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Net zero building nationwide | Waccabuc Real Estate

California’s progressive approach may be difficult to implement nationwide – here are the hurdles to consider.

According to the Net Zero Energy Coalition, growth of ZE (Zero Energy) home construction was 75% higher in 2017 than in 2016. While California represents approximately half of all net zero energy homes built in the US, growth is occurring across the country, including Massachusetts, which has a similar top-down approach to the construction process, putting this state in second place in the inventory of zero ready (ZR), near zero (NZ), and ZE inventory.

A ZE home (also referred to as a Zero Energy Building, ZEB) is a home that consumes no more energy than it produces in a year. To achieve this, ZE homes are extremely efficient, leveraging cutting-edge building materials and construction methods, smart thermostats, and energy-efficient appliances to keep the home’s energy consumption as low as possible without seriously inconveniencing the homeowner. ZE homes produce on-site energy from renewable sources. In the residential segment, the most common renewable installed is solar photo voltaic (PV) panels. ZR homes have all of the energy-efficient elements with the exception of on-site energy generation.

For many communities, ZE is an important building block for their climate and sustainability action plans, driving several states and cities to introduce ZE legislation:

  • Oregon has set a 2023 target for all new home construction to meet ZE.
  • Austin, TX, has required all new homes to be ZE-ready since 2015.
  • Cambridge, MA, has a multiyear plan to move towards a zero net energy community, requiring all new residential home construction to be ZE by 2022.
  • Cambridge, MA, has a multiyear plan to move towards a zero net energy community, requiring all new residential home construction to be ZE by 2022.
  • The city of Fort Collins, CO, created FortZED nearly a decade ago to partner public, private, and academic resources to experiment with new technology that saves money and energy and helps create jobs locally.

The drive to implement ZE policies on a citywide or statewide level could help make these benefits a standard amenity, but these efforts require buy-in among builders. Most builders are now aware of ZE and have a basic understanding of the various elements. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveys its members regularly, and its 2017 Green Practices Study and Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes Report confirms that the housing industry is gradually changing. NAHB reports that three out of ten builders have constructed at least one near zero, zero energy ready, or ZE home.

However, the decision to construct a ZE home often relies with the consumer/home buyer, and many barriers can inhibit that decision. California is unique in that it has goals and codes driving changes, higher energy costs, favorable solar energy policies, and engaged utility providers. In other parts of the country, low energy costs are a barrier. Getting consumers excited about spending more upfront to see lower energy bills is a difficult proposition. Parks Associates survey data reveals that one-third of home owners in U.S. broadband households have a monthly electricity bill of less than $100.

As a result, ZE builders focus on the attributes of a higher quality home, which provides the homeowner with a healthier, quieter, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient home. A key message is the ZE home provides peace of mind, as well as a hedge against future utility bills, as the home is built with better components and with higher construction quality. Overall, customers indicate a willingness to pay more for high-performing homes. A Parks Associates survey of US broadband households in 4Q 2017 found 80% of homeowners believe that having an energy-efficient home is important or very important, and at the end of 2018, 89% reported energy-saving actions. Parks Associates interviews with builders confirm that most customers will pay approximately 5% more for higher quality, high-efficiency ZE homes.

However, a home is an infrequent purchase, and once it comes down to spending actual dollars, consumer actions often diverge from original intentions. Budget drives the decisions regarding efficiency upgrades or adding renewables, which can often push home buyers to decide between ZE options and other amenities. In interviews with Parks Associates, entry to mid-level builders report about one-third of buyers respond positively to energy-efficiency attributes and the associated benefits, while the remaining two-thirds are either more interested in other aesthetic enhancements or skeptic of the benefits overall.

Loss of incentives can drive decisions away from high-efficiency equipment. For example, the current residential federal tax credits for solar, wind, fuel cells, and geothermal heat pumps are 30% of the total installed costs. The amount is being stepped down yearly and will be phased out after 2021. As federal incentives go away, local municipalities and utilities will need to step up to replace them, or installation of these systems may decline.

