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Fixed mortgage rates hit highest level since mid-January | Bedford Real Estate

Mortgage rates are quiet from last week and relatively unchanged, Freddie Mac said in its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41% for the week ending April 3, slightly up from 4.40% a week ago, but drastically up from 3.54% a year earlier.

Furthermore, the 15-year, FRM also ticked up to 3.47%, a marginal increase from last week’s 3.42%, but up from 2.74% for the same period in 2013.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.12% this week, barely up from 3.10% a week prior, and up from 2.65% a year ago.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM came in at 2.45% this week, rising from 2.44% last week and 2.63% for the same period a year ago.

“Mortgage rates were little changed amid a week of light economic reports. Of the few releases, real GDP was revised up slightly to 2.6 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2013,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist with Freddie Mac.

“The private sector added an estimated 191,000 jobs in March, which followed an upward revision of 39,000 jobs in February according to the ADP Research Institute. Also, the Institute for Supply Management reported the manufacturing industry rebounded from a soft February but was still below market consensus,” Nothaft continued.

Additionally, Bankrate noted that mortgage rates increased for the second consecutive week in a row.





Las Vegas bomb shelter estate for sale at $1.7M | Bedford NY Real Estate

In 1978, a Las Vegas businessman built a bomb shelter for him and his wife to live in in case of Soviet attack.

Now, the estate, made up of two underground houses and an above-ground house with a garage and an acre of land, is listed for sale at $1.7 million. Amenities include a putting green, 360-degree mural, and an underground yard surrounding the place on all sides.

Source: Fast Company

– See more at: http://www.inman.com/wire/las-vegas-bomb-shelter-estate-for-sale-at-1-7m/#sthash.rFDXbJte.dpuf

Healthier Swimming in Gorgeous Natural Pools | Bedford Real Estate

The Natural Way to Cool Off

Swimming can be great exercise and a lot of fun, not to mention an exciting sport at the Olympics. But the chlorine used in most pools can have some negative side effects, not the least of which is reliance on toxic (and finicky) chemicals.

Chlorine’s damaging effects on hair are well known, but few people realize that a number of studies have linked inhalation of the chemical by swimmers to increased asthma rates (in fact a new Irish study published this April reported a significant link between the number of years a boy had been swimming and the likelihood of the child being wheezy in the past year.) A Norwegian study also documented an increased risk of wheezing among children who swim in pools before 6 months of age. Further, in an unpleasant reaction, pee and sweat in water can react with chlorine to form toxic breakdown products known as chloramines.

For health, environmental and aesthetic reasons, a lot of people have expressed interest in alternatives to chlorine pools, and luckily there are more and more options to get wet without smelling like cleaning products. A company called TechnoPure offers alternative pool systems that treat water by pumping it through a chamber containing coated titanium plates and copper and zinc ions. The units cost a relatively affordable $5,500. DEL Ozone makes ozone injectors that can reduce the need for chlorine up to 90% — there’s been one installed at the White House for years! Some systems rely on a combination of ozone and copper and silver ions, while others are saline, though saltwater pools result in the formation of chlorine in the water.

One elegant, eco-friendly solution that has had enthusiastic supporters in Europe for decades is the so-called natural swimming pool, which is slowly beginning to gain buzz in the U.S. Natural swimming pools, often called swimming ponds across the Atlantic, can be beautiful oases of greenery and sustainability, as well as safe, fun places to take a dip.


Healthier Swimming in Gorgeous Natural Pools – MSN Living.

How homeowner insurance rates have spiked | Bedford NY Real Estate

Nationwide, an average homeowner paid $909 for homeowner insurance coverage in 2010, up 36 percent from 2003. Inflation rose 19 percent during the same period. Here’s a look at what homeowners in states bordering the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico paid, ranked by percentage change since 2003. The totals do not include flood insurance, which is sold separately under a federal program.

