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Katonah Real Estate

Rising real estate tax burden | Katonah Real Estate

The good news for some homeowners in one town: The average assessed value of a house in your neighborhood has skyrocketed by more than eightfold, climbing from about $212,000 to $1.8 million.

Now for the bad news: Your property taxes are going up as well, to just over $29,000 from an average of about $16,500 — and you’ll only be able to deduct the first $10,000 on your taxes.

That’s the situation facing some homeowners in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the rapidly gentrifying city performs its first round of reassessments since 1988.

The traditionally blue collar town, which sits directly across the Hudson River from New York City, is an extreme example, but it isn’t alone.

Property taxes, for instance, are up 38 percent year-over-year in Clark County, Nevada – home to Las Vegas – raising the average 2017 tax bill on a single family home to $2,445 from $1,774, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a provider of real estate data.

Home prices there have risen by 100 percent over the last five years, according to ATTOM.

Las Vegas, Nevada

RebeccaAng | Getty Images
Las Vegas, Nevada

Meanwhile, homeowners in Williamson County, Texas — just outside of Austin — experienced a 15 percent tax increase last year. Owners of single family homes paid an average of $6,697 in property taxes, up from $5,837, according to ATTOM.

Over the last five years, home prices there have risen by 80 percent.

“The story is that people are moving to these markets, and they’re experiencing rapid home price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM.

“It doesn’t just affect the people who are willing to pay for the homes and the property taxes,” he said. “There is a ripple effect on neighbors who might have been there for 20 years, and their taxes go up as well.”

Here’s how to contend with skyrocketing property taxes.

Monthly crunch

For Keren Vered, a Jersey City resident, community activist and fashion industry consultant, the $18,000 tax hike on her townhouse translates to an additional outlay of about $1,500 a month.

That’s on top of the $10,000 she already paid annually in property taxes prior to the city’s reassessment. Then there are other regular monthly costs she’ll need to weigh.

“For me, it’s not just the $1,500 a month, but the private school part of it, too,” said the mother of two, ages 2 and 4. “Year over year, plus private school, I worry about the long-term sustainability of it.”

The family has a lever available to help contend with the tax increase: They already rent out one floor of their three-story townhouse. Even so, tenants can only handle so much of an increase in their rent.

“I’m trying to get the city to where other families like mine would want it to be,” said Vered. “Rents going up create a barrier to entry.”

Tax strategies

Homeowners like Vered face an additional difficulty: Prior to 2018, they were able to claim all of their property tax liability if they itemized on their taxes.

With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now in place, residents can now only claim up to $10,000 in state and local tax deductions.

Residents in New York, New Jersey and California are among the hardest hit.

SALT in the wound. The $10,000 cap on state and local taxes are a blow to just a handful of states.

Plus, fewer filers are expected to itemize in 2018 because the new tax law has doubled the standard deduction to $24,000 for a married couple filing jointly. Under the previous law, about 49 million taxpayers — roughly 3 in 10 individuals — filed itemized returns, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Accountants point to a couple of strategies homeowners facing big tax hikes can take.

Home office break

An entrepreneur working from home can take a home office deduction in one of two ways. First, there’s the “safe harbor” method in which you deduct $5 per square foot for an office that’s up to 300 square feet.

You can also calculate your deduction based on your actual expenses, figuring out the percentage of your home used for the business.


Loic Lagarde | Getty Images

This method considers the percentage of home costs, including real estate taxes, attributable to the office, according to S. Andrew Smith, a CPA and principal at Baker Newman Noyes in Portland, Maine.

The “actual expense” method also deducts for depreciation, and you will pay taxes on that when you sell your home, Smith warned.

You do not need to itemize on your taxes to grab the home office deduction, but you do need to show a profit from a home business in order to take it.

Rent it out

Whether you have a duplex or a spare room, consider taking on a tenant.

“You’ll pay the property tax one way or the other, but at least you have some rental income to help pay for it,” said Tim Steffen, director of advanced planning for R.W. Baird’s private wealth management group in Milwaukee.

High-tax states on 'SALT' diet after tax reform

High-tax states on ‘SALT’ diet after tax reform  

As a landlord and a small business, if you become a pass-through entity— an LLC or an S-corporation — you may be eligible for a 20 percent deduction for qualified business income.

If you rent out your home, be sure to track your expenses and talk to your insurance agent. “If you use it as a rental property, even partially, your insurance coverage needs will change,” said Smith.

Report your rental income or loss on Schedule E when you file your taxes.

On the other hand, if your rapidly appreciating property is in a prime destination, consider that you won’t have to claim the rental income if you rent your space for less than 14 days over the year.

