Category Archives: Bedford Hills

Japan’s vacant rural homes | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Japan has an increasing number of vacant homes — a problem that’s set to persist because of an aging and shrinking population that has left many towns and villages empty.

“Japan faces significant economic and social impact effects from demographic (aging) over the next three decades,” Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, wrote in an October note.

Abandoned properties in the world’s third-largest economy are among the least-discussed side effects of the country’s demographic changes. But it’s getting more attention given the increasing number of affordable — and sometimes free — houses put up for sale online on websites called “akiya banks.”

Akiya is the Japanese term for vacant homes. Many of such sites are set up by local governments and communities to better manage the supply and demand for the growing stock of empty houses in their respective towns.

Properties listed on Tochigi’s “akiya bank”

On one website, several homes are free, with the buyer having to pay only taxes and fees such as agent commissions.

“This is usually because the owners cannot take care of the property anymore or do not want to pay the property tax that applies in Japan for a home that they do not use,” said real estate site REthink Tokyo in an October report.

The free homes also usually require major refurbishment because they are old and run down. But some local governments — such as the Tochigi and Nagano prefectures — offer subsidies for renovation work on vacant houses.

For vacant homes that are not free, prices can range from 500,000 Japanese yen ($4,428.50) to close to 20 million yen ($177,140) depending on location, age and condition of the house, according to the listings seen by CNBC.

Suburbs, larger towns — and Tokyo

Across Japan, the number of vacant homes stood at 8.196 million in 2013, representing around 13.52 percent of the country’s total housing stock, according to latest data by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The 2013 figures were higher than 2008′s 7.568 million empty houses, which accounted for about 13.14 percent of Japan’s total homes that year, according to the data. By 2033, the proportion of vacant homes in Japan is expected to grow to surpass 20 percent, according to Fujitsu Research Institute.

Japan’s vacant homes are largely concentrated in rural towns, but the phenomenon has started to show up in the suburbs and larger cities, according to various media reports such as The Japan Times.

In Tokyo, the proportion of vacant homes stood at 11.1 percent in 2013 — among the lowest in the country, according to official statistics. But that number is expected to grow above 20 percent by 2033, said Fujitsu Research Institute.

read more…

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/22/japan-free-homes-empty-houses-given-away-and-sold-cheap.html

 

Home remodeling slowdown expected | Bedford Hills Homes

After several years of solid acceleration, annual growth in national home improvement and repair spending is expected to soften in 2019, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released today by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that year-over-year increases in residential remodeling expenditures will reach a decade high of 7.7 percent this year and then start to drift downward to 6.6 percent through the third quarter of 2019.

“Rising mortgage interest rates and flat home sales activity around much of the country are expected to pinch otherwise very strong growth in homeowner remodeling spending moving forward,” says Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Low for-sale inventories are presenting a headwind because home sales tend to spur investments in remodeling and repair both before a sale and in the years following.” 

“Even so, many other remodeling market indicators including home prices, permit activity, and retail sales of building materials continue to strengthen and will support above-average gains in spending next year,” says Abbe Will, Associate Project Director in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center. “Through the third quarter of 2019, annual expenditures for residential improvements and repairs by homeowners is still expected to grow to over $350 billion nationally.”

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

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

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

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

read more…

http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/press-releases/slower-growth-anticipated-home-remodeling

Housing starts up y-o-y | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Total housing starts posted a decline in September due to flat conditions for single-family construction and a pullback for apartment development. Total starts declined 5.3% in September but are 6.4% higher for 2018 on a year-to-date basis, according to the joint data release from the Census Bureau and HUD.

The pace of single-family starts was roughly flat in September, decreasing 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 871,000. Slight gains off the summer soft patch for single-family mirror a minor uptick of the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, now registering a score of 68. While builders are benefitting from recent declines in lumber prices (at least relative to spring and summer’s elevated levels), they continue to report concerns about labor access issues.

On a year-to-date basis, single-family starts are 6% higher as of September relative to the first nine months of 2017. Single-family permits, a useful indicator of future construction activity, were up slightly (2.9%) in September and have registered a 5.6% gain thus far in 2018 compared to last year.

Multifamily starts (2+ unit production) pulled back in September to a 330,000 annual rate. After a strong start to the year, multifamily development is moving closer to our forecast of leveling-off conditions. On a year-to-date basis, multifamily 5+ unit production is 7.3% higher thus far in 2018, while multifamily 5+ unit permitting is trending lower with just a 0.8% year-to-date increase relative to 2017.

With respect to housing’s economic impact, 54% of homes under construction in September were multifamily (607,000). The current count of apartments under construction is down slightly from a year ago. In September, there were 522,000 single-family units under construction, a gain of more than 9% from this time in 2017.

