Category Archives: Armonk

Will Airbnb disrupt the housing market? | Armonk Real Estate

Crowds press together in the streets of New Orleans as people gather to see the city’s festivities, but this year, there’s something different about the tourists. This year, instead of staying in the city’s hotels, more tourists are pouring into residential areas after using an app to quickly book a home for the week.

Airbnb, founded in 2008 as an online marketplace for short-term rentals, has seen its business grow exponentially in the last few years. In 2014, rooms available through the site jumped from 300,000 in February to more than 1 million in December, outpacing many of the largest hotel groups in the world. In May of 2016 Airbnb had almost 1.4 listings on the site and raised its revenue projection for this year to more than $900 million.

But the site impacts more than just hotel chains. As more investors, not just homeowners, use the site to rent out spare rooms — and even spare couches — it strains the supply of rental houses.

This is especially true in a place like New Orleans, where rising home prices have caused serious affordability problems. Home prices have risen 46% since Hurricane Katrina hit, according to an article by Katherine Sayre for The Times-Picayune.

Besides the number of lives lost, the most tangible impact the hurricane had on the city was the demolition of its housing stock, where 26% to 34% of its housing was lost or damaged, according to an article by Allison Plyer for The Data Center. The Center’s “The New Orleans Index” was the most widely used means of tracking rebuilding efforts in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.

As of February 2016, Airbnb had a total of 3,621 active listings in New Orleans, according to data from Inside Airbnb, a non-commercial set of tools and data that shows how Airbnb is being used in different cities around the world.

Of course, there would seem to be a correlation between the rise in home prices and the gains in the app’s popularity, however, correlation does not always equal causation.

In order to truly understand the app’s effects, or lack thereof, you have to look deeper.

One letter circulating on Facebook entitled “Dear Airbnb Renter!” talks about what it sees as the dangers of Airbnb.

“The spread of tourism into residential neighborhoods is pushing out the people who live there,” the letter stated. “When landlords can get so much more for a property on Airbnb they no longer want to rent to actual working New Orleanians. Even residents that own their home are finding it difficult to pay their taxes because of the rising property values.”

That kind of outcry has reached lawmakers. In a letter sent on July 13 to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, several prominent senators expressed their concern. Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif, stated that they are especially concerned that short-term rentals are not only making housing more expensive in certain communities, but also making it harder to buy a house in the first place.



House Prices to Median Household Income | Armonk Real Estate

The Census Bureau released the Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015 this morning. The report showed a significant increase in the real median household income and a decline in poverty.  For an overview, see from Nick Timiraos and Janet Adamy at the WSJ: U.S. Household Incomes Surged 5.2% in 2015, First Gain Since 2007 and from Jason Furman, Sandra Black, and Matt Fiedler at the CEA: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States in 2015

One of the metrics to follow is a ratio of house prices to incomes.   The following graphs use annual averages of house prices indexes – Case-Shiller and CoreLogic – and the nominal median household income (and the mean for the fourth fifth income) through 2015.

Note: Most reporting today is on the REAL median household income (adjusted for inflation over time).  These graphs use nominal income since we are comparing to nominal house prices.

House Prices and Median Household IncomeClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the ratio of house price indexes divided by the Median Household Income through 2015 (the HPI is first multiplied by 1000).

This uses the annual average CoreLogic and the National Case-Shiller index since 1976.

As of 2015, house prices were above the median historical ratio – but far below the bubble peak.

The second graph is similar but uses the mean of the fourth fifth household income (if we separate households into fifths, this is the second highest income group).

House Prices and WagesThese are key households since they are more likely to be homeowners (and home buyers).

Using this group, prices are well below the bubble peak.

Going forward, I think it would be a positive if incomes outpaced house prices, or at least kept pace with house prices increases for a few years.


read more…

Home builder confidence surged in September | Armonk Real Estate

Home builder confidence surged in September to match its highest reading in a decade, an industry group said Monday.

The National Association of Home Builders’ index jumped six points to 65 in September. That was the highest since last October, which was the highest since the height of the housing boom. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 60 reading.

The gauge of current sales conditions soared 6 points to a cycle high of 71 and the index of future sales jumped 5 points, also touching 71. The index that tracks buyer traffic rose four points to 48. It hasn’t topped the neutral 50 mark since mid-2005.

