Category Archives: South Salem

U. S. housing starts rise again | South Salem Real Estate

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have now published their findings for May new residential housing starts. The latest reading of 1.350M was above the Investing.com forecast of 1.310M and an increase from the previous month’s revised 1.286M. March figures were also revised.

Here is the opening of this morning’s monthly report:

Housing Starts

Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,350,000. This is 5.0 percent (±10.2 percent)* above the revised April estimate of 1,286,000 and is 20.3 percent (±14.4 percent) above the May 2017 rate of 1,122,000. Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 936,000; this is 3.9 percent (±10.6 percent)* above the revised April figure of 901,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 404,000. [link to report]

Here is the historical series for total privately owned housing starts, which dates from 1959. Because of the extreme volatility of the monthly data points, a 6-month moving average has been included.

The Population-Adjusted Reality

Here is the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau’s mid-month population estimates show substantial growth in the US population since 1959. Here is a chart of housing starts as a percent of the population. We’ve added a linear regression through the monthly data to highlight the trend.

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https://seekingalpha.com/article/4182741-new-residential-housing-starts-may

Case Shiller home prices up 6.8% | South Salem Real Estate

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index in the US rose 6.8 percent year-on-year in February 2018, following a 6.4 percent advance in January and easily beating market expectations of a 6.3 percent gain. It was the steepest increase in house prices since an 8.1 percent climb in June 2014, with Seattle (12.7 percent), Las Vegas (11.6 percent) and San Francisco (10.1 percent) reporting the sharpest gains among the 20 cities. Meanwhile, the national index, covering all nine US census divisions rose 6.3 percent, up from 6.1 percent in the previous month. Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States averaged 160.67 Index Points from 2000 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 206.67 Index Points in February of 2018 and a record low of 100 Index Points in January of 2000.

United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index

 

 

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https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/case-shiller-home-price-index

Current mortgage rates | South Salem Real Estate

30-year fixed mortgages

The average rate you’ll pay for a 30-year fixed mortgage is 4.33 percent, an increase of 2 basis points over the last week. A month ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was lower, at 4.31 percent.

At the current average rate, you’ll pay a combined $496.63 per month in principal and interest for every $100,000 you borrow. That’s $1.17 higher compared with last week.

You can use Bankrate’s mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payments and find out how much you’ll save by adding extra payments. It will also help you calculate how much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

15-year fixed mortgages

The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 3.76 percent, up 3 basis points over the last seven days.

Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $728 per $100,000 borrowed. The bigger payment may be a little harder to find room for in your monthly budget than a 30-year mortgage payment would, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much more rapidly.

5/1 ARMs

The average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 4.11 percent, sliding 10 basis points over the last 7 days.

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

Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 4.11 percent would cost about $484 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could increase by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.

Where rates are headed

To see where Bankrate’s panel of experts expect rates to go from here, check out our Rate Trend Index.

Want to see where rates are right now? See local mortgage rates.

Average mortgage rates
Product Rate Change Last week
30-year fixed 4.33% +0.02 4.31%
15-year fixed 3.76% -0.03 3.73%
30-year fixed jumbo 4.59% -0.01 4.60%
30-year fixed refinance 4.31% +0.03 4.28%

Last updated: March 21, 2018.

Methodology: The rates you see above are Bankrate.com Site Averages. These calculations are run after the close of the previous business day and include rates and/or yields we have collected that day for a specific banking product. Bankrate.com site averages tend to be volatile — they help consumers see the movement of rates day to day. The institutions included in the “Bankrate.com Site Average” tables will be different from one day to the next, depending on which institutions’ rates we gather on a particular day for presentation on the site.

 

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https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/rates/mortgage-rates-for-wednesday-march-21/

Consumer sentiment at 14 year high | South Salem Real Estate

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US jumped to 102 in March from 99.7 in February, beating expectations of 99.3. It is the strongest reading since January 2004 as the assessment of current economic conditions reached a record high. Consumer Confidence in the United States averaged 86.27 Index Points from 1952 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 111.40 Index Points in January of 2000 and a record low of 51.70 Index Points in May of 1980.

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https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/consumer-confidence

New single family home sales jump dramatically | South Salem Real Estate

Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733 thousand in November of 2017 from a downwardly revised 624 thousand in October and beating market forecasts of 654 thousand. It was the strongest number since July of 2007. Sales rose in all four regions. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 650.82 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.

United States New Home Sales

 

US New Home Sales Highest Since July 2007

Sales of new single-family houses in the United States jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733 thousand in November of 2017 from a downwardly revised 624 thousand in October and beating market forecasts of 654 thousand. Sales rose in all four regions.

