Tag Archives: Chappaqua Luxury Homes

The future of home ownership | Chappaqua Real Estate

Economists are hopeful that housing market activity — and prices — will continue to perk up generally in 2016, due to a number of factors. The most important catalyst for housing is the improving economy and employment landscape. As Americans feel more confident about the economy and more secure in their jobs, they will be more willing to take the big step of home ownership.

At the same time, despite the Fed’s first rate increase, mortgage rates remain low and banks are finally loosening credit conditions. Both of those factors are drawing more buyers into the market, further increasing housing demand.

One interesting group is the “boomerang buyers” — homeowners who lost their homes during the recession and are ready to jump back into the market. Some 7.3 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosures or short sales — two events that can stay on your credit report for up to seven years — from 2007 to 2014, according to real estate data company RealtyTrac. If they have no other major credit issues lingering, those first foreclosed owners are now coming out of the financial doghouse and qualify for a mortgage. RealtyTrac projects that 250,000 to 500,000 boomerang-ers will come back into the market this year, with another million or so more in the next few years.

One last group that could help boost the housing market is millennials, those aged 18 to 34. Sure, many of them are spooked by home ownership, because they watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and they themselves are graduating college with a hefty chunk of student loans. But young professionals may find that a fixed-rate mortgage is the perfect antidote to rising rents. And when they do come to that realization, the nation’s homeownership rate — which at 63.7% in the third quarter of 2015 was near multi-year lows — should reverse course.


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Concrete repairs this winter | Chappaqua Real Estate

Site Accuflex Coatings ,

Concrete surfaces are constantly under attack by
the elements resulting in the need for repairs.
Accuflex Coatings

When I was in college I had a job doing maintenance in a downtown Denver hotel. I didn’t really know what I was doing but most things weren’t that hard to figure out. One time, though, I needed to repair a broken up concrete door threshold. I removed the old concrete and went down to the hardware store and bought a bag of premixed concrete. I added the amount of water the bag said to use (maybe just a little extra for good luck) and poured it in and troweled it off-another job well done!

But no! Two weeks later my boss called me into his office. Seems he had just gone past my repair work and found it as cracked up as the original threshold. I was so disappointed! We went back to the scene of the crime to do some actual investigation in advance of launching off on another repair attempt. While we were standing there, one of the kitchen workers came through with a heavy hard-wheeled dolly loaded with supplies that dropped onto the threshold as he passed: we knew the cause of the problem. For the next repair, we added reinforcing steel, used higher strength concrete, and eliminated the drop-off onto the threshold. When I left a year later, the new threshold was still working well.

I took away a good lesson-one that I soon found applied to just about any repair work. Before you can repair anything you have to know what caused the problem in the first place and you have to understand how it is supposed to work. Only then can you make an intelligent decision on how to do the repair.

Concrete Repair Information

With any concrete repair, take that lesson to heart and you’re off to a great start. First figure out what caused the damage, do the necessary preparation of removing any unsound concrete and contamination, then install a repair designed to solve the problem. The worst thing you can do is make a repair that doesn’t last. Someone once told me that over 50% of concrete repairs fail again within two years. That is not a track record that inspires confidence.

So let’s start by evaluating the problem and then we can decide how we are going to make a durable repair. This article is only a very superficial treatment of this subject. For more details, the best source is either the International Concrete Repair Institute or the American Concrete Institute. ICRI, in conjunction with ACI, publishes the Concrete Repair Manual which is over 2000 pages long.


