The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remained at 3.87% in the week that ended June 4, matching the prior week’s reading, which was the highest since the end of 2014, according to a Thursday report from federally controlled mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac.
A year ago, the 30-year rate was at 4.14%. A record low of 3.31% for the 30-year mortgage was hit in November 2012.
The average rate for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 3.08% in the latest week from 3.11% in the prior week.
Meanwhile, the rate for a 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.96% from 2.90%. The rate for a 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM jumped up to 2.59% from 2.50%.
Builders increased building activity in April to a level not seen since November 2007. Total starts increased 20.2% from March to April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.135 million. The increase was broad based with a 16.7% increase in single-family starts to a level of 733,000, the highest since January 2008, and multifamily (2 or more units in the structure) increase of 27.2% to an annual rate of 402,000.
Some of the increase in the total and both sectors was due to poor readings in February and March due to particularly cold and snow-laden weather. But the increases, particularly in the single-family market, are also indicative of the continued healing taking place. Home buyers have been reluctant to buy until there is a clear sign that the economy, and more particularly their own future, is more positive. As employment grows and some wages increase and as home equity improves, some of those households break out of their concerns and are beginning to shop for a new home.
Permits were also up suggesting the positive trend will continue. Total permits rose 10.1% to 1.143 million units, the highest since December 2007. Single-family permits were up 3.7% from March to 666,000 and multifamily permits totaled 477,000 the highest since April 2006. Apartment construction continues to grow as most newly formed households are turning to renting.
Single-family starts increased in all regions and multifamily starts increased in the West and Northeast and were virtually unchanged in the Midwest. Multifamily starts were down 20% in the South. Single-family permits were up in every region and multifamily permits were up in the Northeast and South and virtually unchanged in the West. Multifamily permits were down 6% in the Midwest.
Don’t tell the HGTV producers who find audiences for their endless stream of shows devoted to house flipping, but it’s looking like flipping is losing popularity.
RealtyTrac® reports that last year flips fell to their lowest market share since 2011. Some 136,269 U.S. single family homes were flipped in 2014, 5.4 percent of all single family home sales during the year.
A total of 32,578 U.S. single family homes were flipped in the fourth quarter, representing 5.3 percent of all single family home sales during the quarter. The 5.3 percent share of flips in the fourth quarter was up 11 percent from the previous quarter but still down 12 percent from a year ago.
Flips are dwindling despite improving returns. The average gross profit — the difference between the purchase price and flipped price — for completed flips of single family homes in the fourth quarter was $65,993, representing a 37.1 percent gross return. That was up from an average gross profit of $65,285 representing a 36.5 percent gross return in the third quarter, and an average gross profit of $63,017 representing a 36.4 percent gross return in the fourth quarter of 2013.
“Investors have picked much of the low-hanging fruit when it comes to home flipping over the past three years since home prices bottomed out in the first quarter of 2012,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “As home price appreciation slows to single digits in most markets, flippers need to be more selective and creative about the properties and neighborhoods they target.
“In many cases the best neighborhoods for profitable flipping in a slower-appreciating market are those that come with a higher risk because of location and condition of properties, but also have a bigger upside if investors are able to correctly predict the path of progress in the region,” Blomquist added. “It appears that most investors completing flips in the fourth quarter were able to do just that. Even though the share of flips was down from a year ago during the quarter, the average gross return per flip increased.”
Zips with highest share of Q4 flips in Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami Among zip codes with at least 10 single family home flips completed in the fourth quarter of 2014, there were 10 where flips represented 25 percent or more of all single family home sales during the quarter. Metropolitan statistical areas with top 10 zip codes for share of flips in the fourth quarter were Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Jacksonville, Florida, Tampa and San Diego.
After graduating college in 2009, Brian Maida lived with his parents for about two years in order to save the money to buy his first home.
He bought a second one in 2013.
Maida, 27, lives in New Jersey and works in business development and sales. He says it only took about $14,000 to buy that first place, which he now rents out for supplemental income.
“I was able to refinance that loan within a year and show them that I had 20% equity based on their appraisal, and that lowered my payment by almost 20%,” Maida explains. “You can get pretty good deals on real estate if you look hard and negotiate.”
