Tag Archives: Waccabuc Realtor

#Mortgage rates down slightly | Waccabuc Real Estate

Like the rest of us suffering through August’s oppressive heat, mortgage rates have been disinclined to move much.

There just hasn’t been enough positive or negative economic data recently to have an effect on rates. Even the Federal Reserve minutes, which were released Wednesday, provided no clear signal. They showed the central bank remains divided on when to raise interest rates again.

Without much guidance, home loan rates have been listless. Since late June, the 30-year fixed-rate average — the most popular mortgage product — has been stuck between a high of 3.48 percent and a low of 3.41 percent.

In its most recent monthly outlook, which was released earlier this week, Freddie Mac projected mortgage rates would remain below 4 percent not only for the rest of this year but also next year. The government-backed mortgage-backer revised its 2017 forecast for the 30-year fixed rate to 3.7 percent.

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rates trend index, found that three-quarters of the experts it surveyed believe rates will remain relatively unchanged in the next week, moving no more than plus or minus two basis points (a basis point is 0.01 percentage point) in the next week.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.43 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.45 percent a week ago and 3.93 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has remained below 3.5 percent the past two months.

The 15-year fixed-rate average fell to 2.74 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.76 percent a week ago and 3.15 percent a year ago.

The five-year adjustable rate average crept up to 2.76 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.74 percent a week ago and 2.94 percent a year ago.

“For eight consecutive weeks mortgage rates have ranged between 3.41 and 3.48 percent,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement. “Inflation is not adding any upward pressure on interest rates as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index was unchanged in July.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications were lower this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — fell 4 percent from the previous week. The refinance index decreased 4 percent, while the purchase index dropped 4 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62.6 percent of all applications.

“Application volume dropped across the board for both refinance and purchase loans last week, despite little change in rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA chief economist. “Refinance volume continues to tail off its recent highs as markets return to normal post Brexit. As for home purchases, the strong job market and still very low rates continue to support volume almost 10 percent higher than this time last year, despite last week’s dip.”


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Freddie Mac: Brexit to push housing market forward in 2016 | Waccabuc Real Estate

International concerns such as slowing growth in Chinaand the Brexit vote in the U.K. played a major role in driving down mortgage rates in the U.S., according toFreddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for July.

In fact, after the U.K’s vote to leave the European Union, mortgage rates continue to lower, closing the gap even more to all-time lows at 3.41%.

This is likely to result in a boost in housing activity, particularly refinance, as homeowners take advantage of the current low rates, according to Freddie Mac’s report.

“With the U.K.’s decision to exit from the European Union, global risks increased substantially leading us to revise our views for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti said.

“Nonetheless, the turbulence abroad should continue to create demand for U.S. Treasuries and keep mortgage rates near historic lows,” Becketti said. “Thereby, allowing home sales to have their best year in a decade, along with a boost in refinance activity.”

The remaining quarters of 2016 should show an increase in Gross Domestic Product at 1.9% and 2.2% in 2016 and 2017.

Due to these recent global pressures, Freddie Mac revised the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage forecast down by 30 basis points for 2016 and by 50 basis points for 2017 to 3.6% and 4% respectively.

With this new drop in mortgage rates, the refinance share of originations will rise by 49% in 2016, an increase of 8% from last month’s forecast. That will be an increase of $100 billion in originations, bringing the total to $1,825 billion.


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Renters Insurance | Waccabuc Real Estate

Look around any rented apartment, condominium or house and you’re likely to find the same things you would see in an owner-occupied home — furniture, clothes, electronics, and other belongings. In other words, you’ll see the same items that play an important role in everyday life.

A standard home insurance policy typically provides a homeowner with some protection for these types of belongings, and similar protection is also available to renters. Unfortunately, renters insurance remains a vastly underused resource. Surveys and studies show that less than half of renters in the U.S. have renters insurance.

You may be a young professional in your first loft or a retiree enjoying more coziness and less yardwork. Either way, if you rent, the best way to help protect your valued belongings is renters insurance.

Two kinds of property: the landlord’s and yours

Why is it so important for renters to get protection for their belongings? It’s a matter of where the landlord’s coverage ends and where your coverage should begin.

Say, for example, that a severe storm tears part of the roof off your apartment building while you’re at work and lets the rain pour in. Just your luck, the hole in the roof is directly above the spot in the kitchen where you keep the coffee maker that brews a perfect cup every time.

You come home, see this dripping disaster and wonder, “Who’s going to pay for this?” Actually, you should rephrase it as a two-part question:

  • “Who pays for the damage to the building?” If your landlord has adequately insured the property, that coverage could help ensure that you’ll have a sound roof over your head again when repairs are complete.
  • “Now that the building is squared away, who pays for my coffee maker?” A standard renters policy could help pay to replace your little morning brewmeister, if your policy covers this type of damage.

The reason for turning one question into two is simple. Your landlord’s policy typically covers the structure of the building and the appliances. Your belongings, however, are more than likely excluded from his or her coverage.

What do renters need protection from?

A renters policy could provide some of the same safeguards as homeowners insurance, which could help protect your belongings from threats including:

  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Water
  • Lightning
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Windstorm
  • Explosion (yes, you read that right.)

