Category Archives: Bedford Hills

Builder confidence up | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose three points to 66 in May, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Builder sentiment is at its highest level since October 2018 after declines in late 2018 due to higher interest rates and concerns over slower growth. Builders are catching up after a wet winter and many characterize sales as solid, driven by improved demand and ongoing low overall supply. However, affordability challenges persist.

Mortgage rates are hovering just above 4 percent following a challenging fourth quarter of 2018 when they peaked near 5 percent. This lower-interest rate environment, along with ongoing job growth and rising wages, is contributing to a gradual improvement in the marketplace. At the same time, builders continue to deal with ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising material costs that are holding back supply and harming affordability.

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 the HMI indices posted gains in May. The index measuring current sales conditions rose three points to 72, the component gauging expectations in the next six months edged one point higher to 72 and the metric charting buyer traffic moved up two points to 49.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a six-point gain to 57, the West increased two points to 71, the Midwest gained one point to 54, and the South rose a single point to 68.

The HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi.

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Mortgage interest rates average 4.17% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that fixed mortgage rates rose for the third consecutive week.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “After dropping dramatically in late March, mortgage rates have modestly increased since then. While this week marks the third consecutive week of rises, purchase activity reached a nine-year high – indicative of a strong spring homebuying season.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.17 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 18, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 4.12 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.47 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.62 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.60 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.94 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.78 percent with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.80 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.67 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.

New smoke detector law in NY April 1 | Bedford Hills Real Estate

We’re not trying to fool anyone — especially for something as serious as having smoke detectors. This coming April 1 is the day a new law goes into effect that bans the sale or installation of any smoke detecting device that has a battery that can be replaced or removed.

The law states that, as of April 1, any new or replacement smoke detectors in the state have to powered by a non-removable battery that lasts for at least 10 years, or it must be hardwired to the home’s electricity, localsyr.com said.

New smoke detecting units have a sealed lithium battery that people cannot take out.

The upgraded smoke detectors cost more than the ones you may still have in your home, but you will no longer need to spring for new batteries, making them likely cheaper over the long run, news10.com said.

Legislators originally passed a Jan. 1, 2017, effective date for the law, but it was amended to be in force April 1, 2019.Subscribe

The New York State Association of Realtors, Inc., noted that the law does not require smoke detectors that are already in use to be in compliance, just ones that are being newly installed or replaced.

The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs said all smoke detectorsthat are more than 10 years old should be replaced, even if you think it’s still working.

Besides testing them on a regular basis, the alarms need to be cleaned to remove any dust, cobwebs, pet fur or other substances that may have made their way into the unit.

Cleaning could be as simple as using a hair dryer to blow air at the smoke alarm for a few seconds to get rid of any debris.

If you are concerned about the cost of the new smoke detectors, the Red Cross is giving some away for free as part of the Sound the Alarm program.

There will be a mega-install day in Yonkers in Westchester County May 11, according to a Red Cross spokeswoman.

To have a smoke detector installed, people can call 845-673-1198 to schedule an appointment or visit www.soundthealarm.org/mnyn and fill out the online form.

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https://patch.com/new-york/bedford/new-smoke-detector-law-set-go-effect-new-york

Best and worst mortgage rates for homebuyers, by state | Bedford Hills Real Estate

U.S. homebuyers are facing affordabilityOpens a New Window. challenges as home prices continue rising, however everything from mortgageOpens a New Window. rate terms to average down payments can vary markedly from state to state.

The average interest rate offered in the U.S. is 4.84 percent, according to findings from online lending exchange LendingTree. Rates tended to fall within a fairly narrow range across the country – there were no states with rates below 4.74 percent or in excess of 4.96 percent.

The average down payment across all 50 states is about $28,000, while the average loan offered in the U.S. is $224,297.

Here’s a look at the conditions prospective homebuyers are currently facing in the housing market, as compiled by LendingTree:

Highest interest rates

The states with the highest average interest rates are:

New York: Average interest rates in the Empire State are 4.96 percent, the highest in the country.

Iowa: In Iowa, residents face the second-highest interest rates, at 4.93 percent.

Arkansas: At 4.92 percent, residents in Arkansas only face slightly lower rates than Iowans.

Lowest interest rates

The states where interest rates are the lowest include:

California: The Golden State has the lowest interest rates, on average, at 4.74 percent.

New Jersey: Follows California with the second-lowest rates of 4.75 percent.

Washington & Massachusetts are tied for the third place spot, each state offering average rates of 4.76 percent.

Highest down payment

The states where consumers tend to put down the highest average down payment is New York, at $43,404.

Lowest down payment

On the flip side, residents in West Virginia typically only need to put down a little bit more than $15,000.

Lowest APR

The state with the lowest average APR is California at 4.83 percent.

Highest APR

New York had the highest APR at 5.07 percent.C

Highest offered loan

California homebuyers were offered the highest average loan, at $313,508.

