New York real estate has its worst quarter in 6 years – and there could be more pain ahead
Manhattan real estate sales and prices took a fall in the fourth quarter, and they’re likely to slide even further this year after the new tax rules take effect.
Total sales volume fell 12 percent compared with the fourth quarter of last year — the lowest quarterly level in six years, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Miller Samuel, the appraisal firm. The average sales price in Manhattan fell below $2 million for the first time in nearly two years.
Brokers say the declines were simply the result of uncertainty around the Republican tax plan, as buyers held off until the details of the new law became clear. They say many of those buyers have since rushed in and will help show a rebound.
Yet the luxury market in Manhattan is suffering from an expanding glut of high-end and highly priced apartments. And analysts say that while sales may rebound slightly in the first quarter of 2018, the tax law — which limits the deductibility of state and local taxes — will continue to add pressure to New York City housing prices, especially at the top.
“There will be an impact on prices and sales,” said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel. “But it may take up to a year and a half to two years to see the full impact.”
The high end of the Manhattan market is showing the biggest cracks. Inventory of luxury apartments — those in the top 10 percent by price — grew by 15 percent. There is now a 17-month supply of luxury apartments in Manhattan, up from 10 months a year ago.
And with giant new condo towers sprouting up in every corner of the city, those numbers are likely to grow.
Miller said that resales — as opposed to new development — are holding up strong, with median sales prices up by 2 percent over last year. But prices for new developments fell 17 percent over last year and the number of sales are down 20 percent.
The number of new developments is expected to continue to rise this year and next, which will add to inventory, Miller said. While demand for “low-end” apartments priced at $1 million to $2 million remains strong, sales of apartments of more than $5 million will get tougher. In part, that’s because the rich have more discretion on when and where to buy homes — and with the costs of owning a home in New York going up with the tax plan, apartments aimed at the rich will see the biggest price hits.
Miller said that while buyers have already adjusted, sellers may take more time to catch up.
“The sellers were already recalibrating after 2015,” he said. “Now they will have to readjust again.”
Single-family homes built after the 1990s have an average of 3.1 toilets, 2.6 showers and 2.3 bathtubs, according to a recent NAHB study.
Standard tables from the Survey of Construction (SOC, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with partial funding from HUD) show that the share of single-family homes built with at least 2 bathrooms has increased regularly from 60 percent of homes completed in 1973 to 97 percent of homes completed in 2016. This suggests that the number of bathroom fixtures should also be on the riese, but this is not one of the things that it has been possible to investigate using SOC data.
It can be investigated, however, with data that has recently become available from the Residential End Uses of Water (REUW) study from the Water Research Foundation (WRF). The REUW is the source of information on water use in single-family homes in the recent NAHB article on the topic. Consistent with the increasing number bathrooms, the REUW data show that the average number of toilets, showers and bathtubs all increase regularly as single-family homes become newer. For example, the average number of toilets increases regularly from 1.9 in homes built before 1960 to 3.1 for homes built after 1999.
Perhaps surprisingly, the published REUW study did not show a statistical relationship between the number of bathroom fixtures and the amount of water used by a particular single-family. The WRF constructed several models from REUW data, estimating outdoor water use, total indoor use, and a number of different individual indoor uses. NAHB economists reviewed these models and judged them to be generally well constructed and a good use of the available data, and saw no obvious reason to critique them or suggest alternatives.
Although the number of bathroom fixtures does not affect water use in any of the WRF models, the presence of efficient toilets and clothes washers does. Given government standards that have been promulgated and modified since 1990, it should not be surprising that efficient fixtures were most common in the newest REUW homes. For example, of the homes built after 1999, 71 percent had toilets that averaged less than 1.6 gallon per flush, 51 percent had toilets that averaged less than 1.28 gallons per flush and 80 percent had ENERGY STAR rated clothes driers. All three of these percentages are higher than they are for homes in any of the earlier vintage categories
Estimates of total water use, as well as the amount of water used by specific features, in single-family homes were discussed in last week’s post. For a more thorough discussion of the REUW and what if finds has an impact on water used by a single-family home, please consult the full NAHB study.
