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US home prices up 9.3 pct., most in nearly 7 years | North Salem Homes

U.S. home prices rose 9.3 percent in February compared with a year ago, the most in nearly seven years. The gains were driven by a growing number of buyers who bid on a limited supply of homes.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased from an 8.1 percent year-over-year gain in January. And annual prices rose in February in all 20 cities for the second month in a row.

Phoenix led all cities with an annual gain of 23 percent in February. Prices jumped nearly 19 percent in San Francisco. In Las Vegas, home prices increased 17.6 percent and in Atlanta they rose 16.5 percent.

Eleven of the 20 cities reported price gains in February compared with January. Those monthly numbers are not seasonally adjusted and reflect the slower winter buying period.

The index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The February figures are the latest available.

Steady hiring and near-record low mortgage rates are driving up demand, helping sustain the housing recovery that began last year. Buyer traffic was 25 percent higher in March than it was a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

 

 

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NYC Styrofoam Ban Might Actually Happen | North Salem Real Estate

Attention NYC eateries: It may be time to start thinking beyond styrofoam.

A sanitation official Wednesday revealed that a potential ban on the white stuff is under discussion as part of an upcoming report on increasing recycling rates in residential areas. “We’re studying all the different things in our waste stream. We want to make sure that everything in our waste stream is recyclable,” Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner for recycling at Sanitation, told The Post.

According to the AP, Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year set a goal of recycling 30 percent of the city’s household trash by 2017, up from about 15 percent now.

Of course, none of this is surprising. Styrofoam in notoriously difficult to recycle and takes a very long time to decompose (anywhere from a decade to centuries). Here’s NYC current official position on the stuff: 

Styrofoam is very difficult to recycle unless kept very clean and separate from all other types of plastic. For this reason, New York City and most other cities’ plastics recycling programs do not collect it with commingled recycling.

Because of the difficulty of recycling expanded polystyrene, there are relatively few plants in the U.S. that will take it. This means that the material must be shipped to distant factories. The transport and processing is expensive, unsustainable, and not environmentally friendly.

DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling encourages New Yorkers to consider alternatives to Styrofoam wherever possible.

So yes, it’s basically only a matter of time before styrofoam is shown the door. Naturally, the restaurant industry is less than pleased.

“We shouldn’t start banning products until we have done a more full analysis of the costs associated, not only with government but for small businesses,” New York State Restaurant Association spokesman Andrew Moesel told the AP Wednesday. “Now is not the time to continue to put more regulations and cost burdens on an industry that is already struggling to make a profit.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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Home prices see best yearly gain since 2006 | North Salem Realtor

A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, August 21, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A U.S. flag decorates a for-sale sign at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, August 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

 

Home prices rose in November to rack up their best yearly gain since the housing crisis began, a further sign that the sector is on the mend.

 

But data on consumer confidence on Tuesday was less encouraging, with moods falling to their lowest level in more than a year as Americans became more pessimistic about the economic outlook and their financial prospects.

 

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.6 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with economists’ forecasts.

 

Prices in the 20 cities rose 5.5 percent year over year, making for the strongest yearly price increase since August 2006 when prices were on their way down.

 

“This is continuing a trend in place for the better part of a year,” said Omair Sharif, U.S. economist at RBS Securities in New York. “This is another indication that the housing rebound is fairly entrenched at this point.”

 

The housing market became a bright spot for the economy last year as prices rose and inventory tightened. The sector is expected to contribute to economic growth in 2013, though a number of challenges remain, including tight access to mortgages and on-going foreclosures.

It was the 10th month in a row that prices have increased, the longest string of gains since before 2006. Last year’s rise in prices beat a nine-month consecutive run in 2009 and 2010, when the market was boosted by a homebuyer tax credit.

Separate data from The Conference Board showed an index of consumer attitudes fell to 58.6 in January from an upwardly revised 66.7 the month before, falling short of economists’ expectations for 64. It was the lowest level since November 2011.

At the start of the year, U.S. politicians came to an agreement that averted the so-called fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax increases that had been set to come into effect.

