Human faces, snowflakes, violins, the Eiffel Tower — so much of our world is symmetrical, it’s no wonder the eye is drawn to things with a mirror-image quality, including interiors. No matter your decor style, embracing symmetry can help your space look its best. Whether you’re bringing grandeur to a small space or doing more with your art collection, here are 10 reasons to work symmetry into your rooms.
U.S. home resales jumped to their highest level in more than a year in October and outpaced the sales level a year ago for the first time in 2014, further evidence the housing market is on a recovery path.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) on Thursday said existing home sales rose 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 5.26 million units, the highest rate since September of last year. Sales rose 2.5 percent compared to a year ago, the first time since October 2013 that nesales have risen above the prior-year levels.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales falling to a 5.16 million-unit pace, from an upwardly revised rate of 5.18 million units in September.
“This is the first time in the year where we have seen a year over year annual gain, which means that existing home sales have made that successful U-turn,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, told reporters.
Housing is slowly regaining its footing after activity stalled in the second half of 2013 following a run-up in mortgage rates. While the sector continues to be hobbled by sluggish wage growth, a recent decline in mortgage rates should help support sales.
A separate report this week from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed applications for loans to purchase homes surged last week as low rates lured potential buyers.
Local Representation for North Castle Neighborhoods
Understanding the Ward System – Frequently Asked Questions
Neighborhood Representation on the North Castle Town Board will make Town Government more accessible and accountable.
A special election considering Neighborhood
Representation on the Town Board will be held on Thursday, November 13, 2014.
Propositions to convert Town Council elections to the Ward System and to increase Councilpersons to six from four will provide a more representative system for North Castle citizens.
What is the Ward System Proposal?
Quite simply, it is changing the way we elect Board Members from town wide elections, to elections based on districts built around neighborhoods. It is also proposed to increase the number of Councilpersons from four to six to allow more direct representation of the many neighborhoods in the town. No other aspect of Town government changes.
Why do we need a change?
The current system allows one area of Town to dominate the election process leaving other parts of town underrepresented.
There is no geographic diversity on the Town Board. In recent memory, there has not been a council member from North White Plains, the Middle Patent or Banksville areas. Other neighborhoods such as Windmill and Whippoorwill have had to rely on Neighborhood Associations to be heard.
Currently the all Town Board Members live, on average, one mile from the Town Hall and this has been the case for decades. The Armonk centric Board does not understand the needs of the many neighborhoods in the Town. The ward system will provide elected neighborhood representation and will assure your neighborhood has representation on the Board.
Why is this a problem? Our town spans a large area with highly diverse communities. Different geographies – urban, suburban and rural; different age and economic profiles – middle class, professional, new families, retirees; different school districts – Byram Hills, Valhalla, Bedford, Harrison, Mt. Pleasant.
Almost 10% of active voters in North Castle signed the Petitions calling for the referendum. They and many more believe that the Town Board structurally “didn’t get it” and would not until there was a reform in the system.
How will this benefit Your Neighborhood?
Your neighborhood will have someone on the Board who understands your needs; will be from your neighborhood; and is accountable to you.
The change to the Ward System will also bring the Town Board back to standard two year terms instead of the current four year. This will increase the accountability of councilpersons.
Will we lose influence by voting for our own Councilperson?
You will gain influence. The current political environment in North Castle is dominated by factions and parties, not by neighborhoods where the need for services reside.
Current Councilpersons are accountable only to the biggest blocs of votes, not to every neighborhood. A dedicated councilperson will be your representative and and will have a seat at the table.
Without a representative system 51% gets 100% control and 0% for the rest. That is why we need representative government.
In North Castle you will gain representative government. You will vote for your councilperson, the Supervisor, the Town Clerk and Tax Receiver.
Why increase the number of Board members?
North Castle is spread over a large and diverse geography with numerous distinct neighborhoods. Six councilpersons are necessary to create districts built around key neighborhoods
Will there be enough candidates?
More than enough. The Ward System dramatically lowers the barriers to running for office. Candidates will no longer have to rely on The Democrat or Republican Political Parties to effectively launch a campaign.
THAT IS WHY THE PARTY COMMITTEES ARE OPPOSING IT!
Candidates need only compete in their neighborhood rather than Town wide, making campaigns closer the the voters, lower cost and easier to conduct.
We currently have four Councilpersons in an area which would be the equivalent size of one ward. Those councilpersons are arguing that we could not get one “qualified” candidate from each of the other proposed 6 areas.
Will this Cost the Town More?
It should cost less, not more. A change in the Board system is an opportunity to adjust Board compensation from $18,000 per year plus benefits to perhaps $10,000 like New Castle or $0 like Scarsdale. The cost is totally up to the Board and can be reduced substantially.
Will the Ward System create divisiveness on the Board?
