Monthly Archives: October 2017

Builder Confidence Rises in October | Chappaqua Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose four points to a level of 68 in October on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This was the highest reading since May.

This current reading shows that home builder sentiment is rebounding from the initial reaction of concern due to hurricanes in Florida and Texas, including the anticipated effects of repair and restoration work. However, builders need to be mindful of long-term, regional impacts from the storms, such as intensified material price increases and labor shortages.

It nonetheless is encouraging to see builder confidence return to the high 60s levels we saw in the spring and summer. With a tight inventory of existing homes and promising growth in household formation, we can expect the new home market continue to strengthen at a modest rate in the months ahead.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in October. The component gauging current sales conditions rose five points to 75 and the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased five points to 78. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic ticked up a single point to 48.  Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South rose two points to 68 and the Northeast rose one point to 50. Both the West and Midwest remained unchanged at 77 and 63, respectively.


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NAHB against tax bill | Mt Kisco Real Estate

The Republican proposal to overhaul the tax code gained a powerful enemy over the weekend when the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group that been supportive until now, launched a drive to defeat it.

The decision came despite an announcement by a key House Republican, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, that a deduction for property taxes would be maintained in tax legislation that is to be unveiled Wednesday.

Lawmakers from high-tax states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, had been pressing House leaders to continue to allow taxpayers who itemize to deduct state and local taxes.

A tax framework unveiled in September by President Trump and Republican House and Senate leaders called for maintaining the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions while eliminating other write-offs.

Staff from the home builders association had been meeting with Brady’s staff because of concerns that eliminating the property tax deduction, combined with a proposal to double the standard deduction, would reduce the tax benefits of home ownership.

A study commissioned by the National Association of Realtors had found that the combination would lower the value of the average home by 10%.

“Even though they’re technically not touching the home mortgage interest deduction, the reality is they’re going to gut the mortgage interest deduction,” said Gerald H. Howard, CEO of the home builders group. “Doubling the standard deduction would mean only the wealthiest homeowners would be able to take the mortgage interest deduction.”

Howard said his group was pitching a tax credit that would let middle-class homeowners reduce taxable income by 12% of what they paid in mortgage interest and property taxes. The benefit would have been capped at mortgages of $500,000 and property taxes of $5,500, and there would have been a phase-out for high-income taxpayers.

Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group working to build support for the tax plan, released a letter Monday designed to blunt the builders’ effort. Signed by 146 real estate professionals, it argued that 70 percent of taxpayers do not itemize, and they would benefit from the cut in tax rates that would come from eliminating deductions, especially the break for state and local taxes, known as SALT.

“Repealing the SALT deduction would finally put pressure on fiscally irresponsible state and local politicians, especially in California, New York and New Jersey, to lower their income and property taxes,” the letter said.

Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action, said on Fox News Sunday that “every single corrupt force of the status quo in Washington” would be coming out to “protect their little carve out” in the tax code.

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More Information About the Equifax Data Breach | Armonk Real Estate

Unfortunately for Equifax, outcry over their massive security breach is not yesterday’s news even 6 weeks after the hack was made public. In fact, there is a deeper probe being made by government officials and consumers trying to figure out what can be done to prevent another breach and how personal information can be protected.
Here are some of the most recent updates on the breach:

  • Equifax announced that they believe 2.5 million more U.S. consumers may have had their data stolen. Adding to the original prediction of 143 million, it’s now believed that approximately 145.5 million consumers may be affected.
  • 209,000 consumer credit card numbers were stolen.
  • 182,000 documents with personal information were stolen.
  • Former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, reported that the hack happened due to a human error in their security department who failed to patch a flaw in the system.
  • Close to 11 million driver’s license ID numbers are believed to have been compromised.
  • It was discovered that some coding on Equifax’s website contained malicious content. The security analyst who discovered the issue was trying to download his credit report when he was confronted with this malicious link. Equifax released a statement saying this was not another hack and the third-party coding had been removed.
  • Democrats have introduced a new bill that would stop the credit reporting agencies from charging fees to consumers for security protection options to prevent ID Theft.
  • Democrats have also called for Equifax to wave their fee for business credit reports since it’s believed that business credit data was compromised as well. Companies are at risk of business identity theft as well as personal.
  • A Republican lawmaker introduced a new bill to give U.S. bank regulators more power over supervising the credit reporting agencies.
  • Equifax has been doused with dozens of class-action lawsuits.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have ongoing federal investigations into any misconduct.

Whether your information is listed as compromised or not, the fact that a multi-billion-dollar worldwide corporation would be so sloppy in the protection of consumer data is worrisome, to say the least.