But the deal did raise taxes for many Americans, while a payroll tax holiday came to an end. Also, a number of budget decisions remain.

“Consumers are probably pretty unhappy to notice that their payroll taxes have gone up,” said David Sloan, economist at 4Cast Ltd in New York.

U.S. stocks pared slight gains immediately after the report was released, while the euro rose to a session high against the dollar.

The expectations index tumbled to its lowest level since October 2011 at 59.5 from 68.1. The present situation measure slipped to 57.3 from 64.6.

Consumers’ views on the labor market were also weaker, with the “jobs hard to get” index rising for the first time since September.

Home prices on a non-adjusted basis slipped 0.1 percent. The non-adjusted numbers showed prices fell in about half of the cities covered by the survey, with the winter months typically a weak period for housing, the survey said.

Phoenix, which saw its housing market rebound sharply last year, led with the biggest yearly gain at 22.8 percent. New York was the only city to fall, down 1.2 percent from the previous year.

 

 

11 Reasons Your Blog is on a Road to Nowhere | North Salem Realtor

 

You’re smart.

You got drive.

You’re blogging, and blogging, and blogging. You’re producing good content. But somehow your efforts are not rewarded.

Your enthusiasm for checking your traffic stats is gone. Because the trickle of traffic makes you feel down, lonely, and maybe a little desperate. Are you wasting your time?

Let’s be honest.

Building a blog is hard work. It’s tough. And you need to be business savvy. That’s right. You need to treat your blog as a business. You need to get serious about marketing your blog. Because if you don’t market your blog, it’s going to remain lonely out there.

Let’s have a look at 11 common blog marketing mistakes. Avoid these mistakes, and you’ll gain more traffic, more shares, and more comments. And eventually, you’ll be able to make serious money.

Mistake 1: You’ve jumped straight in

Of course, it’s great to get started.

Get a domain name, a web host, a theme, a topic you love writing about; and you’re ready to go. Right?
I don’t think so. You need to know what your audience likes; what they want to read about, what they’re passionate about.

Before launching Social Triggers, Derek Halpern knew exactly what his audience wanted: fact-based advice on how to grow web traffic. That’s why he combines academic research with blogging tips.

Before you start your blog, research your audience. Read comments on the big blogs your audience is reading. Which topics resonate most? What are readers passionate about? What questions do they ask? What do they struggle with?

Mistake 2: Your audience is too diverse

When you’re writing your blog posts, who do you write for? Are you trying to write for as big a crowd as possible? Are you trying to appeal to as many readers as you can?

Writing to a crowd makes your writing bland; writing to one person makes you engaging and fascinating.
Start by describing your ideal reader. Have you seen how the Word Chef describes her ideal client? You don’t have to publish your ideal reader. But you need to know who you’re writing for.

When you write your next blog post, imagine writing to just one reader: your ideal reader.

Mistake 3: You’ve picked the wrong topic

Do you think you need to avoid the big topics, because they’re too competitive? Think again. If you pick a topic nobody has written about, then most probably hardly anyone is interested in your topic.

The truth is: the big topics are the topics people want to read about. Finance. Personal development. Blogging. Parenting. Marketing. Gadgets.

Yep, those topics are competitive. Hugely competitive. But you can be sure there’s an audience waiting for you. You just have to figure out how you’re going to stand out from the other blogs. And that’s why you need a purple cow.

Mistake 4: You don’t have a purple cow

A purple cow is what makes you different. If you’d see a purple cow, it would draw attention, wouldn’t it? You’d be fascinated by it and you’d remember it, wouldn’t you? That’s why you need a purple cow—a term coined by Seth Godin.

Why would people read you blog rather than a competing blog? A few ideas:

  • Your personality appeals to your readers.
  • Your passion attracts followers.
  • Your writing style is special.
  • Your opinion is appreciated.
  • Your experience is unique.

You’re not Walmart or Target. You don’t need to appeal to everyone. If you create something truly different, some people may think you’re crazy. But that doesn’t matter. As long as other people love your blogging, that’s absolutely fine. Don’t be afraid to put readers off. Because you’ll build a stronger bond with your core audience.