Scarcity of resources can also be a barrier, and in general, local policies, codes, and incentives drive where support resources are located. Simply put, it can be difficult to find the materials and trained subcontractors necessary for a ZE project in an area that does not promote or incentivize this type of construction.

Policies can attract resources and also drive greater consumer awareness for ZE solutions. Just take a look at California, with the highest number of residential solar PV installations, to confirm that policies, codes, and coordinated efforts across players can drive adoption. In other areas, the federal tax credit has helped grow consumer awareness and adoption of solar. Today, most consumers also have a basic awareness of renewables and higher efficiency products, so market opportunities exist for high-efficiency appliances, equipment, and smart home energy products and service providers as part of the ZE equation. Smart-home products, renewable generation, battery storage, and electric vehicles are all transformative technologies individually, but all are currently in the early stages of adoption in US households.

Parks Associates

Near zero and zero ready homes create more choice for consumers and are becoming affordable as ZE homes become cost competitive to standard dwellings. Rocky Mountain Institute’s recent 2018 study on construction costs of ZE and ZR single-family homes report that on average, a ZE home now costs 6.7%-8.1% more than a standard home and a ZR home is only 0.9%-2.5% higher. Prices are continuing to decline for renewables and battery storage, making these energy efficient homes truly affordable.

Production builders can see a clear competitive advantage as they reduce their construction costs and expand their ZE and ZR home offerings across the US. As more builders embrace this trend, expect to see more creative offers such as Lennar’s SunStreet program that offers solar PV at no upfront costs to the home buyer.

Historically, the push for ZE home requires alignment, awareness, and education across all parties in the housing industry. Stakeholders include architects, construction trades, local code compliance organizations, utility partners, real estate professionals, and the financial industry, in addition to the product manufacturers, trade associations, and local suppliers who work with builders to implement these solutions.

It is a complex undertaking, but as more communities look for ways to preserve resources, and promote energy independence, ZE solutions will continue to emerge as viable options in US households. The single-family home building industry at a point where declining costs, competitive solutions, and consumer awareness of benefits could potentially drive adoption of ZE and ZR homes without incentives and policies.

This story appears as it was originally published on our sister site, www.hiveforhousing.com

New York’s new mansion tax | Waccabuc Real Estate

VIEW PHOTO IN GALLERY

220 Central Park South. Image via Vornado Realty Trust and Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

New York’s 2020 budget was revealed this weekend; among many other items, the proposed “pied-à-terre tax” went away, but a progressive “mansion tax,”–a one-time tax on properties valued from $1 million to $25 million or more–and an attendant transfer tax when those properties sell–will reportedly raise $365 million, according to The Real Deal. The money will head straight to the MTA. The new tax will top out at 4.15 percent.

According to Bloomberg, a series of graduated tax levies, paid by the buyer, starting at 1 percent, will be added to all New York City apartments selling for $1 million or more. That rate goes up at $2 million and reaches that 4.15 percent high on $25 million properties. The projected $365 million in revenue would mean $5 billion in bonds headed for mass transit. The last iteration of the mansion tax levied a flat 1 percent on apartments starting at $1 million.

Governor Cuomo said in a statement announcing the new budget “This has five or six major, difficult long-term issues that had to be dealt with, and it deals with them in a fiscally responsible way. This is the leading state in terms of being progressive. We’ve established that. I believe with this plan we also lead the nation in terms of innovation, and building, and reform.”

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Mortgage rates average 4.35% | Waccabuc Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® , showing that mortgage rates continued on their downward pattern. 

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week, continuing the general downward trend that began late last year. Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.35 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending February 21, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 4.37 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.40 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.78 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.81 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.85 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.84 percent with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.88 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.65 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.

Home Sales Slow as Mortgage Rates Rise | Waccabuc Real Estate

Rising rates coupled with increasing home prices have discouraged homebuying activity during the third quarter of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s (OTCQB: FMCC) October Forecast, which now includes estimates for 2020.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “The housing market continued to cool off in the Fall with slowdowns in home sales, new construction and price growth. While we expect the weakness in housing activity to extend the next few months as the market absorbs the recent uptick in mortgage rates, the combination of strong economic growth and millennials moving toward homeownership should help home sales regain momentum and rise modestly in 2019.” 