Sales surged in all four main regions: South (14.9 percent to 416 thousand); West (31.1 percent to 194 thousand); Midwest (6.9 percent to 77 thousand) and Northeast (9.5 percent to 46 thousand):
The median sales price of new houses sold was $318,700, above $315,000 a year earlier. The average sales price was $377,100, also higher than $363,400 in November of 2016.
The stock of new houses for sale was flat at 283 thousand. This represents a supply of 4.6 months at the current sales rate.
Year-on-year, new home sales increased 26.6 percent.
read more…
https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/new-home-sales

Home Price Appreciation Continues | South Salem Real Estate

National home price appreciation continued in September, while local home prices grew at different rates. All of the 20 metro areas had positive annual growth rates.

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 9.0% in September, faster than an 8.2% increase in August. It was the highest seasonally adjusted annual growth rate since October 2013. Tight inventory of existing homes is contributing to strong house price appreciation.

Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.2% in September, following the 9.7% increase in August.

Figure 2 shows the annual growth rate of home prices for 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. In September, local home price varied greatly and its annual growth rates ranged from 2.2% to 16.4%. However, all 20 metro areas tracked recorded year-over-year appreciation.

Among the 20 metro areas, Atlanta, San Francisco and Tampa had the highest home price appreciation. Atlanta led the way with 16.4%, followed by San Francisco with 14.6% and Tampa with a 12.7% increase. Half of the 20 metro areas exceeded the national average of 9.0%. The ten metro areas that had lower home price appreciation than the national level were: Los Angeles (8.1%), Denver (7.9%), Charlotte (7.4%), Seattle (6.8%), Miami (6.6%), Chicago (6.4%), Portland (6.2%), Detroit (3.9%), Washington, DC (3.7%) and Minneapolis (2.2%).

 

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/11/home-price-appreciation-continues-in-september/

SantaCon is back | South Salem Real Estate

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Get ready, New Yorkers: SantaCon is about to flood streets (and bars) of New York once again. If you live under a rock and haven’t seen or heard of SantaCon, it’s that one time of year where flocks of Santa and elf impersonators embark on a festive bar crawl, making a booze-fueled scene through the city that you’ll find either amusing or annoying to watch. It all goes down this Saturday, December 9.

Update: The SantaCon organizers have announced the locations for this year’s event, and as predicted, it’ll be concentrated in Manhattan—namely in Midtown and down to the East Village. The festivities will kick off at the James A. Farley Post Office across from Penn Station (of course) at 10 a.m., and things will continue on from there.

If you’re looking to participate, we recommend keeping an eye on SantaCon’s official website and Twitterpage for more details.

But if you want to avoid the whole thing (and something tells us that if you’re reading this, you do), we have a few tips along with some alternatives that don’t involve being around a swarm of drunken Santas gallivanting around.

Stay in the outer boroughs. There’s less of a risk of running into any hordes of Santas in the outer boroughs. Though we do recommend staying away from neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick, since they’re a little to close to Manhattan for comfort.

Avoid going through Midtown if at all possible. Bars on the SantaCon route tend to span much of Midtown, so if you had plans in the area, maybe save it for Sunday. This includes riding the subway through the area. Nowhere is safe from Santas.

Get the heck out of town. There are likely to be some bridge-and-tunnel Santas coming in on the LIRR or Metro-North—both of which have imposed alcohol bans on Saturday, along with the New Jersey Transit, who is imposing a ban on all liquid beverages. If you’re going in the opposite direction of Manhattan, you should be safe.

And 5 fun things to do that are far away from SantaCon:

Check out local artwork in the Bronx. The Poe Park Visitor Center will be hosting its fifth annual Whimsical Winter Wonder… Exhibition, where you can catch artwork from over a dozen established and upcoming local artists.

Head on over to a Winter Wonderland. Enjoy an afternoon filled with crafts, hot chocolate, and a trackless train as part of Winter Wonderland, happening at Brookville Park in Queens.

Go dancing on a vintage train. The New York Transit Museum will invite revelers onto the vintage subway cars for a swing-themed dance party. The Nostalgia Swing Train will travel from Second Avenue to the museum’s Downtown Brooklyn location, where the party will continue. Costumes—of the non-Santa, ’40s-inspired variety—are encouraged.

Learn how to make a holiday wreath. Have an itch to learn how to make your own holiday wreaths? If so, here is your chance. Horticulturist and landscape designer Wambui Ippolito will be conducting a workshop at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Admission is $75 and includes all materials.

Embark on an adventure at the Bronx Zoo. If you really want to do something out of the ordinary, make your way to the Bronx Zoo and check out their Treetop Adventure center where you can climb across various obstacle courses and enjoy two zipline adventures.

