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Home projects for the New Year | Cross River Real Estate

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Easy tasks that will make you happier, healthier and even wealthier!

Prevent Bathroom Mold

Prevent Bathroom Mold

No matter where you live, the high moisture level in your bathroom can cause mold and mildew. Eliminating bathroom dampness is the key to keeping mold from growing. To do that, follow these steps:

First, after a bath or a shower, squeegee water off the shower walls. That eliminates at least three-fourths of the moisture that supports mold and mildew growth.

Second, run your bath fans during your bath or shower and for a half-hour after to flush out moisture. Or add a timer switch to make this step automatic.

Third, if you have tile, seal the grout lines annually with a standard grout sealer to waterproof them.

To get rid of the current mold, scrub with detergent and water, then let the surface dry completely. Or use a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water (a stronger bleach solution will not give better results). Spray or brush on the solution, let it sit 10 minutes, then rinse it off and let dry.

If the fans aren’t clearing out most of the moisture in your bathrooms after five to 10 minutes, your fans may not be moving enough air. Fans are certified by the volume (cfm, or cubic feet per minute) of air ‘exhausted’ out of the room. To find the recommended fan capacity for your bathroom, simply multiply the bathroom square footage by 1.1 (assuming an 8-ft. ceiling; for a 9-ft. ceiling, multiply by 1.5).

Restore Free Flow to Your Showerhead

Restore Free Flow to Your Showerhead

If the flow from your showerhead is growing weaker, the cause is probably mineral buildup. Many manufacturers recommend that you remove the showerhead and soak it in a half-and-half mixture of warm water and vinegar (any type). But there’s really no need to remove the head. Just pour the mix into a heavy-duty plastic bag and attach it to the shower arm with a rubber band. The acid in the vinegar dissolves minerals, but prolonged contact can harm some plastics and metal finishes, so remove the bag every 15 minutes and check the shower flow.

Clean Out Dryer Lint

Clean Out Dryer Lint

If you notice that it takes longer than normal for loads to dry in your clothes dryer, it may be time to clean out the vent. First detach the duct from behind the unit and then push a plumbing snake through your dryer vent from outside. Tie a rag securely to the snake end. Pull the cloth and snake through a couple of times and your clean vent will not only save energy but possibly prevent a fire as well.

If you discover that your dryer vent cover needs repair, this is how to fix it and this video shows you how to replace the vent it it’s in bad shape.

Sparkling Dishwasher

Sparkling Dishwasher

Add a cup of vinegar to your empty dishwasher and let it run a full cycle once a month or so. Your kitchen may smell a bit like a pickle jar for a few hours, but hard-water lime buildup will be rinsed away, making your spray arm and other dishwasher parts work flawlessly.

Check Your Gutters

Check Your Gutters

A 1,000-sq.-ft. roof will shed about 620 gallons of water during a 1-in. rainfall, or about 103 gallons per downspout if you have six downspouts. That’s a lot of water dumped right next to your basement. Although it may seem obvious, clean and properly functioning gutters with downspouts that empty away from the foundation are key to avoiding major and expensive home repairs.

So before you leave for a vacation, take a walk around the house and check your gutters. Check to see if leaves, sticks or other debris are blocking the inlet of the downspout and preventing water from flowing down the spout. Also make sure your downspout extensions are discharging the water far enough from the foundation and that you always reattach them after you mow your lawn.

Avoid a Scalding by Setting Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees

Avoid a Scalding by Setting Your Water Heater to 120 Degrees

Plain old tapwater can be dangerous. Water heaters set too high send thousands (mostly children) to hospitals each year with burns. Most safety experts recommend a setting of 120 degrees F. But finding that setting on the dial isn’t easy—most dials aren’t labeled with numbers.

If the stickers on the water heater don’t tell you how to set the temperature and you can’t find the owner’s manual, use this method: Run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass and check the temperature. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours and check again. Repeat until you get 120-degree water. For a final test, check the temperature the following morning, before anyone uses hot water.

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https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/

Home prices rising rapidly | Cross River Real Estate

For the 15th consecutive month, US home values have increased by at least 6%, according to Zillow’s October housing market report.

