Category Archives: Mount Kisco

Connecticut Feeling On Tolls Could Keep I-684 Free | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Connecticut’s governor proposed putting a toll gantry on the 1-mile section of I-684 that goes out of New York.

Connecticut Feeling On Tolls Could Keep I-684 Free
(Google Maps)

The proposal to put a tollbooth on the Connecticut mile of Interstate 684 apparently elicited negative reactions from Connecticut politicians as well as New Yorkers. Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate are less than enthusiastic about Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan for tolls at 14 spots throughout the state.

Lamont wants to put tolls on roads in his state to raise revenue and pay for repairs. One of the roads he picked is I-684, the “interstate highway” that runs down the east side of Putnam and Westchester counties in New York.

The toll plaza would go in the 1.4 mile stretch of I-684 that is in Connecticut. The toll gantry would be sandwiched between the exit for the Westchester County Airport to the south and the exit for Armonk, home of IBM, to the north.

Lamont met with the Democratic caucus Wednesday to go over his plan and hear questions and concerns from the caucus. Senate President Martin Looney told Patch that there was broad support for Lamont’s proposed transportation fixes, but disagreement on how to pay for them.

“We need to find something that is broadly palatable in the General Assembly and also to the public,” Looney said.

The caucus didn’t take a headcount on support for Lamont’s plan. Looney said Lamont was going to reflect on what he heard in the caucus meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said everyone acknowledges that it’s vitally important to upgrade Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure. He said Lamont carefully listened to concerns from legislators.

“How we get there and how we pay for it is certainly a different story,” Duff said. “But it was a very frank conversation with the governor.”

Lamont campaigned on truck-only tolling, but said after being elected it wouldn’t create enough revenue for the state and could run into some legal challenges from the trucking industry. Lamont rolled out a 50-toll gantry plan that took up part of the 2019 legislative session, but in the end never got a full vote. Any toll vote would likely become a hot-button issue in the 2020 election where state representatives and senators are up for re-election.

Legislative Republicans in Connecticut have been steadfast in their opposition to tolls. House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said that there is common ground in Lamont’s latest plan and it was more well-thought than previous iterations, but tolls are still a non-starter.

Non-starter was exactly the term New York State Senator Pete Harckham used, talking about his constituents in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties who would be unfairly affected. “Governor Lamont’s plan to place a toll on I-684 is a nonstarter because it disproportionately impacts New York commuters. There are enough roads elsewhere in Connecticut to toll to fund infrastructure projects in Connecticut.”

read more…

https://patch.com/new-york/bedford/s/gwzdh/connecticut-feeling-on-tolls-could-keep-i-684-free?utm_term=article-slot-1&utm_source=newsletter-daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter

Fed cuts rates again | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

The Federal Reserve cut rates for a third time this year today. While the 25 basis point rate cut won’t have a direct impact on fixed-rate mortgages, Fed actions do impact the market which touches lending.

Here’s what the rate cut means for homebuyers and homeowners.

What will happen to long-term fixed mortgages?

The federal funds rate does not directly affect long-term fixed-interest mortgage rates; those rates are pegged to the yield of U.S. Treasuries, which are set by market forces. However, those market forces are influenced by Fed policy, as we saw in July when the 10-year Treasury yields dropped after the Fed cut rates.

While fixed-rate mortgages don’t move in lockstep with the Fed, they’re not immune to Fed policy.

“The Fed does have an effect on rates and consumer sentiment because we look to the Fed for the health of the economy and because policy action does have an impact on the market,” says Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Variable-rate loans will get cheaper

Variable-rate loans, such as adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) track with the Fed rate, so those borrowers will come out ahead.

A drop in the federal funds rate by 25 basis points means a 25-basis point drop in variable rates, as well. Usually, borrowers will see a change in their lender statements the month after the Fed lowers rates.

“To quantify this, on a HELOC of $100,000, every change of 0.25 percent in interest rate (either upwards or downwards) will cause a borrower’s interest expenses to rise or fall $250 per year. As this works out to only about $21 per month, it should not have a very significant impact on most borrowers unless they have a very large HELOC,” says Daniel Shlufman, Mortgage Banker at Classic Mortgage LLC.

