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Pound Ridge Real Estate

Six Essential Questions to Ask a New Client | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Imagine you are considering working with a potential client who seems apprehensive and possibly needy. Imagine you get the project. What might you wish you had considered and/or asked the potential client or yourself before deciding to work with them?

Here are some suggestions:

Why are these folks good clients for your company?
Over time, all companies have at least a gut level feel for what is a good fit regarding clients. Use that filter all the time. Ignoring it can put you, your people, and the company through thankless grief.

Why do these folks think we are the right contractor to work with?
Ask this question early on. The worst case is they expect something from your company that you simply can’t deliver. Better to find that out as soon as possible.

Have they been through a remodeling project in the past? If so, how did it go?
If they have never experienced the challenges involved in being a remodeling client, you are likely to be viewed negatively if you work for them. There are simply so many things that can go wrong during all phases of the planning and the actual remodeling.
If they have been through a remodeling project and it did not go well, question them thoroughly about why they think that happened. If all they do is blame the contractor then get clear about what they think the contractor did wrong. If you think the potential client was the real problem, not the contractor, then don’t work for them!

What are the client’s expectations about the process, in general? Do those expectations align with your company’s idea of what reasonable expectations are?
If so, great. But if not, what are the specific gaps? Are the gaps large or small? It’s better find out sooner than later. There is the distinct likelihood that they don’t align with yours. Talk it through. If there is not a meeting of the minds, refer another remodeler who might be a better fit.

Can the client listen to what your company says? Will they allow your company to be in control?
If they won’t listen now, they likely won’t listen when it all hits the fan. If you can’t be in control you will rue the day you decided to work with them.


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U.S. housing starts trending up | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Housing Starts in the United States is expected to be 1150.00 Thousand by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Housing Starts in the United States to stand at 1230.00 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the United States Housing Starts is projected to trend around 1280.00 Thousand in 2020, according to our econometric models.

United States Housing Starts
Forecast Actual Q3/16 Q4/16 Q1/17 Q2/17 2020 Unit
Housing Starts 1189 1150 1170 1210 1230 1280 Thousand
United States Housing Starts Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of United States Housing Starts using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – United States Housing Starts – was last predicted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.
United States Housing Last Q3/16 Q4/16 Q1/17 Q2/17 2020
Building Permits 1153 1130 1141 1152 1178 1315
Housing Starts 1189 1150 1170 1210 1230 1280
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
Construction Spending -0.8 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.2 -0.9
Housing Index 0.2 0.41 0.4 0.39 0.38 0.31
Nahb Housing Market Index 59 59 60 60 59 53
Mortgage Rate 3.6 5.1 3.68 3.73 3.77 6.5
Mortgage Applications 7.2 0.48 0.53 0.53 0.53 0.53
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

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Mistakes most people make when buying homes | Pound Ridge Real Estate

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.”


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Builder’s Choice Custom Home Design Award-winning projects | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Jeff Goldberg

In honor of Earth Day, Custom Home and BUILDER take a look back at five Builder’s Choice Custom Home Design Award-winning projects that are as environmentally-conscious as they are commendable. These projects, designed with the planet in mind, are dynamic and innovative—some powered by the resources they produce.

The Builder’s Choice Custom Home Design Awards (BCCHDAs) honor excellence and innovation in residential design and construction across 13 categories including project of the year, modular, multi-family, and architectural interiors. With this year’s extended deadline fast approaching—May 2 for early submissions, and May 6 for late submissions—we encourage you to submit your own best work here.

Excerpts from the awards coverage highlighting the projects’ sustainable features are included below. Follow the link in each project’s title to view more photos and information.
Tucson Mountain Retreat, Tucson, Ariz., designed by DUST
The layout is keenly attuned to the Sonoran Desert site. The long side faces south to allow the sun to passively heat the concrete floors, and the building’s deep overhangs and thermal mass keep it cool in the summer. A large kitchen/dining/living space is flanked by an acoustically designed music room/recording studio on one side and two bedrooms on the other. Each volume is fitted with glass walls that dematerialize to take in views and breezes.