This little 90-piece kit from Ryobi will let you get a lot of projects done whether it be wood, metal, plastic or masonry in nature. Priced as low as $32.95 on Amazon, it’s a reasonably priced addition to your toolbox.Learn what different drill bits can do.
Get everything you need out of a screwdriver with this Husky 30-piece ratcheting screwdriver. It features five slotted bits, four Philips bits, three TORX bits, seven tamper resistant TORX bits, three hex bits and four square bits. It comes with a lifetime warranty and is priced at $16.97 at Home Depot.Photo: Courtesy of Home Depot
Klein Non-Contact Voltage Tester with Flashlight
Klein has an easy-to-use low-cost voltage tester that comes with a flashlight. This voltage tester powers itself off and is dustproof as well as waterproof. Klein’s voltage tester also beeps to let you know there’s higher voltage.Learn how to use a voltage tester properly.
Estwing’s 15-ounce hammer provides plenty of punch and works smoothly. The grip reduces vibration up to 70 percent and will last. This hammer also comes with a magnetic nail starter on the head. Estwing’s 15-ounce hammer retails at $29.97 at Home Depot.Learn what some of the best hammers have that others don’t.
If you’re having trouble keeping everything within arm’s reach, try on this four-in-one tool holder from Occidental Leather. Slip in a tape measure along with a pencil or utility knife to make projects easier to complete. For $35.82 you’re project life can become sublime.If you use a leather tool belt, find out how to repair a leather tool belt.
A self-retracting safety knife can help reduce cutting errors and Milwaukee’s knife does a nice job. Milwaukee’s knife comes with a lifetime warranty and two blade positions. It can store up to five blades.It retails for $10.93 at Toolup.com
Channellock has got a grip on solving your pliers problems. The E347 E Series 7-inch Combination plier with XLT Joint utilizes a crosshatch patter on the jaws for a tighter grip. The way this pair of pliers is made makes it easier to cut because the leverage it employs uses less force. Pick one up for $19.49 on Amazon.Check out other tips for loosening nuts, bolts and screws.
Ryobi’s RS290G 2.6 amp, 12,500 opm single speed 5-inch hook and loop corded random orbit sander is a versatile sander that comes in at an ultra-light pounds. It’s ergonomically designed and features a hex-notched rubber design to make gripping it easier. This sander comes with sanding discs and the dust bag is conveniently placed. This sander comes in at just under $50 on Amazon.Learn tricks to sand faster for your next project.
Stanley SquidBrite Flexible LED Work Light with Magnetic Back
This light can go places others can’t. Its magnetic backing makes valuable to free up one of your hands while doing repair work. The Stanley SquidBrite LED Light has 10 hours of run time and three modes of light. The flashing function makes it a useful tool to keep in the car if it’s needed on the side of the road at night or in winter weather. At $26.76 online at Amazon and Walmart, it’s an affordable tool you should add.Find other work light options to suit your needs.
Aside from just looking cool, this magnetic wristband is especially handy. No more loading up your mouth with screws as you complete something. It comes cheaply priced at $14.65 on Amazon and if you don’t want to wear it, you can strap it on to something.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
FastCap Accuscribe Scribing Tool
The AccuScribe Pro can help tackle any project for scribing trim, architectural moldings, countertops, tile and flooring. It’ll fit a pencil, Sharpie or FatBoy pencil. It goes for $18 at FastCap.Learn how to scribe for a perfect fit.
Smooth out those hard-to-reach spots with sanding sticks. Sanding sticks are great for woodworking or even putting models together. The sanding sticks come in 80, 120, 180 and 240 grits. You can pick up a 24-pack for $26.24 on Amazon.Find out new sanding by hand techniques.
A good pair of gloves can be pretty important for working on the car and Mechanix Wear has some of the best. These M-Pact gloves are machine washable and includes a dual layer for the index finger and thumb. Pick up a pair for $27 on Amazon.Discover other work gloves that work well in various scenarios.
WORX’s semi-automatic screwdriver is pretty slick to use. From a screw holder attachment to catching screws after they’re loose, this is a pretty neat tool to have on hand. The power screwdriver has six bits in the tool and accepts a ¼” hex insert bit. An LED light can make work easier as well.This tool is available for $37.23 on Amazon.
