According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate increased to 64.8% in the third quarter of 2019, which is 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter reading of 64.1%. This puts the national homeownership rate back to a level near where it started dropping as interest rates increased. The rate reached a cycle low of 62.9% in the second quarter 2016. Compared to the peak of 69.2% by the end of 2004, the homeownership rate is still 4.4 percentage points lower and remains below the 25-year average rate of 66.3%.
The HVS also provides a timely measure of household formations – the key driver of housing demand. The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the count of total households increased to 122.7 million in the third quarter of 2019 from 121.4 million a year ago. The gains are largely attributed to strong owner household formation. Indeed, the number of homeowner households has been climbing since the third quarter of 2015, while the number of renter households has been on a downward trend. This implies a transition from renting to owning is the powerful driver of household change. Specifically, the number of homeowners increased by 1.4 million, but the number of renter households declined by 33,000 in the third quarter.
The homeownership rates among all age groups, except for households ages 55-64, increased in the third quarter 2019. Households lead by 35-44 year-olds registered the largest gains among all households, 0.8 percentage points from a year ago. The homeownership rate of households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, stood at 37.5 % in the third quarter, 0.7 percentage points higher than a year ago. The homeownership rates of households ages 45-54 edged up a 0.4 percentage point. Households ages 65 and older saw their homeownership rates rise to 78.9% in the third quarter 2019 from 78.6% a year ago. However, the homeownership rate of households lead by 45- 54 year-olds did see a drop in the third quarter compared to a year ago.
The homeowner and rental vacancy rates remained in the record low territories, signaling a supply-constrained housing market. The non seasonally adjusted homeowner vacancy rate remained low at 1.4% in the third quarter 2019. At the same time, the national rental vacancy rate stood at 6.8%, unchanged from the second quarter.
Making the click-through worthwhile: California burns, but the state’s politicians don’t want to look at the policy choices that led to this point; Kamala Harris starts to see that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train; the U.S. Army feels compelled to respond to a presidential tweet; and Twitter announces a ban on political advertising that includes at least one glaring loophole.
Watching California Burn
It’s an overstatement to declare that progressivism or the Democrats ruined California — at least by themselves. But as the state burns from gargantuan wildfires, California Democrats are going to have to confront the fact that their state’s serious troubles reflect more than just bad luck. Policy decisions have consequences, and the full consequences are rarely seen clearly by advocates of particular policies.
New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo is in an apocalyptic mood about his home state, blaming the state’s worsening problems on “a failure to live sustainably.”
I’m starting to suspect we’re over. It’s the end of California as we know it. I don’t feel fine.
It isn’t just the fires — although, my God, the fires. Is this what life in America’s most populous, most prosperous state is going to be like from now on? Every year, hundreds of thousands evacuating, millions losing power, hundreds losing property and lives? Last year, the air near where I live in Northern California — within driving distance of some of the largest and most powerful and advanced corporations in the history of the world — was more hazardous than the air in Beijing and New Delhi. There’s a good chance that will happen again this month, and that it will keep happening every year from now on. Is this really the best America can do?
Probably, because it’s only going to get worse. The fires and the blackouts aren’t like the earthquakes, a natural threat we’ve all chosen to ignore. They are more like California’s other problems, like housing affordability and homelessness and traffic — human-made catastrophes we’ve all chosen to ignore, connected to the larger dysfunction at the heart of our state’s rot: a failure to live sustainably.
You don’t hear as much about Calexit these days, do you? There are currently ten fires burning.
The boss recalled that “In 2016, then-governor Jerry Brown actually vetoed a bill that had unanimously passed the state legislature to promote the clearing of trees dangerously close to power lines. Brown’s team says this legislation was no big deal, but one progressive watchdog called the bill ‘neither insignificant or small.’” How often do you see a bill that passed unanimously get vetoed?
