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Gen Z Faces Housing Affordability Challenges | Waccabuc Real Estate

Developers struggle to build apartments in busy, social neighborhoods at a price Gen Z is willing to pay.

In October, AvalonBay Communities will open 238 new apartments at Kanso Twinbrook in Rockville, Md., near Washington, D.C. Courtesy AvalonBay Communities
In October, AvalonBay Communities will open 238 new apartments at Kanso Twinbrook in Rockville, Md., near Washington, D.C. Courtesy AvalonBay Communities

Developers often want their new developments to appeal to the youngest renters. That may be difficult with the young people of Generation Z, now graduating from college and looking for places to live.

They are notoriously frugal. The oldest—born from the mid- to late 1990s—came of age during the long, slow recovery from the global financial crisis. They were used to living on a budget long before the new economic crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Gen Z tends to value experiences more than they value things or possessions,” says Lela Cirjakovic, executive vice president of operations for Waterton, an apartment company based in Chicago. “They also place a high value on community… Spending time with people doing things is more valuable to them than having luxury items.”

That frugality might keep Generation Z away from new buildings in the most expensive housing markets—even though they are drawn to social areas.

“Land costs in the urban core likely preclude the delivery of new apartments that most Gen Z renters can afford,” says Greg Willett, chief economist for RealPage, a technology and data company based in Richardson, Texas. “Those who can afford new developments at all probably will opt for suburban settings.”

New Apartments Designed for Frugality

In October, AvalonBay Communities will open 238 new apartments at Kanso Twinbrook in Rockville, Md., near Washington, D.C.

Kanso Twinbrook does not have a leasing office. Instead, it has a prospect self-entry showroom with a sample finishes and a digital screen to describe the community. Courtesy AvalonBay Communities
Kanso Twinbrook does not have a leasing office. Instead, it has a prospect self-entry showroom with a sample finishes and a digital screen to describe the community. Courtesy AvalonBay Communities

“Kanso will be our first new development without any physical amenities or even a leasing office,” says Karen Hollinger, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for AvalonBay Communities, headquartered in Arlington, Va. “I’m not sure any one generation has the lock on frugality, but certainly there is a growing demand by a younger generation for a lower net cost housing model.”

Willett adds that research typically paints Gen Z as a practical group with frugal spending patterns. “So many of them grew up in cash-strapped households. … Housing affordability has been a challenge for the group, especially for those with substantial student debt.”

However, these young adults do require strong, fast Internet and cellphone service.

“Tech is a deal breaker,” says Cirjakovic. “On a very basic level, reliable and robust service in apartments and common spaces is critical.”

Young renters are also more likely to expect their homes to include Internet-enabled devices like smart thermostats and electronic locks. Elie Rieder, CEO of Castle Lanterra Properties, says, “Smart homes are a gimmick to previous generations but a must for Generation Z, as conservation and control are simply standard with them.”

Being frugal, these younger renters are often less likely than older renters to pay a premium of extra rent for this Internet-enabled gear. “It will be the base expectation versus a differentiator for them,” says Rieder.

Gen Z May Choose Roommates Despite Pandemic

When times get tough, young renters often double up with roommates or move home to live with their parents for a time.

“Younger cohorts are typically disproportionately affected by employment losses in recessions, a fact already reflected in the April and May job reports,” says Andrew Rybczynski, managing consultant in the Boston office of CoStar Portfolio Strategy. “We expect household consolidation for economic reasons, which could also prevent move-outs from parents’ households.”

Apartment developers had begun to build new “co-living” communities based around the idea that renters would want to share space as roommates.

“The model of large-scale shared housing fits well with a desire for lowered costs and increased socialization, but it certainly doesn’t fit well with the need to quarantine,” says AvalonBay’s Hollinger. “If financing was tough before, it just got much tougher.”

In the aftermath of the pandemic, tough economic times and the ability to work remotely may steer young renters away from the most expensive urban markets, like San Francisco and New York City. “Markets with high rents will likely suffer the most, as Gen Z decides to seek markets where they can achieve a much more favorable balance,” says Cirjakovic.

Young renters may also have less need to live near job centers. “Post-pandemic, almost anyone who is not a service provider can potentially work remotely,” says Cirjakovic.

However, these young renters will probably still want live near entertainment, dining, and other people in their age group. “Culture, connectivity, and proximity to similar people will be the draw,” says Rieder. “True walkable live-work-play locations are key. That usually means very urban.”

