Nationally, prices rose 5.8 percent in August compared with August 2017, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home prices index. That is less than the 6 percent annual gain in July.
The index’s 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent annually, down from 5.5 percent in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.5 percent year-over-year gain, down from 5.9 percent in the previous month.
“Following reports that home sales are flat to down, price gains are beginning to moderate,” David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a release.
A real estate agent shows a home for sale to a prospective buyer in Miami.Getty Images
Mortgage interest rates didn’t begin their recent surge until the start of September, but home prices were already feeling pressure, as fewer people could afford what was for sale.
Nationally, prices rose 5.8 percent in August compared with August 2017, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home prices index. That is less than the 6 percent annual gain in July.
The index’s 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent annually, down from 5.5 percent in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.5 percent year-over-year gain, down from 5.9 percent in the previous month.
“Following reports that home sales are flat to down, price gains are beginning to moderate,” David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a release. “Rising prices may be pricing some potential home buyers out of the market, especially when combined with mortgage rates approaching 5 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans.”
WATCH NOWVIDEO00:46Pending home sales inch up
The jump in mortgage interest rates began at the start of September, but home sales were already slowing, as prices were just too high for some buyers, especially entry-level buyers. Home prices have been pushed higher over the past few years due to a critical shortage of homes for sale. Inventory, however, finally began to rise in August, and continues to gain this fall. Not only are there more listings, but fewer sales, so homes are sitting on the market longer.
The market is beginning to balance more between supply and demand, following one of the strongest seller’s markets in decades. There is little concern, however, that prices will actually fall, only that the gains will fall back to more normal, historical levels of 3 percent to 4 percent annually.
“There are no signs that the current weakness will become a repeat of the crisis, however. In 2006, when home prices peaked and then tumbled, mortgage default rates bottomed out and started a three year surge,” said Blitzer. “Today, the mortgage default rates reported by the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices are stable. Without a collapse in housing finance like the one seen 12 years ago, a crash in home prices is unlikely.”
Even as the gains shrink, some local markets continue to show price strength. Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle saw the biggest annual gains among the 20-city index.
In August, Las Vegas home prices jumped 13.9 percent year-over-year, followed by San Francisco with a 10.6 percent increase and Seattle with a 9.6 percent gain. Four of the 20 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August 2018 versus the year ending July 2018.
Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 68 in October on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Builder confidence levels have held in the high 60s since June.
Builders continue to view solid housing demand, fueled by a growing economy and a nearly 50-year low for unemployment. Lumber price declines for three straight months from elevated levels earlier this summer have also helped to reduce some cost pressures, but builders will need to manage supply-side costs to keep home prices affordable.
Favorable economic conditions and demographic tailwinds should continue to support demand, but housing affordability has become a challenge due to ongoing price and interest rate increases. Unless housing affordability stabilizes, the market risks losing additional momentum as we head into 2019.
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.
The HMI index measuring current sales conditions rose one point to 74 and the component gauging expectations in the next six months increased a single point to 75. Meanwhile, the metric charting buyer traffic registered a four-point uptick to 53.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose three points to 57 and the South edged up one point to 71. The West held steady at 74 and the Midwest fell two points to 57.
Contracts for new single-family home sales declined in September, as eroding affordability conditions reduced sales volume. New single-family home sales declined to a significantly lower 553,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, a 5.5% drop from a downwardly revised 585,000 annual rate recorded in August. The sales data are produced by HUD and the Census Bureau.
The weak September estimate was the lowest annual rate since December 2016. It marks a notable retreat from the recent, modest growth trend that had been in place due to solid economic conditions and unmet demographic demand but constrained by rising construction costs due to labor access issues, building material pricing and rising regulatory costs. The drop in monthly sales volume also pushed the months’ supply number to an elevated 7.1, the highest since the summer of 2011.
Despite the softer summer and early fall numbers, total sales for the first nine months of 2019 (485,000) are 3.5% higher than the comparable total for 2017 (469,000). Nonetheless, mirroring declining sales volume for the resale market, higher interest rates, storm disruption effects, and spring and summer hikes in lumber prices have taken a toll on the nation’s building markets, even as macroeconomic conditions remain positive.
Inventory increased in September to 327,000 single-family homes for sale. September saw a notable uptick in homes not-started construction but otherwise listed for sale, rising from 57,000 in August to 64,000 in September (compared to 47,000 in September of 2017). Additionally, sales of homes not started construction were lower on a year-over-year basis (168,000 annual rate in September compared to 185,000 in September of 2017), suggesting the current soft patch is demand-side focused rather than supply-side constrained.
Median new home sales pricing has decreased over the last year as the mix of supply has adjusted. Median new home price was $320,000 in September, compared to $331,500 a year ago. Managing rising construction costs in the months ahead will be a key challenge for housing affordability as input costs increase, although recent declines in lumber prices should help.
For the first nine months of 2018 (and relative to the first nine months of 2017), new home sales were up 9.7% in the Midwest, 4.4% in the South, 3.9% in the West, and down 16.5% in the Northeast, due to tax reform-related effects and affordability concerns.
In life before a thousand TV channels, text-messaging and, dare we say, the harsh divide of politics, a host of Westchester restaurants served up hand-formed burgers, red sauce pasta and old-school pizza, minus the wood-burning oven and gourmet toppings.
Decades later, life may have changed dramatically, but these restaurants are still true to their core.
We asked readers about their favorite “old-time” restaurants and got the following responses. Thanks to all who wrote in with suggestions.
Chicken wings at The Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
Candlelight Inn, Scarsdale: Eating here is is practically a rite of passage. If you haven’t had chicken wings at Candlelight, one wonders if you can be called a true Westchesterite. The Tracy family has run this cash-only joint since 1955 where lines often snake out the door on weekends. Yes, you can order something else — they have ribs, wraps, burgers and addictive waffle fries — but it’s the wings, oversized, tender and spicy (though you can order them milder), that make this a beloved institution. Go back in time: 519 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, 914-472-9706, facebook.com/Candlelight-Inn
Emilio Ristorante, Harrison:Diners feel welcome the minute they step through the doors, no matter if they’re a first-timer or have been coming for years. Open since 1979, the restaurant, in a colonial home, has always been known for its gracious hospitality and Old World ways. There’s an astute attention to detail, starting with the crisp attire of the wait staff — white shirts and ties (this month everyone is wearing pink ties for breast cancer awareness month). Antipasti is brought to the table and explained, branzino and Dover sole are filetted tableside and desserts are wheeled out with flourish. The wine list is extensive, the Italian food authentic and well-prepared, and the owner, Sergio Brasesco, is all about ensuring you have a memorable meal. Go back in time: 1 Colonial Pl., Harrison, 914-835-3100, emilioristorante.com
The dining room of Francesco’s in White Plains. Photographed Oct. 3, 2019. (Photo: Jeanne Muchnick)
Francesco’s, White Plains: Many diners no doubt went to this classic mom-and-pop red sauce restaurant with their parents back in the day (it’s 48-years-old). And guess what? It hasn’t changed. Sitting in the dining room filled with its wood paneling, red leather booths and hodepodge of Italian art, it’s easy to feel like you’re 16 again. Expect lots of pastas along with classic entrees like lasagna, veal parmesean, penne alla vodka, and clams casino. Folks also rave about the pizza. Go back in time: 600 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, 914-946-3359
Gus’s Restaurant, Harrison: In business since 1931 and still run by the same family (albeit with a 17-year break in between when it was sold to a group of investors) Gus’s Restaurant, originally called The Franklin Park Tavern, has a reputation for its seafood and comfortable tavern vibe. It’s also known, among long-time patrons for staying true to the mission of Gus Kneuer who prided himself on serving hearty German fare.