3M Half Facepiece Respirator Assembly with Particulate Filters
3M’s respirator is top-notch in terms of its ability to be used in multiple environments. The respirator is approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for environments containing certain oil and non-oil based particles. It can provide protection for welding, brazing, torch cutting, metal pouring, soldering as well as exposure to lead asbestos, cadmium and arsenic.This respirator is available at Amazon for $15.59.
When you’ve tried attacking a problem from several angles but haven’t come across a solution, DeWalt’s got the right angle with its Right Angle Attachment tool. The tool will get into tighter areas to drive screws and drill holes. Check one out at Amazon for $19.75.A right angle attachment can help with doing round ductwork.
This half-size pry bar is pretty handy to tote around and accomplishes similar tasks of a full-sized pry bar. This tool can be great for vehicles and baseboards. Plus it can withstand the bending momentum of 310 inch-pounds. Just beware it is only 7 ½ inches. It’s going for $4.11 on Amazon.Learn how to remove wood trim with a pry bar.
Suck out stripped out screws with a pair of Vampliers. These suckers have unique vertical and horizontal serrations on the inside jaws, which make it easier to grab a corroded or rusted out screw. These pliers are strong, too, made from carbon steel. Get yourself a pair for $29.97 on Amazon. Garlic sold separately.Find out how to remove a lightbulb with pliers.
Cleaning computer keyboards and other technology is sometimes difficult because of all the nooks and crannies. Cyber Clean can reach those tricky spots and pull dirt out. It’s great on cellphones, which accumulate dust and lint all the time. This putty-like cleaning agent can be used again and again by folding it over after each use. Plus, a color indicator lets you know if it’s time to get some new Cyber Clean. Grab some for $9.99 on Amazon.Learn some other cleaning secrets to make the job easier.
The CLC Custom Leathercraft 5023 Deluxe Cordless Poly Drill Holster is designed to carry most cordless drills and give you some room to carry additional items. The holster comes with three medium pouches good for flashlights and six small loops for drill bits. It’s double stitched to provide longevity and prevent fraying.Get your hands on one on Amazon for $12.40.
You might not be prepared for everything but Channellock’s Compact Rescue Tool pretty much is. This tool will pry open windows, cut wires and cables, shut off gas valves and loosen hose couplings. Not only that, it’s only 8.8 inches long and a little more than a pound in weight. The tool will cut through metal in small spaces and is a go-to choice for EMTs and first responders. Be prepared to pay $37.82 on Amazon.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats for Walking on Snow and Ice
If your DIYer is working outside then you’re going to want to outfit them with these traction cleats from Yaktrax. The cleats are made with a zinc coating to prevent rust and are tested safe to temperatures as low as minus-41 degrees F. Yaktrax will help prevent falls in snowy and icy conditions. They come with a price tag of $12.30 on Amazon.Learn what to do to prepare for an ice storm.
Ice safety picks are a no-brainer for ice anglers and essential for any vehicle emergency kit. In the event of an emergency on ice where someone has fallen through, they’ll give the grip someone desperately needs in order to climb out of the water. Keep them in your pocket while out in the ice in the winter. You can find ice safety picks for $12.99 on Amazon.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Rust-Oleum Varathane 243197 Distressing and Worm Holing Tool
Here’s the perfect gift for a DIYer who wants to add a distressed look to a piece of furniture. Rust-Oleum’s Distressing and Worm Holing Tool easily makes dents and divots to create the impressive of time worn tear. You can use the worm hole kit to give it the look of insect holes to really fool friends. Set your time machine to pick one up for $38.80 on Amazon.Find out how to use distressed wood for farmhouse charm.
Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, cutting-edge project. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole works together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your tray out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later.Learn how to build this project here.
Maybe your dad likes to build stuff and do projects, but doesn’t have a lot of space to spread out. That’s where this folding workbench will work wonders. With room for some tools and a compact footprint, it opens up to a whopping 4 x 7 ft – big enough to tackle almost any project.