He bought his second place, where he now lives, in a short sale with 5% down, and he currently pays private mortgage insurance (PMI).
In fact, Maida devotes the bulk of his monthly budget to his properties, and plans to buy a third property in March of this year. “I liquidated my 401(K) and Roth IRA,” he explains. “I no longer believe in investing in the stock market — I follow it too much. I would rather buy real estate and leverage my money. Right now I own about $250,000 in real estate, and I put in maybe $40,000.”
Below, Maida shares his monthly budget based on his $5,656 monthly income ($4,306 from his salary, $1,350 rental income from his investment property). He budgets according to take-home pay from his base salary, plus paycheck withdrawals like medical insurance but excluding taxes. He chooses to list out the withdrawals in case he ever becomes a contractor in the future. “I don’t even put commission on here, because in my role, I could make $100,000 one year and $200,000 the next,” he adds. “All the commission is extra money I’d save.”
All numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar.
To simplify the visual, we’ve abbreviated Maida’s primary home, where he lives, as “PH.” We’ve also condensed the costs of his investment property ($1,307) into one category that includes his separate payments for the mortgage, taxes, HOA fee, the landlord/tenant policy, and any other costs.
The “pets” category includes two categories that Maida lists separately for his two dogs and a cat: food/treats/toys/vet ($200) and walking/sitting ($60). His “accident insurance” category includes both his personal death and dismemberment coverage and his enrollment in his employer’s legal plan.
His monthly costs, which he splits into fixed and variable categories, add up to $4,674 a month, leaving a difference of $982. “If stick to this budget, I save about $12,000 a year,” Maida explains. “My tax return is another approximately $3,000 — that’s $15,000 a year. Next, I’d like to buy a house for $250,000 to $500,000.”
You might think the kitchen, with its hot stoves and sharp utensils, would be the most dangerous room in your home, but it’s actually the bathroom. According to a 2011 report from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls—the No. 1 problem—most often occurred in or around the bathtub, shower, or toilet.
“We get lots of calls for slips and falls in the bathroom,” says Howard Mell, M.D., a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians who works at several hospitals in Cleveland.
The bathroom is especially hazardous for women, who are at a higher risk than men for falling and getting hurt, perhaps because of lesser body strength and bone mass. And let JustWedi provide quality products for your new bathroom and make it look like you always wanted.
For those age 65 and older, falls often cause more serious injuries, such as hip fractures. Seniors, according to the report, were also more likely to be injured getting on or off the toilet. Standing after sitting for a long time, especially if you’re dehydrated or taking certain medications, can result in a sudden drop in blood pressure that can cause light-headedness or dizziness.
But few of us have bathrooms that are equipped with grab bars, a secure safety device that looks like a railing and could prevent falls. Also, installing a shower head filter for hard water is the solution to low pressure, water waste and hard to clean shower heads. Here are other modifications you can make to your bathroom to make it a safer place.
The kitchen is the most popular room to remodel, but sadly, it is not the cheapest. One way to offset those costs is by completing the work yourself. Despite its high traffic, there are plenty of kitchen remodeling projects homeowners can accomplish without the help of a professional. If you want to shed some costs and transform your kitchen, read on to learn more about seven easy DIY projects perfect for any kitchen remodel.
The Benefits of Kitchen Remodels
Before you begin your kitchen remodel, you have to know why you are remodeling. Homeowners redo their kitchens for a variety of reasons; some just want a new look, some are planning to move, some can’t deal with their tile floors, and others just want more functionality. However, when we talked to homeowners across the country, three dominant reasons became evident.
Homeowners remodel their kitchens to:
Increase the value of their home
Add different designs
Install more storage or make it more convenient
1. DIY Kitchen Countertops
Kitchens almost always start and end with the countertops. Homeowners tend to shy away from working with expensive features—like their countertops—but as you will see, installing your own kitchen countertops is a job anyone can handle.
After you decide on your material, know the dimensions and have your counters cut (by the manufacturer), all homeowners can follow the steps below.
