Tag Archives: Mt Kisco NY Homes for Sale

What This Editor Learned About Remodeling | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Energy retrofit remodelers at work in my bedroom.

Craig WebbEnergy retrofit remodelers at work in my bedroom.

Readers: I’m recovering from a remodel, and I’ve been told that talking about it will make the recovery easier. This is the second time my wife and I have made major, debris-raising changes to our home. The first was a whole-house remodel that included a new addition. This time we got a basement-to-attic energy retrofit in our Washington, D.C., home. I’m quite happy with the results, but I can see why the trauma of remodeling has shaken many others. So I’ve come up with seven rules for you to share with neophyte homeowners.

Rule No. 1: Remember, homeowner, that for the length of the remodel, it’s not your house anymore. You need to trust the people you’ve hired to do the remodel or else buy a big case of ulcer medicine.

Rule No. 2: There is no such thing as a dust-free remodeling project.

Rule No. 3: Try to talk your significant other—the one who frets most about neatness, odors, and general cleanliness—into leaving town before the work starts.

Rule No. 4: Far more things in your house can get broken than you could ever imagine.

Rule No. 5: Short of having exit doors on every wall and every floor, odds are good that workers will traipse through­—and generate dirt in—parts of the house that are nowhere near the work zones.

Rule No. 6: Sometime during the remodel, expect that the new crew will reveal to you something done badly by the last people who worked on the house.

Rule No. 7: It always looks irredeemably disastrous before the cleanup begins.

You’d think that spending years as the editor-in-chief of REMODELING, plus that previous experience with a renovation, would have prepared me sufficiently for the arrival of Attilio Manziano-Verrilli, our project manager fromHome Energy Medics, and his platoons of subcontractors. My wife and I spent the prior weekend moving precious objects and trying to anticipate which parts of the house would get whacked and chipped by workers as they hauled equipment up our narrow stairs. I thought we’d done well until I saw a sub unknowingly jostle a $300 pendant light with a 12-foot stud.


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Affordable Housing Victory for Westchester | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Another Affordable Housing Victory for Westchester

Westchester won another victory Thursday in the ongoing affordable housing settlement with the federal government when U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein ruled that the county had provided financing for enough units to meet its 2014 benchmark.

The ruling further states that there was no basis for the county to be held in contempt. Thursday’s decision follows a September victory where a federal appeals court found that the county had not discriminated as it relates to affordable housing.

“This is another win for our residents,” said County Executive Rob Astorino in a statement. “From the beginning, the county has worked hard to comply with the terms of the settlement. But we have also stood firm against overreaching by the federal government to force the county to do things that are not in the agreement. The magistrate’s decision clearly shows that the county has met its obligations and that the federal government’s contention of contempt was wrong and without legal merit or justification.”

From an Astorino press release on the ruling:

The latest ruling centers on 28 units of affordable housing being developed in New Castle under the name Chappaqua Station. The units are part of the 2009 affordable housing settlement reached between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the administration of former County Executive Andrew Spano. Under the terms of the agreement, the county must ensure the development of 750 units of affordable housing in 31 mostly white communities by the end of 2016.

The settlement also calls for the county to meet annual benchmarks. By the end of 2014, the county had to have 450 units with financing in place. In November of 2014, the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved financing for the Chappaqua Station project, putting the county over the benchmark by four units. However, the federal monitor assigned to the case, James Johnson, who serves at the pleasure of HUD, and the Department of Justice claimed the units should not count because the financing was “subject to” the development receiving all the necessary approvals. Not counting the units would have left the county 24 units short.

However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein dismissed the federal government’s contention, saying the 28 units “should be counted.” “The record is devoid of evidence that the inclusion of this [‘subject to’] provision makes the financing any less available for the Chappaqua Station development,” wrote Judge Gorenstein.

The magistrate also sided with the county on the contempt issue, saying the federal government had failed to meet the standard for showing such a charge was warranted. The county argued successfully that its behavior had to be measured against what the settlement actually says, not what the Monitor claimed it said in his report.

“We cannot conclude on the current record that the Settlement language was clear and unambiguous … such that the County could be held in contempt for not taking the additional actions stated in the Report.”

Astorino said the ruling was critically important for showing once again that the county has been complying with the terms of the settlement. In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit gave Westchester a resounding victory when it declared that “there has been no finding, at any point, that Westchester actually engaged in housing discrimination.” That finding by the nation’s second highest court clearly repudiated the allegation that Westchester’s zoning laws are discriminatory and exclusionary.