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https://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/property-management/rent-trends/

NY housing courts reopen | Waccabuc Real Estate

“I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff, and I’m just waiting for a push to send me over.”

Daniella Vega has called every tenant hotline she could find, but she still doesn’t know if she’s on the cusp of being evicted. The 27-year-old artist shared a three-bedroom apartment with in Bushwick with two roommates, but they both moved out due to the pandemic, saddling the freelancer with the $3,200 rent. She’s paid what she can from her savings but now owes two months in back rent, and her landlord has been distressingly unresponsive to recent emails. The fear of eviction, Vega says, is ever present.

“I feel like I’m on the edge of a cliff, and I’m just waiting for a push to send me over,” she says. Vega is among the tens of thousands of New York renters struggling to understand the labyrinth of state orders and court guidance, issued at the beginning of the pandemic and continually updated over the past few months, that are dictating what can already be an opaque evictions process. Now, with housing courts partially reopened in New York City, push may soon come to shove for many renters like Vega who are behind on rent, or who haven’t paid at all since March.

Vega has yet to receive a notice from her landlord, but she is bracing for the possibility that she may be among the proverbial “tidal wave” of new eviction cases — at least 50,000 — that housing advocates estimate New York landlords will file in the coming weeks.

A blanket moratorium on evictions, ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo, prevented New York renters from losing their homes over the past three months. But as of June 20, protections under that order narrowed. Instead, the current safeguards only apply to tenants who are eligible for unemployment or who have experienced a “financial hardship” related to COVID-19. People who meet those requirements cannot be evicted before August 20. How precisely the courts will decide who is protected under the extended moratorium has created confusion for tenant and landlord attorneys alike.

It’s a determination that could have far-reaching consequences for renters and property owners. But new guidance from the Office of Court Administration has temporarily put a pin in the issue by pausing all new eviction cases and the execution of warrants until at least July 6. Cases can be filed by mail, but those will be adjourned.

The bewildering complexity of the situation has added to the uncertainty for renters and their advocates. For months, tenant-rights groups, including the statewide Housing Justice for All coalition, have urged the governor to extend the blanket eviction moratorium, and on Monday, they took that message to the courts, with hundreds gathering outside of courthouses across the boroughs.

In Brooklyn, protesters railed outside the borough’s civil courts before marching through the streets of Downtown, chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Evictions have got to go!” Demonstrators in Manhattan participated in a die-in while holding signs that read “People Over Property.” And in Queens and the Bronx, dozens more shouted their outrage over megaphones, calling on Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer greater relief to renters and pleading for the housing courts to remain closed.jason wu, esq. #FreeThemAll4PublicHealth@CriticalRace

We are outside Manhattan Court to tell @NYGovCuomo: No to evictions. No to reopening housing courts. No to profits over people. #EvictionFreeNY and #CancelRent now.
✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

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321 · New York City Housing CourtTwitter Ads info and privacy177 people are talking about this

“While the government has told us to stay in our homes, they’re now refusing to protect our ability to actually do that,” Kim Statuto told the crowd outside the Bronx courts. Statuto, a tenant leader with Community Action for Safe Apartments, is on a rent strike in her Claremont Village apartment building, where she has lived with her two adult children — who were both laid off from their jobs in March — for 26 years. “It’s not our fault we can’t pay, but when the courts reopen, we’re the ones that are going to suffer,” Statuto added.

Patrick Tyrrell, a tenant attorney with Mobilization for Justice who joined protesters in Brooklyn, says the issue of restarting evictions has become a “political hot potato” that has led to shaky leadership from the governor and the courts. “No one wants to be the person that says we’re going to evict people,” says Tyrrell. “But at the same time, they’re giving landlords these pinhole opportunities to protect their interests. It shows how politics can create a horrible process.”

That process is one that attorneys are still trying to piece together. Uncertainty lingers over the exact criteria tenants must meet to qualify for protection under the governor’s second executive order.

And that creates a harrowing situation for tenants like Vega who, as a freelancer, wasn’t laid off because of the pandemic, but her income did take a hit with several canceled commissions. “How do I prove that was directly related to the pandemic?” she questions. “It clearly was, but I have no idea how I’d even prove that. It’s terrifying that no one can tell me.”

