Tag Archives: Katonah Real Estate for Sale

The rich are being maddeningly frugal | Katonah Real Estate

The lonely $250,000 S-Class coupe at Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich says it all. For six months, it’s been sitting in the showroom, shimmering in vain while models priced at only $70,000 fly out the door.

“We haven’t had anyone come in and look at it,” says Joey Licari, a sales consultant at the dealership, looking over his shoulder at the silver beauty. “I feel like normally they would, maybe a few years ago.”

Such is the state of affairs in Greenwich, the leafy Connecticut town famous for its cluster of hedge funds and the titans of Wall Street who occupy many a gated mansion. The rich are being maddeningly frugal, as Barry Sternlicht complained when he assailed his former hometown as possibly the country’s worst housing market. “You can’t give away a house in Greenwich,” the head of Starwood Capital Group said, causing something of a ruckus.

The reality is that places like Sternlicht’s, a nearly 6-acre estate priced at $5.95 million before he gave up, aren’t moving. No such problem if it’s $2 million or less. That Benz is going nowhere, but sales are up at Cadillac of Greenwich, where $50,000 is pretty much the basement. Ten-carat diamonds that can cost in the six figures collect dust in stores on the main drag. On the other hand, a husband will still drop $10,000 on jewelry for a 10th anniversary.

The new Greenwich is like that. “We aren’t getting caviar and champagne,” says Edward Tricomi, co-owner of Warren Tricomi Salon on Greenwich Avenue, “but we’re still eating steak.”

Bonus Slump

The town was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis, and never fully recovered: The median sales price for homes in the second quarter was $1.56 million, 17 percent below the peak back in 2006, according to data compiled by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Now, with the hedge-fund business struggling and investment-banker incentive pay in a slump, bonus-fueled purchases are cooling again. These days, in fact, not losing money can be cause for swagger.

“We talk to a lot of guys from hedge funds, and they’re like, ‘Look at our numbers, we haven’t gone down, we’re staying level,’” says Brad Walker, who moved from Boston two years ago to open a branch of his family’s shop, Shreve, Crump & Low. A newcomer, he finds it perplexing. “I don’t run a hedge fund, I work in a jewelry store, but I think you’d want to do a little bit better.”

$135,000 Median

Flat probably isn’t so bad, though, if you’re already in the neighborhood of the .001 percent. Anyway, many factors are at play in the scaling back. Tastes are changing. And with income inequality a talking point across America, and the finance industry the target of criticism and scrutiny in recent years, some might just want to keep low-spending profiles.

“The things being bought are less trophy items and, more likely, carefully bought quality,” says Terry Betteridge, who owns Betteridge, a jewelry store. “One doesn’t want to become the next episode of ‘Billions.’”

Just 35 miles from Manhattan in the heart of Connecticut’s famed Gold Coast, with about 60,000 residents and 32 miles of shoreline, Greenwich is among the most prosperous communities in America. One out of every $10 in hedge funds in the country is managed here, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, by firms such as Viking Global Investors and AQR Capital Management. It’s home to finance heavyweights including Steven Cohen of Point72 Asset Management and Dick Fuld. The median annual household income is $135,000 — compared with $56,516 nationally. Residents paid more state income taxes in 2014, the last year for which data are available, than in any other municipality in Connecticut.

Sore Point

The tax rate, by the way, is a sore point, and possible reason behind the departure of the likes of Paul Tudor Jones and Thomas Peterffy, who switched their permanent residences to Florida. The state income tax there is zero.

In 2015, Connecticut boosted the income tax for individuals making more than $500,000 and couples above $1 million to 6.99 percent from 6.7 percent. Levies on luxury goods rose to 7.75 percent from 7 percent on cars over $50,000, jewelry over $5,000 and clothing or footwear over $1,000.

Sternlicht said at a conference two weeks ago that this was why he relocated to the sunshine state. “We used to have no taxes,” he said wistfully, recalling Connecticut before it enacted its income tax in 1991.

