Grease Fire in the Kitchen
Burst and Broken Pipes
Confirmed Mice in the House
Leaking Water Heater
Existing home sales increased 1.1% in May, and 55% of homes sold last month were on the market less than a month as buyers overcame low inventory and higher prices. Although May inventory increased 2.1%, it remains 8.4% lower than a year ago and fell year-over-year for the 24th consecutive month. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that at the current sales rate, the May unsold inventory represents a 4.2-month supply, down from a 4.7-month supply a year ago. May existing sales were up 2.7% from the same month a year ago, and reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million compared to a downwardly revised 5.56 million in April. Total existing home sales include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.
May existing sales increased 6.8% in the Northeast, 3.4% in the West and 22% in the South, but declined 5.9% in the Midwest. Year-over-year, the South was up 4.5%, the West by 3.4% and the Northeast by 2.7%, while only the Midwest was down slightly.
Homes stayed on the market for only 27 days in May, compared to 29 days in April, and 32 days a year ago. The May timeframe was the shortest in the history of that series which began in May 2011. The May first-time home buyer share was 33%, down from 34% in April, but up from 30% in May a year ago.
The May all-cash sales share increased to 22% from 21% in April, and was unchanged from a year ago. Individual investors purchased a 16% share in May, up from 15% in April, and up from 13% a year ago. Some 64% of investors paid cash in May, up from 57% of investors in April.
The May median sales price jumped 5.8% from last year to $252,800, representing the 63rd consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The May median condominium/co-op price of $238,700 was up 4.8% from the same month a year ago.
April pending sales dipped for the second consecutive month, so the May bump in existing sales was good news. New home sales have grown 11.3% this year, and both jobs and incomes continue to grow, suggesting an improving market for new single-family construction.
AN ATTIC APARTMENT NEAR THE CENTER OF STOCKHOLM
$2.76 MILLION (23.9 million Swedish krona)
Once an attic used for storage, this two-bedroom, two-bathroom, roughly 2,500-square-foot space was converted into an apartment around 1970 and last renovated in 2013. It is on the seventh and eighth floors of a 1915 building with seven units on a quiet street in Ostermalm, a fashionable neighborhood just east of Stockholm’s city center.
The apartment has crisp white walls, oak floors, high ceilings and a terrace overlooking nearby rooftops. The front door opens onto a hallway that leads to a family room with a balcony and a staircase up to the main living area. The large upstairs living room has built-in bookshelves and large sliding doors opening onto a terrace. Up several steps to the left of the living room is a television room; on the right is an office with a skylight. Both the office and the family room downstairs could be used as bedrooms, said Jan Lundqvist, a broker with Residence, the Swedish real estate firm and Christie’s affiliate that has the listing.
Past the living room are the kitchen and dining area. A small hall leads to two bedrooms. One, the master suite, has a generous walk-in closet and an adjoining laundry room. As is typical in Sweden’s older homes, Mr. Lundqvist said, the bedrooms share a bathroom. (A second bathroom is on the same floor near the entrance, by the stair landing.)
The building’s amenities include bike storage, a parking garage and a communal wine cellar in the basement. Restaurants, tennis courts, parks with jogging trails and public transit are all within walking distance. The Stockholm Arlanda Airport is about a half-hour drive.
Home prices in Sweden have increased sharply since the 2008 global financial crisis, driven by the combination of a strong economy, low mortgage rates, a chronic housing shortage and rapid population growth, specifically an influx of refugees and others moving to urban centers for jobs and schools. But even during the recession Sweden’s real estate market didn’t suffer much, thanks to the shortage of housing and the swift countermeasures taken by the government and central bank, said Olof Manner, head of research for Swedbank, a financial services group based in Stockholm.
Prices are now about 50 percent higher than they were in 2008, he said. “I don’t think we have a bubble,” he said of the market. “But it’s very richly priced.”
Recently, however, the price increases have been slowing, Mr. Manner said. In 2015, prices rose 15 percent over the previous year; in 2016, that number fell to 10 percent. Home prices are now 7 percent higher than they were at this time last year, he said.