Double-check that the counter size and cuts are perfect
Add the sink before you install the counters (sink hole should be cut)
Place countertop on workstation with plenty of space
Drill a hole for the faucet and the brackets
Add silicone around sink hole (ask countertop manufacturer what silicone or adhesive they recommend)
Add the sink to the countertop
Place countertop in desired location
Seal all spaces with colored adhesive (match the countertop)
Connect water lines
2. How to Install a Sink
There are those homeowners who grow tired of looking at the same kitchen sinks for years and years. Much like the kitchen counters, all it takes is careful precision and a steady hand.
If you are installing a new sink, you will need to cut a hole in the countertop, just as we did above. The sink manufacturer should provide a cutting template. Just like the counters, install the faucet and waste line to the sink before the sink is secured in the hole—much easier.
Use the following steps to install the sink:
Turn your sink over on your countertop in the desired location
Trace around the sink
Drill four holes at the corners of the sink placement
Use a jigsaw to cut from corner to corner
Check that the sink fits inside the hole
Seal the cut edges of the countertop with a preservative primer
Put the faucet in the sink and install the hoses as well
Install the waste line as the instructions show
Add a layer of adhesive on the counter where the sink will sit
Some homeowners add retaining clips around the edges of the sink at this time
Once you put the sink into place, tighten the clips if needed
Connect the faucets and waste lines
For a more detailed description, please see our friends over at the DIY Network.
3. DIY Kitchen Cabinets
Much like the counters, homeowners tend to shy away from installing their own kitchen cabinets. Fortunately, installing kitchen cabinets is just as easy as hanging a TV or large painting. As long as you have a plan and know where the studs are, you can install your kitchen cabinets without a professional.
Measure and find studs in the wall (mark them)
Hang a support board (so you don’t have to hold the cabinet as you install)
Remove cabinet doors
Attach adjacent cabinets together
Attach kitchen cabinets to the wall with the drill
Install base kitchen cabinets using the same steps
4. Paint Kitchen Appliances
One of the cheapest and quickest ways to transform your kitchen is by giving it a fresh coat of paint. While the average price to paint an interior room is $1,655, you can drastically reduce the overall cost by completing the job yourself.
If you choose to go bold, we highly recommend consulting a professional first. Interior design pros know what colors work in what rooms. If you’re looking for a smaller job, painting kitchen appliances could have the same design effect and yet, take half the time. Most major appliance manufacturers offer paint, panel kits, and other fix-ups on their websites. With these kits, you could redo your refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher.
Whether you want a fresh look for your home or are planning to sell it in the near future, a coat of paint inside the home will make the space look newer, brighter, and even a little more spacious.
5. DIY Tile Backsplash
The backsplash has become the new necessity in kitchen remodels across the country. Backsplashes can give dull or small kitchens that “wow” factor we all seek. They come in a wide array of designs, matching your traditional, rustic, or modern kitchen. As long as you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can install the backsplash yourself.
Follow the steps below to install your own tiled kitchen backsplash:
Measure the distance between your top cabinet and your countertop
Grab your tiled backsplash and cut it to match the distance you just measured
Remove the outlet covers on the wall
Clean the walls to remove all oils, grease, and marks
Place your tile on the wall in the desired location
Carefully add the bottom row of the backsplash, starting with the left-hand side
Make sure it is straight and even before moving forward or applying pressure
To add the grout, cut the edge of the grout bag and evenly distribute it with an evening tool or a floater
Apply grout to the backsplash in a diagonal pattern
Then, push the grout into the joints going the opposite direction
Make sure there is grout in all joints
Use a damp sponge and clean all the grout and joints
6. Clean Grout on Tile Floor
Speaking of tile and grout, a terrific way to update your kitchen with little to no cost at all is by cleaning the grout on your tile floor.The visible grout lines made from water, sand, and cement absorb grease and dirt faster than tiles. As a result, it may discolor quickly, resulting in an ugly design for your kitchen floor.
The savvier DIYer would create his or her own grout cleaner from any combination of baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or (oxygen) bleach. As an extra precaution, only use bleach if you have light-colored grout. However, the safer bet would be to buy a special pH-balanced product from a flooring company to protect against discoloration.
