Category Archives: Armonk

Real estate construction forecasts 2018 | Armonk Real Estate

Each year, leading economists look into their “crystal balls” in an attempt to foresee what the New Year holds for the construction industry. For 2018, this proved a tougher task given key uncertainties clouding the outlook at year end, including the incomplete 2018 federal spending package and as yet enacted tax reform legislation (just passed at time of publication). Add in storm and wildfire recovery boosting construction demand, costs and labor woes (further compounded by immigration reform), then throw in the pending mid-term elections, and the future is cloudier still.

That said, economists gave their best shot, and here is a Q&A covering their outlook for the overall U.S. economy and general construction as we neared the close of 2017. Next month, industry experts will take a targeted look at the prospects for the transportation sector.

Overall Economic Outlook

What level of U.S. economic growth do you see for 2018? What are some key drivers that will impact growth either positively or negatively?

Robert Dietz, senior vice president and chief economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): NAHB sees continued modest yet positive growth prospects for 2018. We should continue to grow, but at below 3% rates. Wage growth is increasing, which is good for consumer spending and housing demand, but is a concern for employers. The wild card for 2018 and 2019 is tax reform. Smart tax reform that rewards small business and promotes housing will contribute to growth. Tax reform that increases taxes on homeowners to reward investors, including foreign owners of U.S. assets, will be counterproductive.

The tight labor market is a key limiting factor for overall economic growth. Increases for the labor force participation rate will help labor markets to continue to grow. However, absent those improvements, wage pressure could increase inflation and cause the Fed to move somewhat faster than its current gradual pace of interest rate hikes.

Ed Sullivan, chief economist, Portland Cement Association (PCA): We project GDP growth to be at 2.3% in 2018. We came off the worst recession since the Great Depression and there has been a tremendous pent-up demand. It takes time to fill this demand, and our growth has been slow.

It will likely continue to be slow driven in part by millennials who are in debt, who are taking their time to start families and who currently don’t participate in the housing market. The recession also changed peoples’ behaviors. But people forget and eventually they will return to old spending habits, just as millennials will one day start families and buy homes.

Ken Simonson, chief economist, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC): The economy should keep expanding at a moderate 2% to 2.5% rate, after inflation. However, this could be affected by big changes in tax and spending policy or by an international crisis.

Anirban Basu, chief economist, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC): As we enter 2018, consumer confidence is at a roughly 17-year high, unemployment is at a 17-year low, financial markets are surging, the global economy is improving and leading indicators suggest plentiful momentum during the year’s early months. It has been many years since the U.S. economy entered the New Year with such momentum.

Consumer spending will continue to be the leading engine of growth. But that will be supported by faster export growth as the world economy continues to heal, and by faster business spending growth, particularly if pending corporate tax cut legislation is passed. In short, the economic outlook for the U.S. in 2018 is quite good.

There are abundant risks, however. One could argue that asset prices rose too fast and furiously in 2017. That could set the stage for significant asset price volatility in 2018. Stock and other prices can’t rise forever. This is particularly true given rising inflationary pressures, whether in the form of wages, tuition, rent, medical care or fuel. Should interest rates rise with unanticipated rapidity due to these emerging pressures, elevated asset prices could become jeopardized, setting the stage for negative wealth effects. This means that while 2018 should be strong for the U.S. economy, there are few guarantees with respect to 2019 or 2020.

Building Construction

How strong was construction in the commercial and housing markets in 2017, and what level of growth do you expect to see in both segments for 2018?

AGC: Single-family construction spending increased 9% through the first 10 months of 2017, about the same growth rate as in 2016. But multifamily construction really hit the brakes, slipping to a 4% growth. I think that in 2018, there will be a lot of rebuilding and renovations in areas of Texas, Florida and California devastated by hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. Meanwhile, multifamily building may dip after six years of generally torrid growth.

