Tag Archives: Mt Kisco NY Homes

Existing Home Sales Weak Despite Good Job Numbers | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Sales of existing homes weakened at the end of 2015, despite ongoing good news for job creation. According to estimates from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the seasonally adjusted volume of home resales declined 10.5% from October to November and were 3.8% lower than a year prior. This marked the first year-over-year decline since September 2014. However, much of this decline was attributable to new mortgage disclosure rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that likely resulted in delays for some sales.

Similarly, the NAR Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator for home sales, declined in November. This was the third decline in the last four months; however, the index remains 2.7% higher than a year ago.

In contrast, new home sales posted a small increase in November, rising 4.3% from a downwardly revised October pace to a 490,000 annual pace. On a year-to-date basis, new home sales were 14.5% higher than for the first 11 months of 2014. Builders are also adding to inventory with rising demand. New home inventories rose to 232,000, the highest since January 2010.

Strengthening job creation should continue to promote home building activity in 2016. And the December Bureau of Labor Statistics report offered positive news. The economy produced 292,000 more jobs for the month, plus an additional 50,000 jobs recorded due to upward revisions for prior months. The unemployment rate held steady at 5%.

The residential construction industry – home builders and remodelers – added 23,100 jobs in December after a cycle-high job gain set in November (31,500). These two months followed a period of lackluster employment gains for the sector. The overall construction industry continues to see elevated levels of unfilled jobs, as does the economy as whole.


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Why you might retire to a tiny house | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Last year, 66-year-old Lauren Knoblauch sold or donated nearly everything she owned, from her two-bedroom home on a suburban Seattle lake to her furniture and many of her clothes. She moved everything else, two small carloads’ worth, into her new home: a downtown apartment that, at less than 150 sq. ft., is smaller than the average U.S. master bedroom.

The move came as Knoblauch, who works in inmate rehabilitation, pondered her impending retirement. “I started thinking about what I was passionate about,” she said. “I wanted to see opera in Europe, to spend money on what was exciting to me.”

Her new apartment, which costs $575 a month — less than half the $1,400 average for a Seattle one-bedroom — puts her about 20 minutes from Symphony Hall by foot and a short bus ride from the Opera House. With new financial flexibility, she’s traveled to Germany and Ireland to see opera performances. “I’m loving it,” she says.

The burgeoning tiny house and micro-apartment movements, which generally describe accommodations smaller than about 400 sq. ft., are sometimes seen as young person’s trends, with budget- and environmentally conscious millennials and Gen Xers seeking to slash living costs while lessening their environmental footprints. Some familiar with the industry, however, say they are increasingly of interest to older people at or nearing retirement age.

About 10,000 people live in tiny houses in the U.S. — the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and the Carolinas are particularly popular areas — though just a fraction are older; many more people, especially those in expensive cities, live in micro-apartments, according to Ryan Mitchell, owner of the website TheTinyLife. Their numbers are growing, he says, as modifications that make the homes more accessible to older residents, such as staircases rather than ladders and designs that keep everything easily reachable, become more commonplace.

While their appeal is varied, the principal attraction is price. Smaller homes can give seniors “more disposable income and the ability for many to comfortably survive within their Social Security means and/or part time work,” says consultant Erik Blair, a tiny house advocate. “The number one reason to get into a tiny house: You can save 70% or more of your recurring cost of living.”

Why older Americans want to retire in tiny houses

For older Americans, many on fixed incomes that may not heavily supplement their Social Security, the cost of living is of utmost importance. Nearly 60% of workers 55 and older have saved less than $100,000 for retirement, while 24% have saved less than $1,000, according to the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute. Both figures are much lower than financial advisers recommend.

Enter tiny houses, which are relatively inexpensive to build, buy and maintain. It usually costs between $10,000 and $100,000 to buy or build one, according to Blair; the average U.S. home costs nearly $200,000. Tiny apartments tend to cost much less than larger rental units in the same area.

In both cases, less space means lower utility payments: Mitchell, who lives in a 150 sq. ft. home, says his average monthly bills are around $20.

