NOTES FROM JUNE 20 TOWN BOARD MEETING
Proposed Continuation and Increase of Open Space Tax Levy Following a Public Hearing, the Town Board adopted a Local Law to set an open space tax levy to replace the existing levy which expires next month. The Board made the law subject to a referendum on November 7 (on the same ballot as the general election ballot). The replacement Local Law would continue the 1% levy and provide for a one-quarter of one percent increase starting in 2019 and each year thereafter until it reaches 2% after which there would be no further increase. I have made clear our continued commitment to stay within the property tax cap, including the Open Space tax levy. I believe that we can absorb the modest and phased increase while still meeting that commitment. Click here for a memorandum from Comptroller Abraham Zambrano setting forth the Open Space fund balance and the tax impact of the proposed Local Law.
Reaffirming Climate Plan and Joining Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Call
The Board adopted a resolution reaffirming the Town’s commitment to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by the year 2020. The Town also joined with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call to join forces to declare that we will continue to support the Paris Agreement regarding climate change. Click here for the resolution.
NOTES FROM JUNE 19 TOWN BOARD MEETING – COMMUTER PARKING LOTS
At a meeting devoted solely to the commuter parking lots, the Town Board on Monday evening heard from residents regarding some ideas to reduce the waiting lists for the “prime” commuter parking lots; that is, the lots closest to the train platform; Lot 4 in Bedford Hills and Lot 1 in Katonah
Comptroller Abraham Zambrano who also heads the Town’s Parking Bureau presented data regarding the number of spaces and permits issued, location of the lots, waiting lists and other data. He then outlined some of the ideas to reduce the waiting lists. He also explained that the Town will be acquiring new software which will significantly improve our ability to track usage, provide flexibility in the type/duration of permits issued and enhance enforcement (e.g., vehicles parked without permits). We then opened the floor to comments. Residents who hold permits to the prime lots passionately urged the Board not to issue permits by hamlet, rather than parking lot. There was support for moving holders of business permits in Lot 1 to Lot 2 on Katonah Avenue, however, there also was concern expressed that doing so would harm the businesses. Some expressed interest in the idea of a “Commuter Council” to make recommendation to the Board regarding these matters.
Those holding the permits to the prime lots can be assured that we are not adopting a plan to issue permits by hamlet, so your permit is safe. In addition, no significant changes will be taken in 2017. As Mr. Zambrano explained, we are moving ahead with adding some parking spaces and offering permits to a limited number of individuals on the waiting list. We will continue to keep you updated.
NOTES FROM JUNE 21 BOARD MEETING – SEWER PROJECT
At a meeting devoted solely to discussing how we would allocate the limited capacity of the wastewater treatment plant, the Town Board on Wednesday evening had staff explain the policy regarding unallocated capacity. As you may know, the Town will take over the WWTP as early as next year from the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (presently serving only the Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities). After creation of the sewer system, which may be completed as early as Summer/Fall 2019, the WWTP will serve the central business districts of Bedford Hills and Katonah, the correctional facilities, Katonah Elementary School, property of St. Mary’s Church in Katonah and Bedford Park Apartments in Bedford Hills (together with a few other public buildings). There will be remaining capacity of approximately 64,000 gallons per day (GPD). As a point of reference, the average household would utilize approximately 400 GPD. The Town Board will implement a sewer law governing everything from permissible waste to capacity allocation.
We had invited all property owners whose properties are along the planned sewer lines but not within the sewer district. There were 18 such owners in attendance. We heard concerns about the cost of connection and the timing of connection. There also was concern expressed about being in non-compliance of Department of Health septic laws.
We emphasized that we are doing everything we can to move the project ahead expeditiously, which is the first phase in providing sewers to the most densely populated areas of the hamlets of Bedford Hills and Katonah (which, of course, are those with smaller lots and with septic systems more prone to failure). We also assured property owners that the Septic System Repair and Maintenance Program has substantial funds remaining and is available for those who, under the policy, would be ineligible to connect to the system. Please see below regarding the program.
As part of the capacity allocation component, I will present to the Town Board at our July 6 the policy which we have been considering since last Fall and has been developed by staff, summarized as follows:
1. Sewer District Properties
Properties within the proposed sewer district will be permitted to use up to 15,000 gallons per day of uncommitted capacity on a first come/first served basis.
2. Out of District Properties
Residential or commercial properties outside the sewer district with cesspools or with failing septic systems and along a newly installed sewer main will be permitted to connect to the sewer main at the property owner’s cost on a first come/first served basis. These properties will be able to use up to 15,000 gallons of uncommitted capacity. Properties in this situation may utilize the Town’s Septic Reimbursement Program to pay for 50% of the cost to either connect to the sewer system or to repair a failed system.
3. Sewer Law Review
The newly enacted Sewer Law will include regulations governing the future connections to the sewer system. In this case, the law would specify the 15,000 gallon limits in items 1 and 2 above. The law will also determine estimates of sewer flow from newly connected uses, calculations for uncommitted capacity, application procedures and requirements, and costs and fees for future connections.
Review of the Sewer Law by the Town Board will be required for the following reasons, whichever first occurs:
A. Five years from the adoption of the original Sewer Law.
B. Sewer District properties using uncommitted capacity over 15,000 gallons per day.
C. Out-of-District properties using uncommitted capacity over 15,000 gallons per day.
In its review, the Town Board will be permitted to modify any of the initial capacity allocation requirements or any other provision of the law. Of course, the Board could conclude that no revisions would be required.
SEPTIC SYSTEM REPAIR AND REPLACEMENT PROGRAM
NOW THAT THE SUMMER HAS ARRIVED – PLEASE CONSIDER ATTENDING TO YOUR SEPTIC SYSTEM: septic pump out – if you haven’t done it within the last five years, the law requires you do so. And, if you have a problem with your system, please check out the Town’s Septic System Repair and Replacement program to deal with failing septic systems. The program allows Bedford property owners in the Croton Watershed (about 85% of the Town’s land area) for a 50% reimbursement of repair/replacement costs. If you have a failing septic system, contact the Planning Department at 666-4434 for further information or visit our website.