That’s double the annual rate of appreciation of a “normal” market, says Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist.

Compared to October 2016, the median home in the US gained $12,500 in value as housing inventory remains low and demand surges. What’s more, in over half of the country’s largest metros, homes are worth more than they were before the recession.

“We are in the midst of an inventory crisis that shows no signs of waning, impacting potential buyers all across the country,” Gudell said.

“Home values are growing at a historically fast pace, and those potential buyers want to get in the market while they still can,” she continued. “But with homes gaining so much value in just one year, buyers – especially first-time buyers – have to set aside more and more money for a down payment just to keep up with them.”

Some West Coast markets have seen huge gains. The median home value in San Jose rose 12.3%, or $118,200, since last October, according to Zillow. San Jose’s median home value is up to $1.08 million.

In Seattle, the metro with the second-biggest gains, home values rose 11.7% year-over-year to$457,700.

Ultimately though, lower-valued homes nationwide are experiencing the largest increase in value, according to Zillow, gaining 8.4% over the last year. The median for homes valued in the bottom third of all homes nationwide is now $118,200. Meanwhile, the typical home value in the top-third rose only 3.8%, to $358,900.

 

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https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/home-prices-america-increasing-double-130000739.html

Pending home sales drop 3.6% | Cross River Real Estate

Contracts to buy previously owned homes were flat in September and activity declined on an annual basis for the fifth time in the last six months as demand for properties continued to exceed supply.

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, was unchanged with a reading of 106.0. August’s index was revised lower.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast pending home sales edging up 0.2 percent last month.

Pending home contracts are viewed as a forward-looking indicator for the state of the housing market because they become sales one or two months later.

Although the U.S. economy continues to strengthen, the housing sector has faltered this year. Home sales have weakened amid tight inventories while builders have cited shortages of land and labor as a curb on construction.

Compared to one year ago, pending sales fell 3.5 percent overall and there were annual declines across all four of the nation’s regions.

Compared with the prior month, pending sales for September rose 1.2 percent in the Northeast, 1.4 percent in the Midwest and 1.9 percent in the West.

“Activity is falling further behind last year’s pace because new listings aren’t keeping up with what’s being sold,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.

He added the situation will likely be further exacerbated as inventory starts to decline heading into the winter months.

The South saw declines of 2.3 percent in September, which the NAR largely attributed to the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

read more…

 

http://www.newsmax.com/Economy/pending-home-sales-housing/2017/10/26/id/822258/

A tale of two housing economies | Cross River Real Estate

Torsten Slok, Ph.D., is chief international economist and a managing director at Deutsche Bank Securities. The question Slok asked yesterday morning was this.

Is household formation dropping because of affordability?

Here’s his chart.

Household formation takes a dive. Why?
Household formation takes a dive. Why?

It shows household formations falling off the table in 2017. Dr. Slok looks at the data and sees a big red flag.

In the initial years after the crisis household formation was around 600k to 700k, see chart below. Then household formation jumped to +1mn as young people completed their education and started moving out of their parents’ basement. But recently we have seen a significant drop in the number of new households, and we are worried that the slowdown in housing demand is driven by very high home prices and housing simply becoming unaffordable for new families.

The dots Slok inferrentially connects bridge this observation about national economics’ basic building block–the household–and the performance of the broader economy itself.

To be sure, the housing market remains a small share of the overall economy, but it is important because it is one of the most cyclical components of GDP.

For a clue into this unsettling flash point, one might look deep into the insights brought to light last week in an analysis from New York University’s Furman Center. On the surface, the headline take-away is encouraging, noting as it does that the percentage of United States households who are rent-burdened–spending 30% or more of their wages on monthly housing costs–fell by a percentage point between 2012 and 2015.

The report explores a relatively new phenomenon–more wealthy and higher-educated people are choosing to rent–that partly accounts for this statistical shift to fewer rent-burdened households.

The income of the typical renter household increased along with overall incomes in the economic recovery period, but more of the renter households were highly educated, had higher incomes, and were employed. Therefore, not all of the measured increase in renter income was due to renters making more income per se; rather, part of it was due to a shift in who was choosing to rent.