Most progressives blame the wildfires as an inevitable side effect of climate change, which gets their public policy decisions off the hook. Noah Rothman writes, “While utility providers make a convenient scapegoat, public policy is more to blame for California’s conundrum. Most wildfires are not caused by faulty electrical equipment but natural factors and human error. The state’s utilities are required by law to extend their networks to housing developed in high-risk areas, and, in a state with an acute housing shortage, more and more residences are built inside danger zones. What’s more, the patchwork of federal, state, local, tribal, and private interests that are responsible for forestry management have run up against the state’s onerous regulatory environment.” If you can’t clear out underbrush or clear out any trees, you end up with a ton of underbrush that burns quickly and hotter.Stay Updated with Morning Jolt
A guided tour of the news and politics driving the day, by Jim Geraghty.
If you want to find a surprising development in all of this, it’s that this disaster is bad enough to interrupt the usual partisan passions: “His team is performing above and beyond expectation,’’ [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom said of Trump, following a visit to meet with the senior residents of Las Casitas Mobile Home Park in American Canyon, which has been without power since Saturday. “Every single request we’ve had to the administration has been met.’’
Many parts of California look like paradise — nice weather year-round, a beautiful coast, redwood forests, gorgeous mountain ranges. This leads to many, many people wanting to live there, probably more than the region could reasonably manage, in terms of effective governance, the economy, and ecologically. The progressive response to this is schizophrenic. California’s Democratic political establishment believes that efforts to find and deport illegal immigrants are xenophobic and wrong. They offer driver’s licenses and Medicaid coverage to those who enter the country illegally. Then they lament strained state services, overcrowded schools, sprawl, and unmanageable population growth.
As Kevin observed, “California is great if you are too rich or too poor to care about the marginal costs of living there, but if you have a more average income (and are looking to raise a family on it) then hopping across the border to Nevada must look attractive.” Earlier this year, the New York Times noted the growing philosophy that California was a place for young, bright, ambitious people to make their fortune, which they would then enjoy spending somewhere else.
Despite some folks missing the point, earlier this year I observed that California’s cities earning the worst grades on air quality despite the toughest emissions laws in the country revealed the limits of regulation. Few rules can overcome geography: California’s cities have a lot of people, a lot of cars and traffic, and a lot of sunny days. When you live in a valley surrounded by high mountains, the smog doesn’t disperse easily. And that’s before accounting for the wildfires.
Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.75 percent, the highest it’s been in 12 weeks.
“The outlook for a favorable resolution to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is still unclear, introducing some volatility into financial markets and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage rates are following suit at near historic lows, while mortgage applications to purchase a home remain higher year over year.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.75 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending October 24, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 3.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.86 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.15 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.29 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
US homebuilder confidence rises to 20 month high with lower interest rates
The nation’s low-interest-rate environment and strong job market propelled homebuilder confidence to 71 points in October, the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo said in this month’s Housing Market Index.
According to the index, October’s level now marks the highest reading since February of last year.
In October, the index measuring current sales conditions rose to 78 points, while buyer traffic increased to 54 points and sales expectations over the next six months jumped to 76.
“The second half of 2019 has seen steady gains in single-family construction, and this is mirrored by the gradual uptick in builder sentiment over the past few months,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said. “However, builders continue to remain cautious due to ongoing supply-side constraints and concerns about a slowing economy.”
Despite these concerns, the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores show the Northeast grew to 60 points, the South rose to 73 points, the West climbed to 78 points and the Midwest inched forward to 58 points.
NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder opinions of single-family home sales and expectations, asking for a rating of good, fair or poor. Builders are also asked to rate prospective buyer traffic from very low to very high. The scores are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index with a rating of 50 or over indicating positive sentiment.
You ain’t dreaming. New York’s toniest buildings really are bigger on the inside than the outside.
For a small pool of New York buyers, a floor in the 90s is the new Park Avenue address — and developers are fudging numbers to accommodate them.
In 2013, Saudi retail magnate Fawaz Al Hokair signed an $87.7 million contract for a splendiferous privilege: owning the top floor of the Western Hemisphere’s tallest residential tower, 432 Park Ave. Al Hokair could boast that his 8,255-square-foot penthouse is on the 96th floor — six floors higher than billionaire Michael Dell’s then-record-breaking spread on the 90th floor of One57 (previously the city’s tallest residential tower).