SUPERVISOR’S NEWS & NOTES: UPCOMING DESIGN PHASE OF SEWER SYSTEM, REPLACING AN EXPIRING LOCAL LAW, INTRO. TO DEIRDRE COURTNEY-BATSON
Click here for the video
Please click here for the discussion of the Town’s paving policy and the list of roads to be paved in 2017.
For the Community Events Calendar
For the Town Calendar
FOR THE SUPERVISOR’S MONTHLY REPORT (MAY) click here
ACTIONS AT JUNE 6 TOWN BOARD MEETING
Amendments to the Landlord Registry Law Adopted. The Town Board had held a Public Hearing on May 16 to consider proposed amendments to the which requires owners of two-family and multi-family residential rental buildings to register with the Town Building Department, pay a fee for each unit that is covered and that each unit be inspected by the Building Department once every two years. Following the Public Hearing the Town Board deferred action and allowed a public comment period through May 31. No further comments were received and the Town Board, on recommendation of the Building Inspector and Town Counsel Keane & Beane, adopted the amendments. The primary changes to the law are as follows:
Phase I Environmental Studies to Be Performed
Bedford Village Parking The Town Board authorized a Phase I environmental review of property off of Court Road owned by The Presbyterian Church which the Town is interested in acquiring for municipal parking.
Open Space The Town Board will consider a request to authorize a Phase I environmental review of property bounded by Route 172/Route 22, Crush Road and Country Kids Lane for possible acquisition for open space, as recommended by the Open Space Committee.
Town Board Approves Woodard & Curran for Sewer Project The Board approved the engineering firm of Woodard & Curran for the design of the sewer system. Commissioner of Public Works Kevin Winn provided the following statement to accompany this agenda item:
“On April 27, 2017 I issued a request for proposals (RFP) to eight engineering firms. The scope was for engineering services to design, obtain regulatory approval for, and bid the wastewater collection system and connection to the DOCCS wastewater plant. Proposals were due on May 24, 2017. Five proposals were received. The RFP, which is attached, stated that proposals would be evaluated based on equal weighting of:
· Firm qualifications, project team qualifications, and proposal quality
· Project cost and schedule
The cost proposals were broken into two parts:
A) A fixed fee to complete the scope described in the RFP and to submit applications to NYCDEP, WCDOH, NYSDOT, and MTA that are deemed complete applications by all agencies.
B) A budget to respond to agency comments after complete applications are acknowledged by the regulatory agencies, and obtain approval to construct. The budget was based on the firm’s experience with the regulatory agencies and will be negotiated between the Town and the firm once agency comments are received subsequent to complete applications being acknowledged.
The Town was fortunate to receive strong proposals from well qualified firms. Proposals were reviewed by the Sewer Working Group, consisting of Supervisor Chris Burdick, Deputy Supervisor Lee Roberts, Director of Planning Jeff Osterman, and myself. Interviews were held with the three firms deemed to have the highest in score. Cost proposals were:
2017 Paving List Adopted The Town Board approved the recommendations of Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn. I feel it’s important for the community to know the basis for the recommendations which Commissioner Winn makes each year. Shortly after I came onto the Town Board in 2008, the Department of Public Works instituted a fair and equitable system for identifying the roads to be paved from year to year. It is based on the condition of the road, with the roads in the worst condition to be paved first before they deteriorate further and result in far more costly paving. Each Spring the DPW updates its assessment of the condition of all 97 miles of the paved Town roads, since roads deteriorate at different rates over the winter. The condition assessment uses a rating system with 1 being in the best condition and 5 being the worst. As a result of higher appropriation levels, we have been able to pave all roads rated at 4 and 5 and now are working away at a lengthy list of roads rated at 3.5. I recognize that this explanation is disappointing to those who resident on roads which they’d like paved. If at all possible, we will continue the higher appropriation levels so that we can get to those roads sooner than otherwise. Click here for the paving list for 2017 as set out in Commissioner Winn’s memorandum to the Board. As Mr. Winn notes: “These roads were selected based on their deteriorated conditions. Paving techniques will range from 1.5″ to 2″ of asphalt, varying based on road conditions.”
Sending a Message to Washington on Environmental Protection The Town Board adopted a resolution supporting of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s sail to Washington, D.C. to maintain clean water protections and other environmental protections. The following is an excerpt from the resolution: RESOLVED that the Town of Bedford hereby registers its deep concern over current rollbacks and threats to federal clean water protections as described above, affirms the need for sound, science-based water policy and for adequate regulation, enforcement and funding as pressure on water quality and safety continue to mount. We also wish to express our support for the effort Clearwater is leading to carry our concerns and concerns of many New Yorkers for clean water and other environmental protections directly to Washington. Click here for the resolution
Fee Schedule Change: the Board approved the recommendation to increase to $500 the annual permit fee for business parking fee for Lot 8.
BEDFORD – A HORSE FRIENDLY COMMUNITY (updated)
Working with real estate brokers and some members of the horse community, we have developed FAQs for owners or prospective purchasers which we hope you’ll find helpful. We’re also looking at possible revisions in the Town Code related to horses to make it easier for owners of horse properties. Please click here for the “Horse Friendly Message,” the FAQ’s link is included in the message.
PLEASE CONSIDER HELPING OUR TOWN – Vacancies on Boards and Committees (updated)
Recreation and Parks Advisory (RPAC) Committee – for more information on the Committee click here.
The Town is also looking to fill a vacancy on the Tree Advisory Board (TAB) with preferably a certified arborist. For more information on the Board click here.
There is one vacancy on Committee on Seniors. For more information on the committee click here.
There is a vacancy on the Blue Mountain Development Board and Bedford Housing Agency.
If you are interested in serving, please e-mail your resume with a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several residents have expressed concern about the noise, dust and other impacts created by leaf blowers. You may have seen letters to the editor of the Record Review advocating regulation of blowers. A number of communities in Westchester County and in New York State have adopted local laws regulating blowers and other power equipment. I would like to approach the matter in a deliberative manner in which all views are considered. We need to listen and weigh all concerns; ranging from those who would ban the use of gas powered leaf blowers to those who want no hand of government in the matter. Bedford 2020 has concerns about the significant emissions from gas powered leaf blowers and the topsoil which it carries away. Residents complain about the noise. On the other hand some homeowners object to the enactment of any local law which deprives them of choice in tending to their landscaping. Many landscapers are opposed to any regulation which adversely affects their livelihood or imposes significant capital outlays for new equipment. Over the next few weeks we’ll be considering the means for a thoughtful and calm discussion with the community, landscapers and other interested parties regarding the matter. I’ll keep you posted.