Jeff Goldberg

RainShine House , Decatur, Ga., designed by Robert M. Cain, Architect
As an exercise in green design, this LEED Platinum–certified house puts a check in every column: passive solar, active solar, rainwater collection, natural daylighting and ventilation, energy-efficient electrical and mechanical systems, resource-conserving materials, a tight building envelope, low-VOC finishes, and no-irrigation landscaping. What got the attention of our judges, though, was that its environmental ethos also yields a thoroughly pleasing aesthetic experience.

Paul Hultberg Photography

Sustainable Steel Home , San Diego, designed by Macy Architecture/
Jensen & Macy Architects
The home’s footprint allows for plenty of natural ventilation, and it also connects the interiors with the outside in true mid-century spirit. The house maximizes its infill location by providing city and water views to the main rooms, which all occupy the second floor. Photovoltaics produce on-site power, and rainwater harvesting meets the site’s irrigation needs. Lots of glass, both transparent and translucent, helps with daylighting and passive solar.

Scot Conti

GREENville House, Greenville, N.C., designed by Tonic Design
The owners of this new LEED Silver-rated residence did their sustainability homework in advance. “They knew about solar and geothermal from the beginning,” says project designer Katherine Hogan. That head start allowed Hogan and principal designer Vincent Petrarca to weave green features into the fabric of the building, rather than tack them on as options after the fact.

Todd Lanning

Green Lantern , San Antonio, Texas, designed by John Grable Architects
In one of San Antonio’s, oldest neighborhoods, architect and developer John Grable, FAIA, salvaged 45 percent of a 1948 house because of his client’s commitment to conservation and green building. At the same time, a contemporary home was the aim.

Dror Baldinger, AIA

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Falling Expectations for 2016 Depress Housing Confidence | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Americans’ overall confidence in the U.S. housing market has declined from a year ago, according to the January 2016 Zillow Housing Confidence Index, driven lower by diminished expectations of the market’s future.

The overall U.S. Housing Confidence Index fell to 66.9 in January from 67.4 a year ago according to the Zillow Housing Confidence Index, sponsored by Zillow and calculated by Pulsenomics LLC.

However, expectations for the year ahead fell even more, from 69.9 in 2015 to 67.5 this year, a decline of 3.4%.  Homeowners near term expectations fell 3.5 percent, from 74.1 to 71.8 but renters lost even more confidence.  Among renters, expectations for 2016 compared to 2015 fell from 63.9 to 60.8, or 4.8 percent.

The results come at a time when rising rents and stagnant incomes are making it tough for many Americans to buy homes. Millennials are renting longer than past generations as they put off major life decisions. Those aged 18-34 said they expected home values to grow by 5 percent per year, on average, over the next ten years, compared to just 3.7 percent for all Americans.

The survey found that overall aspirations for homeownership are at their highest level in two years, driven in large part by faith among younger Americans and Americans-of-color in the general value of homeownership. Among people 18-34 years old, 65 percent said homeownership and the American Dream go hand-in-hand, more than any other generation. Of Hispanic respondents surveyed, 70 percent agreed that owning their own home is necessary to live the American Dream, followed by 64 percent of Asian respondents and 63 percent of black respondents. Less than 60 percent of white respondents agreed.

The semi-annual Zillow Housing Confidence Index, sponsored by Zillow and calculated by Pulsenomics LLC, is calculated for the U.S. as a whole and 20 large metro markets nationwide. It is based on a national survey of 10,000 American renters and homeowners. The ZHCI is composed of three sub-indexes: one that summarizes homeowner and renter assessments of current market conditions (HMCI); another that measures their expectations regarding future home values and affordability (HEI); and a third that gauges their aspirations and attitudes regarding homeownership (HAI).


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Housing Affordability Edges Up | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Modest home price and interest rate decreases resulted in a slight increase in nationwide housing affordability in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).

In all, 63.3 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $65,800. This up from the 62.2 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the third quarter.


The national median home price fell from $231,000 in the third quarter to $226,000 in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, average mortgage rates edged lower from 4.18 percent to 4.09 percent in the same period.

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa. was rated the nation’s most affordable major housing market, switching places with Syracuse, N.Y., which fell to the second slot on the list. In Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, 90.1 percent of all new and existing homes sold in last year’s fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $53,700.

Meanwhile, Binghamton, N.Y. claimed the title of most affordable small housing market in the fourth quarter of 2015. There, 94.6 percent of homes sold during the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $66,400.