Forecast Highlights 

  • After growing at its fastest pace in nearly four years (4.2 percent), the U.S. economy is expected to slow to around 3 percent in the third quarter of 2018. GDP is expected to grow at a rate of 3.0 percent for 2018, slowing to 2.4 percent in 2019, and dropping to 1.8 percent in 2020 as the effects of expansionary fiscal policy fade.  
  • Mortgage rates remained steady at 4.6 percent for the third quarter until the weekly average rate reached a seven-year high at 4.9 percent in the beginning of October. The 30-year fixed-rate is expected to average 4.5 percent in 2018, rising to 5.1 percent in 2019 and 5.6 percent in 2020.
  • Home prices are expected to increase to 5.4 percent in 2018, with the growth rate slowing slightly to 4.6 percent in 2019 and even further to 2.9 percent in 2020.
  • High home prices and borrowing costs continue to affect housing activity. Total home sales (new and existing) are now forecasted to decline modestly this year to 6.07 million, and then regain momentum, increasing 1.8 percent to 6.18 million in 2019 and rising 1.1 percent to 6.25 million in 2020.

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers.

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freddiemac.com

Housing starts up 9.4% year over year | Waccabuc Real Estate

United States Housing Starts  1959-2018 

Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering  from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast. Housing Starts in the United States averaged 1433.04 Thousand units from 1959 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 2494 Thousand units in January of 1972 and a record low of 478 Thousand units in April of 2009.

 

United States Housing Starts

 

US Housing Starts Above Forecasts

Housing starts in the US jumped 9.2 percent from a month earlier to an annualized rate of 1,282 thousand in August of 2018, recovering from a 0.3 percent drop in July and beating market expectations of a 5.8 percent rise. Starts increased in the South, the Midwest and the West and were flat in the Northeast.

Single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, increased 1.9 percent to a rate of 876 thousand units in August; and starts for the volatile multi-family housing segment surged 27.3 percent to a rate of 392 thousand. Starts rose in the Midwest (9.1 percent to 191 thousand), the West (19.1 percent to 318 thousand) and the South (6.5 percent to 674 thousand), but were steady in the Northeast (at 99 thousand). Starts for July were revised to 1,174 thousand from 1,168 thousand.
Building permits dropped 5.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,229 thousand, the lowest reading since May of 2017. It compares with market expectations of a 0.1 percent decline to 1,310 thousand and follows a 1.5 percent rise in July. Single-family authorizations fell 6.1 percent to 820 thousand and multi-family permits decreased 4.9 percent to 409 thousand. Declines were seen in all regions: Northeast (-19.2 percent to 101 thousand), the Midwest (-1.7 percent to 178 thousand), the West (-8.4 percent to 304 thousand) and the South (-2.9 percent to 646 thousand).

Year-on-year, housing starts increased 9.4 percent while building permits fell 5.5 percent.

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https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/housing-starts

New York real estate showing symptoms of distress | Waccabuc Real Estate

For Hans Futterman, it was a dream defaulted. 

The developer assembled a vacant plot of land — formerly a Shell gas station and a parking lot — at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 122nd Street in Harlem over roughly four years, from 2011 to 2015. He then secured approvals to construct a 12-story, 127-unit residential building on the site, which offers 205,000 buildable square feet.

But in June of last year, Futterman, who declined to comment for this story, defaulted on a $36 million loan from RWN Real Estate Partners, and five months later his development firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The bankruptcy auction is now set for June 21, and sources said the site could sell for as much as $70 million — about $44 million more than Futterman paid for the stretch of land over the years.

A source said Futterman pumped “his life savings” into the project — and that he is still holding out hope to develop it himself.

“This is the reality of the market today,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Bob Knakal, who is handling the bankruptcy auction with colleague Adam Spies. “Transactions are not going the way owners want.”