Those with variable-rate mortgages may have to wait a while to see their payments fall. Such loans typically adjust annually on their anniversary dates. Some don’t adjust at all for the first two, three, five or even seven years.

What borrowers should do

Would-be homebuyers interested in a fixed-rate mortgage or those who want to refinance should take advantage of today’s low interest rates, experts say. There’s no way to time the market to get the best deal on rates, says Kan.

The best course of action for homebuyers is to decide whether they can afford the home they want based on their down payment and current mortgage rates. Today’s mortgage rates are low by historical standards, so waiting for even lower rates can mean missing an opportunity.

read more…

https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/federal-reserve-decision-heloc-arms/

Leftist Utopia -California Can’t Keep the Lights On | Mt Kisco Real Estate

(Roza/Dreamstime)

Decades of misgovernance and misplaced priorities have left the state fighting fire with . . . blackouts.

California is staying true to its reputation as the land of innovation — it is making blackouts, heretofore the signature of impoverished and war-torn lands, a routine feature of 21st-century American life.

More than 2 million people are going without power in Northern and Central California, in the latest and biggest of the intentional blackouts that are, astonishingly, California’s best answer to the risk of runaway wildfires.

Power — and all the goods it makes possible — is synonymous with modern civilization. It shouldn’t be a negotiable for anyone living in a well-functioning society, or even in California, which, despite its stupendous wealth and natural splendor, has blighted itself over the decades with misgovernance and misplaced priorities.

The same California that has been the seedbed of world-famous companies that make it possible for people to send widely viewed short missives of 280 characters or less, and share and like images of grumpy cats, isn’t doing so well at keeping the lights on.

The same California that has boldly committed to transitioning to 50 percent renewable energy by 2025 — and 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 — can’t manage its existing energy infrastructure.

The same California that has pushed its electricity rates to the highest in the contiguous United States through its mandates and regulations doesn’t provide continuous access to that overpriced electricity.

California governor Gavin Newsom, who has to try to evade responsibility for this debacle while presiding over it, blames “dog-eat-dog capitalism” for the state’s current crisis. It sounds like he’s referring to robber barons who have descended on the state to suck it dry of profits while burning it to the ground. But Newsom is talking about one of the most regulated industries in the state — namely California’s energy utilities, which answer to the state’s public utilities commission.

This is not exactly an Ayn Rand operation. The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?

Meanwhile, California has had a decades-long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

In 2016, then-governor Jerry Brown actually vetoed a bill that had unanimously passed the state legislature to promote the clearing of trees dangerously close to power lines. Brown’s team says this legislation was no big deal, but one progressive watchdog called the bill “neither insignificant or small.”

On top of all this, more people live in remote areas susceptible to fires, in part because of the high cost of housing in more built-up areas.

There shouldn’t be any doubt that California, susceptible to drought through its history and whipped by fierce, dry winds this time of year, is always going to have a fire problem. But there also shouldn’t be any doubt that dealing with it this poorly is the result of a series of foolish, unrealistic policy choices.

California’s overriding goal should have been safe, cheap, and reliable power, a public good so basic that it’s easy to take for granted. The state’s focus on ideological fantasies has instead ensured it has none of the above.

read more…

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/10/california-cant-keep-the-lights-on/

Existing home sales up 3.9% year over year | Mt Kisco Real Estate

After reaching 17-month high last month, existing home sales, released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), fell more than expected in September despite low mortgage rates.

Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in September. However, sales were still 3.9% higher than a year ago.

The first-time buyer share rose to 33% in September from 31% last month and 32% a year ago. The September inventory stayed the same at 1.83 million units from August but decreased from 1.88 million units a year ago. At the current sales rate, the September unsold inventory represents a 4.1-month supply, up from a 4.0-month supply last month and down from a 4.4-month a year ago.

Homes stayed on the market for an average of 32 days in September, up from 31 days last month and equal to a year ago. In September, 49% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.

