Tag Archives: Chappaqua NY Real Estate

Chappaqua NY Real Estate

Case Shiller prices up 5.8% | Chappaqua Real Estate

  • Nationally, prices rose 5.8 percent in August compared with August 2017, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home prices index. That is less than the 6 percent annual gain in July.
  • The index’s 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent annually, down from 5.5 percent in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.5 percent year-over-year gain, down from 5.9 percent in the previous month.
  • “Following reports that home sales are flat to down, price gains are beginning to moderate,” David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a release.
GS: Real estate agent and prospective buyer in house 091001

A real estate agent shows a home for sale to a prospective buyer in Miami.Getty Images

Mortgage interest rates didn’t begin their recent surge until the start of September, but home prices were already feeling pressure, as fewer people could afford what was for sale.

Nationally, prices rose 5.8 percent in August compared with August 2017, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home prices index. That is less than the 6 percent annual gain in July.

The index’s 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent annually, down from 5.5 percent in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 5.5 percent year-over-year gain, down from 5.9 percent in the previous month.

“Following reports that home sales are flat to down, price gains are beginning to moderate,” David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a release. “Rising prices may be pricing some potential home buyers out of the market, especially when combined with mortgage rates approaching 5 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans.”

WATCH NOWVIDEO00:46Pending home sales inch up

The jump in mortgage interest rates began at the start of September, but home sales were already slowing, as prices were just too high for some buyers, especially entry-level buyers. Home prices have been pushed higher over the past few years due to a critical shortage of homes for sale. Inventory, however, finally began to rise in August, and continues to gain this fall. Not only are there more listings, but fewer sales, so homes are sitting on the market longer.

The market is beginning to balance more between supply and demand, following one of the strongest seller’s markets in decades. There is little concern, however, that prices will actually fall, only that the gains will fall back to more normal, historical levels of 3 percent to 4 percent annually.

“There are no signs that the current weakness will become a repeat of the crisis, however. In 2006, when home prices peaked and then tumbled, mortgage default rates bottomed out and started a three year surge,” said Blitzer. “Today, the mortgage default rates reported by the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices are stable. Without a collapse in housing finance like the one seen 12 years ago, a crash in home prices is unlikely.”

Even as the gains shrink, some local markets continue to show price strength. Las Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle saw the biggest annual gains among the 20-city index.

In August, Las Vegas home prices jumped 13.9 percent year-over-year, followed by San Francisco with a 10.6 percent increase and Seattle with a 9.6 percent gain. Four of the 20 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending August 2018 versus the year ending July 2018.

read more…

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/30/home-price-gains-fall-below-6percent-for-the-first-time-in-a-year-august-sp-case-shiller-indices.html

Classic Westchester restaurants | Chappaqua Real Estate

In life before a thousand TV channels, text-messaging and, dare we say, the harsh divide of politics, a host of Westchester restaurants served up hand-formed burgers, red sauce pasta and old-school pizza, minus the wood-burning oven and gourmet toppings.

Decades later, life may have changed dramatically, but these restaurants are still true to their core. 

We asked readers about their favorite “old-time” restaurants and got the following responses. Thanks to all who wrote in with suggestions.

Chicken wings at The Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale.

Buy Photo

Chicken wings at The Candlelight Inn in Scarsdale. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)

Candlelight Inn, Scarsdale: Eating here is is practically a rite of passage. If you haven’t had chicken wings at Candlelight, one wonders if you can be called a true Westchesterite. The Tracy family has run this cash-only joint since 1955 where lines often snake out the door on weekends. Yes, you can order something else — they have ribs, wraps, burgers and addictive waffle fries — but it’s the wings, oversized, tender and spicy (though you can order them milder), that make this a beloved institution. Go back in time: 519 Central Park Ave., Scarsdale, 914-472-9706, facebook.com/Candlelight-Inn

Emilio Ristorante, Harrison: Diners feel welcome the minute they step through the doors, no matter if they’re a first-timer or have been coming for years. Open since 1979, the restaurant, in a colonial home, has always been known for its gracious hospitality and Old World ways. There’s an astute attention to detail, starting with the crisp attire of the wait staff — white shirts and ties (this month everyone is wearing pink ties for breast cancer awareness month). Antipasti is brought to the table and explained, branzino and Dover sole are filetted tableside and desserts are wheeled out with flourish. The wine list is extensive, the Italian food authentic and well-prepared, and the owner, Sergio Brasesco, is all about ensuring you have a memorable meal. Go back in time: 1 Colonial Pl., Harrison, 914-835-3100, emilioristorante.com

The dining room of Francesco's in White Plains. Photographed Oct. 3, 2019.

