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.

NAHB housing market index down | South Salem Real Estate

United States Nahb Housing Market Index  1985-2017

The NAHB Housing Market Index in the United States fell to 64 in July of 2017 from a downwardly revised 66 in June, below market expectations of 67. It is the lowest reading in eight months. The index of current single-family home sales went down 2 points to 70; sales expectations over the next six months declined 2 points to 73 and buyer traffic edged down 1 point to 48. Nahb Housing Market Index in the United States averaged 49.44 from 1985 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 78 in December of 1998 and a record low of 8 in January of 2009.

United States Nahb Housing Market Index

 

Calendar GMT Actual Previous Consensus Forecast (i)
2017-05-15 02:00 PM May 70 68 68 67.2
2017-06-15 02:00 PM Jun 67 69 70 70
2017-07-18 02:00 PM Jul 64 66 67 66
2017-08-15 02:00 PM Aug 64 66.43
2017-09-18 02:00 PM Sep 66.32
2017-10-17 02:00 PM Oct 66.35

read more…

 

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/nahb-housing-market-index

Why is Aetna subsidized? | Cross River Real Estate

Hartford-based insurer Aetna will receive roughly $34 million in city and state subsidies to move its headquarters to a luxury boutique office building being erected in the trendy Meatpacking District, the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations announced in separate press releases Thursday.

Aetna will take 145,000 square feet at 61 Ninth Ave., the entirety of the building’s office space. The high-end commercial property is being developed by a partnership between Aurora Capital Associates and Vornado Realty Trust, a $17.6 billion public real estate company that is one of the city’s biggest and richest landlords.

Aetna will recieve $24 million of “performance-based tax credits” over 10 years, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The administration said Aetna will add 250 “senior” positions to the new headquarters and invest $84 million in the space.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced that Aetna will receive $9.6 million in financial assistance from the city’s Economic Development Corp. The subsidy will come in the form of a $4.25 million break on sales taxes for materials purchased for the site, $3.8 million in property-tax relief and $1.5 million of other sales-tax benefits and other breaks, according to the city.

Aurora and Vornado have been developing the Rafael Vinoly-designed 61 Ninth Ave. with the aim of fetching soaring rents in a neighborhood that has become a pricey and exclusive enclave for high-end tech firms, hedge funds and other deep-pocketed tenants.

Some fiscal watchdogs took a dim view of a multibillion-dollar insurance company being showered with millions of subsidy dollars so it can pay robust rents in a hot neighborhood to a landlord also worth billions.

“The city’s economy is the strongest that it’s been for generations,” said James Parrott, an economist and longtime critic of subsidy policy. “Tax breaks only serve to make New York City real estate more costly. Why would you want to do that?”

The city, in its press release announcing the deal, stated that Aetna’s move would generate $146 million in economic benefits to the city. A spokesman for the Economic Development Corp. couldn’t immediately describe in detail how it calculated that.

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http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170629/REAL_ESTATE/170629850/huge-insurer-gets-34-million-in-subsidies-to-pay-high-rents-in-hot#utm_medium=email&utm_source=cnyb-realestate&utm_campaign=cnyb-realestate-20170629

Refis could see uptick in second and third quarters | Katonah Real Estate

In the first quarter of 2017, refinances fell 45% from the fourth quarter, however the second and third quarters could see a turnaround in refi activity, according to a first look at Black Knight’s soon to be released Mortgage Monitor.

This chart shows refinance activity each week from October through June as refinance candidates fell from 8.6 million to 4.4 million.

Click to Enlarge

Black Knight

(Source: Black Knight)

Since interest rates fell below 4%, the financeable population rose to its highest point for 2017. While the current 4.4 million borrowers is down significantly from October, it is an increase of 56% or 1.6 million borrowers from mid-March’s low.

Borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter of 2017 cut their monthly mortgage payments by an average of $109 per month, or a total aggregate savings of $36.5 million per month. This marks the lowest total monthly savings since 2008 and a decrease from the fourth quarter’s $59 million.

But since the first quarter, savings have increased once again to a total of $1.1 billion or $260 per borrower each month.

This chart shows the total monthly savings borrowers saw each month.

 

read More…

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/40426-refis-could-see-uptick-in-second-and-third-quarters?eid=311691494&bid=1785932

Mortgage rates average 3.88% | Bedford Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQBFMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to a new 2017 low.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.88 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 29, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 3.90 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.48 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.17 percent with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.78 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.17 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.14 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.70 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.
“The 30-year mortgage rate fell 2 basis points to 3.88 percent this week. However, the majority of our survey was conducted prior to Tuesday’s sell-off in the bond market which drove Treasury yields higher. Mortgage rates may increase in next week’s survey if Treasury yields continue to rise.”