The September all-cash sales shared 17% of transactions, down from 19% last month and 21% a year ago.

The September median sales price of all existing homes was $272,100, up 5.9% from a year ago, representing the 91st consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $248,600 in September was up 4.5% from a year ago.

Case Shiller home price index up 2% year over year | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Regionally, all regions saw a decline in existing home sales in September compared to the previous month, ranging from 0.9% in the West to 3.1% in the Midwest. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose in all four major regions except for the Midwest, ranging from 1.5% in the Northeast to 6.0% in the South. Sales in the Midwest was nearly unchanged to September 2018.

This monthly decline indicates that sales are not consistently increasing in response to falling mortgage rates, as rapidly rising home prices and tight inventory continue to weigh on housing sector and prevent home sales growth. As mortgage rates below 4% are very attractive to homebuyers, more new home building is needed to meet housing demand. Indeed, supported by low mortgage rates and solid job growth, builder confidence continued to improve, which rose to 20-month high in October.

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Case Shiller home price index up 2% year over year | Mt Kisco Real Estate

July 2019 saw an annual increase of 3.2% for home prices nationwide, matching the previous month’s pace, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.

The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 1.6% and 2% year-over-year increase, respectively. During the month, 15 of 20 cities reported increases both before and after seasonal adjustment.  

“Year-over-year home prices continued to gain, but at ever more modest rates,” says Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Charlotte surpassed Tampa to join the top three cities, and Seattle may be turning around from its recent negative streak of YOY price changes, improving from -1.3% in June to -0.06% in July.”

According to the index, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.

In July, Phoenix led with a 5.8% year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas with a 4.7% increase and Charlotte with a 4.6% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending July 2019 versus the year ending June 2019.

“Overall, leadership remains in the southwest (Phoenix and Las Vegas) and southeast (Charlotte and Tampa),” Murphy said. “Other pockets of relative strength include Minneapolis, which increased its YOY gain to 4.2%, and Detroit, which is closely behind at 4.1% YOY.”

“The 10-City and 20-City Composites both experienced lower YOY price gains than last month, declining to 1.6% and 2.0% respectively. However, the U.S. National Home Price NSA Index remained steady with a YOY price gain of 3.2%, the same as prior month,” Murphy said. “Home price gains remained positive in low single digits in most cities, and other fundamentals indicate renewed housing demand.”

 The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites:

Case-Shiller - July

Mortgage rates average 3.49% | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.49 percent, the lowest it has been since October 2016.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist says, “Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data. While economic growth is clearly slowing due to rising manufacturing and trade headwinds, economic fundamentals are still solid for U.S. consumers. The unemployment rate is low, housing affordability is improving, homebuyer demand is rising, and home price growth is stable.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 5, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 3.58 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.30 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.31 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.93 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.

How NYC’s affordable housing crisis affects family homelessness | #MtKisco Real Estate

New York’s housing crisis has taken center stage in the last few months: A bold package of bills was passed in Albany to protect tenants, while the city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to raise the rent despite clamors from residents of rent stabilized apartments. Something that housing advocates have continuously cited is the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in the city.

A new study by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH), found that on July 1, 2018, there were over 12,000 families with children sleeping in a city-run shelter. The study also explored the biggest factors—family, neighborhood, and shelter dynamics—that lead to homelessness.

Overall, the study says that in fiscal year 2016, the main reasons families entered shelters included domestic violence (30 percent), eviction (25 percent), and overcrowding (17 percent).

In terms of shelter dynamics, the ICPH analysis found that neighborhoods with the highest family shelter capacity include Concourse/Highbridge, East Tremont in the Bronx, and Brownsville in Brooklyn. The report also notes that in 2015, the district with the most families entering shelters was East New York in Brooklyn.

Neighborhood dynamics contributing to homelessness, the study found, include educational attainment, unemployment, rent burden (as well as disappearing affordable units), and poverty.