Surprise your friends and family with easy-to-make photo sculptures. Your favorite folks will ‘pop’ from your photos when you use this easy technique.Here’s how: Apply photo mount adhesive to pieces of 1/4-in. hardwood plywood, firmly press on the photos to be sculpted, then cut out the figures with a scroll saw. Make some wood bases from scrap wood and glue on the sculptured photos with Special-T cyanoacrylate glue (about $11). This glue will tightly bond the sculpture’s bottom edge to the base, so you won’t need to fiddle with notches or screws.
Hints for great-looking sculptures:
Use a sharp No. 2 or No. 4 ‘skip tooth’ blade (about $24).
Change blades when the sawn ‘paper edge’ appears slightly ragged.
Select a medium or high speed and feed the work at a slow rate, pressing the wood firmly on the table as you saw.
When choosing photos to sculpt, look for clearly outlined subjects so it’s easy to follow the cutting line. Hair or clothing that blends into the background is difficult to cut.
This handsome knife block is fast, easy, fun to build and includes a 6-in.-wide storage box for a knife sharpener.To build one, you only need a 3/4-in. x 8-in. x 4-ft. hardwood board and a 6-in. x 6-1/2-in. piece of 1/4-in. hardwood plywood to match.
Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.
Cut the 6-1/2-in. x 3-in. lid from the leftover board, and slice the remaining piece into 1/4-in.-thick pieces for the sides and end of the box. Glue them around the plywood floor. Cut a rabbet on three sides of the lid so it fits snugly on the box and drill a 5/8-in. hole for a finger pull. Then just add a finish and you’ve got a beautiful, useful gift. If you don’t have time to make a gift this year, consider offering to do something for the person. You could offer to sharpen their knives! Here’s how.
Upcycled Tool & Hardware Hooks
For the handyman on your list, this upcycled tool project makes great decor. Adapt common tools and DIY hardware items into clever hooks and racks for their walls. They’ll be amazed with your creativity. Here are 10 spur-of-the-moment inspirations.
How to Build a Box With a Band Saw
You can make this simple jewelry or knick-knack box from a block of wood and your band saw. Or use it as a gift box to hold other homemade presents. Cut it out in minutes and finish in an hour. Get the plans.
Classic Children’s Carpentry
This classic DIY book, Easy Carpentry Projects for Children, withstands the test of time. Featuring fifteen projects kids can make themselves, along with how-to instructions for basic woodworking skills and techniques, this book is built upon the premise that kids learn best by doing. Young woodworkers will love working their way through each project.
Start Eye Safety Early
What’s unique about these child safety glasses is that they’re not just a toy! Kids can help in the workshop on real projects with real tools without fear of damaging their eyes when they don these child-size glasses, made with a slightly smaller frame than the adult version. And they’re inexpensive enough to use at play, too. Better yet? They come with real UV protection. It’s a win-win.
Their Own Take-Along Tool Kit
This Take-Along Tool Kit comes with play tools and hardware for the young handyman, complete with a kid-size carrying case. Kids can practice tightening bolts, screws, and nuts with a wrench and screwdriver. And the best part? It’s all wood.
A Book For Tinkerers
Some of the best inventions are the result of tinkering. Encourage the pursuit in your kids with this book dedicated to the topic, published by Make. In Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff, kids learn science and DIY concepts with hands-on activities that make learning, building, and, well, tinkering fun. You might just get a kick out of it yourself. This book would make a great gift from a DIY enthusiast to a budding DIYer, especially if you’re looking to faciliate some quality time.
Time to Get Building
Kids can get building with this Black & Decker Junior 14 Piece Toy Tool Belt Set. This tool belt and set sports the Black & Decker logo, just like the real thing, and the tools are some of the most realistic we’ve seen for kids. Children will love wearing this tool belt and having their tools on hand for handyman emergencies.
Dress the Part
While this toy construction hard hat is not approved for use on the job, kids will have fun pretending it is! Get your kids thinking about safety early by adding this to a gift of play tools or a workbench. This also makes a great addition to a handyman Halloween costume!
For the Future Auto Mechanic
For the future gear-head: the Battat Take-A-Part Toy Vehicles Roadster features 18 vehicle parts and a power screwdriver with three different bits. Kids can practice working on their own car and learn more about how cars and power tools work.
