Monthly Archives: September 2019

Case Shiller home price index up 2% year over year | Mt Kisco Real Estate

July 2019 saw an annual increase of 3.2% for home prices nationwide, matching the previous month’s pace, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.

The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 1.6% and 2% year-over-year increase, respectively. During the month, 15 of 20 cities reported increases both before and after seasonal adjustment.  

“Year-over-year home prices continued to gain, but at ever more modest rates,” says Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Charlotte surpassed Tampa to join the top three cities, and Seattle may be turning around from its recent negative streak of YOY price changes, improving from -1.3% in June to -0.06% in July.”

According to the index, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.

In July, Phoenix led with a 5.8% year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas with a 4.7% increase and Charlotte with a 4.6% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending July 2019 versus the year ending June 2019.

“Overall, leadership remains in the southwest (Phoenix and Las Vegas) and southeast (Charlotte and Tampa),” Murphy said. “Other pockets of relative strength include Minneapolis, which increased its YOY gain to 4.2%, and Detroit, which is closely behind at 4.1% YOY.”

“The 10-City and 20-City Composites both experienced lower YOY price gains than last month, declining to 1.6% and 2.0% respectively. However, the U.S. National Home Price NSA Index remained steady with a YOY price gain of 3.2%, the same as prior month,” Murphy said. “Home price gains remained positive in low single digits in most cities, and other fundamentals indicate renewed housing demand.”

 The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites:

Case-Shiller - July

Reducing California homelessness | Waccabuc Real Estate

Ben Carson leaves Union Rescue Mission on skid row

President Trump’s big idea for fixing California’s homelessness crisis should look familiar to many prominent Democrats: Eliminate layers of regulation to make it easier and cheaper to build more housing.

On the eve of a two-day swing through the state this week, Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report blaming “decades of misguided and faulty policies” for putting too many restrictions on development and causing home prices to rise to unaffordable levels. It’s a continuation of a strategy that the president began in June, when he signed an executive order to establish a White House council to “confront the regulatory barriers to affordable housing development.”

“Harmful local government policies in select cities, along with ineffective federal government policies of prior administrations, have exaggerated the homelessness problem,” Tom Philipson, acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers,told reporters Monday.

But while the administration’s argument broadly mirrors what some Democratic lawmakers have been trying to do in California, easing rules on development, allowing fourplexes on land currently zoned for single-family homes or cutting some state environmental rules that restrict building, it’s too simple to link Trump’s approach with that of his liberal antagonists, several state lawmakers said.

Instead, they said, the president’s positions on homelessness are more about trolling California than attempting to find actual solutions. Some also argue that the administration’s report takes a common Republican tactic — deregulation — that often benefits the party’s deep-pocketed donors and slaps it on yet another subject — homelessness.

Democratic state Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, who represents skid row and other neighborhoods in downtown Los Angeles,is the author of recently passed legislation that would make it harder to use state environmental laws to block homeless housing and shelters in Los Angeles.

He said it was hard to take Trump’s ideas seriously when the president has also proposed cutting federal housing dollars and clawing back Obama-era rules that aimed to desegregate neighborhoods. Another proposed Trump administration policy would deny federal housing aid to households that include anyone living in the country illegally, even when other members are eligible for such aid as lawful residents or U.S. citizens.

“I think it’s politics at its worst where he is going to pick on a vulnerable community — no different than when he picked on immigrants — and he’s going to target them,” Santiago said. “We’re already hearing it: ‘Here’s West Coast liberals, not able to solve the problem.’ I think it’s a little cynical for someone who has done everything in their right mind to make it worse on the working poor.”

The Trump administration’s report says that the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas could see huge reductions in homelessness if they were to unwind restrictions on development, estimating that the population of people living on the streets and in shelters would go down by more than half and 40%, respectively.

The report doesn’t cite any specific regulations that are increasing housing costs, nor recommendations on what regulations should be eliminated.

State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who has made a name for himself arguing for the reduction of local zoning rules, said he disagreed with the Trump administration’s apparent pitch to cut back on all regulations and allow for more building of all types everywhere. Instead, his recently shelved Senate Bill 50 was designed to make it easier to build housing near existing job centers and mass transit specifically for affordability and environmental reasons.

Wiener also pointed to national Democrats, such as presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and former President Obama, who have pushed for stripping away some development rules as part of their plans to make housing more affordable.