Here’s an important point to remember: As with homeowners insurance, your coverage may be subject to limitations. Your agent can help you understand what items may be covered and what kind of threats may not be applicable.

For example, the scenario above could be viable in the case of a rainstorm, in which the water falls from the sky. Floodwaters, on the other hand, typically aren’t covered by standard homeowners or renters policies, and fall under the domain of flood insurance coverage, which is available for purchase through the U.S. government’s FloodSmart program.

The good news is that a renters policy may help protect your property from more common types of water damage, such as damage resulting from a burst pipe.

Protect your wallet along with your stuff

A renters policy could offer a potential safeguard for more than your personal belongings.

You try to be a good host, but some guests just find their way to trouble like a dog finds its way to dropped food. If one of your guests suffers an injury at your rental and tries to hold you responsible, renters insurance could help pay the cost of legal expenses and/or medical treatment.


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Home Sales Finish Year Up | Waccabuc Real Estate

New homes sales were up 10.8% in December to 544,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis (SAAR) and finished 2015 just past half million (501,000) for the best year since 2007. The increase in signed contracts to purchase a new home comes as mortgage rates remain very low by historic standards and the US economy continues to gain strength.
Sales were up in every census region although nominally in the South by 0.4%, to 273,000. In other regions, the Northeast was up 21% to 29,000 (SAAR), the Midwest up 32% to 75,000 and the West up 21% to 167,000. For the year, the Northeast was down 12% to 24,000 new homes sales, which is the worse year since 2011. Other regions performed much better with the Midwest up 3.2% to 60,000, the best year since 2008; the South was up 17.6% to 285,000, the best year since 2007; and the West was up 20.5% to 130,000, the best year since 2007.

New Home Sales

Inventories continue to build even in the face of labor and lot shortages. December’s unsold inventory increased 2.6 to 237,000, the highest since October 2009. Even with the increase in sales, the months’ supply fell to 5.2 months.
The median sales price fell 4.3% to $288,900 due primarily to a decline in sales over $750,000 and an increase in sales between $200,000 and $300,000. The trend suggests more first time home buyers are entering the market.
The shares of signed contracts that are still under construction or not yet started have climbed back to near the same levels has the early 2000s as builders switch from selling off left over inventory to selling from the stock of homes under construction or planned but not yet started.

Stage of Construction for New Homes Sold


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Miami Market Cools as Foreign Buyers Flee | Waccabuc Real Estate

An aerial view of Miami Beach and South Beach, where the condo market is showing signs of stagnation. Photo by Chris Condon / Getty Images.

There was a time, only two years ago, when Miami’s condo market seemed like an ever-expanding balloon. South Florida was the nation’s biggest real estate comeback story. Miami became a go-to destination for luxury buyers looking to add to their property portfolios.

But like most things filled with hot air, eventually the balloon starts its gradual descent back to earth.

For those who have been waiting for the drop, 2016 may well be the year when softening demand—fueled by stock market volatility in China, low oil prices, currency devaluations in South America, and a heck of a lot of new condo units coming on the market—becomes too much to overcome.

As 2016 begins, signs of a slowdown abound. While prices continue to rise for single-family houses, fewer are selling. The market for condos, which many consider a health indicator of vacationer-heavy Miami Beach, is also showing early signs of stagnation.

The number of single-family home sales that closed dipped by 6.7 percent in November compared to the same month in 2014, while new pending sales fell by 15 percent, making it the fifth straight month of decline, according to the Miami Association of Realtors. Nevertheless, median home prices rose by 12 percent to $274,900—the third straight month of double-digit increases.

The condo market told a slightly different story. Overall, closed sales inched up by 1.9 percent, reversing a two-month slide. New pending sales slid by 16.5 percent, year-over-year, the second highest month of decline in 2015 (October being the highest, at 17.9 percent). Median prices grew by 7 percent to $203,000.

While overall the median days on the market for condos fell by 12 percent, units selling for $300,000 to $999,999 proved particularly sluggish, with homes from $300,000 to $399,999 spending 72 days on the market, a median increase of 50 percent, according to Miami Real Estate Association.

In the condo market especially, there seems to be a growing disconnect between sellers’ expectations and market reality. And local brokers say they are seeing mounting frustration. “We are seeing a lot of sellers calling us saying, ‘What is happening? Nothing is moving,'” said Mark Zilbert, president of Brown Harris Zilbert in Miami.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.14.42 AM.pngThe Porsche Design tower reached its full 60-story height in October 2015. Photos courtesy of Porsche Design Tower.

How did this happen? Blame the foreigners. In 2012, developer Gil Dezer publicly said “obrigado” (thank you) to the many Brazilians who were scooping up condos in Miami and Miami Beach. Dezer, who has been developing the 60-story Porsche Design Tower, credited the Brazilians for almost single-handedly turning around the depressed condo market. Other groups followed suit, including Argentines, Venezuelans, Colombians, Russians and other Europeans, and many Canadians.

Today, much of that interest has disappeared. “We are seeing a lower intensity of demand from foreign investors, comprising an estimated one third of the condo market sales” in Miami, said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm in New York.