Now run by Ernie and Audrey Kneuer, Gus’s grandson and granddaughter (the two bought it back from the investors in 2004), it features many of Gus’s favorites like meatloaf with mashed potatoes, grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and fresh roasted turkey. And, thanks to the fish market next door, all the fish and seafood is super fresh and filetted every morning. “Everything gets turned over daily to keep the freshness of both our fish and meat products,” said Ernie Kneuer. There are plenty of American favorites like burgers, salads and sandwiches. Be sure to look for Gus’s photo which still hangs by the cash register. Go back in time: 126 Halstead Ave., Harrison, 914-835-9804, gusseafood.com
The dining room at Gus’s Franklin Park Restaurant on Halstead Avenue in Harrison, pictured Oct. 9, 2018. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
Muscoot Tavern, Katonah: The crooked walls and low front door are reasons to love Muscoot Tavern. Another is its friendly atmosphere and the fact that no matter what’s going on with the world, inside this roadside restaurant, things remain pretty much the same as when the restaurant first opened, sometime prior to 1925. Though it’s changed ownership many times over the years, its legacy as a local hangout remains. Try the “Zpaghetti,” zucchini noodles with fresh garlic, grape tomato, white wine and basil, or the Katonah pizza, made with roasted eggplant, zucchini, peppers caramelized onions, truffle oil, basil. Owner Bobby Epstein also likes to mix it up with some high-end specials every night like prime rib or Mako shark. Go back in time: 105 Somerstown Turnpike, Katonah, 914- 232-2800, muscoottavern.com
La Manda’s, White Plains:The no-frills decor is part of the charm — think knotty pine paneling and Formica tables — can’t help but transport you back in time. Owner Sly Musilli writes on the La Manda’s website that though they’ve done work to improve the restaurant and spruce it up over the years, they also recognize the value of keeping it as folks remember. That includes the heaping portions of pasta and robust Italian specialties of Chicken Scarparo, Pizzaiola and Zuppa Di Pesce. Plus, of course the super-thin pizza cooked in the same brick oven since 1934. Just be warned, it’s cash only, though there’s an ATM on the premises. Go back in time: 251 Tarrytown Rd., White Plains 914-684-9228, lamandas.com
A cheese pizza at La Manda’s restaurant. Old-school Greenburgh staple has been serving thin-crust pies since 1947. Photographed May 26, 2017. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)
Paradise Restaurant, Verplanck:Hungry for a trip down Memory Lane? Paradise, run by third-generation owner Joseph Margiotta, is your place. The restaurant is 70-years-old and though known for its happily carb-laden Italian food, Margiotta said he has tweaked the menu to include more healthier eating options. There is still plenty of old-time Italian favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, and pizza. Giving diners what they like, said Margiotta, is key to their success. “You can come in and not spend a lot of money or you can come in and spend a lot of money,” he explained. “We wouldn’t have been able to survive four recessions if we didn’t offer something for everyone.” Go back in time: 135 Broadway Ave, Verplanck, 914-736-3334, paradiseverplanck.com
Roma Restaurant, Tuckahoe: The third generation of the Tavolilla family runs Roma, in business since 1931. Known primarily for its thin-crust brick-oven pizza and comfortable family-friendly vibe, it’s also a pasta haven with choices of spaghetti, linguini, penne, cavatelli, and gnocchi. Coming here is like visiting the Italian grandmother you never had where meatballs or sides of pasta can be added to any dish and the lasagna, stuffed shells, baked ziti and more, seem to stream out of the kitchen. Go back in time: 29 Columbus Ave., Tuckahoe, 914-961-3175, romarestaurant1931.com
Sam’s of Gedney Way, White Plains:The history of Sam’s is written in depth on its website, detailing how Sam Eisenstein, the 23-year-old son of a Russian immigrant “with a $300 stake and a barrel of faith,” opened his newsstand and soda fountain in 1932 on what then was a dirt lane in White Plains. Back then, a hamburger with coffee was 15 cents and you could get a 25 cent lunch with pie. In 1968 the restaurant relocated to its current spot on Gedney Way evolving from a luncheonette speakeasy to a saloon to a white-tablecloth restaurant. Now run by Peter and Karen Herrero, natives of White Plains, the two have updated it complete with organic food selections, a gluten-free menu and a loyal staff, many of whom have been with them for years. Go back and time: 50 Gedney Way, White Plains, 914-949-0978, samsofgedneyway.com
The Blazer Burger at the Blazer Pub is topped with bacon, cheese and carmelized onions. (Photo: Carmen Troesser)
Squire’s of Briarcliff, Briarcliff Manor: This classic burger joint, in business since 1967, is known primarily for its 9-ounce juicy patties, hand-pressed with high-quality meat. Generous portions make it another reason to come, along with the retro ambiance. Like any good tavern, it also serves wraps, salads, steak, chicken and seafood, but the menu also includes gluten-free rolls to accommodate different dietary needs. Just know: it’s American Express or cash only (there’s an ATM inside). Go back in time: 94 N. State Rd, Briarcliff Manor, 914-762-3376, squiresofbriarcliff.com
The Blazer Pub, North Salem: You go for the burgers: hand-formed and meaty, but soon, the nostalgic ambiance with its vintage arcade games, jukebox loaded with Springsteen and scalloped paper placemats win you over. It’s like stepping back into the 1970s complete with a well-worn bar which looksstraight out of the TV show, “Cheers.” Mostly though you’ll love the wallet-friendly prices (a burger is $7.75). The pub is also known for its tomato soup and “award-winning” chili. Worth nothing: the restaurant is the only one in Westchester to be featured in “Hamburger America,” a state-by-state guide to 200 of the country’s best burger joints. Go back in time: 440 NY-22, North Salem, 914-277-4424, theblazerpub.com
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GEORGESOROS.COM; GAGE SKIDMORE | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Update 10/24 — The U.S. Secret Service released a statement this morning stating that similar packages were intercepted in routine mail screenings en route to the Chappaqua address of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the Washington, D.C. residence of Former President Barack Obama.
• “Suspicious packages” were identified as “potential explosive devices” during what the Secret Service says in its official statement were routine mail screenings, and “appropriately handled as such.”
• The package sent to Clinton was intercepted late on Tuesday, October 23. A second package addressed to President Obama was intercepted in Washington early Wednesday morning.