It’s here that we might discover insight into how the two trends–a slower household formation growth due to less affordability in many places, and the slight improvement in the share of rent-burdened households.

It’s evidence vested and invested players in residential real estate development and construction are working in not one, but two, related but disconnected housing businesses.

In one part of the housing business, players are growing around their competence at asking people with means how it is they want to live in their homes and communities, and profitably developing, designing, engineering, building, and marketing neighborhoods that answer to those preferences profitably.

 

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http://www.builderonline.com/money/affordability/a-tale-of-two-housing-economies_o?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Article&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BP_101217%20(1)&he=bd1fdc24fd8e2adb3989dffba484790dcdb46483

Wiring Outlets and Switches | Cross River Real Estate

Play it smart and stay safe when wiring outlets and switches

Buying a Dimmer Switch

Buying a Dimmer Switch

Dimmer switches are available in many styles and configurations, including slides, knobs and touch-sensitive dimming mechanisms. However, check these key things:

  • Capacity (how many lights it can control). The capacity will be measured in watts. Add up the wattage of the bulbs in all the fixtures the switch controls to make sure it falls within the switch rating listed on the package or instructions.
  • Single-pole or three-way. Buy a ‘single-pole’ switch if one switch controls the lights or a ‘three-way’ if you have two switches controlling the same lights.
  • Light type. Standard and halogen bulbs require standard incandescent dimmers. A few fluorescent lights can be dimmed with special dimmer switches, but most can’t. Low-voltage lights may also require special dimmers.

Don't Reverse Hot and Neutral Wires

Don’t Reverse Hot and Neutral Wires

Connecting the black hot wire to the neutral terminal of an outlet creates the potential for a lethal shock. The trouble is that you may not realize the mistake until someone gets shocked, because lights and most other plug-in devices will still work; they just won’t work safely.

Always connect the white wire to the neutral terminal of outlets and light fixtures. The neutral terminal is always marked. It’s usually identified by a silver or light-colored screw. Connect the hot wire to the other terminal. If there’s a green or bare copper wire, that’s the ground. Connect the ground to the green grounding screw or to a ground wire or grounded box.

Cutting Wires Too Short

Cutting Wires Too Short

Wires that are cut too short make wire connections difficult and—since you’re more likely to make poor connections—dangerous. Leave the wires long enough to protrude at least 3 in. from the box.

If you run into short wires, there’s an easy fix. Simply add 6-in. extensions onto the existing wires. The photo shows a type of wire connector that’s easier to install in tight spots. You’ll find these in hardware stores and home centers.

Be Positive the Power's Off

Be Positive the Power’s Off

When you’re doing electrical work, don’t assume that because you flicked a switch or flipped a circuit breaker the power is off—always double-check. Buy a noncontact voltage tester and check all the wires in the box before you do any work—or plan on some melted dental work!

Circuit-Finding Radio

Circuit-Finding Radio

Instead of running upstairs, let the Rolling Stones help you find the right breaker. Find circuit breakers by plugging a loud radio into the outlet you’re working on. You’ll know you have the right circuit breaker when the music dies. But don’t assume the electricity is off in all the other outlets or lights in the room. Before doing any wiring, plug the radio into other outlets you plan to work on. Some duplex outlets can have different circuits running to adjacent outlets. To be safe, test both the top and bottom with the radio. For lights, turn the light switch on and off to be sure.

Don't Install a Three-Slot Receptacle Without a Ground

Don’t Install a Three-Slot Receptacle Without a Ground

If you have two-slot outlets, it’s tempting to replace them with three-slot outlets so you can plug in three-prong plugs. But don’t do this unless you’re sure there’s a ground available. Use a tester to see if your outlet is grounded. A series of lights indicates whether the outlet is wired correctly or what fault exists. These inexpensive testers are readily available at home centers and hardware stores.

If you discover a three-slot outlet in an ungrounded box, the easiest fix is to simply replace it with a two-slot outlet as shown.

Don't Wire a GFCI Backward

Don’t Wire a GFCI Backward

GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets protect you from a lethal shock by shutting off the power when they sense slight differences in current. They have two pairs of terminals. One pair, labeled ‘line,’ is for incoming power for the GFCI outlet itself. The other set is labeled ‘load’ and provides protection for downstream outlets. You’ll lose the shock protection if you mix up the line and load connections.

