players

The central government is also promising to crack down on rogue players: In early October, the ministry of housing and urban-rural development said it was investigating 45 developers and agents for allegedly engaging in false advertising and other unlawful activities promoting speculation.

There’s some risk that such measures will succeed too well. In a 28 September report by Deutsche Bank AG, economists Zhiwei Zhang and Li Zeng estimated that a 10% decline in housing prices nationwide would lead to 243 billion yuan in losses for developers. Consumer spending could fall, too, since people have taken on more debt to buy property. Mortgages accounted for 23% of new loans in 2014, compared with 35% in the first half of 2016 and 71% in July and August.

“The potential macro risk is alarming,” Zhang and Zeng wrote.

New York requires maintenance of zombie homes | Bedford Hills Real Estate

The state of New York is taking its fight against zombies homes to the next level, as the state announced a series of new regulations for mortgage lenders and servicers that aim to hold the companies “accountable” for the maintenance of abandoned foreclosures.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed what the state called “sweeping” legislation to reform the state’s foreclosure process and address the state’s issues with zombie homes.

The state’s new laws impose a pre-foreclosure duty on banks and servicers to maintain zombie homes, creates an electronic registry of abandoned properties, and expedites foreclosure for vacant and abandoned properties to get them back on the market, among other requirements.

Cuomo’s office announced Tuesday what lenders and servicers will be required to do under the new laws and what punishment the companies will face if they don’t comply.

According to Cuomo’s office, the New York Department of Financial Services proposed a new regulation that mandates lenders and mortgage services report vacant and abandoned properties, in accordance with the state’s new laws.

Under the state’s new laws, lenders and mortgage servicers must complete an inspection of a property subject to delinquency within 90 days and must secure and maintain the property where the bank or servicer has a reasonable basis to believe that the property is vacant and abandoned, the NYDFS said.

Additionally, lenders and mortgage servicers will now be required to report all vacant and abandoned properties to the NYDSFS and submit quarterly reports detailing their efforts to secure and maintain the properties and any foreclosure proceedings.

According to the announcement, if the NYDFS determines that an abandoned or vacant house not “properly maintained” by the lender or mortgage servicer, the NYDFS will “exercise its authority” to hold the bank or mortgage servicer “accountable.”

According to the NYDFS, that means that lenders and servicers will face a civil penalty of $500 per day per property for violations of the new regulations.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York passed groundbreaking ‘zombie’ legislation that will provide real relief to communities all across the state,” NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said. “DFS will take necessary and appropriate action to make sure this law is followed and those responsible are held accountable.”

These new laws and regulations aren’t the only steps undertaken recently by New York in its fight against zombie homes and neighborhood blight.

In July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a new program that will help New York’s city governments track and address zombie homes in their respective cities.

According to Schneiderman’s office, the Zombie Remediation and Prevention Initiative will provide $13 million in grants to local governments to fight zombie homes.

And earlier in July, New York City announced plans to launch a “first of its kind” program to buy a number of delinquent loans from the Federal Housing Administration as part of an effort to keep struggling homeowners from losing their homes to foreclosure.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/38149-new-york-announces-new-requirements-for-maintenance-of-zombie-homes?eid=311691494&bid=1541935

Small wall mounted guest bath sinks | Armonk Real Estate

When washroom space is limited, small-profile sinks are essential: Here are ten tiny wall-mounted sinks for the guest bathroom.

Above: Lacava’s 5074 Aquamedia Washbasin in white porcelain measures 10.25 by 19.75 by 7 inches; the wall-mounted version includes a towel bar; $390 at Faucet Farm.

Above: Duravit’s Happy D. Hand Rinse Basin in white porcelain measures about 20 inches wide and 10 inches deep; $180 at Every Faucet.

Above: The wall-mounted Round Ann Sink measures 15.75-inches wide and deep; $79.99 at Ikea.

Above: Kohler’s Taunton Cast-Iron White Wall-Mount Lavatory measures 14 by 16 inches; $337.99 at Plumbers Surplus.

Above: The Scarabeo Thin-Line Ceramic Washbasin measures 11.7 inches square; $350 at eFaucets.

Above: The Whitehaus Wall-Mounted Basin measures approximately 20 by 10 by 5 inches and is available with a chrome towel bar; $258.75 at eFaucets.

Above: Lacava’s Alia Wall Mounted Porcelain Lavatory SInk is 22 inches wide and 11 inches deep; $375 at Lacava.

Above: A space-saving corner sink, the white porcelain Scarabeo Square Wall-Mounted Corner Sinkby Nameeks measures 18.5 inches wide and deep; $486.50 at Every Faucet.

Above: The Duravit Architec Series Hand-Rinse Basin measures a tiny 14 inches; $241.50 through Amazon.

Above: Duravit’s Vero Basins are a modern European classic and are available in several sizes and configurations, including the approximately 10-by-18 inch Vero Handrinse Basin; $296.25 at eFaucets.