Less storage space, meanwhile, can reduce the impulse to acquire new stuff because, simply put, there’s nowhere to put it. “When I want to buy something, I have to think of what can I get rid of,” said Knoblauch. Often, “I realize I have everything I need already.”

“There are no big trips to Sam’s to get tubs of ketchup,” joked Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell, 52, who lives in a 480-square-foot home in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where she plans to retire, after years in a larger house in suburban Kansas City, Kan. “They won’t fit.”

Money isn’t the only reason tiny houses and micro-apartments appeal to retirees. Many empty nesters long to downsize, surveys show, even if they can afford more space. With their children grown, extra rooms can attract clutter and require maintenance; some, anticipating an eventual move to a nursing home, like the idea of simplifying early.

“I used to spend an entire Saturday cleaning my house,” said Fivecoat-Campbell. “Now I can clean it top-to-bottom in under two hours.”

For still others, the houses allow them to live near family while retaining their own space. So-called “granny cottages” can be placed in the yard of a family’s home, allowing residents to live both independently and close by. They’re often fitted with amenities useful to older residents, including grab bars, barrier-free showers and elevated toilets that can reduce falling risks, and wheelchair access.

‘I love this place — life works’

Tiny-house living isn’t without challenges. Knoblauch doesn’t have a full kitchen or bathtub; she has just one sink; and her clothes hang on a free-standing rack rather than in a closet. Fivecoat-Campbell wishes she had space for her now-deceased mother’s china cabinet and other full-size furniture.


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Some 50,000 more New York City apartments may be eligible for rent regulation | Mt Kisco Real Estate

In late August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other top New York officials announced an unusual crackdown on landlords. Nearly 200 building owners were collecting big tax breaks under a program to spur housing, officials said, but hadn’t registered their apartments for rent stabilization as the law requires.

Is your rent legal? It might not be. Your landlord might be charging you too much, and we want your help figuring that out.

“We will not tolerate landlords who break the law and deny their tenants rent-regulated leases, plain and simple,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time. With Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the governor announced a new enforcement effort to clean up such abuses.

But an investigation by ProPublica found that in reality, state and New York City officials have tolerated the problem for years—and ignored pleas to investigate. Nor is it limited to the building owners Cuomo and Schneiderman found—landlords have failed to register thousands of buildings for rent regulation, casting doubt on the legality of leases for about 50,000 apartments across the city.

That is the finding of an extensive analysis of government data covering nearly 15,000 rental buildings receiving the tax subsidies as of 2013. About 40%—or 5,500 buildings—weren’t listed as rent-stabilized, yet records show the owners are receiving more than $100 million in property tax reductions.

Stephen Werner, an analyst at the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department (HPD), has been complaining to higher-ups about the missing registrations for decades. Werner said he first told his bosses 20 years ago they were “perpetrating a fraud” by counting too many apartments as rent-stabilized in the triennial surveys prepared for the City Council and the public.

Briefed on ProPublica’s analysis, Jumaane Williams, a city council member from Brooklyn who chairs the council’s housing and buildings committee, called for a “severe and swift response” to ensure that tenants are getting the rent protections they deserve.

“We have to fight and scrape for every last piece of affordable housing,” Williams said, “and here we are with thousands of units with people we’ve given money to and tax breaks to, and who’ve agreed to keep these units in rent stabilization, blatantly not doing it.”

ProPublica reported yesterday on a related abuse, where landlords do register for rent stabilization then collect bigger rent increases than allowed by the city’s Rent Guidelines Board. They do so in part by exploiting confusion about “preferential” rents and whether newer buildings are rent-stabilized.

Landlords who register properly for rent stabilization must do so annually with the state. Lists of buildings that have done so are published by the Rent Guidelines Board. To determine if a tax-advantaged building was registered, ProPublica cross-checked that data against a listing of properties receiving the tax breaks, known as 421-a and J51, published by the city’s Department of Finance.

