Tag Archives: South Salem Homes for Sale

Building Regulation Most Restrictive on the Coasts | South Salem Real Estate

In December, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a working paper announcing the release of an updated version of the Wharton Land Use Regulatory Index. The paper’s lead author, Joseph Gyourko, is a professor at the Wharton School who is well known for his research in this area and worked with the previous version of the index.

The index is based on a survey of over 2,400 primarily suburban jurisdictions across the U.S., conducted in calendar year 2018. Answers to the survey are used to construct twelve component indexes (capturing political pressure, number of approvals required, involvement of the state legislature and the court system and the local population in the process, explicit caps on production, density restrictions, presence of impact fees, and the time it takes to obtain approval).  The twelve components are combined into an overall index, scaled so that it has an average value of zero and a higher index number indicates more restrictive local land use regulation.

Averaging the index across each of the 44 metropolitan areas that had data on at least ten communities in 2018 clearly shows that the most restrictive regulatory regimes tend to be found on the coasts.  The metros with the most restrictive regulations, according to the 2018 Wharton Index, are San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (with an average index of 1.18) and New York-Newark-Jersey City (with 1.04).

The working paper also compares the 2018 results with those from the previous survey (conducted from 2004 to 2006) to investigate possible changes in the regulatory environment over that span.  The comparison shows that there has been an increase in the number of local entities that need to approve a development, although only in cases where the development requires rezoning.

However, the major regulatory increase captured by that the Wharton surveys involves density restrictions.  In particular, the surveys showed that minimum lot sizes, already widespread in 2006, were even more common—as well as more restrictive—in 2018.  In the 2018 survey, 94 percent of the communities reported minimum lot sizes, and in a quarter of these the minimum lot size was at least one acre.

Impact fees were the only type of regulation that showed a significant decline between 2006 and 2018.  Just over half of communities reported imposing some type of impact fees in 2018 compared to slightly over three-quarters of those in the earlier survey.  It is important to remember that the earlier survey was conducted from late 2004 through early 2006—before the downturn, when housing production was at its peak, and when there was substantial concern about the number of property-flipping investors in many parts of the country.

A broad conclusion reached by the NBER paper is that the basic framework of the local regulatory environment has not changed much since 2018: communities have neither abandoned old types of regulation nor adopted radically new types.  The NBER paper is describing land use regulations specifically, however.   Complaints fielded by NAHB suggest that architectural restrictions on single-family homes (e.g., outlawing less expensive types of siding) have become an emerging local regulatory issue, but this is probably outside the scope of the Wharton survey.

For readers interested in more detail, the working paper is titled “The Local Residential Land Use Regulatory Environment Across U.S. Housing Markets: Evidence from a New Wharton Index.”  It can be purchased at a relatively modest cost (for an academic article) on the NBER web site.

Readers may also be interested in the housing supply regulation index created by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag, and the estimates of regulation as a fraction of single-family house price and multifamily development costs published by NAHB.  These different measures are estimated differently, serve somewhat different purposes, and are probably best viewed as complements to one another.

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Lower rates will fuel housing in 2020 | South Salem Real Estate

Housing could fuel economic growth for the first part of 2020, a new economic outlook from Fannie Mae shows.

Fannie Mae upgraded its economic outlook to a gross domestic product growth of 1.9% in 2020, according to its latest commentary from the Economic and Strategic Research Group. This is due to expected easing trade tensions, stimulative fiscal policies and continued consumer spending

This year, the third quarter added to GDP growth for the first time in more than 1.5 years, Fannie Mae’s data shows. And this growth is expected to continue into the second quarter of 2020.

Fannie Mae explained housing should also continue to function as a positive contributor to growth in the near term, as indicated by both new and existing single-family home sales advancing in the third quarter, as well as pending home sales, permits, and starts. However, persistent supply and affordability constraints continue to hold back household formation, inhibiting housing market activity.

“As we forecasted, housing supported the larger economy in the third quarter, and we expect it to continue to play a productive role through the first half of 2020,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist. “Positive contributions from single-family housing construction, home improvements, and brokers fees pushed residential fixed investment growth to a robust 5.1% annualized pace this past quarter, and we forecast continued but moderating strength as construction activity and home sales growth continue at a slower pace.”

“With mortgage rates normalizing, we expect a decline in refinance activity in 2020, with the refinance share of originations dropping from a projected 37% in 2019 to 31%,” Duncan said. “Of course, the housing market as a whole remains constrained by the persistent supply and affordability issues, which is particularly unfortunate given the current strength of consumer demand for reasonably priced homes.”