Mini Classic DIY Workbench for Kids
If you’ve got the time, build something instead of buying! Give your child a chance to make projects on their own DIY workbench — a smaller-scale version of a classic design that’s been in use for over a century. Check out these free plans for the mini classic DIY workbench for kids. It’s just the right size!
A rolling creeper seat doesn’t need much explanation. You sit on it. You store tools and parts under it. And you roll around to reach the tools and parts you forgot.Find creeper seats at any auto parts store, home center or online tool site. The model shown here is the Sunex 8507 Creeper Seat. A unit with a pneumatic lift and a contoured seat (for you Ferrari owners) could set you back a little more.
Practical Job Site Power Strip
The Stanley 32050 FatMax Power Claw is a clever power strip built into a clamp. It can grab on to a stud, rafter, sawhorse or ladder. Hang it wherever you need power. This strip works great at keeping extension cord connections off the ground. That’s convenient, but it makes even more sense if you’re working outside on a wet surface. The Power Claw has three grounded outlets and a 15-amp breaker.
For the Stickler: Safety Two-in-One
You’ll be more likely to use eye and ear protectors if they’re readily accessible, so why not keep them together?better yet, why not buy a pair of safety glasses that has built-in earplugs? These ReadyMax SoundShield safety glasses are equipped with a pair of earplugs that tuck into the ends of the earpieces/temples. Pull the plugs out of the earpieces when your work gets loud, and yank them back in with the retractable string when it quiets down a bit. These are perfect for construction, hunting or just cutting up wood in the garage. There are various styles to choose from?some glasses are tinted, some clear?and replacement earplugs are available.
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States unexpectedly rose 6.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685 thousand in October 2017 from a downwardly revised 645 thousand in September, while markets were expecting a 6.3 percent drop. It was the highest level since October 2007. Sales rose in all four regions with those in the Northeast surging 30.2 percent to their highest level since October 2007, and those in the South increasing 1.3 percent also to a ten-year high. There were also strong gains in sales in the West and Midwest last month. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 650.83 Thousand from 1963 until 2017, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011.
US New Home Sales at Near 10-Year High
Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 18.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667 thousand in September of 2017, beating market expectations of a 0.9 percent decline. It is the highest value since October of 2007 and the largest percentage gain since January of 1992. Sales rose in all four regions with those in the South surging 25.8 percent after a 1 percent fall in August which was partly the result of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Sales rose in the South (25.8 percent to 405 thousand), the West (2.9 percent to 141 thousand), the Midwest (10.6 percent to 73 thousand) and the the Northeast (33.3 percent to 48 thousand).
The median sales price of new houses sold was $319,700, above $314,800 a year earlier. The average sales price was $385,200, also higher than $366,100 in September of 2016.
The stock of new houses for sale was flat at 279 thousand. This represents a supply of 5 months at the current sales rate.
Year-on-year, new home sales increased 17 percent.
The S&P/Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released their respective home price indices for August 2017. National home prices rose at a faster annual growth rate, while local home price gains varied. Price growth in metro areas across the West region exceeded the national average.
The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 6.1% in August, faster than a 5.8% increase in July. It was the highest seasonally adjusted annual growth rate since February 2017. Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 8.3% in April, following the 4.5% increase in July, confirming the acceleration in home prices this month.
In August, local home prices grew at different rates. Many of the faster growing metro areas are located in the West region of the country.
San Diego, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Los Angeles registered annual growth rates that exceeded the national average. Among the 20 metro areas, San Diego, Las Vegas and Charlotte had the highest home price appreciation. San Diego led the way with 12.2%, followed by Las Vegas with 11.0% and Charlotte with a 10.8% increase. Nineteen out of the 20 metro areas had home price appreciation and Atlanta had home price depreciation (-2.4%). Moreover, eight metro areas had higher home price appreciation than the national level of 6.1%.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.95 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending November 16, 2017, up from last week when it averaged 3.90 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.94 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.31 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.24 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.14 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.
“Rates increased this week. The 10-year Treasury yield ticked up 6 basis points, while the 30-year mortgage rate jumped 5 basis points to 3.95 percent. Today’s survey rate is the highest rate in nearly four months.”
Longtime Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich is out.
Cindrich, a Democrat, who had served for 14 years, was defeated by upstart Gina Picincih of 4MountKisco, 52 percent to 48 percent, 1,320 votes to 1,209 votes.