Indeed, the first signs of distress have emerged in several pockets of New York City’s commercial real estate market in recent months. Retail vacancies, declining hotel revenues and foreclosures on Park Avenue are among a flurry of indications that the market is inching closer to the brink of financial trouble.    

“There’s a lot more stress in the system than most people probably realize,” said Iron Hound Management’s Robert Verrone, who added that his mortgage brokerage is handling more workouts nationally than ever before. 

The influx of troubled loans is a product of the 2007 lending boom, and $90 billion in commercial mortgage backed-securities backed by properties across the country are set to mature this year. Sean Barrie of Trepp, which tracks CMBS, noted that the massive batch of loans was “underwritten pretty liberally,” and now, many of those sponsors may face difficulty refinancing their over-leveraged assets.

Attorney Ray Hannigan, of Herrick Feinstein, who specializes in foreclosures and workouts, said the tri-state area is already seeing a substantial influx of those maturity defaults.

“It’s a long time coming,” he said. “The market needs to work through this latest cycle and weed out the good and the bad.” 

The bad can be found across the five boroughs. In Brooklyn and Staten Island, scheduled foreclosure auctions are making a comeback. There were 90 foreclosure auctions in Brooklyn in March, a 125 percent year-over-year increase. Staten Island — where the real estate market has been less active — had 32 in the same month, a 10 percent increase from the previous year, according to California-based research firm ATTOM Data Solutions data provided to The Real Deal.

ATTOM data also showed that there was a 327 percent increase in New York City multifamily and retail sales to third-party investors in foreclosure auctions in 2017’s first quarter, year-over year. Similarly, the number of bank-owned commercial properties rose 8 percent year-over-year.

No one is suggesting that distress is widespread — yet. More than 25 lawyers, economists, lenders and brokers who spoke to TRD for this story were confident that although a decline is around the corner, it won’t be as severe as it was 2007 or 2008 — when, as attorney Wallace Schwartz of the national law firm Kasowitz put it, “everything fell off the table.”

“Distress is a very macro word,” said Ayush Kapahi of capital advisory firm HKS Capital Partners. “There’s something churning. I don’t know if the word ‘distress’ will apply, or if it will just be a market reset.… There are so many variables that go into a storm.”

To get a better idea of the extent of the trouble in the market, TRD took a temperature check of all the commercial real estate asset classes across the city.

Retail anxieties

When real estate developer Billy Macklowe proclaimed, “I think retail is fucked, plain and simple,” in late April, he was echoing a sentiment widely shared among industry insiders: Of all commercial real estate asset classes, retail is showing the clearest signs of distress.

“Retail is a disaster in New York City,” one source said on the condition of anonymity. While part of that situation is due to the continual rise of online retailers, “another part of it is people are too greedy,” the source added in reference to landlords seeking steep rents.

Indeed, brick-and-mortar stores across the country are collapsing due to high overhead, weak sales and mounting debt, and major U.S. retailers including American Apparel and Aeropostale, among many others, have filed for bankruptcy.

Some retailers are making real estate moves to stay afloat amid falling sales. Department store Lord & Taylor is considering adding a residential tower on top of its flagship at 424 Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus recently met with Related Companies about a potential merger — a deal that Related chair Stephen Ross later said would not happen.

No major retail landlords in the city have defaulted on their loans because of the waning market, but many are seeing increased vacancies. Last year, availability rates on Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 49th streets hit a high of 31 percent, Cushman data show. All in all, eight of Manhattan’s 11 major retail neighborhoods saw availability rates grow between 0.6 and 8.2 percent, according to the commercial brokerage.

“Look anywhere in the city and you see unusually high vacancy,” said real estate attorney Joshua Stein. To be sure, there is more leasing activity taking place on less-glamorous stretches like Ninth Avenue (see related story).

Most recently, Ralph Lauren announced it would be closing its 39,000 square-foot flagship store at the Coca-Cola
Company’s 711 Fifth Avenue. The retailer will continue to pay a whopping $70,000 per day in rent as part of the lease, which expires in 2029, if it can’t get out of the arrangement.