ALSO IN THE WORKS
We’re working with Bedford 2020 at ways to reduce the noise and pollution emanating from leaf blowers, especially gasoline powered blowers. This may begin with recommended “Best Practices” for homeowners explaining how leaf blowers might be avoided altogether – better for your lawn and landscaping, better for the environment and easier on your and your neighbors’ ears.
SO… IN THE INTERIM
FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR’S SAKE
Please consider your neighbor when you go to work with your lawn mower or weed whacker (or your lawn service uses them). We realize that your busy schedule makes it difficult to find time to get work done on your property. We all try to squeeze in time to do it. But please not too early and not too late. Our Town Code does not permit high noise activities, such as these, before 8 AM or after sunset.
POLICE DEPARTMENT RENOVATION PROJECT
Work continues to progress on the renovation project for the Bedford Police Department headquarters. For detailed information from the construction manager, I invite you to review the executive summary byclicking here.
POTHOLE REPAIRS SEASON HAS OPENED
As to potholes you find in our Town roads, please call our Pothole Hotline at 666-7669 or feel free to contact me at 666-6530 or Supervisor@bedfordny.gov.
For potholes on state roads in our Town, such as Routes 22, 117, 121, 137 and 172 we would suggest that you call NYS’s pothole line at 1-800-POTHOLE.
ACQUISITION OF WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT FOR $1 MOVES FORWARD
As has been recently reported, the property owners in the Bedford Hills-Katonah Business Sewer District on March 30 approved a referendum for the creation of the district and a $1.1 million bond issue. The sewer system will utilize the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) for the Bedford Hills correctional facilities. The agreement between the Town of Bedford and DOCCS provides for conveying to the Town title to the WWTP, which has excess capacity and can accommodate the other properties in the district. The procedure for conveying title is the enactment of a Home Rule Law by the NYS Legislature and signed by the Governor, which would authorize the conveyance. This is the regular procedure which DOCCS has followed in other instances in which a municipality received land from DOCCS; for example, DOCCS conveyed land to Greene County to construct a County jail; and to Beacon for athletic fields. Special thanks to Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn, Planning Director Jeff Osterman, DOCCS and especially State Senator George Latimer and State Assemblyman David Buchwald and their respective staffs for turning around very quickly the proposed law. I also wish to thank Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli who is familiar with the process and has been handling the documentation. Accordingly, the Town Board approved at the May 2 meeting the Home Rule Request for the enactment of S5786 & A7559 to vest authority to the commissioner of the NYS Office of General Services subject to the consent of the commissioner of the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Services to convey title to the Town of Bedford to approximately 9 acres of unappropriated state lands in Bedford Hills on which is located the wastewater treatment plant presently operated by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
2016 AUDIT REPORT
The Town’s financial operations for the year ended December 31, 2016. Click here for the audited financial statements that have been prepared by PKF O’Connor Davies LLC. In addition to the Town’s audited financials, click here for the results of the review of the Town’s Justice Court. Among the highlights are that the Town spent less than the adopted 2016 budget and revenues in most areas were higher than budgeted, resulting in a substantial increase in General Fund balances (over $1.1 million) and in Highway Fund balances (over $400,000). The Town Board adopted a policy last year which states in part “The Town of Bedford finances will be managed so as to maintain balances of the various funds at levels sufficient to mitigate current and future risks, such as revenue shortfalls, unanticipated expenditures, stabilization of tax rates and user fees, protection of the Town’s creditworthiness, and to provide for adequate cash flow needs.” The General Fund balance now is at approximately 35% of 2017 budgeted expenditures and the Highway Fund balance at approximately 20% of 2017 budgeted expenditures. The Town Board believes that such levels are responsible, prudent and not excessive.
ALLIED COMMUNITY ENTERPRISES (ACE)
ACE, a local affordable housing organization, has received funding for a Septic Repair/Replacement Program. ACE is led by Joan Arnold and has as its board members Katonah residents Don Scott and Betsy Weir. This Grant is administered by ACE and funded by New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) to provide eligible homeowners with funding for septic repair/replacement. Grants are for systems that are in failure or failing, not for expansion.
Click here for Supervisor Chris Burdick’s letter explaining the program
Click here for the link to the repair/replacement program
EMS AND FIRE DEPARTMENT LIFE MEMBERS VOLUNTEERS
I am pleased to report that the Town Board at its May 2 meeting adopted a policy to extend “free” pool membership to “life” members of each fire department and to the Katonah-Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
BEDFORD PLAYHOUSE UPDATE
Click here for the press release and photos
UPDATE ON PROPOSAL FOR BIKE PARK AT KATONAH MEMORIAL PARK
Several Katonah residents, both those favoring the proposal and those opposing it, have asked about the status and the process. Ultimately, the Town Board will make the decision. We follow a process and rely heavily on our staff and the Recreation Parks Advisory Committee (RPAC). We have asked staff and RPAC to review the proposal together with comments and concerns raised. Below are questions and concerns which have been raised and need to be addressed. This will require time. All interested parties will have an opportunity to address the Board at such time.
In answer to questions raised by those opposed to the proposal, I wish to assure you that we have received many valid and legitimate comments and concerns, and as detailed below from Recreation and Parks Superintendent Bill Heidepriem, they all will be considered and addressed. In answer to questions raised by those supporting the proposal, even if the Board were to approve the proposal, the actual creation of the park would need to await the fall after the conclusion of the summer park season.
