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Bedford Hills NY Homes

U.S. mortgage application activity falls to five-month low | Bedford Hills Real Estate

A measure of U.S. mortgage application activity decreased for a second week to a five-month low as 30-year mortgage rates rose to their highest since June, data from the Mortgage Bankers Association released on Wednesday showed.

The Washington-based industry group’s mortgage market index fell 1.2 percent to 486.2 in the week ended Oct. 28, which was the lowest level since the week of May 27.

Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are the most widely held type of U.S. home loans, averaged 3.75 percent in the latest week, matching the level last seen in June, MBA said.

Mortgage rates increased with higher U.S. Treasury yields with 10-year yields hitting their highest levels in about five month last week. US10YT=RR

U.S. bond yields climbed on speculation about whether overseas central banks may refrain from injecting more monetary stimulus to help their economies.

The group’s seasonally adjusted index on weekly applications to buy a home edged down 0.4 percent to 207.0 last week, which was the lowest since January.

The purchase activity gauge is seen as a proxy on home sales.

MBA’s weekly barometer on refinancing requests declined by 1.6 percent to 2,088.0, which was the weakest since June


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Mortgage rates average 3.41% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates dropping further to new 2016 lows in the wake of the Brexit vote. At 3.41 percent, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is just 10 basis points from its November 2012 all-time record low of 3.31 percent.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.41 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending July 7, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.48 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.04 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.74 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.78 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.20 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.68 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.70 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.93.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Continuing fallout from the Brexit vote drove Treasury yields lower again this week. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage followed Treasury yields, falling 7 basis points to 3.41 percent in this week’s survey. Mortgage rates have now dropped 15 basis points over the past two weeks, leaving them only 10 basis points above the all-time low.”

The evolution of window styles and technology | Bedford Hills Real Estate

This post is part of a monthly series that explores the historical applications of building materials and systems through resources from the Building Technology Heritage Library (BTHL), an online collection of AEC catalogs, brochures, trade publications, and more. The BTHL is a project of the Association for Preservation Technology, an international building preservation organization. Read more about the archive here.

Windows are one of the most expressive and vital features of a building, serving as part of the thermal envelope while affording light transmission, sound control, and natural ventilation. While window designs have long varied in opening size, sash pattern, and shape, they remained largely made from wood until the early 20th century, when steel and aluminum became feasible material options. Around the same time, insulated glass units, curtainwalls, and glass block came onto the scene, taking off in use following World War II. The following 11 brochures, pamphlets, and journals, culled from the BTHL, explore how glazing, windows, and related components evolved from the mid-19th through the mid-20th centuries.

Combined Book of Sash, Doors, Blinds, Mouldings, Paine Lumber Co., 1893: Wood windows and window moldings were commonly available through millwork companies and at lumber yards by the mid-19th century. Window and frame units were among the first building components to be made in a factory rather than built on-site. This catalog, published by Rand McNally and typical of the era, was issued by a number of lumber yards and exemplifies standardization in materials and dimensions of building components like millwork across the country.

Complete Catalog, Roach & Musser Sash and Door Co., 1905: This extensive brochure features double-hung windows with myriad design configurations, including arch-top, bowed, and stained-glass.

United Steel Sash, Trussed Concrete Steel Co., 1912: The use of steel-sash windows like those marketed in this catalog brought ample daylight into factories and warehouses and represent a milestone in window design in the early 20th century.

The Window Women Want, Andrew Hoffman Manufacturing Co., c. 1923: The now-universal practice of marketing windows to homeowners takes a unique direction in this 1920s catalog for steel casement windows. Offset hinges aim to make cleaning their exterior faces easier—a supposed boon to the woman who, as the pamphlet notes, “spends as many hours of her life in the home that she is entitled to all the comforts that can be secured.”

Building Material: Millwork, Lumber, Roofing, Mantels, and Fireplace Furnishings, Sears, Roebuck & Co., 1929: Though touting energy savings is nothing new, even back then, this page from a 1929 Sears, Roebuck & Co. building materials catalog makes a case for installing storm windows to cut one’s coal bill.

Kawneer: Windows, Doors, Architectural Metal Work, Kawneer Co., 1936: Kawneer was one of the first building-product manufacturers to make aluminum windows, such as those shown in the catalog above, starting in the 1930s. Initially, the company produced metal storefronts before expanding its operations into metal windows and curtainwalls in the mid-20th century.

New! French Mosaic Stained Glass, Studios of George L. Payne, c. 1945: Specialty glass products have an important role in the history of windows in residential and commercial construction. This French company used an American distributor to introduce a new type of stained glass—set in reinforced mortar rather than in lead—to the U.S. market, which would find particular use for the product in midcentury churches.

Glass Manual, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. (PPG), 1946: This dealer’s manual from PPG begins with a history of glass making and of the company. Because this manual was intended for building-material dealers to sell windows and glazing to architects and builders, it includes technical and performance details for the full range of PPG glass products.