Oversize Plates Hide Mistakes

Oversize Plates Hide Mistakes

When you’re installing drywall or paneling, small mistakes can leave big gaps around electrical boxes. Luckily, there’s a product made just for this situation. ‘Oversize’ cover plates (about $1) for switches and outlets are available in standard colors at home centers and hardware stores. They’re 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. longer and wider than standard plates, so they can be a bit conspicuous. Electrical codes don’t allow gaps wider than 1/8 in. around boxes, so fill gaps with joint compound or caulk before you screw on the cover plate.

Poor Support for Outlets and Switches

Poor Support for Outlets and Switches

Loose switches or outlets can look bad, but worse yet, they’re dangerous. Loosely connected outlets can move around, causing the wires to loosen from the terminals. Loose wires can arc and overheat, creating a potential fire hazard.

Fix loose outlets by shimming under the screws to create a tight connection to the box. You can buy special spacers at home centers and hardware stores. Other options include small washers or a coil of wire wrapped around the screw.

Recessing Boxes Behind the Wall Surface

Recessing Boxes Behind the Wall Surface

Electrical boxes must be flush to the wall surface if the wall surface is a combustible material. Boxes recessed behind combustible materials like wood present a fire hazard because the wood is left exposed to potential heat and sparks.

The fix is simply to install a metal or plastic box extension. If you use a metal box extension on a plastic box, connect the metal extension to the ground wire in the box using a grounding clip and a short piece of wire.

Squint-Free Wire Stripper

Squint-Free Wire Stripper

Ninety percent of the time, you use your wire stripper to strip the same gauge wire. Now, the days of searching your wire stripper for the right size hole are over. Use a Testor’s Enamel Paint Marker (about $3 at a home center) to mark a line across the hole. After a couple of minutes of drying time, you’ll be able to stick the wire in the marked hole with zero eyestrain and work a heck of a lot faster on your latest wiring project. If you’re stripping more than one wire gauge size, mark the holes in different colors.

Wrap Wires Clockwise Around Terminal Screws

Wrap Wires Clockwise Around Terminal Screws

Wrapping the wire clockwise ensures that the loop on the end of the wire will tend to close when the screw is tightened. If you put the loop over the screw in the counterclockwise direction, tightening the screw will force the loop open and could create a loose connection.

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https://www.familyhandyman.com/electrical/wiring/wiring-switches-and-outlets/view-all/

Why is Aetna subsidized? | Cross River Real Estate

Hartford-based insurer Aetna will receive roughly $34 million in city and state subsidies to move its headquarters to a luxury boutique office building being erected in the trendy Meatpacking District, the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations announced in separate press releases Thursday.

Aetna will take 145,000 square feet at 61 Ninth Ave., the entirety of the building’s office space. The high-end commercial property is being developed by a partnership between Aurora Capital Associates and Vornado Realty Trust, a $17.6 billion public real estate company that is one of the city’s biggest and richest landlords.

Aetna will recieve $24 million of “performance-based tax credits” over 10 years, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The administration said Aetna will add 250 “senior” positions to the new headquarters and invest $84 million in the space.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced that Aetna will receive $9.6 million in financial assistance from the city’s Economic Development Corp. The subsidy will come in the form of a $4.25 million break on sales taxes for materials purchased for the site, $3.8 million in property-tax relief and $1.5 million of other sales-tax benefits and other breaks, according to the city.

Aurora and Vornado have been developing the Rafael Vinoly-designed 61 Ninth Ave. with the aim of fetching soaring rents in a neighborhood that has become a pricey and exclusive enclave for high-end tech firms, hedge funds and other deep-pocketed tenants.

Some fiscal watchdogs took a dim view of a multibillion-dollar insurance company being showered with millions of subsidy dollars so it can pay robust rents in a hot neighborhood to a landlord also worth billions.

“The city’s economy is the strongest that it’s been for generations,” said James Parrott, an economist and longtime critic of subsidy policy. “Tax breaks only serve to make New York City real estate more costly. Why would you want to do that?”