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Housing starts fall 3% in August | Chappaqua Real Estate

Housing starts in the United States fell 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,126,000 in August of 2015, following a downwardly revised 1,161,000 in July and missing market forecasts. Housing Starts in the United States averaged 1445.58 Thousand from 1959 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 2494 Thousand in January of 1972 and a record low of 478 Thousand in April of 2009. Housing Starts in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

United States Housing Starts


Actual Previous Highest Lowest Dates Unit Frequency
1126.00 1204.00 2494.00 478.00 1959 – 2015 Thousand Monthly
Volume, SA
Housing Starts refer to the number of new residential construction projects that have begun during any particular month. Estimates of housing starts include units in structures being totally rebuilt on an existing foundation. This page provides the latest reported value for – United States Housing Starts – plus previous releases, historical high and low, short-term forecast and long-term prediction, economic calendar, survey consensus and news. Content for – United States Housing Starts – was last refreshed on Thursday, September 17, 2015.
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New homes selling at slowest pace in seven months | Chappaqua Real Estate

Sales of new single-family homes dropped in June to the slowest pace in seven months, according to data released Friday that signaled a hiccup for the market.

The annual sales pace for new single-family homes in the U.S. fell 6.8% last month to 482,000, with drops in three of four regions, the U.S. Commerce Department. Only the Northeast saw the sales pace rise.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a June sales rate of 550,000, compared with an original May estimate of 546,000. On Friday the government revised May’s rate to 517,000.
While June’s result is disappointing, economists caution over reading too much into a single monthly report. A confidence interval of plus-or-minus 12.5% for June’s drop of 6.8% shows that the government isn’t sure whether the sales pace rose or fell last month.

Trends signal improvement, with June’s sales pace up 18.1% from a year earlier.

“Even the disappointing June reading still represents progress over a longer time horizon,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. “I view today’s reading for the typically volatile new home sales data as statistical noise.”

The median price of new homes fell to $281,800 in June, down 1.8% from a year earlier.

Recent new-home sales and building rates remain far below long-term averages. But a strong jobs market is expected to support rising home sales by helping more families afford ownership. Earlier this week, mortgage-finance giant Fannie Mae raised its 2015 expectations for U.S. home sales, upping its forecast for new and used homes. A mortgage-industry group also cranked up its forecast this week, raising its expectations for mortgage originations.

Elsewhere in the housing market, a recent report on existing homes, which make up the bulk of the residential-sales market, showed strong growth for June. However, economists warned about getting too excited over that flurry of activity, noting that some of the recent buying growth may reflect buyers rushing to lock in mortgage rates before they rise further.


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Single-family housing starts down in June | Chappaqua Real Estate

Privately-owned housing starts in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,174,000, up 9.8% (±19.9%) above the revised May estimate of 1,069,000 and is 26.6% (±19.6%) above the June 2014 rate of 927,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Most of the gains in starts and permits were in multifamily, not single-family contruction.

But the problem is single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 685,000, 0.9% (±11.5%) below the revised May figure of 691,000. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 476,000.

“While the rise in housing starts was driven by an uptick in multifamily housing, there are positive signs looming for the single-family housing market,” said Bill Banfield, vice president at Quicken Loans. “Homebuilder confidence is at its highest level in almost a decade and the number of first-time homebuyers looking to enter the market is increasing – making programs like FHA even more vital to support continued growth.”

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,343,000. This is 7.4 % (±1.2%) above the revised May rate of 1,250,000 and is 30.0 % (±2.3%) above the June 2014 estimate of 1,033,000.

“Housing construction has nearly returned to pre-recessionary levels, as builders ramped up activity on multi-family projects including condos and co-ops,” saidStifel Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza. “While builders and lenders benefit regardless of the type of construction, the economic benefit, however, is significantly greater from single family construction as opposed to multi-family units, particularly rental properties; single family housing activity results in additional spending and borrowing power as a result of equity building which is not necessarily present in multi-family properties.

“The housing market continues to take steps in the right direction, however, growth remains far from robust; as we have seen in the recent decline in retail sales, consumers continue to struggle to afford purchases – particularly large ticket items – amid stagnant income growth,” she said. “Still, with the threat of rising rates on the near horizon, some homeowners are jumping in to lock in low rates. As we saw during the taper tantrum of 2013, despite a still-sluggish ability to finance a home purchase, many potential homeowners are willing to jump into the market sooner than later if it means avoiding a significantly higher mortgage rate.”