Among points/questions to be considered:
Bike Area Trails:
NOTES FROM THE APRIL 18 TOWN BOARD
1. Overhaul of Historic Building Preservation Law The Town Board, following a well- attended public hearing with many presenting their views, adopted amendments to the Historic Building Preservation Law. Each property owner subject to the law was mailed notice of the public hearing (and had previously been notified of public information sessions held last year and one held this year). The amendments include adoption of a list of historic properties; reduction in the number of historic properties subject to regulation; reduction in the authority of the Historic Building Preservation Commission (the HBPC review authority is limited to the 258 properties in “Tier 1”), clear establishment of “as of right” activities (no historic approval required); a new administrative permit to cut time and expense; and plain English rewrites of several provisions of the law. The Town Board also adopted a resolution for a partial rebate in building permit fees for historic work. The following summarizes the changes adopted in the HBPL:
2. Support for Installation of Replacement Fire Tower at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation The Board adopted a resolution urging Westchester County to proceed with the largely community-funded effort to install a replacement fire tower a short distance for Pell Hill in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. The tower would provide a magnificent view of the tristate area, draw visitors and be a boon financially for the park and local businesses. Click here for the resolution.
APRIL 20 UPDATE FROM THE TRAFFIC SAFETY WORKING GROUP COMMITTEE
1. Update from DPW:
a. Bedford Village Traffic Calming Measures Along Village Green – Kevin Winn gave an update. The design for the traffic calming measures has been approved. The existing crosswalk will be changed to a raised concrete block crosswalk that looks like brick. A speed hump is also set to be added near the church on the Route 172 side. Hahn Engineering drafted the design and presented it to the Bedford Village Historic District Review Commission. After some minor modifications, the plan was presented again to the commission and was approved. These measures are set to be implemented in summer 2017 and coincide with the paving in the Village Green area.
b. Haines Road/Bedford Road Crosswalk – Kevin Winn gave an update. NYS DOT has given its permission to place a rapid-flash beacon at the crosswalk. The beacon goes below the sign indicating the crosswalk. They are currently trying to secure funding.
c. Parkway/Katonah Avenue – Kevin Winn gave an update. The island on the east side of Parkway is slated to be extended out to create a “refuge island” in summer 2017. The northeast corner of the intersection has been changed to a parking spot. The parking spot idea has seemed to work better than the previous idea of placing flower baskets in the area. Don Scott reports that the spot is used frequently during the late morning and afternoon hours.
2. Update from Police Department:
a. Vehicle Weight Scales – Mel Padilla gave an update. A second set of scales has been acquired. There was a delay in the state certifying the scales; however, both sets are now ready to be deployed. One commercial vehicle detail has been scheduled each month between May and September. The officers will be checking for gross vehicle weight, in addition to other items such as uncovered loads and missing placards. The goal of these inspections is to reduce truck traffic in the hamlets and throughout the town. Don Scott brought up the local delivery only signs which are placed in certain locations in the town. Chief Padilla stated that the law, as written, is too ambiguous to enforce properly. Chris Burdick and Jeff Osterman will look at the previous research done on the signs and law and see if there are any improvements that can be made.
b. Speed Limit Enforcement on Route 172 – Mel Padilla gave an update. The last speed study was done in October 2016. This study found that the 85% of drivers were doing an average speed of 47 MPH on this stretch of road. Chief Padilla brought up that officers have mentioned that one side of the roadway is 35 MPH and the other side is 30 MPH. The same situation exists on Route 35. Kevin Winn said he would look into the signage and bring any inconsistencies to the attention of NYS DOT. A traffic study is currently being conducted now to see if there has been any abatement in speed in this area. Once the study is completed next week, the speed board will be deployed to this area as a short-term fix. A lengthy discussion followed regarding the feasibility of installing speed camera signs or actual speed cameras to deter speeding in the area. There were questions regarding the legality of doing so and Chris Burdick stated he would be able to gather more information on the topic. Don Scott mentioned that other municipalities such as Yonkers and New York City have successfully implemented cameras. He also mentioned that he would be including a question on the speed cameras on a survey he is planning to send to Katonah residents and would share the results.
GREAT NEWS – ALL OF I-684 RUNNING THROUGH BEDFORD TO BE PAVED
I am delighted to share with you some great news. In a follow up call with NYS Department of Transportation Regional Director Todd Westhuis, he reported that DOT in 2018 will proceed with the paving of I-684 from Harris Road to the Exit 5/6 interchange (at Route 35). This is in addition to the funding which Assemblyman Buchwald helped secure for the portion from the Route 172 interchange to Harris Road which will be carried out in 2017.
My thanks goes to the community for making your voices heard. The petition drive, the letter writing, the phone calls, the lobbying, the work of our elected representatives collectively paid off.
Click here for the press release.
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF MARCH 30 SEWER VOTE – IT PASSES OVERWHELMINGLY
Property owners in the central business districts of Bedford Hills and Katonah voted yesterday on whether to create a sewer district and approve the issuance of $1.2 million in bonds toward the estimated $20.5 million to build the sewer system.
I am pleased to report that the referendum was approved by 94% of the vote with 97 voting yes and 6 voting no. Most gratifying is that 86% of the eligible votes were cast.
I wish to thank those who have made this possible, especially the strong support of my colleagues on the Town Board. I also wish to thank our tireless staff with Planning Director Jeff Osterman and Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn doing a superb job in developing an affordable and intelligent plan, with the able assistance of our consulting engineers, Arcadis. Thanks, too, to Town Clerk Boo Fumagalli and Deputy Town Clerk Nina Kellogg and the Election Inspectors who did an excellent job running the election and handling all the procedures, mailings, ballots and election rules. Our counsel, Joel Sachs, and bond counsel, Doug Goodfriend, ably navigated us through the intricacies of New York State sewer law, election law and SEQRA. Most of all, thanks to the voters who approved our moving ahead with this plan so crucial to protecting water quality and ensuring the vitality of our business districts. Please see my March 31, 2017 Supervisor’s Report on next steps.
TOWN BOARD ACTIONS ON PARKING AT COMMUTER LOTS
The Town Board met on March 27 with Comptroller Abe Zambrano, who heads the Town’s Parking Bureau, to consider recommendations for the Town’s commuter lots, including strategies for reducing waiting lists at certain lots, a modest rate increase (there has been no increase since 2011) and a modest increase in the parking spaces. There is a more detailed discussion in my March 31, 2017 report.