The dining room of Francesco’s in White Plains. Photographed Oct. 3, 2019. (Photo: Jeanne Muchnick)

Francesco’s, White Plains: Many diners no doubt went to this classic mom-and-pop red sauce restaurant with their parents back in the day  (it’s 48-years-old). And guess what? It hasn’t changed. Sitting in the dining room filled with its wood paneling, red leather booths and hodepodge of Italian art, it’s easy to feel like you’re 16 again. Expect lots of pastas along with classic entrees like lasagna, veal parmesean, penne alla vodka, and clams casino. Folks also rave about the pizza. Go back in time: 600 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains, 914-946-3359

Gus’s Restaurant, Harrison: In business since 1931 and still run by the same family (albeit with a 17-year break in between when it was sold to a group of investors) Gus’s Restaurant, originally called The Franklin Park Tavern, has a reputation for its seafood and comfortable tavern vibe. It’s also known, among long-time patrons for staying true to the mission of Gus Kneuer who prided himself on serving hearty German fare.

Now run by Ernie and Audrey Kneuer, Gus’s grandson and granddaughter (the two bought it back from the investors in 2004), it features many of Gus’s favorites like meatloaf with mashed potatoes, grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and fresh roasted turkey. And, thanks to the fish market next door, all the fish and seafood is super fresh and filetted every morning. “Everything gets turned over daily to keep the freshness of both our fish and meat products,” said Ernie Kneuer.  There are plenty of  American favorites like burgers, salads and sandwiches. Be sure to look for Gus’s photo which still hangs by the cash register. Go back in time: 126 Halstead Ave., Harrison, 914-835-9804, gusseafood.com

The dining room at Gus's Franklin Park Restaurant on Halstead Avenue in Harrison, pictured Oct. 9, 2018.

Buy Photo

The dining room at Gus’s Franklin Park Restaurant on Halstead Avenue in Harrison, pictured Oct. 9, 2018.  (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)

Muscoot Tavern, Katonah: The crooked walls and low front door are reasons to love Muscoot Tavern. Another is its friendly atmosphere and the fact that no matter what’s going on with the world, inside this roadside restaurant, things remain pretty much the same as when the restaurant first opened, sometime prior to 1925. Though it’s changed ownership many times over the years, its legacy as a local hangout remains. Try the “Zpaghetti,” zucchini noodles with fresh garlic, grape tomato, white wine and basil, or the Katonah pizza, made with roasted eggplant, zucchini, peppers caramelized onions, truffle oil, basil. Owner Bobby Epstein also likes to mix it up with some high-end specials every night like prime rib or Mako shark. Go back in time: 105 Somerstown Turnpike, Katonah, 914- 232-2800, muscoottavern.com

La Manda’s, White Plains:The no-frills decor is part of the charm — think knotty pine paneling and Formica tables —  can’t help but transport you back in time. Owner Sly Musilli writes on the La Manda’s website that though they’ve done work to improve the restaurant and spruce it up over the years, they also recognize the value of  keeping it as folks remember. That includes the heaping portions of pasta and robust Italian specialties of Chicken Scarparo, Pizzaiola and Zuppa Di Pesce. Plus, of course the super-thin pizza cooked in the same brick oven since 1934. Just be warned, it’s cash only, though there’s an ATM on the premises. Go back in time: 251 Tarrytown Rd., White Plains 914-684-9228, lamandas.com

A cheese pizza at La Manda's restaurant. Old-school Greenburgh staple has been serving thin-crust pies since 1947. Photographed May 26, 2017.