He attributed this to several factors: Banks have become stricter about mortgage applicants’ debt-to-income ratios; the government recently changed its mortgage amortization rules to require faster repayment schedules on new loans; fixed mortgage rates have risen slightly; and the novelty of the low rates has worn off.
A continuing challenge, he added, is that there aren’t enough new homes being built to meet demand, and the ones that are built don’t suit the refugee population’s need for small, affordable units.
Elisabeth Hallberg, a broker and manager with Per Jansson, a luxury real estate agency in Stockholm, said it’s a seller’s market. “The problem for the real estate agent is not to find buyers; it’s to find sellers,” she said, estimating that about 70 percent of the transactions she worked on in the past year have had multiple offers, and many had received an offer before the first open house.
The most desirable areas in the city, agents said, are Djurgarden, a parklike area with well-appointed villas, and Ostermalm, where this apartment is. Lars Fogelklou, the chief executive and a founder of Residence, said that in Djurgarden, high-end apartments can sell for between 20 million Swedish krona ($2,312,640) and 100 million Swedish krona ($11,563,200). Agents said prices in Ostermalm range from between 3 million Swedish krona ($346,896) and 10 million ($1,156,320) at the lower end, and up to around 70 million Swedish krona ($8,094,240) or 80 million ($9,250,550) at the higher end, with a few properties reaching 100 million Swedish krona ($11,563,200).
WHO BUYS IN STOCKHOLM
Most of Stockholm’s luxury home buyers are Swedish, some of them Swedes returning from abroad, agents said.
Ms. Hallberg estimated that about 20 percent of her clients are from Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Britain and France. Over the past year, Mr. Fogelklou said, a few of his clients (about 5 percent) have been from China, Germany and the United States; a much larger share (about 40 percent) were expats returning to Sweden.
There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Sweden, said Jonas Bergquist, a Stockholm-based partner with Magnusson, a law firm with offices in the Baltic region and Scandinavia.
With so many events – engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, after parties and send-off brunches – associated with your wedding day, food trucks are the perfect mobile way to break out of a catering rut. Six of our favorites offer a variety of cuisines and services perfect for all your events, or even the big day itself.
Based in Stamford, this duo of trucks offers seven grilled cheeses, plus sweet dessert melts.
The Menu: Rentals include the full menu (from the original to the jalapeno popper to the pulled pork with caramelized onions and pickles), plus any daily specials.
The Cost: Main service is $25/person; end-of-night service is $400 plus consumption. Bookings more than 1 hour from Stamford incur a $250 travel fee.
Test it Out: Follow Melt Mobile on facebook for a weekly list of locations.
Book it: www.melt-mobile.com
Mamaroneck’s iconic hot-dog stand now has a small fleet of trucks serving its most popular standards.
The Menu: Customers can pick and choose which dishes (hot dogs, fries, potato puffs, ice cream, and homemade Italian ices, to name a few) they’d like to offer.
Cost: Starts at $1000 and varies based on the menu
Test it Out: The truck is at the White Plains Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) until November.
Book it: www.waltershotdogs.com/truck
Chef David DiBari’s Dobbs Ferry pizza truck serves original interpretations of Neapolitan-style pies.
The Menu: Five pies: Margherita; Cookery meatball with silky ricotta; four cheese drizzled with chili honey; Brussels sprouts and bacon; and fresh lemon with scamorza and basil.
The Cost: Prices range from $1,200 (up to 50 guests) to $2,700 (up to 200 guests)
Test it Out: Find it at farmers’ markets in Irvington, Hastings-on-Hudson, and Chappaqua.
Book it: www.thecookerysdoughnation.com; only available April to November within 65 miles of Dobbs Ferry.
Party of Two Catering operates this popular Hudson Valley-based truck specializing in fries tossed with flavorful seasonings or smothered in creative toppings.
The Menu: Choose from three options. The Basic Party (two hours of service, choose three menu items from more than 15 options) and the After Party (one hour of service, choose from seven options) both feature all-you-can-eat topped fries. The Toss Up is a pay-by-the-hour service and only includes tossed fries.
Cost: The Basic Party, $14 per guest; the After Party, $7 per guest; the Toss Up, $5 per guest per hour.
Test it Out: Follow Frites of NY on Facebook to find the truck at events.