 

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http://www.remodelista.com/posts/10-easy-pieces-wall-mounted-guest-bath-sinks/

Some housing markets cooling | Pound Ridge Real Estate

The red-hot growth in home prices across the U.S. West is starting to slow in some cities as sticker shock and low inventory put off weary buyers.

Denver, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, have seen gains in real estate values moderate after years of double-digit increases, according to Zillow. A slowdown in the tech epicenter of San Francisco is becoming even more pronounced, with the median home value in August rising less than 1 percent from a year earlier.

The five-year surge in real estate demand across the West is starting to take its toll in some areas as buyers become more reluctant to purchase a home that would eat up a large chunk of their monthly earnings. With job growth still robust, house hunters are pushing outward from core cities to get more for their money.

“Homebuyers are starting to see a bit of price fatigue and are starting to step back and think twice about making that purchase,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Seattle-based Zillow. “Prices have grown so much over the last few years as part of the recovery that many markets are well beyond their initial 2006 or 2007 peak, so homes are now more expensive than they’ve ever been.”

Western cities have led the nation’s recovery from last decade’s recession with record-setting economic growth and a boom in jobs, particularly in the technology industry, leading to a surge in housing demand. In the past five years, home values have soared 71 percent in Denver, 66 percent in San Francisco and 54 percent in Austin, Zillow data show. Nationwide, the gain was 22 percent.

Buyer Pushback

The prices have gotten too heated for many buyers in Denver, which has seen a slowdown since the beginning of the year, said Wade Perry, a managing broker at Coldwell Banker Devonshire in the area.

“Buyers are starting to push back and say, ‘I’m not going to pay that much for that house,’” Perry said.

The median home value in Denver rose 10 percent in August from a year earlier to $353,300, according to Zillow. While that’s still one of the top increases in the country, it’s down from an almost 16 percent surge in the same period of 2015.

In Austin, which, like Denver, has benefited in part from a spreading tech industry and an influx of well-paid workers, the median climbed 8.1 percent, compared with 12 percent growth a year earlier. Los Angeles’s growth slowed to 6.9 percent from 7.5 percent, while in San Diego it decelerated to 4 percent from 6.3 percent.

For San Francisco, where the median home value has soared to $1.1 million, the increase was just 0.6 percent after a 15 percent jump in August 2015. The city’s price gains have made it the most overvalued housing market in the U.S., UBS Group AG said in a report this week.

Still Hot

Still, there’s no let-up in some other Western tech-heavy markets, such as Portland, Oregon, where home values soared 20 percent in August, compared with 13 percent a year earlier. In Seattle, the 15 percent gain outpaced the roughly 14 percent increase the year before.

Nationwide, the median home value climbed 5.1 percent in August — up from 4.6 percent a year earlier.

A slowdown in home-price appreciation would be a healthy change, said Patrick Carlisle, chief marketing analyst at Paragon Real Estate Group in San Francisco.

“The cooling of a desperately overheated housing market to something closer to normal is not bad news,” he said. “The huge increases in housing prices have created enormous social stresses in the area, as well as leading some of our local high-tech companies and would-be startups to look at locating elsewhere.”

The overheated markets are pushing some buyers to shift their house hunt to the suburbs, fueling faster appreciation in outlying areas than in the neighboring boom cities, Zillow data show. In the Denver suburb of Arvada, for instance, the median home value in August soared 13 percent from a year earlier. It jumped almost 14 percent in Englewood, a short light-rail ride from downtown.

Moving Outward

Ben and Nicole Irwin began looking for homes in the area last year and soon discovered the Denver properties they liked cost $500,000 to $600,000. The couple ended up paying $390,000 for a three-bedroom house in Arvada, where they were attracted to good public schools, a charming old town and the city’s proximity to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a popular outdoor concert venue.

“To get the size house we wanted, it would have been out of our price range,” said Ben Irwin, a 37-year-old communications manager for the city of Boulder. “We found that we could get those kinds of houses for $150,000 to $200,000 less” outside of Denver.

In Austin, where home prices are higher but sales are down, surrounding towns “have seen incredible appreciation” as buyers seek out affordability in the city’s outskirts, said Dave Murray, a broker at DMTX Realty.

 

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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-28/runaway-home-prices-ebb-in-u-s-west-as-weary-buyers-push-back

Pending home sales grew by 1.5% | Chappaqua Real Estate

Pending home sales grew by 1.5% in the month of September according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The measure of the housing market was projected by economists to grow 1.0% in September from the month before.

In August, the pending sales of single family homes, condos, and co-ops fell 2.4%, declining by much more than the expected flat reading.

After the report for August, the NAR said the slowing number of homes under contract showed the “housing recovery could stall.”