For the 13th consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. was the nation’s least affordable major housing market. There, just 10.4 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $103,400.


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Home prices index continues to rise | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Recently, S&P Dow Jones Indices and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released their home price indexes for November. The Case-Shiller (CS) National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a 10.9% seasonally adjusted annual pace in November. The Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.7% in November.

Despite monthly volatility the FHFA and S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes have very similar trends.



How to winter-proof your home | Pound Ridge Real Estate

For 43-year-old Giuia Abano Grady, who lives in Gorham, Maine, and raises pigs and chickens and will soon raise cows, the work needed to prepare her 250-year-old farmhouse for the winter isn’t as easy as just disconnecting a garden hose.

Besides turning off all the exterior water lines and draining her garden’s irrigation system, she seals the doors and windows in her basement with plastic sheeting. Outside doors in the 1730’s-era home get wrapped with insulation and plastic, and her basement gets several space heaters set on low to prevent pipes from freezing. Exterior water lines must be wrapped in heat tape and even her barn’s water supply needs a heating line to keep it from icing up, she says.

The preparations were needed, as in January of 2015 nearly 8 feet of snow fell in a little over a month. Thanks to her and her husband’s efforts, her only crisis last winter was a frozen pipe. “An hour with a hair dryer and it was all fixed,” she says.

Fortunately for the rest of us, winter preparations may be as simple as installing an insulating cover to protect your outside faucets and prevent a burst pipe and flooding. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Old Man Winter’s freezing breath.

Indeed, the National Weather Service is predicting one of the worst snowstorms in years could be hitting the Northeast later this week, with up to two feet of snow expected between Washington, D.C., New York and Boston from mid-Friday into Sunday, along with coastal flooding. Already a blizzard watch is in effect with heavy snow and wind gusts of 40 mph and temperatures in West Virginia, and the Washington, D.C. region, dropping into the 20s Fahrenheit.

Life vests carried aboard airliners have never saved a life. WSJ’s Scott McCartney joins Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero and explains why regulators still require they be carried on planes.

Last year’s winter season saw the second-coldest winter on record for the Northeast region, and for eight individual states — New York, Pennsylvania and all six New England states.

Here are some helpful tips on preparing your home for winter from real-estate broker Re/Max of New Jersey and utilities the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Weather Service.

  • Repair all broken windows, exterior doors and walls and tightly close doors and windows to the outside. Make sure the outside doors and walls are well insulated. Seal all air leaks in crawl spaces and basements. If your vents won’t close, cover them from the inside with insulation, cardboard, plastic or newspaper, WSSC says.
  • Your attic should be properly insulated and ventilated to circulate the heat throughout the attic. This prevents ice from building up in certain areas and preventing major damage to your roof, Re/Max of New Jersey says.
  • Check your roof. Small leaks can turn into bigger leaks if snow sits on your roof…and then melts. Getting your roof coated before the winter can help to prevent leaks from trickling into your home and hoping the leak doesn’t spring up where you house valuable electronics. In addition, clean your home’s gutters as they are its first line of defense against water damage.
  • Homes with flat roofs are more vulnerable to having snow collect on the roof. Have a good roofer on call that is able to come out and remove large amounts of snow before it turns to ice or your roof buckles under its weight. Be careful on ladders when removing snow and have a second person hold the ladder if it’s more than two stories. It’s worth paying the $100 to $300 costs to remove snow, rather than pay the costs of a collapsed roof, which could cost thousands of dollars.
  • To help prevent the possibility of a burst pipe inside your home, install a pipe insulation sleeve to protect exposed pipes inside your home. Cover all parts of the pipes — even the joints — and seal them with duct tape. This will help keep your home energy efficient and helps reduce your chances of a pipe bursting and flooding your home. If a pipe does freeze, open the cold and/or hot water faucet nearest the frozen pipe, WSSC says. This will relieve the pressure and reduce the chance of breakage. Take a tip from Giuia Abano Grady and use a hand-held dryer if you attempt to thaw out the pipe yourself. Otherwise call a licensed plumber.
  • If you have a fireplace, check inside for cracks, build up and remove old ashes. Also, look outside and to ensure there is no space between the chimney and the exterior wall and that there are no loose bricks. Also the damper, which regulates the flow of air through the chimney, should be able to open and closes easily, Re/Max says.
  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one out of every six fires in the home is a result of malfunctioning or incorrectly used heating equipment and half of those fires occur during the winter months of December, January and February. As such, keep anything that could burn at least 3 feet away from a heating source like a space heater or a fireplace. Only one space heater should be plugged into a single electrical outlet at a time, the USFA says. Never use a propane-powered heater indoors unless it’s specifically designed for that purpose with an oxygen monitor that shuts off if high carbon monoxide levels are detected.
  • Arm yourself with plenty of rock salt, de-icer, and shovels to remove snow and ice from the outside of your home. Some cities and towns assess fines to homeowners who don’t remove snow from around their property within a certain amount of time after a heavy snowfall, Re/Max says. Also, remove snow in front of homes where the elderly or disabled reside. You might just get a basket of cookies this winter in return or even satisfaction by doing the right thing.