Many continue to try to sell their real estate holdings. As of Sept. 14, there were 46 homes at $10 million or more on the market, some that have been lingering since 2014, according to data from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman.

3,000-Bottle Cellar

Among them: an 80-acre estate on Lower Cross Road for $49 million that until last month was asking $65 million, and a 19,773-square-foot manse once owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that has been looking for a buyer for nearly two years. It’s on the market now for $45 million, down from $54 million.

Former Trump property
Former Trump property
Source: Coldwell Banker

No takers yet for a seven-bedroom affair with a 3,000-bottle chilled wine cellar, a tennis court that converts to a hockey rink and a globe-shaped observatory with a retractable roof and high-powered telescope. That one recently returned to the market at $8.495 million, after an earlier effort at $8.95 million. Former Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Sandy Weill is trying to offload his 16,460-square-foot home at $9.9 million, down from $14 million more than two years ago.

One problem is that risk levels have gone through the wringer. Members of the younger Wall Street crowd are quite conservative, says Robin Kencel, a broker with Douglas Elliman. “They used to say Oh, I’ll stretch.’ Now they’re more practical. They’ll ask ‘What are the utility bills? Oh, wait — I don’t want it.’”

That could explain why, this year through Sept. 22, pending sales of homes priced up to $999,999 jumped 29 percent from the same period in 2015, according to brokerage Houlihan Lawrence, and those between $1 million and $1.99 million were up 69 percent. Contracts for homes between $5 million and $5.99 million, meanwhile, fell 80 percent.


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Hottest U.S. Real Estate Markets for September | Katonah Real Estate

Hottest markets for September 2016

Mindy_Nicole_Photography/iStock; uschools/iStock
jjwithers/iStock; Aneese/iStock; Greg Chow

September would ordinarily be the end of the high season for residential real estate, with schools back in session across the U.S. and families reluctant to uproot. But hold on—this is no ordinary year, and a preliminary review of the month’s data on realtor.com®shows that September is shaping up to be the hottest fall in a decade.

Homes for sale in September are moving 4% more quickly than last year, and that’s even as prices hit record highs. The median home price maintained August’s level of $250,000, which is 9% higher than one year ago. That’s a new high for September.

“The fundamental trends we have been seeing all year remain solidly in place as we enter the slower time of the year,” says realtor.com’s chief economist, Jonathan Smoke. That means short supply and high demand, which results in high prices.

Granted, September saw a bit of the typical seasonal slowdown, with properties spending five more days on market (77) than last month—but that’s still three days faster than last year at this time. At the same time, fewer homes are coming on the market, further diminishing supply. Total inventory remains considerably lower than one year ago, leaving buyers with fewer options in a market that has already been pretty tight.

In gauging which real estate markets were seeing the most activity, our economic data team took into account the number of days that homes spend on the market (a measure of supply) and the number of views that listings on our site get (a measure of demand). The result is a list of the nation’s hottest real estate markets, where inventory moves 23 to 43 days more quickly than the national average, and listings get 1.4 to 3.7 more views than the national average.

New to the top 20 this month is Grand Rapids, MI. Like other cities on the list, “Grand Rapids” includes the greater metropolitan area, which in this case takes in Wyoming, MI. Similarly, our No. 1 market, “San Francisco,” also includes nearby Oakland and Hayward.

