Tag Archives: Katonah Luxury Real Estate

Apartment glut may tame rising rents | Katonah Real Estate


Home builders and investors have poured money into so many new rental units that tenants
may see rent growth slow in the near future, one economist said.


While there will likely be “robust demand” in 2015 from renters — and young adults, in particular — builders have already started and plan to start enough new apartment projects that the days of excess demand may soon be over, said Ryan Severino, senior economist at Reis, a New York-based research firm focused on commercial real estate.

“Demand will struggle to keep pace with the significant amounts of new construction that should come online over the next few years,” Severino said.

Growth in rents over coming years should remain positive, according to Reis, but it will likely slow from 2014’s heady pace of about 3.5%, which far outpaced overall consumer inflation.

“Although an improving labor market with more jobs and faster wage growth should provide landlords with more leverage to increase rents, over time this will be stymied by the sheer number of new units that are going to come online, increasing competition in the market,” Severino said.

The frenzy for apartments has been fed by a choppy jobs market that made it tough for workers to set aside enough cash for a down payment. Also, persistently high credit standards have kept singles and families from obtaining a mortgage, a key financial ingredient for many would-be homeowners, particularly first-time buyers.

Seeing an opportunity, developers ramped up apartment building. The rate of private construction spending on new multi-family residences was up 27% in November from the year-earlier pace, more than double a 13% gain for new single-family homes, according to government data. Meanwhile, outstanding multifamily-mortgage debt swelled in the third quarter, rising the most since the end of 2007, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Tuesday.

Rental vacancy rates are the lowest in 20 years, which gives landlords power to raise rents. Government data show that landlords recently ramped up rents by the fastest pace in six years. But that power may taper as the supply of rental units rises.

“With a veritable deluge of new supply set to come online over the next few years, vacancy is headed higher. The supply pipeline swells larger and larger on a weekly basis and presents the greatest risk to the apartment market’s health,” Severino said.


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November Chicago Real Estate Market Update | Katonah Real Estate

Once again, in about 2 weeks, the Illinois Association of Realtors is going to report that Chicago home sales declined in November – by about 12.3% – and once again I’m going to tell you that it’s not really that bad – depending upon your perspective. The Chicago real estate market is really doing OK when you look at non-distressed sales.

First of all the real decline in November home sales was more like 10.2% when calculated on a consistent basis. But more than 100% of the decline was attributable to a decline in distressed sales. In other words, when you just focus on non-distressed properties the Chicago real estate market actually saw a 6.7% increase in home sales.

But the headline number did drop and the graph below puts November into perspective vs. previous years with all the Novembers flagged with red squares. It looks like it was pretty much in the middle of the pack for the previous 7 years. And on the other side of the bubble you would have to go back to 1998 to find sales at this level.

Chicago monthly home sales

Chicago Home Contract Activity

Home sale contract activity remains on the light side, which is what is driving the low sales numbers ultimately. I’m currently estimating November contract activity at 9.1% below last year’s level. You can see the long term trend in this number in the graph below, which shows the numbers trending downward for several months now.

Chicago home sale contract activity

Pending Home Sales

The graph below tracks pending home sales, which is essentially the cumulative difference between contracts written and sales closed, in terms of months of supply. It’s an indicator of how many months of closings can be fed from properties that are already under contract. Although the numbers have been running lower than last year November popped back up to right around where it was last year at 2.2 months supply.

Chicago pending home sales

Distressed Home Sales

As I mentioned above the big story is the decline in distressed home sales, which is the main driver of lower home sales these days. Notice how this segment of the market is now down to only 20.2%, the lowest level by far since I’ve been tracking it. That’s down from 32.8% last year and a high for November of 43.8% in 2011.