Buy Photo

A cheese pizza at La Manda’s restaurant. Old-school Greenburgh staple has been serving thin-crust pies since 1947. Photographed May 26, 2017. (Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)

Paradise Restaurant, Verplanck:Hungry for a trip down Memory Lane? Paradise, run by third-generation owner Joseph Margiotta, is your place. The restaurant is 70-years-old and though known for its happily carb-laden Italian food, Margiotta said he has tweaked the menu to include more healthier eating options. There is still plenty of old-time Italian favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, and pizza. Giving diners what they like, said Margiotta, is key to their success. “You can come in and not spend a lot of money or you can come in and spend a lot of money,” he explained. “We wouldn’t have been able to survive four recessions if we didn’t offer something for everyone.” Go back in time: 135 Broadway Ave, Verplanck, 914-736-3334, paradiseverplanck.com

Roma Restaurant, Tuckahoe: The third generation of the Tavolilla family runs Roma, in business since 1931. Known primarily for its thin-crust brick-oven pizza and comfortable family-friendly vibe, it’s also a pasta haven with choices of spaghetti, linguini, penne, cavatelli, and gnocchi. Coming here is like visiting the Italian grandmother you never had where meatballs or sides of pasta can be added to any dish and the lasagna, stuffed shells, baked ziti and more, seem to stream out of the kitchen. Go back in time: 29 Columbus Ave., Tuckahoe, 914-961-3175, romarestaurant1931.com

Sam’s of Gedney Way, White Plains: The history of Sam’s is written in depth on its website, detailing how Sam Eisenstein, the 23-year-old son of a Russian immigrant “with a $300 stake and a barrel of faith,” opened his newsstand and soda fountain in 1932 on what then was a dirt lane in White Plains. Back then, a hamburger with coffee was 15 cents and you could get a 25 cent lunch with pie. In 1968 the restaurant relocated to its current spot on Gedney Way evolving from a luncheonette speakeasy to a saloon to a white-tablecloth restaurant. Now run by Peter and Karen Herrero, natives of White Plains, the two have updated it complete with organic food selections, a gluten-free menu and a loyal staff, many of whom have been with them for  years. Go back and time: 50 Gedney Way, White Plains, 914-949-0978, samsofgedneyway.com

The Blazer Burger at the Blazer Pub is topped with bacon, cheese and carmelized onions.

The Blazer Burger at the Blazer Pub is topped with bacon, cheese and carmelized onions. (Photo: Carmen Troesser)

Squire’s of Briarcliff, Briarcliff Manor: This classic burger joint, in business since 1967, is known primarily for its 9-ounce juicy patties, hand-pressed with high-quality meat. Generous portions make it another reason to come, along with the retro ambiance. Like any good tavern, it also serves wraps, salads, steak, chicken and seafood, but the menu also includes gluten-free rolls to accommodate different dietary needs. Just know: it’s American Express or cash only (there’s an ATM inside). Go back in time: 94 N. State Rd, Briarcliff Manor, 914-762-3376, squiresofbriarcliff.com

The Blazer Pub, North Salem: You go for the burgers: hand-formed and meaty, but soon, the nostalgic ambiance with its vintage arcade games, jukebox loaded with Springsteen and scalloped paper placemats win you over. It’s like stepping back into the 1970s complete with a well-worn bar which looksstraight out of the TV show, “Cheers.” Mostly though you’ll love the wallet-friendly prices (a burger is $7.75). The pub is also known for its tomato soup and “award-winning” chili. Worth nothing: the restaurant is the only one in Westchester to  be featured in “Hamburger America,” a state-by-state guide to 200 of the country’s best burger joints. Go back in time: 440 NY-22, North Salem, 914-277-4424, theblazerpub.com


read more…

https://www.lohud.com/story/life/food/restaurants/2018/10/15/17-oldest-restaurants-westchester-whats-your-favorite/1456738002/

New housing in the U.S. | Chappaqua Real Estate

Highlights of Annual 2017 Characteristics of New Housing

Of the 795,000 single-family homes completed in 2017:

  • 742,000 had air-conditioning.
  • 79,000 had two bedrooms or less and 362,000 had four bedrooms or more.
  • 30,000 had one and one-half bathrooms or less and 296,000 homes had three or more bathrooms.
  • 213,000 had vinyl siding as the primary exterior wall material.
  • 204,000 had a full or partial basement.
  • 517,000 had a 2-car garage and 48,000 had a 1-car garage.