Housing is contributing to growth, but consumer spending is expected to remain the primary driver of economic growth for the forecast horizon, and business fixed investment will benefit as additional corporate expenditures work to meet consumer demand.

“Even as global uncertainties mount, we continue to expect the domestic economy to produce solid, if not spectacular, growth,” Duncan said. “A stronger-than-expected third quarter contributed to the downward revision to our fourth-quarter forecast, as some of the previously expected weakness in trade and inventories appears likely to have been pushed back into this quarter. Still, consumer spending is likely to continue driving the expansion forward, and with the passage of the budget act and a reprieve in trade tensions we’ve revised upward our forecast for full-year 2020 growth.”

But risks still remain on the horizon. For example, trade talks between the U.S. and China continue to pose negative risks to economic growth. And because of this uncertainty, Fannie Mae predicts we could see one last rate cut from the Federal Reserve in early 2029 before pausing for the rest of the year.

“We also continue to expect the Fed to cut interest rates only one more time in the foreseeable future, in early 2020, as a hedge against the sizeable downside risks and to counteract muted inflation,” Duncan said.

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Creepiest house in the Thousand Islands | South Salem Real Estate

The Thousand Islands — if you’ve even heard of them — are probably best known as the home of a certain sweet-and-spicy salad dressing. Unless, of course, you happen to be the fancy type of person who builds themselves a villa. The islands on the St. Lawrence River dividing New York from Canada have been sprouting ritzy summer homes for the rich and famous for more than a century. Which is a bit strange, when you think about how one of the earliest of those homes was clearly the target of a family-destroying curse.

House of Horrors

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any ghost stories associated with Carleton Villa — none that made it on to the internet, anyway. Maybe that’s because there don’t really need to be. The house’s well-documented history is more than enough on its own to give any passerby the willies.

Let’s go back to the beginning. In 1894, William Wyckoff was on top of the world. About eight years previous, he and two of his business partners had purchased the Remington Typewriter Company and turned it into an incredibly lucrative business. Looking for some well-earned R&R, he commissioned the architect William Henry Miller to design a luxurious house on Carleton Island, one of the 1,800 islands in the Thousand Island archipelago.

It was beautiful. Covering seven acres, the estate was notable for the stately stonework, towering turrets, and eye-popping stained glass that was the envy of any passing boater. But even before Wyckoff and his family moved in, a dark shadow began to pass over them. One month before move-in day, William’s wife Francis passed away from cancer. But that was only the beginning. The very first night that the rest of the family moved in, William Wyckoff suffered a heart attack in his sleep. He never woke up.

The family fortunes only fell further. Clarence Wyckoff, the youngest son, inherited the house after his father’s death. Then the Great Depression hit — hard. As the bank accounts drained, desperate measures became necessary. The Wyckoffs sold Carleton Villa to General Electric, who planned to demolish the building for scrap and build a new employee resort and plant on the site. But this, too, failed to happen. That beautiful stained glass was removed — along with the rest of the windows — and in the service wing, the entire floor of a bedroom was cut directly out. The marble cladding around the mansion’s most prominent feature, the four-story tower, was removed as well, greatly weakening its foundation. But when World War II broke out, the demolition stopped. It never started again.

Forgotten America / Facebook

Carleton Today

It wouldn’t have been pleasant to live in Carleton Villa in those days, but imagine what it’s like now. Other than the occasional urban spelunker, the house has been virtually abandoned ever since. Its tower is now long gone, torn down when it began to threaten the rest of the structure. But perhaps not all hope is lost. In fact, are you in the market? If you’ve got $495,000 handy, the place could be yours — as long as you’re all right with a bit of a fixer-upper. Elsewhere on Carleton Island, other monied residents with more modern houses have firmly established themselves. You know what that means. Once you’ve got the spooky old house, all you need is a mask and Halloween sound effects and you’re three-quarters of the way to scaring off your neighbors and getting an island to yourself.

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https://curiosity.com/topics/this-is-hands-down-the-creepiest-house-in-the-united-states-curiosity

Housing starts jump | South Salem Real Estate

Total housing starts posted a 12.3 percent increase in August (1.364 million units) compared to an upwardly revised July estimate of 1.215 million units, according to the joint data release from the Census Bureau and HUD. Relative to August 2018, total starts are 6.6 percent above the annual pace of 1.279 million units.