Fight back

Finally, if you disagree with your municipality’s assessment on your home, you can contest the findings.

Get to know your city’s appeal’s process, which can be deadline sensitive and will vary from one town to the next.

Expect to gather evidence of your home’s market value, too.

You can hire an appraiser to provide your city’s tax assessor with reports and comparable property values to back up your findings, said Brigid D’Souza, a CPA and founder of Civic Parent, a website that follows property tax developments in Jersey City.

The national average cost of hiring an appraiser is about $329, according to HomeAdvisor, a home improvement website.

You can also hire an attorney on a contingency basis to represent you through the appeals process, which typically costs one-third to one-half of your first year’s tax savings, D’Souza said.

While a licensed realtor can’t give you an appraisal, he or she can provide you with comparative sales which can act as evidence of market value, said D’Souza.

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Santa’s home on zestimate | Katonah Real Estate

Santa’s House  The North Pole

3 beds 2 baths 2,500 sqft

A toy-lover’s paradise nestled on 25 idyllic acres at the North Pole – perfect for spirited reindeer games. The home, constructed in the 1800s of gorgeous old-growth timber logged on site, is steeped in Old World charm but offers modern-day amenities, thanks to a 2013 renovation.

A welcoming entryway leads to the living room with a floor-to-ceiling river rock fireplace for roasting chestnuts. The gourmet kitchen is a baker’s dream, boasting an oven with 12 different cookie settings... More 


  • Lot: 25 acres
  • Floor size: 2,500 sqft
  • Home type: Single Family
  • Year built: 1822
  • Last remodel: 2013


  • Santa’s Toy Workshop
  • Reindeer Stables
  • River Rock Fireplace
  • Sleigh Parking Garage

Zestimate Details

+$1,144 Last 30 days


Zestimate range
Rent Zestimate
+$46 Last 30 days


Zestimate range
Zestimate forecast
One year
  • Zestimate

*Endorsement by the United States Department of Defense or NORAD is not intended nor implied.

More First-timers Than Expected Are Now Buying Homes | Katonah Real Estate

First-time buyers may be entering the U.S. home market in greater numbers than industry watchers had assumed.

Nearly half of sales in the past year went to people who were buying their first home, according to a survey released Tuesday by the real estate firm Zillow. That’s a much higher proportion of the market than some other industry estimates had indicated.

Zillow’s survey results suggest that this year’s growth in home sales has come largely from a wave of couples in their 30s, who are the most common first-time buyers. If that trend were to hold, it could raise hopes that today’s vast generation of 18-to-34-year-old millennials will help support the housing market as more of them move into their 30s.

That’s among the findings in a 168-page report by Seattle-based Zillow. Its survey also found that home ownership is increasingly the domain of the college-educated. And it indicated that older Americans who are seeking to downsize are paying premiums for smaller houses.

Here’s a breakdown of Zillow’s findings:

— First-time buyers make up a larger chunk of the housing market than the real estate industry has generally thought. Forty-seven percent of purchases in the past year went to first-time buyers. Their median age was 33. By contrast, surveys from the National Association of Realtors have indicated that first-timers account for only about 30 percent of all buyers.

The difference between the two surveys may stem from their methodologies. The NAR has used a mail-based survey for its annual figures, while Zillow used an online survey that might have generated more responses from younger buyers.

— No college? Dwindling chance of homeownership

It’s become harder to realize the dream of home ownership without a college degree. Sixty-two percent of buyers have at least a four-year college degree. Census figures show that just 33 percent of the U.S. adults graduated from college. The gap between the education levels of homebuyers and the broader U.S. population indicates that workers with only a high school degree are becoming less likely to own a home.

This is a major shift for the middle class. Just 12 percent of homeowners in 1986 were college graduates, according to government figures. The trend is driven in part by falling incomes for people with only a high school degree.

— Millennial home buyers are increasingly Hispanic

Out of the 74 million U.S. households that own their homes, a sizable majority — 77 percent — are white. But these demographics are changing fast. Only 66 percent of millennial homeowners are white. The big gains have come from Latinos, who make up 17 percent of millennial homeowners but just 9 percent of all homeowners.

Asians also make up a greater share of millennials. This means that as today’s millennial generation ages, the housing market may look considerably more diverse than it does now.

— Older Americans aren’t just downsizing; they’re also upgrading.

The so-called “silent generation” — those ages 65 to 75— bought homes in the past year with a median size of just 1,800 square feet, about 220 square feet smaller than the homes they sold. But that smaller new home still cost more. These retirement-age buyers paid a median of $250,000, nearly $30,000 more than the home they sold. In some cases, the higher purchase price likely reflects the profits from the sale of their previous home, in other cases a desire by upscale buyers for luxury finishes and amenities.

