Tag Archives: Bedford Hills Luxury Homes

Riskiest areas see fewer homes insured as premiums rise | Bedford Hills Real Estate

As Florida and the Carolinas begin digging out from the from the record flooding and high winds that Hurricane Matthew delivered over the weekend, thousands of homeowner insurance claims are sure to follow.

The Consumer Federation of America, a Washington D.C.-based consumer advocacy group expects about 100,000 homeowners to file damage claims for as much as $7.5 billion from the Category 3 storm, though well short of the record claims made from the most severe storms such as Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Andrew, where damage claims were more than $100 billion.

But if it turns out that fewer-than-expected insurance claims will be filed for damage, it may not just because Hurricane Matthew was a less-powerful storm than expected, it may be because far fewer homeowners are carrying property insurance.

That’s the analysis from Trulia.com, a San Francisco-based real estate research firm, which looked at homeowners’ insurance rates in some of the most hurricane-prone regions of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, the so-called southernmost “Hurricane Alley” states comprised of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The study also looked at Gulf Coast insurance rates including Texas. Hurricane insurance is often supplemental, but is typically required by mortgage lenders if the home is located in a storm-prone market like Florida.

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Overall, the U.S. Census noted that in 2014, 94.7% of homeowner households that had outstanding mortgage obligations had property insurance. The property insurance rate however dropped to 75.5% of those homeowner households that did not have any mortgage.

While property insurance is typically required by banks to protect their investment while the mortgage is being paid, Trulia’s data shows that many homeowners are dropping insurance once the mortgage is extinguished, primarily due to cost.

The percentage of Miami households reporting that they had homeowners’ property insurance fell to 78% in 2014 down from 90% in 2006, according to U.S. Census data cited by Trulia. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., saw the steepest drop in insured homes, to 79% in 2014 from 92% in 2006, Trulia said.

Nationally, the number of insured homes fell to 89.2% from 94.1% eight years ago. Almost all major southeastern U.S. metros had insured rates below the national average, Trulia said.

On a national basis, Trulia noted that premiums have climbed on average more than 28%, with 10 of the 25 most expensive markets for homeowners insurance in the Southeast.


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Case Shiller home prices rise | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Home prices are still rising, but not as drastically as before. Some hot markets are even seeing a cooling. Could home prices be near the end of their upward trend, or are they simply changing gears?

National home prices increased by 5% annually in May, the same as the previous month, however the 10-City and 20-City Composite both slipped in annual increases, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, formerly known as S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

“Home prices continue to appreciate across the country,” said David Blitzer, S&P Dow Jones Indices index committee managing director and chairman. “Overall, housing is doing quite well.”

“In addition to strong prices, sales of existing homes reached the highest monthly level since 2007 as construction of new homes showed continuing gains,” Blitzer said. “The SCE Housing Expectations Survey published by the New York Federal Reserve Bank shows that consumers expect home prices to continue rising, though at a somewhat slower pace.”

The 10-City Composite increased annually by 4.4%, however that’s slightly less thanApril’s 4.7% increase. Similarly, the 20-City Composite increased annually by 5.2%, a slight decrease from April’s 5.4%.

“Today’s Case-Shiller data paints a picture of a fairly calm and consistent market that looks much the same today as it has for the past few months,” Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said. “But while the market does look pretty stable from 10,000 feet, a closer look reveals a number of imbalances that are keeping the heat on the housing market this summer.”

“Sellers are in the driver’s seat, as buyers contend with fierce competition and very fast-moving markets,” Gudell said. “Demand is sky high and the number of homes sold is rising, even as inventory of homes for sale keeps falling.”

Portland, Seattle and Denver were among the cities with the highest annual gains among the top 20 cities over each of the last four months.

Readers of HousingWire will not find this surprising, as a deeper look into a report fromBlack Knight yesterday showed that home prices are increasing more in the mountainous areas of the West and in the Pacific Northwest.

“Regional patterns seen in home prices are shifting,” Blitzer said. “Over the last year, the Pacific Northwest has been quite strong while prices in the previously strong spots of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles saw more modest increases.”