Vega has already begun reaching out to clients, asking them to pen letters explaining why they reneged on commissions. “I’m trying to arm myself with something,” she says.#CANCELRENT Housing Justice For All@housing4allNY

Try and take our homes? We’ll take over the streets. @NYGovCuomo, extend the real eviction moratorium and #cancelrent now! #EvictionFreeNY

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Landlords who do choose to mail in new eviction cases will also have to provide an affidavit confirming that they have reviewed all existing state and federal restrictions on evictions and believe “in good faith” that the case is “consistent with those proceedings and qualifications,” according to guidance issued by New York State chief administrative judge Lawrence Marks.

But that order, landlord attorneys argue, may be overly burdensome for property owners, who have their own bills to pay, to pursue new cases.

Landlords also run the risk of potentially subjecting themselves to penalties if they wrongfully interpret those directives. Furthermore, they would have to attest that they have reason to believe a tenant is not eligible for unemployment benefits or is not otherwise facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 — but again, neither the governor nor the courts have concretely defined what constitutes such a hardship.

“I don’t say this lightly, but the New York City Housing Court has essentially ceased to function,” says landlord attorney Nativ Winiarsky, partner with Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens, LLP.

according to real estate lead generation companies, landlords looking for relief may try to pursue eviction cases in the Supreme Court or through other nonhousing civil-court channels, but that’s a laborious process that could prove too costly for some landlords to pursue. “All of this, I believe, is effectively and severely unfairly impacting a landlord’s property and due-process rights,” adds Winiarsky.

This has left Vega feeling like she’s caught between two worlds, and without greater relief from the state or city, she expects to remain stuck. “Everyone is trying to squeeze whatever they can get out of everyone right now, and that’s because the government has failed us,” says Vega. “We need to cancel rent. We need to cancel mortgages. And if we don’t, I am the one who will suffer.”

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ny.curbed.com/2020

Amazon has tiny houses to buy for your backyard | Waccabuc Real Estate

Going down an Amazon product rabbit hole, you can find just about anything. There’s some weird stuff out there, like this Nicolas Cage sequin pillow and this wine bra. But deep into the patio and outdoor category, you’ll find one major (OK, huge) item that you probably didn’t know existed on Amazon: tiny houses.

If you can’t get enough of the TV shows that are all about tiny house-living, you can actually live out your own tiny home dreams by purchasing one from Amazon. There’s one caveat however — the tiny houses come as a kit that you then have to build yourself. But if you’ve been looking for your next backyard DIY project, we’ve found it.

While you’d expect tiny homes to be a bit of a splurge purchase, Allwood’s 172-sqaure foot Solvalla Studio got so popular after customers found it on the site in May 2019 that it sold out in less than a week.

Right now, Allwood is the primary brand that’s selling these tiny house kits on Amazon, and unsurprisingly, they aren’t cheap. One the most affordable options is one that’s 113-square feet going for a mere $5,350. There’s one that’s even selling for more than $64,000!

But what’s interesting about these kits if you read the product description is that they can be built by two people in just eight hours. Each “cabin kit” also comes with all the building materials and directions you would need. There’s even a kit that can make two-room tiny house! Plus, all of the options are less than 250 square feet too, in case your space is limited.

While these tiny cabins could act as little backyard getaway, they don’t come with electricity or utilities, which is an added expense. And if you’re wondering exactly what you could do in this tiny home exactly, well the product description mentions that they are ideal as a “backyard recreation lounge, guest house or even a home office.”

Oddly enough, these tiny homes are one of Amazon’s most sought-out products right now. So if you have the space, the time and the money, it might be worth investing in, to finally live out those tiny house dreams of yours. By the way, if you hop over to this website you’ll find a discount code that may get you a discount.

Below, we’ve rounded up the top six more ~affordable~ options to browse before they might sell out.

Shop: Allwood Solvalla 172 SQF Studio Cabin Kit, $7,290

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Mayflower 117 SQF Garden House Cabin Kit, $7,290

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Palma 3 176 SQF 2 Room Studio Cabin Kit, $9,695

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Escape 113 SQF Cabin Kit, $5,350

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Estelle 5 157 SQF Cabin Kit, Garden House, $6,395 (Orig. $8,299)

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Arlanda XL 227 SQF Studio Cabin Garden House Kit, $9,990

Credit: Amazon

Shop: Allwood Sommersby 174 SQF Garden House Kit, $6,395.00 (Orig. $8,299)

Credit: Amazon

Residential construction spending rises 9% | Waccabuc Real Estate

NAHB analysis of Census Construction Spending data shows that total private residential construction spending stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of $550.3 billion in March. It was up 2.3% in March, after decreasing 4.8% in February. On a year-over-year basis, total private construction spending rose 8.8%.

