With just about two weeks remaining before the midterm election, early voting has begun in many states. And as is true every year, several states will see significantly better turnout than others — sometimes twice as high. And while there are numerous reasons why people don’t vote, a recent study found that one major factor is that some states make it much harder than others to cast a ballot.
New York, which does not allow people to vote early, saw 56.2 percent of voters turn out for the 2016 election, following 29 percent in the 2014 midterm election and 53.5 percent in the 2012 election, according to an analysis of election data by the nonprofit organization FairVote. FairVote is a nonprofit dedicated to reforming America’s electoral system to achieve full participation and obtain a “truly representative democracy.”
If history is any indicator, several states will see between just 25 percent and 35 percent of voters turn out. This includes Texas, which ranked dead last in the country for voter turnout in the 2014 election with a paltry 28.3 percent. Here were the worst states for voter turnout (Washington, D.C., included) in the 2014 midterm election:
Meanwhile, some states see more than double that turnout. Maine had the highest voter turnout in the 2014 election at 58.5 percent of eligible voters. Wisconsin, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon rounded out the top five with 56.8 percent, 54.5 percent, 54.4 percent and 53.5 percent of voters casting a ballot, respectively. All except Oregon allow residents to vote up to 15 days before Election Day.Subscribe
As noted earlier, there are a variety of reasons that some states see better turnout than others. FairVote noted some of the biggest involve how competitive the races are supposed to be, the demographics of the voting population — voters tend to be older, wealthier, more educated and white — and how restrictive voting laws are.
A new study lent a lot of credence to that last factor. Researchers at Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville University and Wuhan University in China found that states are influencing who votes by either making it easier or harder to cast a ballot. They created an index and ranked each state according to the time and effort it took to vote in each presidential election from 1996 through 2016. They scrutinized the effect of more than 30 factors involving registration and voting laws.
“The study does give us some very substantive findings that we can report about the effect on voter turnout,” wrote lead author Scot Schraufnagel. “But we created this index with the idea in mind that it’s going to have a lot of interest for reasons beyond voter turnout because it helps to define an electoral climate, which might influence whether people are willing to run for public office or who is willing to run for office. There also are implications for civil rights. We know, anecdotally, states with larger African-American populations have higher ‘cost of voting’ values.”Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas and Michigan were ranked as the states where it’s most difficult to vote. Maine, Oregon, California and Colorado all cracked the top 10 in places where it’s easiest.
In 37 states, including three that mail ballots to all voters, along with Washington, D.C., any eligible voter can cast a ballot in person before Election Day without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Colorado, Washington and Oregon use all-mail voting.
Meanwhile, 13 states, including New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania, offer no early voting and require you to provide a reason to vote by absentee ballot.
Making it easier to vote nationwide could boost election turnout by about 10 percentage points, Schraufnagel noted. This includes same-day voter registration policy, mail-in voting and, yes, early voting.
New research by Freddie Mac Multifamily finds a large and growing segment of renters continue to believe renting is a more affordable option than owning, even as many of those same renters are feeling the squeeze of rising housing costs. The latest “Profile of Today’s Renter” reveals that all generations of renters continue to perceive renting as the more affordable housing choice and remain satisfied with their current situation.
According to the survey pdf, 78 percent of renters believe renting is more affordable than owning – up a stunning 11 points from just six months ago in February 2018. This is the case even as the majority of renters (66 percent) reported difficulty affording their rent at some point over the past two years. The survey found nearly 9 in 10 renters employed in the essential workforce, such as healthcare and education, had significant difficulty affording the rent over the past two years.
Affordability of Renting
While perceptions of affordability over owning increased by 11 points to 78 percent among all renters, the survey found this was evident across generations. In fact, millennials (up 14 points to 75 percent), Generation Xers (up 11 points to 70 percent) and baby boomers (up eight points to 81 percent) all saw marked increases in the perception that renting is more affordable than owning.
Rising Cost of Renting
The survey also indicates that a significant number or renters – 66 percent – reported having trouble affording their monthly rent in the last two years – significantly more than the 43 percent of homeowners who experienced similar difficulties. More than half of renters say these changes affected spending on food, utilities and other essentials (51 percent) – as well as savings (50 percent) and nonessential items (64 percent). For renters living in rural areas, the impacts were particularly stark, with 77 percent spending less on essential items versus 59 percent in urban and suburban areas. While a majority of renters across generations reported these difficulties, older millennials (aged 28-37) reported the greatest hardship, with 79 percent reporting trouble affording rent over the past two years.