Her running mate, Isi Albanese, was elected to the village board, along with incumbent Democrat Peter Grunthal. Democrat Anthony Markus was defeated.
In Croton, the Croton Democrats took back control of village board. Brian Pugh defeated Mayor Greg Schmidt 58 percent to 42 percent while Democrats Amy Attias and Sherry Horowit were elected to the Town Board.
In Pound Ridge, Democrat Kevin Hansen became the new supervisor, defeating incumbent Dick Lyman, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Catherine Borgia, the Majority Leader of the Board of Legislators who represents District 9, defeated challenger Bob Outhouse, 63 percent to 37 percent, according to unofficial results from the Westchester County Board of Elections.
District 9 covers Ossining, Peekskill, Cortlandt, and Briarcliff.
In District 1, which covers Peekskill, Yorktown and Cortlandt, Legislator John Testa, a Republican, defeated challenger Nancy Vann, a Democrat 56 percent to 44 percent, 7,863 votes to 6,240 votes with 46 percent reporting.Testa won a fifth term.
in District 2, which covers Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers, Kitley Covill, a Democrat, denied Republican Francis Corcoran his chance at a second term. Covill won 55 percent to 45 percent.
In District 3, which covers Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville and North Castle, Legislator Margaret Cunzio, a Conservative, defeated Daren Tolz, a Democrat 55 percent to 45 percent, 7,845 votes to 6,377 votes, according to unofficial returns from the Westchester County Board of Elections. Cunzio was running for a second term.
In Bedford, Democrats MaryAnn Carr, an incumbent and Kate Galligan easily defeated Republicans Kyle Carleton and Mary Ellen Devey McLaughlin for two seats on the village board.
In Cortlandt, longtime Supervisor Linda Puglisi, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger, Liam Carroll 75 percent to 25 percent. Puglisi was running for a 14th term. Democrats Debra Carter-Costello, an incumbent, and James Creighton, were easily elected to the town board.
In Lewisboro, incumbent Democrat Peter Parsons defeated Republican Jason Krellenstein 61 percent to 39 percent, Parsons was running for a fourth term.
In the race for the town board, Tony Goncalves and Jane Crimmins defeated Republican incumbents Frank Kelly and Peter DeLucia with 2,243 votes and 2,242 votes, respectively. DeLucia and Kelly have 1736 votes and 1168 votes.
In Somers, Republican incumbents Anthony Cirieco and William Faulkner defeated Democrats Robert Ondrovic and Thomas Newman.
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The Republican proposal to overhaul the tax code gained a powerful enemy over the weekend when the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group that been supportive until now, launched a drive to defeat it.
The decision came despite an announcement by a key House Republican, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, that a deduction for property taxes would be maintained in tax legislation that is to be unveiled Wednesday.
Lawmakers from high-tax states, including California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, had been pressing House leaders to continue to allow taxpayers who itemize to deduct state and local taxes.
A tax framework unveiled in September by President Trump and Republican House and Senate leaders called for maintaining the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions while eliminating other write-offs.
Staff from the home builders association had been meeting with Brady’s staff because of concerns that eliminating the property tax deduction, combined with a proposal to double the standard deduction, would reduce the tax benefits of home ownership.
A study commissioned by the National Association of Realtors had found that the combination would lower the value of the average home by 10%.
“Even though they’re technically not touching the home mortgage interest deduction, the reality is they’re going to gut the mortgage interest deduction,” said Gerald H. Howard, CEO of the home builders group. “Doubling the standard deduction would mean only the wealthiest homeowners would be able to take the mortgage interest deduction.”
Howard said his group was pitching a tax credit that would let middle-class homeowners reduce taxable income by 12% of what they paid in mortgage interest and property taxes. The benefit would have been capped at mortgages of $500,000 and property taxes of $5,500, and there would have been a phase-out for high-income taxpayers.
Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group working to build support for the tax plan, released a letter Monday designed to blunt the builders’ effort. Signed by 146 real estate professionals, it argued that 70 percent of taxpayers do not itemize, and they would benefit from the cut in tax rates that would come from eliminating deductions, especially the break for state and local taxes, known as SALT.