— Starter homes are no longer popular.

When millennials buy, they’re leapfrogging past the traditional, smaller starter home. This younger generation paid a median of $217,000 for a 1,800-square-foot house. That median is nearly identical to what older generations buy.


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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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How New Home Buyers Financed Their Homes in 2015 | Katonah Real Estate

NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau Survey of Construction (SOC) data shows that non-conventional forms of financing new single-family home purchases remained elevated in 2015, accounting for more than a third of the market.

Looking at new single-family homes started in 2015, the South Atlantic division was most dependent on non-conventional financing, with its share exceeding 40% of the market. The West South Central and New England divisions registered similarly high shares but relied on very different types of non-conventional financing. In New England, a third of all homes started in 2015 were cash purchases, while loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) accounted for less than 3% of the market. In contrast, homebuyers in the South Atlantic and West South Central division relied more heavily on FHA- and VA-backed loans that together accounted for more than 26% and 21% of the market, respectively.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where only 16% of new homes started in 2015 were financed using non-conventional methods. This share is less than half of the US average of 34.5%, making it the lowest share of non-conventional financing in the nation.

The Pacific and Mountain divisions registered shares of non-conventional financing methods close to the US average, 34% and 36%, respectively. In the middle Atlantic division, one in four single-family homes started in 2015 was financed by non-conventional means. While in the West North Central and East North Central divisions, only one in five new home buyers relied on non-conventional financing.
For homes started in 2015, the share of mortgages insured by the FHA bumped up, especially in the Pacific and South Atlantic divisions where FHA loans accounted for 19% and 18%, respectively. This was largely due to a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums implemented at the start of 2015. As a result, FHA-backed loans regained their status as the most prevalent form of non-conventional financing of new home purchases – the status they temporarily lost to cash purchases a year earlier following the implemented decline in the 2014 FHA loan limits.

The share of VA-backed loans remained relatively stable in 2015, accounting for just over 6% of the market. However, their share was almost twice as high, approaching 12%, in the Mountain division, the only region in the nation where the share of VA-backed loans exceeded that of cash purchases and other types of financing combined.

The share of cash purchases declined in 2015, most dramatically in the Mountain division, where cash purchases lost half of its market share. Overall, cash purchases accounted for 10 percent of the market. New England registered the nation’s highest share, with one in three new homes started in 2015 purchased with cash. The Middle Atlantic and East North Central divisions registered the second and third highest shares – 15% and 14%, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where less than 7% of single-family starts were financed with cash.

The high prevalence of cash financing in the New England, East North Central and Middle Atlantic divisions can be partially explained by the popularity of custom homebuilding in these divisions, with all three claimingthe top three custom home market shares in 2015. Custom homes are more likely to be financed with cash, especially if built by the owner acting as the general contractor. In 2015, more than 36% of custom homes built by the owner were financed with cash, while less than 7 percent of spec homes were purchased with cash.
Other types of non-conventional financing methods – such as the Rural Housing Service, Habitat for Humanity, loans from individuals, state or local government mortgage-backed bonds and other – are particularly popular in the West South Central division (7.6%) and South Atlantic division (5.7%), both exceeding the national average of 4.5%.


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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 %

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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Case-Shiller Home Price Index rises | Katonah Real Estate

United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index  Forecast 2016-2020

Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States is expected to be 182.91 Index Points by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Case Shiller Home Price Index in the United States to stand at 179.90 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index is projected to trend around 160.18 Index Points in 2020, according to our econometric models.

United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index
United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index 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 S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index – was last predicted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016.
United States Housing Last Q1/16 Q2/16 Q3/16 Q4/16 2020
Building Permits 1232 1245 1249 1254 1259 1310
Housing Starts 1149 1165 1173 1182 1192 1288
New Home Sales 490 491 499 503 507 567
Pending Home Sales 2.7 1.99 1.7 1.54 1.45 1.33
Existing Home Sales 5460 5546 5402 5396 5378 5115
Construction Spending -0.4 0.22 0.27 0.29 0.3 0.31
Housing Index 0.5 0.48 0.44 0.43 0.42 0.31
Nahb Housing Market Index 60 59.27 58.97 58.48 58.01 53.23
Mortgage Rate 4.06 4.6 4.9 5.1 4.23 6.5
Mortgage Applications 9 0.78 0.46 0.47 0.47 0.47
Home Ownership Rate 63.7 63.7 63.7 63.7 63.7 63.7
Case Shiller Home Price Index 183 183 182 181 180 160



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