These seven products will make your home a DIY haven. Find out what the Family Handyman editors are falling in love with right now.
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Telescoping ladders allow you to reach the same height as standard extension ladders, but they eliminate all ’re lighter and easier to transport and take up far less space in your garage. There are a few different brands, and each has models that extend to various heights. We got our hands on the Xtend + Climb 770P, and we’re big fans. It retracts to just 32 in. tall and extends in 1-ft. increments, up to 12 ft. And it weighs only 27 lbs. You can get one online for about $190.2 / 7
My go-to tape
I use a tape measure nearly every day and rely on them for accuracy in detailed woodworking and metalworking projects, and for large-scale carpentry. But I don’t always need to lay out 35-ft.walls, so I prefer this 16-ft. Milwaukee compact tape measure for day-to-day work. It’s easy to carry in my tool belt or clip to my pocket. The strong, nylon-coated blade is printed on both sides, so I can read measurements from any position. The rugged outer case has survived many drops from the top of my ladder to my concrete shop floor. You can find one for about $11 at home centers and online. — April Wilkerson, Contributing Editor3 / 7
The bits in this StubbyBit set by Milescraft may look funny, but they’re super practical. They solve the problem of making pilot or dowel holes in confined spaces—for example, to add shelf pin holes in a narrow cabinet.
If you combine one with a right-angle bit, you can drill a pilot hole nearly anywhere. The hex shank makes going from drill bit to driver bit very fast, and the short length means they’re less likely to snap off. Pick up a set for about $14 online. When you need them, you’ll be glad you did.
By the time we’d get to the dinner dishes after putting the kids to bed, my wife and I would often find melted cheese and lasagna residue stuck to our plates. But when I remodeled our kitchen, I installed a Kohler faucet with a sweeping sprayer pattern that acts like a scraper to rinse off dishes. It doesn’t replace elbow grease in extreme cases of dried-on dinner, but it definitely works better than the faucet we had before. This is the Simplice kitchen faucet, which is available at Home Depot for $180, but Kohler makes several models with this convenient feature. — Mike Berner, Associate Editor
If you’ve struggled to get a grip on short wires or to pull cable through an electrical box, compound-motion pliers may provide the extra gripping power you’re looking for. A few brands make them, but I’ve had the DeWalt long nose pliers in my belt for the recent electrical work I’ve been doing. You can find compound-motion pliers at home centers and online. This DeWalt long nose costs $15. It’s also available in a set (less than $40) that includes side cutters and lineman’s pliers.
Headlamps provide hands-free light that follows your line of vision. That makes them a great tool for DIYers, whether you’re putting away your string trimmer after sunset, navigating a dark attic or crawl space, or working under the hood. The downside is that most headlamps are spotlights that focus their light on what’s in front of you. This OV LED Broadbeam Headlamp gives you 210 degrees of illumination, lighting up your surroundings so you can find your tools in the yard or change that tire in the dark. It’s powered by three “AAA” batteries and has two brightness settings. OV LED headlamps are available online for $15.
If you’re thinking about a way to upgrade your bathroom, here’s an easy one. Put a frame around the plain mirror above your vanity. MirrorMate simplifies that by cutting a frame to fit for you. After you supply the mirror dimensions on its website, including how much space is around your mirror, it will ship a frame to your home along with special connectors and glue to put it together. Just glue the ends together, pound the connectors in, and stick it on. You can choose from 65 frame styles in different pricing tiers at mirrormate.com.
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Mortgage rates have steadily declined with the 30-year fixed-rate bottoming out to 3.82 percent, its lowest level since September 2017, according to the latest figures from Freddie Mac.
Digital Risk co-founder Jeff Taylor told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto that now is the time for new home buyers to take advantage of the bigger inventory on the market.
“If you’re looking to get into the housing market, i.e., you don’t have a house right now, this is literally the perfect time,” he during an interview on Monday. “Interest rates are about a one percentage point less than it was this time last year … that’s a 10 percent savings on a 30-year mortgage a month.”B
The Federal Reservemight cut the federal funds rate twice this year, a move that could cause the 30-year fixed rate to fall even lower.