Builder Confidence Remains Solid | Bedford Hills Real Estate

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

Builder confidence levels have remained consistently sound this year, reflecting the ongoing gradual recovery of the housing market. As the housing market strengthens and more buyers enter the market, builders continue to express their frustration over an ongoing shortage of skilled labor and buildable lots that is impeding stronger growth in the single-family market.

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

All three HMI components posted losses in June but remain at healthy levels. The components gauging current sales conditions fell two points to 73 while the index charting sales expectations in the next six months dropped two points to 76. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic also moved down two points to 49.

Buyers Rush Past Market Challenges | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Existing home sales increased 1.1% in May, and 55% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month as buyers overcame low inventory and higher prices. Although May inventory increased 2.1%, it remains 8.4% lower than a year ago and fell year-over-year for the 24th consecutive month. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that at the current sales rate, the May unsold inventory represents a 4.2-month supply, down from a 4.7-month supply a year ago. May existing sales were up 2.7% from the same month a year ago, and reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million compared to a downwardly revised 5.56 million in April. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

May existing sales increased 6.8% in the Northeast, 3.4% in the West and 22% in the South, but declined 5.9% in the Midwest. Year-over-year, the South was up 4.5%, the West by 3.4% and the Northeast by 2.7%, while only the Midwest was down slightly.

Homes stayed on the market for only 27 days in May, compared to 29 days in April, and 32 days a year ago. The May timeframe was the shortest in the history of that series which began in May 2011. The May first-time home buyer share was 33%, down from 34% in April, but up from 30% in May a year ago.

The May all-cash sales share increased to 22% from 21% in April, and was unchanged from a year ago.  Individual investors purchased a 16% share in May, up from 15% in April, and up from 13% a year ago. Some 64% of investors paid cash in May, up from 57% of investors in April.

The May median sales price jumped 5.8% from last year to $252,800, representing the 63rd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The May median condominium/co-op price of $238,700 was up 4.8% from the same month a year ago.

April pending sales dipped for the second consecutive month, so the May bump in existing sales was good news. New home sales have grown 11.3% this year, and both jobs and incomes continue to grow, suggesting an improving market for new single-family construction.

read more…

 

http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/06/may-buyers-rush-past-market-challenges/

Why homeownership is near 50-year low | Bedford Real Estate

The job market continues to show improvement, and interest rates remain historically low, yet the homeownership rate in the U.S. remains near a 50-year low.

The National Association of Realtors released a new white paper titled, “Hurdles to Homeownership: Understanding the Barriers” which lays out five reasons for the low homeownership rate. NAR released its paper in recognition of National Homeownership month at the Sustainable Homeownership Conference at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The decline and stagnation in the homeownership rate is a trend that’s pointing in the wrong direction, and must be reversed given the many benefits of homeownership to individuals, communities and the nation’s economy,” NAR President William Brown said. “Those who are financially capable and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.”

The research, commissioned by NAR, was prepared by Rosen Consulting Group, and jointly released by the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business.

“Low mortgage rates and a healthy job market for college-educated adults should have translated to more home sales and upward movement in the homeownership rate in recent years,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Sadly, this has not been the case.”

“Obtaining a mortgage has been tough for those with good credit, savings for a down payment are instead going towards steeper rents and student loans, and first-time buyers are finding that listings in their price range are severely inadequate,” Yun said.

Here are what NAR says are the five main barriers to homeownership:

Post-foreclosure stress disorder:

There are long-lasting psychological changes in financial decision-making, including housing tenure choice, for the 9 million homeowners who experienced foreclosure, the 8.7 million people who lost their jobs and the young adults who witnessed the hardships of their family and friends, NAR explained.

Mortgage availability:

Credit standards did not normalize after the Great Recession, NAR’s study showed. Borrowers with good-to-excellent credit scores are not getting approved at the rate they were in 2003, prior to the period of excessively lax lending standards.

The growing burden of student loan debt:

Young households are repaying an increasing level of student loan debt that makes it extremely difficult to save for a down payment, qualify for a mortgage and afford a mortgage payment, especially in areas with high rents and home prices. NAR found in a survey released last year, student loan debt is delaying purchases from Millennials and over half expect to be delayed by at least five years.

Single-family housing affordability:

Lack of inventory, higher rents and home prices, difficulty saving for a down payment and investors weighing on supply levels by scooping up single-family homes have all lead to many markets experiencing decaying affordability conditions, the study showed. Unless these challenges subside, RCG forecasts that affordability will fall by an average of nearly nine percentage points across all 75 major markets between 2016 and 2019, with approximately 5 million fewer households able to afford the local median-priced home by 2019.