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https://ny.curbed.com/2017/12/7/16746960/santacon-nyc-bar-crawl-things-to-do-instead-2017?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Curbed%20NY%2012817&utm_content=Curbed%20NY%2012817+CID_9a896da07626ffcb06d560bca24fea40&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=SantaCon%20is%20back%20Where%20it%20will%20be%20and%20where%20you%20should%20go%20instead

Homeownership is starting to increase | South Salem Real Estate

According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate is at 63.9% in the third quarter 2017, which is statistically unchanged from its last quarter reading of 63.7%. The rate of homeownership is on an upward trend after dropping to a cycle low of 62.9% in the second quarter 2016. Compared to the peak of 69.2% in 2004, the homeownership rate is below by 5.3% and remains below the 25-year average rate of 66.3%.

Younger homebuyers are gradually entering the housing market after the Recession. Compared to a year ago, the homeownership rates among households ages 35-44 increased from 58.4% to 59.3%. Millennials also registered noticeable gains – from 35.2% to 35.6%. Older households, ages 65 and over, is the only group where homeownership rates showed a slight decline of 0.1%.

The nonseasonally adjusted homeowner vacancy rate remained low at 1.6% in the third quarter 2017, down by 0.2% from previous year and statistically not different from the rate in the second quarter. At the same time, the national rental vacancy rate increased to 7.5%, compared to only 6.9% a year ago.

The HVS also provides a timely measure of household formations – the key driver of housing demand. Although it is not perfectly consistent with other Census Bureau surveys (Current Population Survey’s March ASEC, American Community Survey, and Decennial Census), the HVS remains a useful source of relatively real-time data.

The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the number of households increased to 119.1 million during the third quarter of 2017. This is 0.4 million higher than a year ago and sustains gains recorded in 2016. Growth in household formations will spur rental housing demand first, and ultimately, home sales. Indeed, the number of homeowner households rose by 0.8 million, after experiencing a large gain of 1.3 million in the second quarter.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/10/homeownership-rate-approaches-64/

HVAC Issues | South Salem Real Estate

An efficient HVAC system can you save you loads of money in the long run and keep your home nice and comfortable throughout the year. Problems in the ductwork, however, can quickly consume your energy budget and make it hard to heat and cool certain areas of the home. If you suspect your HVAC system is not working properly, follow this short guide to help identify and fix common ductwork problems.

Abnormal Energy Bills

A collection of gas bills with a calculator and pen on a desk.

A sudden spike in your energy bill is a good sign that your home’s HVAC system is compromised. Leaky connectors and poor designs lead to air flow loss, which makes the system work harder to heat and cool the home. This in turn expends more energy and runs up the electricity bill.

Noisy Ductwork

Another good indication of a bad HVAC system is noisy ductwork. In rectangular ducting, these noises are usually the result of the metal expanding and contracting. It should be noted that noises are typical when the system first turns on or off. You should be concerned, however, if the noises continue while the system is running. If you hear a whistling sound, for example, you are likely dealing with vent covers that are too small for the system.

Uneven Temperatures

A lady wearing a furry coat holding a blanket.

If you have areas of the home that are hard to heat and cool or get overly stuffy, your HVAC system probably has a leak or two. Uneven temperatures are caused by poor air flow because the system is simply losing too much air to properly do its job. In extreme cases, you will not be able to heat or cool certain areas of the home even if the thermostat is turned to its highest setting.

Finding Problem Areas

Detecting problems in the ducting is a straightforward process. The biggest issues typically include bad seals around joints, improperly seated vents, and poorly supported ducts. You might also examine the overall design of the ductwork as the installer may have made mistakes in the original installation. Look for areas that feature sharp turns in the ducting as this can significantly reduce air flow.

Feeling

Feeling airflow from a vent.

You can also feel for air loss with your hands. Start by feeling the air pressure coming out of vents in multiple rooms. If you detect a difference between vents, then you know you have a leak somewhere in line with that vent. You can narrow down the location of the leak by using some incense, toilet paper, or wet fingertips. The incense and toilet paper will move or your fingers will get cold when coming in contact with the leak.

Visual Examination

Examine the ducting for any obvious signs of gaps, holes, and cracks. The most likely problem areas include connections and seams, and places where the ducting links up with the ceiling, floor, registers, and vents. For flexible ducting, ensure the pieces are not crimped or tangled.

Fixing Ductwork Leaks

Once you locate the problem area, it’s time for a little repair. All you need to repair leaky ductwork is some HVAC-grade aluminum foil, a putty knife, gloves, and a few cloths. Begin by cleaning the area with a damp cloth and keep a lookout for any sharp edges. It’s recommended to use mastic for loose fittings, though foil tape can also prevent air loss. Just make sure the connection is tightened up and the screws are back in place before you apply tape. If you detect any major cracks in the ducting, you may need to replace the section with a new piece of sheet metal.

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http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-identify-ductwork-problems?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=

Why do people buy homes debate | South Salem Real Estate

Gary Cohn: 'People don't buy homes because of the mortgage deduction'-or do they?

Gary Cohn: ‘People don’t buy homes because of the mortgage deduction’-or do they?  

