Tag Archives: Bedford Hills NY

Bedford Hills NY

Housing Starts Top 1 Million for 2014 | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Total housing starts for 2014 reached the 1 million mark for the first time since 2007. Data from the Census Bureau and HUD for December, plus revisions for October and November, pushed total housing construction to a total of 1,005,800 for the year.

Multifamily construction held virtually even at a 361,000 annual rate, down 0.8% from November. For the year, multifamily starts were up 16% to 358,000, the highest tally since 2007.

The pace of December starts was up 4.4% from November to a 1.089 million annualized rate. The late-year push was led by single-family construction, which was up 7.2% in December, reaching the highest monthly rate since March 2008.

The increase for single-family development mirrors continued positive reporting from the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), a measure of builder confidence. For January, the HMI held steady at a level of 57. Any value above a level of 50 indicates more respondents view market conditions as good rather than poor.

The NAHB Remodeling Market Index (RMI) also suggested attractive market conditions for the home improvement sector. The RMI came in at 60 for the final quarter of 2014 and has been above the key 50 level since the second quarter of 2013.

Home sales showed strength at the end of 2014. The sales pace of newly built, single-family homes increased 11.6% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 481,000, according to data from HUD and the Census Bureau. This is the highest monthly sales rate since June 2008. The inventory of new homes for sale rose to 219,000 in December, a 5.5-months’ supply at the current sales pace.

The market share of conventional financed purchases for new homes is also growing, with declines seen in the share of FHA-insured purchases. These changes are consistent with a market recovering to more normal conditions.

Also demonstrating improvement for the second half of 2014, the pace of existing home sales increased 2.4% in December, although the share of sales to first-time buyers continued to disappoint at 29%. Existing home sales exceeded a 5 million sales pace for the sixth time in the past seven months and were 3.5% above the same period a year ago.

The momentum gained in the housing market at the end of 2014 should continue in to next year. NAHB is projecting strong growth for single-family production, which is expected to rise to 804,000 units. NAHB is also forecasting 2% growth for multifamily and a 3% increase for remodeling.

Housing prices continue to rise, albeit at slower rates. The Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index rose 5.3% for November, the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year growth. Over the last two and half years, home prices have risen by 19%. At the same time, residential rents have increased. Using Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, NAHB estimates that rent growth has outpaced inflation by 1.7%.

A significant economic story in recent months has been the dramatic decline in gas prices. The CPI’s gasoline index has declined 21% over the last 12 months. On a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis, the overall CPI fell 0.4%. Over the past 12 months, prices on expenditures made by urban consumers have increased by just 0.8% before seasonal adjustments.

While good for the overall economy, the decline in gas prices will likely have little impact on building material prices. In December, data from the government’s Producer Price Index indicated that prices for a number of materials declined in December, including gypsum (-3.8%) and softwood lumber (-1.2%). OSB prices rose 0.2%. Material costs for builders are expected to rise in 2015, particularly for gypsum, as housing production increases.

Muted increases for inflation indicators like the CPI have modified the focus of the Federal Reserve. With economic output expanding, strong job growth and a declining unemployment rate the Fed’s monetary policy committee has shifted its focus to below-target (2%) inflation as the primary threat to the continuing economic recovery. Consensus expectations are for a first increase in the federal funds rate for mid-2015.

In analysis news, NAHB economists explored survey data of Millennial housing preferences. Most prospective home buyers in this generation want to buy a single-family detached home and prefer to live in the suburbs. However, 10% would choose to live in the central city, which is a larger share that reported by Gen Xers and other generations.

While Millennials want to achieve homeownership, downpayments and loan qualification remain an important hurdle. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates that such finance constraints on mortgage access have a considerably larger impacts on housing demand than do historical changes in mortgage interest rates.


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Home Equity Grows | Bedford Hills Real Estate

According to NAHB tabulations of the third quarter Federal Reserve Flow of Funds, the real estate equity position of U.S. households (the difference between assets and liabilities) increased nearly 1.6% for the quarter.

The market value of real estate held by U.S. households increased $180 billion dollars during the quarter, while liabilities (home mortgages) remained virtually unchanged. The value household-owned real estate, including owner-occupied and second homes, totaled $20.4 trillion for the quarter. Total home mortgage debt outstanding stands at $9.4 trillion.

Recent developments in terms of housing values and mortgage debt outstanding have been largely driven by tight lending conditions and steadily increasing home prices. Rising home prices, in particular, have boosted household balance sheets in recent years.