ABC: There was a considerable volume of building construction in 2017. Leading segments included hotel, casino, office, distribution center and multifamily construction. There are many forces at work, including Millennial demographics, the e-commerce revolution, foreign investment into commercial real estate and growth both in consumer and business travel. One suspects that this momentum will stretch into 2018 since both domestic and foreign capital is on the hunt for investment opportunities that yield income.

NAHB: On the demand side of the housing market, incoming household formation data show strength for the for-sale market and some softening for rental markets. These trends are consistent with demographic data that show a growing number of millennials entering their 30s. This process will continue to sustain demand for single-family homes in the years ahead.

Single-family construction should continue along its modest growth trend (7%), while still being constrained by supply-side bottlenecks, including lack of labor and rising building material prices. Nonetheless, builder confidence, as measured by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, remains solid. Remodeling should also post gains given rising homeowner wealth and reduced homeowner mobility, which will increase the need for aging-in-place and other kinds of structural improvements.

Multifamily starts peaked in 2015, and NAHB expects a leveling off process to continue over the next few years. The decline in apartment starts in 2017 was steeper than expected, with a 10% 2017 decline expected. We forecast smaller but still negative growth rates over the near-term as rental vacancy rates increase, rent growth softens and housing demand momentum moves to the for-sale market segment.

PCA: We anticipate modest growth throughout the building construction market in both the nonresidential and residential sectors. That should translate into a growth rate similar to 2017.

Nonresidential is approaching a peak and there is slowing in sectors like industrial that are impacted by the macroeconomic environment. The single-family residential market should be fairly healthy in 2018. Gains, however, will be slowed by difficult application processes, lack of Millennial participation and modest increases in mortgage rates that will impact affordability. The multifamily market still has strong potential, but it too is reaching its cyclical peak. Like 2017, next year will likely see 350,000 units built.

The big surprise is the improvement and repair sector thanks unfortunately to two serious hurricanes and California wildfires. This sector saw strong percentage gains toward the end of 2017 and will continue to see these gains throughout 2018.

Raw Material Costs

Do you expect to see the costs of raw materials such as asphalt, cement, steel and lumber increase in 2018? If so, to what level and what is driving the increases?

NAHB: We expect continued gains in building material prices, particularly for lumber given tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. Rising building material prices was the issue that increased the most as a concern in 2017. While still below the lack of labor and lots, prices for drywall, roofing materials and other building components increased in 2017 due to hurricane repair efforts and the broader growth of the housing market. We expect this pressure on prices to continue in 2018.

ABC: The past year was associated with noteworthy increases in construction materials prices. After slumping for much of 2014 and virtually all of 2015, global commodity prices stabilized and then began to rise in 2016/17.

A more contentious view on trade, including with respect to Canadian soft lumber, also served to elevate price pressures. During a recent 12-month period, softwood lumber prices surged 15%. Diesel fuel, natural gas, iron and steel and other prices also expanded for much of 2017.

Given the expectation that the global economy will heat up even further in 2018, one would expect that materials prices will continue to rise. However, the rise in materials prices could be quite gradual. Quantity supplied is already responding to higher prices in many categories, which should translate into more gradual price increases in general.

AGC: Materials costs ended a years-long slide in late 2016 and rose at a moderate rate in most of 2017. Those increases are likely to accelerate a bit further in 2018 as global demand picks up and construction continues to grow, albeit slowly and unevenly. I don’t foresee a return to the severe, widespread escalations and occasional shortages that cropped up before the last recession.

Employment and Labor Costs

In recent years, finding skilled and experienced workers has challenged many construction companies. In fact, for many, it has been their No. 1 impediment to growth. Do you foresee companies continuing to struggle with this trend in 2018? What impact, if any, will the administration’s stand on immigration have on the industry and finding workers?

AGC: Finding capable workers will remain the leading challenge for contractors in 2018. The job market is continuing to tighten after more than seven years of continuous job gains and ever-increasing retirements of baby boomers. Restrictive immigration policies and stepped-up deportations are adding to the competition for workers and threaten to slow the growth in the overall economy as many industries struggle to fill openings or to replace the customers who are kept out of the country.