In the midst of the mad selling and explaining and quantifying and qualifying of potentially the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in decades, President Donald Trump‘s chief economic advisor stood at a White House podium and made a bold declaration: “People don’t buy homes because of the mortgage deduction.”

He said that, even though members of the Trump administration have repeatedly said they will “protect” the popular tax break.

There are a lot of reasons people buy homes — financial, practical and emotional. For the vast majority of those who make that choice, it is by far their single largest investment. Until the financial crisis, the common belief was the home prices always rise, and a home was therefore a proven way to build wealth, but that was proven wrong.

More than 6.5 million homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the past 10 years, according to Attom Data Solutions, and 2.8 million current homeowners still owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth. This after home prices plummeted nationally for the first time since the Great Depression.

Most consumers, at least according to several recent surveys, still believe that a home is a good investment. The majority of renters still aspire to homeownership, despite the fact that millennials have been deemed the “renter generation.” That designation is likely more due to high student loan debt and lower initial employment for this generation than anything else. Millennials have also been slower to marry and have children, which are the primary drivers of homeownership.

“I think people buy homes because it represents security and a way to build wealth and a sense of stability,” said Laurie Goodman, co-director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “I don’t think the mortgage interest deduction plays a large role in that decision.”

For a great many homeowners, the deduction isn’t even a financial factor. A taxpayer can only take the deduction if he or she itemizes, and just one-third of taxpayers itemize, but about 64 percent of Americans own a home (and just over one-third of homeowners have no mortgage). Three-quarters of those who do itemize take the deduction, but if the standard deduction were raised, fewer taxpayers would itemize, and therefore the mortgage deduction would be used even less.

“Gary Cohn is probably right about that,” said Richard Green, director and chair of University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate. “It does absolutely encourage people to buy bigger houses than they would, but does it flip the switch between buying and renting? — maybe half a percent in homeownership, very little.”

Green notes that the deduction is most important to those living in states like California, which has both high tax rates and high home prices. Home prices there, he said, could drop without the deduction. As for overall homeownership, he points to other nations like Canada and Australia, which have no mortgage deduction but have very high homeownership rates.

The National Association of Realtors, one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington, vehemently opposes any change to the deduction. Even though there has been no change so far, they came out against the current plan, claiming that because it would result in fewer taxpayers itemizing, it would weaken the power of the deduction.

“This proposal recommends a backdoor elimination of the mortgage interest deduction for all but the top 5 percent who would still itemize their deductions,” wrote NAR President William Brown in a release. “When combined with the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, these efforts represent a tax increase on millions of middle-class homeowners.”

In response to Cohn’s statement, Brown said, “There’s a reason our nation has incentivized homeownership in the tax code for over a century. It works, and helps make homeownership more affordable for middle-class families who might not otherwise be able to close the deal, while setting them on track for a strong financial future.”

Tax breaks do work. Witness the first-time homebuyer tax credit, designed to spur homebuying during the housing crash. It did cause a temporary but sizeable jump in home sales. The mortgage interest deduction, however, gives bigger benefits to those in higher tax brackets with larger loans. In other words, it benefits more wealthy owners, and is therefore less likely to the driving factor for homeownership.

Still, Brown contends that the lost incentive for even some to buy a home, “could cause home values to fall.”

Could home values really fall under the new tax plan? That depends less on taxes and more on the fundamental reason why home prices are currently overheating, which is a historically low supply of homes for sale. It is unlikely that the very strong supply and demand imbalance right now would be hit hard by any changes to the mortgage deduction, especially given that the largest generation is entering its homebuying years.

“We’ve got big supply issues right now. The reason housing purchases are down is because supply is down,” said Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Gilbert was more concerned with interest rates than the deduction and the net amount consumers will pay in taxes in the end.

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert: As long as rates are reasonable, mortgage deduction going away doesn't matter

Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert: As long as rates are reasonable, mortgage deduction going away doesn’t matter  

The fact is, today’s housing market needs more houses far more than it needs lower taxes. In that respect, the mortgage interest deduction is far less important than tax savings for small-business owners, like homebuilders, who could increase production if costs were lower. The vast majority of homebuilders are small-business owners.

“I think the lower the cost of doing business, the more you can create a situation that leads to affordable housing,” said Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, in an interview on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” “The women and men that make up the homebuilding sector are businesspeople as well, and we have to look at the holistic treatment of business taxes and housing taxes.”

NAHB CEO: We have to look at tax reform plan holistically

NAHB CEO: We have to look at tax reform plan holistically  

While the realtors claim that without the savings from the mortgage deduction, some buyers couldn’t afford a home, others claim home prices are higher because the savings from the deduction gives consumers more buying power.

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https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/29/gary-cohn-people-dont-buy-homes-because-of-the-mortgage-deduction-or-do-they.html