Apple has raving fans who queue up to trade in their iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5 as soon as it’s launched. But Apple also has its haters, who avoid buying Apple products.

Do you know Johnny B Truant? He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, because he tells it as it is and he swears a lot. But he has hugely passionate fans, too. You see? You don’t need to appeal to everyone. You just have to build your own tribe.

Mistake 5: You don’t know how you want to change the world

You can’t create passionate readers if your message is lame. If you want to fascinate people and create a loyal following, you need a mission. Strong brands are on a mission. Think Nike, Apple, or Harley Davidson. Popular bloggers are on a mission, too.

Leo Babauta at Zenhabits teaches people to live simply, to keep themselves centered and at peace as they make a slow journey to creating good habits and achieving their goals. A clear mission, isn’t it?

How are you going to change the world?

Mistake 6: Your design puts people off

If you want to be taken seriously, then you need to look professional. Your blog is your brand. What impression do you want to leave? Professional? Full of fun? Warm? Corporate? Artistic?

Compare these two social media blogs: Simply Zesty looks fresh, but rather corporate. The {grow} blog from Mark Schaefer looks just as professional, but a little more fun.

Also, keep in mind that your design has a large impact on readability. Use white space, large fonts, and sub headlines to guide your readers through your content.

Mistake 7: Your blogging voice is erratic

You’re a blogger. You’re a writer. You communicate through your content.

Your brand is not just your blog design; and not just what you’re blogging about. It’s also how you blog. What’s you’re writing style? And does it match your blog design? Does it match your brand?

You need a unique voice that reflects your brand. Have you read the Aweber and MailChimp blogs? Aweber is quite serious and a bit corporate. MailChimp is cheeky and more personable. One is not better than the other. They’re just different. And their tone of voice reflects their brands.

Jon Morrow and Darren Rowse both blog about blogging. Jon Morrow is like your favourite high-school teacher. He tells you off when he needs to and uses strong language, but inspires you to study harder. Darren Rowse is like a friendly neighbour. Full of useful advice, helpful when you’re stuck, and he never says a bad word about you.

How are you positioning yourself? And does your tone of voice match?

Mistake 8: You’re hiding yourself

As a blogger, you are an important part of your brand. People connect with you because of who you are.
Nobody enjoys phoning a call centre. Nobody wants to get in touch with a boring corporation. Nobody wants to chat with a faceless company.

To build a loyal following you need to be human and get a little personal. Show your passion, mention some titbits about your life, share your experience, and let your passion shine through.

Even though I mainly write about copywriting and content marketing, my email subscribers know I love cycling, because I use cycling analogies to explain copywriting tricks and I’ve even included cycling holiday snaps to illustrate points. That’s how I’m building a connection with my readers.

Mistake 9: You think your traffic will snowball

You need to market your blog to gain an audience. Overnight success doesn’t exist.

Generating traffic is hard work, and no shortcuts exist. Social media and SEO can generate traffic, but guest blogging is often the best way because guest blogging allows you to borrow the audience from a big blog.

Don’t have enough time for guest blogging? Reduce your own blogging schedule, post once a week rather than daily; post once a month instead of weekly. And use the time you’ve freed up to post on other blogs.

Mistake 10: You’re not enticing people onto your email list

Getting blog readers to sign up to your email list should be your priority. Because once they’re subscribed, you can email them when a new post goes live. And when you’re ready to sell, your email list is your most precious marketing asset.

Email is more powerful than social media, especially when it comes to selling. Have you seen this graph from Darren?

Email drives profits

 

That tells you enough, doesn’t it? Get an email subscription form on your home page, your about page, and each blog post. Consider removing the option to subscribe to your RSS feed, because it distracts from your email subscription form.

Mistake 11: You’re a dreamer

Of course we’re all dreaming of success, of more readers, more shares, more comments, more money.