Splendiferous, that is, if you ignore the fact that 432 Park is an 88-floor tower, eight floors less than advertised.
That’s not a fluke, it’s a power move. Nearly every new luxury condo in the city’s latest wave of super-tall construction mislabels floors to stroke buyers’ vanity.
“If you have the 95th floor in your address, that’s going to be impressive to pretty much everyone,” said Leonard Steinberg of Compass Real Estate. “Being on the 95th floor is unbelievable. In how many cities can you even live on the 95th floor?”
Like a short man in Cuban heels, One57 boasts a 90th-floor penthouse that is, technically, on the 75th floor. For more than a decade, billionaire developer Stephen Ross occupied the 80th-floor penthouse of his Time Warner Center, but has since moved up to the 92nd floor of his latest tower, 35 Hudson Yards. In reality, the Time Warner Center has 53 floors. His Hudson Yards building has 71.
“When [brokers] go see buildings under construction, we say, ‘Go to the top floor’ — which is often marketed as the 90th, but there will be a sign in the elevator that reads 63,” said broker Tristan Harper of Douglas Elliman.
This sleight of hand is achieved by developers in different ways, Harper and other experts explained. For one, most new residential skyscrapers have lobbies with tremendous ceiling heights. They might be counted as 10 or more stories. Many also have several floors of building mechanicals and amenity spaces that are counted.
Some — like One57 or 35 Hudson Yards — have hotels on the first couple dozen floors. Instead of counting from the first apartment, developers will divide building height by eight feet (the measure of a typical New York ceiling height) to get a total floor count that is higher than the actual number of residential floors. Or they count from the ground to determine on which floor an apartment would theoretically be.
That’s why residences at One57 start on the 22nd floor, while 35 Hudson Yards begins on the 53rd. In the industry, it’s known as marketing floors versus real floor, or “construction counting.”
“If we lived by the letter, buildings in New York would have a 13th floor — and I haven’t seen a 13th floor in a long time,” Steinberg said, adding that he considers the practice of embellishing floor numbers to be a mostly harmless example of “truthful hyperbole . . . Every developer wants to maximize value.”
Harry Macklowe is often credited with inventing vanity numbering with his Metropolitan Tower, which opened in 1985 on the south end of Central Park, now considered “Billionaires Row.” Macklowe advertised the building as having 78 floors, when it really has 66.
But it was Donald Trump who introduced 90th-floor fever. When Trump World Tower opened in 2001, he proclaimed it the “tallest residential building in the world” at 90 floors. (If you count them up, there are 72.)
While the city allows developers to label floors as they please, it requires that the real number be disclosed on official offering plans.
But experts agree that, in a market where higher floors equal higher prestige and higher dollars, the rubber ruler is here to stay.
“If you repeat something often enough, it becomes the new normal,” said Steinberg. “There was a moment when a Botoxed face looked really weird. Now a face without Botox looks weird. It’s like that with real estate.”
HUDSON VALLEY, NY — Cooler temps, what a relief! That means it’s time to plan a trip this weekend to an orchard for a bushel or two of the season’s finest apples (and in some cases the last of the blackberries, pears and peaches).
You’ll love how most of these “pick your own” orchards offer a chance to pick up many other seasonal vegetables, select farm fresh foods, and enjoy some family-style events and activities.
The kinds of apples ready for picking changes over the season, so you’ll be able to visit several of these wonderful orchards and farms this fall. Look at their lovely websites and start planning trips!
Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm 1335 White Hill Road, Yorktown Heights. 914 245-5111 The farm offers more than a dozen varieties of apples. The season started in August with peaches and runs into December when you can hunt for the perfect Christmas trees. Pumpkin picking season starts in October. Stop by the gift shop for freshly baked cookies, doughnuts and strudel sticks.
Stuart’s Fruit Farm 62 Granite Springs Road, Granite Springs 914 245-2784 The 200-acre family-owned farm offers nine different varieties of apples as well as pumpkins. On weekends you can take a hayride through the orchards. You can end the visit by enjoying a freshly baked pie or doughnut with a glass of apple cider.
