Category Archives: blog

McMansion home construction rises | North Salem Real Estate

chart1finalNew homes with 5,000 square feet or more of living space increased both as a share of all new construction and in absolute number in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction. In 2015, the share of new homes this size reached a post-recession peak of 3.9% of new homes started. The total number of 5,000+ square-foot homes started that year was 28,000 units.

chart2finalIn 2012, the number of new homes started with 5,000+ square feet rose to 15,000 units, yet their share remained at only 2.8%. In 2015, while the number of 5,000+ square feet homes started (28,000) was the highest since 2008, their share of the new market (3.9%) was the highest since 2004. A previous postdiscussed the declining trend in the median and average size of new single-family homes due to an expansion in entry-level market wherein home size is expected to trend lower. This is not necessarily a contradiction, because 5,000+ square foot homes are relatively uncommon and represent the extreme upper tail of the distribution. The extreme upper tail can behave differently than the center of the distribution, measured by the average or median.

In the boom year of 2006, 3.0% or 45,000 new homes started were 5,000 square feet or larger. In 2007, the share of new homes this size was 3.6%, yet the total number of 5,000+ square-foot homes started that year fell to 37,000. In 2008, only 20,000 such homes were started or 3.2% of the total. From 2009 to 2011, fewer than 13,000 of these large homes were started every year, accounting for less than 3% of all new construction during this period. The extent to which the 5,000+ square foot homes have recovered, roughly to where they were in 2008, shows a growing trend at the top of the market at least through 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Six Essential Questions to Ask a New Client | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Imagine you are considering working with a potential client who seems apprehensive and possibly needy. Imagine you get the project. What might you wish you had considered and/or asked the potential client or yourself before deciding to work with them?

Here are some suggestions:

Why are these folks good clients for your company?
Over time, all companies have at least a gut level feel for what is a good fit regarding clients. Use that filter all the time. Ignoring it can put you, your people, and the company through thankless grief.

Why do these folks think we are the right contractor to work with?
Ask this question early on. The worst case is they expect something from your company that you simply can’t deliver. Better to find that out as soon as possible.

Have they been through a remodeling project in the past? If so, how did it go?
If they have never experienced the challenges involved in being a remodeling client, you are likely to be viewed negatively if you work for them. There are simply so many things that can go wrong during all phases of the planning and the actual remodeling.
If they have been through a remodeling project and it did not go well, question them thoroughly about why they think that happened. If all they do is blame the contractor then get clear about what they think the contractor did wrong. If you think the potential client was the real problem, not the contractor, then don’t work for them!

What are the client’s expectations about the process, in general? Do those expectations align with your company’s idea of what reasonable expectations are?
If so, great. But if not, what are the specific gaps? Are the gaps large or small? It’s better find out sooner than later. There is the distinct likelihood that they don’t align with yours. Talk it through. If there is not a meeting of the minds, refer another remodeler who might be a better fit.

Can the client listen to what your company says? Will they allow your company to be in control?
If they won’t listen now, they likely won’t listen when it all hits the fan. If you can’t be in control you will rue the day you decided to work with them.


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Foreclosures nearing decade low | North Salem Real Estate

The number of homes in some stage of foreclosure and the number of seriously delinquent mortgages continued to decline in May, falling to the lowest level since October 2007, according to the latest data from CoreLogic.

CoreLogic’s May 2016 National Foreclosure Report shows the national foreclosure inventory, which is the total number of homes at some stage of the foreclosure process and completed foreclosures, hovers around 390,000 homes.

In April, the national foreclosure inventory was roughly406,000 homes, and in March, that figure was 427,000 homes.

According CoreLogic’s report, May’s foreclosure inventory hit the lowest level in nearly nine years.

CoreLogic’s report also showed that in May, the foreclosure inventory declined by 24.5% and completed foreclosures declined by 6.9% compared with May 2015.

The number of completed foreclosures nationwide decreased year over year from 41,000 in May 2015 to 38,000 in May 2016, which represents a decline of 67.9% from the peak of 117,813 in September 2010.

CoreLogic’s report also showed the sustained improvement in the number of mortgages in serious delinquency, defined as loans that are 90 days or more past due, and loans in foreclosure or Real Estate Owned.

According to CoreLogic’s report, the number of mortgages in serious delinquency fell by 21.6% from May 2015 to May 2016, with 1.1 million mortgages, or 2.8% of all mortgages, in this category.

The May 2016 serious delinquency rate is also the lowest in nearly nine years, reaching the lowest level since October 2007.

“The foreclosure rate fell to 1% in May, which is twice the long-term average of 0.5%. However, this masks the underlying progress at the state level,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Twenty-nine states had foreclosure rates below the national average, and all but North Dakota experienced declines in their foreclosure rate compared to the prior year.”


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Mortgage rates average 3.59% | Chappaqua Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates declining from the previous week and reaching their lowest level since February of last year.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 7, 2016, down from last week when they averaged 3.71 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.88 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.98 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.93 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.82 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.90 percent. A year ago, 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 theDefinitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates this week registered the delayed impact of last week’s sharp drop in Treasury yields as the 30-year mortgage rate fell 12 basis points to 3.59 percent. This rate marks a new low for 2016 and matches last year’s low in February 2015. Low mortgage rates and a positive employment outlook should support a strong housing market in the second quarter of 2016.”

Federal Open Market Committee December Meeting – Gradual Adjustments In The Stance of Monetary Policy

Just as few were surprised when the Federal Reserve announced the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate in the statement following the December meeting, there were few surprises in the more detailed minutes of the meeting, released three weeks later.