“I don’t agree with the president’s view that we should be like Arizona because that would lead to sprawl,” Wiener said. “But I do agree with Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Barack Obama that we should move away from restrictive housing policies because restrictive housing policies lead to more homelessness.”

In addition to deregulation, the Trump administration’s report also calls for using law enforcement to deal with homeless people and encampments, arguing that “more tolerable conditions for sleeping on the streets” increased the homeless population.

That argument has largely been panned by experts, who point to more complicated, intertwined causes of homelessness, including poverty, addiction and lack of affordable housing. Therefore, the recommendation to use police is wrongheaded as well, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“The White House report on homelessness treats this crisis like fodder for a cable news debate,” Garcetti said in a statement. “We don’t have time for that. If the president really cares about solving this crisis, he wouldn’t be talking about criminalization over housing. He’d be making dramatic increases in funding for this country’s housing safety net.”

In the past week, Trump’s advisers have toured homeless encampments and public housing projects in Los Angeles and San Francisco, but offered few solutions.

On Wednesday morning, after meeting with LAPD Chief Michel Moore, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson visited skid row to tour the Union Rescue Mission. He didn’t offer much substance about the administration’s plans, but encouraged a greater focus on public-private partnerships.

Carson also indicated that HUD might start reserving housing grants to local governments that are willing to make changes to local zoning laws.

“We will get preference points to people who are willing to look at these things,” he said. “You know, we have so many archaic rules on the books all over the country.”

Later Wednesday, Carson rejected a request made earlier this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected officials for additional resources for homelessness, including 50,000 housing vouchers. In his written response, Carson echoed the report from Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“Your letter seeks more federal dollars for California from hardworking American taxpayers, but fails to admit that your state and local policies have played a major role in creating the current crisis,” he wrote. “If California’s homeless population had held in line with overall population trends, America’s homeless rate would have decreased. Instead, the opposite has happened, as California’s unsheltered homelessness population has skyrocketed as a result of the state’s overregulated housing market, its inefficient allocation of resources and its policies that have weakened law enforcement.”

Dan O’Flaherty, a Columbia University economics professor whose work is cited more than a half-dozen times in the Trump administration’s report, said he agreed that loosening local homebuilding rules would decrease costs and lessen homelessness. But he said that the report vastly overstates the potential impact of doing so.

And even if the report is correct that deregulation would reduce Los Angeles’ current homeless population by 40%, it would still take decades for that to happen.

“You do 40% over 40 years?” O’Flaherty said. “Big whoopie.”

Overall, O’Flaherty said the report ignored well-regarded research that shows public subsidies can help homeless people find new homes, and instead asserted without evidence that simply increasing mental health and drug treatment programs without housing assistance would decrease the homeless population.

Margot Kushel, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco who recently received a $30-million grant from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife to study solutions to homelessness, panned the Trump administration’s report as being out of line with most research on the subject.

One notable lapse, she said, was that it argued permanent supportive housing, which attempts to house people who are chronically homeless and have disabilities in buildings that also have social services, was ineffectual. Multiple studies, she said, show that 85% or more of those receiving such housing stay there.

The success of permanent supportive housing, she said, “is not controversial and it has had broad bipartisan support because the evidence is so overwhelming.”

Like others, Heidi Marston, chief program officer for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, questioned whether some in the Trump administration, including Carson, really understood the best practices being used to help homeless people.

For example, during his visit to skid row on Wednesday, Carson offered a somewhat muddled answer to a question about “housing first,” the widely accepted national model that prioritizes getting people off the streets and into permanent supportive housing, regardless of their sobriety or health status.

“When we talk about something like housing first, housing first is a good idea because it gets people off the street and it actually costs less money when you get them off the street,” he said. “But you can’t stop with housing first. You have to go with housing second, which means you diagnose the reason that they were there in the first place and housing third, which means you try to fix it.”

Marston would love to see the federal government offer more help on homelessness, and she was among those who met with Trump officials last week.

“We focused on educating them,” she said, “trying to help them understand why we practice a low-barrier approach and what housing first really means.”

read more…

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-18/trump-housing-homeless-ben-carson-california-deregulation

Housing starts jump | South Salem Real Estate

Total housing starts posted a 12.3 percent increase in August (1.364 million units) compared to an upwardly revised July estimate of 1.215 million units, according to the joint data release from the Census Bureau and HUD. Relative to August 2018, total starts are 6.6 percent above the annual pace of 1.279 million units.