Regional data show – on a year-to-date basis – mixed conditions. Single-family construction is down 1% for the year in the Midwest and flat in the Northeast. Single-family starts are up in the larger building regions of the South (4.9%) and the West (14.6%).

read more…

Single-Family Starts Flat in September

Framing Lumber Prices Down Year-over-year | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Here is another monthly update on framing lumber prices.   Lumber prices declined further in September from the recent record highs, and are now down year-over-year.

This graph shows two measures of lumber prices: 1) Framing Lumber from Random Lengths through October 5, 2018 (via NAHB), and 2) CME framing futures.

image: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-E7wGkKJYGas/W7ucQh1Nf0I/AAAAAAAAwMU/LJGNuvCZt5kIOIsajkK6SxxCf0JM997twCLcBGAs/s320/LumberOct82018.PNG

Lumcber Prices

Click on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

Right now Random Lengths prices are down 12% from a year ago, and CME futures are also down 12% year-over-year.

There is a seasonal pattern for lumber prices. Prices frequently peak around May, and bottom around October or November – although there is quite a bit of seasonal variability.



Read more…

https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2018/10/update-framing-lumber-prices-down-year.html#dMwLgSHUwZtbJW2a.99

Housing Inventory Tracking | Bedford Hills Real Estate

I love Bill McBride’s Calculated Risk blog

Update: Watching existing home “for sale” inventory is very helpful. As an example, the increase in inventory in late 2005 helped me call the top for housing.

And the decrease in inventory eventually helped me correctly call the bottom for house prices in early 2012, see: The Housing Bottom is Here.

And in 2015, it appeared the inventory build in several markets was ending, and that boosted price increases.

I don’t have a crystal ball, but watching inventory helps understand the housing market.

Inventory, on a national basis, was unchanged year-over-year (YoY) in July, this followed 37 consecutive months with a YoY decline.

The graph below shows the YoY change for non-contingent inventory in Houston, Las Vegas, Sacramento (through August) and also Phoenix (through July) and total existing home inventory as reported by the NAR (through July).

image: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q5HBzFd0njM/W5q8p0StEDI/AAAAAAAAwAU/rQCgnKAobAsQ2a5xzlfVUzGANmCIoFzDgCLcBGAs/s320/InventoryPreAug2018.PNG

Click on graph for larger image.

This shows the YoY change in inventory for Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Sacramento.  The black line is the year-over-year change in inventory as reported by the NAR.

Note that inventory in Sacramento was up 22% year-over-year in July (inventory was still very low), and has increased YoY for eleven consecutive months.

Also note that inventory was up 20% YoY in Las Vegas in August (red), the second consecutive month with a YoY increase.

Houston is a special case, and inventory was up for several years due to lower oil prices, but declined YoY recently as oil prices increased.  Inventory was up slightly in Houston in August (but the YoY change might be distorted by Hurricane Harvey last year).

Inventory is a key for the housing market, and I am watching inventory for the impact of the new tax law and higher mortgage rates on housing.   I expect national inventory will be up YoY at the end of 2018 (but still be low).

This is not comparable to late 2005 when inventory increased sharply signaling the end of the housing bubble, but it does appear that inventory is bottoming nationally (but still very low).

 

Read more at https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#DgT40fTJtpLyGmFz.99

Home prices make the biggest jump in four years | Bedford Hills Real Estate

It is a seller’s market, undeniably. The supply of homes for sale is low, demand is high, and now prices are heating up even more. But sellers today see more reasons to stay put than to profit.

Home prices jumped 7.1 percent annually in May, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That’s the biggest jump in four years. Annual price gains had been shrinking slightly, as mortgage rates rose, but apparently higher rates are not hurting demand. They are, however, exacerbating the already critical supply shortage.

“During the first quarter, we found that about 50 percent of all existing homeowners had a mortgage rate of 3.75 percent or less,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “May’s mortgage rates averaged a seven-year high of 4.6 percent, with an increasing number of homeowners keeping the low-rate loans they currently have, rather than sell and buy another home that would carry a higher interest rate.”

Rising costs could hurt entry level housing supply

Rising costs could hurt entry level housing supply  

If mortgage rates were to rise further, fewer homeowners would want to move. In fact, if today’s homeowners just considering a move were faced with a mortgage rate 1 percentage point higher than their current one, 24 percent would not move, according to a survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Thirty-six percent said they “may not” move. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now slightly more than 1 percentage point higher than the lows following the recession.

The median price of an existing home sold in May was $264,800, according to the National Association of Realtors. Of course, all real estate is local, and certain markets are hotter than others. Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco continue to see some of the biggest price gains, as they also have the leanest supply.

The supply of homes for sale has been dropping on an annual basis for the past 36 months, according to the National Association of Realtors. The shortage is most acute at the lower end of the market, where demand is highest and where investors bought thousands of distressed properties during the housing crash, turning them into lucrative rentals.

Younger potential buyers have already delayed homeownership due to the recession and high levels of student loan debt. They have also been hampered by high rents, making it more difficult to save for a downpayment.