Book it: www.fritesofny.com; truck is not permitted in Rockland, Greene or Albany counties.
Greek street food (and thick-cut oregano fries) is the big draw for this Yonkers truck.
The Menu: Choose from Vending Style (guests order individually) or Buffet Style (setup of trays), to bring chicken souvlaki, pork souvlaki, lamb gyro, falafel, and fries to your guests.
The Cost: Vending style charges a truck rental fee (starts at $500) plus consumption; Buffet Style, $1,000 up to 50 guests, then $15 per guest.
Test it Out: The truck parks on Central Ave in Yonkers (between Fort Hill Ave and Ardsley Rd) Tuesday through Sunday.
Book it: www.souvlakitruck.com
The sweetest way to cap the night? How about a few scoops Nick DiBona’s popular, locally made ice cream.
The Menu: Scoops (cups or cones), sundaes, and shakes in flavors like rainbow cookie and cannoli, plus plenty of whipped cream, sauces, and sprinkles.
The Cost: $350 truck-rental fee plus per person fees $6-$13 (depending on the menu)
Test it Out: Follow Bona Bona Ice Cream Truck on Facebook to find it at events.
Book it: www.bonabonaicecream.com; only available within 20 miles of Larchmont
Rising mortgage rates, overheating home prices, nothing for sale, pre-election jitters — the list of reasons to lose confidence in the housing market is growing.
In fact, the share of consumers who think now is a good time to buy a home fell 5 percentage points in September in a monthly housing sentiment survey (known as HPSI) by Fannie Mae. The only drop that was bigger was the share of consumers who think mortgage rates will fall.
“The decline in the HPSI over the past two months from the survey-high in July … adds a note of caution to our moderately positive housing outlook,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The starter home tight supply and rising home prices as well as the unsettled political environment are likely giving many consumers a reason to pause or question their home purchase sentiment.”
The September employment report was mixed for housing. Wage growth is strengthening, but not as much as home price growth. Construction jobs increased, suggesting more housing supply in the future, but housing starts for single-family homes are not exactly robust. Construction spending fell in August and July’s numbers were revised down.
“A blah September jobs report gives no impetus for anything on the economy’s to do list: There’s no sign of an overheating economy that would justify a rate hike; no groundswell of construction hiring that would finally hint at a return to a normal pace of housing starts; no big wage gains that would give hope for renewed productivity gains. Just a stubbornly average report at a time when the economy is looking for a jolt of the spectacular,” wrote Redfin’s chief economist, Nela Richardson.
“Housing seems to have hit a soft patch, with residential investment likely posting a second consecutive quarterly decline last quarter despite positive labor market and mortgage rate trends”
Pending home sales, which represent signed contracts to buy existing homes, have fallen for three straight months, according to the National Association of Realtors. Housing demand is strong, but supply is historically weak and getting weaker, as fewer homes come on the market in the fall and winter.
|United States Housing||Last||Q3/16||Q4/16||Q1/17||Q2/17||2020|
|New Home Sales||551||475||517||510||510||590|
|Pending Home Sales||-0.2||0.88||0.72||0.91||1.04||1.26|
|Existing Home Sales||5530||5472||5453||5439||5417||5182|
|Nahb Housing Market Index||59||59||60||60||59||53|
|Home Ownership Rate||63.5||63.53||63.53||63.53||63.53||63.53|
|Case Shiller Home Price Index||187||192||192||192||193||211|
You can check in for a flight from your phone, deposit a check on your phone and pay for Starbucks from your phone, so why would should shopping for a mortgage be any different?
Although, it is a little behind the curve on the memo.
And while these changes are mostly focused on the technology aspect of buying a home, the mortgage product side is changing just as much.
In a recent interview with HousingWire, Mat Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage,explained why 3% down mortgages are going to be the new normal.
What’s more, in order to help educate new borrowers on mortgages today, David Gunn, mortgage sales effectiveness director for Fifth Third Mortgage, shared five of the biggest mistakes consumers make when buying homes, along with tips to avoid them:
1.Passing up help.
There are more than 200 federal, state and local programs to assist consumers to make their down payments or pay their mortgage closing costs. Some programs are only for first-time homebuyers, others could be for veterans.
