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Consumer confidence improved in December | North Salem Real Estate

Consumer confidence improved in December after the previous two months declines. The Consumer Confidence Index, recently released by the Conference Board, rose to 96.5 in December from 92.6 in November. Both subcomponents, the present situation and expectations indices, rebounded in December as well. The present situation index rose to 115.3 in December from 110.9 in November; the expectations index climbed up to 83.9 in December from 80.4 in November.

The figure below shows that the real GDP growth rate and consumer confidence are highly correlated over the past three decades. When GDP growth is negative, consumer confidence declines sharply; when growth resumes, consumer confidence increases as well. During the recent recession, as the real GDP growth rate dropped to -8.2%, consumer confidence fell to the historically lowest level in the early 2009. After that, the real GDP growth rate rebounded back to the positive levels and consumer confidence also slowly recovered. As the recovery from the Great Recession continues, consumer confidence is climbing up toward to the pre-recession levels.

Figure 1 December

The Conference Board also reports the shares of respondents planning to buy a lived-in home within six months. The shares of respondents planning to buy a lived-in home within six months fell to 3.4% in December, from 4.0% in November. The trends in the shares of respondents planning to buy a lived-in home within six months and the growth rate of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index (the dash lines) are very similar. When there is high demand for housing house price appreciation accelerates; when there is lower demand for housing house price appreciation decelerates.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/01/consumer-confidence-in-december-beyond-the-monthly-volatile-data/

Build a Zero-Waste Homestead | North Salem Real Estate

In your permaculture design, you want to shoot for a near-zero-waste system. That doesn’t have to happen overnight, but it is definitely a primary goal. If the systems you design are wasteful, they will forever be reliant on large quantities of external inputs to keep them running. Most lawns are like this. Without chemical fertilizers, city water, and gasoline to run the mower, they would very quickly cease to look the way they do.

Many of the external resources we rely on every day are nonrenewable (at least in a human timescale). Once we use them, they’re gone. Relying heavily on these resources for day-to-day operations means we are more susceptible to market fluctuations and supply chains, and thus less resilient. In an emergency the lawn can just grow and become weedy, but what happens when we rely heavily on external inputs for our food, water, and heat?

This chapter focuses on where leaks often appear in systems and how we can minimize them, thus eliminating waste. The idea is to integrate those surpluses (another name for waste considered from a different perspective) back into our systems in some way. For instance, if we produce compost, apples that go bad can’t really go to waste. If we apply the principle of efficient energy planning and the concept of next highest use, we don’t really waste energy. Overall, the goal is to manage the inflows and outflows of our systems. We aren’t going to create completely closed-loop systems (where nothing enters or leaves), but we want to get a lot closer to that than where we are right now. Ultimately, we want to be very conscious of how the outflows of our systems can be used as inflows. Any outflows we do end up with should not harm the environment nor our neighbors.

Types of waste to address in your design include human waste, greywater, food and yard waste, and heat. We have already explored some ways to turn food and yard waste into compost in the earlier chapter on soil fertility. We’ll look more closely at the other topics here.

Human Waste

The topic of managing human waste, also known as humanure, is pretty much considered taboo in Western culture. You don’t talk about it in polite company. However, it is imperative that we begin to take responsibility for the humanure we produce. Unfortunately, the centralized systems upon which many of us rely and conventional home septic systems do not score that well on their ecological report card. In many parts of the world, waste collected by municipal sewer systems is dumped into the ocean or injected into the groundwater. Even the municipal systems that are ecologically kinder often have enormous energy inputs. The amount of fresh, clean water wasted by these systems is staggering. Consider, for example, that the Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of Mexico, thanks partly to all the flush toilets in huge desert metropolises like Las Vegas and Phoenix.

 

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http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-reliance/zero-waste-homestead-ze0z1509zbay.aspx?newsletter=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10.28.15%20MEN%20DIY%20eNews&utm_term=DIY%20eNews

Under Jeb Bush, housing prices fueled Florida’s boom | North Salem Real Estate

On the campaign trail, Jeb Bush has repeatedly emphasized his record overseeing Florida’s boom economy as the state’s governor. He says it’s an example of an economy that created a huge number of jobs and benefited the middle class — an example of what he could do as president. “I know how to do this,” he said in Maitland, Fla., on Monday.

But according to interviews with economists and a review of data, Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble — one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families.

The bubble, one of the biggest in the nation, drove up home prices and had many short-term benefits for the state, spurring construction, spending and jobs. But the collapse of the housing bubble as Bush left office in 2007, after eight years of service, sent Florida into a recession deeper than that in the rest of the country, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes.

“Who got hammered? Lower- and middle-class America,” said Marshall Sklar, a real estate investor who, like other well-off financiers operating in the state, has benefited from the wreckage.