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Inside the Battery’s Century-Old Pier A | Katonah Real Estate

[All photos by Max Touhey.]
50 images

At the southernmost tip of West Street, a pier juts out into New York Harbor. Until just a few weeks ago, it was fenced in, and closed off to the public. But after a years-long renovation and restoration process, Pier A—a 128-year-old structure with a handsome clocktower that once served the docks and harbor police as well as the city’s fire department—is open to the public for the very first time in its long history. To say that the makeover has been hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Taking the pier from decrepit and abandoned to a three-story, flood-prepared building with beautifully-designed bars and restaurants (run by the Poulakakos group) as well as a visitor’s center, plus a public promenade, plaza, and ample seating, cost around $40 million, with the Economic Development Council footing most of the bill. But boy, is she pretty. And those views of the Statue of Liberty aren’t bad either, especially in the sunset.

Take a look around >>

Plug the holes in your house this winter | Katonah Real Estate

Leaky spots around windows and doors are notoriously big problems for homeowners in locations with cold winters and humid summers, and they can lead to bigger problems. Even before adding insulation to your house, the most important step in making your house more comfortable is controlling air movement. The principle is pretty simple: plug up the holes in your house. Since doors and windows are the biggest holes in a home, weather-stripping is where your efforts should begin. Weather-stripping is a great DIY project too, since it involves just a very basic knowledge of tools.

Below you’ll find the best ways to weather-strip for reduced drafts and leaks this winter.

Dreamy 1830s Abode Was a Stop on the Underground Railroad | Katonah Real Estate



Location: Westerville, Ohio
Price: $1,250,000
The Skinny: Several homes in the northeastern Columbus suburb of Westerville, Ohio, were stations on the Underground Railroad. One of them, an updated five-bedroom with a spiffy columned facade, some beautiful mounted panels rescued from the LeVeque Tower, a Jeffersonian-looking dome topped with a skylight, and a 1930s schoolhouse outfitted for guest accommodations, was put on the market just the other day.

The oldest sections, which were built in 1830, according to the marketing material, have a healthy amount of exposed brick that’s since been balanced out by large windows and glass doors in the rear of the home. Much of the yellow pine and walnut woodwork is original, and there’s vintage tiling in a few of the bathrooms. With a pool and an expansive brick patio, facing out on a about five acres with “mature trees & landscaping,” this handsome historic hodgepodge is priced at $1.25M.



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The Haunted Histories of 13 Famous New York City Places | Katonah Real Estate


p01bcbtf.jpg[Ghosts are everywhere.]

New York City’s old townhouses and historic apartments hide plenty of dark, ghostly secrets, but many of the city’s most famous destinations have their own ghastly histories as well. Grand Central, the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, even Central Park, all host their own otherworldly spirits, born from some gruesome part of history. Elise Gainer, the owner of Ghosts, Murders, and Mayhem Walking Tours, catalogued many of these horrific tales in her bookGhosts and Murders of Manhattan, and we mapped 13 of the most well-known sites for a historic, haunted Halloween tour.


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At Home With a Stunning View | Katonah Real Estate


High on a sandstone ridge looking east over the Pacific Ocean, this Australian beach home sits proudly, taking in the scene. Wowed by the views of the ocean, the owners snapped up a plot of land on one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, determined to design a home that responded to its dramatic topography and views.

Neil Mackenzie of Mackenzie Pronk Architects was only too happy to help. “The site is stunning,” he says. “Our clients had spent a decade in the U.K. when we began working with them. They were in the process of returning to the blue skies and surf of home, so I think the idea of a true Australian beach house was like a dream.”

Getting a Mortgage Is Growing Easier | Katonah Real Estate


The nation’s largest mortgage firms plan to once again buy loans where the borrowers put as little as 3% down.

Perhaps you thought the days of putting little money down for a home were gone. Well, not so fast. On Monday the CEO of Fannie Mae, Timothy Mayopoulos, announced that the housing giant planned to once again buy loans for which the borrowers put as little as 3% down. Mayopoulos told the crowd gathered at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference in Las Vegas that Fannie, which along with Freddie Mac supports the bulk of the mortgage market today, is working to finalize the details of the offering and gain regulatory approval to proceed. “We want this business,” he said.