“Repealing the SALT deduction would finally put pressure on fiscally irresponsible state and local politicians, especially in California, New York and New Jersey, to lower their income and property taxes,” the letter said.
Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action, said on Fox News Sunday that “every single corrupt force of the status quo in Washington” would be coming out to “protect their little carve out” in the tax code.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, shipments of manufactured homes increased by 7.6% to an 85,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate in August, from 79,000 in July. This rate of growth partially reverses the 10.2% decline recorded in July, however, the number of manufactured homes in August remains 21.3% below its post-recession peak of 108,000 reached in January 2017.
Figure 1 above shows the changes in total housing strats and manufactured home shipments over the past eighteen years. Total housing starts here are defined as the sum of single-family housing starts and multifamily housing starts.
As shown in the figure, total housing starts increased by 34% to 2.27 million units from January 2002 to January 2006, and dropped sharply to 478 thousand by April 2009, a decline of 79%. Since then, total housing starts have been recovering, increasing by 147% to 1.18 million.
In contrast to total housing starts, between 2002 and 2006, shipments of manufactured homes decreased by 36% to 124 thousand. After a sharp increase in November 2005, manufactured homes fell by 77% to 49 thousand in April 2009. Since then, manufactured homes rose by 73% to 85 thousand in August 2017.
The figure above presents the level of manufactured home shipments and its share of total housing production from 2000 to the present. Total housing production includes single-family housing starts, multifamily housing starts and shipments of manufactured homes. Currently, manufactured homes accounts for 6.7% of total housing production.
Between 2000 and 2006, the pace of manufactured homes tracked its share of total housing production. As illustrated in Figure 1, the decline in manufactured homes coincided with an increase in total housing starts. Between 2000 and 2006, single-family housing starts rose by 44% while multifamily housing starts rose by 22%. As a result, manufactured homes’ share of total housing production also declined.
Since October 2006, the level of manufactured homes and its share of total housing production have moved in different directions, reflecting the boom bust cycle in total housing starts. Between October 2006 and December 2008, manufactured homes’ share of total housing production rose from 5.8% to 10.1%. Over this period, manufactured homes fell by 35% to 63 thousand. However, total housing starts fell even more. Single-family housing starts fell by 68% and multifamily housing starts fell by 61%.
Between 2009 and 2012, the level of manufactured homes rose by 4%, and manufactured homes’ share of total housing production decreased from 9.9% to 5.4%. The decline in manufactured homes’ share of total housing production reflected a large increase in total housing starts. Single-family housing starts rose by 72% and multifamily housing starts rose by 173%.
Zach and Brie Smithey of St. Charles, Missouri, have remodeled several homes, but none of them were the perfect fit. “We were looking for something that wasn’t quite the norm,” Zach explains.
“We renovated homes built in 1880, 1904, and the 1970s. With each house, we got closer to our flavor, but never quite hit it,” he says. “We realized that to do something different, we had to start from scratch—to get what we really wanted, we couldn’t follow someone else’s template.”
When they purchased an empty lot in 2011, they pictured building a more traditional house made out of conventional materials. But as the years passed, their vision shifted, and at some point, they stopped thinking about what a house should be and began wondering what other forms it might take. Ideas such as a concrete house, a geodesic dome, and a tiny house were weighed and rejected. “Realistically, how many people could live in a tiny house for the rest of their lives?” wonders Brie.
The couple doesn’t remember how the concept was raised, but when the idea of a container house came on their radar, it immediately felt right. “I had never seen one before, and I wasn’t even sure they existed,” Zach says. Online searches convinced them and informed them that if they built a container house, they’d be the first in the area to do so.
“We chose a container house because it gave us the most bang for our buck,” says Brie. “It allowed us to use recycled materials, which was important to us. The cost of it, and the fact we did so much of it ourselves, allowed us to live mortgage free, which was also important to us.”
Little did they know that at the time they were doing the research, their future home was sitting in a nearby container yard. “Once we decided to do this, I found a broker that sources containers from container yards across America,” Zach says. “There are many options: You can buy them new, used, or ready to be retired.”