An interactive map (below) shows the percentage of severely rent-burdened households in each borough—meaning households spending 50 percent or more of their income on rent. The map shows that the Bronx had the most severely rent-burdened households with 33.1 percent, followed by Staten Island at 29.5 percent (those figures are based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.)

The study lists specific neighborhoods facing the most instability for different reasons. In Borough Park, for instance, 44 percent of households are severely rent burdened, and in Mott Haven, 40 percent of residents have less than a high-school diploma.

“Severely rent burdened households are often just one lost paycheck or medical emergency away from eviction,” the study reads. “As rents continue to rise, the preservation of affordable housing is essential to keeping families on the brink of homelessness stably housed in their communities.”

Also included in the map are the number of disappearing affordable units in each neighborhood. Those with large numbers of lost affordable units include Battery Park/Tribeca, Midtown Business District, Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Fort Greene/Brooklyn Heights, Fresh Meadows/Briarwood, Coney Island, and East Harlem.

Though the ICPH report says the number of families with children in shelters has increased by almost 55 percent between 2011 and 2018, the city’s Department of Homeless Services told Curbed that the overall numbers have gone down.

“Our transformation plan puts people first, offering them the opportunity to get back on their feet in their home boroughs, closer to support networks, including schools,” Isaac McGinn, a city Department of Homeless Services spokesperson told Curbed in a statement.

“As we turn the tide on this citywide challenge, we’ve driven down the number of families experiencing homelessness overall, while also helping hundreds of families in shelter move closer to their children’s schools—and we’ll be taking this progress even further as we continue to implement our five-year plan,” he added.

read more…

https://ny.curbed.com/2019/6/28/19102889/nyc-homeless-shelters-families-affordable-housing

New fixer upper loan out | Mt Kisco Real Estate

House under construction

Freddie Mac is launching a new mortgage product that allows borrowers to buy a fixer-upper and finance the renovation all with one loan. Existing homeowners can use it to repair or improve their properties.

The government-sponsored enterprise announced its new CHOICE Renovation loan product on Wednesday, saying it’s available immediately to all approved lenders. Lenders have two paths for delivering the loan to Freddie. They can either wait until the renovations are complete, or, for approved lenders, they can deliver the loan while work is ongoing if they’re providing oversight for the projects.

“We recognized there’s a significant amount of aging housing stock, both in under served areas and in the broader housing market, and there’s also a need for affordable housing,” Kelly Marrocco, director of credit policy at Freddie Mac said in an interview. “This is a new offering that allows people to purchase a home that needs repair, or allows existing homeowners to renovate without having to do a cash-out refinance.”

The new mortgage product has a unique feature to address the danger of natural disasters and flooding. It allows owners to use the funds to renovate or repair a property that has been damaged in a natural disaster or for changes that will help to prevent damage from a future disaster, such as work on storm surge barriers, foundation retrofitting, or retaining walls.

The funds “can be used to address housing resiliency items that will either repair damage or improve the homes ability to withstand environmental hazards,” Marrocco said.

The renovation market has grown by more than 50% since the Great Recession ended in 2009, Freddie Mac said in its announcement of the new loan product. Nearly 80% of the nation’s 137 million homes are at least 20 years old and 40% are at least 50 years old.

“Given the increasing age of existing housing stock, the growing number of millennials and other first-time home buyers looking for more affordable home buying options, and the increase in retirees opting to age in place, the Freddie Mac CHOICE Renovation mortgage is a flexible solution to finance or refinance these fixer-uppers,” Danny Gardner, a Freddie Mac senior vice president, said in the announcement.

read more…

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49371-freddie-mac-announces-fixer-upper-mortgage

European real estate bubble a ‘real possibility’ | Mt Kisco Real Estate

The euro area is at risk of a new real estate bubble as a result of expansionary monetary policy from the European Central Bank (ECB), Commerzbankanalysts have warned.

The ECB council meets on Thursday June 6, and is likely to decide on the details of the third edition of its targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-III) program, a series of Eurosystem operations that provide financing to credit institutions for periods of up to four years.