The city, in its press release announcing the deal, stated that Aetna’s move would generate $146 million in economic benefits to the city. A spokesman for the Economic Development Corp. couldn’t immediately describe in detail how it calculated that.

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http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170629/REAL_ESTATE/170629850/huge-insurer-gets-34-million-in-subsidies-to-pay-high-rents-in-hot#utm_medium=email&utm_source=cnyb-realestate&utm_campaign=cnyb-realestate-20170629

Mortgage rates average 3.91% | Cross River Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average mortgage rates increasing across the board for the first time in over a month.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.91 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 15, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 3.89 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.54 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.16 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.81 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.15 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.11 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.74 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 30-year mortgage rate rose 2 basis points over the week to 3.91 percent. However, our survey was conducted before investors drove Treasury yields sharply lower in a reaction to the surprisingly weak CPI release. If that drop in yields sticks, mortgage rates are likely to follow in next week’s survey.”

Trump’s Labor Department Pulls Obama-Era Guidance on Independent Subs | Cross River Real Estate

The Department of Labor announced today it has withdrawn informal guidance that was widely regarded as an Obama Administration crackdown on companies’ use of independent contractors and of workers who in effect are employed by two companies jointly.

Of those, the 2015 guidance on independent subcontractors raised the greatest concerns among remodelers because it could have forced companies to treat those subs as employees and thus pay payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and related costs on those workers.

“Removal of the administrator interpretations does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, as reflected in the department’s long-standing regulations and case law,” the Labor Department’s statement said. “The department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.”

The July 15, 2015, administrator’s interpretation by the head of the Wage and Hour Division–which no longer is available on the department’s website–basically declared the government will be looking closer at a subcontractor’s economic independence when deciding whether that sub really ought to be regarded as an independent enterprise. That represented a shift from past practices in which government reviews appeared to focus on whether a company controlled a supposedly independent contractor by setting that person’s hours, providing tools, and requiring the contractor wear the company’s uniform.

“[N]o single factor, including control, should be over-emphasized,”  David Weil, administrator of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, wrote in that now-removed administrator’s interpretation. “Instead, each factor should be considered in light of the ultimate determination of whether the worker is really in business for him or herself (and thus is an independent contractor) or is economically dependent on the employer (and thus is its employee). The factors should be used as guides to answer that ultimate question of economic dependence.”

The interpretation came out three months after the Labor Department announced it had secured consent judgments with 16 defendants in Utah and Arizona who had claimed more than 1,000 of their workers were independent contractors. In that case, which yielded $700,000 in back wages and penalties, the defendants were accused of requiring the workers to become member/owners of limited liability companies. “These construction workers were building houses in Utah and Arizona as employees one day and then the next day were performing the same work on the same job sites for the same companies but without the protection of federal and state wage and safety laws,” DOL’s announcement said. “The companies, in turn, avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes.”

The joint employer rule basically involves whether one company effectively controls all the activities of another company and thus is responsible for what that second company does to its employees. The rule had multiple implications for cases in which contractors used subcontractors and companies related to franchises.

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http://www.remodeling.hw.net/business/operations/trumps-labor-department-pulls-obama-era-guidance-on-independent-subs_o?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Article&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=REM_060717%20(1)&he=bd1fdc24fd8e2adb3989dffba484790dcdb46483

New home sales plummet more than 11% in April | Cross River Real Estate

New home sales plummeted from last month, however the level of housing inventory showed improvement, according to a joint release from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Sales of new single-family homes in April came in at a seasonally adjusted rate of 569,000 sales, a decrease of 11.4% from last month’s 642,000 sales. However, this is up 0.5% from last year’s 566,000 sales.

Brent Nyitray, iServe Residential Lending director of capital markets, pointed out in his note to clients that new home sales are still lagging behind population growth.

Surprisingly, the median sales price dropped to $309,200, down from last month’s $315,100.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of April remained steady at 268,000 homes. But with the lower rate of sales, this represents a 5.7-month supply of homes, up from 5.4 months in March.

While falling home prices and an increase in inventory could show a cooling housing market, time will tell if this was a one-month drop or a new trend.

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/40189-new-home-sales-plummet-more-than-11-in-april?eid=311691494&bid=1763675