Category Archives: Katonah

The rich are being maddeningly frugal | Katonah Real Estate

The lonely $250,000 S-Class coupe at Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich says it all. For six months, it’s been sitting in the showroom, shimmering in vain while models priced at only $70,000 fly out the door.

“We haven’t had anyone come in and look at it,” says Joey Licari, a sales consultant at the dealership, looking over his shoulder at the silver beauty. “I feel like normally they would, maybe a few years ago.”

Such is the state of affairs in Greenwich, the leafy Connecticut town famous for its cluster of hedge funds and the titans of Wall Street who occupy many a gated mansion. The rich are being maddeningly frugal, as Barry Sternlicht complained when he assailed his former hometown as possibly the country’s worst housing market. “You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” the head of Starwood Capital Group said, causing something of a ruckus.

The reality is that places like Sternlicht’s, a nearly 6-acre estate priced at $5.95 million before he gave up, aren’t moving. No such problem if it’s $2 million or less. That Benz is going nowhere, but sales are up at Cadillac of Greenwich, where $50,000 is pretty much the basement. Ten-carat diamonds that can cost in the six figures collect dust in stores on the main drag. On the other hand, a husband will still drop $10,000 on jewelry for a 10th anniversary.

The new Greenwich is like that. “We aren’t getting caviar and champagne,” says Edward Tricomi, co-owner of Warren Tricomi Salon on Greenwich Avenue, “but we’re still eating steak.”

Bonus Slump

The town was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, and never fully recovered: The median sales price for homes in the second quarter was $1.56 million, 17 percent below the peak back in 2006, according to data compiled by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Now, with the hedge-fund business struggling and investment-banker incentive pay in a slump, bonus-fueled purchases are cooling again. These days, in fact, not losing money can be cause for swagger.

“We talk to a lot of guys from hedge funds, and they’re like, ‘Look at our numbers, we haven’t gone down, we’re staying level,’” says Brad Walker, who moved from Boston two years ago to open a branch of his family’s shop, Shreve, Crump & Low. A newcomer, he finds it perplexing. “I don’t run a hedge fund, I work in a jewelry store, but I think you’d want to do a little bit better.”

$135,000 Median

Flat probably isn’t so bad, though, if you’re already in the neighborhood of the .001 percent. Anyway, many factors are at play in the scaling back. Tastes are changing. And with income inequality a talking point across America, and the finance industry the target of criticism and scrutiny in recent years, some might just want to keep low-spending profiles.

“The things being bought are less trophy items and, more likely, carefully bought quality,” says Terry Betteridge, who owns Betteridge, a jewelry store. “One doesn’t want to become the next episode of ‘Billions.’”

Just 35 miles from Manhattan in the heart of Connecticut’s famed Gold Coast, with about 60,000 residents and 32 miles of shoreline, Greenwich is among the most prosperous communities in America. One out of every $10 in hedge funds in the country is managed here, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, by firms such as Viking Global Investors and AQR Capital Management. It’s home to finance heavyweights including Steven Cohen of Point72 Asset Management and Dick Fuld. The median annual household income is $135,000 — compared with $56,516 nationally. Residents paid more state income taxes in 2014, the last year for which data are available, than in any other municipality in Connecticut.

Sore Point

The tax rate, by the way, is a sore point, and possible reason behind the departure of the likes of Paul Tudor Jones and Thomas Peterffy, who switched their permanent residences to Florida. The state income tax there is zero.

In 2015, Connecticut boosted the income tax for individuals making more than $500,000 and couples above $1 million to 6.99 percent from 6.7 percent. Levies on luxury goods rose to 7.75 percent from 7 percent on cars over $50,000, jewelry over $5,000 and clothing or footwear over $1,000.

Sternlicht said at a conference two weeks ago that this was why he relocated to the sunshine state. “We used to have no taxes,” he said wistfully, recalling Connecticut before it enacted its income tax in 1991.

Many continue to try to sell their real estate holdings. As of Sept. 14, there were 46 homes at $10 million or more on the market, some that have been lingering since 2014, according to data from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman.

