Author Archives: Robert Paul

About Robert Paul

Robert is a realtor in Bedford NY. He has been successfully working with buyers and sellers since the early 1980's. His local area of expertise includes Bedford, Pound Ridge, Armonk, Lewisboro, Chappaqua and Katonah. When you have a local real estate question please call 914-325-5758.

Mortgage rates average 4.15% | North Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates slightly falling for the second consecutive week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.15 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending Feb. 16, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 4.17 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.35 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.39 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.95 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.18 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.21 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.85 percent.

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

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

“For the last 46 years, the 30-year mortgage rate has been almost perfectly correlated with the yield on the 10-year Treasury, but not this year. From Dec. 29, 2016, through today, the 30-year mortgage rate fell 17 basis points to this week’s reading of 4.15 percent. In contrast, the 10-year Treasury yield began and ended the same period at 2.49 percent. While we expect mortgage rates to fall into line with Treasury yields shortly, this just may be a year full of surprises.”

Residential Construction Employment Solid | Cross River Real Estate

The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector remained elevated in November, as residential construction employment continues to grow.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) came in at 184,000 in November. The cycle high was 225,000 set in July.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for November was 2.7%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to 2.8%, setting a cycle high and exceeding the peak twelve-month moving average rate established prior to the recession.

The overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession. This is consistent with survey data indicating that access to labor remains a top business challenge for builders.

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, remained steady at 4.9% in November. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was also steady (2.6%), remaining in a range set last Fall. Quits rose to 2.4% in November, consistent with a tight labor market.

Monthly employment data for December 2016 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler employment expanded, increasing by 9,800. The December gains continue the improvement in the Fall after a period of hiring weakness early in 2016. The 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction has now increased to a healthier 11,450 per month.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.653 million, broken down as 739,000 builders and 1.915 million residential specialty trade contractors.

Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 103,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 667,000 positions.

In December, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 6.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, although it has leveled off in the 6% to 7% range since the middle of 2016

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/residential-construction-employment-solid-in-december/

Property Taxes by State | South Salem Real Estate

The 2015 American Community Survey data shows that New Jersey still leads the nation with the highest average annual real estate tax (RET) bill of $8,180—$7,528 more than RETs paid by Alabama’s homeowners. The overall distribution remained roughly unchanged since 2014, as the composition of the top and bottom ten remained the same. The map below clearly illustrates that the highest property tax states are found in the Northeast while—with the exception of Texas—southern states boast the lowest RET bills for their resident homeowners.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations

As property values vary widely by state, controlling for this variable produces a more instructive state-by-state comparison. In keeping with prior analyses, NAHB calculates this—the effective property tax rate as measured by taxes paid per $1,000 of home value—by dividing aggregate real estate taxes paid by the aggregate value of owner-occupied housing units within a state. As shown below, New Jersey has the dubious distinction of imposing the highest effective property tax rate—2.13% or $21.25 per $1,000 of home value. Hawaii levies the lowest effective rate in the nation—0.28%, or $2.84 per $1,000 of value.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, NAHB calculations

Interstate differences among home values explain some, but not all, of the variance in real estate tax bills across the country.  Texas is an illustrative example of a state in which home values hardly, if at all, explain real estate tax bills faced by homeowners.  While Texas ranks only 32nd in the country for average home values, it is 12th in average real estate taxes paid.  Other factors are clearly at play, and state and local government financing turns out to be a major one.

Property taxes account for 35% of state and local tax receipts, on average, but some state and local governments rely more heavily on property taxes as a source of revenue than others. Texas serves as an excellent example once again.  Unlike most states, Texas does not impose a state income tax on its residents.  Even though per capita government spending is tame compared with other states—7th lowest in the country—Texas and its localities must still find a way to fund government obligations.  Local governments accomplish this by levying the 7th highest effective property tax rate (1.63%) in the country, on average.  The state government partly makes up for foregone individual income tax revenue by imposing a tax on corporate revenue rather than income

Remodeling Market Remains Positive in Fourth Quarter | Katonah Real Estate

The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) dropped 4 points to 53 from the previous quarter, but remained above the breakeven point of 50, which indicates that more remodelers report activity is higher (compared to the prior quarter) than report activity is lower. Although the RMI declined, it is consistent with levels seen in the first half of 2016. The RMI has been at or above 50 for 15 consecutive quarters (Figure 1).

The overall RMI is an average of two main sub-indices, one that tracks current market conditions and another tracking future market conditions. In the fourth quarter, the current market conditions index dropped 3 points to 53, but is still consistent with readings from earlier this year (Figure 2). Among its components, major additions and alterations dropped one point to 53, demand for smaller remodeling projects decreased four points to 52, and the home maintenance and repair component declined by five points to 54.