Single-family production in August posted a monthly increase of 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 919,000. Single-family starts in July were revised up to 880,000 units. The three-month moving average for single-family in August is 888,000 units.

On a year-to-date basis, single-family starts are 2.7 percent lower as of August relative to the first eight months of 2018. Single-family permits, a useful indicator of future construction activity, rose 4.5 percent in August (866,000 units) compared to July but have registered a 4.1 percent loss thus far in 2019 compared to last year.

Regional data show, on a year-to-date basis, positive conditions for single-family construction only in the South (+1.1 percent). Single-family construction is down 6.9 percent in the West, 4.8 percent in the Midwest, and 11.9 percent in the Northeast.

Multifamily starts (2+ unit production) registered an increase of 32.8 percent in August to a 445,000 annual rate compared to July. On a year-to-date basis, multifamily 5+ unit production is slightly up 0.4 percent thus far in 2019, while multifamily 5+ unit permitting is trending higher with an increase of 4.2 percent relative to the first eight months of 2018.

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Property Taxes Account for 40 Percent of State and Local Tax Revenue | South Salem Real Estate

NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau’s quarterly tax data shows that $594 billion in taxes were paid by property owners over the four quarters ending in Q1 2019.[1] It has been seven years since four-quarter property tax revenues declined.

After accelerating in the third and fourth quarters of 2017, the four-quarter growth rate of property tax revenue has slowed in each quarter since. Increasing by 18.1%, corporate income tax revenues grew at a much faster pace than any other major category of tax receipts on a year-over-year basis. State and local individual income tax revenues edged up 1.2% while property and sales tax collections increased by 3.3% and 5.2%, respectively.

Property taxes accounted for 39.6% of state and local tax receipts—the second consecutive quarterly increase. In terms of the share of total receipts, property taxes are followed by individual income taxes (28.2%), sales taxes (28.0%), and corporate taxes (4.2%).

The ratio of property tax revenue to total tax revenue from the four sources shown above remains 2.6 percentage points above its pre-housing boom average of 37%.

The share of property tax receipts among the four major tax revenue sources naturally changes with fluctuations in non-property tax collections. Non-property tax receipts including individual income, corporate income, and sales tax revenues, by nature, are much more sensitive to fluctuations in the business cycle and the accompanying changes in consumer spending (affecting sales tax revenues) and job availability (affecting aggregate income). In contrast, property tax collections have proven relatively stable, reflecting the long-run stability of tangible property values as well as the smoothing effects of lagging assessments and annual adjustments. Property tax receipts are the least volatile revenue source, followed by sales taxes, individual income taxes, and corporate income taxes, in order of increasing volatility.[2]

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Home equity withdrawals fall to new low | South Salem Real Estate

House

After declining for two consecutive quarters, tappable equity rose in the first quarter of the year, but it appears homeowners are still reluctant to touch it.

According to the latest report from Black Knight, homeowners tapped just 1% of available equity in the first quarter – the lowest share since it began tracking the metric in 2008.

Nearly 44 million homeowners with a mortgage have more than 20% equity in their home, which comes to about $136,000 of available equity per person and an aggregate amount of $5.98 trillion.

Last summer, the aggregate amount of tappable equity reached an all-time high of $6.06 trillion, a milestone Black Knight says we’ll likely surpass as home prices continue to rise this summer.

That said, while tappable equity is growing, the rate of that growth is slowing significantly along with home prices, falling from 16% a year ago to just 3% in the first quarter.

Major cities, including San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Portland, and Baton Rouge have all seen tappable equity volumes decline in the last year, the report shows.  

Meanwhile, Los Angeles continues to hold the title of the city where homeowners have the most tappable equity. In fact, California itself holds 37% of the nation’s equity, nearly seven times more than the runner-up, Texas.

But despite considerable equity gains, homeowners continue to show a reluctance to touch this source of wealth.

Black Knight’s report shows that just $54 billion in equity was withdrawn in the first quarter, the lowest volume in four years.

Both cash-out refinance withdrawals and HELOCs were down, with HELOC withdrawals hitting a five-year low and falling below cash-out refi volume for the first time in eight years.

Black Knight says rates are likely to blame.

“HELOC withdrawals as a share of available equity have been cut in half over the past three years as homeowners have increasingly steered away from the product,” the report states. “Cash-out withdrawals as a share of available equity are down a much more modest 16% over that same span. Rising interest rates have likely been the driving force behind declining HELOC equity withdrawals.”