For Brighter Homes: Insulux Glass Block, American Structural Products Co., 1950: Glass block made its debut in the 1930s and quickly found its place in many commercial, industrial, and residential applications. This small catalog shows how it can be used to bring daylight into homes without sacrificing privacy.

Twindow: The World’s Finest Insulating Glass!, PPG, 1958: Insulating glass is an early-20th-century innovation that didn’t enter the mass market until after World War II. Twindow was PPG’s propriety name for its insulated glass product, which in this catalog is being marketed for use in homes to maintain thermal comfort and manage energy costs year-round.

Kirsch Guide to Window Beauty, Kirsch Co., 1961: Window curtains and shades are featured in this catalog from the Kirsch Co., a century-old interior finishes business started in 1907. Kirsch catalogs from the 1920s through the 1960s show the evolution of popular window-blind and curtain styles.


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Barbados real estate | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Though perhaps best known for luxury resorts and beachfront villas, the Caribbean island of Barbados also has a historic side to its property market.

Across the island’s palm-covered interior are the remains of former plantation estates, relics of the Caribbean’s once-thriving tobacco and sugar industries.

Such properties sell from $500,000, or one million Bajan dollars, to over $10 million, depending on size and condition. (Real estate prices in Barbados are typically listed in United States dollars.) They date from the 17th and 18th centuries and would once have included up to 80 hectares, or 200 acres, of land.

Over time, many estate houses were abandoned because of the cost and effort of maintaining them, and land was sold for agriculture and development. Now, plots average between one and 16 hectares.

Holders House is a high-profile hub for many upscale social events in Barbados.

Traditional external features include wraparound porches and portico entrances with stone stairways and upper-floor verandas giving views across the estate.

Inside, ground-floor rooms are generally arranged on either side of a central hall from which a main staircase ascends to a galleried top-floor landing leading to the bedrooms.

The majority of plantations had sugar mills, often close to the great house and built from stone with canvas sails. Many estates retain the original towers, also called mill walls, which are sometimes converted for further accommodation.

One such house is Mangrove Plantation, a renovated great house on 16 hectares of land with a restored sugar mill, two-bedroom guest cottage and pool area, plus panoramic coastal views.

The house was once owned by the Skeete family, one of whom was island governor in the 1800s, and is listed with local agency, Bajan Services, at $6.95 million.

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Feb. housing starts plunge 17% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Builders broke ground on fewer new homes last month as starts plunged 17% from January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Amid of harsh winter weather, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new home construction fell to 897,000 from 1.08 million the month before, the government said. February was the first month since August when home building fell below an annual rate of 1 million units or better.

January’s rate was revised to 1.08 million from the previously reported figure of 1.06 million, the government said Tuesday.

Economists had expected a small decline in starts for February to an annual rate of 1.045 million units, according to Action Economics’ survey.

Snowstorms in parts of the country were presumed to have slowed construction. Commerce reported starts in the Northeast fell 56.5% and they were down 37% in the Midwest. The South was down 2.5% while starts in the Midwest slumped 9%.

Tuesday’s report shows single-family homes were started at an annual rate of 593,000, down 14.9% from January.

Permits, a gauge of future building activity, rose 3% to a rate of 1.09 million.

Just over 1 million housing units were started last year, the most since the recession. The National Association of Home Builders predicts builders will begin slightly more units this year and that new home starts will pick up this year as the weather and the economy continue to improve.

Home builders’ optimism is flagging slightly as the peak spring home buying season is nearing. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo home builders index for March dropped two points to 53, the NAHB said Monday. It was the third straight monthly decline. The index is seasonally adjusted.


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Buyer confidence keeps pending home sales growing | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Pending home sales slightly improved in November and are above year-over-year levels for the third straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All major regions except for the Midwest experienced a slight gain in activity in November.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), NAR’s forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 0.8% to 104.8 in November from a slightly downwardly revised 104 in October and is now 4.1% above November 2013 (100.7) – the highest year-over-year gain since August 2013 (5.6%).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said signed contracts inched forward in November and have been fairly stable but haven’t broken out even as the economy picked up steam this spring.

“The consistent economic growth and steady hiring we’ve seen the second half of this year is giving buyers enough assurance to consider purchasing a home before year’s end,” he said. “With rents now rising at a seven-year high, historically low rates and moderating price growth are likely to entice more buyers to enter the market in upcoming months.”

Yun also noted that falling gas prices will likely boost consumer confidence and allow prospective buyers the opportunity to save additional money for a down payment. NAR’s 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (released in November) found that the median down payment ranged from 6% for first-time buyers to 13% for repeat buyers.

“There’s still misperception out there that a much higher down payment is needed, while that’s not the reality,” added Yun.


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Seattle’s Glassy ‘Open House’ is Pretty Self-Explanatory | Bedford Hills Homes

Location: Seattle, Washington
Price: $1,900,000
Seattle’s Open House probably does have an open house in its future, as it was listed yesterday for $1.9M, but the title refers to the glass walls in back that open up on both levels (the top one pushes up and out, and bottom one rolls up like a garage door). Between those large indoor-outdoor spaces, the too-spare modern staging, and what the listing calls “HUGE art walls,” the sale angle is clear: throw parties here.