Whether we like it or not, the credit bureaus own your information, we did not give them permission but are required to trust them with the data. Identity protection is in our own hands, we cannot trust corporations in this digital age to be able to ward off all potential threats. Even if they do have the most cutting-edge protection thieves will find a way to break through it.  The best thing each consumer can do is monitor their credit, know the signs of a scam, and keep their personal data secure.

Here’s some of the information that Equifax handed to hackers:

  • Email addresses
  • Names
  • Social security numbers
  • Credit card and bank information
  • Birth dates
  • Driver’s license ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Income / job history
  • Business information

Enroll in our annual credit monitoring service where your reports will be guarded by credit professional on a daily basis. We offer monitoring for adults, children, and businesses.

Don’t want future emails?


Real Estate Prices Stay Strong in Westchester | North Salem Real Estate

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — Real estate sales in the lower Hudson Valley slowed a little in the third quarter of 2017, according to a report from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. That is because prospective homebuyers were operating in a market that has seen reductions in the supply of for-sale housing over the past four years.

In terms of price, the market is still strong.

“The 2017 year to date sales figures continue to trend significantly higher than the previous year for most of the lower Hudson region,” they said. (For more stories on local real estate, sign up for Patch’sdaily newsletter, news alerts and updates.)

Meanwhile, the double-digit percentage rate of shrinking inventory is continuing, HGAR officials said: down 16 percent in Orange, 16 percent in Putnam, 15 percent in Rockland and 8 percent in Westchester as compared to third quarter 2016.

They predicted the market will remain vibrant, citing . conditions including attractive mortgage rates, high employment and a healthy economy.


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Manufactured Homes Post August Increase | Mt Kisco Real Estate

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, shipments of manufactured homes increased by 7.6% to an 85,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate in August, from 79,000 in July. This rate of growth partially reverses the 10.2% decline recorded in July, however, the number of manufactured homes in August remains 21.3% below its post-recession peak of 108,000 reached in January 2017.

Figure 1 above shows the changes in total housing strats and manufactured home shipments over the past eighteen years. Total housing starts here are defined as the sum of single-family housing starts and multifamily housing starts.

As shown in the figure, total housing starts increased by 34% to 2.27 million units from January 2002 to January 2006, and dropped sharply to 478 thousand by April 2009, a decline of 79%. Since then, total housing starts have been recovering, increasing by 147% to 1.18 million.

In contrast to total housing starts, between 2002 and 2006, shipments of manufactured homes decreased by 36% to 124 thousand. After a sharp increase in November 2005, manufactured homes fell by 77% to 49 thousand in April 2009. Since then, manufactured homes rose by 73% to 85 thousand in August 2017.

The figure above presents the level of manufactured home shipments and its share of total housing production from 2000 to the present. Total housing production includes single-family housing starts, multifamily housing starts and shipments of manufactured homes. Currently, manufactured homes accounts for 6.7% of total housing production.

Between 2000 and 2006, the pace of manufactured homes tracked its share of total housing production. As illustrated in Figure 1, the decline in manufactured homes coincided with an increase in total housing starts. Between 2000 and 2006, single-family housing starts rose by 44% while multifamily housing starts rose by 22%. As a result, manufactured homes’ share of total housing production also declined.

Since October 2006, the level of manufactured homes and its share of total housing production have moved in different directions, reflecting the boom bust cycle in total housing starts. Between October 2006 and December 2008, manufactured homes’ share of total housing production rose from 5.8% to 10.1%. Over this period, manufactured homes fell by 35% to 63 thousand. However, total housing starts fell even more. Single-family housing starts fell by 68% and multifamily housing starts fell by 61%.

Between 2009 and 2012, the level of manufactured homes rose by 4%, and manufactured homes’ share of total housing production decreased from 9.9% to 5.4%. The decline in manufactured homes’ share of total housing production reflected a large increase in total housing starts. Single-family housing starts rose by 72% and multifamily housing starts rose by 173%.


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A tale of two housing economies | Cross River Real Estate

Torsten Slok, Ph.D., is chief international economist and a managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities. The question Slok asked yesterday morning was this.

Is household formation dropping because of affordability?

Here’s his chart.

Household formation takes a dive. Why?
Household formation takes a dive. Why?

It shows household formations falling off the table in 2017. Dr. Slok looks at the data and sees a big red flag.