NAHB: On the supply side of the construction market, we need additional gains in the labor force participation rate to allow employers to continue filling open jobs. The construction industry is in the middle of a labor shortage and data suggest it will not turn the corner quickly. Without growth in the size of the labor force, it will be difficult for the residential construction industry to continue adding workers at the current pace of a little more than 100,000 per year. Higher wages due to a tight labor market will bring in some additional workers, but will also increase cost pressures on employers.

We could, of course, build and remodel more homes if we could add workers even faster. The demand is there. The industry must recruit the next generation of construction workers.

PCA: There is no easy fix to the labor challenge. Training programs for skilled workers are great, but they take time and we see companies struggling with labor for several years to come. The labor shortage will continue to be an impediment to company growth and immigration reform will only worsen the trend. Labor-saving technologies will alleviate some of this, but they can only go so far.

ABC: The lack of skilled workers is apparent throughout the U.S. economy, whether in construction, trucking, healthcare, hospitality, cybersecurity or a host of other industry segments…

The year 2018 will be yet another during which America’s low labor force participation rates will continue to hamstring businesses in many segments, including construction. A confluence of factors has led to these circumstances, including cultural shifts, shifts in educational philosophy, the atrophying of apprenticeship programs in much of the nation, and the ongoing large-scale retirement of many of the most talented, skilled and experienced construction workers. The nation’s shifting stand on immigration will not help, with employers finding it increasingly challenging to secure both skilled and semi-skilled personnel.

With respect to construction, the impact is to raise the cost of delivering construction services and to stretch out timetables. That makes it less likely that construction projects can move forward because this serves to reduce the predicted rate of return.

 

read more…

 

https://www.forconstructionpros.com/business/article/20985203/special-report-state-of-the-construction-industry-2018

House prices rise at fastest pace since June 2014 | Armonk Real Estate

The S&P/Case-Shiller national index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% during the three-month period ending in September, and was up 6.2% compared to the same period a year ago. The 20-city index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% for the month and 6.2% for the year.

What happened: Economists had forecast a 0.4% monthly increase, and a 6.2% yearly increase, for the 20-city tracker.

Case-Shiller’s national index regained its previous, bubble-era peak last year — and is 5.9% higher as of September. But the 20-city index, which is skewed toward the metro areas that experienced the biggest booms, is still 1.5% shy of its 2006 high.

Big picture: Home prices have surged in recent years as housing demand stirred to life amid ultra-lean supply. But Case-Shiller’s index, developed as a tool for tracking prices for real estate investors, may not capture the full story of what’s going on in the housing market.

An analysis by Trulia for MarketWatch shows that only 38% of U.S. homes have recovered their pre-recession peak. (That analysis is an update of a Trulia report from last spring, more on which can be found here.)

The two sets of data differ, in part because Case-Shiller’s is an index derived from observing price changes over time for a small subset of homes — and then extrapolating those across the broad market. The index also gives more weight to higher-priced homes, which are of greater interest to investors. In contrast, Trulia has individual price estimates of most of the homes in the U.S.

As Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist, told MarketWatch last spring, price trackers like Case-Shiller are a bit like stock indexes, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +1.09%  , while data like Trulia’s is akin to the prices of individual equities.

Each method has its purpose, and each relies on assumptions. But using Case-Shiller to tell the story of how individual homeowners or neighborhoods may be faring “distorts the impression of how recovered the U.S. housing market is,” McLaughlin said.

Perhaps more striking is that McLaughlin thinks it will take years before all homes have regained pre-recession peaks. In fact, assuming a linear pace of recovery, that might not come until 2025, he thinks.

In September, Case-Shiller data showed that 16 cities saw annual prices accelerate from last month. Of three cities with monthly price declines, one was Seattle, continuing the trend of tepid monthly performances for one of the frothiest markets of the country.