The monthly gains are largely attributed to the growth of spending on improvements and multifamily construction. Private residential improvements, which include spending on remodeling, major replacement, and additions to owner-occupied housing units, increased to $189.0 billion annual pace in March, up 10.2% over the February estimates. Multifamily construction spending inched up 2% in March, following an increase of 1.2% in February. Spending on single-family construction slipped 2.0% in March, the first dip since July 2019, due to the virus impacts.

The NAHB construction spending index, which is shown in the graph below (the base is January 2000), illustrates the solid growth in single-family construction and home improvement from the second half of 2019 to February 2020, before the COVID-19 hit the U.S. economy. New multifamily construction spending slowed down since August 2019, after the strong growth from 2010 to 2016 and a surge from the late 2018 to early 2019.

Spending on private nonresidential construction declined 1.8 percent over the year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $462.3 billion. The annual nonresidential spending decline was mainly due to less spending on the class of lodging ($4.3 billion), followed by educational category ($3.6 billion), and amusement and recreation ($2.3 billion).

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www.eyeonhousing.org

Mortgage rates average 3.3% | Waccabuc 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 (FRM) averaged 3.33 percent.

“Mortgage rates have drifted down for two weeks in a row and that drop reflects improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “While the market has stabilized relative to prior weeks, homebuyer demand has declined in response to current economic conditions. The good news is that the pending economic stimulus is on the way and will provide support for both consumers and businesses.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.33 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending April 2, 2020, down from last week when it averaged 3.50 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.08 percent. 
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.82 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.92 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.56 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.40 percent with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.34 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.66 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 3.51% | Waccabuc 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 dropped by 9 basis points.

“This week’s mortgage rates were the second lowest in three years, supporting homebuyer demand and leading to higher refinancing activity,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Borrowers who take advantage of these low rates can improve their cash flow by lowering their monthly mortgage payments, giving them more money to spend or save.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.51 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending January 30, 2020, down from last week when it averaged 3.60 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.46 percent. 
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.04 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.89 percent. 
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.24 percent with an average 0.3 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.28 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.96 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.

Tax the rich and the rich leave | Waccabuc Real Estate

Trump’s SALT Cap Fuels a Wealth Exodus From High-Tax States

Some of the hardest evidence yet indicates that the 2017 Republican tax law is pushing money and people from high-tax U.S. states like New York and New Jersey and into low-tax states including Florida.

In 2018, low- and lower-tax states gained $32 billion more in adjusted gross income than higher tax states, according to a Bank of America Global Research analysis of income migration data. The net gain — almost $2 billion more than in 2017 — was nearly twice the average over the last 13 years. The Republican overhaul capped state and local deductions at $10,000, making it harder for people to shield as much income from taxes as they could before.

At the same time, states like Florida and Texas, which don’t have an income tax, are seeing more and more people move there. New York, California, Connecticut and New Jersey — the states that had the highest average SALT deductions, lost about 455,000 people between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019, compared with 408,500 the prior year, according to U.S. Census data. Most of the increase came from people leaving California.

“The implication would be at the very least, people are sensitive to large changes in federal tax policy,” said Ian Rogow, a municipal strategist at Bank of America who analyzed the data.

Almost half of income taxes paid to California, New York and New Jersey come from the wealthiest 1% of households. If they were to move in large enough numbers, those states could be in trouble. So far, however, the federal tax overhaul — which broadened the tax base — and steady economy growth has led to higher-tax state revenue overall. States collected $327.7 billion in income tax revenue in the first three quarters of 2019, about 6% more than the same period in 2018, according to the Census Bureau.

To be sure, people move for a variety of reasons: jobs, housing costs and the weather among them. Despite having the third-highest personal income tax rate, Oregon was the second-most popular moving destination in the U.S., according to United Van Lines Annual Movers Study. The survey found that job changes and retirement were the two biggest reasons for leaving the northeast.