“If you get two rate cuts at 50 and if you get to 75, yeah, I think you can be back down to three and a quarter [percent], Taylor said.C
Taylor adds that the lower interest rates allow consumers to reach a little deeper into their pockets and “afford more of a house.”
“People are feeling better about their jobs right now and they’ve been saving. It’s a great time to finally to get into the housing market and make a purchase,” he said.
Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell from near an 11-1/2-year high in April as prices rebounded, but demand for housing remains underpinned by declining mortgage rates and a strengthening labor market.FILE PHOTO: A new apartment building housing construction site is seen in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 30, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
The Commerce Department said on Thursday new home sales dropped 6.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 673,000 units last month. March’s sales pace was revised up to 723,000 units, the highest level since October 2007, from the previously reported 692,000 units.
April’s decline followed three straight monthly increases
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for about 10% of housing market sales, would decrease 2.8% to a pace of 675,000 units in April.
Sales increased 7.0% from a year ago. The median new house price increased 8.8% from a year ago to $342,200 in April, the highest level since December 2017.
New home sales had in recent months outperformed other housing market indicators, including building permits, which had dropped for five straight months in April. New home sales are drawn from permits.
Economists attributed the recent strength in new home sales to declining mortgage rates. The new housing market has not been severely constrained by an inventory shortage, which has crippled sales of previously owned homes.
A report on Tuesday showed existing home sales fell for a second straight month in April, weighed down by a chronic shortage of more affordable houses.
The overall housing market hit a soft patch year and has contracted for five straight quarters. With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to around 4.07% from near an eight-year high of 4.94% in November, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the housing market.
New home sales in the South, which accounts for the bulk of transactions, declined 7.3% in April. Sales in the Midwest dropped 7.4% and those in the West tumbled 8.3%. But sales in the Northeast jumped 11.5%.
There were 332,000 new homes on the market last month, down 0.9% from March. While builders have stepped up construction of more affordable homes to meet strong demand in this market segment, land and labor shortages remain a challenge.
At April’s sales pace it would take 5.9 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 5.6 months in March.
Housing starts in the US rose 5.7 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,235 thousand units in April 2019, more than an expected 1,205 thousand and following a revised 1.7 percent advance in March.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, rose 6.2 percent to a rate of 854 thousand units in April and starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment advanced 4.7 percent to a rate of 381 thousand units. Increases in housing starts were recorded in the Northeast (84.6 percent to 144 thousand) and Midwest (42 percent to 186 thousand), while declines were seen in the South (-5.7 percent to 581 thousand) and West (-5.5 percent to 324 thousand). Starts for March were revised to 1,168 thousand from 1,139 thousand.
Building permits were up 0.6 percent to a rate of 1,296 thousand units in April, while markets had expected a 0.5 percent gain. Permits for the volatile multi-family housing segment increased 8.9 percent to 514 thousand, while single-family authorizations fell 4.2 percent to 782 thousand. Across regions, permits were higher in the West (5.3 percent to 339 thousand) and Midwest (2.2 percent to 188 thousand), but dropped in the Northeast (-4 percent to 120 thousand) and South (-1.2 percent to 649 thousand).
Year-on-year, housing starts dropped 2.5 percent and building permits decreased 5 percent.
According to a estimates from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, single-family starts continued to show weakness in March, despite the recent stabilization in the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). After downward revisions made to the February data, single-family starts were down 0.4% to a 785,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace in March, the lowest such rate since September 2016.
On a year-to-date basis, single-family construction is 5.3% lower than the first quarter of 2018. NAHB’s forecast, and the forward-looking HMI suggest that future data will show stabilization followed by slight gains due to recent declines in mortgage interest rates. However, single-family permits continued to be soft in March, declining 1.1% for the month to a 808,000 annual pace, the lowest since August 2017.
On a regional and year-to-date basis, single-family starts are down 21% in the housing affordability challenged West, 20% in the Midwest, 2% in the Northeast and up 5% in the South.