Current Board members are arguing that it is now peaceful on the Board and that the Ward System would create divisiveness.
They are somehow assuming that the current set of councilpersons, who live on average just a mile from Town Hall, can work together responsibly, but representatives from other parts of Town cannot. A Board from all parts of town is not divisive. It is representative. The implication that a representative from currently unrepresentative neighborhoods could not work constructively on the Board is insulting.
We can be sure that Town Board members will have the wisdom to work together for the benefit of the whole town. Having geographic diversity on the Board will help them to make better decisions. Some disagreements on the Board may be a good thing.
How will districts be drawn?
Under the law, districts must be made up of approximately the same population. The petitioners are proposing six districts built around major neighborhoods in Town. The exact boundaries will be established by the Westchester Board of Elections. The Town and the public will have input into the final boundaries.
Who Supports Neighborhood Representations?
Some councilpersons contend that the ward system is a “solution in search of a problem”. Almost 10% of North Castle active voters signed the petition supporting neighborhood representation via the ward system. They think there is a problem. These petitioners came heavily from neighborhoods which do not feel represented by the current system.
PLEASE JOIN US TO FIGHT FOR NEIGHBORHOOD REPRESENTATION – FORWARD THIS TO A FRIEND.
VOTE ON NOVEMBER 13 FOR BOTH OF THE WARD SYSTEM PROPOSALS.
Informed Citizens | email@example.com | Informed Citizens 2014 | Box 59 | Valhalla, NY 10595
New home sales were flat in September after a big downward revision to August’s report.
New home sales rose 0.2% to an annualized pace of 467,000 in September, while August’s blowout number was revised down to a pace of 466,000 from a prior report of 504,000.
Expectations were for new home sales to fall 6.8% in September to an annualized selling rate of 470,000, down from August’s 18% increase to an annualized rate of 504,000.
According to the latest report from the Census, the median home sales price in September was $259,000 and the average was $313,200.
The report also showed that the current rate of sales represents 5.3 months supply at the current sales rate.
In a note to clients following the report, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro wrote, “I n one line: Revisions mean no clear breakout from the range yet.”
Shepherdson added, ” Given the size and frequency of large revisions to the data, we wonder why the numbers are published so early; they’d be much more reliable if they were released with a longer delay. Taking the revisions into account, we cannot now say with any conviction that sales have broken definitively above the 400-to-460K trend in place since late 2012, though the rebound in the NAHB survey over the summer suggests it is just a matter of time.”
In the 1920s, Loew’s built five Wonder Theaters: movie palaces that were, quite literally, palaces, bedecked with ornate architecture meant to awe, instill hope, and provide an escape from the depressing world outside. That was the aim of Marcus Loew, of the eponymous chain and the founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. One of these cinemas, the historic Leow’s Valencia Theatre in Queens, exists to this day—it just doesn’t show films anymore. A Pentecostal church, the Tabernacle of Prayer For All People, bought the then-abandoned 3,500-seattheater on Jamaica Avenue. The congregation donated $200,000 (about $758,303 in 2013 dollars) to restore the eclectic Spanish-Mexican-Moroccan interior to its original splendor.
It has used the theater ever since, and continues to maintain elaborate-theater savant John Eberson’s ridiculously detailed ornamentation. Notice the gilded lion carvings scattered throughout the hall? “Because we are Pentecostal, we had all sorts of religious reasons for it,” says Sister Forbes, the church’s pastoral secretary. “It’s just that Eberson was a good employee. What’s the symbol for MGM? A roaring lion.”
It’s become fashionable these days for advisers to warn retirees and pre-retirees to set aside enough money to pay for health care in their golden years.
Folks might be better served if they were told to make sure they first have enough income and assets to pay for housing and home-related expenses after age 65.
That’s because those expenses — mortgages, property taxes, insurance, utilities, home maintenance, and the like — comprise the largest spending category for older Americans, according to a new report published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute based in Washington, D.C.
Yes, health-care expenses increase steadily with age, and remain a big cause of concern, but the cost of maintaining a home is typically the biggest expense for older people. EBRI said.
Women typically live longer than men, often have less saved for retirement and interact differently with financial planners, says Eve Kaplan of Kaplan Financial Advisors in Berkeley Heights, N.J.
To be fair, the dollar amount spent on housing and home-related expenses decreases with age. But the share of these costs in household budgets remain stable at between 40% to 45%, depending on age group, EBRI said in a release.
Consider: Households age 60-64 spent on average $18,720 or 43% of total expenses on housing in 2011, adjusted for 2013 dollars; households age 65-74 spent $14,732 or 42%; and households age 75-plus spent $13,111 or 44%. Or put another way: you’ll need roughly $250,000 set aside at age 65 to pay for 20 years of housing expenses.