Single-family production in August posted a monthly increase of 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 919,000. Single-family starts in July were revised up to 880,000 units. The three-month moving average for single-family in August is 888,000 units.

On a year-to-date basis, single-family starts are 2.7 percent lower as of August relative to the first eight months of 2018. Single-family permits, a useful indicator of future construction activity, rose 4.5 percent in August (866,000 units) compared to July but have registered a 4.1 percent loss thus far in 2019 compared to last year.

Regional data show, on a year-to-date basis, positive conditions for single-family construction only in the South (+1.1 percent). Single-family construction is down 6.9 percent in the West, 4.8 percent in the Midwest, and 11.9 percent in the Northeast.

Multifamily starts (2+ unit production) registered an increase of 32.8 percent in August to a 445,000 annual rate compared to July. On a year-to-date basis, multifamily 5+ unit production is slightly up 0.4 percent thus far in 2019, while multifamily 5+ unit permitting is trending higher with an increase of 4.2 percent relative to the first eight months of 2018.

read more…

Average FICO score at record high | Katonah Real Estate

credit cards

The average FICO score stands at 706, a record high, said Ethan Dornhelm, vice president of scores and predictive analytics at FICO. That compares with 686 at the 2009 end of the Great Recession and it eclipses the 690 at the 2006 height of the housing bubble.

The key drivers are U.S. economic expansion that has propelled job growth and an increase in consumer education about protecting and improving scores, Dornhelm said in a blog post. In addition, the passage of time is helping to remove the credit scars from events that happened during the financial crisis, he said.

“Consumers who suffered financial misfortune during the Great Recession have over the past few years had the associated missed payments from that time period purged from their credit file, in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” he said.

Measuring different credit events, the biggest improvement between April 2009 and April 2019 was the timeliness of mortgage payments, Dornhelm said. A decade ago, 7.2% of the population had been 90 days or more late on a mortgage payment within the last two years. By April, it had dropped to 2.8%.

Also showing big improvement was the percentage of the population who had been 90 days or more past due on a credit card in the last two years. A decade ago, it was 13%, and in April it was 8.6%.

The jump in FICO scores was due to “score improvement, not score inflation,” Dornhelm said.

“Significant improvement in the overall population’s credit profile has been the key driver of the 20-point increase in national average FICO score over the past decade,” he said. “These improvements are reflective of improving consumer financial health, as would be expected during a period of economic expansion.”

Economic data signaling the chance of a looming recession has increased uncertainty in the credit-scoring realm, he said. 

FICO score chart 2019

“The average FICO score will continue to change, but in what direction?” Dornhelm said. “Trade talks with China, the possibility of a `no-deal Brexit,’ and Fed interest rate decisions loom large as concerns of a recession persist.” 

(Image courtesy of FICO)

NYC developers constantly lie about how tall their buildings are | Bedford Hills Real Estate

You ain’t dreaming. New York’s toniest buildings really are bigger on the inside than the outside.

For a small pool of New York buyers, a floor in the 90s is the new Park Avenue address — and developers are fudging numbers to accommodate them.

In 2013, Saudi retail magnate Fawaz Al Hokair signed an $87.7 million contract for a splendiferous privilege: owning the top floor of the Western Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower, 432 Park Ave. Al Hokair could boast that his 8,255-square-foot penthouse is on the 96th floor — six floors higher than billionaire Michael Dell’s then-record-breaking spread on the 90th floor of One57 (previously the city’s tallest residential tower).

Splendiferous, that is, if you ­ignore the fact that 432 Park is an 88-floor tower, eight floors less than advertised.

That’s not a fluke, it’s a power move. Nearly every new luxury condo in the city’s latest wave of super-tall construction mislabels floors to stroke buyers’ vanity.

“If you have the 95th floor in your address, that’s going to be impressive to pretty much everyone,” said Leonard Steinberg of Compass Real Estate. “Being on the 95th floor is unbelievable. In how many cities can you even live on the 95th floor?”

432 Park
432 ParkProvided by DBOX for CIM Group/Macklowe Properties

Like a short man in Cuban heels, One57 boasts a 90th-floor penthouse that is, technically, on the 75th floor. For more than a decade, billionaire developer Stephen Ross occupied the 80th-floor penthouse of his Time Warner Center, but has since moved up to the 92nd floor of his latest tower, 35 Hudson Yards. In reality, the Time Warner Center has 53 floors. His Hudson Yards building has 71.