Strong price gains were also seen in the FHFA’s house price index, released Tuesday. Nationally, prices were up 6.5% from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

Metro Monthly change 12-month change
Atlanta 0.2% 5.4%
Boston 0.4% 7.2%
Charlotte 0.3% 6.2%
Chicago 0.0% 3.9%
Cleveland 0.7% 5.4%
Dallas 0.4% 7.1%
Denver 0.2% 7.2%
Detroit -0.1% 6.9%
Las Vegas 1.0% 9.0%
Los Angeles 0.4% 6.2%
Miami 0.6% 5.0%
Minneapolis 0.0% 5.4%
New York 0.9% 5.2%
Phoenix 0.6% 6.1%
Portland 0.2% 7.3%
San Diego 0.5% 8.2%
San Francisco 0.5% 7.0%
Seattle -0.3% 12.9%
Tampa 0.9% 7.2%
Washington -0.2% 3.1%

Mortgage rates average 3.93% | Waccabuc Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQBFMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates holding relatively flat across the board.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.93 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending December 14, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 3.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.16 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.36 percent with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.37 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.36 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.35 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.19 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 Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist.
“As widely expected, the Fed increased the federal funds target rate this week for the third time in 2017. The market had already priced in the rate hike so long term interest rates, including mortgage rates hardly moved. Mortgage rates held relatively flat across the board, with the 30-year fixed mortgage rate inching down 1 basis point to 3.93 percent in this week’s survey. Mortgage rates have been in a holding pattern for the fourth quarter, remaining within a 10 basis point range since October.”

Home Prices Rapidly Rise: Is History Repeating Itself? | Armonk Real Estate

‘Rapid Price Increases Will Not Last Forever’

The current growth in home prices is echoing the lead-up to the recession. Is history repeating itself?

The answer is likely not, according to a recently released realtor.com® report. Building is lacking in many markets—one hallmark 10 years ago was over-construction—and credit standards are more stringent, says Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com.

“As we compare today’s market dynamics to those of a decade ago, it’s important to remember rising prices didn’t cause the housing crash,” Hale says. “It was rising prices stoked by subprime and low documentation mortgages, as well as people looking for short-term gains—versus today’s truer market vitality—that created the environment for the crash.”

In 2016, home prices (the national median home sales price) were 2 percent higher than they were in 2006, the report reveals. Pre-recession prices have returned in 31 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

In contrast with 2006, however, are today’s credit conditions. Currently, the median FICO score for a mortgage is 734; the median in 2006 was 700.

Builds and flips are also different from 2006—starkly. The credit environment, among other factors, is keeping a lid on unfettered flipping and over-construction. In 2006, one household formation generally equaled 1.4 single-family housing starts; in 2016, that number shrank to 0.7 single-family starts. Flips accounted for 5 percent of sales in 2016; in 2006, they comprised 8.6 percent.

“Lending standards are critical to the health of the market,” says Hale. “Unlike today, the boom’s under-regulated lending environment allowed borrowing beyond repayable amounts and atypical mortgage products, which pushed up home prices without the backing of income and equity.”

Additionally, economic indicators point elsewhere. Employment was healthy then and is now, but inventory is limited more today—at a 20-year low. Presently, the average months supply is 4.2; in 2007, the average months supply was 6.4.

“The healthy economy is creating more jobs and households, but not giving these people enough places to live,” Hale says. “Rapid price increases will not last forever. We expect a gradual tapering as buyers are priced out of the market—not a market correction, but an easing of demand and price growth as renting or adding roommates becomes a more affordable alternative.”

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

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http://rismedia.com/2017/11/13/home-prices-rapidly-rise-is-history-repeating-itself/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews

Greenwich sales slip 13% | Armonk Real Estate

Listings of mansions in Greenwich have dropped for the past four quarters. But this time it wasn’t because sales were brisk.