But dreaming about success isn’t going to get you there. You need plan. Not a Soviet-style ten-year plan. Just a plan for your next month. Decide on your mission, define your brand, your design, your voice, and think about how you’re going to grow your audience during the next month.

And then in a month’x time you can see what worked, and what didn’t work. And then you can write another one-month plan. To increase your traffic. To grow your audience. And to build your email list.

The truth about building your audience

Let’s be honest.

Growing your audience is hard work. It requires energy, enthusiasm, and guts. Dare to be different. Build your own unique brand. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Your most loyal followers, your raving fans are reading your blog because your style suits them; because your message inspires them; and because you are you.

Come on. What are you waiting for? Start marketing your blog, your brand, yourself.

 

 

Hidden foundation crack makes recourse difficult | North Salem Real Estate

 
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DEAR BARRY: I purchased my home about six years ago. Two years later, I removed the old carpet rolls that the sellers had left in the basement. They had been stacked in a corner, concealing part of the foundation. When the rolls were moved, a vertical crack in the foundation, about 1/8 inch wide, was revealed. It was apparent that someone had tried to patch the crack, but it did not look like a professional repair. The sellers did not include this defect in their disclosure statement, and nothing about it was mentioned by my home inspector. Is someone liable for this repair, or should I just report it to my insurance company? –Mark

DEAR MARK: If the sellers knew about the crack, they should have disclosed it prior to sale. On the other hand, they could claim to have had no knowledge of it, and there would be little chance of disproving that claim. If they were the first owners of the home, then they probably knew about the patching that was done. On the other hand, if they thought the crack had been adequately repaired, they would have seen no need to provide disclosure.

This leaves the question of home inspector liability. If the crack was covered by rolls of carpet, the home inspector would not have been able to see it without moving the rolls, and this is something that home inspectors typically do not do. In fact, the inspection report probably states that conditions concealed behind personal property are outside the scope of the inspection.

Homeowners insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions and probably would not cover foundation problems in any event.

The first thing you should do is hire a licensed structural engineer to determine if the crack is a significant defect. Hopefully it is a minor stress crack, but that needs to be clarified, one way or the other.

DEAR BARRY: Our house is well insulated, but we have a lot of moisture condensation on the windows and other surfaces. What could be causing this problem? –Bill

DEAR BILL: Condensation involves water vapor in the air. The challenge is to determine the source of the vapor. If it is ground moisture, the subarea may need additional ventilation. If the building is on a slab, additional ventilation in the dwelling and/or a dehumidifier may be needed. The same recommendations would apply if the house is well sealed for energy efficiency. If the moisture is caused by steamy showers, additional bathroom ventilation is recommended.

It is also possible that there is a problem with a gas-burning fixture such as a furnace or water heater. If that is the case, more is at stake than the inconvenience of condensation because there could be a major safety hazard in your home.

The building should be evaluated by a qualified home inspector to determine which of these conditions may be the problem. You should also ask the gas company to test and inspect all of the gas-burning fixtures.

 

 

North Salem 2012 Sales Up 76% – Prices drop 7.8% | RobReportBlog

North Salem 2012 Sales Up 76% – Prices drop 7.8%  | RobReportBlog

North Salem NY Sales
2012   2011
46 Sales 26 76.92% UP
$472,500.00 Median Price $512,500.00 7.80% DOWN
$125,000.00 Low Price $147,500.00
$2,600,000.00 High Price $6,480,000.00
2762 Ave. Size 3545
$224.00 Ave. Price/foot $280.00
238 Ave. DOM 244
93.04% Ave. Sold/Ask 92.66%
$639,674.00 Ave. Sold Price $1,188,035.00

North Salem real estate sales Up 46% – Prices UP 9.6% | RobReportBlog

North Salem real estate sales Up 46% – Prices UP 9.6%  | RobReportBlog

North Salem NY Real Estate Report  –  last six months

2012

19      sales

$525,000   median sales price

$332,000    low price

$1,662,500   high price

2992   ave. size

$213   ave. price per foot

253  ave. DOM

94.38%  ave. sold to ask

$650,337   ave. sold price