Multifamily starts were unchanged from February to March at a 354,000 annual rate. However, comparing the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2018 shows a 19% decline for 5+ unit production.
Recent production declines are clear in the current estimates of units under production. As of March 2019, there were 531,000 single-family homes under construction. While this is 4.5% higher than a year ago, it is down from the 543,00 peak count from January 2019. Similarly, there are currently 595,000 apartments under construction, which is more than 3% lower than a year ago and down from the peak count of 625,000 in February 2017. The combination of these declines in current construction activity are seen clearly in the graph below, with declines for total housing under construction for all of 2019.
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that mortgage rates dropped with the beginning of spring homebuying season.Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Mortgage rates have dipped quite dramatically since the start of the year and house prices continue to moderate, which should help on the homebuyer affordability front. The combination of improving affordability and more inventory than the last few spring selling seasons should lead to improved home sales demand.”
News Facts30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.28 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending March 21, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.31 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.45 percent. 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.71 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.91 percent. 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.84 percent with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.68 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.Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.
VIEWS41KSHARE221Designed to amplify nature, these cozy, modern cabins invite you to embrace the simple life.
Winter is the perfect time to rally family and friends for a cabin getaway, featuring days in the unspoiled snow and nights spent nursing hot (spiked) cider around the fireplace. If you’re dreaming about your own rustic retreat in the wilderness, look no further for inspiration than these 20 modern winter cabins below that demonstrate a deep respect for their snowy, wooded surrounds.
Described by Seattle–based Olson Kundig Architects as “a steel box on stilts,” this three-story cabin in upstate Washington is fitted with four 10′ x 18′ steel shutters that are rolled over the glass windows, so it can be sealed off from the elements when not in use. In fact, the client requested that Delta Shelter be virtually indestructible: the steel exterior makes it fire-resistant, while its steel-beam legs protect it from flooding.
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Architect Håkon Matre Aasarød, partner at Oslo–based studio Vardehaugen Architects, led the design of Cabin Vindheim—an off-grid cabin deep in the alpine landscape near Lillehammer, Norway, whose spaceship-like appearance gives it an otherworldly presence.
This sleek cabin by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter adapts to the slope of the terrain, and divides into two branches of living areas. The same timber cladding of the exterior extends onto the roof, creating a unified expression.
The minimalist cabins of this Norwegian hotel offer elegant shelter, while striking a remarkable communion with the sublime, natural environment. Billed a “landscape hotel,” the lodge features nine separate rooms that offer distinct views of the topography.
International firm Snøhetta created this new addition to Sweden’s Treehotel that’s perfect for stargazing. Barring a fear of heights, you can choose to lay your sleeping bag on the double-layered net that connects the cabin’s two bedrooms and enjoy a night under the stars.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “The combination of cooling inflation and slower global economic growth led mortgage rates to drift down to the lowest levels in a year. While housing activity has clearly softened over the last nine months and the lingering effects of higher rates from last year are still being felt, lower mortgage rates and a strong job market should rekindle demand for the spring homebuying season.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.37 percent with an average 0.4 point for the week ending February 14, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.41 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.38 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.81 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.84 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.84 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.
California home sales close year on downward trend as home prices post mild gains, C.A.R. reports
– Existing, single-family home sales totaled 372,260 in December on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down 2.4 percent from November and down 11.6 percent from December 2017.
– December’s statewide median home price was $557,600, down 0.5 percent from November and up 1.5 percent from December 2017.
– Statewide active listings rose for the ninth straight month, increasing 30.6 percent from the previous year.
– The statewide Unsold Inventory Index was 3.5 months in December, down from 3.7 months in November.
– For the year as a whole, sales were down 5.2 percent from 2017.
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 17) – California home sales declined for the eighth straight month in December, and a stagnating market for much of the year pushed sales lower in 2018 for the first time in four years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.
Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 372,260 units in December, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR®associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide annualized sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2018 if sales maintained the December pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.