• Neither of the Secret Service’s protectees received the packages, “nor were they at risk of receiving them,” according to the statement.
• Also on Wednesday morning, CNN’s offices in Manhattan were evacuated after a similar device was sent there and made its way into their offices, a law enforcement official said.
Jim Sciutto✔@jimsciuttoBreaking: CNN NY office evacuated. Police bomb squad is here. We’re told of explosive device received.
• According to the Secret Service, the agency has “initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”
Westchester Magazine will continue coverage of this story as it develops. Original story below:
Monday afternoon, a small explosive device was discovered in the mailbox of billionaire philanthropist George Soros’ Katonah residence.
No one was injured and the investigation is still ongoing. Here’s everything you need to know as the story unfolds:
• Bedford Police received a call around 3:45 p.m. on Monday, October 22, from an employee of the residence.
• The 88-year-old Soros was not home at the time.
• The relatively small device was discovered when an employee opened a package, after which they carefully placed the device outside in a wooded area, according to the Bedford police.
• Federal and state law enforcement agents responded, and the bomb squad proceeded with a controlled detonation of the device.
• There was no clear motive behind the attempted bombing, though Soros has often been demonized by right-wing groups for his support of liberal social policies and campaign contributions to democrats.
• TheNew York Timesreports that the investigation is open, and is now being handled by the New York offices of both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Storm Watch The National Weather Service forecasts for our area heavy rain Saturday with winds gusting as high as 32 MPH, bringing with them the possibility of downed trees and power lines. The Town is preparing for possible power outages and has coordinated with NYSEG and Con Edison which is mobilizing line crews in the event they are needed. Please be safe. Please stay away from downed lines and report them to NYSEG at 1-800-572-1131 and to Con Edison at www.coned.com as well as on mobile devices or by calling 1-800-75-coned We are closely monitoring the forecasts and will keep you advised.
Update on 2019 Town BudgetTentative Budget to Be Filed Next Week Comptroller Abraham Zambrano, in his capacity as Budget Officer, will file the tentative 2019 budget with the Town Clerk on Wednesday, October 30 (prior to the end of the month, as required by state law). At the direction of the Town Board, he tentative will be property tax cap compliant and, as noted earlier, reflects increases required under contractual obligations (such as the collective bargaining agreements with our employees); increases for debt service to finance capital improvements (such as the police station renovation project); and modest increases from the 2018 budget in certain areas such as paving, support for libraries and community activities, a restored position in the Building Department (beginning July 1); an additional part-time parking enforcement officer; full funding for a senior outreach program. I attach the 2019 budget estimates of revenue & expenses changes from 2018. The tentative budget will be posted to the Finance Department page of the Town’s website just as soon as it is available. Click chart to view it:
Special Town Board Meeting on November 15Wireless Communications Law The Board has scheduled a Special Town Board meeting for Thursday, November 15 for 7:00 PM in the Court Room to focus on a new wireless communications law to replace the present law. We will meet in Work Session with members of the Communications Committee, our counsel, Planning Director and by conference call with the Cohen Law Group. I’ve scheduled this as Town Board meeting in the event we finish our work and are prepared to schedule a public
Continuation of Public Hearing on Sewer Law As noted last week, we held open the public comment period on the proposed sewer law and also will continue on November 8 the public hearing on the law. Please see last week’s newsletter for a discussion of the presentations made at the October 16 Town Board meeting by our staff and consulting engineers, Woodard & Curran. Also please consider attending the update meeting on the sewer project for November 14, 2018 at 6:00 PM at the Katonah Village Library. We thank the Katonah Chamber of Commerce and Bedford Hills LIVE forco-sponsoring this meeting with the Town. Woodard & Curran, the Town’s engineers preparing the design and plans for the sewer system, will provide a project update, as will members of the Town staff and myself.
Safety First Rules of the Road for Cyclists;Safety Tips for Walkers;Tips for Crossing the Street First, thanks for the comments on Facebook regarding last week’s post regarding road etiquette. Let’s all be safe and be mindful and considerate of others sharing the road – whether we’re motorists, cyclists, walkers or joggers. Motorists: please be patient – with Fall offering wonderful riding opportunities for cyclists, we’ll see cyclists enjoying our beautiful roads and lanes. Yes, many of the roads are narrow. And yes, some cyclists are riding three abreast, but most understand and observe the rules of the road. That said, some motorists are not considerate (or worse). (My guess is it’s not you who are reading this). Cyclists – please observe the rules of the road. While you are permitted to ride two abreast, oftentimes, it’s not safe and results in stacking of traffic behind you and, as may apply, your riding group. (My guess is it’s not you who are reading this). The information below re-publishes and re-orders prior posts which certainly continue to be relevant. Thanks to all for helping us all be safe and sound.
Motorists – Sharing the Road Sharing the road with bicyclists.When parked on the street, check for bicyclists approaching from behind you before opening your car door. Always exercise due care to avoid colliding with any person walking or bicycling. Always be vigilant when pedestrians are present, especially those with visual or physical impairments. Bicyclists are fully entitled to use the road and have the right to “take the lane” by positioning themselves at or near the center of the lane when needed to avoid hazards or if the lane is too narrow to safely travel side by side with motorists. Pass bicycles only when necessary and safe: pass to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear. When in doubt, wait until you can pass at a safe speed. Before making a right turn, let bicyclists clear the intersection. When turning left or entering a roadway, yield to oncoming bicyclists as you would to any vehicle. Some of you may have heard of the tragic death earlier this year of a cyclist in Stony Point. We also are concerned about the safety of walkers and pedestrians. While we implore drivers to observe speed limits and other rules of the road, we also wish to share with you rules and tips for cyclists and pedestrians some of which a Bedford resident compiled and sent to me.
Cyclists – Sharing the RoadNew York State law mandates the following related to cyclists: Travel WITH traffic (i.e. on the same side of the road) and obey all vehicle laws (stop at stop lights, etc.) Are not allowed on sidewalks Helmets (protective head gear) are required No headphones, ear buds, or other noise cancelling devices areallowed in more than 1 ear Horn/bell audible for 100 feet Lighting required a half hour before dusk until a half hour after dawn Cyclists are required to use appropriate hand signals.
Safety Tips for Walkers Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk always walkfacing traffic.Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers tosee you during the daytime. At night, wear special reflective materialon your shoes, cap or jacket to reflect the headlights of cars comingtowards you.
Tips for Crossing the Street 1. Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks. 2. Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road. 3. Stop and look left, then right, then left again, before you step into the street. 4. If you see a car, wait until it goes by. Then look left, right and left againuntil no cars are coming. 5. Keep looking for cars while you are crossing, and remember, walk, don’trun. If a car is parked where you are crossing, make sure there is no driverin the car. Then go to the edge of the car and look left-right- left again untilno cars are coming.
Updates Route 117 We have been advised that the Village of Mount Kisco remains on schedule to complete its work in November. Between Con Edison (which has completed its gas main replacement project) and the Village of Mount Kisco, Route 117 and Green Lane and will be re-paved curb to curb in the next month or so, but in any event with the intention of completion prior to ice and snow. We are in regular communication with Con Edison and the Village regarding the status and I will continue to keep the community advised.