Single-family authorizations in June were at a rate of 687,000; this is 0.9 % (±1.1%) above the revised May figure of 681,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 621,000 in June.


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Renting: Awful for just about everyone right now | Chappaqua Real Estate

If you’ve gone through the painstaking process of renting a new apartment in the past few years, you probably faced some sticker-shock. Vacancy rates are low, really low. And despite ever-present scaffolding, construction in many cities is still slow, as new tenants move in but few move out. The result is that in almost every major metro area, the rent is, in fact, too damn high.

Basic wisdom (which was largely established by rules governing public housing eligibility) warns a healthy bank account means that one’s housing costs shouldn’t exceed about one-third of a person’s take home pay. While that might be a prudent suggestion because, after all, people do have other bills and savings goals, it’s become virtually impossible to adhere to for many who live in major metro areas.

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard, puts some numbers on just how bad this problem is: About half of all renters in the U.S. are using more than 30 percent of their income to cover housing costs, and about 25 percent have rent that exceeds 50 percent of their monthly pay.

It’s not just the poorest city-dwellers who are feeling the rent pressure. As prices rise, even those who make median incomes are finding that their rent eats away at a more significant portion of their pay than it once did for those in the middle class. It’s also not just the Millennial crowd: This problem is also  evident across different age groups, including Gen X and Boomers who never left the rental market, or find themselves back in it after the housing crash.

A big part of the problem is that fewer households are making the transition from renting to owning, which means more competition for limited inventory—driving rental prices up. Renters who would previously be able to qualify for mortgages are either finding that mortgage lenders are still super strict post-recession, or that there simply aren’t many homes in their price range—or both. “In normal times when homeownership was achievable you could get a starter home for between $150,000 to $250,000,” says Andrew Jakabovics, a senior director at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that focuses on affordable housing. “That segment of the market is basically dead.”

So instead, households with higher incomes and dreams of white picket fences remain in the rental market. Those households take up available units in the mid-to-high price ranges, for which they can afford to pay a premium. In fact, renters with incomes that top $75,000 are among the fastest growing group in the market, says Chris Herbert, the managing director of the JCHS. “Developers will be drawn to build the houses that provide the highest returns,” he says. That means not enough new apartments are affordable apartments that can accommodate low- and middle-income residents. Instead, high-priced luxury units get built first, pushing rents up and middle and low-income earners into apartments that are more expensive than they can afford. Sometimes this means pricing them out of cities altogether.

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Lot Shortage: A Lingering Problem for Builders | Chappaqua Real Estate

In a May 2015 survey conducted by NAHB, 62 percent of builders reported that the overall supply of developed lots in their areas was low to very low, up 2 percent from May 2014, but up from 43 percent in September 2012.  Sixty-two percent is the largest low supply percentage recorded since NAHB began periodically asking the question in 1997 on its monthly survey for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).

The continued low supply of developed lots is a hindrance to housing recovery that is still quite modest by most standards.  Figure 1 compares the HMI responses on lot supply to housing starts.  Starts have recovered from a low of 550,000 in 2009 to just over 1 million in 2014 (after averaging 1.5 million a year from 1960-2000, without ever plunging below 1 million until 2008).

Fig1HousingStarts&SupplyofLotsThe 62 percent includes 39 percent who characterized the supply of lots simply as “low” and 23 percent who said the supply of lots was “very low.” The shortages tended to be especially acute in the most desirable, or “A” locations. Thirty-four percent of builders said that the supply of “A” lots was very low, compared to 19 percent for lots in “B” and 14 percent for lots in “C” locations.

A shortage of buildable lots, especially in the most desirable locations translates into higher prices, as 38 percent of home builders said the price of developed “A” lots was somewhat higher than it was a year ago, and 32 percent said the price was substantially higher. In comparison, 16 percent of builders said the price of “B” lots was substantially higher than a year ago, and 12 percent said the price of “C” lots was substantially higher (Figure 2).



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Local Farmers Market | Chappaqua Real Estate