Tag Archives: Mt Kisco Real Estate

New home sales unexpectedly rise in September | Mt Kisco Real Estate

– New U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly rose in September, pointing to sustained demand for housing even as data for August was revised sharply down.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday new home sales increased 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000 units last month, pulling them close to a nine-year high touched in July.

August’s sales pace was revised down to 575,000 units from the previously reported 609,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast single-family home sales, which account for about 9.8 percent of overall home sales, falling to a rate of 600,000 units last month.

New home sales, which are derived from building permits, are volatile on a month-to-month basis and subject to large revisions.

Sales increased 29.8 percent from a year ago. They rose in the third quarter compared to the April-June period, indicating strong demand for housing.

Residential construction, however, likely remained a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter.

Despite rising demand for housing, home building has been lagging, with builders complaining about land and labor shortages. Demand is being driven by rising wages as the labor market nears full employment, as well as by very low mortgage rates.

New single-family homes sales surged 33.3 percent in the Northeast and soared 8.6 percent in the Midwest last month.

Sales in the South, which accounts for more than half of new home sales, climbed 3.4 percent.

Sales fell 4.5 percent in the West, which has seen a sharp increase in home prices amid tight inventories.

 

read more…

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-newhomesales-idUSKCN12Q1VJ?il=0

Shortage of appraisers causing home sales delays | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Housing demand is rising rapidly, but a key cog in the wheel to homeownership is in deep trouble. The people most needed to close the deal are disappearing. Appraisers, the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon, are shrinking in numbers.

That is causing growing delays in closings, costing buyers and sellers money and in some cases even scuttling deals.

The share of on-time closings has dropped from 77 percent last April to 64 percent today for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. Appraisal-related issues in these delays jumped by 50 percent in that time.

“The appraisal shortage is massive. You’re seeing significant delays, you’re seeing cost increases, you’re seeing rate [locks] expire,” said Brian Coester, CEO of Rockville, Maryland-based CoesterVMS, a national appraisal management company.

Since 2007, when the U.S. housing market came crashing down, the number of appraisers has shrunk by 22 percent, according to the Appraisal Institute, an industry association. With so few new cadets, the current population of appraisers is aging. More than 60 percent are over the age of 50.

Ironically, the decline in new appraisers is largely due to new regulations designed to safeguard both banks and borrowers. They were put in place at the end of 2008 by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, as the entire mortgage banking community was under strict scrutiny after the financial crisis. They changed the rules that would allow appraiser apprentices to do full appraisals and instead require the licensed appraiser to be on-site for the inspection.

The result is that appraisers no longer see a need to pay apprentices, but at the same time, licensing requirements to become an appraiser include 2,500 hours of appraisal experience to be completed in two years as an apprentice.

“The typical appraiser, he’s going to do approximately 10-15 appraisals a week. For him to be able to take a trainee, he needs the ability for the trainee to go ahead and inspect the property for him,” said Coester. “The rules have changed now, and you cannot do what you used to be able to do 10 years ago, which is hire three to four trainees and really have them go and inspect the properties, go and do work for you and really function as an apprentice. That market has been completely eliminated.”

At 1 p.m. on a Monday in Frederick, Maryland, appraiser Joyce Smith has already valued three homes and is walking into the fourth. A 23-year veteran of the business, she said she has never been this busy.

“I get calls five, six, seven, eight times a day. I used to go far away to do appraisals, but there are so many, I don’t have to go very far anymore,” said Smith.

In some of the nation’s hottest housing markets, where sales are up double digits compared to a year ago, the shortage means searching far and wide for an appraiser.

“We’ve been hearing from our agents in Colorado about significant delays in getting appraisals done,” said Alina Ptaszynski, a spokesperson for Redfin. “Our Denver market manager said for one deal, the appraiser came in from Cheyenne, Wyoming. She reported it taking up to seven weeks to get an appraisal done. Valuations aren’t the concern as much as the delays.”