3,000-Bottle Cellar

Among them: an 80-acre estate on Lower Cross Road for $49 million that until last month was asking $65 million, and a 19,773-square-foot manse once owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that has been looking for a buyer for nearly two years. It’s on the market now for $45 million, down from $54 million.

Former Trump property
Former Trump property
Source: Coldwell Banker

No takers yet for a seven-bedroom affair with a 3,000-bottle chilled wine cellar, a tennis court that converts to a hockey rink and a globe-shaped observatory with a retractable roof and high-powered telescope. That one recently returned to the market at $8.495 million, after an earlier effort at $8.95 million. Former Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Sandy Weill is trying to offload his 16,460-square-foot home at $9.9 million, down from $14 million more than two years ago.

One problem is that risk levels have gone through the wringer. Members of the younger Wall Street crowd are quite conservative, says Robin Kencel, a broker with Douglas Elliman. “They used to say Oh, I’ll stretch.’ Now they’re more practical. They’ll ask ‘What are the utility bills? Oh, wait — I don’t want it.’”

That could explain why, this year through Sept. 22, pending sales of homes priced up to $999,999 jumped 29 percent from the same period in 2015, according to brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, and those between $1 million and $1.99 million were up 69 percent. Contracts for homes between $5 million and $5.99 million, meanwhile, fell 80 percent.


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Hottest U.S. Real Estate Markets for September | Katonah Real Estate

Hottest markets for September 2016

Mindy_Nicole_Photography/iStock; uschools/iStock
jjwithers/iStock; Aneese/iStock; Greg Chow

September would ordinarily be the end of the high season for residential real estate, with schools back in session across the U.S. and families reluctant to uproot. But hold on—this is no ordinary year, and a preliminary review of the month’s data on®shows that September is shaping up to be the hottest fall in a decade.

Homes for sale in September are moving 4% more quickly than last year, and that’s even as prices hit record highs. The median home price maintained August’s level of $250,000, which is 9% higher than one year ago. That’s a new high for September.

“The fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the slower time of the year,” says’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. That means short supply and high demand, which results in high prices.

Granted, September saw a bit of the typical seasonal slowdown, with properties spending five more days on market (77) than last month—but that’s still three days faster than last year at this time. At the same time, fewer homes are coming on the market, further diminishing supply. Total inventory remains considerably lower than one year ago, leaving buyers with fewer options in a market that has already been pretty tight.

In gauging which real estate markets were seeing the most activity, our economic data team took into account the number of days that homes spend on the market (a measure of supply) and the number of views that listings on our site get (a measure of demand). The result is a list of the nation’s hottest real estate markets, where inventory moves 23 to 43 days more quickly than the national average, and listings get 1.4 to 3.7 more views than the national average.

New to the top 20 this month is Grand Rapids, MI. Like other cities on the list, “Grand Rapids” includes the greater metropolitan area, which in this case takes in Wyoming, MI. Similarly, our No. 1 market, “San Francisco,” also includes nearby Oakland and Hayward.

The hot list

20 Hottest Markets Rank
Rank Change
1 San Francisco, CA 4 3
2 Vallejo, CA 1 -1
3 Denver, CO 3 0
4 Dallas, TX 2 -2
5 San Diego, CA 6 1
6 Stockton, CA 5 -1
7 Fort Wayne, IN 11 4
8 Sacramento, CA 10 2
9 San Jose, CA 10 2
10 Waco, TX 14 5
11 Modesto, CA 13 2
12 Columbus, OH 7 -5
13 Yuba City, CA 12 -1
14 Detroit, MI 9 -5
15 Santa Rosa, CA 19 4
16 Colorado Springs, CO 16 0
17 Santa Cruz, CA 17 0
18 Kennewick, WA 18 0
19 Nashville, TN 20 1
20 Grand Rapids, MI 21 1



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30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Hits 10 Week Low | Katonah #RealEstate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling as the FOMC decided to leave short term rates unchanged.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.42 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 29, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.48 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.85 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.72 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.07 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.80 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.91 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.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Investors flocked to the safety of government bonds causing the 10-year Treasury yield to continue its descent following the FOMC’s decision to leave rates unchanged. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage responded by dropping 6 basis points before landing at 3.42 percent — a ten-week low. The course of the economy is uncertain, yet consumers continue to be a bright spot. The September consumer confidence index is up 3 percent to 104.1, exceeding forecasts and reaching a new cycle high.”