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem 914 485-1210 The family-run farm lets visitors pick McIntosh and Front Hill apples but also sells Gala and Ginger Gold. The farm holds a Fall Festival on Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 7 through Oct. 27 10am-5pm as well as Sept. 30, Oct. 1, Oct. 9 and Oct. 14. Entertainment for kids include farm animals, bouncy castles and hayrides. You can also buy homemade doughnuts, cider, produce and fresh eggs. Dogs are not allowed; service animals with proper identification are allowed.
Dr. Davies Farm 306 Route 304, Congers 845 268-7020 Not only are there apples galore at Dr. Davies 35-acre farm, but there are apple themed T-shirts for sale, as well as homemade doughnuts and fresh pressed cider, vegetables and decorative pumpkins. Bring cash or a check as the farm does not accept credit cards.
The Orchards of Concklin 2 South Mountain Road, Pomona 845 354-0369 At The Orchards of Concklin, iyou can pick your own produce, visit the farm stand, and taste the fresh pressed apple cider. The bakery offers delicious pies, cookies, and pastries. If you can’t make it there this year, they can ship to you.
Meadowbrook Farm 29 Old Myers Corners Road, Wappingers falls 845 297-3002 The farm has been a local favorite for over 70 years. They offer a large variety of apples for picking and uses their own apples to make fresh cider.
Fishkill Farms 9 Fishkill Farm Road, Hopewell Junction 845-897-4377 The farm offers several varieties of apples for picking, hayrides, a farm market, cider doughnuts, and barbecued jerk chicken for lunch. In addition to 40 acres of apples, they grow peaches, nectarines, black currants, cherries and pumpkins, all of which are available in season for pick-your-own. They sell New York state hard cider, wine, beer and spirits, roasted coffee and local ice cream.
Apple Hill Farm 124 Route 32, New Paltz 845 255-1605 Apple Hill Farm overlooks the picturesque Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains. The apple picking season begins in September with McIntosh, Cortland, Opalescent and Spartan and end the season with Red and Golden Delicious. Pick-your-own hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visitors can also check out the restored 1859 barn for fresh pressed apple cider and mulled apple cider donuts, as well as wreaths, dried and fresh-cut flowers. Hayrides.
Hurds Family Farm 2185 Route 32, Modena 845 883-6300 At Hurds Family Farm you can pick a variety of apples, including Ginger Gold, gala, Honeycrisp, Empire, Cortland, Jonagold and Golden Delicious, as well as Fuji, Rome Beauties and the flavorful Ruby Frost. You can find out which apples are being picked at the moment by visiting the site. There’s also a lot for kids to do, too.
Wilklow Orchards 341 Pancake Hollow Road, Highland 845 691-2339 The family who runs Wilklow Orchards has been farming the spot for six generations. They try to be sustainable and ecologically minded because they want the farm to last for another six generations. Besides picking your own apples, when you visit the site, you can also shop at their bakery. New York State flour and regional butter and eggs are used to make muffins and bread. Fruit from the farm is used to make jam and cider. There are 13 different varieties of apples to pick so call and find out what’s ripe.
Greig Farm 227 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook 845 758-1234 The farm is open for picking blackberries and apples, including Jonamac, Gala and McIntosh, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The farm has been open to the public for more than 60 years. You can also pick raspberries and other vegetables. Kids may appreciate feeding the goats. There’s also a nursery/garden shop and Christmas shop. The farm organizes wine tastings.
Rose Hill Farm, 1798 19 Rose Hill, Red Hook 845 758-4215 Established in 1798, the farm offers cherries, blueberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins in a peaceful and scenic slice of the Hudson Valley. Gingergolds and Paula Reds apples are ripe. The farm also offers flowers, fresh eggs, meat and jam.
Lawrence Farms Orchards 39 Colandrea Road, Newburgh 845 562-4268 The family farm is a family-friendly location with “show chickens,” playful goats, a”Little Village” and hay bale maze. The farm has been doing “pick your own” fruits and vegetables for 30 years. Brand-new this year are milkshakes and frozen cider.