And as leasing volume slows, landlords are wooing new tenants by offering  concessions, including cheaper rents, build-outs and more flexible deal terms.

If any major retail landlord is approaching trouble, it could be Thor Equities’ TRData LogoTINY Joseph Sitt (see related story), whose portfolio has retail vacancies, including nearly 27,000 square feet of vacancies at 530 Fifth, which the firm co-owns with General Growth Properties.

And Sitt certainly isn’t alone.

Jack Terzi’s JTRE Holdings, for example, has reportedly been in contract for nearly a year to pay about $140 million for a vacant six-story retail building at 23 Wall Street. Sources said that over that time, Terzi has had difficulty locking in financing and securing a flagship tenant, though Uniqlo is among the prospective retailers that have negotiated for space there.

Of the $7.53 billion in 200 CMBS notes backed by retail properties in New York City, five, totaling $77 million, are with a special servicer, according to Trepp.

“Retail dynamics and challenges are certainly not unique to New York,” said Sam Chandan, an economist and associate dean at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. “New York has a very unique retail footprint by virtue of it being a dense tourist market and one where most retail is ground floor or street-facing. There will be some difficult adjustments.”

Hotel oversupply 

The hotel industry is also facing an uphill battle to absorb oversupply in the city and combat online home-sharing marketplace Airbnb.  

“The industry’s struggle is really playing out in the room rates, which have declined and are expected to continue to do so,” said Peter Muoio, chief economist and head of research at online real estate marketplace Ten-X. 

Revenue per available room fell to $163 during the first three months of this year — its lowest level of the current cycle and a 2.3 percent drop year-over-year, according to a recent report from hotel-and-data analytics firm STR. 

Transactions are also down, as New York City saw $2 billion in hotel deals in 2016, a sizable drop from $4.8 billion the prior year, according to STR. The 2015 figure, it should be noted, included the blockbuster $1.95 billion sale of the Waldorf Astoria to Anbang Insurance Group. Many of the 2016 deals were for “upper midscale” or “upscale” properties, unlike 2015 when most hotels that sold were “luxury” or “upper upscale,” according to the data firm’s report.

Sources said that so far, hotel owners have been able to largely escape trouble with a “big paydown” through a recapitalization or a sale, but the few hotels that were sold in the last two years have done so at a loss. Thor has been in contract since the fall to purchase PGIM Real Estate’s five-star James New York hotel in Soho for $70 million — a $13 million drop from the property’s previous sale price of $83.4 million in 2013.

While some hotels are simply depreciating in value, at least one is facing foreclosure. The four-star, boutique Mansfield Hotel at 12 West 44th  Street in Midtown has been hemorrhaging cash for more than a year as the owner, Ark Partners, has struggled to sell for $65 million.

Court records show Wells Fargo, the trustee on the hotel’s $20 million loan, is working through foreclosure proceedings with the developers.

A wide range of Manhattan hotels are on the market, though very few have been able to find a buyer quickly. The properties on the hunt include the Park Lane Hotel, the Quin, the Standard High Line and Hotel Wales.

read more…

https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/distressed-out/?utm_source=The+Real+Deal+E-Lerts&utm_campaign=ddb3f210e9-New_York_Weekend_Update_10.18.2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6e806bb87a-ddb3f210e9-385733629

Mortgage rates fall again | Waccabuc Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping for the fourth consecutive week and hitting its lowest level in nearly seven months.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.89 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 8, 2017, down from last week when it averaged 3.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.60 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.16 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.19 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.87 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.11 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.82 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.

Quote
Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The 10-year Treasury yield fell 3 basis points this week. The 30-year mortgage rate moved in tandem with Treasury yields, falling 5 basis points to 3.89 percent. Mixed economic data and increasing uncertainty are continuing to push rates to the lowest levels in nearly seven months.”

Expats living in Cotacachi Ecuador | Waccabuc Real Estate

Cotacachi, in the Imbabura province, is getting the lion’s share of expat attention these days. Many, especially those of retirement age, are finding their way here to enjoy the perfect weather, beautiful scenery, low cost of living, and especially the tranquil, slow-paced small-town lifestyle.