TLTROs offer long-term funding at attractive conditions to banks in order to encourage them to lend capital to the real economy.

The central bank has faced calls from some corners of the market for fresh stimulative measures to aid the anemic European economy, and the third round of TLTROs represent a continuation of its expansionary monetary course.

“With a view to low core inflation, some policies are often passed off as a free lunch,” a note from Commerzbank senior economists Dr Ralph Solveen and Dr Jorg Kramer said in a note Friday.

“Yet the ECB’s expansionary monetary policy has a cost and it comes in the form of higher house prices, which already appear expensive in some countries, and the threat of a property price bubble is a real possibility.”Rising house prices

Commerzbank highlighted that house prices have been rising rapidly in the majority of eurozone economies, including the large economies of Germany, Belgium and France. With an increase of around 4.5% in the course of 2018, Germany was slightly above average in terms of rising house prices, while Slovenia and Latvia saw double-digit rises. Portugal, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all rose at almost 10% rates.

Yet Commerzbank analysts anticipate that ECB interest rates will remain in negative territory for the foreseeable future, further heightening the threat of a real estate bubble.

“The relation between house prices and rents, a frequently used measure for the valuation of real estate, has risen by more than 10% since early 2015. This is less than 5% below its level at the beginning of 2008, when the housing market in some euro area countries had formed considerable bubbles,” the note stated.

Commerzbank expects that if the ECB maintains its monetary policy stance until the end of 2020, average house prices will exceed pre-crisis levels.Falling debt and no building boom

Solveen and Kramer pointed out that the strength of impact of a bursting price bubble on the real economy depends, in part, on the extent to which rising house prices are accompanied by rising debt and a construction boom.

The euro zone as a whole is not yet in this position, the analysts suggested, with private household debt relative to GDP falling steadily across most of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), although Belgium and France were noted as exceptions.

There is also no question of a construction boom, the economists highlighted, and the share of residential construction investment in eurozone GDP is now significantly lower than at the beginning of 2008.

“The situation is somewhat different in Germany, where the rise in prices in recent years has been accompanied by a sharp rise in construction investment and bottlenecks are increasingly occurring in the construction sector,” the Commerzbank note stated.

“However, the share of residential construction investment in GDP is still lower than at the beginning of the monetary union, and there was certainly no construction boom in Germany at that time.”

read more…

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/31/european-real-estate-bubble-a-real-possibility-commerzbank-says.html

Pending home sales up 3.8% in March | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Pending home sales rose in March, reversing course from a month prior, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Three of the four major regions saw growth last month, as the Northeast reported a minor slip in contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 3.8% to 105.8 in March, up from 101.9 in February. Year-over-year contract signings declined 1.2%, making this the 15th straight month of annual decreases.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, noted that pending home sales data has been exceptionally fluid over the past several months but predicted that numbers will begin to climb more consistently. “We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable.”

2019 03 phs housing snapshot infographic 04 30 2019 750w 800h

See and share this infographic.

Yun noted that sales activity in the West had increased at a relatively stable rate for five consecutive months before the region saw a significant spike in activity in March. “Despite some affordability issues in the West, the numbers indicate that there is a reason for optimism. Inventory has increased, too. These are great conditions for the region.”

Pointing to active listings from data at realtor.com®, Yun says the year-over-year increases indicate a potential rise in inventory. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., saw the largest increase in active listings in March compared to a year ago.

Although pending contracts appear to be on an overall upswing, Yun says current sales activity is underperforming. “In the year 2000, we had 5 million home sales. Today, we are close to that same number, but there are 50 million more people in the country,” he said. “There is a pent-up demand in the market, and we should see a better performing market in the coming quarters and years.”

March Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 1.7% to 90.5 in March and is now 0.4% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index grew 2.3% to 95.3 in March, 5.0% lower than March 2018.

Pending home sales in the South jumped up 4.4% to an index of 127.2 in March, which is 0.7% higher than last March. The index in the West ascended 8.7% in March to 95.1 and fell only 1.6% below a year ago.

read more…

https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-climb-3-8-in-march