To account for inflation in the quarterly series and measure changes in real values, it is also useful to examine owner’s equity in real estate as a percentage of the value of household real estate. The higher the ratio, the more favorable is the financial position of U.S. households with real estate. The current reading of 53.9% is a slight improvement over the prior quarter. The ratio has steadily improved from the 36.7% reading in the first quarter of 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession.


This type of improvement in the balance sheet of U.S. households with real estate generally corresponds with the ongoing recovery in housing. It is likely that tight lending conditions have led to pent-up housing demand, which could release with further improvement to the economy.


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What makes a Victorian house Victorian? | Bedford Hills Real Estate

On a walk through any town in Britain and many in the U.S. and elsewhere, you could encounter homes from the Georgian, Tudor and Edwardian eras, to name just three. It can often be difficult to distinguish one period from another. Victorian architecture makes up a large proportion of those buildings. Here’s how to distinguish Victorian homes from the rest, and the design elements that make up their distinctive style today.

How About $3M for a Novogratz-Designed Vacation Home? | Bedford Hills Real Estate


12 images

When it rains it pours when it comes to Novogratz-touched real estate. The husband and wife design duo of Bob and Cortney Novogratz, famous for their HGTV shows, as well as for their seven-strong flock of little Novogratzes (Wolfgang, Bellamy, Tallulah, Breaker, Five, Holleder, and Major, for those keeping track at home), as well as other various and sundry pursuits, re-listed their West Village townhouse a few weeks ago for $22.5M. The latest Novogratz-designed abode to come on the market a six-bedroom vacation home in the newish beach community of Seabrook, Wash. that a company called Anthology (tagline: “Storied Destinations”) hired the Novogratz to decorate. According to the listing, the 4,082-square-foot, circa-2012 vacation home, which previously rented for upwards of $700 a night, is the “most stunning home” in this enviable hamlet, and includes three master suites “executed to perfection” (read: a whole lot of purple, a whole lot of patterns), a courtyard and covered patio with fireside seating, and a Scandinavian hot tub. The asking price for this brightly painted, Lew Oliver-designed family-friendly stronghold? About $1K short of $3M.


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International housing bubble is forming, IMF warns | Bedford Hills Real Estate


The American housing market is frothy with some already seeing signs of a legitimate bubble, and now the International Monetary Fund is raising the alarm about housing markets in developed countries.

“House prices are inching up. But is this a cause for much cheer? Or are we watching the same movie again? Recall how after a decade-long boom, house prices started to fall in 2006, first in the United States and then elsewhere, contributing to the 2008-9 global financial crisis,” warns IMF’s deputy managing director Min Zhu. “In fact, our research indicates that boom-bust patterns in house prices preceded more than two-thirds of the recent 50 systemic banking crises.”

The IMF’s Global Housing Watch studies international housing market information to keep track of boom and bust cycles in dozens of advanced nations.

They assemble country-level data on housing trends in one location, allowing for more transparent cross-country and historical comparisons.


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Fixed Mortgage Rates Lower for Fifth Straight Week | Bedford Hills Real Estate


Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates falling for the fifth consecutive week and hitting new 2014 lows. The average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at its lowest point since the week of October 31, 2013.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.12 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 29, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.14 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.81 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.21 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.25 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.96 percent this week with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.66 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.41 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.43 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.54 percent.

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

Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Fixed mortgage rates eased a bit for the fifth consecutive week as reports that existing home sales are up 1.3 percent but not as much as expected. However, new home sales rose 6.4 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, which followed an upward revision of 11,000 units for the prior two months.”

“Also, as the spring home buying season continues, we see stronger consumer confidence as house prices remain on the rise. The Conference Board reported that confidence among consumers rose in May after dipping in April. Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite index rose 0.9 percent in March, above the consensus forecast.”



January Jones’ Home Eschews Avocado Appliances for Stainless | Bedford Hills Real Estate


Source: IMDb

Source: IMDb

As Betty Draper on “Mad Men,” January Jones seems at home in the mid-century suburbs. But the remodel of her Los Feliz Mediterranean home, now listed for $1.495 million, shows her personal style is more formal and contemporary.

Since buying the home for just over $1 million in 2009, the actress had a son, filmed several seasons of the hit AMC show and found time to completely remodel the kitchen in her 1920s gated home. And there is not a retro appliance or rotary telephone in sight.