“When [brokers] go see buildings under construction, we say, ‘Go to the top floor’ — which is often marketed as the 90th, but there will be a sign in the elevator that reads 63,” said broker Tristan Harper of Douglas Elliman.

This sleight of hand is achieved by developers in different ways, Harper and other experts explained. For one, most new residential skyscrapers have lobbies with tremendous ceiling heights. They might be counted as 10 or more stories. Many also have several floors of building ­mechanicals and amenity spaces that are counted.

Some — like One57 or 35 Hudson Yards — have hotels on the first couple dozen floors. Instead of counting from the first apartment, developers will divide building height by eight feet (the measure of a typical New York ceiling height) to get a total floor count that is higher than the actual number of residential floors. Or they count from the ground to determine on which floor an apartment would theoretically be.

That’s why residences at One57 start on the 22nd floor, while 35 Hudson Yards begins on the 53rd. In the industry, it’s known as marketing floors versus real floor, or “construction counting.”

“If we lived by the letter, buildings in New York would have a 13th floor — and I haven’t seen a 13th floor in a long time,” Steinberg said, adding that he considers the practice of embellishing floor numbers to be a mostly harmless example of “truthful hyperbole . . . Every developer wants to maximize value.”

Harry Macklowe is often credited with inventing vanity numbering with his Metropolitan Tower, which opened in 1985 on the south end of Central Park, now considered “Billionaires Row.” Macklowe advertised the building as having 78 floors, when it really has 66.

Trump World Tower
The Trump World Tower was the first building to claim it had 90 floors.Seth Gottfried

But it was Donald Trump who introduced 90th-floor fever. When Trump World Tower opened in 2001, he proclaimed it the “tallest residential building in the world” at 90 floors. (If you count them up, there are 72.)

“I chose 90 because I thought it was a good number,’’ Trump told The New York Times in 2003.

While the city allows developers to label floors as they please, it requires that the real number be disclosed on official offering plans.

But experts agree that, in a market where higher floors equal higher prestige and higher dollars, the rubber ruler is here to stay.

“If you repeat something often enough, it becomes the new normal,” said Steinberg. “There was a moment when a Botoxed face looked really weird. Now a face without Botox looks weird. It’s like that with real estate.”

read more…

https://nypost.com/2019/09/14/nyc-developers-constantly-lie-about-how-tall-their-buildings-are/

California nears statewide rent control | Pound Ridge Real Estate

In the pipeline apartments

California is one step away from enacting statewide rent control after the state’s two legislative bodies both approved the measure.

The bill will cap annual rent increases by 5%, including the rate of inflation. In addition to the rent cap, a bill known as AB-1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, will allow “just cause” eviction policies to qualified housing in California. 

The bill was approved this week by the California State Senate and the California State Assembly. 

The bill now moves to the desk of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

When Newsom signs the bill, the bill would make the state one of the few in the nation with statewide rent control. 

California, one of the nation’s priciest housing markets, is following Oregon’s footsteps in enacting rent control. In March, Oregon approved a law placing an annual limit on rent increases of 7% plus inflation.

The bill appears to have Newsom’s support, as the governor tweeted that “The rent is too damn high — so we’re damn sure doing something about it” and “Because there should be a cap on how much you pay for rent…Because your landlord shouldn’t be able to evict you for no reason.” 

Gavin Newsom@GavinNewsom

CA is about to enact the strongest renter protections in the NATION.

Because there should be a cap on how much you pay for rent.

Because your landlord shouldn’t be able to evict you for no reason.

It’s about time.3,6634:04 PM – Sep 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy948 people are talking about this

“In this year’s State of the State address, I asked the Legislature to send me a strong renter protection package. Today, they sent me the strongest package in America,” Newsom said in a statement after the Assembly passed the bill. “These anti-gouging and eviction protections will help families afford to keep a roof over their heads, and they will provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis. I would like to thank Assembly Speaker Rendon, Senate President pro Tempore Atkins, Assembly member Chiu and the bill’s co-authors for passing this legislation, as well as the broad coalition of stakeholders whose persistence allowed this bill to move forward.”

The move is a reversal from what happened in the state nearly a year ago. In the November 2018 election, California voters shot down a previous rent control initiative, Proposition 10. The proposal would have to capped annual rent increases to prevent unjust evictions. 