December’s sales figure was down 2.4 percent from the revised 381,400 level in November and down 11.6 percent from home sales in December 2017 of 420,960. December marked the fifth month in a row that sales were below 400,000 and the lowest level of sales sold since January 2015.
“The housing market continued to shift in December and drift downward as sales have fallen double digits for the past three out of four months,” said C.A.R. President Jared Martin. “This trend is expected to continue, as buyers remain cautious about the murky housing market outlook due primarily to the volatility in the financial markets and uncertainty in the economic and political arenas.
“Additionally, housing markets in and around the wildfire areas have been exhibiting unusual patterns that could remain unsettled for the next few months. The impact, however, is confined mostly within the region and should not have a noticeable effect in the housing market at the state level.”
The statewide median home price declined to $557,600 in December. The December statewide median price was up 0.5 percent from $554,760 in November and up 1.5 percent from a revised $549,550 in December 2017. The statewide median home price for the year as a whole was $570,010, up 6.0 percent from $537,860 in 2017.
“California’s housing market in 2018 was hindered by endlessly rising home prices and interest rate hikes, which combined to erode housing affordability and hamper home sales,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “As a result, while the statewide median home price surpassed its previous peak and set a new record in 2018, annual home sales fell for the first time in four years to a preliminary 402,750 closed escrows in California, down from 2017’s pace of 424,890.
“In the coming months, we expect a brief hiccup in sales as the government shutdown temporarily delays closings due to interruptions in IRS income verification or the processing of HUD, VA and USDA loans,” said Appleton-Young.
Other key points from C.A.R.’s December 2018 resale housing report include:
On a regionwide, non-seasonally adjusted basis, sales dropped double-digits on a year-over-year basis in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Coast, Central Valley and Southern California regions, with the Central Coast dropping the most at 24.9 percent.
Thirty-nine of the 51 counties reported by C.A.R. posted a sales decline in December with an average year-over-year sales decline of 20 percent. Thirty-four counties recorded double-digit sales drops on an annual basis, and 10 counties experienced an increase in sales from a year ago.
Sales for the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole fell 17.5 percent from a year ago. Eight of nine Bay Area counties recorded annual sales declines of more than 10 percent. Only San Francisco County posted a year-over-year increase, gaining 11.3 percent from December 2017.
The Los Angeles Metro region posted a year-over-year sales drop of 17.8 percent, as home sales fell 16.3 percent in Los Angeles County and 18.3 percent in Orange County.
Home sales in the Inland Empire declined 19.8 percent from a year ago as Riverside and San Bernardino counties posted annual sales declines of 17.7 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively.
The median home price continued to increase in all regions, except in the San Francisco Bay Area. On a year-over-year basis, the Bay Area median price dipped 3.6 percent from December 2017. Home prices in Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties continued to remain above $1 million, but both San Mateo County and Santa Clara counties recorded a year-over-year price decline.
Statewide active listings rose for the ninth consecutive month after nearly three straight years of declines, increasing 30.6 percent from the previous year. All major regions recorded an increase in active listings, with the Bay Area posting the highest increase at 65 percent, followed by Southern California (34 percent), Central Valley (24 percent) and the Central Coast (12 percent).
The Unsold Inventory Index, which is a ratio of inventory over sales, increased year-to-year from 2.5 months in December 2017 to 3.5 months in December 2018. The index measures the number of months it would take to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate.
The median number of days it took to sell a California single-family home rose from 25 days in December 2017 to 32 days in December 2018.
C.A.R.’s statewide sales price-to-list-price ratio* decreased from 98.7 percent in December 2017 to 97.4 percent in December 2018.
The average statewide price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide edged up from $268 in December 2018 to $266 in December 2017.
The 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 4.64 percent in December, up from 3.95 percent in December 2017, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable mortgage interest rate also increased in December to an average of 4.02 percent from 3.39 from December 2017.
Note: The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only. County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales. Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home. The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed by a relatively small share of transactions at either the lower-end or the upper-end. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold. The change in median prices should not be construed as actual price changes in specific homes.
*Sales-to-list-price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions. The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage. A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.