Cherry Street Speed Tables As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the Town Board at its November 8 meeting will review the speed tables which have been in place since late summer. We will consider the results of a survey sent to over 750 residents of Cherry Street and side streets leading into Cherry Street (we have received over 290 replies which are being tabulated), the results of speed studies in the immediate area of the speed tables as well as further distant from them and recommendations from an ad hoc committee comprised of Police Chief Melvin Padilla, Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Planning Director Jeff Osterman along with a couple of members of the Town Board (they will review the data, the information received and the tabulated questionnaire results and make their recommendation to the Town Board). The temporary speed tables need to be removed prior to winter because snow plows likely would damage them and cause them to be unsafe for motorists. The Board will consider whether to replace some or all of them with permanent speed tables or take no further action following removal of the temporary tables. Please note that as this is a matter of keen interest to many, the work session on the new wireless telecommunications law originally scheduled for November 8, has been re-scheduled, as noted above. While the Town Board’s consideration of the matter is not a public hearing, we certainly will entertain comments from the public, but will limit comments to three minutes for each speaker. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.
Single Stream Recycling Bedford 2020 has been enormously successful in promoting Single Stream recycling having advocated its establishment and helped the community embrace it. As noted below under “Further News on Recycling”, Westchester County awarded Bedford its “Eco Award” for Bedford’s having the highest recycling rate in the County. We strive to further increase recycling rates. To that end representatives of Bedford 2020 and I met earlier this week with representatives of the carters serving Bedford. We are pleased to enjoy a strong partnership with the carters, without whom Single Stream would not be successful. We discussed various strategies for making further progress. I also explained that some residents had contacted me about disturbance from very early morning collections in residential neighborhoods. The carters are amenable to a simple change to the Town’s law providing that there be no pick-ups on Sundays and federal holidays and that pick up in residential neighbors be limited to Monday through Saturday between the hour of 7 AM and 7 PM. I will propose this change to the Town Board.
PRIOR POSTS OF CONTINUED RELEVANCEREMINDER: November 8 Work Session on I-684 The Board set a special work session for 5:30 PM on November 8 to discuss the unacceptable lack of progress in getting New York Department of Transportation to repave the concrete portion of I-684 running through Katonah – the original road surface nearly 50 years old. We are pleased that State Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman David Buchwald, County Legislator Kitley Covill and Joe Donat, representing Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney will join us in the work session. Our emergency responders, including a recent letter from the Katonah Fire Department, have expressed great concern over the safety hazards posed by the poor condition of the roadbed. Our Police Department recently obtained from NYS accident data between 2014 and 2018 showing 230 accidents on that short stretch of I-684, 54 of which involved injuries and 7 of the injuries were serious. While it may be difficult to correlate accidents with road condition, commonsense dictates that a highly deteriorated road surface is unsafe. This is a dangerous road which must be fixed. Please see below under “I-684 We’re Not Letting Up” for contact information for our elected representatives. Please let them know you want it fixed. Writing or calling them truly helps.
Town’s Leaf Pick Up The Town’s leaf pick up for certain streets in the hamlets begins on October 29. Read the schedule here.
Possible Acquisition fromNYC of Community Center Site As I’ve reported previously, the property on which the Community Center of Northern Westchester is located is owned by New York City under the auspices of the NYC Department of Envronmental Protection. For nearly twenty years the Town has had the use of the property through what’s known asa revocable permit from the DEP. In turn the Town has provided a lease, subject to the revocable permit, to the Community Center. Last year the Center’s director, Clare Murray, explained to me that it’s not possible for the Center, whose needs have grown considerable, to undertake any kind of capital campaign to finance expansion of the building without certainty that the Center may remain in place for the long term. Acting upon these concerns, Deputy Supervisor Lee Roberts and I met with DEP Assistant Commissioner David Warne earlier this year about the prospects for a long term solution. Following the meeting, David Warne investigated the matter internally. In following up on the matter with Mr. Warne, he suggested that the Town Board formally request NYC to convey title to the property to the Town at $1.00/waived (which would be subject to certain conditions). The solution would be ideal both for the Town as well as the Community Center. The Town promptly made the request and it is in process. I wish to recognize the effective work of Geraldine Tortorella, Board member and attorney, who has been working assiduously on the proposed conveyance. We received excellent news last week that the NYC Water Board voted unanimously to recommend the conveyance. Mr. Warne personally presented the proposal to the Water Board. There are several steps which remain. We are cautiously optimistic that the conveyance ultimately will be approved sometime in 2019.
Westchester Power (a/k/a Community Choice Aggregation) As a brief overview, Westchester Power is a unit of the not-for-profit Sustainable Westchester which is a consortium of all but three municipalities in Westchester County. Westchester Power is responsible for administering Sustainable Westchester’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. CCA is simply a electricity purchasing program under which the municipalities which chose to participate have the marketplace benefit of purchasing electricity in bulk. In addition to the large market which CCA brings to the energy service companies (ESCOs) which are interested in bidding for the business, the ESCOs marketing costs are significantly less. Under the terms of the RFP, the bidders must beat the price thresholds set, guarantee a fixed price for two years and provide that customers may cancel or “opt out” at any time without penalty or charge. Bidders also must provide pricing for renewable energy and standard energy for residential as well as small commercial customers. To date CCA in the Con Edison service area has saved residential customers nearly $14 million. Dan Welsh, director of Westchester Power, presented to the Board an explanation of the successful proposal from Constellation Energy for the renewal of Community Choice Aggregation in the Con Edison service area. Read the full presentation here. As in the previous contract, Constellation’s pricing was the lowest submitted. The residential rate for renewable energy under the new contact is 7.96 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) compared to 8.00 cents per kWh under the current contract. Residential standard energy mix is 7.71 cent per kWh. The Town Board earlier had authorized me to enter into an Electricity Service Agreement to re-join the consortium. Bedford was the first municipality to re-join the consortium and we did so with renewable energy option which is promotes New York State sourced renewable energy. A notification letter will be sent to inform customers of the pricing, their choices and their right to opt-out of the program. Mr. Welsh previously had explained the RFP process as follows:“Many thanks to Supervisor Levenberg of the Town of Ossining, Supervisor (and SW Vice-Chair) Burdick and Karl Rabago, Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center who joined our team in the review process.Out of the full list of ESCO suppliers registered with the Department of Public Service, our RFI process yielded 5 that had the interest in participating.Two of these dropped out along the way leaving three firms submitting proposals today.We received the bids by our declared deadline of 11 AM, and after one round of review, we went back to the bidders all of which improved their bids. Constellation offered the best rates in both rounds, and in the end, we selected Constellation’s 24 month quote.The rates for the new contract will be 7.709 cents for standard power and 7.959 for the 100% renewable option. Perhaps most exciting is the fact that the Constellation proposal is including the small commercial class at the same rates as residential – significant savings for our small businesses! Rates for residential have been held essentially flat, which means as we go into 2019 we will have prices less than the average Con Ed rate from 2015.” Westchester Power is happy to answer any questions. Feel free to call them at 914-242-4725. Price comparison chart below:
Vacancy on the Board ofBlue Mountain Housing Development The Blue Mountain Housing Development Corp, formed in 1980, has been a pioneer in the development of affordable housing. It’s successes are considerable. The Town Board appoints members of the Blue Mountain board and its sister agency, the Bedford Housing Agency. The Board is seeking a real estate lawyer, if possible. Please e-mail email@example.com if you are interested. Please include your resume and a cover letter or e-mail.