Single family home sales fall 7.6% | Katonah Real Estate

United States New Home Sales  

Sales of new single-family houses in the United States fell 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 609,000 in August of 2016, better than market expectations of an 8.8 percent decline. Figures for the previous month were revised up by 5,000 to 659,000, the highest since 2007. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 652.45 Thousand from 1963 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011. New Home Sales in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

United States New Home Sales
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How New Home Buyers Financed Their Homes in 2015 | Katonah Real Estate

NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau Survey of Construction (SOC) data shows that non-conventional forms of financing new single-family home purchases remained elevated in 2015, accounting for more than a third of the market.

Looking at new single-family homes started in 2015, the South Atlantic division was most dependent on non-conventional financing, with its share exceeding 40% of the market. The West South Central and New England divisions registered similarly high shares but relied on very different types of non-conventional financing. In New England, a third of all homes started in 2015 were cash purchases, while loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) accounted for less than 3% of the market. In contrast, homebuyers in the South Atlantic and West South Central division relied more heavily on FHA- and VA-backed loans that together accounted for more than 26% and 21% of the market, respectively.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where only 16% of new homes started in 2015 were financed using non-conventional methods. This share is less than half of the US average of 34.5%, making it the lowest share of non-conventional financing in the nation.

The Pacific and Mountain divisions registered shares of non-conventional financing methods close to the US average, 34% and 36%, respectively. In the middle Atlantic division, one in four single-family homes started in 2015 was financed by non-conventional means. While in the West North Central and East North Central divisions, only one in five new home buyers relied on non-conventional financing.
For homes started in 2015, the share of mortgages insured by the FHA bumped up, especially in the Pacific and South Atlantic divisions where FHA loans accounted for 19% and 18%, respectively. This was largely due to a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums implemented at the start of 2015. As a result, FHA-backed loans regained their status as the most prevalent form of non-conventional financing of new home purchases – the status they temporarily lost to cash purchases a year earlier following the implemented decline in the 2014 FHA loan limits.

The share of VA-backed loans remained relatively stable in 2015, accounting for just over 6% of the market. However, their share was almost twice as high, approaching 12%, in the Mountain division, the only region in the nation where the share of VA-backed loans exceeded that of cash purchases and other types of financing combined.

The share of cash purchases declined in 2015, most dramatically in the Mountain division, where cash purchases lost half of its market share. Overall, cash purchases accounted for 10 percent of the market. New England registered the nation’s highest share, with one in three new homes started in 2015 purchased with cash. The Middle Atlantic and East North Central divisions registered the second and third highest shares – 15% and 14%, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where less than 7% of single-family starts were financed with cash.

The high prevalence of cash financing in the New England, East North Central and Middle Atlantic divisions can be partially explained by the popularity of custom homebuilding in these divisions, with all three claimingthe top three custom home market shares in 2015. Custom homes are more likely to be financed with cash, especially if built by the owner acting as the general contractor. In 2015, more than 36% of custom homes built by the owner were financed with cash, while less than 7 percent of spec homes were purchased with cash.
Other types of non-conventional financing methods – such as the Rural Housing Service, Habitat for Humanity, loans from individuals, state or local government mortgage-backed bonds and other – are particularly popular in the West South Central division (7.6%) and South Atlantic division (5.7%), both exceeding the national average of 4.5%.


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Housing starts up 12.36%, down in Northeast | Katonah Real Estate

New Housing Units Started

(Seasonally adj. at Annual Rate, in % Y/Y)

On May 2016 Total housing units starts were at seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,164,000 units, an decrease of 8,000 units or -0.68 % from 1,172,000 units April 2016 and an increase of 12.36 % from 1,036,000 units May 2015.