**Price per square foot is a measure commonly used by real estate agents and brokers to determine how much a square foot of space a buyer will pay for a property. It is calculated as the sale price of the home divided by the number of finished square feet. C.A.R. currently tracks price-per-square foot statistics for 50 counties.
Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with more than 190,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
# # #
December 2018 County Sales and Price Activity (Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
Median Sold Price of Existing Single-Family Homes
Price MTM% Chg
Price YTY% Chg
Sales MTM% Chg
Sales YTY% Chg
Calif. Single-family home
Los Angeles Metro Area
San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco Bay Area
San Luis Obispo
Other Calif. Counties
r = revised NA = not available
December 2018 County Unsold Inventory and Days on Market
(Regional and condo sales data not seasonally adjusted)
Dottie Herman and Howard Lorber (Credit: Douglas Elliman)
UPDATED: Dec. 31, 5:40 p.m.: Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman — who partnered with Howard Lorber 15 years ago to buy New York City’s largest residential brokerage — is selling her stake in the firm for $40 million.
Herman will retain her spot on the management team, according to Elliman’s parent company, Vector Group, which is purchasing her 29.41 percent interest, it said Monday afternoon. Vector, which is controlled by Lorber, already owned 70.59 percent of Douglas Elliman.
In a regulatory filing, Vector said it already paid Herman $10 million and will pay the remaining $30 million in 12 equal installments between Jan. 1, 2020 and Oct. 1, 2022. She will also receive interest on the outstanding balance.
In a statement, Lorber said Herman’s “vision for and dedication to Douglas Elliman” helped turn the brokerage into a national brand with 7,000 agents — including 2,600 in New York City.
The pair acquired the brokerage in 2003 for just under $72 million, and its overall success led to Forbes in 2016 naming Herman as the richest self-made woman in real estate, with an estimated net worth of around $260 million.
But lately, the firm has been battered by the national housing slowdown and sluggish new development sales. Elliman reported net income of $7.8 million for the first nine months of 2018— down 62.5 percent from $20.8 million in 2017.
On Monday, shares of Vector closed at $9.73 — down around 54 percent from $20.70 per share in January 2018 — giving the company a market cap of $1.3 billion.
‘End of an era’
In recent years, Herman has retreated from the firm’s day-to-day operations, fueling rumors that she was on her way out.
On Monday, Herman disputed the idea that she has — or will — take a backseat at Elliman, despite selling her stake. “When a company gets to be a size like ours, any CEO should take the time to be strategic,” she said. “I still take every call from agents. Look, I helped four people get listings in the last two weeks.”
Although she will remain as CEO, sources told The Real Deal that Herman forgoing ownership represents the end of an era at Elliman.
While Herman held a significant stake in the company and had a legion of loyal followers, Elliman agents and managers said the balance of power has always favored Lorber. He’s the dealmaker who brings gobs of new development business through his investment vehicle New Valley, which bought into such projects as 111 Murray, 125 Greenwich, 76 11th Avenue and 160 Leroy. Through that connection, Elliman was tapped to market billions in condo product.
“The main impetus behind the company has been Howard for years,” said Andy Gerringer, who ran Elliman’s new development marketing group until he left in 2010. “Dottie was corralling managers and running meetings but when the big decisions had to be made it was Howard anyway.”
The veneer of diplomacy between the owners started to wear thin in recent years, as Herman stayed out of the spotlight (whether by choice or direction). Then in December 2017, Lorber promoted COO Scott Durkin to president — a role previously held by Herman. At the time, Herman and Lorber emphatically denied she was going anywhere. “She’ll have to be carried out,” Lorber said last year. “I’ll be the same way.”
But sources said although Herman resisted the change at first, she acquiesced over time. “In the beginning, she didn’t want to give up the day-to-day operations of the company,” the source said. “At the same time, she’d had enough.”
During a brief phone interview on Monday, Herman, 65, said selling the stock was the “hardest decision” she’s made in her life, and added that she wavered for two years before deciding to cash out. Twenty years ago, she would have kept going, she said.