The hot list

20 Hottest Markets Rank
Rank Change
1 San Francisco, CA 4 3
2 Vallejo, CA 1 -1
3 Denver, CO 3 0
4 Dallas, TX 2 -2
5 San Diego, CA 6 1
6 Stockton, CA 5 -1
7 Fort Wayne, IN 11 4
8 Sacramento, CA 10 2
9 San Jose, CA 10 2
10 Waco, TX 14 5
11 Modesto, CA 13 2
12 Columbus, OH 7 -5
13 Yuba City, CA 12 -1
14 Detroit, MI 9 -5
15 Santa Rosa, CA 19 4
16 Colorado Springs, CO 16 0
17 Santa Cruz, CA 17 0
18 Kennewick, WA 18 0
19 Nashville, TN 20 1
20 Grand Rapids, MI 21 1



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30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Hits 10 Week Low | Katonah #RealEstate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling as the FOMC decided to leave short term rates unchanged.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.42 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 29, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.48 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.85 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.72 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.76 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.07 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.80 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.91 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 the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Investors flocked to the safety of government bonds causing the 10-year Treasury yield to continue its descent following the FOMC’s decision to leave rates unchanged. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage responded by dropping 6 basis points before landing at 3.42 percent — a ten-week low. The course of the economy is uncertain, yet consumers continue to be a bright spot. The September consumer confidence index is up 3 percent to 104.1, exceeding forecasts and reaching a new cycle high.”

Single family home sales fall 7.6% | Katonah Real Estate

United States New Home Sales  

Sales of new single-family houses in the United States fell 7.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 609,000 in August of 2016, better than market expectations of an 8.8 percent decline. Figures for the previous month were revised up by 5,000 to 659,000, the highest since 2007. New Home Sales in the United States averaged 652.45 Thousand from 1963 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 1389 Thousand in July of 2005 and a record low of 270 Thousand in February of 2011. New Home Sales in the United States is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

United States New Home Sales
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Housing starts up 12.36%, down in Northeast | Katonah Real Estate

New Housing Units Started

(Seasonally adj. at Annual Rate, in % Y/Y)

On May 2016 Total housing units starts were at seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,164,000 units, an decrease of 8,000 units or -0.68 % from 1,172,000 units April 2016 and an increase of 12.36 % from 1,036,000 units May 2015.

New Housing Units Started
(Seasonally adj. at Annual Rate, in % Y/Y)
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
Feb. 2016
Jan. 2016
Total 12.36 % 0.6 % 18.68 % 35.23 % 4.35 %
In structures Single-family units 12.35 % 8.21 % 21.84 % 42.5 % 11.19 %
In structures with 2 – 4 units 95.71 % 16.67 % -57.14 % 71.43 % 260 %
In structures with 5 units or more -2.09 % -12.85 % 17.42 % 19.87 % -11.61 %
Northeast -41.01 % -29.1 % 43.56 % 70.21 % 37.04 %
Midwest 33.56 % 12.65 % 21.43 % 117.53 % 0.65 %
South 23.84 % 18.23 % 8.43 % 19.07 % 9.87 %
West 6.72 % -18.69 % 29.85 % 29.71 % -15.75 %

#Emotions influence the homes we choose | Katonah Real Estate

It’s a fact of life: Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

A home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise a family and, for some people, an investment they hope will bring them a good chunk of money down the road. We fall in love with houses in a way that we never fall in love with a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

All too often, though, we don’t realize that how we feel about homes blinds us when it comes time to buy or sell. We let our emotions blind us to cold facts about the market or the realities of ownership. Or we prioritize one set of emotional needs over others that are just are strong but may not be evident at first. And ignoring them can lead us to make bad financial decisions that can affect us for decades to come.

For instance, people might focus on their desire for a house that’s a certain size or style, but ignore the fact that they want to spend as much time as possible with family. So they might buy a “perfect” house that requires them to make a long daily commute to work and keeps them away from home for two extra hours each day.

The home-selling side of the equation brings its own set of thorny issues. Homeowners often have an overly rosy view of their home and expect it to increase in value far beyond reasonable expectations. And when they put it on the market, they often stubbornly cling to their asking price—even if it means leaving it up for sale far longer than they planned, and risking the possibility of not selling it at all.

Here’s a closer look at some psychological missteps that buyers and sellers often make as they wade into the housing market.