Proposition 10 was aimed to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. In 1995, California passed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, limiting the use of rent control and prohibiting local governments from imposing caps on single-family homes and condos. 

According to the California Secretary of State, 61.7% of voters were against repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, while a mere 38.3% voted for it.

read more…

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/50146-california-nears-statewide-rent-control?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=76821501&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_X7YcVI-wVJJg16u-4PEDCx6mJcwS6llXGS8ztXGyTzEph50IFiCpbEmYDSGOHjHnc1ffbBJbVBrawLydmENeH7g4_EQ&_hsmi=76821501

Michael Douglas sells Bedford mansion | Bedford NY

Buys home in Irvington

17VIEW GALLERYLocation: Irvington, N.Y.Price: $4.5 millionSize: 11,653 square feet, 8 bedrooms, 10 full and 2 half bathrooms

Though it barely qualifies as what most financial mortals might consider downsizing, Hollywood veterans Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have slightly reduced their considerable residential footprint in New York State’s fancy-pants Bedford. Selling a more than 15,000 sq. ft. Bedford Corners mansion for almost $20.5 million and concurrently snapping up a not quite 12,000 sq. ft. Gatsby-esque manor house about 20 miles away, in Irvington, for exactly $4.5 million.

Douglas and Zeta-Jones bought the more than 13-acre Bedford Corners spread about five years ago for $11.25 million. They sold it in what appears to have been a clandestine, off-market deal to a mysterious corporate entity. It links back to the impossibly posh Sherry Netherland building on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Situated in the coveted Guard Hill area, the palatial estate is anchored by a stately 26-room residence that dates to the late 1800s. At the time of their purchase, it offered eight bedrooms and 18 bathrooms plus an extensive spa facility with not just one but two indoor swimming pools. The property additionally included a two-unit cottage for guests or staff, a car collector’s garage and a full array of equestrian facilities.

The lavish living couple’s only somewhat smaller but far less expensive new digs, dubbed Long Meadow, meanders over 12 bucolic and largely wooded acres that roll down to the Hudson River. Just 25 miles outside Manhattan and built in the early 1930s, the 22-room stone-accented red brick Georgian mansion sits at the head of a long, gated driveway with eight bedrooms and 10 full and two half bathrooms. Listing details disclose the baronial three-story behemoth also has a total of seven fireplaces, an 11-zone heating and cooling system, a four-car garage and annual taxes that top $150,000.

An elegant columned portico leads to gracefully proportioned and intricately detailed living spaces that include a formal and living and dining rooms, both with an antique limestone fireplace and the latter sporting candy apple red lacquered walls that reflect light tossed off from a delicate crystal chandelier. There’s also double-height wood-paneled library flooded with natural light through massive arched windows, a casual lounge with wet bar and a fully updated center island kitchen with commercial-grade appliances and marble countertops. A stone-floored loggia opens to a massive stone-paved terrace that is partly shaded by a black and white striped awning and offers a stunning tree-framed view across the Hudson River, while the mansion’s eight bedrooms include a two-bedroom guest suite and a spacious owners suite that comprises a large bedroom and separate sitting room, a dressing room and a glitzy bathroom with a jetted tub next to a white marble fireplace.

The mansion’s lowest level opens the estate’s rolling grounds and contains an indoor swimming pool, fitness room, recreation/games lounge and, outside, a summer kitchen. Marketing materials indicate the estate offers “enormous untapped potential” to add an outdoor swimming pool and cabana, tennis court and guest cottage. As noted by The Hudson IndependentHoulihan Lawrence Realtors had both sides of the deal.

The Douglas-Zeta-Joneses have long and famously presided over an international portfolio of luxury homes that have made them regular fodder for property gossip columns around the globe. In addition to a sprawling co-operative apartment in a prestigious apartment house overlooking Central Park on New York City’s Central Park West and a large house in Zeta-Jones’ hometown of Swansea, Wales, the couple have long owned a walled compound in Bermuda that came up for sale earlier this year at $19 million but is no longer listed on the open market, although it’s unclear if it’s been sold. The couple’s 10-bedroom compound on the Spanish island of Majorca, which is co-owned by Douglas’s ex-wife Diandra Douglas, was also set out for sale earlier this year and is still available at a whopping $32.5 million.

read more…

Moving to Irvington

Will robots construct homes? | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Construction worker on beams

“New York will be a great place, if they ever finish it.”
O. Henry, 1872 CREDIT: PXHERE.COM

It’s no secret that the world is rapidly urbanizing. People are flocking to cities around the globe that do not have enough buildings or infrastructure to support them. Builders can’t keep up. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, construction productivity has fallen by half since the 1960s. While there are many factors at play, one of the biggest threats to this labor-driven industry is the growing shortage of workers.