To be fair, EBRI found in its analysis that health expenses increase steadily with age. In 2011, for instance, households with at least one member between ages 50‒64 spent 8% of their total budget (or $4,176) on health items, compared with 19% (or $6,603) for those age 85 or over. And health-related expenses do occupy the second-largest share of total expenditure for those over age 75, EBRI noted.
But housing is the cost no one is really talking about.
Of course, health care can be a budget buster, too. For instance, EBRI also found a large increase in spending at the 95th percentile for those age 90 or older, which can be attributed to very high health-care expenses.
But much of that expense is associated with end-of-life care. “For some, health-care expenses can be heavily skewed toward the end of life,” Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the report, said in a release.
For example, Banerjee said, in 2011, the (midpoint, half above and half below) health-care expenditure for households with at least one member 85 and above was $2,814, while the average was much higher at $6,603.
And costs can be especially troublesome for households that fall in the 95th percentile, the worst-case folks. In that percentile, health-care expenses ranged from $13,918 for those households age 65-79 to $28,339 for those ages 90 and above. “If withdrawals are not well managed then by that time many (retirees) may have little left in their nest eggs,” said Banerjee.
A vote in favor of Scottish independence tomorrow threatens to weigh down a booming housing market should thousands of homeowners become debtors of foreign lenders.
Political leaders in the U.K. are sparring over whether an independent Scotland would keep the pound, with the outcome having major consequences for the economy and housing. If Scottish homeowners eventually have to repay pound-denominated loans in a foreign currency, they would face the risk of higher costs and possible default.
Prime Minister David Cameron warned on Sept. 14 the breakup would be akin to a “painful divorce,” and said the U.K. won’t share its currency with an independent Scotland. Independence leaders dismiss the government’s threat, insisting that Scotland and the rest of the U.K. would form a currency union to benefit both nations.
Do house prices experience periodic bull and bear markets like the stock market? Or are they stable in real (inflation-adjusted) terms most of the time, with big disruptions once or twice in a century? Two popular house price series tell these very different stories. Knowing which is better will lead to superior investment outcomes and improved policy decisions.
Karl (Chip) Case, of Wellesley College, and the Nobel Prize-winning Yale professor Robert Shiller, have constructed the most widely-known suite of indices, which are now part of the S&P index family. Here is the Case-Shiller national house price index in real terms from 1890 through December 2013:
Case-Shiller National House Price Index in Constant Dollars, 1890-2013
And here is a house price series distributed by the data firm of Crandall, Pierce & Co., consisting of the median new home sales price in constant dollars collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (For brevity, we call this the “Crandall” series.)
Crandall, Pierce Median New Home Sale Prices in Constant Dollars, March 1963-March 2014.03
Source: Crandall, Pierce & Co., Libertyville, IL. Reprinted with permission.
Could any two charts describing the same underlying phenomenon look more different? In the Case-Shiller chart, there was one great bear market in the last 50 years, from late 2006 to early 2012, following a massive price expansion or bubble.1
In the Crandall chart, however, bull and bear markets have alternated in a remarkably regular pattern. All of the bear markets represent losses of roughly 20%, with the crash of 2008-2011 only a little worse than the three other housing bear markets that occurred in 1968-1970, 1979-1982, and 1988-1992. The Crandall chart also shows real prices rising pretty smartly – 1.35% per year – while the Case-Shiller chart shows a much slower rise.
Note that the two price series do not purport to measure the same thing. The Crandall data are for new houses only; the Case-Shiller data are intended to reflect the entire stock of housing capital.2 The Crandall data are for a median house, the size and quality of which are constantly changing; Case and Shiller explicitly adjust for changes in the size and quality of a house. There are many other differences, so it’s understandable that the two series disagree somewhat – but they’re both intended to track house prices, so the contrast between them is striking and troubling.
Mashta Point, originally built by William J. Matheson as his private cove and deepwater anchorage when he owned much of Key Biscayne, is hitting the market for a whopping $60 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. This makes it Mashta Point Dade County’s most expensive listing, and will be Miami’s most expensive residential sale ever if it gets near its asking price.
Matheson built himself a lavish Moorish house, known as Mashta House, on the southern arm of the cove back in 1917, but it was demolished at some point in the 1950s (coincidentally by Mackle Construction, owned by relatives of Curbed Miami’s Editor, Sean McCaughan). Mashta House was known for its fabulous parties, and was said to host the likes of the Vanderbilts, Carnagies, and Mellons during the Roaring 20s, who would alight from their yachts waiting in the cove. In the 1990s Mashta House was replaced by the current house, built on the northern arm of the cove, a 12,000 square foot boxy beige house, with (if we’re counting right) five floors, an elevator, six bedrooms, eight baths, a pool, and a gazebo. Of course the real allure of the property is the land, a long hook-shaped peninsula at the tip of Mashta Island, and that cove. Ohhh that cove.