The home at 4969 Ambrose Ave in Los Angeles was outdated when she bought it. The kitchen, in particular, had linoleum floors and a cramped space, prompting the Real Estalker to call it “a fixer.”

Jones added a Carrara marble island and a big stainless steel sink. She also updated the wood-burning fireplace and redecorated in a black-and-white palette. The formal, elegant 3-bedroom, 3-bath home is 2,200 square feet, with a pool table, hardwood floors and lots of windows.


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Yesterday’s Herald Building Demo Looked Incredibly Unsafe | Bedford Hills Real Estate


[Screen grabs from Miami Herald video]

This is one of those situations where the visual evidence should be presented without much added argument, because we do not yet have corroborating evidence, and frankly because it speaks for itself. The Miami Herald recorded yesterday’s surprise demolition of the old Miami Herald Building by Genting, its new owners (apparently the Herald found out about it not from Genting but from one of the construction teams that wanted press coverage). Visible in that video recording are (A) people running for it, and (B) a Metromover car gliding on its tracks through the giant cloud of dust as it was still spreading through the city. WTF? That is all, for now.





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Should Uncle Sam really be subsidizing the American Dream? | Bedford Hills Real Estate


It may sound like heresy to some in the industry, but Catherine Rampell has a point in the Washington Post today – a home is not a good investment.

Calm down. That comes with a caveat – it’s not a good investment as an investment.

Catherine even quotes the highly regarded economist Robert Shiller:

The fact that Americans still financially fetishize homeownership baffles me. Never mind that so many people lost their shirts (among other possessions) in the recent housing bust. Over an even longer horizon, owning a home has not proved to be a terribly lucrative investment either. Don’t take my word for it; ask Robert Shiller , winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in economics who previously became a household name for identifying the housing bubble.

“People forget that housing deteriorates over time. It goes out of style. There are new innovations that people want, different layouts of rooms,” he told me. “And technological progress keeps bringing the cost of construction down.” Meaning your worn, old-fashioned home is competing with new, relatively inexpensive ones.

Over the past century, housing prices have grown at a compound annual rate of just 0.3 percent once one adjusts for inflation, according to my calculations using Shiller’s historical housing data. Over the same period, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has had comparable annual returns of about 6.5%.

Yet Americans still think it’s financially savvy to dump all their savings into a single, large, highly illiquid asset.

So yes, a home is a lousy investment in terms of returns next to other types of investments.

Rampell fails to mention, though, that if someone isn’t paying a mortgage, that same amount of money – or even more since renting is now more expensive than buying – is thrown away on rent regardless, unless you plan to live in a van down by the river.

But Rampell does have a point – the constant drumbeat of the voices that housing prices should, in perpetuity – continue to rise and at a rate faster than inflation is irrational on the face of it.

Homeownership makes sense because it makes sense, with a few markets being the exception. It’s value is self-evident not as an investment vehicle, but because 1) you won’t live long without shelter and 2) because unless you expect to be extremely transient, you build equity.



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Southern California home sales hit a six-year low | Bedford Hills NY Homes


A dearth of inventory has driven home prices up and home sales down in Southern California. The median sales price for homes in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties rose to a six-year high of $400,000 in March.

That was up 4.4% from $383,000 in February and up 15.8% from March 2013. That marked the highest median sales price since it was $408,000 in February 2008, according to data released by DataQuick.

The median sales price has risen on a year-over-year basis for 24 consecutive months. Despite the rising costs, the March median sale price was still 20.8% below the peak $505,000 median in spring/summer 2007.

The high costs are driving the number of sales to a six-year low. There were a total of 17,638 new and resale houses and condos sold in the Southern California area in March. Those figures were up 25.7% from February, although that increase is typical for the area.

March 2014’s figures were down 14.3% from 20,581 sales in March 2013 and were the lowest for March since 12,808 homes sold in March 2008.

“Southland home buying got off to a very slow start this year, with last month’s sales coming in at the second-lowest level for a March in nearly two decades,” said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage.

“We see multiple reasons for this: The inventory of homes for sale remains thin in many markets. Investor purchases have fallen. The jump in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year has priced some people out of the market, while other would-be buyers struggle with credit hurdles. Also, some potential move-up buyers are holding back while they weigh whether to abandon a phenomenally low interest rate on their current mortgage in order to buy a different home.”