Depending on the chosen cleaner, it’s always best to let it sit within the grout for a few minutes before scrubbing it in. If you’re using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, let the peroxide settle before hitting the scrubber.
After pouring a healthy amount of cleaner and letting it sit, gently add your baking soda (if you’re using it). Then, use your toothbrush or specialty brush and rub away the dirt. Don’t be afraid to use some muscle. Most homeowners ignore their grout for months, if not years, so a good amount of grease and dirt could be hiding.
7. DIY Fixes for the Refrigerator
Food is the main reason we enter and leave the kitchen, but if your fridge is on the fritz, the kitchen loses all purpose. Luckily, homeowners can fix some of the most common refrigerator issues.
The most common problem fridges face is leakage. A range of issues could cause a refrigerator to leak, but the most common culprit is a loose gasket. A refrigerator gasket is the flexible elastic strip attached to the outer edge of a refrigerator or freezer.
The Mount Kisco Medical Group (MKMG), a multi-specialty practice serving Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, announced Wednesday an expansion of its existing clinical affiliation agreement with the Mount Sinai Health System, increasing the commitment of both parties to providing integrated and coordinated care for the communities they serve.
The physicians and leadership from both Mount Sinai and MKMG will work together to define and deliver best practices in coordinated and continuous care. The relationship will include clinical service enhancement and coordination, research and education.
Mount Sinai and MKMG will also cooperate on developing Centers of Excellence in select specialties. The Mount Kisco Medical Group will continue to operate as an independent entity.
“As an integrated health system, the Mount Sinai Health System strives to provide high quality, accessible care, and we’re pleased that the nationally renowned Mount Kisco Medical Group will partner with us in those efforts,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, chief executive officer and president of the Mount Sinai Health System. “We look forward to working with our new partners at MKMG in furthering our goals of enhancing clinical care, as well as medical education and research.”
Scott D. Hayworth, MD president and CEO of the Mount Kisco Medical Group, echoes Davis’ sentiments.
“As a leading provider of ambulatory care in the Northeast, MKMG is pleased to partner with a nationally ranked institution to continue providing outstanding, cost-effective care to our patients,” said Hayworth.
Do you have a bat in your house? What to do if you are bitten? visit http://health.westchestergov.com/rabies to learn what you should do.
The Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) recently distributed notice that the month of August is the peak month for bat activity. Thus the likelihood of human or pet exposures to bats increases.
If you have a bat in your home the DOH recommends capturing the bat and making notification to the DOH for a decision regarding testing. WCDOH can be contacted 24 x 7 at 914 813 5000.
DOH advises a bat killed by trauma will rapidly decompose in warm weather, making it untestable so immediate refrigeration or preferably freezing is required. Place bat in freezer in a sealed plastic bag or small plastic container.
What to do if you are bitten?
If you are bitten, scratched or have some other exposure immediately wash the area with warm soapy water and call your doctor or hospital. Call the Westchester County Health Department at (914) 813-5000 24 hours a day seven days a week for assistance.
The merger agreement has some village police support.
Mount Kisco Sgt. Joseph Spinelli, who is president of the local PBA, endorsed the proposal on behalf of the union and its membership. He noted benefits for police that include better pay and benefits, along with greater opportunities for career advancement. Spinelli also supports the increase in staffing that the merger would entail, along with increased supervision of officers.
Mel Berger, a resident who is involved with the local drug and alcohol council, said he was “extremely happy” for the contract but had concerns including keeping relationships between people and officers, and about police involvement with the council.
County police officials cited examples from the Town of Ossining and the Town of Cortlandt, which also have county policing contracts.
George Longworth, who is commissioner for the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, noted that programs in Ossining remained in place and explained that any program working in Mount Kisco would be maintained. Another county police official noted involvement in a Cortlandt group. That organization is called the Cortlandt Community Coalition, which deals with underage drug and alcohol usage, according to the town’s website.
The merger plan also involves having officers in regular assignments, and county police officials denied that there would be frequent personnel turnover.
Addressing the issue of turnover, Longworth brought up how it can already happen with local police, citing retirement and injury examples.