Single Stream Recycling We are delighted with the community’s embrace of Single Stream recycling which has led to Bedford being awarded Westchester County’s eco award for the highest recycling rate of any of the 42 municipalities in the County. Like you, we are perplexed by the change in recycling rules emanating from the precipitous decline in the amount of recyclables accepted in the global marketplace. We are distressed over the drastic drop in the value of recycled paper. The marketplace for plastic recycling may be even more daunting than paper as supply now is greatly outstripping demand with China, the largest importer of plastic scrap, slashing the volume it would accept. Notwithstanding these challenges we are committed to our efforts to hold down carting costs for property owners and also hold down the Town’s costs for disposal of recyclables. The fact remains that it still is less expensive to recycle than to send more waste to the landfill. To make the task feasible for the carters who are on very tight pick-up schedules, please be sure to use either the carter’s or your own separate recycling bin which are available at Bedford’s hardware stores. If you’ve been using clear plastic recycling bags to hold your recyclables, you can continue to do so. The developments in the marketplace has led to new rules on what carters will accept for recycling. The good news is that nearly all of what was accepted previously still is being accepted. So what has changed? Thin film plastics, such as single use plastic bags from the grocery store, no longer are accepted. We recognize that the new rules are confusing. We thank Bedford 2020 for helping to sort it all out. Please click here for their guide. Please also see below under “Recycling Updates” for additional information. Thanks again for continuing to put Bedford at the top in recycling.
Leaf Blower Information – Leaf Season is Here Relaxed rules apply during leaf season which began on September 16, 2018. For your convenience the Leaf Blowers Task Force created a palm card with the information you may want to keep handy. They can be found in our local libraries, or you can pick one up in my office. You also can access it here Leaf Blower informationwhere you also can find the law, Hamlet Zones list and other helpful information. Questions or comments? Please e-mail the Leaf Blower Task Force at LeafBlowers@Bedfordny.gov
2019 BudgetNew Cell Tower LawI-684 RepavingThe New Police Station with Chief Padilla.
FOR THE COMMUNITY EVENTS CALENDAR click here FOR THE TOWN CALENDAR click here TO SIGN-UP FOR NIXLE ALERTS click here
OtherTown Board Actions
November 8 Work Session on I-684 The Board set a special work session for 5:30 PM on November 8 to discuss the unacceptable lack of progress in getting New York Department of Transportation to repave the concrete portion of I-684 running through Katonah – the original road surface nearly 50 years old. We are pleased that State Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman David Buchwald, County Legislator Kitley Covill and Joe Donat, representing Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney will join us in the work session. Our emergency responders, including a recent letter from the Katonah Fire Department, have expressed great concern over the safety hazards posed by the poor condition of the roadbed. Our Police Department recently obtained from NYS accident data between 2014 and 2018 showing 230 accidents on that short stretch of I-684, 54 of which involved injuries and 7 of the injuries were serious. While it may be difficult to correlate accidents with road condition, commonsense dictates that a highly deteriorated road surface is unsafe. This is a dangerous road which must be fixed. Please see below under “I-684 We’re Not Letting Up” for contact information for our elected representatives. Please let them know you want it fixed. Writing or calling them truly helps.
New PostsUpdate on Single Stream Recycling Bedford 2020 has been enormously successful in promotingSingle Stream recycling having advocated its establishment and helped the community embrace it. As noted below under “Further News on Recycling”, Westchester County awarded Bedford its “Eco Award” for Bedford’s having the highest recycling rate in the County. We strive to further increase recycling rates. To that end representatives of Bedford 2020 and I met earlier this week with representatives of the carters serving Bedford. We are pleased to enjoy a strong partnership with the carters, without whom Single Stream would not be successful. We discussed various strategies for making further progress. I also explained that some residents had contacted me about disturbance from very early morning collections in residential neighborhoods. The carters are amenable to a simple change to the Town’s law providing that there be no pick-ups on Sundays and federal holidays and that pick up in residential neighbors be limited to Monday through Saturday between the hour of 7 AM and 7 PM. I will propose this change to the Town Board.
Update on Speed Tables on Cherry Street The Town Board will consider at our November 8 meeting action on the speed tables which are temporary and removable. The temporary speed tables need to be removed prior to winter because snow plows likely would damage them and cause them to be unsafe for motorists. The Board will consider whether to replace some or all of them with permanent speed tables or take no further action following removal of the temporary tables. We also may consider changing location of the speed tables. As earlier noted, in evaluating the appropriate action, we will consider the efficacy of the speed tables in calming traffic as well as community response. As to the latter we mailed last week to 751 households on Cherry Street and side streets my explanatory letter regarding the process with a questionnaire on the reverse side. I have asked staff members comprised of Police Chief Melvin Padilla, Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Planning Director Jeff Osterman along with a couple of members of the Town Board to review the data, the information received and the tabulated questionnaire results and make a recommendation to the Town Board. As I mentioned in my cover letter to the survey questionnaire, I will advise the community in advance of the November 8 meeting of the results of the studies and tabulated questionnaires as well as the recommendations to the Town Board. Stay tuned.
FOR THE COMMUNITY EVENTS CALENDAR click here FOR THE TOWN CALENDAR click here TO SIGN-UP FOR NIXLE ALERTS click here
Prior Posts of Continued Relevance Vacancy on the Board ofBlue Mountain Housing Development The Blue Mountain Housing Development Corp, formed in 1980, has been a pioneer in the development of affordable housing. It’s successes are considerable. The Town Board appoints members of the Blue Mountain board and its sister agency, the Bedford Housing Agency. The Board is seeking a real estate lawyer, if possible. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. Please include your resume and a cover letter or e-mail.