Lowest offered loan

In Oklahoma, the average loan offered was the lowest out of all 50 states, at $186,502.

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https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/best-and-worst-rates-for-prospective-homebuyers-by-state

Powering the future – Net-zero energy homes have arrived | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Workers install solar panels on the roofs of homes under construction south of Corona, California. The California Energy Commission in May 2018 adopted new energy building standards requiring solar panels for virtually all new homes built in the state starting in 2020.

MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images | Digital First Media | Getty ImagesWorkers install solar panels on the roofs of homes under construction south of Corona, California. The California Energy Commission in May 2018 adopted new energy building standards requiring solar panels for virtually all new homes built in the state starting in 2020.

In 2013 De Young Properties built a single-family house in central California that defied nearly three generations worth of homes the family business had constructed. It was a net-zero energy building — it had the potential to produce as much energy as it would consume in a year. De Young didn’t build another one for four years, but within that period the company refined its designs to be more energy-efficient and technology-focused and drove down costs.

“Energy bills tend to be pretty high and onerous, and you usually have to sacrifice comfort for your energy bill or your energy bill for comfort, and we saw an opportunity to advance in this realm and become a leader,” said Brandon De Young, executive vice president.

In 2017 De Young Properties started the process of constructing three communities near Fresno, California, with more than 140 single-family homes in three different communities that will have the same level of energy efficiency. So far the homebuilder has constructed half of the first community, Envision at Loma Vista, and is in the process of beginning the other two. The cost of each home is typically between $350,000 and $450,000 — and carries an additional $10,000 over the cost of De Young’s comparable non-zero energy properties.

The homebuilder’s early investment in zero-energy construction was prescient. If you buy a new house in California within the next few years, there’s a good chance it will be built along similar lines. In December, California instituted a new requirement that calls for most new homes and multi-floor residential buildings up to three stories high to include solar rooftop panels beginning in 2020. Depending on the specifics of the design and the residence’s energy consumption pattern, solar panels could produce all the electricity needed for the home. The state’s ultimate goal is to produce net-zero energy homes that reduce the state’s carbon footprint and make buildings energy self-sufficient.

California is one of the world’s largest economies

This is the first time a state has built this requirement into its code, but similar regulations exist in cities like Tucson, Arizona, as well as the City of South Miami, the first introduced in Florida. Renewable energy mandates like residential rooftop solar come at a time when California has faced an unprecedented series of wildfires, with at least some of the natural disasters linked to more extreme weather patterns in an era of climate change.

The Net-Zero Energy Coalition estimates the U.S. has only 5,000 net-zero energy single-family homes and over 7,000 net-zero multi-family homes. That number could expand in 2020 to over 100,000 net-zero energy homes, based on the average annual new home constructions in California.

“California by itself is one of the largest economies in the world,” said Jacob Corvidae, a principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute. “What happens there has some impact, and it’s going to be an impact that has an effect on the rest of the country because they’re going to be figuring out ways to make solar cheaper and that scale will help bring down the cost.”

A home within De Young Properties' Envision at Loma Vista community outside Fresno, California.

De Young PropertiesA home within De Young Properties’ Envision at Loma Vista community outside Fresno, California.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated about 39 percent of the total energy consumed in the country was in the residential and commercial sectors. A majority of the energy was produced by fossil fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas.

Net-zero energy and zero energy-ready homes — which can be zero energy if solar panels are installed or their capacities are increased — are built to be more energy efficient than a typical building. This includes adding extra insulation, high-quality windows, LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, heat-reflecting roof tiles and energy-efficient appliances that, when combined, reduce the amount of energy the house consumes.

On the outside, the houses are built to optimize energy efficiency with significant airtight construction and economical roofs, walls, windows and foundations, said Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect of the Building Technologies Office in the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. These technologies also allow for better temperature regulation, low-humidity, less noise and minimize exposure to dangerous pollutants.

Cities with the most zero-energy buildings

CityNumber of Units
Sacramento, CA853
Vancouver, BC723
Davis, CA664
Portland, OR365
New York, NY361
Austin, TX346
Honolulu, HI338
Clarkdale, AZ323
Washington DC317
National City, CA268

Net-Zero Energy Coalition

There is no one-size-fits-all design for zero-energy homes. In De Young’s housing market, the modern style — homes you might find on a Google search with flat walls and a box-like look — are not as prevalent, so the company configured the homes to come in an array of styles, such as cottage, modern-farmhouse, and Italian-inspired variations.

“You don’t have to do it that [modern] way. We found out that you can build a zero-energy home that looks just as beautiful as any other home,” De Young said.

Costs of going zero energy

California commissioners anticipate the new mandate will add $40 more to a monthly mortgage payment, but with an $80 return on heating, cooling and lighting over a 30-year term. The upfront cost to a single-family house will be approximately $9,500 with savings of $19,000 over 30 years.