1. Florida: $1,544, up 90.6 percent(asterisk).

2. Rhode Island: $1,092, up 62.3 percent.

3. Louisiana: $1,546, up 58.6 percent.

4. Massachusetts: $1,050, up 56.5 percent.

5. Alabama: $1,050, up 54.2 percent.

6. Mississippi: $1,217, up 53.5 percent.

7. South Carolina: $997, up 48.4 percent.

8. New Jersey: $867, up 48.2 percent.

9. Connecticut: $1,052, up 47.3 percent.

10. New Hampshire: $791, up 46.8 percent.

11. Maine: $676, up 46.3 percent.

12. Georgia: $833, up 46.1 percent.

13. New York: $1,044, up 44.8 percent.

14. Delaware: $636, up 43.9 percent.

15. Virginia: $753, up 34.5 percent.

16. Maryland: $784, up 34.3 percent.

17. North Carolina: $757, up 31.4 percent.

18. Texas: $1,560, up 17.5 percent(asterisk).


How homeowner insurance rates have spiked – Yahoo! News.

How to Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time | Bedford NY Real Estate


BUy & Sell4

Now that the real estate market is picking up again, many people are looking to sell their homes at last. But when you sell, you have to move somewhere — which usually means buying another home. Buying and selling at the same time brings up a whole new set of challenges, but those who plan well in advance can make it happen smoothly.

Here are five ways to successfully buy and sell a home at the same time.

1. Prepare to be stressed

Buying a home is stressful. Selling a home is stressful. When you do both at the same time, the experience is super stressful, not to mention emotional and difficult on many levels. You’re potentially carrying two mortgages or trying to time the purchase with the sale. There will be a lot of sleepless nights, worrying over finances and pressure to make a decision. It’s enough to ignite a family war.

Accepting upfront that this process will be extremely stressful will help in the long run. Know that most homeowners go through this, and there is success at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Plan everything as much as possible in advance. Do your homework. And take care of yourself. You’re going to be busier than usual.

2. Meet with your agent early on

Owners often believe their home is worth less than what the current market will bear. That’s why it’s important to meet with your real estate agent early on, even months before you plan to buy or sell. Researching online valuation tools or doing basic research will help to guide you. But a local agent will help you understand your home’s true current market value and marketability. A good agent is in the trenches daily and knows your neighborhood and market inside and out.

3. Learn the market where you want to purchase

After getting some hard numbers for your home’s sale you need to do the same on the purchase side. What’s on your wish list?  What are your priorities? Determine your needs and understand what you will get for your money on the purchase side. You need to know this to factor in how financing will work with the buy/sell. Also, understand that market. Is it more or less competitive than where you live now? How long can you expect to search for a home? This will factor into your sale timing. If you’re moving within the city or town where you live, your listing agent will likely serve as your buying agent. If you’re moving just outside your area, you may need to ask your agent to refer you to an agent knowledgeable about that area.

4. Know your numbers

Once you understand the numbers on both the purchase and the sale, you need to know your financing options. Many people today don’t have a strong-enough financial foundation to purchase another home before selling their own, so knowing this upfront can help you plan more appropriately.

Engage a local mortgage broker or lender and understand what kind of down payment you’ll need to make a purchase, given the price point and type of home you seek to buy. How much equity do you have in your current home, and is the equity available? Do you have enough of a down payment liquid and would a lender allow you to make the purchase before selling the home? Find out by going through the loan pre-approval process. A good, local mortgage professional is as valuable as a good real estate agent.

5. Make a plan

Now that you know your numbers, it’s time to come up with a plan and execute. The plan can vary greatly, depending upon any number of conditions. Some examples:

  • Buying in a competitive market? Adding a contingency that your current home must sell before you buy probably won’t work.
  • Selling in a competitive market? You may be able to negotiate with the buyer for a longer escrow or even a rent back. This would buy you time on the purchase side.
  • Selling in a slow market and buying in a competitive market? Need the sales proceeds in order to do the purchase? Unfortunately, you’re in the worst-case scenario. Consider the option of selling your home first and moving into temporary housing. While not the most physically convenient, it could be less stressful.
  • Need temporary housing? Start researching those options now well in advance.



Establishing a Client Relationship | Bedford NY Real Estate

There are some things you need to know about establishing a relationship with a client. First, the relationship with your client needs to be a dual one; professional and helpful.

Establishing a professional relationship with clients is particularly important since you’re assisting in one of the largest financial and emotional transactions people make.  However, being professional is more difficult than you may think. Your conduct and values are reflected in your professionalism. All client communications need to pass the “professional” test. To this end, you must determine what professional image you want to convey to your clients.