The minutes reiterated the basic themes that have guided deliberations in recent months: accumulated improvements in economic growth and labor market conditions have been substantial, confidence that inflation will return to the two percent objective over the medium term is broad based, and the path of subsequent rate increases will be gradual. The anticipated gradual pace of future increases implies that monetary policy will remain accommodative, and the lags between policy actions and effects warrant an earlier move rather than risk falling behind the inflation curve and needing more abrupt tightening later.

One surprise was on the part of meeting participants; the surprising persistence of continuing declines in oil and commodity prices. Headline inflation measures have been held down by collapsing energy prices, but the Fed’s preferred measure, the core (excluding food and energy) price index for personal consumption expenditures (PCE) has been steady at 1.3% all year. The persistence of the “transitory” nature of the downward pressure on inflation has been a concern for some committee members. The uncertainty surrounding the inflation environment made the decision to raise interest a close call for some.


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Fast Track to Marketing and Selling a Home

Ready to put up another listing?

Your listing has been wonderful to your seller all these years. You’ve seen everything that’s great about it and want others to see it too.

So, how do you get a home noticed?

If this is your first time selling a home, you probably think one of the best ways to hook in a buyer is to lower the asking price.

While this does hold some truth, there are alternate options to increase views and offers on a property.
It all starts with some good marketing and a little creativity on your part.

Set a good price

set a good real estate price
Research homes in the area that are similar to the one you’re selling. It’s a great place to start so you’ll stay in the ballpark. You have the access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), so use it! Or check out this guide to see if your price is too high.

With the MLS as a reference, you’ll have a good idea of what homes in the area are going for. You’ll also learn the market history for the area, and can narrow down your options.

Has your seller made significant changes to the home to increase its value?

Was a patio installed?

Did they finish the basement?

Was the kitchen renovated?

All of these things can be counted toward the asking price because your seller would certainly like a return on investment on these kind of projects.

The appraisal will help a lot, too.

Coming up with the right price is no easy task. A price set too high will scare buyers away, leaving the home on the market for weeks, or months.

In the same sense, you wouldn’t want to lowball the price and have the buyer lose their hard earned dollars that they put into making the place awesome.

Consider putting yourself in the shoes of a buyer. From an outside point, is the value of the home truly worth the asking price? Use your best judgment and experience. After all, you are the expert here.

Be unique

unique real estate property

Does your seller live in a cookie-cutter neighborhood?

As potential buyers drive through the neighborhood and see that most homes look the same, they’ll be less likely to fork out extra cash for your listing. Because, what’s the difference? You need to give buyers a reason as to why they should pay more money for your home.

It can be hard to make a home stand out among properties that are essentially the same. Any unique quality you can suggest to the seller to differentiate it from the others will draw a buyer’s eye.

This doesn’t always mean spending thousands of dollars on renovations. Suggest smaller projects that make a big difference (like a new roof or a fresh coat of paint). Your seller may have to roll up those sleeves and do some landscaping here and there, but it will definitely enhance the curb appeal.

First impressions are key.

Get behind the lens


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Valuing a Green Home | Bedford Hills Real Estate

From installing rooftop solar panels to putting in new triple pane windows and EnergyStar appliances, people today make all kinds of home upgrades that save energy and lower their utility bills.Bedford NY

But when they opt to sell their “green” home, it’s often less than clear how such upgrades are valued in the real estate market by appraisers, lenders, or purchasers — or even how information about a home’s energy characteristics should be conveyed to real estate agents and potential homebuyers.

“People do upgrade [for energy efficiency], but the problem is, a lot of that information on what they’re doing doesn’t get to the marketplace, doesn’t find its way into the real estate transaction,” says Maria Vargas, who directs theBetter Buildings Challenge program at the Department of Energy.

The department aims to change that with a newly announced program. The agency’s Better Buildings initiative, which seeks to slash overall energy use across U.S. buildings by 20 percent in 10 years, has already been successful in the commercial sector, but now it is turning to the residential arena — with a focus on advancing home energy efficiency.

One surprising strategy for doing so will be helping to improve the flow of information about home energy efficiency (and its effect on driving lower utility bills) in the real estate market — thus helping it to be better valued in markets. To do so, the Energy Department is partnering with those who spread and use this information, including the Appraisal Institute, a professional association for real estate appraisers, the Council of Multiple Listing Services — which ties together the large number of local MLS organizations that provide informational databases of real estate listings — and the National Association of Realtors’ Center for Realtor Technology.

“We want to move in, move out, in a few years, to really accelerate this market,” says Vargas, “so we are better enabling homeowners, and the whole transaction process around selling a home, to include energy efficiency information.”


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U.S. new home sales up in September | #Waccabuc Real Estate


Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose to a six-year high in September, but a sharp downward revision to August’s sales pace indicated that the housing recovery remains fragile.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that sales increased 0.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000 units, the highest reading since July 2008. August’s sales pace was revised down to 466,000 units from 504,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales at a 470,000-unit pace last month.

New home sales, which account for about 8 percent of the housing market, tend to be volatile month to month and large

revisions are not unusual. Compared to September last year, sales were up 17 percent.

Housing is slowly regaining its footing after activity stalled in the second half of 2013 as mortgage rates soared.

With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate this week falling to its lowest level since June of last year, sales could pick up.

Slow wage growth, however, remains a constraint. Data this week showed sales of previously-owned homes touched a one-year high in September.

Last month, new home sales fell 8.9 percent in the West, handing back some of August’s 28.1 percent surge. In the

populous South, sales rose 2.0 percent, while they increased 12.3 percent in the Midwest. Sales were flat in the Northeast.


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