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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

Realtors: Homebuyers flooded housing market in first quarter | Cross River Real Estate

The first quarter of 2017 saw the strongest quarterly home sales pace in a decade, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors.

This increase in home sales put downward pressure on housing inventory levels and caused home prices growth to accelerate its rate of increase in the first quarter, the report states. In fact, metro home prices now accelerated for three consecutive quarters.

The national median home price increased to $232,100, up 6.9% from the first quarter of 2016. This represents the fastest rate of growth since the second quarter of 2015.

“Prospective buyers poured into the market to start the year, and while their increased presence led to a boost in sales, new listings failed to keep up and hovered around record lows all quarter,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Those able to successfully buy most likely had to outbid others, especially for those in the starter-home market, which in turn quickened price growth to the fastest quarterly pace in almost two years.”

Single family home prices increased in 85% of markets as 152 of 178 metropolitan statistical areas showed sales prices gains in the first quarter, the report states. However, in 14 MSAs, home prices decreased year-over-year.

“Several metro areas with the healthiest job gains in recent years continue to see a large upswing in buyer demand but lack the commensurate ramp up in new home construction,” Yun said. “This is why many of these areas, in particular several parts of the South and West, are seeing unhealthy price appreciation that far exceeds incomes.”

Total existing home sales, including single-family homes and condos, increased 1.4% in the first quarter to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million, the highest rate since the first quarter of 2007.  This is up from 5.55 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and from 5.36 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Housing inventory, however, decreased 6.6% from 1.96 million homes for sale in the first quarter last year to 1.83 million this year. This average supply rested at 3.7 months in the first quarter, down from 4.2 months last year.

And while median income is increasing,, hitting a national average of $71,201, higher mortgage rates and home prices weakened affordability.

“Last quarter’s robust pace of sales was especially impressive considering the affordability sting buyers experienced from higher prices and mortgage rates,” Yun said. “High demand is poised to continue heading into the summer as long as job gains continue. However, many metro areas need to see a significant rise in new and existing inventory to meet this demand and cool down price growth.”

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/40118-realtors-homebuyers-flooded-housing-market-in-first-quarter?eid=311691494&bid=1755028

Mortgage rates rise slightly | Cross River Real Estate

Multiple closely watched mortgage rates moved higher today. The average rates on 30-year fixed and 15-year fixed mortgages both rose. The average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, meanwhile, also increased.

Rates for mortgages are constantly changing, but they continue to represent a bargain compared to rates before the Great Recession. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it may make sense to lock if you see a rate you like. Just make sure you shop around first.

30-year fixed mortgages

The average 30-year fixed-mortgage rate is 3.89 percent, up 4 basis points over the last week. A month ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was higher, at 3.99 percent.

At the current average rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $471.10 for every $100,000 you borrow. That’s an increase of $2.29 over what you would have paid last week.

15-year fixed mortgages

The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 3.10 percent, up 5 basis points from a week ago.

Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $695 per $100,000 borrowed. The bigger payment may be a little harder to find room for in your monthly budget than a 30-year mortgage payment would, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much more quickly.

5/1 ARMs

The average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 3.16 percent, up 5 basis points over the last 7 days.

These types of loans are best for those who expect to sell or refinance before the first or second adjustment. Rates could be substantially higher when the loan first adjusts, and thereafter.

Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 3.16 percent would cost about $430 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could increase by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.

 

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http://www.bankrate.com/financing/mortgages/mortgage-rates-for-monday-may-1/

Residential Construction Employment Solid | Cross River Real Estate

The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector remained elevated in November, as residential construction employment continues to grow.

According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) came in at 184,000 in November. The cycle high was 225,000 set in July.

The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for November was 2.7%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector increased to 2.8%, setting a cycle high and exceeding the peak twelve-month moving average rate established prior to the recession.

The overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession. This is consistent with survey data indicating that access to labor remains a top business challenge for builders.

The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, remained steady at 4.9% in November. The twelve-month moving average for layoffs was also steady (2.6%), remaining in a range set last Fall. Quits rose to 2.4% in November, consistent with a tight labor market.

Monthly employment data for December 2016 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler employment expanded, increasing by 9,800. The December gains continue the improvement in the Fall after a period of hiring weakness early in 2016. The 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction has now increased to a healthier 11,450 per month.

Residential construction employment now stands at 2.653 million, broken down as 739,000 builders and 1.915 million residential specialty trade contractors.

Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 103,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 667,000 positions.

In December, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 6.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis. The unemployment rate for the construction occupation had been on a general decline since reaching a peak rate of 22% in February 2010, although it has leveled off in the 6% to 7% range since the middle of 2016

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/residential-construction-employment-solid-in-december/

Time to Build a Single-Family Home | Cross River Real Estate

With the end of 2016 approaching, NAHB’s Eye on Housing is reviewing the posts that attracted the most readers over the last year. In July, Na Zhao examined typical construction durations for various types of single-family homes and regions.


The 2015 Survey of Construction (SOC) from the Census Bureau shows that the average completion time of a single-family house is around 7 months, which usually includes almost a month from authorization to start and another 6 months to finish the construction. The timeline from authorization to completion, however, is not consistent across the nation, depending on the housing category, the geographic location, and metropolitan status.

Among all the single-family houses completed in 2015, houses built for sale took the shortest time, 6 months to completion after obtaining building permits, while houses built by owners required the longest time, almost a year. Homes built for rent took 9 months from permit to completion, and those built by hired contractors normally needed around 8 months. A large proportion of single-family homes built for sale and on owners’ land built by contractors began construction within the same month after obtaining building authorizations. However, homes built for rent and built by owners had a one-month lag between permits and construction start in 2015.

Slide1

The average time from authorization to completion also varies across the nation. New England division had the longest time of 10 months, followed by the Middle Atlantic of 9.6 months, East South Central, East North Central, and Pacific of 8 months in 2014. These four divisions all had above average time from permit to completion. The shortest period, 6 months, happened in the Mountain division, which also had the shortest waiting period from permit to construction start.

permit_compper_start

 

 

The metropolitan status indicates how long it takes to build a single-family home. Houses in metropolitan areas, on average, took nearly 7.5 months to completion, which was 2 months shorter than those in non-metropolitan areas. This pattern was quite consistent across the nation, except for the Middle Atlantic division where the average month to completion in metropolitan areas was longer than in non-metropolitan areas in 2015.

Slide2

The SOC also collects sale information for houses built for sale, including the sale date when buyers sign the sale contracts or make a deposit. In 2015, the share of single-family sold while under construction was 66%, with 32% even sold before construction start and 12% sold during the same month of completion. The percent of single-family houses completed in 2015 stayed unsold at the first quarter of 2016 was only 6%.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/12/top-posts-of-2016-time-to-build-a-single-family-home-in-2015/