Related: Florida, Trump’s New Home, Leads U.S. in the Migration of Money

The Republicans’ 2017 tax law capped the SALT deduction as a way to help pay for $1.5 trillion in corporate and personal income tax cuts. Governors in Democratic-led states most affected by the new limit, including New York and New Jersey, accused Republicans of targeting them to pay for the cut. In October a federal judge ruled against New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland, which had sued to overturn the cap, arguing it was unconstitutional. The states are appealing.

The SALT limit significantly raised the effective taxes for wealthy residents of blue states. In 2017, about 140,000 tax filers in Manhattan with adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more paid $21 billion in state and local income taxes, or $150,000 on average, according to IRS data. About 83,000 of these filers paid an average $25,000 in property taxes. In Westchester, home to the nation’s highest property taxes, the wealthiest residents paid about an average $65,000 in state and local income taxes and $28,000 in real estate taxes.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Westchester homeowners cut an average of 4.1% from their last asking price to sell their homes, according to a report last week, a sign that sellers have to slash prices to attract to buyers. The price cuts were the most for any three-month period since the end of 2014, according to a the report by appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who has called the SALT limits “politically diabolical,” has warned that capping the deduction encourages high-income New Yorkers to leave.

“Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich. We did. Now, God forbid the rich leave,” Cuomo said last year.

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bloomberg.net

Finding a deal in the Hamptons after tax reform | Waccabuc Real Estate

“We just loved it, and all our friends and family loved it,” said Mr. Nordquist, 51, a retired financier from Manhattan. “It had to be here, and it had to be now.”

David and Sindhu Nordquist deliberated for years about where to buy a second home, and thenlast summer, while renting a house in the Hamptons for the first time, they decided to find a place on the East End of Long Island to call their own.

With Timothy O’Connor, an agent at Halstead, the Nordquists looked at more than 60 listings, searching for “a beach house in the woods,” Mr. Nordquist said. “We wanted privacy and didn’t want neighbors around us.”

Their timing was fortunate. In the usually high-flying Hamptons, the housing market is in a rut. Inventory is up; prices are down. The median sale price of a single-family home in the Hamptons has dropped 7.9 percent, from $933,750 in the first quarter of 2018 to $860,000 during the first three months this year, according to a report from Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

After searching for several months, the Nordquists found the serenity they were looking for down a long gravel driveway: a 1991 contemporary home with 3,300 square feet, a heated pool and a pool house, on a woodsy 1.82 acres. Initially listed at $1.825 million in August 2017, the property went on and off the market. When the couple visited last December, the price had dropped to $1.6 million. They bought it this spring for $1.35 million, with plans to paint, change the windows and convert the wood-burning fireplaces to gas.David Nordquist at his new Hamptons home, which sits on 1.82 acres and has a heated pool and a pool house.CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times


“We negotiated pretty hard on the price,” Mr. Nordquist said. “I bargained a lot. I felt the market was softening.”

As Aspasia G. Comnas, the executive managing director of Brown Harris Stevens, observed, “Sellers in the Hamptons are used to the market always going up every year, and if they priced aggressively it didn’t matter.” But in today’s market, homes that are not priced competitively “are going to have to go through a series of price reductions” before they sell, she said — at all levels of the market, not just at the high end.

Buyers seem to be staying on the sidelines. The number of single-family homes on the market during the first three months of 2019 was nearly double that of a year earlier: 2,327, up from 1,201. And sales of single-family homes have dropped, to 287 from 350 in 2018.

One thing making buyers hesitate, said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel and the author of the Douglas Elliman report, is the new federal tax code approved by Congress in late 2017, which makes it more expensive to own luxury property because homeowners can deduct only up to $10,000 in state and local taxes from their federal income taxes.

“The Hamptons are trending much like the New York City metro area,” Mr. Miller said, noting that the situation is similar in other parts of the Northeast and in California, where real estate is pricey and property taxes are high.

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Catch up and prep for the week ahead with this newsletter of the most important business insights, delivered Sundays.SIGN UPThe four-bedroom house in Water Mill that Keith Baltimore bought is an “upside-down” house, with living space on the upper level.CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

















The four-bedroom house in Water Mill that Keith Baltimore bought is an “upside-down” house, with living space on the upper level.CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

“The slowdown in sales represents the disconnect between sellers, who are anchored to better times, and buyers, who have a lot of changes to process,” Mr. Miller said.