The future market indicators decreased six points to 52, which also marks a return to levels seen earlier this year (Figure 3). Among its four components, calls for bids and appointments for proposals fell to 49 and 54, respectively, the backlog of remodeling jobs dropped three points to 55, and the amount of work committed declined five points to 50.

The RMI level is in line with the NAHB’s remodeling forecast, which predicts that remodeling activity will grow at a moderate pace of 1 to 2% annually over the next two years. For more information about remodeling, including detail tables of this quarter’s results, visit nahb.org/rmi.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/remodeling-market-remains-positive-in-fourth-quarter/

Single-Family Housing Starts Up 9% in 2016 | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Housing starts rebounded in December, as monthly volatility for multifamily starts continued. Total starts were up 11.3%, rising to a 1.226 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. However, single-family starts posted a small monthly decline in December, albeit recording the fourth strongest monthly pace since the end of the recession.

According to estimates from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, single-family starts declined 4% to a 795,000 annual rate. For 2016 as a whole, single-family construction improved 9.3% over the 2015 level of starts. And as measured on a three-month moving average, single-family starts are at a post-cycle high, as seen on the graph below. This increase is consistent with recent growth in the NAHB/Wells Fargo measure of single-family builder confidence.

Single-family permits also point to more growth in 2017. Single-family permits grew 4.7% in December, reaching an annual rate of 817,000, the fastest pace in the current cycle.

Multifamily development was the primary reason the headline starts number rose in December. Total multifamily starts were up 57% for the month at a 431,000 annual rate, after posting a nearly 40% drop in November. Monthly volatility for multifamily starts has been a factor in the data since August. Nonetheless, for 2016 the apartment sector realized a small production decline for the year, in line with our expectations that 2015 will be the peak year of development for multifamily housing in this cycle.

 

Focusing on housing’s economic impact, in December 57% of homes under construction were multifamily (604,000). This multifamily count is 8% higher than a year ago. There were 450,000 single-family units under construction, a gain of 7% from this time in 2015. This is the highest count of single-family units under construction since 2008.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/single-family-housing-starts-up-9-in-2016/

Builder Confidence Holds Firm | Bedford Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes remained on firm ground in January, down two points to a level of 67 from a downwardly revised December reading of 69 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

The solid reading is consistent with building expectations heading into the new year. NAHB expects 10 percent growth in single-family construction in 2017, adding to the gains of 2016. However, ongoing industry concerns include rising mortgage interest rates as well as a lack of lots and access to labor.

The HMI rose sharply in December as the election results raised hopes among builders that a new Congress and administration will help create a better business climate for small businesses, particularly with respect to improving regulatory costs, which increased more than 29% over the last five years.

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

All three HMI components retreated in January. The component gauging current sales conditions fell three points to 72, the index charting sales expectations in the next six months registered a two-point decline to 76 and the component measuring buyer traffic edged one-point lower to 51.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose two points to 52 and the Midwest posted a three-point gain to 64. The South and West each held steady at 67 and 79, respectively.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/builder-confidence-holds-firm-in-january-2/

Builders Satisfy Demand for Open Floor Plans | Pound Ridge Real Estate

According to a recent NAHB article, open floor plans are popular among home buyers, and the design of new single-family homes tends to be, if anything, even more open. For example, in a 2015 NAHB survey, 70 percent of recent and prospective homebuyers said they preferred a home with either a completely or partially open kitchen-family room arrangement with 32 percent preferring the arrangement completely open).

When a similar question was asked in the September 2016 survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, an even higher 84 percent of builders said that, in the typical single-family homes they build, the kitchen-family room arrangement is completely or partially open. Over half (54 percent) said it is completely open. Both surveys defined completely open as essentially combining two areas into the same room, and partially open as areas separated by a partial wall, counter, arch, or something else less than a full wall.

Of the remaining possibilities, 16 percent of buyers want the kitchen and family rooms in separate areas of the house, and 6 percent of builders say this is how their typical homes are designed. Eleven percent of buyers want the two areas side-by-side but separated by a wall, while only 2 percent of builders design their typical homes this way. And 4 percent of buyers prefer a home without a family room, while 9 percent of builders do not include a family room in their typical homes.

The same surveys show that 45 percent of home buyers favor a completely open kitchen and dining area arrangement, while an even higher 51 percent of builders design their typical single-family homes this way.