An agent/client relationship differs markedly from an agent/customer relationship. You serve a client for life. You serve a customer for the moment. Clients receive guidance and assistance on all matters relating to real estate whether they’re currently involved in a transaction or not.

By employing a longer-term view of client management, you increase your value during and after the property brokerage function. Aside from an actual transaction, you provide substantive guidance throughout your client’s life cycle. Everything you do with a client should reflect the highest level of professionalism.

For example, the contents of a client newsletter should reflect a client-first real estate agent. Rather than offering dinner recipes or landscaping tips, the newsletter should offer substantive guidance on real estate matters: an article on real estate planning or a report on local property tax initiatives within the clients’ communities. This establishes you as an expert; a trusted advisor. You’re more than just a salesperson brokering a transaction for a fee.


Chicago housing inventory drops 50% from 2010 | Bedford Real Estate

1/22/13 1:10pm

The volume of Chicago area properties for sale declined 50% between December 2010 and the final month of 2012, according to Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED).

The large drop suggests the metro’s market is highly active and inventory levels are falling as Realtors face more competing offers from multiple buyers.

“We anticipate the inventory will grow slowly in the coming year,” said Russ Bergeron, MRED’s CEO.  “In some locations, and because current pricing has been established during a high-demand time frame with a lower supply of homes, we can anticipate some price appreciation in 2013.  This has been experienced in other parts of the country, but not here.”

While some areas of Chicago are still seeing high numbers of distressed sales, that’s not the case in every location.

“In these hard-hit areas the distressed market will keep the prices down for another year or more until such time that they can be processed through the system. Overall, the recovery will show a steady improvement – but there will be some neighborhoods that significantly outshine others,” Bergeron added.

Although distressed sales remained steady through 2012, traditional sales grew, indicating a healthier market ahead for sellers.

“Due to the Internet, real estate has become one of this country’s most popular spectator sports,” said Bergeron. “However one feels things might be going, it’s definitely worth watching. We’re seeing year-around real estate markets and very busy agents and brokerages.  While we probably won’t return to the craziness of the last decade, the industry appears to be back on solid footing with the ‘arrow’ pointing up.”

Fitch Ratings Calls for Housing Price Correction | Bedford NY Homes

Home prices are overvalued and price growth is not being driven by fundamentals but by technical factors that could easily change, advised Fitch Ratings Friday.  The ratings service believes national prices are 10 percent overvalued,  but will likely drop by no more than 2 percent due to inflation. Low prevailing mortgage rates, the limited supply of existing homes for sale (either due to the few foreclosure completions or the number of underwater borrowers who cannot sell), and the anemic levels of new home construction are facilitating affordability and feeding demand.  They are also offsetting weak fundamentals like unemployment, low wage growth, Fitch said in a special report. In addition, Fitch stated it believes price movement is “highly dependent on the pace of distressed sales and liquidations.”  For example, states such as Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia have been able to dispose of their distressed inventory quickly and have also seen “both steeper drops and quicker stabilization,” while states with long foreclosure timelines-New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut-may see price declines. In order to determine sustainability, Fitch conducted an analysis using its Sustainable Home Price (SHP) model. The ratings agency found 22 metros out of 41 are currently “undervalued” or “sustainable,” while five were categorized as “overvalued” by 5 to 10 percent. In 2010, 23 metro areas were overvalued by 10 to 25 percent. The report highlighted hardest hit metros such as Phoenix, Atlanta, and Riverside, noting they are now beginning to recover and are currently considered “undervalued.”  New York and New Jersey, though, were categorized as overvalued by 10 percent to 15 percent, hindered by their large inventory of distressed properties and long foreclosure timelines, according to Fitch. And, high unemployment could hurt Los Angeles and Union, New Jersey and lead to a roughly 10 percent decline. On a national level, Fitch said price growth “is likely to be muted or even modestly negative in the near-term as liquidation volumes increase and expand supply, particularly in the lengthy judicial states where inventory has been off the market.” Fitch warned “short-term price movements can be misleading when the impact of distressed properties has been withheld from the market.” “Many models place a high value on price momentum, which can skew long-term projections. Another factor differentiating our model from many in the market is that our projections are in real terms as opposed to nominal dollars,” said Stefan Hilts, director of Fitch Ratings.