The median size of a completed single-family house was 2,426 square feet.

Of the 358,000 multifamily units completed in 2017:

  • 7,000 had a fireplace.
  • 200,000 were in buildings with four floors or more.
  • 235,000 were heated using electricity.
  • 183,000 had one bathroom.

The median size of multifamily units built for rent was 1,088 square feet, while the median of those built for sale was 1,494 square feet.

Of the 14,000 multifamily buildings completed in 2017:

  • 3,000 had 4 floors or more.
  • 1,000 had 50 units or more.
  • 7,000 were heated by a heat pump.
  • 12,000 had wood framing.

Of the 613,000 single-family homes sold in 2017:

  • 544,000 were detached homes and 68,000 were attached homes.
  • 370,000 had a forced-air furnace
  • 131,000 had a garage for 3 cars or more.
  • 149,000 had vinyl siding as the primary exterior wall material.
  • 556,000 had wood framing.

The median sales price of new single-family homes sold in 2017 was $323,100, while the average sales price was $384,900.

The median size of a new single-family home sold was 2,457 square feet.

116,000 contractor-built single-family homes were started in 2017.

The median contract price was $271,100.

What to do in NYC this fall | Chappaqua Real Estate

17 reasons to go NYC

There’s a lot of fun stuff to do this fall in New York City. Take a look at these openings, concerts, festivals, performances and all-around-good-time events to find out why we’re excited (and be sure to mark down on your calendar whatever strikes your fancy).

Village Halloween Parade. Photo: Joe Buglewicz

1. The City’s biggest costume party hits the streets. The Village Halloween Parade of costumed revelers and larger-than-life spooky puppets makes its way through the West Village on Halloween night. Thanks to a crowd that’s often as dressed up as the parade goers, this downtown tradition takes people-watching to the next level. —Brian Sloan

2. Dogs, too, will be decked out. Brooklyn’s annual Great PUPkin canine costume contest and parade is certifiably the cutest and fluffiest way to celebrate Halloween. —Gillian Osswald

NYC Fashion Week. Photo: Marley White

3. Speaking of daring fashion… Spring/Summer Fashion Week is your chance to see all the world’s top designers debut runway looks. Expect standout shows from Tom Ford, Anna Sui and Marc Jacobs. —Christina Parrella 

NYC Marathon. Photo: Julienne Schaer

4. The NYC Marathon is back. Sporting events don’t get much bigger than this November 4 race, during which nearly 50,000 professional and amateur runners run through all five boroughs. There are plenty of great viewing spots along the route, but you’ll see the most action at the finish line in Central Park near Tavern on the Green. —Jonathan Zeller

New York Giants. Photo: Evan Pinkos

5. And don’t forget the other sports. The Yankees look like they’re in good shape for a return to baseball’s playoffs, so go see Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino and company during the stretch run. The Mets season hasn’t panned out as they hoped, but September offers the chance to cheer on Jacob deGrom as he aims for the National League Cy Young. Football’s Giants and Jets start up the same month; come October, the season kicks off for the NBA’s Knicks and Nets, and for the NHL’s Rangers and Islanders—JZ

6. But you can have sports fun even if you don’t make it to the park. The Museum of the Moving Image takes a look back at six decades of sports video games —giving you the opportunity to test your chops at a few dozen of them. We’re personally hoping to see Vs. Tennis and Punch-Out. Look out, Glass Joe! —Andrew Rosenberg