“The federal government has tremendous power and can do tremendous damage to the reputations of people and institutions simply by throwing out charges like contempt even if they are later found to be baseless,” said Astorino. “The U.S. magistrate’s ruling corrects the false narrative by the federal government that Westchester County has done anything wrong with respect to implementing the housing settlement.”

For 2015, the county has already surpassed its 600-unit benchmark for financing with 635; and has 466 units with building permits, 59 short of the goal with 101 applications pending.

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GDP Growth in the First Quarter – Stormy Weather? | Mt Kisco Real Estate

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported real GDP grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.2% in the first quarter of 2015. Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014. The slowdown in economic growth was expected but the extent of the slowdown was a surprise. Harsh weather, a strong dollar, stalled trade at west coast ports and falling energy prices all played a role. In the same report the BEA reported that the price index tracking components of GDP, the broadest measure of price movements across the economy, declined by an annualized rate of 0.1% in the first quarter, after rising only 0.1% in the fourth quarter.

A strong dollar and stalled trade combined to shrink exports by an annual rate of 7.2% shaving almost a full percentage point from growth, but the stalled trade likely restrained imports given the rise in the value of the dollar, which would have depressed growth further. The trade dispute has been resolved, but the strong dollar is likely to persist and be a drag on growth in the near term.

Record low temperatures around the country in February can be considered a one-off event with little impact on growth going forward, but falling energy prices have put the brakes on a previously booming energy sector and contributed to an annualized 23.1% decline in the structures component of fixed investment. Investment in equipment, intellectual property and housing (residential fixed investment) all contributed to growth in total fixed investment, but less than in the previous quarter.

Inventory investment increased when it probably should have declined, adding nearly three quarters of a percentage point to growth in the current quarter, but will likely subtract from growth in the next quarter as payback. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) slowed to 1.9% growth from an unsustainable 4.4% last quarter but will need to reaccelerate if the overall growth outlook is to improve.


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Detroit-area homeowners apply to avoid foreclosure | Mt Kisco Real Estate

More than 13,000 Detroit-area property owners have entered into payment plans hoping to avoid losing their homes to tax foreclosure, but another 16,000 living in their homes have yet to take advantage of the offer ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.

Hundreds of applicants sat in a hotel ballroom waiting for the chance to plead their cases before Wayne County Treasury workers. Many had lined up before 7 a.m. to be heard before the 4:30 p.m. deadline.

“I’m downhill and I can’t get out,” said Kevin Franklyn, who was waiting his turn to see if the more than $15,000 he owes on his home and a dozen or so rental properties can be turned into something more manageable.

“I’m going to try to pay what I can,” said Franklyn, 46, who blamed his tenants’ nonpayment of rent for his struggles.

More than 60,000 of the county’s 76,000 foreclosed properties are in Detroit, threatening neighborhoods hard hit by the national mortgage crisis. About $326 million in taxes, interest and fees are owed on the foreclosed homes, lots and other buildings in Detroit.

City officials fear that more foreclosures will only add to the glut of vacant houses in Detroit and blight that keeps potential homebuyers away.

Taxes have been paid in full for about 20,700 of the foreclosed properties, partly through the payment plan, according to Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski.

Of the 38,100 properties still facing foreclosure, only 15,900 are occupied.

“Those are the ones we want to get to,” Szymanski said. The county has to collect property taxes by law.

City and county officials urged state lawmakers to pass foreclosure prevention bills and Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation in January to provide homeowners facing financial hardship with the option to sign up for a payment plan to avoid foreclosure. The bills also cut interest rates, reduced down payments and capped past due taxes.

Szymanski said more than 13,000 homeowners have entered into payment assistance plans already.

Bryan Ely, 28, of Detroit, said he owes about $20,000 in back taxes on his home on Detroit’s northwest side.


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A Game Plan for Setting Your Listing Price | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Setting a home’s list price isn’t an exact science. A good real estate agent will recommend a price range, but never assign an exact price — that’s ultimately for the seller to decide.

Although sellers aren’t required to price according to inventory levels or the market condition, it’s smart to discuss these matters with your agent early and often to make an informed decision. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing your listing price.

Discuss price reductions before listing

If you aren’t highly motivated to unload your home, time is on your side. Absent recent or obvious comparable sales, the market value of your home could fall within a broader range. If you want to give it a shot at the top of the range, go for it. Then monitor buyer traffic to see how the market responds.

If you try the higher end of your home’s price range, agree with your agent early on that, after a set amount of time, you will drop the price. You can then use that price reduction as a marketing tool to get more people in the door. At least you will know that the higher price strategy did not work.

Pricing low doesn’t guarantee multiple offers

When homeowners hear about other sellers who received multiple offers or sold their homes for over the asking price, they assume it can happen to them, too. But just because your neighbor received three offers within two weeks does not mean you will.