In the initial years after the crisis household formation was around 600k to 700k, see chart below. Then household formation jumped to +1mn as young people completed their education and started moving out of their parents’ basement. But recently we have seen a significant drop in the number of new households, and we are worried that the slowdown in housing demand is driven by very high home prices and housing simply becoming unaffordable for new families.

The dots Slok inferrentially connects bridge this observation about national economics’ basic building block–the household–and the performance of the broader economy itself.

To be sure, the housing market remains a small share of the overall economy, but it is important because it is one of the most cyclical components of GDP.

For a clue into this unsettling flash point, one might look deep into the insights brought to light last week in an analysis from New York University’s Furman Center. On the surface, the headline take-away is encouraging, noting as it does that the percentage of United States households who are rent-burdened–spending 30% or more of their wages on monthly housing costs–fell by a percentage point between 2012 and 2015.

The report explores a relatively new phenomenon–more wealthy and higher-educated people are choosing to rent–that partly accounts for this statistical shift to fewer rent-burdened households.

The income of the typical renter household increased along with overall incomes in the economic recovery period, but more of the renter households were highly educated, had higher incomes, and were employed. Therefore, not all of the measured increase in renter income was due to renters making more income per se; rather, part of it was due to a shift in who was choosing to rent.

It’s here that we might discover insight into how the two trends–a slower household formation growth due to less affordability in many places, and the slight improvement in the share of rent-burdened households.

It’s evidence vested and invested players in residential real estate development and construction are working in not one, but two, related but disconnected housing businesses.

In one part of the housing business, players are growing around their competence at asking people with means how it is they want to live in their homes and communities, and profitably developing, designing, engineering, building, and marketing neighborhoods that answer to those preferences profitably.


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Used home sales rise .7% | Waccabuc Real Estate

Sales of previously owned houses in the United States rose 0.7 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million in September 2017 from a year low of 5.35 million in August, beating market expectations of a 1 percent fall. Still, ongoing supply shortages and recent hurricanes muted overall activity. Sales of single family houses increased 1.1 percent to 4.79 million after falling 2.1 percent in August, while those of condos fell 1.6 percent to 0.60 million, following a 1.7 percent decline. The median house price fell to $245,100 from $253,100 in August and the months’ worth of supply was steady at 4.2 percent. In addition, the number of houses available in the market rose to 1.90 million from 1.87 million in August. Existing Home Sales in the United States averaged 3912.19 Thousand from 1968 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 7250 Thousand in September of 2005 and a record low of 1370 Thousand in March of 1970.

United States Existing Home Sales
Calendar GMT Actual Previous Consensus TEForecast
2017-08-24 02:00 PM Existing Home Sales 5.44M 5.51M 5.57M 5.55M
2017-09-20 02:00 PM Existing Home Sales 5.35M 5.44M 5.46M 5.45M
2017-10-20 02:00 PM Existing Home Sales 5.39M 5.35M 5.30M 5.29M
2017-11-21 03:00 PM Existing Home Sales 5.39M 5.36M
2017-12-20 03:00 PM Existing Home Sales 5.42M


United States Housing Last Previous Highest Lowest Unit
Building Permits 1215.00 1272.00 2419.00 513.00 Thousand [+]
Housing Starts 1127.00 1183.00 2494.00 478.00 Thousand [+]
New Home Sales 560.00 580.00 1389.00 270.00 Thousand [+]
Pending Home Sales -2.60 -1.30 30.90 -24.30 percent [+]
Existing Home Sales 5390.00 5350.00 7250.00 1370.00 Thousand [+]
Construction Spending 0.50 -1.20 5.90 -4.80 percent [+]
Housing Index 0.20 0.10 1.20 -1.80 percent [+]
Nahb Housing Market Index 68.00 64.00 78.00 8.00 [+]
Mortgage Rate 4.14 4.16 10.56 3.47 percent [+]
Mortgage Applications 3.60 -2.10 49.10 -38.80 percent [+]
Home Ownership Rate 63.70 63.60 69.20 62.90 percent [+]
Case Shiller Home Price Index 201.99 200.53 206.52 100.00 Index Points [+]


United States Existing Home Sales

Existing Home Sales occurs when the mortgage is closed. Mortgage closing usually takes place 30-60 days after the sales contract is closed. . This page provides the latest reported value for – United States Existing Home Sales – plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news. United States Existing Home Sales – actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases – was last updated on October of 2017.


Actual Previous Highest Lowest Dates Unit Frequency
5390.00 5350.00 7250.00 1370.00 1968 – 2017 Thousand Monthly


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HVAC Issues | South Salem Real Estate

An efficient HVAC system can you save you loads of money in the long run and keep your home nice and comfortable throughout the year. Problems in the ductwork, however, can quickly consume your energy budget and make it hard to heat and cool certain areas of the home. If you suspect your HVAC system is not working properly, follow this short guide to help identify and fix common ductwork problems.