Exactly what’s happening to tenants in the buildings is unclear. In some cases, tenants did have rent-stabilized leases because landlords skipped a year but had registered in others. In other cases, buildings had multiple addresses but registered only one. Others had opened only recently.

Despite that, three tenants reached by ProPublica said they had not been given rent-stabilized leases. “I knew that rent stabilization was something that existed, and I looked out for it and it definitely wasn’t present,” said Mark Ellison, a Crown Heights resident who lives in one unregistered building.

In 2013, Ellison said, his landlord proposed raising the rent $800 a month, or 40%. The landlord backed down when Ellison said it was unacceptable.

The implications go beyond rent. Tenants can only properly claim legal rights provided under a rent-stabilized lease—such as eviction protection and the right to timely repairs—if they are not in the dark about their building’s status and if the state has a record of it.

City officials acknowledged there is a problem with registrations but were unable to explain how such a large number of landlords could be out of compliance. They did not respond to a detailed accounting of ProPublica’s findings and methods or questions about why Werner’s complaints hadn’t been addressed.

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said in emails that officials “became cognizant” of the problem after de Blasio took office last year and “took action promptly to address it.” The matter is now the subject of a “multi-stage, multi-agency” enforcement effort, the spokesperson said.

“While we cannot disclose details on an ongoing investigation, we will not stop until every property is brought into compliance,” the de Blasio spokesperson said.

Announcing their August crackdown, Cuomo and Schneiderman said building owners who don’t register as rent-stabilized face serious legal consequences, including loss of their tax breaks, a rent freeze and paying triple the amount of overcharges any tenant might have received.

Instead of taking those steps, they sent owners of the 194 unregistered buildings a “one-time” opportunity to comply and informed tenants that they should expect their landlords to get into compliance sometime soon.

In the past three years, only two landlords have lost their tax breaks for not following the rent-stabilization rules, city officials have said.

The two tax-incentive programs at issue together provide almost $1.4 billion in property tax savings to New York City real estate owners, with most of the money flowing to multifamily apartment buildings.

Landlords who receive the 421-a and J51 tax benefits are supposed to submit all the units in their properties to rent stabilization for the duration of their tax breaks, which can span up to 34 years and significantly lower property tax burdens, in some instances by more than 90%.

The rent stabilization requirements are intended to help preserve affordability in places like Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, which receive a J51 tax break that subjects all of their 11,000 units to rent stabilization. A 2009 court decision involving Stuyvesant Town confirmed that, as long as such tax breaks are in place, landlords must provide tenants with rent-stabilized leases.

To make sure they are doing so, the state requires landlords to register their rent-stabilized apartments annually and report each unit’s rent. Tenant advocates say registration also creates an important protection for tenants, who are entitled to the rent history and can use it to prove overcharges.

“It’s incredibly important for tenants to be able to know that they’re rent-stabilized and also have the legal record of what the rent increases are,” said Katie Goldstein, executive director of Tenants & Neighbors, a statewide tenants’ rights group.

Landlords who didn’t register used to be ineligible for rent increases. But that changed in 1993, when the New York Legislature eliminated penalties for failing to register. “If they don’t do it, there are no repercussions,” Goldstein said.

Most of the buildings identified by ProPublica were repeat offenders: About 80% that didn’t register units in 2013 also didn’t do so from 2009 to 2012. Some appear to have never registered, according to searches against the state’s master directory of rent-stabilized buildings.

The noncompliant properties were mostly smaller buildings receiving 421-a benefits, including many three-family homes and four-to201310 unit apartment complexes. Among the five boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens had largest numbers of unregistered buildings.

In some corners of city government, the gap in registrations has been an open secret. Werner, the housing department analyst, first took notice in 1995.

Werner, 69 and still working at HPD, helps put together the city’s triennial housing survey. He collects data from the state showing all the apartments that have been registered for rent stabilization. The number never exceeded 800,000, he said, while the housing surveys routinely reported a higher number, now more than 1 million.

“The numbers never matched,” Werner said. He estimated the total shortage—beyond just properties receiving the tax breaks—at 200,000 apartments.