Unlearning by doing

Source: McKinsey Global Institute CREDIT: ECONOMIST.COMToday In: Leadership

When the recession hit in 2008, 600,000 workers left construction jobs never to return. Today workers avoid construction jobs, perceiving them as dangerous, difficult, and dirty. Millennials of all income backgrounds entering the workforce would prefer to go to a four-year college or take on jobs in retail or transportation. In the US alone, there are 434,000 vacant construction jobs as of April 2019, according to the US Labor Bureau. It’s important to note that this isn’t just an existential threat. Over the past few months, I’ve interviewed several construction managers who say that the shortage is felt on site daily. Contractors have been forced to pay subcontractors higher wages, often waiting for talent to become available – ultimately slowing down jobs across the country. Many attribute the 5.86% construction cost increase in 2018, cited by the Turner Building Cost Index, to this labor shortage.

Startups are racing to fix the construction productivity problem at large. VCs poured $3.1 billion into Construction Tech in 2018. Most of this money went towards modular housing companies or software that promises to optimize current processes such as project management and communication. Yet neither of these buckets addresses the labor shortage head-on. Many startups claim that robots might.

Over the last year, I have been looking into the startups trying to plug this gap with construction robotics.

With such an acute labor shortage, felt deeply by contractors and developers, are robots really the next best thing? What tasks can they accomplish on site today? Most importantly, will the customer— real-life, historically risk-averse contractors and developers—adopt robotics with open arms? If so, when?

The Construction Robotic Landscape

The robotics companies that currently exist take on the shape of a subcontractor. They use robotics to accomplish a vertical task on site like excavation, drywall installation, painting, and roofing. Some companies are inserting their autonomous software into pre-existing construction machinery. While other start-ups are adapting manufacturing robotics and small self-driving vehicles to do construction tasks.

Most construction robotics companies promise to reduce construction costs by 1) cutting down on labor expenses, 2) taking less time to accomplish a task by working longer shifts and into the night, and 3) performing tasks faster—not by actually working faster than a human, but by shortening downtime between sub-tasks.

It’s important to note that many of the companies I spoke to are in their pilot phase. They are testing their technologies on live construction sites for the first time and require additional engineering oversight to get the job done. If these pilots (which may take six-plus months) run successfully, these construction robotics companies will most likely be ready for commercial use in one-and-a-half to two years. The biggest technological hurdles for robotic construction technology at the moment are 1) seamlessly integrating into an already-complicated construction site, 2) working off of plans and maps that evolve as they work, 3) being able to execute the task as well as a contractor.

However, the biggest challenge of all remains whether developers and contractors will adopt the technology at large.

The Customer: Curious, Risk-averse, & Cost-aware

Even though the labor shortage is real, one can’t help but wonder: if the construction industry has been hesitant to adopt technology in the past, will they adopt robotics today?

Unlike in manufacturing, where a single owner is incentivized to operate as efficiently as possible and invests in large capital expenditure projects that pay off over time, construction managers are motivated to turn around a single project as cost-effectively as possible while delivering to the architect’s specifications. They only work on a handful of projects each year, so they have a low willingness to experiment.

From speaking to contractors, I found that they would be willing to adopt technology or hire a robotics sub-contractor if there was proof that the robotic option could drastically reduce costs on their project.

To understand the biggest opportunity for cost savings, I set out to understand what costs the most on a construction site. While this data is challenging to obtain and costs are extremely variable site-to-site, through conversations with contractors, I have seen some patterns emerge, which I plot in the accompanying graph. Costs tend to be held up in a few key verticals, and then widely distributed across most other tasks.

% of Overall Cost

% of Overall Cost CREDIT: JULIETTE CILIA

Of the verticals that tend to cost the most today (structural support [i.e., concrete and steel] and mechanical and plumbing), not many can be automated because of the complexity of the task or we have yet to uncover companies in those verticals. Some verticals that proportionally cost less but still incur significant costs and are deployed across asset types, like drywall and bricklaying, are appealing, but it is unclear how quickly a large-scale contractor would rush to adopt them.