As noted earlier, renters employed in the essential workforce – such as the healthcare and education sectors – had significant additional difficulty affording rent, with a staggering 88 percent reporting hardship affording rent over the past two years. This is compared with 65 percent of all other workforce renters and 61 percent of homeowners in the essential workforce. Approximately half (48 percent) of renters working in essential jobs believe it is difficult to find housing that is affordable close to where they work – compared to 39 percent of homeowners in the essential workforce.
A consistent number of renters – 63 percent – continue to express their satisfaction with their rental experience. In fact, 58 percent of renters believe that renting is a good choice for them now and do not have plans to buy a home at this time – up from 54 percent in February. Over the last three years there has been a gradual increase in the number of renters who are not interested in buying. This quarter shows a small increase in this trend, with 23 percent of renters reporting they have no interest in buying a home – up from 20 percent in February. In addition, 42 percent of baby boomers have expressed no interest in owning a home.
A total of 66 percent of renters plan to continue renting for their next residence – up 11 points from February. Consistent with this view, fewer renters (41 percent) believe buying a home will be equally or more affordable in the next 12 months – down from 46 percent in February.
Freddie Mac’s custom renter research is based on a survey conducted online between August 13-15 among 4,040 adults aged 18 and over, including 1,059 renters, by Harris Poll, on behalf of Freddie Mac, via its QuickQuery omnibus product. The previous survey was conducted between January 30-February 1, 2018 among 4,115 adults and 1,209 renters using the same methodology.
In life before a thousand TV channels, text-messaging and, dare we say, the harsh divide of politics, a host of Westchester restaurants served up hand-formed burgers, red sauce pasta and old-school pizza, minus the wood-burning oven and gourmet toppings.
Decades later, life may have changed dramatically, but these restaurants are still true to their core.
We asked readers about their favorite “old-time” restaurants and got the following responses. Thanks to all who wrote in with suggestions.
Chicken wings at The Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
Candlelight Inn, Scarsdale: Eating here is is practically a rite of passage. If you haven’t had chicken wings at Candlelight, one wonders if you can be called a true Westchesterite. The Tracy family has run this cash-only joint since 1955 where lines often snake out the door on weekends. Yes, you can order something else — they have ribs, wraps, burgers and addictive waffle fries — but it’s the wings, oversized, tender and spicy (though you can order them milder), that make this a beloved institution. Go back in time: 519 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, 914-472-9706, facebook.com/Candlelight-Inn
Emilio Ristorante, Harrison:Diners feel welcome the minute they step through the doors, no matter if they’re a first-timer or have been coming for years. Open since 1979, the restaurant, in a colonial home, has always been known for its gracious hospitality and Old World ways. There’s an astute attention to detail, starting with the crisp attire of the wait staff — white shirts and ties (this month everyone is wearing pink ties for breast cancer awareness month). Antipasti is brought to the table and explained, branzino and Dover sole are filetted tableside and desserts are wheeled out with flourish. The wine list is extensive, the Italian food authentic and well-prepared, and the owner, Sergio Brasesco, is all about ensuring you have a memorable meal. Go back in time: 1 Colonial Pl., Harrison, 914-835-3100, emilioristorante.com
The dining room of Francesco’s in White Plains. Photographed Oct. 3, 2019. (Photo: Jeanne Muchnick)
Francesco’s, White Plains: Many diners no doubt went to this classic mom-and-pop red sauce restaurant with their parents back in the day (it’s 48-years-old). And guess what? It hasn’t changed. Sitting in the dining room filled with its wood paneling, red leather booths and hodepodge of Italian art, it’s easy to feel like you’re 16 again. Expect lots of pastas along with classic entrees like lasagna, veal parmesean, penne alla vodka, and clams casino. Folks also rave about the pizza. Go back in time: 600 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, 914-946-3359
Gus’s Restaurant, Harrison: In business since 1931 and still run by the same family (albeit with a 17-year break in between when it was sold to a group of investors) Gus’s Restaurant, originally called The Franklin Park Tavern, has a reputation for its seafood and comfortable tavern vibe. It’s also known, among long-time patrons for staying true to the mission of Gus Kneuer who prided himself on serving hearty German fare.