Werner said he raised the issue repeatedly with his superiors, but nothing was ever done about it besides occasional meetings and memos that went nowhere. In 2006, he emailed state regulators to inquire about the tax breaks, but no one there answered him, either.

The city denied ProPublica’s public records request for emails and memos about the registration gap.

Earlier this year, Werner took things into his own hands. Using publicly available data, he spent nights and weekends creating his own website where tenants can type in their address and see their building’s registration status and tax breaks. Then, out of frustration, he contacted ProPublica

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Student Debt Is a Bigger Barrier to Homeownership than ever | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Student loan debt continues to grow as an obstacle in a consumer’s ability to buy a home, as 57 percent of 2015 respondents who acknowledge having student loans said this debt was either “very much” or “somewhat” of an obstacle, compared to 49 percent of 2014 respondents, according to the third annual America at Home survey from NeighborWorks America.

The survey found that generally levels of student debt among adults have not changed greatly in the past year.  The percent that personally has any student debt stayed the same, at 17 percent of the national sample.  The percentage that worries about their student debt they owe either all of the time or some of the time also stayed constant, at 30 percent.

When it comes to their ability to buy a home, however, the survey found that student debt has grown to be an even greater barrier to homeownership now than it was a year ago.  One out of four participants in the survey (25%) said student is “very much of an obstacle” to buying a home, compared to 20 percent a year ago and 32 percent said it is “somewhat of an obstacle” compared to 29 percent a year ago. The percent of adults who said they who has had to delay the purchase of a home because of their student loan debt increased from 24 to 28 percent over the past 12 months.

Additionally, although mortgage rates remain historically low, a generally steady rise in home prices is outpacing income growth, leading homebuyers — especially first-time buyers — to search for ways to build up a down payment. However, nearly 40 percent of respondents have received “nothing at all” in terms of information about down payment assistance programs for middle-income homebuyers, programs that could provide thousands of dollars to help bridge a savings gap.

Finally, the housing market is being pressured by changing demographics. Of the respondents surveyed, 43 percent planned to purchase a home when they “got married or moved in with a life partner.” This is important for the housing market’s rebound, because the median age at first marriage has increased to 29.3 for men and 27.0 for women, according to the Census Bureau, up from 26.8 and 25.1 years, respectively in 2000.

“It’s clear the housing market is directly affected by many factors, and these forces identified in our survey are putting strong downward pressure on growth,” said Paul Weech, president and CEO of NeighborWorks America. “While NeighborWorks can’t address the demographic shift, we are increasing our efforts to support nonprofits that offer homebuyer education and financial capability coaching.”


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Home Prices Level Out | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Home prices increases may be leveling out, according to one closely-followed real estate report.

In 20 major American cities, home prices this May were about 4.9% higher than May of last year, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released Tuesday. That’s the same pace of growth as April, and surprised economists when it fell short of expected growth.

Economists predicted a 5.6% year-over-year increase, according to an Econoday survey.

Price increases of single-family homes have settled at a steady pace of 4-5% this year, said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. He said he expects price increases to slow over the next two years, as wages rise to catch up with housing costs.

“First time homebuyers are the weak spot in the market,” said Blitzer, citing research that high down-payments may be putting off first-time home purchases. “Without a boost in first timers, there is less housing market activity, fewer existing homes being put on the market, and more worry about inventory.”

Overall, 10 of the 20 cities surveyed saw housing price increases slow on a seasonally-adjusted basis.  Some real estate markets remain hot, however.

Home prices in Denver are 10% higher than this time last year, and San Francisco and Dallas are also seeing prices increase at almost twice the national pace. New York City and Phoenix have seen prices rise for six consecutive months.

Between April and May, the index slowed 0.2% on a monthly, seasonally adjusted basis. An analyst at Barclays said they were not inclined to “read too much” into the decline.

“This could be a pause for breath in the data after a strong performance for half a year,” wrote Blerina Uruçi in a research note.