Ann Edminster, a board member of the Net-Zero Energy Coalition and a green building consultant, argues that people shouldn’t be thinking of the upfront costs in isolation. Home buyers can make decisions in a house’s design that offset the additional costs for net zero-energy upgrades, such as sacrificing decorative housing elements.

“It’s the same thing as asking for a roof rack on your car. You’re going to pay extra,” Edminster said, referring to design choices homeowners already make which result in higher costs, and in some cases, less energy efficiency.

A net zero energy home under construction by De Young Properties. Adding solar panels to a roof will not alone get a house to net zero energy. Choices in the framing and window design are part of required energy-efficiency upgrades.

De Young PropertiesA net zero energy home under construction by De Young Properties. Adding solar panels to a roof will not alone get a house to net zero energy. Choices in the framing and window design are part of required energy-efficiency upgrades.

In De Young’s case, making a home energy efficient usually costs an additional $10,000 before adding solar panels, which makes the home zero energy. Purchasing a solar system outright could add between six to 12 percent to the price, De Young said. The company has a partnership with Tesla which offers zero-down leases on its solar panels, among other financing options. In 2017, 41 percent of residential solar was owned by a third-party, which includes monthly leases and power purchase agreements, or PPAs, that allow customers to pay per kilowatt-hour of generation.

Charles Kibert, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning, said there are some drawbacks to relying on solar. The panels require ample roof space, a certain orientation that allows for optimum energy production and consistent weather conditions.

“All those factors put together and my experience is that you have to try really hard to have a net zero home,” Kibert said, adding that how people manage their home is a big factor. “Living behavior every day drives energy consumption pretty reliably.”

Problems with the grid

The issues go beyond individual homes to the grid itself.

Kibert said there are two methods for reducing the carbon footprint beyond zero-energy homes: a low-carbon grid and better renewable energy storage. The current method of generating energy for most grids still depends on fossil fuels, but he said a few have moved to renewable energy like hydropower. California is far ahead of many U.S. states with its utilities already producing between 30 percent to 40 percent of energy from renewable sources.

Storing produced renewable energy remains costly, which is why people remain connected to the grid.

“If you had storage in your home and you were careful about your energy consumption, you would be effectively off the grid,” Kibert said. “You wouldn’t have to worry about it, but storage is expensive.”

Tesla’s Powerwall home storage solution has a cost of roughly $7,000 per unit. Tesla recommends two units for a home to be powered 100 percent with renewable energy and have at least 24 hours of power during a utility outage, which brings the total cost to over $14,000 — excluding installation costs that range from $1,000 to $3,000, according to the company.

Edminster said it is clear that the grid will not be disappearing anytime soon. The California mandate only requires homes to meet a higher level of efficiency and use solar, but that doesn’t mean residents won’t be able to use gas from the grid — it only offsets electricity use.

She said we are much further along in building energy-efficient homes than energy-efficient grids. “The efficiency side is pretty dialed in so that if someone felt like being zero-net energy by placing solar panels on their roof they probably would be pretty close to being zero-net energy.”

Zero-energy homes highlight a commitment to efficiency and the effort to reduce individual energy consumption. Ultimately, the objective is to find a healthy, reduced level of energy consumption. “What we really want is at the level of the social fabric to have our energy consumption to be met by renewable sources,” Edminster said. “That’s the big goal.”

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https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/14/homes-that-produce-their-own-energy-might-be-the-future-and-california-is-inching-closer.html

Mortgage rates average 4.46% | Bedhord Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Surveyâ, showing that mortgage rates moved up slightly after weeks of moderating.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Purchase applications were down this week after soaring early in the year. However, softening house price appreciation along with increasing inventory of homes on the market – and historically low mortgage rates –  should give a boost to the spring homebuying season.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.46 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending January 31, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 4.45 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.22 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.89 percent with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.88 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.68 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.96 percent with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.90 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.53 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.

Muhammed Ali’s former LA home on the market | Bedford Hills Real Estate

muhammad ali house

Douglas Elliman

  • Muhammad Ali’s former Los Angeles home is on the market for nearly $17 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The boxer and his wife bought the house in 1979 and lived there until 1986.
  • The nine-bedroom home, which dates back to 1916, sits on 1.5 acres in Fremont Place, a gated community known for its historic mansions.
  • It hit the market on what would have been Ali’s 77th birthday.

The former home of celebrated boxer Muhammad Ali is for sale in Los Angeles for $16.999 million.

The nine-bedroom mansion sits on 1.5 acres in the Hancock Park neighborhood in a gated community called Fremont Place, which is known for its historic mansions, according to The Wall Street Journal. It’s listed by Douglas Elliman.

The current owners of the home bought it for $2.5 million in 2001, the Journal reported.

The house, which is more than 100 years old, hit the market on January 17, 2018, which would have been Ali’s 77th birthday. He died in 2016.

Here’s a look inside.

A mansion in Los Angeles that once belonged to Muhammad Ali has hit the market for $16.999 million.

Douglas Elliman

Source55 Fremont Place

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. 

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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%).

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Single-Family Starts Flat in September