“The two hottest areas during the housing boom were Florida and the Southwest,” he said. “Miami and Tampa have recovered in the last few months while Las Vegas and Phoenix remain weak. When home prices began to recover, New York and Washington saw steady price growth; now both are among the weakest areas in the country.”

In May, Portland increased the most 12.5% annually, followed by Seattle at 10.7% and Denver at 9.5%.


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Pending Home Sales Dip in June | Bedford Hills Real Estate

After five consecutive months of increases, pending home sales slipped in June but remained near May’s level, which was the highest in over nine years, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Modest gains in the Northeast and West were offset by larger declines in the Midwest and South.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.8 percent to 110.3 in June but is still 8.2 percent above June 2014 (101.9). Despite last month’s decline, the index is the third highest reading of 2015 and has now increased year-over-year for ten consecutive months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says although pending sales decreased in June, the overall trend in recent months supports a solid pace of home sales this summer. “Competition for existing houses on the market remained stiff last month, as low inventories in many markets reduced choices and pushed prices above some buyers’ comfort level,” he said. “The demand is there for more sales, but the determining factor will be whether or not some of these buyers decide to hold off even longer until supply improves and price growth slows.”

According to Yun, existing-home sales are up considerably compared to a year ago despite the share of first-time buyers only modestly improving1. The reason is that the boost in sales is mostly coming from pent-up sellers realizing their equity gains from recent years.

“Strong price appreciation and an improving economy is finally giving some homeowners the incentive and financial capability to sell and trade up or down,” adds Yun. “Unfortunately, because nearly all of these sellers are likely buying another home, there isn’t a net increase in inventory. A combination of homebuilders ramping up construction and even more homeowners listing their properties on the market is needed to tame price growth and give all buyers more options.”

The PHSI in the Northeast inched 0.4 percent to 94.3 in June, and is now 12.0 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index declined 3.0 percent to 108.1 in June, but is still 5.0 percent above June 2014.

Pending home sales in the South also decreased 3.0 percent to an index of 123.5 in June but are still 7.8 percent above last June. The index in the West increased 0.5 percent in June to 104.4, and is now 10.4 percent above a year ago.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types in 2015 is expected to increase around 6.5 percent to $221,900, which would match the record high set in 2006. Total existing-home sales this year are forecast to increase 6.6 percent to around 5.27 million, about 25 percent below the prior peak set in 2005 (7.08 million).


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1910-1963 The destruction of Penn Station | Bedford Hills Real Estate

C. 1910


Penn Station did not make you feel comfortable; it made you feel important.

In 1910, when New York City transportation terminal Pennsylvania Station opened, it was widely praised for its majestic architecture. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, it featured pink granite construction and a stately colonnade on the exterior.

The main waiting room, inspired by the Roman Baths of Caracalla, was the largest indoor space in the city — a block and a half long with vaulted glass windows soaring 150 feet over a sun-drenched chamber. Beyond that, trains emerged from bedrock to deposit passengers on a concourse lit by an arching glass and steel greenhouse roof.

This may sound unfamiliar for present-day residents of New York City, who know Penn Station as a miserable subterranean labyrinth.

Though the original Penn Station served 100 million passengers a year at its peak in 1945, by the late 1950s the advent of affordable air travel and the Interstate Highway System had cut into train use. The Pennsylvania Railroad could not even afford to keep the station clean.





In 1962 plans were revealed to demolish the terminal and build entertainment venue Madison Square Garden on top of it. The new train station would be entirely underground and boast amenities such as air-conditioning and fluorescent lighting.

Vocal backlash and protests ensued, but the plan moved forward and Penn Station was demolished.

The outrage was a major catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States. In 1965, the New York Landmarks Law was passed, which helped save the iconic Grand Central Terminal and more than 30,000 other buildings from similar fates. 2015 marks its 50th anniversary.

Since the demolition of the old Penn Station, train ridership has grown tenfold. The new station, a tangle of subway lines and commuter rail, is the busiest terminal in the country and bursting at the seams. Plans are currently underway to renovate and expand the station, and restore a modicum of its original glory.