The homes that receive multiple offers are sometimes purposely priced low to get that activity. These home are generally in a good location and in their best showing condition. And for all you know, the seller of the low-priced home with multiple offers was in a rush to sell and left money on the table.

If you price your home low, be prepared to take that price. While it’s not unheard of, raising your list price several weeks into the listing will surely turn off potential buyers.

Many agents look for a quick sale

Well-intentioned agents don’t want to watch your home sit on the market. They understand that homes that go weeks or months with few showings will ultimately sell for less than if they had been priced correctly right out of the gate.

Sometimes it becomes a battle — one you need to avoid. If your agent pushes for a lower number but still agrees to take the listing at your higher price, you may want to reconsider working with that agent. He or she represents your interests in the marketplace, both to other agents and the buyers they encounter. An agent who doesn’t get their way on pricing may end up sabotaging your sale. A good agent will agree to support your higher price strategy, but have a price discussion after some time on the market.

Determining the real market value

The true market value of a home is what an able and willing buyer and seller agree to in an arms-length transaction. But you won’t know that until the end of the process.

If the home sells within a few days of listing, chances are you listed too low. If months go by without any action, you hit the high mark. A home that is priced right will get some steady action. If you receive second or third showings from multiple buyers over the course of a few weeks, you’ve likely hit the mark with pricing.


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Housing Affordability Edges Up in the Fourth Quarter | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Slightly lower interest rates and home prices in markets across the country contributed to a slight increase in nationwide housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).  In all, 62.8 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $63,900.   The HOI in the third quarter was 61.8 percent.


The national median home price declined from $220,800 in the third quarter to $215,000 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, average mortgage interest rates decreased from 4.35 percent to 4.29 percent in the same period.

Syracuse, N.Y. claimed the title of the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 92.8 percent of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2014 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $67,700.

Cumberland, Md.-W.Va. topped the affordability chart among smaller markets in the final quarter of 2014. There, 96.2 percent of homes sold during the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $54,100.

For a ninth consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 11.1 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $100,400.

All five least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom was Napa, where 12 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $70,300.


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The Home from ‘Paranormal Activity’ Sold in a Hot Second | Mt Kisco Real Estate

The San Diego home from Paranormal Activity was listed withColdwell Banker on January 21, but it didn’t stay that way for long. The sale history on Zillow shows that the listing was taken down just eight days later. Given what looks like a quick turnaround, it probably went for the full asking price of $749K, if it did indeed sell. In which case, congrats to the new owners on your demon house!

Aside from being the one of the best found-footage horror films ever (let’s all forget the sequels ever happened), Paranormal Activity stood out because the dread was so directly centered on a very average American home. Covering a really extroverted demon’s attempts to reach out to a young couple, it was genuinely scarier to watch at home, and having your significant other with you might have made it even scarier.

Scan the listing photos below, and note that the bed is oriented differently than in it was in the film, affording a greater distance between it and the hallway door.


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8 Ways to Decorate a Center Table | Mt Kisco Real Estate


Whether placed in a grand foyer, tucked in the corner of a compact entry or serving double duty as a reading spot and dining table, you can count on a center table to bring a gracious note to the home. Here are eight ways to decorate this classic piece.

Haunted Houses in New Orleans | Mt Kisco Homes

8 Haunted Houses in New Orleans That Will Scare Your Pants Off


The Hermann-Grima House in New Orleans’s French Quarter is said to be alive with pleasant, friendly Southern ghosts. They’ve been known to scatter scented rose and lavender around the rooms and light the fireplaces to make it cozy. Built in 1831 for prosperous Creoles, it’s now a museum and one of the most significant residences in New Orleans.

Source: Flickr user wallyg

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Mortgage applications decreased last week | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Mortgage applications decreased 0.2 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending September 26, 2014.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 0.4 percent compared with the previous week.  The Refinance Index decreased 0.3 percent from the previous week.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index remained unchanged from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 1 percent compared with the previous week and was 11 percent lower than the same week one year ago.  The seasonally adjusted conventional purchase index increased 1.3 percent to the highest level since July 2014.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged at 56 percent of total applications from the previous week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 7.6 percent of total applications.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 4.33 percent from 4.39 percent, with points decreasing to 0.31 from  0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.  The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) decreased to 4.28 percent from 4.30 percent, with points decreasing to 0.15 from 0.22 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.  The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased to 4.07 percent from 4.08 percent, with points decreasing to 0.04 from 0.09 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.  The effective rate decreased from last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.55 percent from 3.56 percent, with points remaining unchanged from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.  The effective rate decreased from last week.


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