Single-family housing supply shortages:

Fewer property lots at higher prices, difficulty finding skilled labor and higher construction costs are among the reasons cited by RCG for why housing starts are not ramping up to meet the growing demand for new supply.

read more…

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/40385-nar-here-are-5-reasons-for-low-homeownership-rate?eid=311691494&bid=1783075

William Raveis must pay Elliman $5M damages in agent-poaching case | Armonk Real Estate

“They’ll eventually be out of Westchester County,” Bill Raveis declared back in 2015, referring to rival firm Douglas Elliman’s move into William Raveis Real Estate’s stronghold.

Not quite two years later, the opposite is turning out to be true.

On Tuesday, a jury upheld Elliman’s claim that Raveis and a former Elliman manager conspired to poach top agents from its office in Armonk, N.Y. The jury awarded Elliman $5 million in damages.

The rival firms have sparred viciously both in New York City and its wealthy suburbs to the north since 2014, when Elliman opened an office in Greenwich, Conn., in the heart of Raveis country.

That year, the suburban powerhouse, which is based in Connecticut, broke into Manhattan with an office headed by Paul Purcell, a former Elliman president, and Kathy Braddock.

The firms’ battle came to a head in mid-2015 when Raveis accused Elliman of blocking all emails that came from the firm — a move Bill Raveis likened to a “baby tantrum.” Elliman, meanwhile, said Raveis was sending mass emails to brokers in New York City in an attempt to lure them away.

Elliman sued Raveis and former manager Lisa Theiss in 2015 for allegedly conspiring to “decimate” its brach by secretly recruiting the firm’s top agents, according to court papers. The suit alleges that Theiss poached 10 agents, including four “top producers,” from her former firm and lured them to Raveis’ newly opened office across the street.

In a statement Tuesday, Elliman Chair Howard Lorber said he was pleased that the jury saw fit to rectify Raveis’ “egregious and outrageous actions.”

In an email, Bill Raveis said he disagreed “with all aspects of the jury’s decision,” and added that his firm would “vigorously be pursuing [an] appeal.”

Both Raveis and Elliman have been going after the Westchester market, which is still dominated by Houlihan Lawrence and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. Raveis logged $439 million in Westchester sales in 2016 while Elliman followed with $378 million, according to a recent analysis by The Real Deal. 

 

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https://therealdeal.com/2017/06/20/william-raveis-must-pay-elliman-5m-damages-in-agent-poaching-case/

House hunting in Sweden | Pound Ridge Real Estate

AN ATTIC APARTMENT NEAR THE CENTER OF STOCKHOLM

$2.76 MILLION (23.9 million Swedish krona)

Once an attic used for storage, this two-bedroom, two-bathroom, roughly 2,500-square-foot space was converted into an apartment around 1970 and last renovated in 2013. It is on the seventh and eighth floors of a 1915 building with seven units on a quiet street in Ostermalm, a fashionable neighborhood just east of Stockholm’s city center.

The apartment has crisp white walls, oak floors, high ceilings and a terrace overlooking nearby rooftops. The front door opens onto a hallway that leads to a family room with a balcony and a staircase up to the main living area. The large upstairs living room has built-in bookshelves and large sliding doors opening onto a terrace. Up several steps to the left of the living room is a television room; on the right is an office with a skylight. Both the office and the family room downstairs could be used as bedrooms, said Jan Lundqvist, a broker with Residence, the Swedish real estate firm and Christie’s affiliate that has the listing.

Past the living room are the kitchen and dining area. A small hall leads to two bedrooms. One, the master suite, has a generous walk-in closet and an adjoining laundry room. As is typical in Sweden’s older homes, Mr. Lundqvist said, the bedrooms share a bathroom. (A second bathroom is on the same floor near the entrance, by the stair landing.)

The building’s amenities include bike storage, a parking garage and a communal wine cellar in the basement. Restaurants, tennis courts, parks with jogging trails and public transit are all within walking distance. The Stockholm Arlanda Airport is about a half-hour drive.

MARKET OVERVIEW

Home prices in Sweden have increased sharply since the 2008 global financial crisis, driven by the combination of a strong economy, low mortgage rates, a chronic housing shortage and rapid population growth, specifically an influx of refugees and others moving to urban centers for jobs and schools. But even during the recession Sweden’s real estate market didn’t suffer much, thanks to the shortage of housing and the swift countermeasures taken by the government and central bank, said Olof Manner, head of research for Swedbank, a financial services group based in Stockholm.