Construction at Sunset

In the near future we will see more companies tackling the cost-consuming tasks on big development projects. CREDIT: PXHERE.COM

The space is still evolving,  but I suggest holding off on large checks until we see movers who can tackle some of the costlier verticals, like cast-in-place concrete or facade installation. Automating these jobs will save contractors major money and could be widely adopted in time. While construction robotics are still maturing, I believe that in the next two to three years, we will see more companies tackling the cost-consuming tasks on big development projects, helping us finish more of our cities, offices, hospitals, and homes on time.

read more…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/columbiabusinessschool/2019/07/31/the-construction-labor-shortage-will-developers-deploy-robotics/#e2be91f71988

Bedford area apple picking | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Apple Picking Guide 2019 In The Hudson Valley
(Rick Uldricks/Patch)

HUDSON VALLEY, NY — Cooler temps, what a relief! That means it’s time to plan a trip this weekend to an orchard for a bushel or two of the season’s finest apples (and in some cases the last of the blackberries, pears and peaches).

You’ll love how most of these “pick your own” orchards offer a chance to pick up many other seasonal vegetables, select farm fresh foods, and enjoy some family-style events and activities.

The kinds of apples ready for picking changes over the season, so you’ll be able to visit several of these wonderful orchards and farms this fall. Look at their lovely websites and start planning trips!

Here’s a list you can take a bite out of:

Westchester:
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Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm
1335 White Hill Road, Yorktown Heights.
914 245-5111
The farm offers more than a dozen varieties of apples. The season started in August with peaches and runs into December when you can hunt for the perfect Christmas trees. Pumpkin picking season starts in October. Stop by the gift shop for freshly baked cookies, doughnuts and strudel sticks.

Stuart’s Fruit Farm
62 Granite Springs Road, Granite Springs
914 245-2784
The 200-acre family-owned farm offers nine different varieties of apples as well as pumpkins. On weekends you can take a hayride through the orchards. You can end the visit by enjoying a freshly baked pie or doughnut with a glass of apple cider.

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem
914 485-1210
The family-run farm lets visitors pick McIntosh and Front Hill apples but also sells Gala and Ginger Gold. The farm holds a Fall Festival on Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 7 through Oct. 27 10am-5pm as well as Sept. 30, Oct. 1, Oct. 9 and Oct. 14. Entertainment for kids include farm animals, bouncy castles and hayrides. You can also buy homemade doughnuts, cider, produce and fresh eggs. Dogs are not allowed; service animals with proper identification are allowed.

Rockland:

Dr. Davies Farm
306 Route 304, Congers
845 268-7020
Not only are there apples galore at Dr. Davies 35-acre farm, but there are apple themed T-shirts for sale, as well as homemade doughnuts and fresh pressed cider, vegetables and decorative pumpkins. Bring cash or a check as the farm does not accept credit cards.

The Orchards of Concklin
2 South Mountain Road, Pomona
845 354-0369
At The Orchards of Concklin, iyou can pick your own produce, visit the farm stand, and taste the fresh pressed apple cider. The bakery offers delicious pies, cookies, and pastries. If you can’t make it there this year, they can ship to you.

Mid-Hudson Valley:

Meadowbrook Farm
29 Old Myers Corners Road, Wappingers falls
845 297-3002
The farm has been a local favorite for over 70 years. They offer a large variety of apples for picking and uses their own apples to make fresh cider.

Fishkill Farms
9 Fishkill Farm Road, Hopewell Junction
845-897-4377
The farm offers several varieties of apples for picking, hayrides, a farm market, cider doughnuts, and barbecued jerk chicken for lunch. In addition to 40 acres of apples, they grow peaches, nectarines, black currants, cherries and pumpkins, all of which are available in season for pick-your-own. They sell New York state hard cider, wine, beer and spirits, roasted coffee and local ice cream.

Apple Hill Farm
124 Route 32, New Paltz
845 255-1605
Apple Hill Farm overlooks the picturesque Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains. The apple picking season begins in September with McIntosh, Cortland, Opalescent and Spartan and end the season with Red and Golden Delicious. Pick-your-own hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visitors can also check out the restored 1859 barn for fresh pressed apple cider and mulled apple cider donuts, as well as wreaths, dried and fresh-cut flowers. Hayrides.