Tip: Make sure to research programs in your region. “It’s hard to research and navigate programs alone,” Gunn said. “They vary from city to city, and might only be available during certain times of the year.”
2. Believing you make too much money to qualify.
Some buyers think assistance programs are only for low-income households. Some programs assist first-time homebuyers no matter their income levels depending on where they purchase a home.
Tip: Look at programs options. For example, Gunn notes that they have a program that helps pay closing costs on homes purchased in designated low-income areas with loans financed through Fifth Third Mortgage, no matter the consumer’s income.
3. Thinking you don’t have enough money for a down payment.
The Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage Mortgage allows homebuyers to put down 3%. This will allow the majority of borrowers to enter this program with no cash out of pocket for the down payment.
Tip: Work with your mortgage loan originator to see which programs can help you qualify. “People tell us they can’t afford a house because of the down payment,” Gunn said. “It’s the most common barrier to buying a home. But we find that a buyer needs less money than she thinks to get into a home with a monthly payment that meets her budget.”
4. Clinging to outdated ideas on closing timelines.
Closing times are lengthening. And that can be a good thing. The Know Before You Owe rule enacted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into effect, and has extended the timeline on most home closings. The rule created documents that detail how much a buyer will pay for closing costs, how much each monthly payment will be, and how payments or rates could potentially adjust. Any change to these terms must be given to borrowers with 3 days to review, which is different from the past when changes could be made to the loan before and during closing without a wait.
Tip: “Be patient,” Gunn said. “And know that all of the changes are made to help you better understand the mortgage terms and help you find the best loan for you.”
5. Relying on a one-size- fits-all loan.
Many homebuyers likely had a 30-year-loan on their last house. But it’s not the default loan anymore. For each purchase, loan originators look at the buyer’s financial situation and goals, and might suggest a loan with a shorter term.
Tip: Work through the financials on several options with your loan originator to see what puts you in the best financial position to meet your family’s goals. “It might be better to get a lower term loan now to build equity, and then move into something bigger in a few years,” Gunn said. “We want what is right for you.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced Nebraska’s 2015 farm real estate value and cash rent for cropland has decreased by 2 percent.
Allan Vyhnalek, educator at the Platte County Extension Office, said based on the changing prices of corn and soybeans, the decline in real estate value is “absolutely expected.”
In February 2015, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln published a report on farm real estate that gave specific numbers for regions within the state.
The east region, which includes Platte and Colfax counties, saw an overall decrease of 3 percent. Dryland cropland decreased by 9 percent and other types of cropland (pivoted, gravity irrigated, etc) decreased by 3 percent. However, the values of grazing land increased, tillable by 16 percent, non-tillable by 20 percent and hayland by 24 percent.
Due to the 2005 ethanol mandate, Vyhnalek said crop prices jumped to $5 to $7 a bushel for corn and $11 to $15 a bushel for soybeans. When grain prices rose, so did the cost of production and real estate. According to the 2015 UNL real estate report, over the past five years the east region’s real estate values increased by 89 percent.
Statewide, values increased by 116 percent.
Prices for corn are now around $3.41 a bushel with soybeans at $8.85 a bushel, lower than previous years.
Thomas Dobbe, regional vice president of Farm Credit Services of America, said the increased cost of equipment, fertilizer, seeds, etc., could have “acted as a damper” on the real estate market, but it’s too early to tell if this decrease is a fluke or the start of a trend.
“It may be an indication that the market will not go any higher,” Dobbe said, “or a sign that the market is taking a breather. We won’t know if it’s done going up or if it will continue to go up.”
Dobbe and Vyhnalek said the value of an individual plot of land depends more on the quality of its soil and topography than overall trends. Property taxes will continue to increase, and the value decrease is unlikely to affect rental prices.
While violent crime rates in the country have fallen steadily over the past several decades, the United States is still one of the less peaceful nations in the world. According to the Global Peace Index 2015 report, the United States ranked 94th out of 162 countries. However, the peacefulness of American communities varies considerably within states.