Like Otavalo and many other villages in this part of Ecuador, Cotacachi (population: about 8,000) is an artisan town. Just 20 minutes northwest of Otavalo, Cotacachi is Ecuador’s famous “leather” town. Artisan shops line the main street and you can buy any type of leather item, from shoes, boots and jackets to coin purses, bags, and suitcases…even upholstered furniture. Prices for all these items are 50% to 75% less than you would pay in the U.S.

Cotacachi has always enjoyed a reputation as a clean, peaceful village, and its plazas are kept neat and tidy. At night the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. On the corners, you may find families congregating around a hot grill, where ears of corn are roasting along with pork and chicken kabobs. The cool, crisp air smells faintly of wood smoke, roasting corn, and eucalyptus. Eucalyptus trees grow abundantly wild, as do palm trees.

Cotacachi has become one of Ecuador’s most active expat communities in recent years, as many foreigners have chosen to locate here—and they enjoy a great lifestyle in Cotacachi. It’s a small, mostly indigenous town with a strong sense of community.

Largely dependent on agriculture, it is the sort of town many of us remember from our childhoods. Fresh raw milk can be bought from local farms, along with eggs laid by free-range chickens. Children still help with the family businesses after school and are well-mannered.

In the quaint downtown, you’ll find a couple of barbers, a small health clinic, and a pavilion for the town band. Ethnic restaurants and cozy cafés make welcoming spots to catch up with friends or just sit and watch life unfold in the Ecuadorian highlands.

Though Cotacachi has a slow and relaxed pace there are constant events and activities to take part in. Every month at least one parade or festival takes place. There are live music events, dances, and even horse processions to be watched and photographed. Seed exchanges, food fairs, and leather expos are all annual events too.

Of course it’s always nice to explore other areas too and there are plenty of great day-trips to choose from. Within two hours you could be at Chachimbiro Hot Springs relaxing in the thermal springs, or enjoying a mud bath at the spa. Lake Cuicocha is just a 15-minute taxi ride from town where you can marvel at the deep blue volcanic crater lake. If you’re up for some physical activity you can take a four-hour hike around the rim, or if you prefer to relax, take the boat tour around the islands in the center of the lake.

The famed market town of Otavalo is nearby, where you can explore the streets filled with craft items, food, and even animals for sale. Ibarra is a larger city just 45 minutes away with shopping malls, dining options, and large parks and plazas to enjoy.

When the sun sets in Cotacachi, the artisan shops close up and only a few restaurants and small mom-and-pop shops are open. That’s all you need, really. After a day of sunshine in the 8,000-foot-elevation, mountain climate, night-time is for sleeping.

Retire in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Retire in CotacachiCotacachi is becoming something of an expat magnet. Estimates are that about 100 expats live full-time in Cotacachi now. It’s a diverse group—not all American. There are Israelis, Cubans, Brits, and more among them, who get together regularly to discuss topics of interest or just to celebrate life. This makes retirement in Cotacachi enjoyable. The expats here are outgoing and relaxed, since there’s not much to worry about. No traffic, no temperature swings, no pesky insects, and certainly no money problems.

The town is also scenic. Two of the most majestic cordilleras of the Andes flank either side of the small village of Cotacachi. And several of Ecuador’s most famous volcanoes can be seen from just about anywhere in town, including Volcan Cotacachi to the west and Imbabura to the east. On a clear day, you can see Volcan Pichincha to the south.

If you want to enjoy good weather, clean air, great scenery, and a rich indigenous culture, but still be within two hours of the international airport in Quito, then retirement in Cotacachi could fit the bill.

Lifestyle in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Lifestyle In CotacachiCotacachi is a fabulous place to improve your health. The moderate climate with little variation throughout the year means that nearly every fruit and vegetable can be grown within a hundred miles. Not only is healthy produce readily available, but it’s also very affordable. With avocados priced at 3 for a dollar, organic leaf lettuce at 25 cents, and 6 plump carrots for 50 cents there is no monetary reason not to eat right.