Prices are now about 50 percent higher than they were in 2008, he said. “I don’t think we have a bubble,” he said of the market. “But it’s very richly priced.”

Recently, however, the price increases have been slowing, Mr. Manner said. In 2015, prices rose 15 percent over the previous year; in 2016, that number fell to 10 percent. Home prices are now 7 percent higher than they were at this time last year, he said.

He attributed this to several factors: Banks have become stricter about mortgage applicants’ debt-to-income ratios; the government recently changed its mortgage amortization rules to require faster repayment schedules on new loans; fixed mortgage rates have risen slightly; and the novelty of the low rates has worn off.

A continuing challenge, he added, is that there aren’t enough new homes being built to meet demand, and the ones that are built don’t suit the refugee population’s need for small, affordable units.

Elisabeth Hallberg, a broker and manager with Per Jansson, a luxury real estate agency in Stockholm, said it’s a seller’s market. “The problem for the real estate agent is not to find buyers; it’s to find sellers,” she said, estimating that about 70 percent of the transactions she worked on in the past year have had multiple offers, and many had received an offer before the first open house.

The most desirable areas in the city, agents said, are Djurgarden, a parklike area with well-appointed villas, and Ostermalm, where this apartment is. Lars Fogelklou, the chief executive and a founder of Residence, said that in Djurgarden, high-end apartments can sell for between 20 million Swedish krona ($2,312,640) and 100 million Swedish krona ($11,563,200). Agents said prices in Ostermalm range from between 3 million Swedish krona ($346,896) and 10 million ($1,156,320) at the lower end, and up to around 70 million Swedish krona ($8,094,240) or 80 million ($9,250,550) at the higher end, with a few properties reaching 100 million Swedish krona ($11,563,200).

WHO BUYS IN STOCKHOLM

Most of Stockholm’s luxury home buyers are Swedish, some of them Swedes returning from abroad, agents said.

Ms. Hallberg estimated that about 20 percent of her clients are from Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Britain and France. Over the past year, Mr. Fogelklou said, a few of his clients (about 5 percent) have been from China, Germany and the United States; a much larger share (about 40 percent) were expats returning to Sweden.

BUYING BASICS

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Sweden, said Jonas Bergquist, a Stockholm-based partner with Magnusson, a law firm with offices in the Baltic region and Scandinavia.

Read more…

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/realestate/real-estate-in-sweden.html?_r=0

Geothermal heating | Katonah Real Estate

It is cooler than the air in the summer and warmer in the winter. The earth’s subsurface is an enormous heat sink — a solar battery — and it takes a large amount of energy to keep it in equilibrium. This heat energy comes in great part from the sun, a renewable and inexhaustible source of energy. In lesser amounts, it also comes from the center of the earth that we now know is a heat generator. The inner core of the earth is primarily made of a solid sphere of iron within a larger sphere of molten iron. Calculations show that the earth, originating from a molten state many billions of years ago, would have cooled and become completely solid without an energy input. It is now believed that the ultimate source of this energy is radioactive decay within the earth that continues to this day; the decay produces gradually diminishing temperatures from the earth’s center to the surface. This does not mean that dangerous radioactivity is a hazard to us. We can tap into all of this heat energy, transfer it into our home for heating and return that energy back to the earth during cooling: thus we are really borrowing heat from the earth.

Geothermal units use the same 100-year-old technology found in your refrigerator. They are both devices that move heat energy. It is worth noting that the refrigerator is the most reliable, longest-life appliance in your home. As the diagram in the slideshow explains, a refrigerator removes heat energy from food and moves it into your kitchen. A geothermal system removes heat energy from the earth to heat your home and in the summer removes heat energy from inside your home back to the earth.

Heat naturally flows “downhill” from the warmest medium to the coolest medium. A heat pump is a machine that causes heat energy to flow in the direction opposite from its natural tendency, or “uphill” in terms of temperature. Because work must be done (energy must be applied) to accomplish this, the name heat “pump” is used to describe the device.

A refrigerator and a heat pump are about the same physical size, are quiet appliances usually contained within a single enclosure, have similar components (compressor, evaporator, etc.), and both transfer heat energy. And they each require a refrigerant, a material used in a refrigeration cycle which undergoes a phase change from a gas to a liquid, and back again.

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http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/energy-efficiency/geothermal-heat-system-ze0z1704zols?newsletter=1&spot=headline&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MEN%20GEGH%20eNews%2006.16.17&utm_term=MEN_GEGH_eNews&_wcsid=24FE5BB810FAD26243359F90C7740FB292B789E42357F9D3