The couple chose the last option, feeling that a few dents only add to the character of the units. They ended up with containers that had been built in Shanghai and traveled around the world 12 times on boat, train, and truck before coming to rest in North St. Louis. “We found eight 40-foot containers, each one with nine-foot-high ceilings,” Zach says. “We paid $1,600 for each, and $375 to have each of them delivered, so they ended up being about $2,000 apiece. The whole project cost us about $135,000.”
The couple had the containers delivered to their lot, used a crane to stack them in a giant cube shape (there are four containers on the bottom and four on the top), and began shaping them into their home. “Building a regular house is an additive process—you put more on it day by day,” says Zach. “But in a house like this, it’s more of a subtractive process. You stack up the containers, and then you carve away the walls you don’t need.”
Before we go on with this story, there are a few things you need to understand about the Smitheys. The first is that Zach is an artist and that informs his remodeling projects. “For me and my art, it’s all about the process, not the end result,” he says. “This house is just like a big sculpture project. I figured it out as I went along, and the journey was more important than the destination. In the end, we have something we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning if we had had a hard and fast goal we were aiming at.”
The second thing you need to know is that he and his wife appear to be the types who see things differently. For example, what mere mortals consider a packing pallet, this couple sees as a building opportunity/free wood. “The great thing is that once people know you think this way, they seek you out and unload stuff,” says Zach. Indeed, when they talk about the home, very little is new and explanations are peppered with phrases like: “My friend was remodeling a house and had to get rid of a lot of brick” or “My friend’s wife works at a JCPenney that cancelled a remodel and had a lot of extra materials.”
Finally, this is a couple that’s seemingly unfazed by things they don’t initially know how to do. He’s an artist and she had worked as a massage therapist—but they didn’t hesitate to purchase and operate a restaurant (Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room & Gallery), something they’d never done before. She later founded Brie’s Protein Bars, a health food company. They apply this can-do attitude to remodeling; so having no direct experience with container buildings was no problem.
“Really, the only way to learn how to remodel is to remodel,” says Zach. “We did most of it ourselves, save for the electric, plumbing, and HVAC. Because we were doing it ourselves, we were constantly changing tasks and using/developing new skills. It was exhausting and went on 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for a year and 14 days.”
Brie agrees that the process was difficult. “I expected it to be hard—if it were easy, everyone would be doing it,” she allows. “What I didn’t expect is how difficult it would be to work with the metal. It’s heavy, it’s thick… YouTubers make it look easy, but trust me, it’s not for everyone.”
In the most basic terms, here’s what they did: Stacked up the containers, cut out openings between them, built a frame within the metal shell, put in the utilities, and then hung the drywall (except in strategic places where they left the metal exposed).
Of course, that simplistic explanation doesn’t even begin to cover the improvisation that went into it. “I figured it out as I went along,” says Zach. The figure-it-out-as-you-go style is responsible for features like antique arched windows hung upside down in the living room (they were left behind at their restaurant, rescued from an old church next door); baseboard and crown molding made from randomly cut boards from packing pallets; and cement board painted in a rainbow of drip patterns and installed as shower walls.
Throughout, recycled materials are everywhere you look. In addition to the aforementioned items, rope pulled from the mud on the banks of the Mississippi was cleaned and used to frame a television; birdbaths and a fountain plucked from a landscaping company’s boneyard find new life as sinks and a plumbed bar table; a combine chain and tractor hooks are used to support a wall-hung vanity in the upstairs bath; and a conch shell is repurposed as a faucet in a bathroom on the main floor.
Of course, none of this was easy or without headaches. “If, during construction, we encountered a problem we looked at it as an opportunity to innovate,” Zach says.
Anything this different is bound to inspire curiosity—especially in a small community like St. Charles (population: 69,293). “When we were building it, not a day went by without someone coming into the house and asking questions,” says Zach. The curiosity reached such a pitch, that the couple decided to host a community open house on May 20, the day the last light fixture was hung. The couple anticipated a few hundred people, and they were surprised when 2,000 showed up. “I was in shock,” says Brie. “Negative comments always seem louder than positive ones, but that day, it seemed like the house was full of positive comments and so many compliments.”
The couple decided to make it a benefit for the local animal shelter, and ended up raising $8,000 at the door for the organization.