It is a poor society indeed that has no money for anything except expressways to rush people out of our dull and deteriorating cities





c. 1925


c. 1950






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May Gains for Residential Construction Spending | Bedford Hills Real Estate

NAHB analysis of Census Construction Spending data shows that total residential construction spending for May increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $366.1 billion. On a month-over-month basis, multifamily spending was $48.7 billion, up by 0.2% over the revised April estimate, while the single-family spending was $209.4 billion, an increase of 0.03% from April. Annually, multifamily spending rose 20.8% from the revised 2014 estimate and the spending on single-family construction was 11.2% higher than May 2014.

The Census construction spending index, which is shown in the graph below (the base is January 2000), indicates that both the monthly and annual increase were largely driven by the steady increase in multifamily construction spending. The pace of multifamily spending is gradually slowing. NAHB anticipates an increase in single-family spending in 2015.



The pace of nonresidential construction spending was also up by 1.1% monthly in May, and the annual increase from the revised May 2014 data was around 8.2%. The largest contribution to this year-over-year nonresidential spending gain was made by the class of manufacturing-related construction (69.5% increase), followed by lodging (30.6% increase) and amusement/recreation (29.8% increase).



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DIY Outdoor Stove/Smoker | Bedford Hills Real Estate

For only $300, you can build this durable outdoor cooking unit that can function as a stove, oven, grill, and smoker.
The firebricks are stacked without mortar to allow for expansion and contraction as the temperature changes.

This DIY, wood-fired, outdoor masonry stove can be used four ways: for baking, grilling, cooking, and smoking. Whatever your cooking needs, our outdoor stove/oven/grill/smoker can do it, thanks to interchangeable grill grates and griddle surfaces. If you want to grill steaks or fish, use the grill grate. If you want to bake bread, slide on the steel griddle, stack some bricks on top to retain heat and add the door to hold in the heat. If you want to use the stove top, just slide the metal plate (or griddle) over the top of the firebox.

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors and I wanted to design a highly efficient, multi-purpose stove that uses little firewood (or charcoal) and retains heat for baking and cooking. So, we included a thick insulation layer of lightweight perlite/cement between the firebox and surrounding concrete block, and we included a removable door. This design holds the heat in the firebox where it’s needed. (Perlite is the porous white stuff often found in potting soils. You can buy this mined mineral product at garden centers.)

You can build the outdoor oven in stages, a few hours at a time. (You’ll need a few days between some steps.) Check local building codes before you start building. The oven is made from materials you can buy at local hardware or building stores. You may be able to find some of the materials at a salvage yard, too. (See the materials list and the building diagram). Detailed instructions for building the outdoor brick oven are below. Even if you only use it to bake bread, you can save enough money in one year to more than pay for the $300 cost.

Ideally, the stove is built to a comfortable height with concrete countertop space on each side, plus a roof to protect against the elements. We covered the concrete blocks with tile, primarily for aesthetic reasons, but you could apply stucco over the blocks, or just paint them. Having an outdoor sink and storage space nearby is also convenient.

Our outdoor oven requires a fire in the firebox for about 45 minutes to one hour to reach a baking temperature of 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, if you want to grill, you can start in less than half an hour. For comparison, it can take about three hours to get a clay earthen oven up to proper baking temperature. That’s a lot of time and firewood expended, which really adds up if you’re using the oven frequently. The firebrick used in our stove reaches cooking temperature more quickly than clay because its higher density makes it more efficient at conducting heat.

Another key design element is the firebox size — not too small, not too large, but just right. Properly sized fireboxes heat up quickly, have improved combustion, produce less smoke and stay hotter longer. We measured cookie sheets, bread pans, medium and large roasting pans, canners and baking dishes to arrive at our optimal firebox size of 13 inches wide by 28 inches deep by 13 1/2 inches high.