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Mount Kisco Named Among Best Places In New York To Start A Business | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Consumer finance site NerdWallet recently named Mount Kisco the ninth best place to start a business in New York.

Rankings were determined by the following criteria:

  • Average revenue of businesses.
  • Percentage of businesses with paid employees.
  • Businesses per 100 people.
  • Median annual income.
  • Median monthly housing costs.
  • Unemployment rate.

Mount Kisco has more than 17 business per 100 people, which is one of the highest ratios on NerdWallet’s list.

To see the full list, visit: www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/places-start-business-york/.

What Is A Good Credit Score? | Mt Kisco Real Estate

You’ve heard it all before – you need to take care of your credit score like it’s grandma’s prized china or maybe your new cellphone.

But if you’re more of the goal-oriented type, what constitutes a win when it comes to credit score?

How do you know when your score is among the best?

First, a few facts: When you hear the term credit score, most people are referring to your FICO score. Actually, it’s FICO scores. You have three separate scores – one from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus based on the information they have on you. This means that your FICO score from Equifax might be different from your Experian or TransUnion score, but probably not drastically different. It is, you’d better do some investigation.

The highest score possible is 850 while the lowest is 300. In reality, achieving an 850 probably isn’t going to happen. It would take a perfect combination of many factors to get there. A simple lack of negative entries on your credit report isn’t going to result in an 850.

For more on this, read What are the best ways to rebuild my credit score quickly?

What’s the magic number that will get you the best interest rates, payment terms and perks that come from being rated among the best of the best?

According to Anthony Sprauve, director of public relations at FICO, “If you have a FICO score above 760, you’re going to be getting the best rates and opportunities.” How hard is it to get that number? Looking at the averages, it’s no easy task. For people 25 to 34 years of age, the average score is 628. As you get older your score rises. By the time you reach age 45 to 54, the average is 647; at 55-plus, it’s 697.

If those statistics seem a little depressing, don’t worry. Even if you don’t reach that coveted 760 number, it’s not like you’ll have to pay cash for everything the rest of your life. Good Scores for Different Purposes For example, if you’re looking to buy a home, a score of 500 qualifies you for a FHA loan.

Other statistics show that more than 97% of all FHA loans went to people with scores above 620. Just because you qualify doesn’t mean you’ll be approved, but if you exceed that 620 number, your chances are quite good.

Conventional mortgages are hard to get with a score below 620 and some lenders require at least 700. This is why financial gurus advise people who want to buy a home to not miss bill payments or overextend themselves with credit cards or other loans.

You’re going to need stellar credit to become a homeowner in most cases. Also remember that the better your credit score is, the lower the interest rate you’ll be offered. Consider a 30-year mortgage of $200,000 at a fixed rate: According to one data set, the difference in interest rates for people with a 760 score versus a 620 could be 1.6%. That’s $68,000 difference over the life of the mortgage. Recent statistics showed that more than 70% of applicants are approved for car leases, and finding a credit card company to approve you probably won’t be difficult.

In both cases, the higher your score, the better your terms – and the less you’ll pay in interest.

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Housing starts see biggest collapse since January 2007 | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Privately-owned housing starts in February plummeted 17%, down to an annualized 897,000 from the revised January estimate of 1,081,000, with drops in the Northeast, Midwest and West leading the collapse.

Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 593,000; this is 14.9% below the revised January figure of 697,000.

Multi-family starts are the lowest since June 2014.

“Housing clearly remains under pressure. Increased volatility month to month has left permits and starts little changed from levels reached 12-24 months ago,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist for Sterne Agee. “With consumers struggling amid minimal wage growth, housing is unlikely to be a sizable contribution to headline growth in the near term.

“Nevertheless, the disappointment in this morning’s report only further exacerbates the downward trend in the economic data as of late. Needless to say, the Fed has plenty to discuss at this week’s policy meeting,” she said.

The collapse was dominated by the Northeast which saw a -56.5% drop and in the Midwest, which collapsed -37%.