Further News on Recycling We are delighted with the community’s embrace of Single Stream recycling which has led to Bedford being awarded Westchester County’s eco award for the highest recycling rate of any of the 42 municipalities in the County. Like you, we are perplexed by the change in recycling rules emanating from the precipitous decline in the amount of recyclables accepted in the global marketplace. We are distressed over the drastic drop in the value of recycled paper. The marketplace for plastic recycling may be even more daunting than paper as supply now is greatly outstripping demand with China, the largest importer of plastic scrap, slashing the volume it would accept. Notwithstanding these challenges we are committed to our efforts to hold down carting costs for property owners and also hold down the Town’s costs for disposal of recyclables. The fact remains that it still is less expensive to recycle than to send more waste to the landfill. To make the task feasible for the carters who are on very tight pick-up schedules, please be sure to use either the carter’s or your own separate recycling bin which are available at Bedford’s hardware stores. If you’ve been using clear plastic recycling bags to hold your recyclables, you can continue to do so. The developments in the marketplace has led to new rules on what carters will accept for recycling. The good news is that nearly all of what was accepted previously still is being accepted. So what has changed? Thin film plastics, such as single use plastic bags from the grocery store, no longer are accepted. We recognize that the new rules are confusing. We thank Bedford 2020 for helping to sort it all out. Please click here for their guide. Please also see below under “Recycling Updates” for additional information. Thanks again for continuing to put Bedford at the top in recycling.
Save the Dates:
November 2 Westmoreland Sanctuary Fundraiser
This presentation is perfect for anyone trying to navigate our complicated healthcare system for older adults. It will help those who already have Medicare, as well as people soon to be 65, planning their retirement, or assisting relatives and friends with their medical decisions. The program explains the various parts of Medicare and lays out the costs associated with the medical and drug insurance provided by the government and private companies. Topics will include original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, prescription drug plans (Part D), Medigaps (supplemental plans), and cost-saving programs like EPIC that can help seniors with limited resources. Come and get a handle on this thorny subject in a user-friendly atmosphere. Walk-ins welcome, but registration is requested at (914) 231-3236. This program is sponsored by the Katonah Village Library and the Town of Bedford Recreation Department. For more information and other dates of this presentation (mostly in the Fall), please visithttp://www.westchesterlibraries.org/westchester-seniors-out-speaking/,or call (914) 231-3260.
Recycling Updates Books, DVDs and CDs can now be brought to the Recycling CenterMany thanks to Filippine de Haan for discovering Discover Books, an organization that will recycle our gently used books, DVDs and CDs.
The Railroad Avenue Recycling Center is located at343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills, NY 10507.Hours are 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
The dos & don’ts of Plastic Bag RecyclingNow that thin film plastics are no longer accepted in Single Stream Recycling, we have had some questions from local residents about this. A resident came in today to ask which type of plastic bags the grocery stores will accept in their bins for plastic bag recycling. She asked whether, in addition to plastic bags used for carrying groceries, she could put any other plastic bags, such as produce bags or bread bags, in these bins. Another person explained his confusion over not placing your recyclable items in a clear plastic bag for the carters, stating how they are a practical necessity vs carrying loose materials to the curbside bin, especially for an elderly person. We hope that the information belowwill help to dispel some questions:Our carters have informed us that we may no longer put plastic bags, thin plastic wrap, or wax paper in Single Stream recycling. Thin, film plastic now may be placed in the trash to go to the Peekskill incinerator. However, if you want this material to be recycled, you may deliver your plastic bags to the containers provided for this purpose at the bigger grocery stores and at the Town Recycling Center. These locations accept all types of polyethylene PE HDPE plastic. These plastics often have a recycle symbol number 4 on the bottom. Without a visible number, you can use the following as a guideline:
Recyclables should be loose, clean, and dry in your recycling toter. Bedford 2020 suggests that if you use a plastic bag liner in your indoor receptacle, use it to carry out your recyclables and when you arrive at your outside bin, dump them out. Then you may reuse the plastic liner in your indoor recycling receptacle. If the bag eventually gets dirty, then use it to line your trash. To learn more, please visit the Bedford 2020 website:bedford2020.org/single-stream-recycling/ For information on how to dispose of non-recyclable items safely and legally,visit the Recyclopedia:http://bedford2020.org/recyclopedia/
The “Take It or Leave It” (TIOLI) Shed The community has been very generous in donating items to the shedas well as to the FB page where photos of larger items (i.e. furniture) can be listed, but the organizers are asking the community to spread the word of the shed to reach more customers. It would be great to deplete their inventory before they close down for business at the end of October. Speaking of October, here is TIOLI’s latest request for donations:(click image to expand)
The TIOLI will take Halloween items all the way through the end of October.To learn more about the Take It or Leave It Shed, read here.
After Hours Rules for Commuter Lots Town of Bedford Residents that do not have a commuter parking permit are allowed to park for free in the commuter lots Monday to through Thursday from 6:00 pm to 5:00 provided that they have a resident parking decal. Parking is free on weekends to everyone starting on Fridays at 6:00 pm and on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
I-684 We’re Not Letting Up With the further deterioration of the concrete portion of I-684 that runs through Bedford (the same original surface from the late 1960s), safety concerns have become paramount. We are compiling accident data from emergency responders and local and state data. We also are working closely with a professional engineer in the community with significant experience in major roadway projects to document the safety issues. We continue to work with Assemblyman David Buchwald and State Senator Shelley Mayer who are working with the NYS Department of Transportation both in Albany and with its regional office. For my part I am working to explain our concerns to the new Acting Regional Director Lance Macmillan. In the past the Department has asserted that any work on that stretch of I-684 should await a study of the interchange at Exit 5. We argued and Mr. Mac Millan’s predecessor agreed, at least in concept, that given that the completion of the study and funding of its tens of millions of recommended capital improvements would take upward of a decade, a sensible interim measure would be a 3” asphalt resurfacing with an anticipated life of 7 to 10 years. In a recent meeting with the Mr. MacMillan and members of his staff, he reported that the scope of the study has been expanded, is broader than the Exit 5 interchange and now includes the 684 corridor from Exit 5 to Exit 9, at the 84 interchange, and east to the Connecticut state line. He said that the study is funded, and the next step will be awarding the consultant contract this fall with the delivery of the completed study to be in 2019. We now are working to persuade NYS DOT that especially in light of the expanded and more ambitious scope of the study, the interim measure is appropriate, the Department should be support it and be receptive to our state legislators working to secure funding for it. Many in the community have asked me for contact information for our elected representatives and NYS officials involved in the process so that they can reach out to them to let them know the concerns: Governor Cuomo: https://www.governor.ny.gov/contact1-518-474-8390 DOT Albany office: 518-457-6195DOT Region 8 Acting Regional Director Lance MacMillan: 845-431-5750 State Assemblyman David Buchwald: email@example.com,914-244-4450 State Senator Shelley Mayer: firstname.lastname@example.org If you send an e-mail, please consider copying me and our legislators
Town Facilities for recycling, yard waste and E-wasteMost of the following services are free to Town residents: The Railroad Avenue Recycling Center is located at343 Railroad Avenue, Bedford Hills, NY 10507.Hours are 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Carters are obligated to collect single stream recyclablesat your property along with trash for all customers. For those who wish to drop off recyclable materials,the Railroad Avenue Recycling Center accepts single stream recyclables(metal, plastic, glass, cardboard and paper).