Abnormal Energy Bills

A collection of gas bills with a calculator and pen on a desk.

A sudden spike in your energy bill is a good sign that your home’s HVAC system is compromised. Leaky connectors and poor designs lead to air flow loss, which makes the system work harder to heat and cool the home. This in turn expends more energy and runs up the electricity bill.

Noisy Ductwork

Another good indication of a bad HVAC system is noisy ductwork. In rectangular ducting, these noises are usually the result of the metal expanding and contracting. It should be noted that noises are typical when the system first turns on or off. You should be concerned, however, if the noises continue while the system is running. If you hear a whistling sound, for example, you are likely dealing with vent covers that are too small for the system.

Uneven Temperatures

A lady wearing a furry coat holding a blanket.

If you have areas of the home that are hard to heat and cool or get overly stuffy, your HVAC system probably has a leak or two. Uneven temperatures are caused by poor air flow because the system is simply losing too much air to properly do its job. In extreme cases, you will not be able to heat or cool certain areas of the home even if the thermostat is turned to its highest setting. It is essential to get a new heating system installed in your home or get the old one serviced as it will increase its performance and efficiency.

Finding Problem Areas

Detecting problems in the ducting is a straightforward process. The biggest issues typically include bad seals around joints, improperly seated vents, and poorly supported ducts. You might also examine the overall design of the ductwork as the installer may have made mistakes in the original installation. Look for areas that feature sharp turns in the ducting as this can significantly reduce air flow.


Feeling airflow from a vent.

You can also feel for air loss with your hands. Start by feeling the air pressure coming out of vents in multiple rooms. If you detect a difference between vents, then you know you have a leak somewhere in line with that vent. You can narrow down the location of the leak by using some incense, toilet paper, or wet fingertips. The incense and toilet paper will move or your fingers will get cold when coming in contact with the leak.

Visual Examination

Examine the ducting for any obvious signs of gaps, holes, and cracks. The most likely problem areas include connections and seams, and places where the ducting links up with the ceiling, floor, registers, and vents. For flexible ducting, ensure the pieces are not crimped or tangled.

Fixing Ductwork Leaks

Once you locate the problem area, it’s time for a little repair. All you need to repair leaky ductwork is some HVAC-grade aluminum foil, a putty knife, gloves, and a few cloths. Begin by cleaning the area with a damp cloth and keep a lookout for any sharp edges. It’s recommended to use mastic for loose fittings, though foil tape can also prevent air loss. Just make sure the connection is tightened up and the screws are back in place before you apply tape. If you detect any major cracks in the ducting, you may need to replace the section with a new piece of sheet metal.

Visit the HVAC Direct homepage for product variety.

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Mortgage rates average 3.88% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQBFMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate ticking down this week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.88 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending October 19, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 3.91 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.52 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.21 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.79 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.17 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.85 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.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“Rates came down slightly this week, ending a brief, two-week streak of increases. The 10-year Treasury yield dipped 6 basis points, while the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell 3 basis points to 3.88 percent.”

Amazon selling shipping container house | Waccabuc Real Estate

A MODS International shipping container house available for sale on Amazon
All photos via Amazon

From Amazon’s potential new headquarters to it’s latest lineup of smart home devices, the roughly $430 billion company is in the headlines and in our households. The Seattle e-commerce company sells almost everything—including, it seems, a shipping container house.

In an effort to recycle the thousands of surplus containers that sit on docks around the world, shipping containers have been used in urban farmsoff-the-grid getaways, and even as all-in-one pools. A fleet of new companies also use the 20- or 40-foot containers to create prefab tiny homes, all available to orderand delivered to your location.

Now, Wisconsin-based MODs International is selling their version on Amazon. The 320-square-foot house uses a new sea container as the structural shell—not a recycled one—and includes a rather plain bedroom, shower, toilet, sink, small kitchenette, appliances, and living area. Large double doors open to the outside, and extra windows were added to increase light.

The price for the home of your shipping container dreams on Amazon: $36,000. Of course, the unit isn’t sold from Amazon itself and is available from MODS as a third party seller under the “See all Buying Options” tab. It also costs $4,500 to ship the 7,500 pound structure to your location, so don’t expect your normal Prime discount.

All photos via Amazon
All photos via Amazon
All photos via Amazon
All photos via Amazon

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