A Curbed Seattle commenter who may or may not be one of the sellers says the “photos don’t do it justice,” and they do linger on the terrace/patio sections so much that it’s hard to get a sense for this 2009 work by Seattle architect Eric Cobb apart from white walls. There are some cool metal curtains on the bottom floor, a modern built-in bunk bed in the kids’ room, and a nearly all-stainless-steel kitchen.

The master bedroom is lofted above the kitchen and dining room, which is pretty interesting. You can’t really go wrong with concrete floors and exposed steel, and there’s a great deal of both.


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Tiny Houses Have A Not-So-Tiny Problem | Bedford Hills Real Estate


As much as we love gorgeous small-scale architecture, not all micro-housing is created equal. Over at City Lab, Kriston Capps argues thattiny houses plopped onto huge lots in the middle of nowhere miss the entire point of micro-housing: to provide more options for affordable housing, especially in crowded, expensive cities.

He takes issue with the 650-square-foot prefabricated zeroHouse, the self-sufficient modular home seen above:

The zeroHouse is so modular and low maintenance, in fact, that all you need to own a zeroHouse is—after $350,000—a plot of land. Any kind of land.

Which is, of course, the problem with zeroHouse: Nobody needs micro-housing in places where plots of prairie, mountain, and sea (!) are available in plenty.

The Delta Shelter by Olson Kundig in Mazama, Washington.Image: Courtesy Olson Sunderberg Kundig Allen Architects/Taschen

If you’re determined to live on a sprawling piece of rural land, it’s probably more environmentally friendly to do so in a prefab house that’s designed to function off the grid. “Basically, a tiny house is sort of the suburban or maybe even rural version of a small apartment,” asRyan Mitchell, author of the book Tiny House Living, told Salon.

But trendy tiny dwellings more often come in this form than the variety people more desperately need: the kind that makes urban living affordable for those of us who aren’t oligarchs. “Lovely granny flats, Voltron head-cubes, and stories that tug at the heart-strings are nice, but support for these doesn’t amount to support for real micro-housing—or congregate housing developments, perhaps a better term for urbanist housing solutions,” Capps writes.

What cities need in micro-housing, he argues, is “at least the option to build for a range of buyers and renters, at a range of densities. When tiny-house enthusiasts go on about what are essentially single-family homes, they are confirming the status quo, if shrinking it a little.”

Ultimately, we need both. It’s true that crowded cities—especially those with a high concentration of young professionals who aren’t trying to fit an entire family into a 129-square-foot apartment—need affordable micro-units to alleviate intense pressure on the housing market. It’s perhaps no surprise that we don’t see that many of those designs yet, considering that even in housing-strapped cities like San Francisco,micro-apartments remain controversial. The prospect of allowing developers to pack people into a whole new definition of “cozy” worries some tenants rights advocates and even some psychologists.


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Home equity is back | Bedford Hills Real Estate

As home prices rise, homeowners are wasting no time making use of their newfound, or regained, home equity. In fact, while all mortgage originations rose in the third quarter of this year, the biggest gain was in home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Originations of these loans, which are often in addition to primary mortgages, jumped over 17 percent for the quarter, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a mortgage industry publication: $20 billion in new HELOCs, which is the most quarterly volume for the product this year.

Phillip Spears | Digital Vision | Getty Images

At the current rate, lenders could originate more than $67 billion in HELOCs for all of 2014, which would be the most since 2009. Volume is still low by historical standards, but the gain points to not only more home equity available, but more confidence among consumers that they can tap their homes again for much-needed cash. There has, however, been a shift in the borrower mindset.

“It certainly seems like people are doing it a lot more responsibly now,” said Rick Huard, senior vice president of consumer lending product management at TD Bank. “People seem to be much more educated customers and much more responsible.”

They have to be, because on the flip side, lenders aren’t just handing out the loans to anyone with a pulse. During the last housing boom, borrowers extracted trillions of dollars worth of home equity, spending it on luxury goods and vacations, as lenders turned a blind eye to basic safeguards, like the ability to repay the loan or the borrower’s other debt load.

Today, lenders are following more stringent guidelines enforced by federal regulators, and most HELOC borrowers are using the money to improve their homes, adding value to their largest asset, not subtracting it.

A survey of more than one thousand HELOC borrowers by TD bank found many using HELOCs to consolidate other debt, thereby lowering interest rates (29 percent); credit cards can carry interest rates more than four times that of a HELOC. Others used the loans for automobiles (27 percent), emergencies (19 percent) or education expenses (20 percent). Some are refinancing HELOCs they already have.

“People are readdressing or redoing,” said Craig Strent of Maryland-based Apex Home loans. “That has probably resulted in this increase in equity line originations.”



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