So far no details have been announced about what income or credit score requirements borrowers making such small down payments will need to meet the group’s standards. Mayopoulos said more information would be released in the coming weeks. Both Fannie and Freddie previously purchased loans with 3% down but had stopped in recent years. Today the firms usually require at least a 5% down payment on most loans.

Melvin Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Authority, which regulates the two government enterprises, said his group was working with them to develop “sensible and responsible guidelines” for the 3% loans, in an effort “to increase access for creditworthy but lower-wealth borrowers.” He cited “compensating factors” in evaluating such borrowers, though he didn’t say what those factors would be.

A 3% down payment is not exactly nonexistent today. The Federal Housing Administration has been offering mortgages with as little as 3.5% down for years. Traditionally, most borrowers were lower income, and the amount they could borrow was capped, but today even higher income folks use FHA loans to buy homes in expensive areas (loan limits vary by state but typically top out at $625,500). In recent years, these mortgages—which come with higher fees than traditional loans, as well as pricey mortgage insurance—have accounted for a larger than normal share of the market.

Now Fannie seems intent to grab some of that business. The low-down-payment loan, Mayopoulos promised, “will also be competitively priced, including against FHA execution.”

In a related move, FHFA’s Watt also announced that the agency is working to provide more details on when the housing giants can force a lender to buy back a loan that goes bad, which he hopes will encourage banks to loosen their lending standards. Over the past few years Fannie and Freddie have required lenders to buy back millions of dollars of bad loans, “sometimes for seemingly minor issues, such as missing a piece of paperwork,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president at mortgage information publisher HSH.com.

“This clarification might allow lenders to look at riskier borrowers with less fear of having to buy these loans back in the future,” he said. He noted, though, that any changes are likely to be incremental: “It might let a few more borrowers in at the margin, but it won’t be like flipping a light switch where FICO scores down to 640 are now in.”

It’s important to note that Fannie and Freddie can’t force banks to lower their lending standards. In fact, most banks today require tougher standards than the government agencies impose, partially because they are fearful of having to buy back loans that go bad. For example, Fannie and Freddie will buy loans with FICO scores as low as 620, but most banks require at least a 660 or 680, Gumbinger said.

Similarly, lenders could always decide not to offer 3% down loans, even though Fannie and Freddie have agreed to eventually start buying them again. So it remains to be seen whether and how much the rule changes, when they are formally announced in the next few weeks, will ease the way for borrowers.


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Removing Wall to Wall Carpeting by Bob Villa | Katonah Homes

Source: charlesandhudson.com

Source: charlesandhudson.com

I am moving to a new house where the living room and dining area have wall-to-wall carpeting. I asked the previous owner, and he told me there is hardwood flooring underneath. Could you please tell me how to remove carpet?

Even with regular vacuuming, carpeting accumulates a great deal of dust, dirt and debris. So if and when you finally decide to rip it up, be sure to give the floor covering one last good vacuuming. Empty the room of furnishings, open the windows and don your dust mask — then get to work!

Materials & tools

  • Large contractor trash bags
  • Nail puller pliers
  • Steel putty knife
  • Flat pry bar (at least 15 inches)
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife (or tin snips)
  • Leather work gloves
  • Carpet padding adhesive remover (optional)
  • Scraper (optional)

Step 1

Was your carpeting installed under shoe molding? Assuming it was, the first thing to do is remove that trimwork with your putty knife and pry bar. Check the molding for damage: If it remains in good shape, save it for reuse. Chances are the trim is full of nails; when pulling them out, take care not to inflict any avoidable damage. If the molding looks a little worse for wear, consider giving it a fresh coat of paint prior to re-installation.

Step 2

Now that there is no obstruction between you and the carpeting, use a utility knife or a sharpened pair of tin snips to cut the material into three- or four-foot-wide strips. (Cut all the way through the backing but stop short of the flooring beneath.) Once complete, begin pulling the carpet away from the tack strips on the perimeter. Roll up the sections as you remove them, placing them into heavy-duty trash bags ready for disposal.


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