Luxury-home listings in the Connecticut town plunged 31 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Thursday by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. That’s largely because sellers who failed to get their hoped-for price quit trying to find buyers and took their properties off the market to wait for a better day.

“Inventory is declining but sales aren’t rising,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, said in an interview. “It’s mostly listings being pulled off the market.”

Tastes are changing in Greenwich, home to many Wall Street executives who take the 50-minute train ride to Manhattan. Lavish mansions on several acres have languished, while smaller homes closer to downtown get scooped up. In the third quarter, sales of luxury homes — the top 10 percent of deals by price — fell 13 percent from a year earlier to 21, the firms said. Condo purchases, meanwhile, jumped 35 percent to 58 transactions, the most for a quarter in data going back to 1999.

“Small is the new big,” said Scott Durkin, chief operating officer of Douglas Elliman. “Millennial buyers, they want to be in town, they want to be close to services, they don’t need 5,000 to 10,000 square feet — they’re OK with 1,600 to 2,200.”

“We really don’t have enough of those listings to sell,” he said. “We need more.”

The closer that homes are to Greenwich’s commercial district or waterfront, the faster they’re selling. At the current pace of deals, it would take 7.8 months to sell all the listed properties south of Post Road, an area that includes the train station and tony shops of Greenwich Avenue, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. In the Back Country section — north of the Merritt Parkway, featuring oversized estates set back from winding, two-lane roads — it would take more than three years to clear the listed inventory.

Price Cuts

One listing that struggled to find a buyer was 16 Old Mill Road, a 10,881-square-foot home that had three price reductions in its more than two years on the market, according to listing records. The property, on 5.3 acres that include a 2,329-square-foot guest house, was first listed in May 2015 for $17.35 million, and eventually whittled to $11.45 million before it was pulled in September. Brokers shifted tactics, relisting the home under a different address — 781 Lake Ave. — and with an additional discount, to $10.95 million.

High-end sales had picked up earlier this year, largely because of price cuts, helping to clear some of the backlog. Sellers were still discounting this quarter, offering an average of 6.7 percent off the last listed price. The reductions drew in buyers for some costlier homes, pushing the median sale price in the luxury category up 34 percent to $6.5 million, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said.

That’s the upside to having so many fatigued sellers giving up, according to Durkin. It clears the distractions and boosts confidence for those who want to commit to a high-end purchase in town.

 

read more….

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-19/greenwich-mansion-owners-pull-listings-to-wait-for-a-better-day

More Information About the Equifax Data Breach | Armonk Real Estate

Unfortunately for Equifax, outcry over their massive security breach is not yesterday’s news even 6 weeks after the hack was made public. In fact, there is a deeper probe being made by government officials and consumers trying to figure out what can be done to prevent another breach and how personal information can be protected.
Here are some of the most recent updates on the breach:

  • Equifax announced that they believe 2.5 million more U.S. consumers may have had their data stolen. Adding to the original prediction of 143 million, it’s now believed that approximately 145.5 million consumers may be affected.
  • 209,000 consumer credit card numbers were stolen.
  • 182,000 documents with personal information were stolen.
  • Former Equifax CEO, Richard Smith, reported that the hack happened due to a human error in their security department who failed to patch a flaw in the system.
  • Close to 11 million driver’s license ID numbers are believed to have been compromised.
  • It was discovered that some coding on Equifax’s website contained malicious content. The security analyst who discovered the issue was trying to download his credit report when he was confronted with this malicious link. Equifax released a statement saying this was not another hack and the third-party coding had been removed.
  • Democrats have introduced a new bill that would stop the credit reporting agencies from charging fees to consumers for security protection options to prevent ID Theft.
  • Democrats have also called for Equifax to wave their fee for business credit reports since it’s believed that business credit data was compromised as well. Companies are at risk of business identity theft as well as personal.
  • A Republican lawmaker introduced a new bill to give U.S. bank regulators more power over supervising the credit reporting agencies.
  • Equifax has been doused with dozens of class-action lawsuits.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have ongoing federal investigations into any misconduct.