Ewaste, Metals, Textiles; Trash Drop Off for Seniors Residents may bring electronic waste to the Recycling Center, but please note that for CRTs (TVs and old monitors), residents first must obtain from the coupon from the Town Clerk after paying a modest fee (to cover the costs to the Town). In addition, the Railroad Avenue Recycling Center accepts e-waste of all kinds (see below for details), bulk metals of all kinds, textiles, and trash for seniors (60+) who purchase Senior Refuse Coupons (book of 5 for $25) at the Town Clerk’s office. Each coupon can be used for up to a 33-gallon trash bag of household refuse (do not include recyclables in the refuse bag). Town Clerk Hours8:30 AM to 4:30 PMMonday – Friday321 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills
Beaver Dam Yard Waste and Compost Facility The Town of Bedford Beaver Dam Compost Facility processes recyclable wood waste and leaves from the Town and provides beneficial reuse of the waste as compost and mulch. The facility provides an extremely cost effective method for this recycling as well as an environmental benefit of local recycling with minimal transportation requirements. It is open for residents to dispose of recyclable wood waste (logs and branches up to 6” diameter, brush, and leaves), as well as pick up wood mulch and leaf compost. This service is free to Town of Bedford residents between 7:30 AM and 3:00 PM Monday to Friday, excluding Town holidays.
Looking for an emergency volunteer opportunity butFire Fighting or Medical Tech not your thing? Emergency communications might be for you.Click here for the flyer
Katonah Fire Department under-18 Recruitment Program Are you interested in a terrific community service opportunity? Would you like to receive state-of-the art lifesaving and firefighting training?Katonah Fire Department eagerly welcomes applications from 16-year-olds for its Under 18 Program. Interested candidates can fulfill their John Jay High School Community Service obligation, as well as service hours required for other organizations, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Membership in the department as a firefighter is a great way to have your college application stand out as well! Any person who is between the ages of 16 and 18, who is physically fit, morally and mentally sound, and who, having met with the membership committee and satisfactorily passed the committee’s investigation (as established in the Katonah Fire Department, Inc. Constitution and By-Laws), may be selected for membership status. The goal of this program is to carefully instill, enforce, and monitor the practices that lead to well trained, respectful, hardworking members once they reach their 18th birthdays and/or the conclusion of their first year of membership. In addition, it creates a culture in which these members both realize their age- and experience-related limitations, but also feel as though they are learning and being prepared for taking on the duties of full-fledged, non-probationary members of the Katonah Fire Department. An oversight committee and a training coordinator act as a resource to these members – in all aspects of KFD membership: firefighting, training, rules and regulations, etc. – and set example for the types of behaviors expected from our entire membership. Applicants who join receive all training and equipment at no expense to them. They also become eligible for various scholarship opportunities. If you’re interested in finding out more, please sent an e-mail to email@example.com
The Town’s Website is now available in Spanish We have added a plug-in allowing for the website’s automatic translation to Spanish. Please note that this does not apply to linked PDF documents. http://www.bedfordny.gov/
Stop the Bleed Paramedics are trained and prepared to operate with law enforcement in active shooter situations. This additional stop the bleed program is intended to provide a level of basic quick action from the public before help arrives. We have certified trainers in this program and want to start offering it up to various public institutions such as schools. Click here for the booklet.
REMINDER For information on parking at the Town of Bedford Offices During Police Department Construction click here A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”. Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review. I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them (for example, why the flags are flown at half-staff.
From the New York site:Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen lives a pretty fabulous life. With an estimated net worth of $18 billion, he’s the 26th wealthiest man in the world, and he has the fancy yachts, planes, and lifestyle to prove it. Allen also collects a ridiculous amount of properties across the globe.
From a hilltop mansion on the French Riviera to an entire island off the coast of Washington, Allen has made his fair share of blockbuster purchases over the years.
Allen’s primary residence is a 10,000-square-foot waterfront home on Mercer Island, a ritzy enclave of Seattle. He owns a total of 11 mansions on the island, including one that’s just for his mother and another that houses a full-size basketball court, swimming pool, and fitness center.
Allen’s most recent purchase on Mercer Island was a 3,000-square-foot bungalow that he reportedly paid $5.4 million for.
He bought Allan Island, off the coast of Washington, in 1992. Though he initially had plans to build a dream home on the island, its secluded nature and lack of electricity made construction difficult. He sold the island in 2013 for a discounted $8 million.
In 1993, Allen purchased a former sheep ranch in Tetonia, Idaho. For years, the property operated as the Teton Ridge Ranch, a five-suite luxury mountain lodge. It closed for business in 2009.
In 1997, Allen bought a 12,952-square-foot Mediterranean-style home in Beverly Hills. Among its ridiculous amenities is a funicular that shuttles guests from the pool deck to a tennis court located on a lower part of the property.
Also in 1997, he paid $20 million for “The Enchanted Hill,” a Beverly Hills estate that previously belonged to Hollywood legends Frances Marion and Fred Thomson. Allen angered many in the community when he demolished the historic property in 2000. He hasn’t built anything on the land since then, though he did terrace the hillside.
Allen bought this glassy contemporary home in Malibu’s Carbon Beach for $25 million in 2010. In 2014, he sold it to CBS President Les Moonves for $28 million, reportedly because he “hated the sound of the ocean.”
Allen owns properties in Northern California as well. In November 2013, he paid $27 million for this 22,000-square-foot home in Atherton, one of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest neighborhoods and the most expensive zip code in the US.
He dropped a reported $7.5 million for the historic 10-acre property known as the “Thurston Estate” in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. In addition to a 12,000-square-foot main house, there’s an employee residence, beach house, boat shed, and a private harbor.
In 2011, Allen paid $25 million for the penthouse in an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He had purchased an apartment on the 11th floor of the same building in 1996, at a reported price of $13.5 million.
His international real-estate holdings include the Villa Maryland, a hilltop mansion in the Côte d’Azur town of St. Jean Cap-Ferrat. He employs a staff of 12 and counts Bono and Andrew Lloyd Webber among his neighbors.
He also has a house in London’s Holland Park neighborhood, on the same cobblestone street where Richard Branson owns a home.
When he heard his favorite Seattle movie theater was going to be demolished, he decided to buy it. His development company, Vulcan, refurbished the Cinerama with state-of-the-art Dolby sound and projection systems, including the world’s first Christie 6P laser projector. It reopened in the fall of 2014.
But no discussion of Paul Allen is complete without mention of his yachts. There’s the 303-foot Tatoosh, which has a cinema, swimming pool, and accommodations for 20 guests.
And the 414-foot Octopus, where Allen hosts his famous celebrity-packed parties during the Cannes Film Festival.
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States dropped 5.5 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 553 thousand in September of 2018, following a downwardly revised 3.0 percent decline in August. August. It is the lowest rate since December 2016, worse than market expectations of 625 thousand. Sales in the Northeast went down to its lowest level since April 2015. Also, sales decreased in the West and in the South. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 650.36 Thousand from 1963 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011.
US New Home Sales Lowest Since 2016
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States dropped 5.5 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 553 thousand in September of 2018, following a downwardly revised 3.0 percent decline in August. It is the lowest rate since December 2016, worse than market expectations of 625 thousand. Sales in the Northeast went down to its lowest level since April 2015. Also, sales decreased in the West and in the South.