 

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http://www.businessinsider.com/here-come-pending-home-sales-2016-10

Mortgage rates average 3.47% | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates slipping from last week’s spike and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage easing back to its summertime range below 3.5 percent.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.47 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending October 27, 2016, down 5 basis points from 3.52 percent last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.76 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.78 percent with an average 0.5 point, down slightly from last week when they averaged 2.79 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

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

“Mortgage rates continue to be relatively stable and at near record lows. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 5 basis points week-over-week to 3.47 percent, erasing last week’s increase. At the same time, the 10-year Treasury yield ended the week relatively flat — up about 2 basis points.”

New home sales unexpectedly rise in September | Mt Kisco Real Estate

– New U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly rose in September, pointing to sustained demand for housing even as data for August was revised sharply down.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new home sales increased 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000 units last month, pulling them close to a nine-year high touched in July.

August’s sales pace was revised down to 575,000 units from the previously reported 609,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for about 9.8 percent of overall home sales, falling to a rate of 600,000 units last month.

New home sales, which are derived from building permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis and subject to large revisions.

Sales increased 29.8 percent from a year ago. They rose in the third quarter compared to the April-June period, indicating strong demand for housing.

Residential construction, however, likely remained a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter.

Despite rising demand for housing, home building has been lagging, with builders complaining about land and labor shortages. Demand is being driven by rising wages as the labor market nears full employment, as well as by very low mortgage rates.

New single-family homes sales surged 33.3 percent in the Northeast and soared 8.6 percent in the Midwest last month.

Sales in the South, which accounts for more than half of new home sales, climbed 3.4 percent.

Sales fell 4.5 percent in the West, which has seen a sharp increase in home prices amid tight inventories.

 

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http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-newhomesales-idUSKCN12Q1VJ?il=0

Case-Shiller: Rising house prices just below record highs | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Home prices are continuing to rise; now mere basis points below the all-time highs for prices, set in 2006.

According to the latest data released Tuesday by S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 5.3% annual gain in August, up from 5% in July.

Per the report, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index is currently at 184.42, which is within 0.1% of its record high of 184.62, set in July 2006.

The increase in August represents the 52nd consecutive month of positive gains.

According to the Case-Shiller report, the 10-City Composite posted a 4.3% annual increase, up from 4.1% in July, while the 20-City Composite posted a 5.1% annual increase, up from 5.0% in July.

The report states that Portland, Seattle and Denver turned in the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities for the seventh consecutive month, with year-over-year increases of 11.7%, 11.4% and 8.8%, respectively.

“Supported by continued moderate economic growth, home prices extended recent gains,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“All 20 cities saw prices higher than a year earlier with 10 enjoying larger annual gains than last month,” Blitzer continued. “The seasonally adjusted month-over-month data showed that home prices in 14 cities were higher in August than in July.”

Blitzer also noted that other housing data including sales of existing single-family homes, measures of housing affordability, and permits for new construction also point to a “reasonably healthy housing market.”

Additionally, the Case-Shiller report showed that before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.5% in August.

The report also showed that both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite posted a 0.4% increase in August.

After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.6% month-over-month increase, and both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite reported 0.2% month-over-month increases.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/38364-case-shiller-rising-house-prices-just-below-record-highs?eid=311691494&bid=1568560

Consumer Confidence Rises | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The Consumer Confidence Index, reported by the Conference Board, rose in September. Compared with last month, consumers were more optimistic about both the current situation and the near term outlook.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 104.1, from 101.8 in August. The present situation index rose to 128.5, from 125.3, and the expectations index increased to 87.8, from 86.1.

Consumers’ assessments of current business conditions were mixed. Assessments shifted from both “good” and “bad” to “normal”. The share of respondents rating business conditions “normal” rose by 4.9 percentage points from 51.5% to 56.4%. A net decline of 2.9 percentage points in assessments of “good” combined with a 2.0 percentage point net decline in assessments of “bad” for the total.

Similar to consumers’ assessments of current business conditions, expectations of business conditions over the next six months were mixed. The share of respondents expecting future business conditions to be the same rose from 71.0% to 73.3%. About half of the increase was the result of a net decline in respondents expecting future business conditions to be worse, an upgrade, while the rest was the result of a net decline in respondents expecting future business conditions to be better, a downgrade.

Consumers’ assessments of current employment conditions improved. The share of respondents reporting that jobs were “hard to get” dropped to 21.6%, from 22.8%. Most of the 1.2 percentage point decline (1.1 percentage point) upgraded to “jobs plentiful”.

Also, consumers’ expectations of employment over the next six months were more upbeat than in August. The share of respondents expecting “more jobs” rose to 15.1%, from 14.4%. Most of the 0.7 percentage point increase (0.5 percentage point) shifted from “fewer jobs”, while the rest shifted from “same jobs”.

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The Conference Board also reports the share of respondents planning to buy a home within six months. The share of respondents planning to buy a home declined to 5.1%, from 6.9%. The share of respondents planning to buy a newly constructed home and an existing home were 0.6% and 3.5%, respectively; the share of respondents who were “uncertain” whether they would buy a newly constructed or an existing home was 1.0%.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/09/consumer-confidence-in-september-another-optimistic-month/