Sklar recently won an online auction for a small stucco condominium in Boca Raton that a married couple had bought in 2004 for no money down. They borrowed against it as the state’s housing bubble inflated and then, like so many others, had to walk away heavily in debt when it burst.

After buying their busted dream, Sklar flipped it to a wealthy investor, banking a commission. His investor will probably earn a 12 percent return by renting out the condo. The value of the condo was redistributed upward, like so much of Florida’s housing wealth in recent years. “You took it out of the sheep and gave it to the wolves,” Sklar said after touring several houses he recently bought at bargain prices.

The story of this house and its owners is in many ways emblematic of much of the experience of Florida’s economy in the 2000s — a story that contrasts sharply with the record Bush recounts.

 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/under-jeb-bush-housing-prices-fueled-floridas-boom-then-it-all-went-bust/2015/07/27/3cb40da2-2409-11e5-b72c-2b7d516e1e0e_story.html

CoreLogic: Cash sales once again trend lower in April | North Salem Real Estate

Cash sales once again trended down, accounting for 33.7% of total home sales in April 2015, down from 37.4% in April 2014.

This marks the 28th consecutive month of declines, with the year-over-year share falling each month since January 2013.

On a monthly basis, the cash sales share fell by 0.9 percentage points. Due to seasonality in the housing market, cash sales share comparisons should be made on a year-over-year basis.

To put this in perspective, CoreLogic said, “The cash sales share peak occurred in January 2011 when cash transactions accounted for 46.5% of total home sales nationally. Prior to the housing crisis, the cash sales share of total home sales averaged approximately 25 percent. If the cash sales share continues to fall at the same rate it did in April 2015, the share should hit 25 percent by mid-2017.”

Click to enlarge

Chart 1

Source: CoreLogic

Click to enlarge

Chart 2

Source: CoreLogic

California housing market slows considerably | North Salem Real Estate

California’s massive housing market is slowing down in almost every way imaginable, according to the latest California Real Property Report from PropertyRadar.

California single-family home and condominium sales dropped 3.5% to 36,912 in May from 38,249 in April.

However, the report explained that what is unusual this month is that the decrease in sales was due to a decline in both distressed and non-distressed property sales that fell 8.6% and 2.5%, respectively.  The monthly decline in non-distressed sales is the first May decline since 2005.

On a yearly basis, sales were up slightly, gaining 2.3% from 36,096 in May 2014.

“With the exception of a few counties, price increases have slowed considerably,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar. “You cannot defy gravity.”

“The environment of rising prices on lower sales volumes was destined not to last.  Higher borrowing costs since the beginning of the year and decreased affordability was bound to impact sales sooner or later. We may also be seeing the fourth year in a row where prices jumped early in the year, only to roll-over and head lower later the rest of the year,” Schnapp continued.

Back in March, PropertyRadar’s report showed California was finally ramping up for the spring homebuying season, posting that March single-family home and condominium sales surged to 31,989, a 33.1% jump from 24,031 in February. It was the biggest March increase in three years.

Meanwhile, May’s median price of a California home was nearly unchanged at $396,750 in May, down 1.8% from $404,000 in April.

Within California’s 26 largest counties, most experienced slight increases in median home prices, edging higher in 21 of California’s largest 26 counties.

Year-over-year, the median price of a California home was nearly unchanged, up 0.4% from $395,000 dollars in April 2014.

While at the county level most of California’s 26 largest counties exhibited slower price increases, four counties continued to post double digit gains.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/34297-california-housing-market-slows-considerably

Renters Insurance: Why You Need It and How to Get It | North Salem Real Estate

For many people renting apartments in New York City, renters insurance is in the back of their mind as something they should have but haven’t gotten around to yet. There’s no blanket rule or law requiring that you purchase a policy for your apartment, and many renters assume their stuff will be covered by their landlord’s policy if anything goes wrong in the building. Here’s some bad news: if anything damages your personal property and you don’t have renters insurance, you’ve lost it for good. The good news, though, is that protecting your stuff through renters insurance is fairly easy and not that expensive. “Most people don’t realize it’s inexpensive and widely available,” said Jeff Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage. Gotham Brokerage specializes in renters and apartment insurance, but Schneider says that every insurance company offers it. Once secured, renters insurance will protect you from three things: coverage for personal possessions, liability protection, and additional living expenses.

The first concern of securing renters insurance tends to be cost. But Schneider insists it’s not that expensive: “You can get minimum coverage for under $200 a year,” he said. Renters coverage starts as low as $125 a year. Essentially, what you pay for a policy is based on the value of your belongings. The higher your property value, the higher your renters insurance, and visa versa.

Standard coverage levels for property damage range from $25,000 to $50,000, although it can go higher. The policy will also come with a deductible, what you’ll pay out-of-pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. Your policy will offer deductibles of a specific amount, typically from $500 to $2,000. The larger the deductible, the lower the premium charged.