New Housing Units Started
(Seasonally adj. at Annual Rate, in % Y/Y)
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
Feb. 2016
Jan. 2016
Total 12.36 % 0.6 % 18.68 % 35.23 % 4.35 %
In structures Single-family units 12.35 % 8.21 % 21.84 % 42.5 % 11.19 %
In structures with 2 – 4 units 95.71 % 16.67 % -57.14 % 71.43 % 260 %
In structures with 5 units or more -2.09 % -12.85 % 17.42 % 19.87 % -11.61 %
Northeast -41.01 % -29.1 % 43.56 % 70.21 % 37.04 %
Midwest 33.56 % 12.65 % 21.43 % 117.53 % 0.65 %
South 23.84 % 18.23 % 8.43 % 19.07 % 9.87 %
West 6.72 % -18.69 % 29.85 % 29.71 % -15.75 %

Multi-family credit tightens | Lewisboro Real Estate

Results from the most recent Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) indicate that lending standards on multifamily residential mortgages continue to show signs of tightening and the pace of tightening is growing.

The Federal Reserve Board’s SLOOS asks senior loan officers at large banks their opinion on changes in the standards and terms on, and demand for, bank loans to businesses and households over the past three months. In the most recent release, covering the second quarter of 2016, 44.3% of bank respondents indicated that lending standards at their bank had tightened over the quarter.

The net share of banks reporting that standards on multifamily residential mortgages had tightened has widened over the past year. The net share represents the difference between the percentage of banks indicated that standards had tightened and the proportion responding that standards had eased. As shown in Figure 1 below, a net share of 2.9% of banks reported standards had eased in the second quarter of 2015, but in the third quarter, a net percentage of 7.4% of banks reported having tightened standards. The net portion of banks tightening standards on multifamily residential debt rose in the three successive quarters.


A previous post demonstrated that banks account for the majority of multifamily residential debt outstanding. According to an analysis of bank-level call report data provided by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), the share of federally insured depository institutions with an outstanding amount of multifamily residential debt outstanding on their balance sheet, has risen while the amount of debt outstanding has remained stable. In contrast, the proportion of banks with any outstanding amount of 1-4 family first-lien mortgages on their balance sheet has remained steady and fluctuations have occurred in the outstanding amount of 1-4 family first-lien mortgage debt. However, in recent years, growth in the share of banks with outstanding multifamily residential mortgage debt outstanding rose more slowly than the growth in the outstanding amount of multifamily residential debt.


In 2001, approximately 65% of depository institutions had some outstanding multifamily residential debt residing on their balance sheet. As illustrated by the Figure 2 above, the proportion increased 13 percentage points to 78% by 2015. However, much of the growth took place between 2001 and 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, the percentage of banks with multifamily residential debt rose by 1.0 percentage point. By comparison, the share of banks with any 1-4 family first-lien residential mortgage debt remained generally stable over the 2001 to 2015 period at 97%.


As a share of total assets, the total amount of multifamily residential debt outstanding grew slightly between 2001 and 2015, from 1.6% in 2001 to 2.2% in 2015. That growth largely took place in the last few years. Between 2001 and 2012, multifamily residential debt outstanding as a percentage of total assets held steady at 1.6%. Since 2012, multifamily residential debt relative to total assets grew by 0.6 percentage point.