Whether your information is listed as compromised or not, the fact that a multi-billion-dollar worldwide corporation would be so sloppy in the protection of consumer data is worrisome, to say the least.

Whether we like it or not, the credit bureaus own your information, we did not give them permission but are required to trust them with the data. Identity protection is in our own hands, we cannot trust corporations in this digital age to be able to ward off all potential threats. Even if they do have the most cutting-edge protection thieves will find a way to break through it.  The best thing each consumer can do is monitor their credit, know the signs of a scam, and keep their personal data secure.

Here’s some of the information that Equifax handed to hackers:

  • Email addresses
  • Names
  • Social security numbers
  • Credit card and bank information
  • Birth dates
  • Driver’s license ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Income / job history
  • Business information

Enroll in our annual credit monitoring service where your reports will be guarded by credit professional on a daily basis. We offer monitoring for adults, children, and businesses.

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Home prices rise 5.9% | Armonk Real Estate

The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index rose 5.9 percent in July from a year earlier, slightly faster than June’s 5.8 percent annual pace.

Sales of both new and existing homes slipped over the summer, which typically might slow price gains.

But demand remains strong and has created bidding wars among potential buyers, pushing up prices at a much faster pace than incomes. The number of existing homes for sale fell 6.5 percent in the past year.

Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas saw the largest increases, with prices in Seattle soaring 13.5 percent in July from a year earlier.

Other cities are also seeing strong gains. Home prices rose 7.3 percent in Dallas and Detroit, and 7.2 percent in Denver. The slowest increases were in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, which both reported 3.3 percent gains.

With unemployment low and paychecks rising modestly, more people are in the market for a home. But construction of new single-family homes has been held back by a limited supply of land in hot markets and difficulty in finding construction workers.

That has intensified the competition in the housing market. Homes sold after an average of just 30 days on the market in August, according to the National Association of Realtors, down from 36 days a year ago.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma began to pinch sales in August and should drag on the sales in the months ahead.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The July figures are the latest available.

 

read more…

http://us.spindices.com/index-family/real-estate/sp-corelogic-case-shiller

Missouri couple makes an affordable, recycled home out of shipping containers | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Zach and Brie Smithey of St. Charles, Missouri, have remodeled several homes, but none of them were the perfect fit. “We were looking for something that wasn’t quite the norm,” Zach explains.

“We renovated homes built in 1880, 1904, and the 1970s. With each house, we got closer to our flavor, but never quite hit it,” he says. “We realized that to do something different, we had to start from scratch—to get what we really wanted, we couldn’t follow someone else’s template.”

When they purchased an empty lot in 2011, they pictured building a more traditional house made out of conventional materials. But as the years passed, their vision shifted, and at some point, they stopped thinking about what a house should be and began wondering what other forms it might take. Ideas such as a concrete house, a geodesic dome, and a tiny house were weighed and rejected. “Realistically, how many people could live in a tiny house for the rest of their lives?” wonders Brie.

The couple who built the shipping container house left some metal walls exposed. Here, you see light-green metal walls and a white metal ceiling. Artwork by owner Zach Smithey, showing portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, decorates the walls.
When Zach and Brie Smithey designed and built their container house, they left some of the metal uncovered, creating an effect that could be compared to exposed brick in a more conventional house. The art is by Zack, from a Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln series.

The couple doesn’t remember how the concept was raised, but when the idea of a container house came on their radar, it immediately felt right. “I had never seen one before, and I wasn’t even sure they existed,” Zach says. Online searches convinced them and informed them that if they built a container house, they’d be the first in the area to do so.

“We chose a container house because it gave us the most bang for our buck,” says Brie. “It allowed us to use recycled materials, which was important to us. The cost of it, and the fact we did so much of it ourselves, allowed us to live mortgage free, which was also important to us.”