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Recovery Will Slow in 2016 as Fewer Homes Gain Value | Pound Ridge Real Estate

The number of homes nationwide gaining value on a monthly basis are expected to fall by 12 percent over the next 10 months as the housing recovery slows. Just over half, 51.3 percent, of America’s homes will continue to appreciate by October 2016, according to forecasts by Weiss Analytics.

The percentage of homes losing value nationwide are expected to decline, but fewer than the decline in appreciating homes.   Some 23.2 percent of homes are expected to depreciate on a monthly basis, a 6.4 percent drop from October 2015.

The forecasted decline in appreciating homes will continue a multi-year decline.  Since July 2014, the percentage of appreciating homes has fallen from 65.2 percent to 58.4 percent in October 2014 despite a 4.5 percent uptick in August.  The Weiss forecast predicts a 21 percent. decline over a 27-month period in the number of homes nationwide that are gaining value on a monthly basis.

Among the metros forecasted to be among the top ten appreciating markets in the nation by October 2016 are several that suffered some of the greatest losses in median home prices when the housing bubble burst in 2007.  These include Reno NV, forecast to have 98.3 percent of its homes appreciating on a monthly basis; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL, forecast to have 93 percent of homes appreciating; Stockton-Lodi, forecast to have 89.1 percent of homes appreciating; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, to have 84.4 percent of homes appreciating and Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC, to have 83.3 percent of homes appreciating.

Metros that will have the lowest appreciation rates in October 2014 are all from the South and Midwest. Raleigh, NN will have the lowest appreciation rate of 1.2%.  Only 3,757 of the 306,901 Raleigh homes in the Weiss database will be gaining value on a monthly basis.

“During the past three years the recovery has generated year over year double digit annual price increases.[1] Our data and analytics show that the pace of change in home values is slowing down—both among homes that are losing value as well as those that have been appreciating.  This retrenchment may delay the return to price parity in some markets but it in others it will help to prevent the formation of bubbles of overvalued properties that could result in defaults,” said Allan Weiss, CEO and founder of Weiss Analytics and former CEO and co-founder of Case Shiller Weiss.


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Mortgage rates average 3.97% | Pound Ridge Real Estate

today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing fixed mortgage rates ticking slightly higher for the second week in a row amid the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise short-term interest rates for the first time since 2006.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.97 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending December 17, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.95 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.80 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.22 percent with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.19 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.09 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.03 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.95 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.67 percent this week with an average 0.2 point, up from 2.64 percent last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.38 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.

As of January 1, 2016, the PMMS will no longer provide results for the 1-year ARM. Additionally, the regional breakouts will not be provided for the 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages, and the
5/1 Hybrid ARM.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“As was almost-universally expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve elected this week to raise short-term interest rates for the first time since 2006. We take the Fed at its word that monetary tightening in 2016 will be gradual, and we expect only a modest increase in longer-term rates. Mortgage rates will tick higher but remain at historically low levels in 2016. Home sales will remain strong, but refinance activity should cool somewhat. Novel policy approaches such as quantitative easing injected significant liquidity in the economy over the past seven years. As a result, the Fed is forced to employ some new tools, such as reverse repos, as it tightens monetary policy. We are likely to see some short-term volatility in fixed-income markets as market participants adjust to these new tools.”