Now run by Ernie and Audrey Kneuer, Gus’s grandson and granddaughter (the two bought it back from the investors in 2004), it features many of Gus’s favorites like meatloaf with mashed potatoes, grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and fresh roasted turkey. And, thanks to the fish market next door, all the fish and seafood is super fresh and filetted every morning. “Everything gets turned over daily to keep the freshness of both our fish and meat products,” said Ernie Kneuer. There are plenty of American favorites like burgers, salads and sandwiches. Be sure to look for Gus’s photo which still hangs by the cash register. Go back in time: 126 Halstead Ave., Harrison, 914-835-9804, gusseafood.com
The dining room at Gus’s Franklin Park Restaurant on Halstead Avenue in Harrison, pictured Oct. 9, 2018. (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)
Muscoot Tavern, Katonah: The crooked walls and low front door are reasons to love Muscoot Tavern. Another is its friendly atmosphere and the fact that no matter what’s going on with the world, inside this roadside restaurant, things remain pretty much the same as when the restaurant first opened, sometime prior to 1925. Though it’s changed ownership many times over the years, its legacy as a local hangout remains. Try the “Zpaghetti,” zucchini noodles with fresh garlic, grape tomato, white wine and basil, or the Katonah pizza, made with roasted eggplant, zucchini, peppers caramelized onions, truffle oil, basil. Owner Bobby Epstein also likes to mix it up with some high-end specials every night like prime rib or Mako shark. Go back in time: 105 Somerstown Turnpike, Katonah, 914- 232-2800, muscoottavern.com
La Manda’s, White Plains:The no-frills decor is part of the charm — think knotty pine paneling and Formica tables — can’t help but transport you back in time. Owner Sly Musilli writes on the La Manda’s website that though they’ve done work to improve the restaurant and spruce it up over the years, they also recognize the value of keeping it as folks remember. That includes the heaping portions of pasta and robust Italian specialties of Chicken Scarparo, Pizzaiola and Zuppa Di Pesce. Plus, of course the super-thin pizza cooked in the same brick oven since 1934. Just be warned, it’s cash only, though there’s an ATM on the premises. Go back in time: 251 Tarrytown Rd., White Plains 914-684-9228, lamandas.com
A cheese pizza at La Manda’s restaurant. Old-school Greenburgh staple has been serving thin-crust pies since 1947. Photographed May 26, 2017. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)
Paradise Restaurant, Verplanck:Hungry for a trip down Memory Lane? Paradise, run by third-generation owner Joseph Margiotta, is your place. The restaurant is 70-years-old and though known for its happily carb-laden Italian food, Margiotta said he has tweaked the menu to include more healthier eating options. There is still plenty of old-time Italian favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, and pizza. Giving diners what they like, said Margiotta, is key to their success. “You can come in and not spend a lot of money or you can come in and spend a lot of money,” he explained. “We wouldn’t have been able to survive four recessions if we didn’t offer something for everyone.” Go back in time: 135 Broadway Ave, Verplanck, 914-736-3334, paradiseverplanck.com
Roma Restaurant, Tuckahoe: The third generation of the Tavolilla family runs Roma, in business since 1931. Known primarily for its thin-crust brick-oven pizza and comfortable family-friendly vibe, it’s also a pasta haven with choices of spaghetti, linguini, penne, cavatelli, and gnocchi. Coming here is like visiting the Italian grandmother you never had where meatballs or sides of pasta can be added to any dish and the lasagna, stuffed shells, baked ziti and more, seem to stream out of the kitchen. Go back in time: 29 Columbus Ave., Tuckahoe, 914-961-3175, romarestaurant1931.com
Sam’s of Gedney Way, White Plains:The history of Sam’s is written in depth on its website, detailing how Sam Eisenstein, the 23-year-old son of a Russian immigrant “with a $300 stake and a barrel of faith,” opened his newsstand and soda fountain in 1932 on what then was a dirt lane in White Plains. Back then, a hamburger with coffee was 15 cents and you could get a 25 cent lunch with pie. In 1968 the restaurant relocated to its current spot on Gedney Way evolving from a luncheonette speakeasy to a saloon to a white-tablecloth restaurant. Now run by Peter and Karen Herrero, natives of White Plains, the two have updated it complete with organic food selections, a gluten-free menu and a loyal staff, many of whom have been with them for years. Go back and time: 50 Gedney Way, White Plains, 914-949-0978, samsofgedneyway.com