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Mortgage Rates average 3.69% | Katonah Real Estate

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates in the United States averaged 3.69 percent in the week ending July 22 of 2016, up 4bps from the previous week. Mortgage Rate in the United States averaged 6.45 percent from 1990 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 10.56 percent in April of 1990 and a record low of 3.47 percent in December of 2012. Mortgage Rate in the United States is reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

United States MBA 30-Yr Mortgage Rate
Actual Previous Highest Lowest Dates Unit Frequency
3.69 3.65 10.56 3.47 1990 – 2016 percent Weekly
MBA 30-Year Mortgage Rate is average 30-year fixed mortgage lending rate measured during the reported week and backed by the Mortgage Bankers Association. . This page provides the latest reported value for – United States MBA 30-Yr Mortgage Rate – plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news. United States MBA 30-Yr Mortgage Rate – actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases – was last updated on July of 2016.
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#Emotions influence the homes we choose | Katonah Real Estate

It’s a fact of life: Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

A home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise a family and, for some people, an investment they hope will bring them a good chunk of money down the road. We fall in love with houses in a way that we never fall in love with a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

All too often, though, we don’t realize that how we feel about homes blinds us when it comes time to buy or sell. We let our emotions blind us to cold facts about the market or the realities of ownership. Or we prioritize one set of emotional needs over others that are just are strong but may not be evident at first. And ignoring them can lead us to make bad financial decisions that can affect us for decades to come.

For instance, people might focus on their desire for a house that’s a certain size or style, but ignore the fact that they want to spend as much time as possible with family. So they might buy a “perfect” house that requires them to make a long daily commute to work and keeps them away from home for two extra hours each day.

The home-selling side of the equation brings its own set of thorny issues. Homeowners often have an overly rosy view of their home and expect it to increase in value far beyond reasonable expectations. And when they put it on the market, they often stubbornly cling to their asking price—even if it means leaving it up for sale far longer than they planned, and risking the possibility of not selling it at all.

Here’s a closer look at some psychological missteps that buyers and sellers often make as they wade into the housing market.

Ignoring the big picture

Home buyers are always on the lookout for features—like a longer driveway or bigger backyard—that will make them happier with their home. But people don’t realize that those changes may not make them happier with their life as a whole.

“When people move to better housing, they think they will be a lot happier overall,” says Shige Oishi, a co-author of a 2010 study on the subject in Social Indicators Research. “When they actually move, however, their overall happiness does not often change because there are many trade-offs in moving.”

One of the biggest trade-offs is commuting. Many move to live in a bigger house, but that bigger house is often farther away from work — so that means more commuting, which tends to add stress and detract from overall happiness. A 2008 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics shows that people who had longer commutes reported “lower subjective well-being” than those with shorter commutes. “If you’re moving to a place far away from your friends, but it has nicer stuff, it’s not a great deal for your happiness,” says Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.

In another study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Dunn and her co-authors explored the matter of expectations vs. reality in another way — by looking at Harvard undergraduates who were randomly assigned to different dormitories. The study showed that first-year students incorrectly predicted what would bring them the most satisfaction from their dorms — physical features like location on campus, the attractiveness of the residence, room size and desirability of the dining hall and facilities.

In the initial survey, the students put no weight on social features, such as relationships with roommates and a sense of community in the residence. But when the researchers checked back in with the students after they’d been living in their dorms, the only thing that appeared to matter for their happiness was the quality of the social factors.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing the physical features of the places you’re looking at,” says Dunn, “but you should really stop to consider how the places you’re considering will shape your social relationships.”

Overlooking big expenses

People who are buying homes tend to compartmentalize their expenses and not add up the total cost of everything needed to fix up and furnish the house, says Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University. That can lead them to make poor choices about how much to pay for a home. For instance, they may overspend on a down payment for the house itself and leave themselves without enough money to buy the sort of decorations or furniture that they want. “When you’re getting a house, think about furnishing it at the same time,” says Tabarrok.


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US Housing starts flat | Katonah Real Estate

Housing Starts in the United States is expected to be 1163.61 Thousand by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Housing Starts in the United States to stand at 1193.24 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the United States Housing Starts is projected to trend around 1213.00 Thousand in 2020, according to our econometric models.

United States Housing Starts
Forecast Actual Q2/16 Q3/16 Q4/16 Q1/17 2020 Unit
Housing Starts 1164 1164 1175 1184 1193 1213 Thousand
United States Housing Starts Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of United States Housing Starts using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – United States Housing Starts – was last predicted on Friday, June 17, 2016.
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