Ignoring the big picture

Home buyers are always on the lookout for features—like a longer driveway or bigger backyard—that will make them happier with their home. But people don’t realize that those changes may not make them happier with their life as a whole.

“When people move to better housing, they think they will be a lot happier overall,” says Shige Oishi, a co-author of a 2010 study on the subject in Social Indicators Research. “When they actually move, however, their overall happiness does not often change because there are many trade-offs in moving.”

One of the biggest trade-offs is commuting. Many move to live in a bigger house, but that bigger house is often farther away from work — so that means more commuting, which tends to add stress and detract from overall happiness. A 2008 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Economics shows that people who had longer commutes reported “lower subjective well-being” than those with shorter commutes. “If you’re moving to a place far away from your friends, but it has nicer stuff, it’s not a great deal for your happiness,” says Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.

In another study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Dunn and her co-authors explored the matter of expectations vs. reality in another way — by looking at Harvard undergraduates who were randomly assigned to different dormitories. The study showed that first-year students incorrectly predicted what would bring them the most satisfaction from their dorms — physical features like location on campus, the attractiveness of the residence, room size and desirability of the dining hall and facilities.

In the initial survey, the students put no weight on social features, such as relationships with roommates and a sense of community in the residence. But when the researchers checked back in with the students after they’d been living in their dorms, the only thing that appeared to matter for their happiness was the quality of the social factors.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing the physical features of the places you’re looking at,” says Dunn, “but you should really stop to consider how the places you’re considering will shape your social relationships.”

Overlooking big expenses

People who are buying homes tend to compartmentalize their expenses and not add up the total cost of everything needed to fix up and furnish the house, says Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University. That can lead them to make poor choices about how much to pay for a home. For instance, they may overspend on a down payment for the house itself and leave themselves without enough money to buy the sort of decorations or furniture that they want. “When you’re getting a house, think about furnishing it at the same time,” says Tabarrok.


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US Housing starts flat | Katonah Real Estate

Housing Starts in the United States is expected to be 1163.61 Thousand by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Housing Starts in the United States to stand at 1193.24 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the United States Housing Starts is projected to trend around 1213.00 Thousand in 2020, according to our econometric models.

United States Housing Starts
Forecast Actual Q2/16 Q3/16 Q4/16 Q1/17 2020 Unit
Housing Starts 1164 1164 1175 1184 1193 1213 Thousand
United States Housing Starts Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of United States Housing Starts using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – United States Housing Starts – was last predicted on Friday, June 17, 2016.
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30 Year Mortgage rates average 3.57% | Katonah 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 third consecutive week following disappointing April employment data. Mortgage rates are at their low point for the year.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.57 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending May 12, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.61 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.85 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.81 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.86 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.07 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.78 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.80 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.89 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.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Disappointing April employment data once again kept a lid on Treasury yields, which have struggled to stay above 1.8 percent since late March. As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate fell 4 basis points to 3.57 percent, a new low for 2016 and the lowest mark in 3 years. Prospective homebuyers will continue to take advantage of a falling rate environment that has seen mortgage rates drop in 14 of the previous 19 weeks.”

Sales of unbuilt homes hover near a 10-year high | Katonah Real Estate

The latest new home sales report presents a more positive forecast on the future of today’s current inventory crisis after several industry reports give strong concerns over the market’s daunting lack of inventory.

In Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin’s analysis of Wednesday’s new home sales report, he explained that the share of new home sales not started, in other words homes purchased off a plan, hovers near a 10-year high.

“Why? The inventory of existing homes continues to fall. Low existing inventory likely pushes prospective buyers away from existing homes towards new homes, and as new home sales rise, this allows builders to sell more new homes off plan,” McLaughlin said.

Click to enlarge

new home sales one

(Source: Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin)

The housing market can’t seem to get past the inventory shortage that keeps penetrating into all crevasses of the industry. And while this won’t change this year, there may be hope for next year as builders start to play catch-up, a Fitch Ratings report recently said.