Valuations are, however, becoming increasingly important, as home price gains accelerate, and competition in the market heats up. Prices could change in the course of two months, the delay time it is now taking in some markets to have an appraisal done. Mortgage rates are also starting to move in a wider range, and that makes rate-locks ever more important. It can cost significant cash to extend a rate lock.

read more…

 

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/27/massive-shortage-in-appraisers-causing-home-sales-delays.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief

 

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.

 

read more…

http://www.remodeling.hw.net/business/operations/what-this-editor-learned-about-remodeling-from-having-just-commissioned-one_o?utm_source=newsletter&utm_content=Opinion&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=REM_091316A%20(1)%20remainder&he=bd1fdc24fd8e2adb3989dffba484790dcdb46483

 

Inventory update | Mt Kisco Real Estate

When we publishedWill Sellers Step up the Plate in 2016? “two weeks ago December market report weren’t in yet and it was clearly too early to blow the bugle over the inventory picture for the coming season

The reports are now in and hands are reaching for the nearest brass instruments.  Too many signals from too many sources are not looking good, especially for the mid to lower tier entry-level homes that Millennials need to escape the Rent Trap.

“Insufficient supply levels” is how NAR’s Lawrence Yun characterized the inventory picture when he released December existing home sales.  The headlines last week.  His careful choice of words masked the very serious possibility that inventories at the outset this year could be worse than last or even 20013 when shortages erupted in bubbles across California.

Here’s a quick review of the latest:

sellersbystate

NAR Traffic Report

Seller traffic was broadly “weak” across most states in December, as measured by Sentrilock, the leading lock box system.  Seller traffic was reported to be “strong” only in North Dakota where much residential construction took place as builders anticipated strong housing demand in the wake of the boom in oil production. There was also “very strong” selling activity in Puerto Rico, where significant out-migration is taking place, given the economy’s financial woes.2016-01-25_12-07-38 

NAR Existing Home Sales and Realtor Confidence Index

Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 12.3 percent to 1.79 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 3.8 percent lower than a year ago (1.86 million). Unsold inventory is at a 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 5.1 months in November and the lowest since January 2005 (3.6 months).

Nationally, properties sold in December 2015 were typically on the market 58 days compared to 66 days one year ago.  Fewer days on the market are an indication that inventory remains tight. Short sales were on the market for the longest time at 86 days, while foreclosed properties typically stayed on the market for 68 days. Non-distressed properties were typically on the market for 57 days. Nationally, approximately 32 percent of properties were on the market for less than a month when sold.

Zillow

Active inventories on Zillow in December fell by 7.7 percent from December 2014.  Listings on the site dropped from 1,6012,255 to 1,477,330 (SAAR).

Realtor.com

December median age of inventory was 94 days, which is up 12 percent from November but still down 6 percent year-over-year.

Redfin

Last month (November) prices spiked due to a dearth of properties on the market. In December, there was a three-month supply of homes for sale, a steep slide from the 4.1 months reported in November. The lack of inventory supported a fast market, where the typical home sold in 41 days, a week faster than a year ago.  December listings fell 10.3 percent from November and 5.4 from December 2014.

2016-01-25_12-37-43

Source: Re/Max

Re/Max

The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many metros across the country, at a level that is 14.2% lower than December 2014. At the rate of home sales in December, the national Months’ Supply of Inventory was 4.9, down from 5.7 one year ago. A 6.0 months’ supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. The number of homes for sale in December was 12.5% less than in November and 14.2% less than in December last year. The average loss of inventory on a year-over-year basis for 2015 was 12.2%. The highest month supply was seen in Augusta, ME at 14.1 months.  Three metros had a supply less than 2 months, San Francisco with 1.1, Denver, CO 1.8 and Seattle at 1.9 months.

 

read more…

 

http://www.realestateeconomywatch.com/2016/01/inventory-update-get-the-cavalry-ready/

New Study Suggests MLS Sold Prices are Inflated in Down Markets | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Transaction prices reported by multiple listing services may differ by an average of 8.75 percent from sold prices reported on HUD-1 settlement statements, possibly because brokers are under pressure to inflate prices in a declining market, according to a new study by three real estate economists at Florida Gulf Coast University published last month by the Appraisal Journal.