The Blazer Burger at the Blazer Pub is topped with bacon, cheese and carmelized onions. (Photo: Carmen Troesser)
Squire’s of Briarcliff, Briarcliff Manor: This classic burger joint, in business since 1967, is known primarily for its 9-ounce juicy patties, hand-pressed with high-quality meat. Generous portions make it another reason to come, along with the retro ambiance. Like any good tavern, it also serves wraps, salads, steak, chicken and seafood, but the menu also includes gluten-free rolls to accommodate different dietary needs. Just know: it’s American Express or cash only (there’s an ATM inside). Go back in time: 94 N. State Rd, Briarcliff Manor, 914-762-3376, squiresofbriarcliff.com
The Blazer Pub, North Salem: You go for the burgers: hand-formed and meaty, but soon, the nostalgic ambiance with its vintage arcade games, jukebox loaded with Springsteen and scalloped paper placemats win you over. It’s like stepping back into the 1970s complete with a well-worn bar which looksstraight out of the TV show, “Cheers.” Mostly though you’ll love the wallet-friendly prices (a burger is $7.75). The pub is also known for its tomato soup and “award-winning” chili. Worth nothing: the restaurant is the only one in Westchester to be featured in “Hamburger America,” a state-by-state guide to 200 of the country’s best burger joints. Go back in time: 440 NY-22, North Salem, 914-277-4424, theblazerpub.com
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GEORGESOROS.COM; GAGE SKIDMORE | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Update 10/24 — The U.S. Secret Service released a statement this morning stating that similar packages were intercepted in routine mail screenings en route to the Chappaqua address of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the Washington, D.C. residence of Former President Barack Obama.
• “Suspicious packages” were identified as “potential explosive devices” during what the Secret Service says in its official statement were routine mail screenings, and “appropriately handled as such.”
• The package sent to Clinton was intercepted late on Tuesday, October 23. A second package addressed to President Obama was intercepted in Washington early Wednesday morning.
• Neither of the Secret Service’s protectees received the packages, “nor were they at risk of receiving them,” according to the statement.
• Also on Wednesday morning, CNN’s offices in Manhattan were evacuated after a similar device was sent there and made its way into their offices, a law enforcement official said.
Jim Sciutto✔@jimsciuttoBreaking: CNN NY office evacuated. Police bomb squad is here. We’re told of explosive device received.
• According to the Secret Service, the agency has “initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”
Westchester Magazine will continue coverage of this story as it develops. Original story below:
Monday afternoon, a small explosive device was discovered in the mailbox of billionaire philanthropist George Soros’ Katonah residence.
No one was injured and the investigation is still ongoing. Here’s everything you need to know as the story unfolds:
• Bedford Police received a call around 3:45 p.m. on Monday, October 22, from an employee of the residence.
• The 88-year-old Soros was not home at the time.
• The relatively small device was discovered when an employee opened a package, after which they carefully placed the device outside in a wooded area, according to the Bedford police.
• Federal and state law enforcement agents responded, and the bomb squad proceeded with a controlled detonation of the device.
• There was no clear motive behind the attempted bombing, though Soros has often been demonized by right-wing groups for his support of liberal social policies and campaign contributions to democrats.
• TheNew York Timesreports that the investigation is open, and is now being handled by the New York offices of both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
WHITE PLAINS—Home sale prices were up sharply in the third quarter in the four-county market area of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, with the exception of Westchester County where sales prices were relatively flat as compared to a year earlier.
Sales volume was off marginally throughout the region, with overall third quarter sales down 5.2% in Westchester; 1.8% in Orange and 1.2% in Rockland, while Putnam County’s sales numbers were flat with an increase of 0.3%.
Market results were mixed depending on product type and location. Realtors interviewed by Real Estate In-Depth said that while some negative market influences, specifically the cap on SALT deductions, low inventory and higher interest rates, may be impacting some buying decisions, it is way too early to tell just what real impacts they will have on the market going forward.