Following the example of the Peace Index, 24/7 Wall St. generated an index to rank the peacefulness of each state in the nation. States with high violent crime and homicide rates, as well as high estimated small arms ownership and high incarceration rates were identified as less peaceful, while states with lower incidence of these factors were more peaceful. According to our index, Maine is the most peaceful state, while Louisiana is the least peaceful.
Click here to see the least peaceful states in America.
Click here to see the most peaceful states in America.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Aubrey Fox, executive director of the U.S. office at the Institute of Economics and Peace, said, “A perfectly peaceful place would be a place where there is no violence and no fear of violence.” He explained this would be a place with no crime, no police spending, a strong government, and a healthy economy.
According to Fox, one of the largest drags on peacefulness in the country and in individual states has been the high levels of homicide and incarceration. Only three of the 10 least peaceful states had incarceration rates that did not exceed the national rate of 498.1 per 100,000 Americans. In all of the most peaceful states, incarceration rates were well below the national figure.
5 Drivers of Peace
Less peaceful states needed to have relatively large police forces. The ratio of law enforcement employees to state residents exceeded the national proportion of 285.5 law enforcement workers per 100,000 Americans in eight of the 10 least peaceful states, while all of the most peaceful states had proportionately small police forces.
There are two ways to look at the relationship between peace and enforcement, Fox explained. While the perfectly peaceful community would have zero police officers, communities need to invest in policing to deal with local threats and lower crime. However, “There is typically a point at which you get less return on your investment,” Fox said.
Fox gave an example of a community with crime at a 50-year low, but where police are spending seven times as much to keep it that way. “We really need to ask how much of a lost opportunity cost is that?” Fox argued. In fact, U.S. crime levels are at their lowest level since 1972. Police spending was far lower at that time, however, according to Fox.
The connection is far from well-understood, however. Crime continued to drop in the U.S. during the most recent economic downturn, for example. During the downturn, police spending fell dramatically.
Still, economic costs add up the less peaceful a community becomes, and poor socioeconomic climates can lead to less peacefulness. “Being poor or having less access to resources does put you on a path that is less peaceful,” Fox said.
The manner in which these factors lead to violence, however, is very difficult to establish empirically. John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy think tank, said, “The biggest predictor of whether there’s violence is dense clusters of unskilled young men.” He went on to explain that poor socioeconomic factors such as low educational attainment, high poverty rates, and high unemployment all lead to more violence by contributing to higher numbers of unskilled young males.
Read more: America’s Most Violent (and Most Peaceful) States – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/07/15/americas-most-violent-and-most-peaceful-states/#ixzz3gRvMfKQT
Five hundred square feet might not sound like much, but as rents clearly show, in some markets that’s a coveted amount of real estate. In other places, it’s plenty of space to rest your head and grab a bite after a day in the woods or on the water. And in many areas, it’s the right size for a reasonable mortgage.
Here’s how it looks to live in 500 or fewer square feet around the country:
3543 Lower Honoapiilani Rd #D206, Lahaina, HI
For sale: $365,500
Size: 454 square feet
This studio offers rich living on a budget in Maui — complete with the use of two pools, two clubhouses, two Jacuzzis and two putting greens, all surrounded by lush landscaping.
See more listings in Lahaina.
12 Melrose St APT 3, Boston, MA
For sale: $379,000
Size: 415 square feet
Just steps from Boston Common, this 1-bedroom, 1-bath home has hardwood floors, a sunny kitchen and a private deck.
View more homes for sale in Boston, MA.
186 Munday Oakley Rd, Semora, NC
For sale: $380,000
Size: 500 square feet
More than 200 feet of lakeshore and a two-slip boat dock come with this cottage near the North Carolina-Virginia border. The home’s large windows offer views of the lake and 1-acre lot.
See more homes on the market in Semora, NC.
38618 Fruitland Mesa Rd, Crawford, CO
For sale: $329,000
Size: 468 square feet
The great wide open beckons to whoever sleeps in this 468-square-foot cabin on the edge of a canyon between Aspen and Telluride. Situated on 40 acres amid mountains and valleys, the home features an aspen tongue-and-groove ceiling, built-in bookcases and electricity from charged batteries. There’s no bathroom, but a quaint outhouse was just built.
Check out more homes listed in Crawford, CO.