Sales declined in the Northeast (-40.6 percent to 19 thousand), its lowest level since April 2015; the West (-12 percent to 139 thousand) and in the South (-1.5 percent to 318 thousand). On the other hand, sales rose 6.9 percent to 77 in the Midwest. The median sales price of new houses sold was USD 320,000 below USD 331,500 in the same month of the previous year. The average sales price fell to USD 377,200 in September from USD 379,300 a year ago.
The stock of new houses for sale went up 2.8 percent to 327 thousand. This represents a supply of 7.1 months at the current sales rate, up from 6.5 months in August.
Year-on-year, new home sales decreased 13.2 percent.
Homeowners on the West Coast typically won’t have much trouble off-loading their properties in today’s market. Unless, apparently, they’re Warren Buffett.
The iconic investor and Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A, +0.16% chairman struggled for more than 1.5 years to sell his home in the gated community Emerald Bay, near Laguna Beach, Calif. But he finally did so, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday — for nearly a third less than his original asking price.
Buffett purchased the house, which was built in 1936, for $150,000 in 1971 and put it on the market in February 2017 for $11 million, Bloomberg reported. Last month, he decided to lower the listing price to $7.9 million, after it continued to languish on the market.
The home sold below asking, at just $7.5 million.
The property’s listing agent declined to identify the buyer. “I feel very good about the couple who bought the house and hope their family gets as much enjoyment from it as our family did,” Buffett said in a statement following the sale.
The house has plenty of selling points, including a nearly 3,600-square-feet interior and ocean views. Some ads for the property have even played up the Buffett connection with listing photos that include his beloved Coca-ColaKO, -0.03% and The Wall Street Journal (a newspaper that’s owned by News Corp., the same company that owns MarketWatch).
So why did it take this long for a buyer to bite? There are lessons for every homeowner:
Buffett priced it too high, even for a fancy property
For starters, it appears that Buffett stumbled on one of the most common pitfalls that can cause a home to linger on the market for much longer than anticipated: He overpriced it. The median price for homes in the same ZIP code as Buffett’s property is roughly $1.88 million, according to data from real estate firm Redfin. And homes in that area stay on the market for a median of 226 days. Homes in Emerald Bay are listed for a median price of $6.5 million, according to Realtor.com (Realtor.com is operated by News Corp NWSA, +0.91% subsidiary Move Inc.)
So, even at the home’s new listing price of $7.9 million, it is still well above the median price for the area at a time when home prices are starting to waveracross the country.
It’s not unusual for more expensive homes to stay on the market longer because there’s typically a smaller pool of potential buyers out there, said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president of communications at Attom Data Solutions, a real-estate data firm in Irvine, Calif. Still, the sheer length of time Buffett’s home has been up for sale suggests the list price doesn’t fit with buyers’ expectations. And the longer the house remains unsold, the more wary many buyers become.
Interest rates are on their way up, which makes buyers skittish
Other developments in recent months have also worked against high-end home sellers like Buffet though, Blomquist said. “Interest rates have ticked up,” he said. “This can really magnify the amount you’re paying. That’s one of the factors that has started to slow down some of the higher end markets.”
Additionally, the GOP-led tax reform package reduced the mortgage interest deduction and capped the property tax deduction at just $10,000. Property taxes for a multimillion-dollar home in a high-tax state like California could easily exceed that amount — and that could be making buyers more hesitant, Blomquist said.
There’s no shortage of homes for sale in Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach has also seen an increase in the number of homes on the market. Inventory there grew by 3% over the past year as of February. Nationally, home inventory has dropped 14%, according to Redfin. That makes the market more favorable to buyers, especially those in search of a bargain. In January, just 10% of properties in Buffett’s same ZIP code were sold above the list price, compared with 19% of homes nationally, according to Redfin.
If you’re looking to avoid some of Buffett’s mistakes, here’s what else to keep in mind.
Snoop around other homes for sale in the area — they’re your competition
If a home stays on the market too long, that alone could weigh on buyers’ minds. “They’ll think there’s something wrong with it,” Blomquist said. “That psychology builds on itself the longer it sits on the market.”
To avoid overpricing, experts suggest that sellers check what other homes in the area are selling for, and even consider asking a real-estate agent to show you the inside of those homes.
If your home isn’t selling, “Go see what they’ve got that you don’t,” said Mindy Jensen, the author of “How to Sell Your Home” and the community manager at real-estate website BiggerPockets.
In Buffett’s case, his home lacks many of the upgrades and amenities that buyers expect in Laguna Beach, Redfin RDFN, -2.19% agent Max Black told MarketWatch in March. “At a price tag of $11 million, or just over $3,000 per square foot, luxury buyers will be comparing this property to other non-oceanfront homes with more upgrades that are priced in the $2,200 to $2,400 per square foot range,” Black said.
Don’t expect prospective buyers to have too much imagination
The listing for Buffett’s home shows personal touches that Buffett likes, but non-celebrities shouldn’t stage their homes this way, Jensen said. “Buyers have no imagination,” she said. “If they walk in and see you’ve got a bright green wall, they could say, ‘I hate that, so I won’t buy this house.’” Keep paint and finishes neutral, Jensen said. A few family photos are fine, but subtlety is good.
Some cosmetic changes can also help. Even if an entire kitchen renovation isn’t realistic, smaller improvements like fixing broken door knobs, or replacing outdated hardware on cabinets are good moves.
Try some psychological warfare: Consider underpricing the home
If home sellers want to get their property off the market as quickly as they can, they’ll need to be aggressive with their pricing. And one sure-fire way of doing this is by pricing the property so it’s more affordable than other comparable listings.
Sellers should look for specific, psychological milestones when it comes to prices, Blomquist said. In other words, if the average listing price is $200,000, a seller may see more interest in the property if it’s priced at $190,000.
While this strategy is sure to speed the process along in nearly any market, in a competitive one it could also pay off — literally. “If people will flock to what they see as a bargain, they may bid up the price until it matches the desired sales price,” Blomquist said.
U.S. home sales fell in September by the most in over two years as the housing market continued to struggle despite strength across the broader economy.
The National Association of Realtors said on Friday that existing home sales dropped 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million units last month.
Home sales have now fallen for six straight months. A dearth of properties for sale has pushed up prices, sidelining many would-be homeowners. Sales dropped the most in the South and the decline in the West left sales there down 12.2 percent from a year earlier.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the overall decline appeared related to a rise in interest rates.
Supply has also been constrained by rising building material costs as well as land and labor shortages, while rising mortgage rates are expected to slow demand.
The Federal Reserve raised borrowing costs in September for the third time this year and is widely expected to hike rates again in December.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales falling to 5.30 million from a previously reported 5.34 million. Existing home sales make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales.
There were 1.88 million homes on the market in September, an increase of 1.1 percent from a year ago.
At September’s sales pace, it would take 4.4 months to clear the current inventory. A supply of six to seven months is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.
The median house price increased 4.2 percent from one year ago to $258,100 in September.