Westchester County posted a third quarter median sale price for a single-family home of $679,000, which was slightly lower than the third quarter of 2017 ($680,000). The median sale price for a single-family home in Putnam was $360,000, up 5.9% from the third quarter of 2017; the median sale price in Rockland was $475,000, up 6.7% and the Orange County median was $275,000, up 7.8%.
Hudson Valley Home Sales—Third Quarter 2018
County Change from 2017 Putnam +0.3% Rockland -1.2% Orange -1.8% Westchester -5.2%
Paul Breunich, president and CEO of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Real Estate, said in connection with the Westchester County market that the declining sales numbers, while noteworthy, are not a sign of a troubled market. He insisted that the market appears to be in transition and that most market observers expect home sales to fall between 4% to 6% for the year countywide.
“The market is in an adjustment period and is in flux,” Breunich said. “With what is going on in the economy—the stock market, GDP, (low) unemployment and consumer confidence through the roof, that is all pointing to a very strong, healthy real estate market, but that is not being reflected in our marketplace, yet.”
Breunich said that he is concerned about consumer market perceptions of a severe downtown in Westchester home sales based on erroneous sales numbers released recently by a local brokerage firm that garnered national media coverage.
“These news stories have contributed toward an exaggerated negative narrative about the state of the real estate market in Westchester, spreading misinformation and miseducating consumers,” Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s stated in its third quarter market report on Westchester County. “The actual picture is dramatically different, according to our own analysis, and varies greatly by town and price range.”
He noted that the market is seeing a decline in sales, but not double digits as was erroneously reported in the press. He also said that some locations are stronger than others both in terms of home sales volume and pricing.
“You have to look at the reality of it,” Breunich said. “The market is still down five to six percentage points. That is not something to pull the fire alarm on about, but it is something to be aware of.”
He added that the federal tax reform law and the cap on SALT deductions might be having some impact on demand. However, there are other factors that influence demand, such as high consumer confidence and the strong economy, for example, and the market is working through all the factors, both positive and negative.
While bullish on the future of the Westchester County residential market, Breunich said the real estate market is no longer booming, but is in transition. He said it is too early to tell the true impact of federal tax reform and added that the first indications of its effect on the market will likely show up in the next six months or so when people file their taxes in the spring of 2019.
Joseph Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, said the federal tax reform might be having a small impact on the very high end of the market where the loss of deductibility for mortgage interest and local taxes hits the hardest.
He noted that price appreciation was more pronounced in the lower‐priced markets.
In terms of the loss of the SALT deductions, he said, “We’re talking about a marginal, not a major, impact. Prices aren’t rising at the rate they are in the lower‐priced markets, they’re basically flat, not falling.”
A plus for the marketplace is that inventory levels are starting to respond to rising prices, noting that for the first time since 2012, inventory levels went up in the third quarter.
Rand noted the what is happening region wide is that after years of decline, single-family inventory was higher in almost every county in the region, stabilizing near that six‐month level that usually signals a balancing market. This market phenomenon occurs when demand is strong, and supply stays steady (or goes down) and prices go up. In response to the rising prices, eventually new inventory comes onto the market, he explained.
“Going forward, we believe that the appetite in the market can handle both the impact of tax reform and this increased inventory while still driving continued price appreciation,” Rand said. “With strong economic conditions, relatively low‐interest rates (and the specter of rate increases on the horizon), and pricing still at attractive 2004‐05 levels, we expect a robust market through the end of the year.”
Brokerage network Westchester Real Estate Inc. in its third quarter market report on Westchester County also discussed the positive and negative economic and regulatory forces affecting the housing market.
The firm concluded that with those forces factored it, it believes, “Westchester properties will always remain in high demand based on our proximity to NYC and fantastic quality of life. While we may see pullbacks or shifts at times, our housing market possesses innate strength and resilience. Prices are not decreasing, home sales are still strong, and Westchester’s real estate market is just fine!”
Westchester residents, many trying to avoid the hefty tax bill that 2018 promises, are finding themselves in an unforgiving buyers’ market.
In Scarsdale alone, prices dipped 5 percent in the first six months of 2018, while Mamaroneck saw a 13 percent drop, according to Bloomberg. The number of homes selling in the county fell 18 percent in the second quarter of 2018, with those asking between $1.5 million to $3 million faring the worst.