Realtor.com added a new filter that allows people to look at homes for sale based on the commuting distance to their work.
The new search option, created in response to user feedback, is designed to help buyers understand how long it will take to drive to and from work before pulling the trigger on a home purchase, realtor.com said in a statement. About 85% of people in a survey of 600 users of realtor.com said they would compromise on various home features, including lot size, square footage, and style of the home, to reduce their commute time.
“Buyers would choose to save their sanity and sacrifice various home amenities in turn for a shorter commute,” realtor.com said.
The new feature currently is available only on the company’s IOS app, meaning right now you can only see it on iPhones, which represent about a third of the mobile market. In coming days it will be added to realtor.com’s Android app as well as its website, according to Shannon Baker, a spokeswoman for realtor.com.
The average American’s commute inched up to 26.9 minutes from 26.6 minutes in 2018 from the previous year, according to Census data. While that 18-second increase was small, it added up to two and a half extra hours on the road when tallied over the course of the year.
Washington, D.C., has the nation’s worst commute, at an average 41 minutes each way, according to Geotab, a company that sells GPS fleet management systems, based on its computation of Census data. That’s followed by Boston and New York, both at 40 minutes. San Francisco is fourth, at 36 minutes, followed by Atlanta and Chicago, at 35 minutes. Los Angeles and Miami are seventh and eighth, at 33 minutes. Rounding out the top 10 is Philadelphia and Seattle, both at 32 minutes.
Canadian company DROP Structures is on a mission to allow people to “drop” the company’s incredible cabins (almost) hassle-free in just about any location. One of the most versatile designs is the minimalist Mono, a tiny prefab cabin that runs on solar power and can be set up in just a few hours.
Although the minuscule 106-square-foot cabins take on a very minimalist appearance, the structures are the culmination of years of engineering and design savvy. According to Drop Structures, the cabins, which start at $24,500, typically require no permit. Thanks to their prefabricated assembly, they can be installed in a matter of hours.
Built to be tiny, but tough, the Mono tiny cabins are clad in a standing seam metal exterior, which was chosen because the material is resilient to most types of climates and is low-maintenance. The cabins also boast a tight thermal envelope thanks to a solid core insulation that keeps the interior temperatures stable year-round in most climates.
The Mono features a pitched roof with two floor-to-ceiling glazed walls at either side. This standard design enables natural light to flood the interior space and create a seamless connection between the cabin and its surroundings.
The interior space is quite compact but offers everything needed for a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The walls and vaulted ceilings are made out of Baltic Birch panels that give the space a warm, cozy feel.
The biggest advantage of these tiny cabins is versatility. The structures can be customized with various add-ons including extra windows or skylights, a built-in loft, a Murphy bed and more. They can can also go off the grid with the addition of solar panels.
Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose three points to 66 in May, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Builder sentiment is at its highest level since October 2018 after declines in late 2018 due to higher interest rates and concerns over slower growth. Builders are catching up after a wet winter and many characterize sales as solid, driven by improved demand and ongoing low overall supply. However, affordability challenges persist.
Mortgage rates are hovering just above 4 percent following a challenging fourth quarter of 2018 when they peaked near 5 percent. This lower-interest rate environment, along with ongoing job growth and rising wages, is contributing to a gradual improvement in the marketplace. At the same time, builders continue to deal with ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising material costs that are holding back supply and harming affordability.
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
All the HMI indices posted gains in May. The index measuring current sales conditions rose three points to 72, the component gauging expectations in the next six months edged one point higher to 72 and the metric charting buyer traffic moved up two points to 49.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast posted a six-point gain to 57, the West increased two points to 71, the Midwest gained one point to 54, and the South rose a single point to 68.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “After dropping dramatically in late March, mortgage rates have modestly increased since then. While this week marks the third consecutive week of rises, purchase activity reached a nine-year high – indicative of a strong spring homebuying season.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.17 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 18, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 4.12 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.47 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.62 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.60 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.94 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.