In addition, the small size of the town makes it perfect for walking. Instead of jumping in your car to run to the grocery store, pay bills, or meet a friend for lunch you can easily accomplish it all with your own two feet. Many folks find that they lose weight without even trying after being in Cotacachi for only a few months. The healthy food choices and extra walking each day help shed excess pounds.

For a small town there are few things lacking. Residents can take advantage of spas, fitness centers, and basic medical needs all within a few blocks of each other. They can also participate in art classes, hiking groups, dance lessons, live musical events, yoga, foreign films, and science courses.

If you’re a social person, Cotacachi is the place for you. There are plenty of other expats to get to know, but the locals are friendly and welcoming too. It’s tough to spend much time in this town without quickly and easily making friends.

Real Estate in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Real Estate in CotacachiThis influx of foreigners has caused something of a building boom in Cotacachi in recent years, and if you come to look for real estate, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Older homes and apartments in need of renovation can be had for the price of a good used car.

Recognizing the trend of foreign baby boomers looking for an unspoiled and inexpensive retirement destination, local builders offer appealing homes and condos with features like large modern kitchens, elegant bathrooms, fireplaces, and more.

Rentals go for as little as $150 a month for a modern, three-bedroom apartment while furnished units with all utilities included go for $600.

Cost of Living in Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cost of Living in CotacachiThe cost of living is low in Ecuador, but especially so in smaller towns like Cotacachi. If you’re living on a budget or just looking to save money, this is a great place to do so.

Sunday is market day, when the villagers bring their wares to sell. Everything from fruits and vegetables to ground spices, woven baskets, and rope made of woven plastic shopping bags—recycling at its best. And then there are the roses…you pay $2 for one dozen, long-stemmed roses that are so fresh they last nearly three weeks.

On Saturdays head to Otavalo—to the largest open-air indigenous market in South America. If you’re a good negotiator, you can buy scarves, woolen socks, and hats for $2 each, or pretty wool and alpaca sweaters for $8 ($4 for kids’ sizes). The 30-minute bus ride from Cotacachi to Otavalo costs 35 cents; a taxi costs $5.

You can hire a maid to clean your condo for $10, and gardeners or landscapers charge around $4 per hour. Furnishing that same condo can be fun and inexpensive as well. There are master carpenters right in town that will build furniture to your specs for 50% to 75% of U.S. costs. Artistic paintings, colorful weavings, and wooden carvings are all easily found in the area and are priced at or below half of what you would pay back home.

Unless you must have imported food items or expensive cuts of meat you’ll save on your grocery bill here. Five dollars at the farmers’ market will get you an extra-large grocery bag filled to the brim with good healthy produce. Bananas, pineapples, mangos, avocados, tomatoes, leafy greens, and dozens of varieties of potatoes are just a few things you’ll find for sale. Whole chickens range from $5 to $8 depending on the size while fresh free-range eggs cost around $1.30 per dozen.

Many restaurants in town serve a menu del dia that consists of a beverage, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. How much? $2.50 each. It’s almost cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.

There are several good doctors in Cotacachi who typically charge $10 for an office visit. An eye exam costs $5 while a dental cleaning and exam will run around $20.

With the lack of severe temperature fluxes you’ll find that heating and air conditioning aren’t necessary, saving you plenty of money. Average electric costs for a household run between $15 and $20 per month. Monthly bills for water and propane gas usually come in at around $5 each. A package of cable TV, internet, and landline phone service can be had for around $100 per month.

Many folks live without a vehicle which eliminates fuel, maintenance, and insurance expenses. Bus fare usually averages around $1 per hour of travel time, and taxis are cheap too, charging $5 to nearby Otavalo (20 minute drive) and $12 to Ibarra (40 minute drive).

Depending upon the lifestyle you want a couple can easily live on $1,200 to $1,800 per month here. Of course frequent dining at high-end restaurants and traveling will require more income, but can still be done for far less than what it would cost in many other parts of the world. Don’t forget to factor in extra funds for trips back home, initial moving and visa costs, and for routine medical care.