NEW FAIR & AFFORDABLE HOME OWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES IN WESTCHESTER
Applications are now being accepted for more than 30 new, fair and affordable homes in Westchester. These homes are single-family properties and condominiums, ranging in size, from one to five bedrooms. All of the homes are in good condition and located in the following communities: Bedford, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Pleasant, North Castle, Pelham Manor, Peekskill, Pound Ridge, Somers, and Yorktown. “The county is pleased to offer these homes at discounted prices to families that want to live in Westchester County, but may not have been able to afford it in the past,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “I urge anyone who is interested to apply to purchase these homes.”
Westchester County purchased these homes at market value and is selling them at affordable prices to qualified individuals and families. The price for fair and affordable homes range $125,000 to $300,000.
Qualifications for buyers to purchase an affordable home include:
These 30-plus homes are among the 790 units that the county is developing in accordance with the 2009 housing settlement. The settlement permitted the county to satisfy up to 25% of the required 750 units with existing housing. The properties will remain affordable for 50 years.
Information on each unit is available on the county’s Homeseeker website at www.westchestergov.com/homeseeker, where interested families can view the information, download the application and sign up to receive information on additional properties and open houses.
The county’s housing marketing consultant, the Housing Action Council (HAC), is handling the marketing of each unit. Rose Noonan, executive director of the HAC, said the available homes have a number of options for potential buyers, such as proximity to public transportation, amount of yard space, and communities with a pool or near a lake.
“There are also the condominiums with amenities and common areas cared for by management companies,” said Noonan. “Each home has its own style ranging from townhomes and flats to raised ranches to Cape Cod style and colonials.”
The HAC is a not-for-profit organization that helps the county identify and qualify prospective purchasers. As a member of the New York Mortgage Coalition, the HAC also provides homeownership counseling and assists buyers through the mortgage approval process.
The buyers will be selected through a lottery process. Applications will be accepted through April 24, after which public lotteries will be held for each property. Buyers can expect to be in their homes by the end of the year.
For additional information about the homes and their communities, contact the HAC at (914) 332-4144 or email@example.com or go to http://homes.westchestergov.com/homeownership/homeseeker-opportunities.
FOR THE SUPERVISOR’S LATEST VIDEO WITH COMPTROLLER ABRAHAM ZAMBRANO
S&P GLOBAL RATINGS – REAFFIRMS BEDFORD’S AAA BOND RATING
I’m pleased to inform you that S&P Global Ratings has assigned a AAA Bond Rating to the Town. Fewer than 3% of municipalities are awarded this coveted rating which has a direct impact on taxpayers by providing a lower rate of interest than those municipalities whose ratings are not as high. We are delighted that we received on our $10 million bond issue to finance 2016 and 2017 Capital Projects a 3.078% interest rate, well below the 3.5% which Comptroller Abe Zambrano used for budgeting purposes.
TOWN BOARD ADOPTS RESOLUTION REAFFIRMING MORAL STANCE
The resolution referred to below has now also been posted in Spanish, for both the English and Spanish Versions – The Town Board adopted the resolution which I proposed setting forth the Town’s Moral Stance on Recent Events and Related Town Policies. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Board for their unanimous support and for the community for their involvement in the discussion which led to the development of the resolution and its adoption. I do wish to emphasize the need for understanding, tolerance and civility for all members of the community regardless of their background and viewpoints, as the resolution recognizes. While the great majority of those in attendance at the Town Board meeting on March 4 at which the resolution was adopted, there were some opposed. To paraphrase Voltaire, I may disagree with your viewpoint, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
LOOKING FOR AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS AND CARING LANDLORDS
“A safe and peaceful home is the dream of every domestic violence victim.
Hope’s Door has a wonderful opportunity to make their dream come true.
We received a 3-year grant award to provide rental subsidies for victims fleeing abuse.
During their subsidy period, we will work with victims to become economically self-sufficient. We have all the victims we need and all the funding we need. What we do need are reasonably-priced apartments with landlords who want to make a difference in the lives of victims and their children. Please help us. If you know any landlords that would be interested in partnering with us, please have them contact: Debbie Lauro Conn
Director of Community Services DLauroConn@HopesDoorNY.org
(914) 747-0828 x 1017.”
2017 MOBILE SHREDDER EVENTS – MARK YOUR CALENDARS
The Town of Bedford is pleased to announce that in response to requests from members of the community, the Town is providing mobile paper shredder events in 2017:
At the event, a Mobile Shredding Trucks will securely destroy documents. The company’s customer service professionals never physically touch your documents so the entire process is “touch-free”. The company can shred paper, paper clips, rubber bands, staples and even the black clips. They cannot shred 3-ring binders, or anything that is non paper (CDs, tapes, DVDs, hard drives, etc…). There will be no charge to residents for the service.
FIVE YEAR UNAUDITED FINANCIAL PROJECTION 2017-2021
Click here for our projections prepared by our Town Comptroller Abe Zambrano.
2016 ANNUAL REPORT NOW POSTED TO WEBSITE!
Please take a few minutes to review our 2016 Annual Report, which summarizes what your Town government did to serve the community in 2016. You’ll find a department by department summary of continuing to provide a high level of service and highlights of improvements made. Click here.
CON EDISON PRUNING
Con Ed is pruning branches around power lines on the Mt. Kisco electrical loop, this week and next weather permitting. Con Ed has notified the abutting residents. At present they are only pruning branches and there are no actual tree removals to be done. They have a wood chipper crew with them and they are removing debris as they go. However, Con Ed will be assessing the health of the trees as they proceed and there could be a request for actual tree take-downs. The roads are: Bedford Rd; Valeria Ct; S. Beechwood Rd, Green La, Edna St, Center St, Norm Ave, Mclain St, Springhurst Rd, W. Patent Rd, Broad Brook Rd, Guard Hill Rd, Darlington Rd Christopher Rd, Rock Gate Farm Rd, Letitia La, Charles Rd, S. Bedford Rd, Old Wagon Rd, Chestnut Ridge Rd, Linden La, Sarles St, Deer Knoll Rd.
MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (MAP)
A new program offered by the NY AG’s Office. The program will provide up to $40k to homeowners facing foreclosure due to delinquent mortgage payments, property taxes or Gmaintenance fees. If they qualify, they do not need to pay it back monthly. It is paid back if the homeowner refinances or sells the house over the life of the loan. Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc. (WRO) is designated to process the application from their office. Homeowners can call Veronica Raphael,
Director of Foreclosure Prevention to see if they qualify for this program. 914-428-4507 x334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LIMITED PARKING AT TOWN OFFICES DURING POLICE STATION CONSTRUCTION
Please be advised that during the renovation work at the Police Station, parking at both 425 Cherry Street and 321 Bedford Road will be limited. Please note that starting on Monday, February 6, there will be “Resident Parking Only” for certain spaces in the parking lots. We would also strongly recommend that if you need to visit the Town Offices, you consider doing so on a day other than when the Justice Court is in session. For the Justice Court schedule and other information regarding parking, please click here.
THREE MAJOR INTERSECTIONS IN KATONAH: ROUTES 35 AND 22, ROUTE 35 AND THE I-684 OVERPASS AND ROUTE 25 AND WOODBRIDGE ROAD
I have been working with Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and Police Chief Mel Padilla to address the danger posed with power outages knocking out the traffic lights at the three major intersections in Katonah: Routes 35 and 22, Route 35 and the I-684 overpass and Route 25 and Woodbridge Road.
As was recognized in the discussion of the outage, posting officers either to direct traffic or place flares in a multi lane highway with additional turning lanes in dark rainy/icing conditions is extremely dangerous (especially with some careless, heedless drivers disregarding the intersections and basic traffic law).
We are exploring other means of addressing the problem. Because there have been previous incidences of power outages at these locations, I have contacted NYSEG to ask what measures NYSEG is taking to “harden” the circuit which power the traffic lights. I have also asked whether there might be a “dual feed” whereby if one circuit goes down, another circuit might pick up the load. It’s not a likelihood, but I still felt I should ask. I also placed a call to the regional office of the NYS Department of Transportation to discuss our concerns, given that the traffic lights are owned by and the responsibility of DOT.
Most important is getting the traffic lights back into operation as quickly as possible. Given that FEMA did not grant our post-Sandy request for funding generators, we purchased them ourselves. The generators are portable and may be used in emergency situations throughout town. As such, the generators are not fixed in a given location but are transported from safe storage to where most needed. Commissioner Winn and Chief Padilla are instituting new procedures for mobilizing the generators more quickly. They are confident that doing so should significantly reduce the time that the traffic lights are out.
POLICE STATION RENOVATIONS
This is the second installment of the explanation of the project to renovate the station building to which there hasn’t been any significant work in over 30 years. The $7 million project is comprised of the renovation of the lower level of the Town Offices at 321 Bedford Road to house the police department while the one-year renovation project is being carried out; the gut renovation of the station building; the removal of a portion of the adjacent building (known as the “Milk Building”) to allow room for an addition to the station building; and a second addition to the station building. The following describes the improvements/renovations to the interior of the station building and the facilities to be housed in it with the additions:
Also the Better Business Bureau offers other Scam Alerts at https://www.bbb.org/council/news-events/lists/bbb-scam-alerts/
NYSEG ~ EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS UPDATE
To report an outage or an electrical emergency, please call us at 1.800.572.1131 or go to our Emergency Preparedness web page, “Outage Central,” at
You can sign up for Outage Alerts to receive notifications regarding power outages and the estimated restoration time at http://www.nyseg.com/YourAccount/AboutAlerts.html
NYSEG urges customers to stay away from downed power lines – even lines that appear dead can be deadly. NYSEG customers should call 1.800.572.1131 to report downed power lines or other hazardous conditions.
DAILY PARKING RATE CHANGE
Effective 1/2/17 the daily parking rate is $8 per calendar day
For more information on Parking Permits click here
TEXT MESSAGES FROM NYSEG AND CON EDISON -outages and emergencies
You can sign up for text alerts from NYSEG by going to http://www.nyseg.com/youraccount/aboutalerts.html and from Con Edison by going to
http://www.coned.com/mobileapp/. In addition, here is some useful information if you need to contact either NYSEG or Con Edison. Both NYSEG and Con Edison encourage customers with special needs to enroll in special services for them. “NYSEG is committed to providing their customers with safe, reliable energy delivery. They also offer many services for special need customers, including: Special Identification for households where everyone is elderly, blind or disabled. Large print, sight-saver Bills for visually-impaired customers. Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) grants NYSEG’s Energy Assistance Program (EAP) Project SHARE emergency energy assistance program. If you or someone in your household relies on life-sustaining equipment, you should contact NYSEG immediately! How to call NYSEG: Electricity interruptions or emergencies: 1.800.572.1131 (24 hours a day, every day) Customer relations center: 1.800.572.1111 Payment arrangements: 1.888.315.1755 Hearing and speech-impaired: Dial 711 (New York Relay Service)” Message from Con Edison: Customer Central Special Services Safety for Special Customers: It is important that we have a record of everyone who uses electrically operated life-support equipment or has medical hardships so we can contact them in an emergency. To learn more and complete the survey, please visit the link below. You can also let us know by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). Con Edison customers can enroll for this service by visiting www.conEd.com, clicking on Customer Central, and then the “special services” link. You will need your account number. To keep our records current, each year we send a letter asking you to recertify. http://www.coned.com/customercentral/specialservices.asp
Customers with Special Needs: We recognize that senior citizens and people with disabilities need special attention. That’s why we offer a variety of services and billing and payment options that make life a little bit easier for the elderly, visually or hearing-impaired, or customers with permanent disabilities. Please visit the link below to view the Customers With Special Needs brochure. http://www.coned.com/customercentral/specialservices.asp
SMOKE & CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
I would like to take this opportunity to urge residents to check their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Warns Customers Not To Fall for Scam Callers
Refer Suspicious Calls to Police or 1-800-75CONED
NEW YORK – Con Edison is warning customers not to fall for scams in which a caller threatens a service turnoff unless the customer purchases a pre-paid card or arranges for a transfer via MoneyGram to pay a bill.