Any sense of urgency was further quelled by the “intense volatility of the financial markets at the end of last year, along with the close linkage of Wall Street to the Hamptons,” he added.

A 17 percent dip in bonuses in the finance industry in 2018 likely also discouraged Wall Street workers from buying second homes in the Hamptons. The average bonus for financial market employees in 2017 was $184,400; in 2018, it dropped to $153,700, according to a report from the New York State Comptroller.

Those who did buy, though, found bargains.

Figuring it didn’t hurt to look, Maria and Stephen Zak, of Saddle River, N.J., toured a 2007 harbor-front house with four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a heated pool and a hot tub, on an acre in East Hampton, listed for $3.2 million. “We loved it, but it was way out of our budget,” said Mr. Zak, 53, the chief financial officer of a boutique investment bank.

They had been looking for a second home for about a year. The price of the 3,400-square-foot house had already been reduced from the original 2017 asking price of $3.995 million. So “we threw out an offer we were comfortable with,” Mr. Zak said. And in November, the Zaks closed on the house, for $2.735 million.The bedrooms of Mr. Baltimore’s 1970s house are on the lower level. CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

The bedrooms of Mr. Baltimore’s 1970s house are on the lower level. CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

“It’s like the dog that chases the car and actually catches it,” Mr. Zak said. “It’s still not cheap, but it was fair and it was in move-in condition.” They have since installed a new kitchen, painted and brought in new rugs.

In the shifting luxury real estate market, the highest priced homes are taking longer to sell, said Laura Brady, the president and founder of Concierge Auctions, in Manhattan. The company’s Luxury Homes Index report, released earlier this month, noted that the 10 most expensive homes sold in the Hamptons last year had an average sale price of $24,079,286, and spent an average of 706.7 days on the market. Luxury homes that lingered on the market tended to go for less, selling at discounts of nearly 40 percent after six months, Ms. Brady said.

In Montauk, the 20-acre oceanfront estate that belongs to Dick Cavett, the former talk show host, has been on the market for two years. The 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, four-bathroom house, which was listed for $62 million in June 2017, was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the 1880s and rebuilt in 1997 after a fire, using “forensic architecture techniques” to replicate the original house with a wraparound porch and a bell tower, said Gary DePersia, an associate broker with Corcoran. The price dropped to $48.5 million last August, then Mr. DePersia re-listed it in February, for $33.95 million.

“They are motivated sellers,” Mr. DePersia said. “Where are you going to get 20 acres with 900 feet of oceanfront and utter privacy with a historic house for that kind of money in the Hamptons? You are not.”

According to a first quarter report from Bespoke Real Estate, which deals exclusively with $10 million-plus properties, 122 homes priced over $10 million were on the market at the end of March, with 13 between $30 and $40 million.

Most $10 million-plus buyers already have a home in the Hamptons, said Zachary Vichinsky, a principal at Bespoke Real Estate, and have spent “in some cases the better part of two years exploring the market and defining what works best for them,” whether that means upgrading or building a new home closer to the water.

“There is a lack of urgency on their part, in a lot of cases, but the special inventory continues to move pretty quickly,” Mr. Vichinsky said.

In 2018, a total of 41 homes sold for $10 million or more in areas that brokers refer to as the “alpha market,” which includes East Hampton, Southampton, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack and Wainscott.

But there was one bright spot in the market overall: homes listed for $500,000 to $1 million. That sector of the market accounted for 34 percent of sales in the first quarter, according to a report from Brown Harris Stevens.Mr. Baltimore affectionately refers to his hexagonal house as “the hive.”CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

Mr. Baltimore affectionately refers to his hexagonal house as “the hive.”CreditDaniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

Last November, after renting a “shack on the bay” in Sag Harbor for nine years, Keith Baltimore, an interior designer with offices in Manhattan, Port Washington, N.Y., and Boca Raton, Fla., paid $900,000 for a “quirky and campy” 1970s contemporary house with an upside-down floor plan, a circular great room with a skylight, and a pool, on an acre in Water Mill. The house was originally listed for $1.15 million.

“There were so many houses on the market, it felt like a full-time job looking at what’s out there, doing due diligence,” said Mr. Baltimore, 55, who spent weekends for a year and a half house shopping.

From Westhampton to Montauk, about 1,900 homes are available for $2 million or less, including about 900 under $1 million and 160 for around $500,000, said Mr. O’Connor, the Halstead agent.

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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

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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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