The major push factor for sellers to plow ahead despite plummeting prices is the GOP’s new tax law which slapped a $10,000 cap on state and local property tax deductions, which means homeowners in areas like Westchester, where property taxes can run up to $50,0000, are feeling a serious crunch.
As a result, the number of homes for sale in Westchester has been increasing: in late June, inventory was up 5 percent compared to last year and, for homes priced between $2-2.5 million, listings were up 26 percent.
Buyers are feeling no sympathy for homeowners who bet on turning a neat profit when they decided to sell off their prestige address. Compass broker Angela Retelny says her clients tell her “‘Look, I’m not going to spend more than $35,000 in taxes.’ … Houses are just being dismissed, even though they’re superior homes, and they have to be reduced — because their taxes are just way too high for the price range.”
With buyers taking a hard line, sellers are being forced to bend, according to her. There are “dramatic price reductions every single day — every hour, pretty much,” she told Bloomberg.
Yorktown Heights property attorney Matthew Roach recalled one client who sold his home of 25 years immediately after the GOP’s tax law was passed. His home had property taxes over $50,000 and he was planning to move to Brooklyn, pay $10,000 in rent and never buy another home.
Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast. Housing Starts in the United States averaged 1433.04 Thousand units from 1959 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 2494 Thousand units in January of 1972 and a record low of 478 Thousand units in April of 2009.
US Housing Starts Above Forecasts
Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast.
Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, increased 1.9 percent to a rate of 876 thousand units in August; and starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 27.3 percent to a rate of 392 thousand. Starts rose in the Midwest (9.1 percent to 191 thousand), the West (19.1 percent to 318 thousand) and the South (6.5 percent to 674 thousand), but were steady in the Northeast (at 99 thousand). Starts for July were revised to 1,174 thousand from 1,168 thousand.
Building permits dropped 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,229 thousand, the lowest reading since May of 2017. It compares with market expectations of a 0.1 percent decline to 1,310 thousand and follows a 1.5 percent rise in July. Single-family authorizations fell 6.1 percent to 820 thousand and multi-family permits decreased 4.9 percent to 409 thousand. Declines were seen in all regions: Northeast (-19.2 percent to 101 thousand), the Midwest (-1.7 percent to 178 thousand), the West (-8.4 percent to 304 thousand) and the South (-2.9 percent to 646 thousand).
Year-on-year, housing starts increased 9.4 percent while building permits fell 5.5 percent.
Marilyn Monroe got married in Waccabuc, Westchester.
The actress married playwright Arthur Miller in a short civil ceremony in the White Plains Courthouse in 1956.
It was her third marriage and Miller’s second. Few knew of the impending ceremony.
But their relationship had caused headlines. Miller had divorced his wife to marry Monroe, who had divorced Joe DiMaggio in 1954.
When the news got out of their impending nuptials, the couple held a press conference at Miller’s house in Connecticut on June 29. The local paper had the headline: “Local Resident Will Marry Miss Monroe of Hollywood’, adding, ‘Roxbury Only Spot in World to Greet News Calmly.”
Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller held a wedding reception at this Waccabuc home. Karen Croke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Afterwards, they slipped into Westchester and were married in a quick ceremony at the courthouse, after which, as reported the following day in The New York Times, the Millers “got into their sports car and disappeared into traffic.”
They weren’t heading far.
On July 1, the couple held a Jewish ceremony and wedding reception for 25 guests in the Westchester County home of Miller’s literary agent, Kay Brown.
From the outside, it’s not hard to imagine the party that once took place here.
The French Country-style residence built in 1948 seems untouched from those halcyon days when many stars, including Tallulah Bankhead and Benny Goodman lived nearby and fabulous parties were the norm.
The gated property is set on a quiet road with a wonderful view of the surrounding area, and is just across from the 16th hole of the Waccabuc Country Club.
There are many original details, including parquet and tile floors, French doors, leaded windows, and European-style fireplaces. One of the highlights is the living room with walls of glass and terrace exit, a private master suite, and a first-floor guest suite with its own side entrance.
There are four bedrooms and five bathrooms in the home, which is in the Katonah School district.
Outside, the just over 4 acre property is still private and serene. A crescent-shaped lawn terrace steps down to pool and pool house with summer kitchen and cabana, and all surrounded by light woodlands, specimen landscaping and gardens creating sought-after privacy.