In a release, NAHB noted that builder sentiment is being bolstered by the presence of “more serious buyers.”


read more…

Greenwich Ct. Is Worst U.S. Home Market | Armonk Real Estate

Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood Capital Group LLC, said his former town of Greenwich, Connecticut, may be the worst housing market in the U.S.

“You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” Sternlicht said Tuesday at the CNBC Institutional Investor Delivering Alpha Conference in New York.

The town — about 45 minutes north of Manhattan and home to some of the country’s largest hedge funds — is seeing a pile-up of houses on the market and prices that are faltering as properties linger. Home sales in the second quarter fell 18 percent from a year earlier to 169 deals, according to a report by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

At the same time, new listings surged 27 percent. The absorption period, or the time it would take to sell all the homes on the market at the current pace, was 12 months, compared with 7.7 months a year earlier, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said.


read more…

New-home sales roar to an 8-year high | Armonk Real Estate

U.S. new-home sales surged to the highest in nearly eight years in July as builders picked up the pace while buyer demand remained robust.

Sales of newly constructed homes rose 12.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was 31.3% higher than a year ago, and easily beat forecasts of a 581,000 pace from economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

June’s figure was revised downward slightly, to 582,000.

The median sales price in July was $294,600, 0.5% lower than year-ago levels. As sales soared, supply dwindled to 4.3 months’ worth of homes at the current pace.

On Tuesday, luxury home builder Toll Brothers TOL, +3.27%  reported double-digit profit and revenue growth for its second quarter. “The solid economy and employment picture are also benefiting our target customers,” executive chairman Robert Toll told analysts.

Analysts and economists have waited to see stronger activity from home builders as the economic recovery drags on and the job market strengthens. Builders have been wary of ramping up construction to pre-crisis levels, but with demand running so much hotter than inventory, and new construction favoring higher-end customers, the housing market has struggled to find equilibrium.


read more…

Aging in Place Is Fastest-Growing Segment in Residential Remodeling | Armonk Real Estate

The Richmond Times Dispatch’s Carol Hazard writes on the growing trend among baby boomers: aging in place. According to the National Association of Home Builders, home modifications are the fastest-growing segment in residential remodeling.

To look at how one woman is changing her home, Hazard interviewed Donna Edgerton, who had an elevator shaft installed, which she will eventually turn it into an actual elevator. Furthermore, she added an open-plan kitchen and family room. She also widened the doors throughout the home to at least 3 feet to accommodate a wheelchair and a walker, along with choosing drawers over cabinets in her kitchen to better mange things around her home. Edgerton’s home renovation now includes doors and faucet features with lever handles rather than knobs, along with a bathroom that has a built-in bench, sinks that allow for a wheelchair, and tilted mirrors.

Aging in place has allowed baby boomers to not move, continue to enjoy their neighborhoods and communities, and enjoy the new amenities of their homes.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports:

In the Richmond area, the number of people ages 65 and older will outnumber the school-age population for the first time in history over the next 15 years, according to a 2015 report by the Greater Richmond Age Wave, a collaboration of public and private organizations working to prepare for the region’s growing aging population.

By 2040, the number of people 85 and older (40,541) in the area will have more than quadrupled since 2000, according to the report.

“One of the biggest challenges over the next decade is how we will accommodate the growing senior population and make sure the houses they live in and the housing choices they make will be suitable for their changing needs,” said Bob Adams, executive director of Virginia Accessible Housing Solutions, whose EasyLiving Home program is designed to encourage builders to include accessibility features in home design and construction.

The problem is particularly acute in rural areas, as young people leave for urban areas and the number of senior households increases, Adams said.

“The number of seniors who live alone is growing dramatically in these areas,” he said, “and they are more susceptible to being isolated.”


read more…

So California home prices jump | Armonk Real Estate

The Southern California housing market is red-hot again.

Home prices in the region have been climbing steadily, as they have nationwide, toward record levels not seen since the 2008 housing crisis plunged the country into a severe recession.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, a widely followed gauge of the market, showed that prices in the Los Angeles market in April stood at their highest point since October 2007.

The median home price in Orange County in May was $651,500, surpassing its bubble-era peak reached in 2007, according to the real estate data firm CoreLogic.

Interest rates of about 3.5% or less for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages  not far off the all-time low of 3.31% in November 2012  have helped fuel the gains.