Little did they know that at the time they were doing the research, their future home was sitting in a nearby container yard. “Once we decided to do this, I found a broker that sources containers from container yards across America,” Zach says. “There are many options: You can buy them new, used, or ready to be retired.”

Zach Smithey stands by his black pit bull named Boomer. The dog sits on bed next to a large, arched window that’s installed upside down. An old, elaborate fireplace mantel is installed behind Smithey.
Above: Zach poses with his dog, Boomer, who sits on a bed placed beside one of the upside-down arched windows. The window and the mantel are both architectural salvage. Below: Zach made a simple mannequin a piece of art and installed it over a stairway.

The couple chose the last option, feeling that a few dents only add to the character of the units. They ended up with containers that had been built in Shanghai and traveled around the world 12 times on boat, train, and truck before coming to rest in North St. Louis. “We found eight 40-foot containers, each one with nine-foot-high ceilings,” Zach says. “We paid $1,600 for each, and $375 to have each of them delivered, so they ended up being about $2,000 apiece. The whole project cost us about $135,000.”

The couple had the containers delivered to their lot, used a crane to stack them in a giant cube shape (there are four containers on the bottom and four on the top), and began shaping them into their home. “Building a regular house is an additive process—you put more on it day by day,” says Zach. “But in a house like this, it’s more of a subtractive process. You stack up the containers, and then you carve away the walls you don’t need.”

A pair of large paintings by Zach decorate the living room.
In the basement, the couple used all the scrap wood generated from the project to panel the walls. They painted it all white to unify the space.
In the living room, two large black-and-white artworks show a female and male figures; random pieces of wood panel the basement, and it’s all painted white; a long staircase has mismatched, salvaged balusters in the railing, and an abstract portrait of Ma
Another painting from the Mark Twain series hangs at the top of a run of stairs with railing composed of many different salvaged balusters.

Before we go on with this story, there are a few things you need to understand about the Smitheys. The first is that Zach is an artist and that informs his remodeling projects. “For me and my art, it’s all about the process, not the end result,” he says. “This house is just like a big sculpture project. I figured it out as I went along, and the journey was more important than the destination. In the end, we have something we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning if we had had a hard and fast goal we were aiming at.”

The second thing you need to know is that he and his wife appear to be the types who see things differently. For example, what mere mortals consider a packing pallet, this couple sees as a building opportunity/free wood. “The great thing is that once people know you think this way, they seek you out and unload stuff,” says Zach. Indeed, when they talk about the home, very little is new and explanations are peppered with phrases like: “My friend was remodeling a house and had to get rid of a lot of brick” or “My friend’s wife works at a JCPenney that cancelled a remodel and had a lot of extra materials.”

Large, mullioned windows act as dividers in the living room to make a small sitting room. In the kitchen, a row of painted mannequin busts sit on a shelf. Half rounds of wood are painted white and hung on the wall to create shelves.
Above: Salvaged windows and pillars separate a small sitting room from the larger living area. Below: In the kitchen, more painted mannequins decorate the walls. Half rounds created by cutting the tops of industrial cable spindles in half act as wall-mounted shelves.

Finally, this is a couple that’s seemingly unfazed by things they don’t initially know how to do. He’s an artist and she had worked as a massage therapist—but they didn’t hesitate to purchase and operate a restaurant (Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room & Gallery), something they’d never done before. She later founded Brie’s Protein Bars, a health food company. They apply this can-do attitude to remodeling; so having no direct experience with container buildings was no problem.

“Really, the only way to learn how to remodel is to remodel,” says Zach. “We did most of it ourselves, save for the electric, plumbing, and HVAC. Because we were doing it ourselves, we were constantly changing tasks and using/developing new skills. It was exhausting and went on 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for a year and 14 days.”