7. The concert schedule is packed. Big shows include Jade Bird at Bowery Ballroom (September 26), Florence and the Machine at Barclays Center (October 9), Justin Timberlake at Madison Square Garden (October 22 and 24), Garbage at Kings Theatre (October 27), Violent Femmes at Brooklyn Steel (October 28), Justin Courtney Pierre at Bowery Ballroom (November 6), Spin Doctors at Brooklyn Bowl (November 8) and Tennis at Le Poisson Rouge (November 13). Bring your earplugs and have a good time. —nycgo.com staff

8. There’s an open-door policy. Hundreds of buildings and landmarks take part in Open House New York, a fall weekend (October 12–14) that marks your chance to see the inner workings of structures sometimes off-limits. Unusual places like La Guardia’s Marine Air Terminal and the super-futuristic looking Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant have been part of past programs. —AR

9. You can get a taste of Japan in Sunset Park. Industry City’s new Eataly-style food fun house, Japan Village, will pack 20,000 square feet with ramen, sushi, soba, mochi and everything else you’d ever want to eat from the Land of the Rising Sun. It should be up and running in October. —GO

10. We believe in life after love. Or, at least, a musical about life after 50-plus years in show business. If you do too, check out The Cher Show, a new Broadway extravaganza covering Cher’s life, times and loves. It takes three actresses to play the title role. —BS

“Green Coca-Cola Bottles” (1962), Andy Warhol. Courtesy, Whitney Museum

11. Warhol will get surveyed. The pop artist’s famous works—and some less familiar ones—will be the subject of Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again at the Whitney Museum. —CP

12. So will some of his collaborators. You gotta run, run, run to see the ambitious exhibition covering the origins, music and influence of the Velvet Underground, due in the West Village in October. —AR

Courtesy, Brooklyn Comedy Festival

13. We like to laugh. Alternative comedy’s big fall event is the Brooklyn Comedy Festival (September 17 –23), whose lineup includes Kevin McDonald, Jo Firestone and Nimesh Patel. The New York Comedy Festival (November 5–11) brings huge acts like Tracy Morgan, Yvonne Orji and Bill Burr. In non-festival news, club headliners will include the likes of Leslie Jones (September 5–8), Norm Macdonald (September 13–16) and Tom Green (September 21–22). Enjoy! —nycgo.com staff

14. The Coen Brothers’ latest hits the big screen. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs has its North American premiere at Lincoln Center as part of the New York Film Festival. Originally intended as a limited series for Netflix, the movie has been reconfigured into a feature-length anthology that tells six stories of the old West; the cast includes Tyne Daly, Tom Waits and James Franco. —BS

Coney Island Film Festival. Photo: Norman Blake

15. And there’s plenty more cinema to savor. Foremost perhaps is NewFest, the City’s 30-year-old LGBTQ film festival. Other events celebrating movie magic: the Horror Film FestivalUrbanworldConey Island Film Festival and the Chelsea Film Festival. Don’t sleep on the hip-hop celluloid celebration at the Film Forum, either. —AR

Oklahoma! Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

16. Oklahoma! comes to Brooklyn. Usually the big musical revivals are on Broadway, but this creatively staged and intimate production of a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is set to play at St. Ann’s Warehouse on the Dumbo waterfront. —BS

17. You won’t have to leave NYC for a day in the country. Celebrate the harvest at the Queens County Fair—which starts on the first official day of fall, September 22. Located deep in the borough on Queens’ last working farm, the fair features carnival rides, hayrides, pie-eating contests and an actual corn maze.

read more…

 

nycgo.com

Builder Confidence Surges in September | Chappaqua Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in September jumped six points to 65 from a downwardly revised August reading of 59 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This marks the highest HMI level since October 2015.