Dana Kuhn is a lecturer at the Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate at San Diego State University, and we asked him to summarize the market and what it means for would-be buyers and sellers. Here’s an edited excerpt:

Has the Southern California housing market completely recovered from the recession?

In the most desirable markets, that’s essentially true. That would be West Coast large-metro areas. The San Francisco Bay Area is now priced above its peak numbers of the last decade. Orange County, too, and Los Angeles and San Diego are getting very close to their former peaks. Seattle is doing really well. Portland is doing well.

One of the worst-hit areas in the housing crisis was the Inland Empire. How is that region faring?

That was the real subprime [mortgage] disaster area. Those markets have been slower to recover. There are areas like the Inland Empire that are probably only between 80% and 85% of [their pre-bubble] peak.

Is it surprising that it’s taken this long?

Yes and no. Given how severe the recession was, there was so little production [of new housing] in that time. There was a four-year period between September 2008 and September 2012 when the nation’s housing starts were below all previous troughs going back some 40 years. And in those previous troughs, what you typically had was one year at that nadir, and then you’d climb back up fairly quickly. But we had four years below all of those troughs, and so production obviously fell behind demand.

So there was a huge pent-up demand when people started getting jobs and believing in housing again. The industry has struggled to keep up with it in the more desirable markets.

Is that driving the surge in prices?

Yes. Like most things, it’s a supply/demand situation. The number of [housing] starts hasn’t been able to take care of that pent-up demand. The pricing has gone up accordingly, and that has been accommodated by low [mortgage] interest rates. Continued low interest rates have in essence subsidized a rapid ascent in pricing.

Why is it tough to add more housing to the supply in Southern California?

Land is increasingly scarce, and that’s forcing people to build up rather than out. And those higher-density projects are more sensitive politically, more difficult to get approved and take longer to get through the pipeline. You can have agreement about needing more housing in a given market, but when it actually comes down to [building] those 300 units on that corner in that neighborhood, you get resistance. So it can take years in Southern California coastal areas to get [those] projects approved. That’s true whether it’s a for-sale product or a rental market.

This all sounds good for sellers, but is it a tough time to be a buyer?

Yes. Unfortunately real [inflation-adjusted] wage growth hasn’t kept up with that surge in pricing. It’s significantly harder to buy something now than it was a few years ago because people’s wages just haven’t kept up, even though interest rates are still the same.

The median price of a house in Los Angeles County is above a half-million dollars. How does a first-time buyer afford that?

They don’t buy that house. That’s the middle of a statistical group. Your first-time buyer is pretty much forced to buy a [less-expensive] attached product, not detached.

Like a condominium?

Yes. And they’re probably not going to be able to afford to buy that unit in the same neighborhood in which they would rent if they were renters. So they have to make a lifestyle concession in order to become homeowners.

Meaning they would build up equity in that house, then later sell it in hopes of buying one in the neighborhood they desire?

Right. Also, the millennial generation [18 to 34 years old] has eschewed the concept of home ownership because they saw their parents and others get burned in the last downturn and because they prefer lifestyle over ownership.

But as they get older and have kids they’ll have a different outlook. And as their wages increase, they’re also going to realize the importance of the mortgage deduction  the tax benefits that come from home ownership  and there will be move back toward home ownership.


read more…

Remodeling: 2016 Cost vs Value Report | Armonk Real Estate

This site compares average cost for 30 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets. Check out this year’s trends and how they compare to prior years.
2016 National Averages
Attic Insulation (fiberglass) $1,268 $1,482 116.9%
Backup Power Generator $12,712 $7,556 59.4%
Basement Remodel $68,490 $48,194 70.4%
Bathroom Addition $42,233 $23,727 56.2%
Bathroom Remodel $17,908 $11,769 65.7%
Deck Addition (composite) $16,798 $10,819 64.4%
Deck Addition (wood) $10,471 $7,850 75.0%
Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) $3,126 $2,574 82.3%
Entry Door Replacement (steel) $1,335 $1,217 91.1%
Family Room Addition $86,615 $58,807 67.9%
Garage Door Replacement $1,652 $1,512 91.5%
Major Kitchen Remodel $59,999 $38,938 64.9%
Manufactured Stone Veneer $7,519 $6,988 92.9%
Master Suite Addition $115,810 $74,224 64.1%
Minor Kitchen Remodel $20,122 $16,716 83.1%
Roofing Replacement $20,142 $14,446 71.7%
Siding Replacement $14,100 $10,857 77.0%
Two-Story Addition $171,056 $118,555 69.3%
2016 National Averages
Bathroom Addition $79,380 $45,006 56.7%
Bathroom Remodel $57,411 $32,998 57.5%
Deck Addition (composite) $37,943 $21,877 57.7%
Garage Door Replacement $3,140 $2,830 90.1%
Grand Entrance (fiberglass) $7,971 $5,545 69.6%
Major Kitchen Remodel $119,909 $73,707 61.5%
Master Suite Addition $245,474 $140,448 57.2%
Window Replacement (vinyl) $14,725 $10,794 73.3%
Window Replacement (wood) $18,087 $13,050 72.1%
read more…