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Valuing a Green Home | Bedford Hills Real Estate

From installing rooftop solar panels to putting in new triple pane windows and EnergyStar appliances, people today make all kinds of home upgrades that save energy and lower their utility bills.Bedford NY

But when they opt to sell their “green” home, it’s often less than clear how such upgrades are valued in the real estate market by appraisers, lenders, or purchasers — or even how information about a home’s energy characteristics should be conveyed to real estate agents and potential homebuyers.

“People do upgrade [for energy efficiency], but the problem is, a lot of that information on what they’re doing doesn’t get to the marketplace, doesn’t find its way into the real estate transaction,” says Maria Vargas, who directs theBetter Buildings Challenge program at the Department of Energy.

The department aims to change that with a newly announced program. The agency’s Better Buildings initiative, which seeks to slash overall energy use across U.S. buildings by 20 percent in 10 years, has already been successful in the commercial sector, but now it is turning to the residential arena — with a focus on advancing home energy efficiency.

One surprising strategy for doing so will be helping to improve the flow of information about home energy efficiency (and its effect on driving lower utility bills) in the real estate market — thus helping it to be better valued in markets. To do so, the Energy Department is partnering with those who spread and use this information, including the Appraisal Institute, a professional association for real estate appraisers, the Council of Multiple Listing Services — which ties together the large number of local MLS organizations that provide informational databases of real estate listings — and the National Association of Realtors’ Center for Realtor Technology.

“We want to move in, move out, in a few years, to really accelerate this market,” says Vargas, “so we are better enabling homeowners, and the whole transaction process around selling a home, to include energy efficiency information.”


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Increase for Typical New Multifamily Residence Size | Bedford Hills Real Estate

An elevated market share for rental multifamily homes is holding typical new apartment size below levels seen during the housing boom. However, as multifamily developers build more for-sale housing units in the years ahead, the average size of multifamily homes is likely to rise. The recent pattern of change in the size of new multifamily units stands in contrast to the post-recession increase in the size of typical new single-familyhomes.

According to first quarter 2015 data from the Census Bureau and NAHB analysis, the average per unit square footage of multifamily housing construction starts was 1,238, setting a post-recession high. The median was 1,121 square feet, near the cycle high.

MF unit size_1q15

Because the quarterly data are volatile, it is worth examining the numbers on a one-year moving average basis. For the first quarter of 2015, the one-year moving average for the multifamily size was 1,188 square feet, while the median was 1,103.

The current quarterly median is 4% higher than the post-recession low, and the average is 6% higher.

The typical size of newly built multifamily units remains below the averages/medians recorded during the boom years, when the share of for-sale multifamily was considerably higher. The share of multifamily housing starts built for-rent fell to a historical low of 47% during the third quarter of 2005. It is currently (96%) above the approximate 80% share recorded during the 1980-2002 period due to the ongoing surge in rental demand.

MF built for rent

The reason for some of the recent change in multifamily average size is due to market mix. Renters tend toward smaller units than owner-occupiers. In 2012, for example, the median size of all multifamily units completed was 1,098 square feet. However, for rental apartments the median was 1,081, while it was a larger 1,466 for for-sale multifamily residences.


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Mortgage Rates Down | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving down slightly this week and remaining near their 2015 lows as the spring homebuying season continues.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.65 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending April 23, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.67 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.33 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.92 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.39 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.84 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.88 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.03 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.44 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.46 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.44 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 links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates fell slightly to 3.65 percent this week, positive news for potential homebuyers in the market this spring. Purchase applications in 60 of the 100 markets that MiMitracks are up from the same time last year, including 20 markets that are showing double-digit increases. Reinforcing this positive momentum, existing home sales surged 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million units in March, the highest annual rate since September 2013. Housing inventory rose 5.3 percent to 2 million homes for sale, but unsold inventory was little changed at a 4.6 month supply.”

One-of-a-Kind Cooking Spaces | Bedford Hills Real Estate

We asked avid home cooks on Houzz to share photos of where they make their magic. In this first part of a series, learn the stories behind some of their very personal cooking spaces and what they love to whip up there.