Brie agrees that the process was difficult. “I expected it to be hard—if it were easy, everyone would be doing it,” she allows. “What I didn’t expect is how difficult it would be to work with the metal. It’s heavy, it’s thick… YouTubers make it look easy, but trust me, it’s not for everyone.”

In the most basic terms, here’s what they did: Stacked up the containers, cut out openings between them, built a frame within the metal shell, put in the utilities, and then hung the drywall (except in strategic places where they left the metal exposed).

Salvaged wood is used to make an unusual bed whose foot floats above the floor and whose head has a sharp slope. The whole thing is painted aqua and two black dogs (a pit bull named Boomer and a labrador named George) lie on the bed.
Frustrated with uncomfortable headboards, Zach designed his own. The angle is crafted for comfortable reading or watching television (they plan to mount one near the ceiling in the future). Boomer (left) and George (right) enjoy it as well.

Of course, that simplistic explanation doesn’t even begin to cover the improvisation that went into it. “I figured it out as I went along,” says Zach. The figure-it-out-as-you-go style is responsible for features like antique arched windows hung upside down in the living room (they were left behind at their restaurant, rescued from an old church next door); baseboard and crown molding made from randomly cut boards from packing pallets; and cement board painted in a rainbow of drip patterns and installed as shower walls.

Throughout, recycled materials are everywhere you look. In addition to the aforementioned items, rope pulled from the mud on the banks of the Mississippi was cleaned and used to frame a television; birdbaths and a fountain plucked from a landscaping company’s boneyard find new life as sinks and a plumbed bar table; a combine chain and tractor hooks are used to support a wall-hung vanity in the upstairs bath; and a conch shell is repurposed as a faucet in a bathroom on the main floor.

The master bath has a mirror that’s broken and spread apart to span the vanity. A curving piece of painted wood fills the gap. A wooden vanity is supported by industrial combine chains. Cement bird bath basins are outfitted as sinks. In the shower, cement
Above: In the master bath, a piece of salvaged mirror was stretched to fit the vanity by breaking the glass and filling the resulting gap with a piece of painted wood. The vanity is supported by chains from an old combine and sports sinks made from bird bath basins. Below: To make the shower walls, Zach drip painted sections of cement board before installing them.

Of course, none of this was easy or without headaches. “If, during construction, we encountered a problem we looked at it as an opportunity to innovate,” Zach says.

Anything this different is bound to inspire curiosity—especially in a small community like St. Charles (population: 69,293). “When we were building it, not a day went by without someone coming into the house and asking questions,” says Zach. The curiosity reached such a pitch, that the couple decided to host a community open house on May 20, the day the last light fixture was hung. The couple anticipated a few hundred people, and they were surprised when 2,000 showed up. “I was in shock,” says Brie. “Negative comments always seem louder than positive ones, but that day, it seemed like the house was full of positive comments and so many compliments.”

The shipping container’s metal is visible on the back of the house. You can see two large sliding doors the Smithey’s installed, opening the lower level to the patio.
The front of the container house is clad in salvaged brick, but rear facade shows off the metal is was born with.

The couple decided to make it a benefit for the local animal shelter, and ended up raising $8,000 at the door for the organization.

 

 

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https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/11/16234506/shipping-container-home-tour-missouri?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Homes%20of%20the%20Week%2091717&utm_content=Homes%20of%20the%20Week%2091717+CID_298c5940234781f324d216c4c6aa57fe&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=This%20135K%20shipping%20container%20house%20lets%20its%20owners%20live%20mortgage%20free

Mortgage rates average 3.82% | Armonk Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQBFMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates continuing to move lower.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.82 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending August 31, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 3.86 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.46 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.12 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.77 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.14 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 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 10-year Treasury yield fell to a new 2017-low on Tuesday. In response, the 30-year mortgage rate dropped 4 basis points to 3.82 percent, reaching a new year-to-date low for the second consecutive week. However, recent releases of positive economic data could halt the downward trend of mortgage rates.”

 

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/