“There’s no question that the harsh winter we had in the Midwest and Northeast was the culprit in February’s slowdown in new home construction,” said Quicken Loans Vice President Bill Banfield. “I wouldn’t look too much into February’s drop, as the overall housing picture shows homebuilder confidence growing and permits for new construction rising. Look for demand to increase in the coming months.”

The West region, where weather wasn’t a problem, saw starts drop 18.2%.

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,092,000. This is 3% above the revised January rate of 1,060,000 and is 7.7% above the February 2014 estimate of 1,014,000.

Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 620,000; this is 6.2% below the revised January figure of 661,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 445,000 in February.

“The big drop in February housing starts was largely due to the severe weather up North.  The effects were most severe in the Northeast:  Starts fell 56% and completions dropped 29%, the largest declines of any region.  There was brighter news around permits,” said Frank Nothaft, senior vice president and chief economist at CoreLogic. “Except for the snow-engulfed Northeast, permits were up in all other regions and for the U.S. as a whole, especially for multifamily, a good sign for spring construction.”

Privately-owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 850,000. This is 13.8% below the revised January estimate of 986,000 and is 1.8% below the February 2014 rate of 866,000.


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It was a $1.7 Trillion Year | Mt Kisco Real Estate

The good news is that America’s housing stock is now worth $27.5 trillion, an increase of $1.7 trillion over last year.  The bad news is that U.S. home values rose 6 percent year-over-year through November, the smallest annual gain since June 2013, according to Zillow’s Stan Humphries.

The aggregate value of all homes nationwide is expected to be approximately $27.5 trillion by year’s end, up more than $1.7 trillion (6.7 percent) year-over-year and the third consecutive annual increase. It is a testament to just how huge and important the housing sector is to the overall economy that gains of more than a trillion dollars in one year represents only single-digit percentages of the total market. Humphries said.

Still, as massive as the current overall value of housing is in the U.S., the aggregate value of all homes remains 6.1 percent below the Q3 2006 peak of almost $29.3 trillion. This makes sense, as the median home value nationwide is still down almost 10 percent from its pre-recession high.

But just as median home values in several local markets across the country – including Denver, Pittsburgh and a handful of Texas metros – have exceeded their prior peaks, so too have aggregate home values in a few large markets. In nine of 35 largest metro areas covered by Zillow, the total value of all homes in the area is at or above prior peak. Many of the same areas where median home values are above peak are also the same as where aggregate values are at peak, including Denver and a collection of Texas markets (Dallas, Houston and Austin).

Although home values to continue to grow, they are rising much more slowly than earlier in the year, currently at a pace last seen in mid-2013. Over the next 12 months, from November 2014 to November 2015, home values are predicted to rise 2.4 percent, to slightly less than $182,000.

Slowing home value appreciation has been driven in large part by more for-sale inventory coming on line in recent months, which is helping to bring the supply of homes in line with demand. This has been welcome news for buyers that were previously competing with each other and with cash-rich investors for a very limited number of homes. However, inventory has been drifting downward on a monthly basis for the past two months.


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London housing market might be showing the first signs of a slow down | Mt Kisco Real Estate

London has been one of the most expensive cities in the word to live in for several decades, and the trend is showing little sign of ending any time soon. According to an October 14th article in the Financial Times, the UK’s Office for National Statistics reported earlier this week that London housing prices were up 19.6% year-over-year as of August. The numbers for both July and August represent the biggest one-month price increases since 2007.


Statement from ONS head

In a statement, Chris Jenkins, the head of housing market indices at the ONS, said the major year-over-year increase in London housing prices was partly because of a slower rate of growth in August 2013. “But that still takes nothing away from the fact that prices in London are rocketing,” he continued.

Regional breakdown of UK housing market

According to the ONS, the UK’s national housing price growth was 11.7% in the 12 months to August. The average property price climbed to £274,000.

Southeast England was one area that saw above-average growth of 12.3% The eastern part of England recorded a 11.6% increase.

Housing price growth outside London and the southeast was 7.8% overall.



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