In residential appraisal assignments, appraisers often place heavy reliance, at least as a starting point, on multiple listing services (MLS) for property information and transaction prices.Errors will almost inevitably find their way into large databases, and an MLS is certainly no exception. The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence and magnitude of differences in MLS-reported transaction prices compared to their associated HUD-1 (HUD) Settlement Statements, said the article..

The study found MLS errors are related to market conditions, not property price levels, and are likely to be smaller during a market boom and larger during a market bust.  The study found that MLS-reported prices supplied by brokers on or after the settlement date overstated HUD-reported prices in 6.25% of the sample and understated HUD-reported prices in 2.50%. The data used in the analysis were drawn from the two years before, the year of, and the two years after the market peak between 2004 and 2008.  The study compared HUD-1 and MLS prices from a sample of 670 HUD-1 Settlement Statements obtained from two banks operating in a Southern state.

2016-01-19_9-41-34Source: “Reported Price Errors:A Caveat for Appraisers” in The Appraisal Journal

“This finding is consistent with, but certainly does not prove, the notion that if brokers are motivated to inflate MLS prices, pressure to do so is likely to be greater in declining markets. However, there may be other explanations for the price discrepancies. One such explanation is the possibility that during declining markets, brokers may report initial contract prices that may be subject to downward adjustment between contract and settlement dates. A related possibility is that some prices are renegotiated at the time of closing to accommodate buyers’ cash needs. Regardless of explanation, however, the result is a misstating of price,” the authors concluded.

The study urged appraisers to use other sources in addition to MLS transaction prices to verify reported sale prices, especially when a sale price contradicts sale prices of comparable properties.

 

read more…

 

http://www.realestateeconomywatch.com/2016/01/new-study-suggests-mls-sold-prices-are-inflated-in-down-markets/

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.

 

read more…

 

http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/01/eye-on-the-economy-existing-home-sales-weak-despite-good-job-numbers/

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.

 

read more….

 

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-you-might-retire-to-a-tiny-house-by-choice-2015-12-14

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.

read more….

 

 

http://patch.com/new-york/newrochelle/

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

read more…

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151106/REAL_ESTATE/151109917/some-50000-more-new-york-city-apartments-may-be-eligible-for-rent#utm_medium=email&utm_source=cnyb-realestate&utm_campaign=cnyb-realestate-20151106

#Expandable #Home Is a Low-Cost Solution to Social Housing Shortage | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Image via Dezeen
Image via Dezeen

What can be done to help those underprivileged groups who cannot afford a home? Mexican female architect, Tatiana Bilbao, gives her answer with a presentation of her latest building prototype at the recent Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Image via Dezeen
Image via Dezeen

The house, about half the cost of a same-sized regular property, consists of a five-meter-high living and dining area, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The home has a concrete block core and wooden pallet modules in the surrounding rooms, which allows flexibility to add up to five additional bedrooms. Such a design makes it quick and easy to adapt the house for different layouts to fit into a specific lot. At its smallest, the house takes up an area of 463 square feet, which meets the minimum federal requirement.

Image via Dezeen
Image via Dezeen

The flexible, expandable house was commissioned by the Mexican government to address the country’s social housing shortage for people with low incomes, which has been a worsening yet neglected problem. There has been a housing shortage of as many as nine million homes in Mexico, but few architects have taken the initiative to address the urgent crisis, Bilbao told Dezeen in an interview.

Image via Dezeen
Image via Dezeen

“When we were commissioned to design this model, the first thing in my mind was that I wanted to give more space for the same money,” Bilbao said to Dezeen. Part of the modular system is done with an industrial palette, rather than some expensive strong materials, to save the budget and cut down the price for the customers, she explained.

Image via Dezeen
Image via Dezeen

Bilbao expected to have as many as 3,000 of these homes built per year, to meet the strong need of social housing in Mexico.

 

read more…

 

http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/projects/