With the inventory of new and existing homes remaining tight, builders are confident of positive market conditions for new construction. Solid job creation and low interest rates are also fueling demand, while builders continue to be hampered by supply-side constraints that include shortages of labor and building lots.

hmi-sept

As household incomes rise, builders in many markets across the nation are reporting they are seeing more serious buyers, a positive sign that the housing market continues to move forward. The single-family market continues to make gradual gains and we expect this upward momentum will build throughout the remainder of the year and into 2017.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

 

read more…

 

http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/09/builder-confidence-surges-in-september/

Mortgage rates average 3.59% | Chappaqua Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates declining from the previous week and reaching their lowest level since February of last year.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 7, 2016, down from last week when they averaged 3.71 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.88 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.98 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.93 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.82 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.90 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 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 theDefinitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates this week registered the delayed impact of last week’s sharp drop in Treasury yields as the 30-year mortgage rate fell 12 basis points to 3.59 percent. This rate marks a new low for 2016 and matches last year’s low in February 2015. Low mortgage rates and a positive employment outlook should support a strong housing market in the second quarter of 2016.”

Mortgage rates at 3.71% | Chappaqua Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates mixed and largely unchanged from the previous week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.71 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending March 31, 2016, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.70 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.96 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 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 theDefinitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Dovish comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday triggered a rally in Treasury markets and drove the 10-year yield down 13 basis points from last week’s high. Yellen’s comments came too late to affect this week’s mortgage rate survey, and the 30-year mortgage rate remained unchanged at 3.71 percent. However, if the Fed’s cautious tone persists, mortgage rates may register the impact in subsequent weeks.”

 

 

 

 

US homebuilder sentiment holds steady in March | Chappaqua Real Estate

U.S. home builders remain optimistic that the housing market will improve, but their expectations for sales over the next six months have dimmed just as the spring home-selling season gets under way.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday held steady at 58 this month.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. The index had been in the low 60s for eight months until February.

Builders’ view of current sales conditions held steady, while a measure of traffic by prospective buyers increased. But builders’ outlook for sales over the next six months declined to the lowest level in 12 months.

The latest readings come as the annual spring buying season ramps up. Typically, the season sets the pattern for residential hiring and construction for much of the rest of the year.

Sales of new homes surged 14.5 percent last year to 501,000, marking the strongest year for this segment of the housing market since 2007.

But that momentum didn’t carry over into January, when new-home sales fell 9.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 494,000. That’s well below the historic 52-year average of 655,200. February’s sales figures are due out next week.

This month’s builder index was based on 288 respondents.

Builders’ view of current sales conditions for single-family homes held steady at 65, while their gauge of traffic by prospective buyers rose four points to 43. Builders’ outlook for sales over the next six months fell three points to 61, the lowest level since a reading of 59 in March 2015.

Even so, this month’s index builder sentiment index remains in line with the NAHB’s forecast of a slow-but-steady improvement for the single-family home market this year.

“Solid job growth, low mortgage rates and improving mortgage availability will help keep the housing market on a gradual upward trajectory in the coming months,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist.

Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing market, they have an out sized impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to NAHB data.

 

read more…

 

www.ap.com

Shelter Plants from Winter’s Worst | Chappaqua Real Estate

When it comes to hydrangeas, I’m certifiably loony. Or, at least, I used to be. The source of my obsession was a variegated hydrangea. I bought it in full flower, and the azure, lacecap blooms were simply stunning against the backdrop of broad, spade-shaped leaves edged with creamy white. Then winter hit and it died to the ground. New shoots burst forth in spring, adorned with luscious foliage, but no blooms appeared. Ditto the next spring. And the next. Apparently the plant was root-hardy here, but its stems and flower buds—which form on year-old growth—were not. In my USDA Hardiness Zone 6 Connecticut garden, Old Man Winter prevailed.

But it got me thinking that if I kept my variegated hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla‘Tricolor’) warmer, its stems and buds might survive. So I decided to cover the plant in winter. I bought one of those homely-looking Styrofoam cones sold to protect tea roses in winter, capped the hydrangea, and covered that with a layer of shredded leaf mulch and pine boughs. Then I waited until the next summer when—lo and behold—the hydrangea flowered.

Emboldened by success, I started experimenting with other marginally hardy plants, using everything from small glass domes to homemade, doghouse-sized plastic greenhouses. I soon realized winter cover-ups could provide an extra zone or more of warmth. I’ve used these devices to help late-season transplants get established, protect recently transplanted evergreens, and coddle a few choice perennials that would otherwise never survive winters in my garden. There’s nothing complicated about it. I rarely spend more than 15 minutes prepping a plant for winter, and unveiling it for spring takes even less time. My methods aren’t foolproof. There’s still a casualty or two every season. But even with occasional losses, my efforts are repaid several times over each year.