These callers are not from Con Edison and Con Edison does not accept payments of electric or gas bills by pre-paid debit cards, or by MoneyGram or similar transfers.
The company has recently seen a spike in reports from customers who were contacted by the scammers. Con Edison believes the scammers are calling customers randomly, not targeting just those who owe back payments. The company has received complaints from residential and business customers.
The scammers sometimes even tell the customer about a store near the customer’s home that sells pre-paid cards. The scammer instructs the customer to pay cash to put money on the card and to then provide the number on the card to the person who called.
Once the customer provides the scammer with the card number, the scammer steals the money on the card.
There have even been reports of these scammers making a Con Edison phone number show up on the customer’s caller ID.
With MoneyGram, scammers may ask a customer to provide money from a bank account, credit card or debit card by going online or to a specified location. The money goes into someone else’s bank account or is available for the receiver to pick up in cash.
Be alert if anyone asks you by telephone to arrange for pre-paid debit cards or a MoneyGram transfer as payment for your bill, or to send money to an out-of-state address. Never arrange payment or divulge account or personal information, including debit or credit card information, over the telephone, unless you are certain you are speaking to a Con Edison representative.
Anyone who feels they may have been a target of an impostor or a payment scam should call their local police department. They may also call Con Edison at 1-800-75CONED.
Con Edison’s website, http://www.coned.com/customercentral/managemybill.asp, offers a variety of approved and convenient options for bill payment.
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
Over the last couple of years, I have brought together about quarterly the chiefs of our fire departments and the president of the Katonah Bedford Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps to discuss matters of mutual concern. Results of some of the last couple of meetings was the Town agreeing to assume the expense of a larger monitor and certain other improvements to the OEM center housed on the second floor of the Bedford Hills Fire House. In addition, we have discussed ways to reduce false alarms which result in unnecessary deployment of emergency forces and unnecessary charges to property owners.
TO SIGN-UP FOR NIXLE ALERTS
POW-MIA FLAG NOW BEING FLOWN ON ALL TOWN OF BEDFORD FLAGPOLES
In 1990 a federal law was enacted which recognized the National League of Families POW/MIA Flag which identified it “as a symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia.” The flag has become a symbol for prisoners of war and those missing in action from all American wars. Joining the Westchester County and other Westchester municipalities, I have directed that the POW/MIA flag be flown on all Town of Bedford flagpoles. This began on Monday, December 5.
A regular reader of this weekly newsletter asked why I repeat certain posts from week to week. I do so because not everyone reads my newsletter on a weekly basis, much information provided remains relevant and I wish to continue to alert the community about it. In response to the comment, however, you will see that I’ve divided the newsletter into two sections “New Posts” and “Continuing Posts”. Both sections are relevant and, I believe, worthy of review. I wish to thank readers for making suggestions and comments; over the years, I’ve not only changed format but added content based on them (for example, why the flags are flow at half-mast).
NAHB analysis of Census Construction Spending data shows that total private residential construction spending stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of $522.2 billion in April, 0.7% lower than upwardly revised March estimates. The private residential construction spending slowed down after a strong start this year. However, it was still 16.7% higher than a year ago.
The monthly declines are largely attributed to the slowdown of private construction spending on both multifamily and home improvements. Multifamily construction spending fell 0.2% over the revised February estimates, but was 10.1% higher since a year ago. Spending on home improvements halted its increasing pace in April. On a year-over-year basis, home improvement spending rose by 32.3%. Single-family construction spending increased by 0.8%, continuing its steady growth since October 2016.
The NAHB construction spending index, which is shown in the graph below (the base is January 2000), illustrates the strong growth in new multifamily construction since 2010 and a more modest growth in single-family construction spending.
Private nonresidential construction spending slipped 0.6% on a monthly basis, however, it was 4.3% higher than a year ago. The largest contribution to this year-over-year nonresidential spending gain was made by the office class (14.8%), followed by commercial (13.5% increase), and communication (11.8% increase).
Housing starts rebounded in December, as monthly volatility for multifamily starts continued. Total starts were up 11.3%, rising to a 1.226 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. However, single-family starts posted a small monthly decline in December, albeit recording the fourth strongest monthly pace since the end of the recession.
According to estimates from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, single-family starts declined 4% to a 795,000 annual rate. For 2016 as a whole, single-family construction improved 9.3% over the 2015 level of starts. And as measured on a three-month moving average, single-family starts are at a post-cycle high, as seen on the graph below. This increase is consistent with recent growth in the NAHB/Wells Fargo measure of single-family builder confidence.
Single-family permits also point to more growth in 2017. Single-family permits grew 4.7% in December, reaching an annual rate of 817,000, the fastest pace in the current cycle.
Multifamily development was the primary reason the headline starts number rose in December. Total multifamily starts were up 57% for the month at a 431,000 annual rate, after posting a nearly 40% drop in November. Monthly volatility for multifamily starts has been a factor in the data since August. Nonetheless, for 2016 the apartment sector realized a small production decline for the year, in line with our expectations that 2015 will be the peak year of development for multifamily housing in this cycle.
Focusing on housing’s economic impact, in December 57% of homes under construction were multifamily (604,000). This multifamily count is 8% higher than a year ago. There were 450,000 single-family units under construction, a gain of 7% from this time in 2015. This is the highest count of single-family units under construction since 2008.
New U.S. single-family home sales rose more than forecast to a four-month high in November, likely as expectations of higher mortgage rates drew buyers into the market.
Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment holding at near a 13-year high this month as Americans anticipated that a stronger economy would create more jobs.
The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for about 9.5 percent of overall home sales, rising 2.1 percent to a 575,000-unit rate last month.
New home sales, which are derived from building permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis and subject to large revisions. Sales were up 16.5 percent from a year ago.
Separately, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index edged up to a reading of 98.2 from 98 earlier this month. That was the highest reading since January 2004.
The U.S. dollar .DXY pared gains and was trading lower against a basket of currencies after the data. Prices of U.S. Treasuries were trading higher while U.S. stock indexes were mixed.
Mortgage rates have been rising rapidly in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, which economists say could be pulling procrastinators into the market in fear of further increases in borrowing costs.