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49466-home-equity-withdrawals-fall-to-new-low?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=74236288&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–_RPpnTr_PWGur1iiM83XvQEyPJM69u5aoyeLA1IlZzU3FG1tVQjkNDrO80nlHOtt23STTcCE-tkx6xvBN1Dx1U2ckcA&_hsmi=74236288

SALT workaround officially squashed by Treasury | South Salem Real Estate

The Treasury Department on Tuesday issued final regulations that will officially prohibit high-tax states from utilizing workarounds to evade the new cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions.

As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, SALT deductions were capped at $10,000 – which is well below the average amounts claimed by individuals residing in states such as New York, California and New Jersey. The average deduction claimed in California, for example, is $22,000, according to Kevin de Leon, a Democratic member of the California state senate.

Therefore, in response, a number of state governments proposed or enacted legislation that would allow taxpayers to make charitable contributions to an established state fund in order to earn a credit. The goal would be to allow the residents to take the full amount given as a deduction by transforming a non-deductible payment into a charitable contribution.

However, the IRS blocked that strategy through guidelines issued on Tuesday, which require taxpayers to subtract the value of their state and local tax deductions from their charitable contributions.

The regulations also provide exceptions for state tax deductions and tax credits of no more than 15 percent of the amount of the donation.

The regulations apply to contributions made after Aug. 27, 2018.C

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in 2017 that he hoped it sent a message to state governments that “they should try to get their budgets in line.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have said they would try to undo the cap on state and local tax deductions. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the new tax change would lead to a decline in revenues in the state because taxpayers would leave.

The Treasury said it would continue to evaluate the issue and release further guidance if necessary.

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https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/salt-workaround-squashed-treasury-department

Mortgage rates hit two year low | South Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to 3.82 percent, the sixth consecutive weekly decline and its lowest level since September 2017.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “While the drop in mortgage rates is a good opportunity for consumers to save on their mortgage payment, our research indicates that there can be a wide dispersion among mortgage rate offers. By shopping around and getting a single additional mortgage rate quote, a borrower can save an average of $1,500.”

“These low rates are also good news for current homeowners. With rates dipping below four percent, there are over $2 trillion of outstanding conforming conventional mortgages eligible to be refinanced – meaning the majority of what was originated in 2018 is now eligible,” he says.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.82 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 6, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 3.99 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM averaged 3.28 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.46 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.01 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.52 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.60 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.74 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Mortgage rates average 3.99% | South Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate dropped below four percent for the first time since January 2018.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “While economic data points to continued strength, financial sentiment is weakening with the spread between the 10-year and the 3-month Treasury bill narrowing as fears of the impact of the trade war with China grow. Lower rates should, however, give a boost to the housing market, which has been on the upswing with both existing and new home sales picking up recently.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.99 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending May 30, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.56 percent. 
  • 15-year FRM averaged 3.46 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.51 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.06 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.60 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.68 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.80 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 link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Housing starts fall | South Salem Real Estate

Total housing starts fell 8.7% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units from an upwardly revised reading in January, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

The February reading of 1.16 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts fell 17% to 805,000 units following an unusually high reading of 970,000 units in January. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 17.8% to 357,000.

“The overall lower starts numbers are somewhat deceiving given the revised single-family starts figure in January was at a post-recession high,” said Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, AVP for forecasting and analysis at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “Absent the surge last month, the drop in single-family production in February is not as huge as it appears. Still, builders continue to remain cautious due to affordability concerns, as illustrated by the flat permits data.”

“The February starts figures are somewhat in line with flat builder expectations and serve as a cautionary note that affordability factors continue to affect the marketplace,” said Greg Ugalde, chairman of NAHB and a home builder and developer from Torrington, Conn. “Excessive regulations, a scarcity of buildable lots, persistent labor shortages and tariffs on lumber and other key building materials are having a negative effect on housing affordability.”

Regionally, combined single-family and multifamily starts in February fell 29.5% in the Northeast, 18.9% in the West and 6.8% in the South. Starts posted a 26.8% increase in the Midwest.

Overall permits, which are often a harbinger of future housing production, edged 1.6% lower in February to 1.30 million units. Single-family permits held steady at 821,000, while multifamily permits fell 4.2% to 475,000.

Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 1.5% in the Northeast, 4% in the South and 1.1% in the Midwest. Permits fell 15% in the West.

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https://lbmjournal.com/february-housing-starts-down-january-surge/