Hurds Family Farm
2185 Route 32, Modena
845 883-6300
At Hurds Family Farm you can pick a variety of apples, including Ginger Gold, gala, Honeycrisp, Empire, Cortland, Jonagold and Golden Delicious, as well as Fuji, Rome Beauties and the flavorful Ruby Frost. You can find out which apples are being picked at the moment by visiting the site. There’s also a lot for kids to do, too.

Wilklow Orchards
341 Pancake Hollow Road, Highland
845 691-2339
The family who runs Wilklow Orchards has been farming the spot for six generations. They try to be sustainable and ecologically minded because they want the farm to last for another six generations. Besides picking your own apples, when you visit the site, you can also shop at their bakery. New York State flour and regional butter and eggs are used to make muffins and bread. Fruit from the farm is used to make jam and cider. There are 13 different varieties of apples to pick so call and find out what’s ripe.

Greig Farm
227 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook
845 758-1234
The farm is open for picking blackberries and apples, including Jonamac, Gala and McIntosh, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The farm has been open to the public for more than 60 years. You can also pick raspberries and other vegetables. Kids may appreciate feeding the goats. There’s also a nursery/garden shop and Christmas shop. The farm organizes wine tastings.

Rose Hill Farm, 1798
19 Rose Hill, Red Hook
845 758-4215
Established in 1798, the farm offers cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins in a peaceful and scenic slice of the Hudson Valley. Gingergolds and Paula Reds apples are ripe. The farm also offers flowers, fresh eggs, meat and jam.

Lawrence Farms Orchards
39 Colandrea Road, Newburgh
845 562-4268
The family farm is a family-friendly location with “show chickens,” playful goats, a”Little Village” and hay bale maze. The farm has been doing “pick your own” fruits and vegetables for 30 years. Brand-new this year are milkshakes and frozen cider.

read more…

https://patch.com/new-york/bedford/apple-picking-guide-2019-hudson-valley?utm_source=alert-breakingnews&utm_medium=email&utm_term=around-town&utm_campaign=alert

Steep slowdown projected in home improvements | Chappaqua Real Estate

Growth in residential remodeling spending is expected to slow considerably by the middle of next year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released today by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that annual gains in homeowner expenditures for improvements and repairs will shrink from 6.3 percent in the current quarter to just 0.4 percent by the second quarter of 2020.

“Declining home sales and homebuilding activity coupled with slower gains in permitting for improvement projects will put the brakes on remodeling growth over the coming year,” says Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “However, if falling mortgage interest rates continue to incentivize home sales, refinancing, and ultimately remodeling activity, the slowdown may soften some.”

“With the release of new benchmark data from the American Housing Survey, we’ve also lowered our projection for market size about 6 percent to $323 billion,” says Abbe Will, Associate Project Director in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Center. “Spending in 2016 and 2017 was not nearly as robust as expected, growing only 5.4 percent over these two years compared to 11.9 percent as estimated.”

More information about the newly released benchmark data and changes to the projected LIRA market size can be found here.

Click image for full-size chart. 

The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) provides a short-term outlook of national home improvement and repair spending to owner-occupied homes. The indicator, measured as an annual rate-of-change of its components, is designed to project the annual rate of change in spending for the current quarter and subsequent four quarters, and is intended to help identify future turning points in the business cycle of the home improvement and repair industry. Originally developed in 2007, the LIRA was re-benchmarked in April 2016 to a broader market measure based on the biennial American Housing Survey.

The LIRA is released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University in the third week after each quarter’s closing. The next LIRA release date is October 17, 2019.

The Remodeling Futures Program, initiated by the Joint Center for Housing Studies in 1995, is a comprehensive study of the factors influencing the growth and changing characteristics of housing renovation and repair activity in the United States. The Program seeks to produce a better understanding of the home improvement industry and its relationship to the broader residential construction industry.

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies advances understanding of housing issues and informs policy. Through its research, education, and public outreach programs, the Center helps leaders in government, business, and the civic sectors make decisions that effectively address the needs of cities and communities. Through graduate and executive courses, as well as fellowships and internship opportunities, the Center also trains and inspires the next generation of housing leaders.

Contact: Kerry Donahue, (617) 495-7640, kerry_donahue@harvard.edu

read more…

https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/press-releases/steep-slowdown-projected-home-improvements