So before you secure a policy, you’ll have to take stock of all your stuff. The easiest way to determine the value of your personal possessions is by creating a home inventory. Track your furniture, clothing, books, electronics, appliances, kitchen utensils—pretty much everything you own that didn’t come with the apartment—and mark its estimated value. Schneider says the best way to to do this is by taking photos of your stuff and keeping track of credit card statements. (Here’s a free home inventory site that will help you out.) Keeping this list up-to-date will also make it easier to file an insurance claim in the future.

Once you’ve taken stock of your personal inventory, you’ll decide what kind of policy you want. There are two kind of coverage: replacement cost coverage or actual cash value coverage. Actual cash value considers what your items are worth including depreciation, not what you bought them for. A replacement cost policy will pay the cost of replacing your possessions without accounting for depreciation. Schneider recommends the replacement cost policy, despite a slightly higher price uptick of about 10 percent. It’s considered worth the extra expense as the value of most items tends to depreciate quickly. That MacBook you bought two years ago is now worth significantly less than what you paid for it.

Once you’ve secured your policy, your insurance will protect you against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and certain types of water damage. If there’s damage from a burst pipe, you’re covered. But if you live in a flood zone, note that most renters insurance policies do not cover floods. (Flood coverage comes from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program and a few private insurers.) Earthquakes typically aren’t covered. Sometimes jewelry, or electronics used for business purposes, will not be covered. It pays to do your research here to know exactly what your policy accounts for. There’s always the option to add a “floater” to your policy in the case of expensive jewelry, collectables, or equipment. The floater provides additional insurance for valuables and also covers them if they are accidentally lost.

On top of coverage for personal possessions, renters insurance comes with liability coverage usually up to $100,000. Basically, this will cover you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage done by you, your family members, and even your pets. If you’ve caused a leak that damages your neighbor’s apartment, your neighbor’s damage is covered by your policy. Some policies will refuse to cover dogs, especially certain breeds, not wanting to be liable if your dog bites a stranger. Or, your premium will be higher with certain types of pets. And most policies will not cover anything that happens under a sublet or if someone is renting your place through Airbnb.

 

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http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/06/01/

Pablo Escobar’s Island Mansion Is Now a Derelict, Beachy Ruin | North Salem Real Estate

image.jpgPhotos by Luke Spencer via Atlas Obscura

In the late 1980s, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was worth an estimated $30 billion and owned a number of truly ostentatious properties. His mansion in Puerto Triunfo, Colombia, where rhinos and elephants roamed freely, is the most infamous, but his party palace on a remote island off the coast of Cartagena, is no less grandiose. Indeed, the La Isla Grande property is a giant concrete complex with over 300 rooms in individual chalets, bathrooms with golden showerheads, and a helicopter-landing pad in the middle of the jungle. A writer for Atlas Obscura recently broke into the long-abandoned outpost, and found a pastel blue and coral pink-painted ruin that looked like a “strip from Miami’s South Beach” but with a “family of giant wild pigs.

 

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http://curbed.com/archives/2015/04/08/pablo-escobars-island-mansion-is-now-a-derelict-beachy-ruin.php?utm_campaign=issue-36245&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Curbed%27s+House+of+the+Day

Mortgage Rates Little Changed | North Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates largely calm amid mixed economic and housing data and ahead of the Friday employment report for March.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.70 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending April 2, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.69 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.41 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.98 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.97 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.47 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.92 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.12 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.46 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.45 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quotes
Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates were little changed this week entering April about where we started the year. The final estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2014 was unchanged from the prior estimate of a 2.2 percent annualized rate. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 3.1 percent in February, beating expectations. The pending home sales index was at the highest level since June of 2013 when 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.07 percent, 0.37 percentage points higher than this week’s survey.”

Mortgage Rates Move Down Again | North Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving down again across the board. Average fixed rates that continue to run below four percent will help keep affordability high for those in the market to buy a home as we head into the spring homebuying season.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.69 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending March 26, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.78 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.40 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.97 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.42 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.92 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.97 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.10 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.46 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.44 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quotes
Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 3.69 percent this week following a decline in 10-year Treasury yields. Low mortgage rates are a welcome sign for those in the market to buy a home this spring season and will help to support homebuyer affordability. Existing home sales in February increased slightly, but less than expected, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million units. Meanwhile, new home sales outperformed expectations and surged 7.8 percent to an annual pace of 539,000 units.”

Mortgage Rates Move Higher on Strong Jobs Report | North Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid a strong employment report. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgages rates still remain near their May 23, 2013 lows.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.69 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending February 12, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.28 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.99 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.33 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.97 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.82 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.05 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.42 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.39 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.55 percent.

Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quotes
Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates rose this week following strong economic data. The economy added 257,000 new jobs in January after robust increases of 329,000 in December and 423,000 in November. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.7 percent last month from 5.6 percent in December. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent, following a 0.2 percent decline in December.