However, 41 percent of buyers want a home with a kitchen and dining area that are partially open to each other, while only 24 percent of builders design their typical homes this way. As a result, the 86 percent of buyers who want either a completely or partially open kitchen and dining area is actually higher than the 75 percent of builders who provide the completely or partially open design. This occurs in part because 12 percent of builders locate the kitchen and dining rooms in separate areas of the house, while only 3 percent of buyers say they want their homes this way

There are no hard data on the openness of floor plans in existing homes. However, in the survey for the first quarter 2016 Remodeling Market Index, professional remodelers reported that 40 percent of their projects involved making the floor plan more open by removing interior walls/pillars/arches, etc., indicating that the floor plans of existing homes are often not as open as their owners would like.

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/builders-satisfy-demand-for-open-floor-plans/

Lumber prices on the rise | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The price of softwood lumber rose by 2.3% in December, while prices paid for ready-mix concrete, gypsum products, and OSB all fell, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Ready-mix concrete, gypsum products and OSB prices fell by 0.1%, 0.2%, and 1.3%, respectively. The 2.3% increase in the softwood lumber price index is the largest monthly increase since April 2016.

Over the course of 2016, softwood lumber prices rose nearly 8.7% while prices paid for OSB spiked by 13.8%.  In November, the cost of ready-mix concrete and gypsum products rose 3.5% and 5.0%, respectively, on a year-over-year basis.

In contrast to the price of softwood lumber–which has been relatively stable over the last two years–OSB prices have risen almost 30% during the same period.  OSB prices leveled off in August 2016, but remain near their two-year high.

The economy-wide PPI increased 0.3% in December, 80% of which was driven by a 0.7% rise in prices paid for goods. Prices for final demand services rose only 0.1%.  A 0.3% increase in the final demand prices for core goods (i.e. goods excluding food and energy) continued a positive trend that started with a 0.2% increase in November.  Prices for core goods less trade services climbed 0.1% and rose 1.7% in 2016, far outpacing the 0.3% rise seen in 2015.

Sixty percent of the rise in prices for goods—the fourth straight increase—was due to the increase in prices of final demand energy.   Gasoline prices alone (+7.8%) accounted for nearly half of the increase.  In contrast, prices of fruit and residential electric power led declines among goods. The increase in prices for final demand services was led by securities brokerage, investment advice, and related services, which advanced 4.4%.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/osb-prices-climb-14-in-2016/

Age of Housing Stock by State | Chappaqua Real Estate

According to the latest data from the 2015 American Community Survey (ACS), the median age of owner-occupied homes is 37 years. The age of housing stock is not evenly distributed across the United States. Among the states, New York has the oldest homes with a median age of 57 years old, followed by Massachusetts at 53 years. The median age of homes in the District of Columbia, which is entirely urban, is 75 years. The newest homes are in the West. The median age of homes in Nevada is only 20 years, followed by Arizona where half of all owner-occupied homes were built in the last 24 years ago.

The geographic distribution of the age of the owner-occupied housing stock is strongly correlated with population changes from 2000 to 2015. The population changes, including both natural growth and net migration, signal the rising demand for housing. States with faster population growth tend to have newer housing stock.

The age of the housing stock is an important remodeling market indicator. Older houses are less energy-efficient than new construction and ultimately will require remodeling and renovation in the future.

 

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/age-of-housing-stock-by-state/

The Aging Housing Stock | Armonk Real Estate

The American housing stock continues to age, especially since residential construction grew at a modest pace after the Great Recession. The median age of owner-occupied housing increased to 37 years in 2015 from 31 years a decade ago. This housing stock aging trend signals a growing market for remodelers, as older structures normally require additional remodeling and renovations. It also implies a rising demand for new construction over the long run.

As of 2015, more than half of the US owner-occupied housing stock was built before 1980, with around 38% built before 1970. Owner-occupied homes constructed after 2000 make up 19% of the owner-occupied housing stock, and homes built after 2010 account for only 3% of the owner-occupied housing stock.

The share of housing stock built 45 year ago or earlier increased significantly from 32% in 2005 to 38% in 2015. However, the share of new construction built within past 5 years declined to 3% in 2015, compared to 9% in 2005.

According to the 2015 ACS, homeowners with higher family incomes tend to live in the newer residential units. In 2015, the average household income for owner-occupied homes built after 2010 was $ 121,577, which was higher than $86,328 average family income for those living in homes built before 1969. Moreover, younger homeowners are more likely to live in newer homes. Homes built after 2010 are headed by homeowners with a median age of 44 years, compared to homes built prior to 1969 and owned by householders with a median age of 58. It implies a growing market for renovations allowing older homeowners to age in place.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/the-aging-housing-stock-3/