Sadly, the Millers were married for only five years before divorcing in 1961. Monroe tragically died the following the year.
Seattle is known for its hip neighborhoods, soaring home prices, and being home to Amazon.com Inc., the world’s most valuable company. So why is its rental housing market experiencing the most severe slowdown in the U.S.?
Seattle-area median rents didn’t budge in July, after a 5 percent annual increase a year earlier and 10 percent the year before, according to Zillow data on apartments, houses and condos. While that’s the biggest decline among the top 50 largest metropolitan areas, it’s part of a national trend. Rents in Nashville and Portland, Oregon, have actually started falling. In the U.S., rents were up just 0.5 percent in July, the smallest gain for any month since 2012.
“This is something that we first started to see two years ago in New York and D.C.,” Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow, said in a phone interview. “A year ago, it was San Francisco and most recently, Seattle and Portland. It’s spreading through what once were the fastest growing rental markets.”
Tenants are gaining the upper hand in urban centers across the U.S. as new amenity-rich apartment buildings, constructed in response to big rent gains in previous years, are forced to fight for customers. Rents are softening most on the high end and within city limits, Terrazas said. Landlords also have been losing customers to homeownership as millennials strike out on their own, often moving to more affordable suburbs.
Realtor Roy Powell last month was helping his clients, two women in their mid-20s find an apartment in Seattle. They looked at seven places and narrowed it down to two — a five-story building with a rooftop dog park and an air-conditioned gym, and a newly remodeled seven-story tower that won their business by throwing in a year of free underground parking, normally $175 a month.
Even condo owners with just one or two units to rent are offering concessions to compete with new buildings, Powell said. “A lot of them are going from absolutely no pets to allowing pets. That’s a big deal in Seattle, where everybody has a dog or cat.”
Batik, a new 195-unit Seattle apartment building, has views of the downtown skyline and Mount Rainier, a giant rooftop deck with a garden where tenants can grow fruits and vegetables, a community barbecue and an off-leash pet area. New tenants can receive Visa gift cards worth as much as $6,000, with half paid at signing and the rest a month later.
“There is tremendous competition for tenants,” said Lori Mason Curran, spokeswoman for landlord Vulcan Real Estate, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company, which launched Batik in March. “Over time, we think long-term demand is solid. But there is so much supply tamping down rent growth right now.”
In Seattle, another factor contributed to the glut of rentals. While the city is in the midst of a building boom — with more cranes dotting the skyline than any other in the U.S. — much of the residential multifamily construction has been apartments. Developers have shied away from condos because of state laws that allow buyers to more easily sue if there are defects in the construction.
U.S. multifamily apartment construction for the past few years have been at levels not seen since the 1980s and rapid rent gains have also encouraged owners of single-family homes and condos to fill them with tenants. Projects opening now were conceived by developers a few years ago when rent gains in the U.S. were peaking at an annual gain of 6.6 percent, according to Zillow data.
The most expensive markets slowed first as new supply became available and tenants struggled to afford rapidly-rising lease rates. Rents in the San Francisco area jumped 19 percent in the year through July 2015. Now, they have been flat since last July. New York rents, which were up 7 percent in 2015, have been decelerating for a couple years, declining 0.4 percent in July.
For the first time since 2010, it’s now easier to build wealth over an eight-year period by renting a home and investing in stocks and bonds, rather than by buying and accumulating equity, according to a national rent-versus-buy index of 23 cities produced by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty. That’s because home prices are high and rising mortgage rates are adding to the cost of homeownership.
That could be bad for sellers, especially in markets like Dallas and Denver, where renting is now so much more favorable than buying, according to Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, a co-creator of the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index.
Reminiscent of the Bubble
Already, housing markets in strong economies are cooling, in part because incomes haven’t kept pace with rising prices and borrowing costs. Dallas and Denver have reached so far into favorable rental territory that they look like Miami right before it crashed in the last decade, Johnson said.
The difference now is that neither market is experiencing the kind of speculation and risky lending that inflated the last housing bubble, he said.
“What’s interesting is that cities that suffered the least in 2007 and 2008 — Dallas and Denver — now are experiencing the most exposure to risk,” Johnson said.
The slowdown in the rental market coincides with a rise in homeownership among millennials, which jumped to 36.5 percent in the second quarter from 35.3 percent a year earlier.