Trump’s plan to boost infrastructure spending and cut taxes is expected to stoke inflation. A report on Wednesday showed sales of previously owned homes rose to near a 10-year high in November.
Since the election, the interest rate on a fixed 30-year mortgage has increased more than 70 basis points to an average of 4.30 percent, the highest level since April 2014, according to data from mortgage finance firm Freddie Mac.
Mortgage rates are likely to rise further after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark overnight interest rate last week by 25 basis points to a range of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent. The U.S. central bank forecast three rate hikes for next year.
Higher borrowing costs come at a time when house price increases are outstripping wage gains, which could make purchases unaffordable for many first-time buyers.
Information released by the Mortgage Bankers’ Association (MBA) indicates that the share of all 1-4 family mortgage loans past due has returned to a level of normality. According to the MBA’s National Delinquency Survey, the share of all 1-4 family mortgages considered past due fell by 14 basis points to 4.52 percent. One year ago 4.99 percent of loans were considered past due.
The current share of loans past due has fallen significantly from its recession-related peak of 10.1 percent in 2010. Moreover, the current share of past due mortgages is below the average percentage between 1980, the beginning of the series, and 2006, 4.8 percent. Additionally, the average between 1987 and 2006 was 4.6 percent.
Deeper analysis finds that the underlying composition of mortgages past due has improved, but has not fully recovered. Mortgages considered past due include those that are 30-59 days past due, 60-89 days late, and 90 or more days delinquent. It excludes mortgages that have entered foreclosure.
The figure below presents the distribution of mortgages past due by the 3 categories of lateness. Currently, about half of past due mortgages, 52 percent, are 30-59 days past due, 17 percent are 60-89 days past due, while 31 percent are 90 or more days delinquent. The present composition is better than the distribution at the peak in 2010, when mortgages 90 or more days past due accounted for half, 50 percent, of all past due mortgages.
However, the composition of past due mortgages on average between 1980 and 2006 was even more concentrated in the 30-59 day late category. On average, over the 1980-2006 period, mortgages 30-59 days past due accounted 67 percent of all past due mortgages while mortgages 90 or more days past due represented 16 percent. Also at 16 percent, the share of mortgages 60-89 days past due between 1980 and 2006 is similar to its current percentage of 17 percent.
Single family home sales rose just over 2 percent in Westchester County compared to the third quarter in 2015, according to report released Tuesday from the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.
Westchester lagged behind other counties in the HGAR report, which also incorporates Putnam, Rockland and Orange. For the four-county region, sales rose 7 percent compared to the third quarter in 2015. For the year, sales in all four counties are 15 percent higher than last year.
“The real estate market is healthy,’’ said Marcene Hedayati, HGAR President and part owner and manager of William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown. “It’s growing, and transaction are up. Prices are flat, which is good because we don’t want to see some sort of wild market where prices keep going higher and we have a situation like we did in the early 2000s.”
The median sale price for a single family home in Westchester County fell 1.2 percent to $668,500, according to the HGAR Report. The median sale price in 2015 was $676,500.
Inventory, however, continues to fall in Westchester County and other regions. In Westchester, inventory fell 18.2 percent compared to the third quarter in 2015. Inventory dropped 20 percent over the four counties compared to third quarter in 2015. In Putnam County, inventory fell a staggering 29.4 percent.
“Inventory has been declining for more than a year, but it has not yet put pressure on prices,’’ Hedayati said. “I’m not sure at what point that will happen. We keep thinking it’s going to happen, but it hasn’t done so yet. We’re also having fewer buyers coming out as well. I think we’ll be able to tell more in the spring market what impact lower inventory is having on prices.”
Hedayati also said most pricing sectors continue to perform well, except for the high end markets.
Westchester County continues to attract growing families looking to move from the city. Millennials are finally starting to see the value in home ownership, but they are also seeking properties that are move-in ready and require little work and repair.
“There’s something for everybody on the market now,’’ Hedayati said. “Buyers are a little more particular than they have been in the past. Buyers are much more sensitive. They are reluctant to buy homes that require much work. And staging has become a huge factor. Homes that are priced right and staged well are getting a lot of attention.”
United States Existing Home Sales 1968-2016
Sales of previously owned houses in the United States declined 0.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5330 thousand in August of 2016. It is the second consecutive decline, missing market expectations of a 1.1 percent gain. Sales of single family homes shrank 2.3 percent which those of condos increased 10.5 percent. The average price fell 1 percent and the months’ worth of supply went down to 4.6. Existing Home Sales in the United States averaged 3868.24 Thousand from 1968 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 7250 Thousand in September of 2005 and a record low of 1370 Thousand in March of 1970. Existing Home Sales in the United States is reported by the National Association of Realtors.
NAHB’s analysis of July regional employment data from the BLS shows that states with the highest annual growth rates of total construction employment are Iowa (16.52%), Hawaii (12.89%), Idaho (12.63%), and Colorado (10.88%), compared to the national average growth rate of 4.55%.
Thirty-nine states and District of Columbia experienced positive year-over-year changes in construction employment in July. On a month-over-month basis, around 50% of states reported gains in construction employment in July, with the largest increases registered by Idaho (4.65%). Eleven states lost construction jobs since a year ago. The largest construction job losses were recorded by the energy producing states, which are deeply affected by low oil prices, such as North Dakota, Wyoming, and Kansas.
The number of new residential housing starts depends on both supply and demand considerations. Housing supply is dependent, in part, on the ability of builders to obtain and contract with workers.
Regional employment is an important element of determining housing demand. The BLS state level data suggest that all but six states reported an annual gain in payroll employment, with the exception of West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. The top three states with the largest gains were all in the West and include Idaho (3.37%), Oregon (3.27%), and Florida (3.09%).
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving slightly lower for the week helping to spur ongoing refinance activity.
- 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.44 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending September 8, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.46 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.90 percent.
- 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.76 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent.
- 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.83 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.91 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.
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 3.44 percent this week. As mortgage rates continue to range between 3.41 and 3.48 percent, many are taking advantage of the historically low rates by refinancing. Since the Brexit vote, the refinance share of mortgage activity has remained above 60 percent.”
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%.