Home Prices in March – Bubbles Anyone? | Armonk Real Estate

The Case-Shiller (CS) National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 1.1% in March, down from 3.8% in February. The Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 8.4% in March, faster than 6.2% in February.

After the boom and bust, home prices have been recovering from the trough since 2012. As of March 2016, the CS national house price index was at 97% of the February 2007 peak. Nine years after their collapse, house prices are re-approaching their housing bubble peak, but now this level is in line with longer term trend growth.


However, housing markets are local and the pace of price appreciation varied greatly in different markets during the boom, so proximity to earlier peaks may not mean the same thing in different markets.

House prices in Denver and Dallas now exceed their mid-2000s levels but these markets were among the most stable during the boom with the smallest increases and the shallowest declines, so new peaks shouldn’t be seen as warning signs of new bubble conditions.

In contrast several markets have current house prices that are at or near their previous peaks, but these peaks were significantly inflated during the boom, suggesting these markets may have supply and demand imbalances that are re-inflating price bubbles. These markets include San Francisco, Portland OR, and Seattle.

At the same time several markets are at or near peak levels, but the earlier peaks and declines were relatively restrained. This current proximity to earlier peaks suggests price increases reflect house price recovery, not bubbles. These markets include Boston, Charlotte NC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York and Chicago.

San Diego and Los Angeles are markets that are not as close to their earlier peaks as some markets, but those peaks reflected some of the most inflated house prices. Even a sizable gap between current and peak prices may reflect some ongoing supply and demand imbalance. The Washington DC and Miami markets share a similar distinction.


read more…

Home Price Index Continued Steady Climb | Armonk Real Estate

Home prices in the United States climbed again at the start of the year, adding to pressure on buyers in a sellers’ market. Americans are feeling more confident this month, another report released on Tuesday showed, as a rebounding stock market brightened their outlook.

In January, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.7 percent from a year earlier, a slight increase from the 5.6 percent annual increase in December.

“The pace of U.S. home value growth has been picking up bit by bit over the past few months, driven in large part by stubbornly low inventory in most markets that creates competition and drives up prices for those homes that are available,” said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at the real estate firm Zillow.

Home values have risen at a faster pace than average hourly wages, which have improved just 2.2 percent, according to a government report this month. Tight supplies of homes on the market have propelled much of the price growth, as low mortgage rates and steady hiring have increased demand.

Denver, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle each registered double-digit annual price increases. Home values rose in all 20 metro area markets, which account for roughly half of the housing stock in the country.

The index remains more than 11 percent below its mid-2006 peak, when subprime mortgages pushed the market to heights that set off the recession in late 2007.

Existing homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in February, the National Association of Realtors said this month. Sales dipped 7.1 percent from a relatively healthy pace in January, but an increase in the number of signed contracts to buy houses indicates that purchases should rebound in March.

Despite the demand, listings in February declined 1.1 percent from a year ago. Many homeowners are reluctant to sell, because they lack the equity to cover the down payment for upgrading to a new house.

“The low inventory of homes for sale — currently about a five-month supply — means that would-be sellers seeking to trade up are having a hard time finding a new, larger home,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

In a separate report, the Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index rose to 96.2 this month, after tumbling to a revised 94 in February.

Consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions has dipped. But their outlook for the future has improved modestly.

United States markets got off to a dismal start in 2016, driven by fears of economic weakness overseas and plunging oil prices, but they have since recovered most of those losses. This month, 28.7 percent of consumers said they expected stocks to rise over the next year. That was up from 26.9 percent in February, the lowest share since July 2012.

read more…