 

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https://internationalliving.com/countries/ecuador/cotacachi-ecuador/

 

Real state of housing market | Waccabuc Real Estate

On the third day of Mortgage Bankers Association National Secondary Market Conference and Expo in New York City, three economists took the stage to explain their view of the housing market, and their forecast for 2017.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan and MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni gave their projections over the chance of a recession within the next 12 months.

Becketti emphasized that while the chance of a recession increased, it would need to be driven by a specific event.

“Recessions are event driven, the economy doesn’t just run out of gas and slow down,” Becketti said.

Fratantoni predicted a 15% to 20% chance of a recession over the next 12 months, while Duncan pushed it to a 30% chance. He listed several factors including a peak in consumer credit card usage, auto sales and corporate debt, which could point to a looming recession.

The three economists pointed out that while employment is rising, there are still gaps in the growth.

What we’ve seen has been a polarization of jobs, Becketti said. Jobs have left the mid-skill level and gone to the high-skill level, and low skill jobs have also seen growth. The reason for this shift is that mid-skilled jobs are easier to automate.

But even as jobs polarize, the growth between urban and suburban areas leveled out, becoming more equally distributed between the two areas, Duncan said. However, this leveling out in the location of jobs is creating more problems in the housing market.

“But now urban areas are the most difficult area to build entry-level housing due to cost of land,” he said.

As the year goes on, Fratantoni predicted the market will see two more rate hikes – one in June and one in September, saying the year would finish with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate of 4.5%.

Becketti predicted slightly more, saying the Federal Open Markets Committee could raise rates from two to three times this year, but said the year will end with a 30-year FRM of about 4.4%.

Duncan, who predicted the highest chance of a recession in the next 12 months, agreed the Fed will raise rates twice more this year, however kept it’s rate for the end of 2017 more conservative at 4.2%.

“We’re not convinced that inflationary pressures are enough to make the Fed more aggressive,” he said.

Click to Enlarge

Economic Outlook

(Source: Freddie Mac)

But for now, the housing market continues to boom as home prices hit their previous peak nationally, and even significantly surpassed it in some states.

This map shows the states in relation to their former peak:

Click to Enlarge

Economic Outlook

(Source: MBA)

All three economists were puzzled by the substantial increase in Texas, saying they could only venture to guess that while there is plenty of land to spread out in the state, the jobs are more centered, driving home prices up in key areas, such as Dallas.

And what about the rumored housing bubble? Fratantoni asked: Is San Francisco in a housing bubble? Becketti’s answer, to put it simply, was no. He answered that the city is subject to a tech collapse, but said it will not collapse on account of affordability.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/40020-heres-the-real-state-of-the-housing-market?eid=311691494&bid=1743085

Garages in New Homes: 2015 Data | Waccabuc Real Estate

A majority of new homes that completed construction in 2015 included two-car garages, according to NAHB analysis of Census Bureau Survey of Construction data.

For new single-family completions in 2015, 61% of homes offered a two-car garage. Another 24% of homes possessed a garage large enough to hold three or more cars. Just 6% of newly-built homes had a one-car garage, and only 1% possessed a carport. Another 9% of new homes had no garage or carport.

parking1

Over the last two decades, there has been a shift in parking options. As home size has grown, the share of homes with a three or more car garage has grown as well. In 1992, 11% of homes had a garage for three or more cars. That share rose to a peak of 20% in 2005, before falling to 16% in 2010.

In contrast, the market share of homes with no garage or carport has been on the decline. In 1992, 15% of new single-family homes had no parking facility. That share fell to 8% in 2005, before rising slightly to 13% in 2010.

There are also clear regional differences for parking options in new homes. In the Northeast, no garage or carport is available in 18% of homes, the highest such share. In the West, that is true in only 3% of homes, the lowest Census region. The Midwest had the highest share of three or more car garages, at 42% of new homes. The Northeast had the lowest market share of three-plus car garages, with just 12% homes completed. The Northeast in contrast leads the share in one-car garages, with 16% of completed single-family homes.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2016/10/garages-in-new-homes-2015-data/