The National Association of Realtors’ latest report posted that in January, total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, slightly increased 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million, up from a downwardly revised 5.45 million in December.

“The housing market has shown promising resilience in recent months, but home prices are still rising too fast because of ongoing supply constraints,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said on the existing-home sales report.

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller report echoed similar inventory concerns, with Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell commenting on it saying, “There are a lot of economic forces at work behind the scenes that will have a big impact on housing as we enter the busy home-shopping season. Low inventory is a factor in almost every market, so buyers should be prepared for a limited selection in the months to come.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development report, sales of new single-family houses in January 2016 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 494,000. This is 9.2% below the revised December rate of 544,000 and is 5.2% below the January 2015 estimate of 521,000.

However, McLaughlin cautioned, “All new home sales numbers from the U.S. Census are extremely volatile: the margin of error is wide and often includes zero, which means we can’t be certain whether the month-over-month or year-over-year changes actually increased, decreased, or stayed flat.”


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Boomers Prefer Suburbs and Cul de Sacs | Katonah Real Estate

NAHB’s recently published Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation shows that homebuyers in the Baby Boom Generation want a suburban neighborhood consisting of all single-family detached homes more often than any other community feature (of the 19 listed), and nearly 80 percent prefer a cul de sac over efficient traffic flow when given the choice.

These results are based on a survey conducted by NAHB in September 2015 that collected data from 4,326 recent and prospective homebuyers, stratified and weighted to be representative of the age, geography, income, and race and ethnicity of homeowners in the U.S.  Although the published study emphasizes housing preferences of Boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964), for comparison purposes the survey also captured buyers in other generations (including Millennials born in 1980 or later, Gen X’ers born 1965 to 1979, and Seniors born in 1945 or earlier).

Among other things, the survey asked buyers to rate 19 community features on the following four-tier scale:

  • Do not want – not likely to buy a home in a community with this feature.
  • Indifferent – wouldn’t influence decision.
  • Desirable – would be seriously influenced to purchase a home because this design or feature was included.
  • Essential/Must have – unlikely to purchase a home in a community unless it has this feature.

For home buyers in the Boomer generation, the most desired of these features is a “typically suburban” community (defined as consisting of all single-family detached homes) rated desirable or essential by 70 percent of Boomer respondents.  After that comes a group of three community features rated essential or desirable by 61 to 64 percent of Boomers: being near retail space, a park area and walking/jogging trails.

Boomer Pref Fig 01A

At the other end of the scale, tennis courts, high density (defined as smaller lots and attached/ or multifamily buildings), other mixed use (homes near office or other commercial buildings, to distinguish it from homes near retail space like grocery or drug stores), a golf course, baseball or soccer fields, and daycare center are relatively unpopular, each being rated essential or desirable by fewer than one-fifth of Boomers.

Compared to buyers in other generations there are many similarities in the way Boomers rank the top community features.  Seven community features (typically suburban, park area, near retail space, walking/jogging trails, a lake, swimming pool, and exercise room) make the top eight irrespective of the home buyer’s age.

Top 8 by Gen

The main generational differences in the rankings are 1) playgrounds are particularly important for buyers in the Millennial generation, but fall entirely out of the top eight for Boomers and Seniors; and 2) an outdoor maintenance service becomes relatively more important for older buyers, moving all the way up to number five on the list for Seniors.

 Another section of the NAHB survey asked home buyers about street design trade-offs, which can be useful in helping inform land planning decisions.  A number of advocacy groups (e.g., the National Complete Streets Coalition) recommend interconnected streets for efficent traffic flow, implying that designs like cul de sacs that seek to limit through traffic should be avoided.  But home buyers in the Boomer generation have the opposite opinion: 78 percent prefer the cul de sac or other street design with limited traffic flow—more than triple the 22 percent who prefer the alternative of a home on a continuous street with more efficient traffic flow.


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