Higher rents, combined with higher home prices, are the number one reason for the decline in young homeowners, followed by lower marriage and fertility rates, according to a recent study by Freddie Mac.

“Historically low mortgage rates and increasingly favorable employment conditions should have generated a far greater number of home purchases by young adults, especially in the last five years,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Unfortunately, home-price and rent growth above incomes — driven primarily by a severe shortage of housing supply — have been too high of a hurdle for many would-be buyers to clear.”

read more…

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/02/housing-is-getting-more-expensive-as-home-sellers-retreat.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief

Mortgage Rates Move Up to Highest Level in Seven Years | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB:FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that after plateauing in recent weeks, mortgage rates reversed course and reached a new high last seen eight years ago.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says the 30-year fixed mortgage rate edged up to 4.61 percent, which matches the highest level since May 19, 2011. “Healthy consumer spending and higher commodity prices spooked the bond markets and led to higher mortgage rates over the past week,” he said. “Not only are buyers facing higher borrowing costs, gas prices are currently at four-year highs just as we enter the important peak home sales season.”

Added Khater, “While this year’s higher mortgage rates have not caused much of a ripple in the strong demand levels for buying a home seen in most markets, inflationary pressures and the prospect of rates approaching 5 percent could begin to hit the psyche of some prospective buyers.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.61 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending May 17, 2018, up from last week when it averaged 4.55 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.02 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.08 percent with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.01 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.27 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.82 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.13 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.

U.S. construction spending barely rises | Bedford Hills Real Estate

U.S. construction spending rose less than expected in February amid a steep decline in investment in public construction projects.

The Commerce Department said on Monday construction spending edged up 0.1 percent after being unchanged in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending accelerating 0.5 percent in February. Construction spending increased 3.0 percent on a year-on-year basis.

February’s marginal increase in construction spending could have implications for first-quarter gross domestic product growth estimates, which are mostly below a 2 percent annualized rate.

In February, spending on public construction projects tumbled 2.1 percent, almost reversing January’s 2.3 percent rise. February’s drop was the largest since June 2017.

Spending on federal government construction projects plunged 11.9 percent, the biggest decline since October 2004, after surging 13.4 percent in January.

State and local government construction outlays fell 1.0 percent after rising 1.3 percent in January.

Spending on private construction projects increased 0.7 percent after falling 0.7 percent in January. Outlays on private residential projects edged up 0.1 percent to the highest level since January 2007. They rose 0.1 percent in January.

Spending on nonresidential structures rebounded 1.5 percent in February after dropping 1.7 percent in the prior month.

 

read more…

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-construction/u-s-construction-spending-barely-rises-in-february-idUSKCN1H918R?il=0

Construction spending at all time high | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Construction spending in the US was unchanged at an all-time high of USD 1.26 trillion in January 2018, following an upwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in December and missing market expectations of 0.3 percent. Spending on private construction fell 0.5 percent to USD 962.7 billion after hitting a record high of USD 967.9 billion in the previous month, due to a decline in nonresidential projects (-1.5 percent). Meanwhile, outlays on public construction projects increased 1.8 percent to USD 300.0 billion in January, the highest level since August 2015, as spending on federal government construction projects surged 14.9 percent to the highest level since September 2011 and that on state and local government construction rose 0.5 percent to a near two-year high. Construction Spending in the United States averaged 0.45 percent from 1964 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 5.90 percent in April of 1978 and a record low of -4.80 percent in February of 1975.

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/construction-spending

Bedford Hills Nor’easter update

Storm Update – Warming Centers
            Our thanks to the Bedford Hills Fire Department and the Katonah Fire Department for opening their facilities (2d floor of each fire house) as a warming center up to 10 PM tonight.   We ask that you take extra care in driving over there as there are downed trees and wires throughout town.
The forecast for strong wind gusts have proved correct with resulting downed trees and wires in several areas in Town.   There are outages for approximately 1700 NYSEG customers and 100 Con Edison customers.  We have been working with NYSEG and Con Edison to expedite making conditions safe (de-energized lines to allow removal of downed trees/limbs).  NYSEG’s press release (click here) describes the protocol.  Our Highway Department, of course, is working to ensure safe passage on the roads.
Be safe – do not approach any downed wires.  To report power outages, downed lines, utility poles or damaged equipment, for NYSEG call 800-572-1131 or online at nyseg.com/outage and for Con Edison 800-752-6633 (electric) https://apps.coned.com/cemyaccount/CSOL/ReportOutage.aspx?lang=eng and 914-921-3720 (gas).  Call Bedford Police at 241-3111 or Bedford Highway at 666-7669 to report downed wires or trees blocking roads. We also have been coordinately closely with NYSEG and Con Edison should power outages occur and they activate their storm damage assessment reporting systems.  Our objective is to respond quickly and effectively to the situation.
Also, please do not hesitate to contact me  at  supervisor@bedfordny.gov or call me at 666-6530.