PROTECT TENDER PLANTS WITH WATER, MULCH, AND SHELTER

Everyone knows that plants die if winter temperatures are too frigid for them to endure. But severe weather can pose a threat even to hardy plants. An early-season burst of bitter cold can shatter the cells of woody plants that haven’t yet hardened off. Later in the season, those same plants could march through a similar cold snap in stride. Deeper into winter, cold, dry winds can draw the life from conifers or broad-leaved evergreens. Even warm spells can be perilous. High temperatures can evaporate the last reserves of moisture from the transpiring leaves of evergreens whose roots, locked in frozen ground, are unable to draw replenishing moisture from the soil.

Most hardy perennials could sleep through winter peacefully if tucked under a thick blanket of snow. But where snowfall is iffy, exposure to Jack Frost’s full force may kill marginally hardy plants. In poorly draining soils, winter wet can rot the crown of hardy perennials. And the churning freeze-thaw cycles of early spring can easily heave plants—roots and all—from the ground. To complicate matters further, the tissues of some plants, particularly trees and shrubs, are more susceptible to cold temperatures in their youth or their first year or two after transplanting. Only when they’ve reached a certain level of maturity are they fully hardy.

My garden is subject to just about every one of those threats. So, to prepare marginally hardy or recently planted perennials, trees, and shrubs for winter, I make sure at-risk plants are deeply watered before the ground freezes. In addition, any recently transplanted or marginally hardy evergreens get a spray of an anti-transpirant, like Wilt-Pruf, to seal the microscopic openings in their leaves. When the ground has frozen, I give new plants—even those rated bone-hardy for my garden—a 2- to 4-inch blanket of mulch, either ground bark or, preferably, shredded leaves. I also use pine boughs or branches cut from the Christmas tree. These make an excellent, airy mulch for young hellebores or any fledgling evergreen perennial because they help moderate temperature changes and offer protection from the winter wind and sun.

Plants in need of special coddling—anything unlikely to survive winter’s cold and wet—should be tucked into a custom, seasonal shelter before cold weather settles in, usually about late November in my garden. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. I’ve used overturned plastic pots, lengths of burlap, shredded leaves, even a heavy-duty paper bag. Unless you make the effort to build an artistic shelter, chances are that an array of protected plants is going to look like a hastily abandoned campground. But I can live with the less-than-good looks for a year or two until a newly planted tree or shrub is well-established. Even so, any plantings that will need long-term coddling shouldn’t be positioned prominently in the stark winter landscape. To avoid aesthetic crises, I tuck my tender treasures at the bottom of a gentle slope in the backyard, where they can’t be seen from the house.

read more…

http://www.finegardening.com/shelter-plants-winters-worst

China Home Prices Rise | Chappaqua Real Estate

Chinese cities where home prices rose exceeded those where they declined for the first time in 16 months in July, as authorities removed some property curbs and interest rates fell.

New-home prices rose in 31 cities of the 70 the government monitors, from 27 the previous month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. They dropped in 29 and were unchanged in 10.

Prices, led by some of the biggest Chinese cities, extended gains from the second quarter, spurred by the easing of mortgage policies at the end of March and four reductions in borrowing costs since November. The trend will continue this year as liquidity remains ample and expectations of rising prices further prompt more people to buy, overriding any potential impact from a devalued yuan and a stock-market selloff, according to Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd.

“The average price gains may accelerate in the second half as prices in the second- and third-tier cities are just starting to rise,” Alan Jin, a Hong Kong-based real estate analyst at Mizuho, said by phone. “The demand is still there.”

The average price of the 70 cities rose 0.17 percent from June, gaining for a third consecutive month, according to Bloomberg calculations of official data. Prices in Sanya, a tourist city on the southern Hainan island, climbed 0.2 percent, reversing declines since at least August last year.

 

read more…

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-18/