AP_552128137723.jpgThe view from the under-construction Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles. Photo by Joel Auerbach / AP Photo.

Miller cited a stronger U.S. dollar, volatile financial markets, and “sharp declines in GDP in source countries that fed Miami demand” as the biggest reasons for the turnaround.

He added that the “significant volume of new housing stock” that is being added has “provided a lot of information for investors to process and removed the sense of urgency from the market.” Also contributing to the general slowdown has been a decline in distressed sales in 2015, which previously helped skew overall prices higher. Foreclosures and short sales both dipped by double digit percentages in November.

But problems abroad are clearly at the heart of the Miami slowdown. Brazil’s currency, the real, has fallen off by more than half since Dezer gave thanks, and the country’s economy is poised for a second straight year of contraction. Economic sanctions on Russia are finally taking a toll on Miami buying at all but the billionaire oligarch level. “Rubles? We don’t see much of those any more,” Zilbert said.

Falling oil prices have hurt Brazil and Russia as well, and compounded problems even further for Miami’s biggest foreign buying group: Venezuelans. Despite government restrictions on how much money they can pull out of their country, Venezuelans continued to buy in and around Miami in 2015. But the restrictions “have had a huge effect on the flow of business,” Philip Siegelman, a principal at real estate marketer ISG, told me late last year.

Venezuelans and Brazilians, it can be argued, are smart to play the currency game. In a downward economic spiral, waiting can end up costing them more, as inflation rises and currencies continue to decline at home. Brazilians that paid hefty deposits in 2014 for pre-construction Miami condos look brilliant now. Their money has more than doubled in Brazilian currency terms.

But there is too much of that new development coming on line to keep the market surging.

The result is that, while a lot of Americans and foreigners continue to show interest in Miami, “There is a shrinking number of people willing to pull the trigger,” Zilbert said. “And the sellers are starting to notice.”

What is especially troubling to brokers is that the expected surge of buying in the last quarter of 2015 didn’t pan out. The bottom line: Many buyers are no longer accepting the price increases that sellers are pushing for.

“I think we are going to see pricing slip back to 2014 levels in order to attract the buyers,” Zilbert said.

Sales have remained fairly stable at mid-tier properties priced between $350,000 to about $700,000, where condos have not appreciated enough to scare away buyers, brokers say. Units in buildings like the Waverly South Beach and the Yacht Club at Portofino continue to find buyers, Zilbert said.

But lately, resale units at the Icon South Beach, the Floridian South Beach and 900 Biscayne in downtown Miami, have struggled to move, as buyers have balked at higher listing prices.

shutterstock_351668990.jpgConstruction in Miami’s South of Fifth neighborhood. Photo by Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.

In Zilbert’s own South of Fifth neighborhood, he is seeing buyers pass on a number of units for sale in premium buildings like the Murano Grande (where he lives) and the Continuum. Just two years ago, South of Fifth, a once-blighted section of the beach known for crack houses and rampant crime, was considered Miami Beach’s most-expensive and hottest neighborhood, a truly stunning rebirth story. Lately, more and more units are lingering on the market, Zilbert said.

As Miller noted, sellers are “usually the last to recognize a change in the market when it is weakening,” which results in lower sales activity. “It is not that demand is weak, but rather that there is a growing disconnect between what sellers want and what the market can support,” he said.

Not every segment of the Miami market is showing signs of softening. The high end, with prices in excess of $3 million, is still raging. Sales remain brisk at luxury towers like Faena House, the newly announced Eighty Seven Park, and the Surf Club Four Seasons.

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Secondary Real-Estate Markets Are Moving Up | Waccabuc Real Estate

Move over Houston, make way for Dallas-Fort Worth — and a host of other up-and-coming secondary markets such as Charlotte, N.C., Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Nashville, Tenn., and Portland, Ore.

That’s the conclusion of real-estate professionals who were asked about their views on the best markets for property investment and development in 2016.

The survey was conducted by the Urban Land Institute and PcW and released this week at the ULI’s fall meeting in San Francisco.

Houston was the No. 1 pick in last year’s survey on markets to watch in 2015, but it sunk to No. 23 in the latest survey for 2016 expectations, amid worries about the impact of prolonged low oil prices on the energy capital’s local economy.

In its decline, Houston was in distinguished company: Also not making the top-10 list were major gateway cities of New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., which have been losing favor with real-estate professionals in recent years.

Sixth-place Denver, also known as an energy market, “is more diversified (than Houston) and seems to be chugging right through” the low-price oil environment, said Ben Breslau, managing director of Americas Research at commercial real-estate firm JLL (NYSE:JLL), during a ULI conference panel. He noted that 5 million to 6 million square feet of commercial space hit the market this year in Houston as rents trended down.

Another panelist, Kenneth Rosen, chairman of Rosen Consulting Group, said the energy belt has a “digestive issue” and warned investors to avoid Houston.

Read More: http://news.investors.com/business-inside-real-estate/100815-774729-secondary-real-estate-markets-emerging.htm#ixzz3o6RKZeaH

Rent the ‘Hobbit treehouse’ | #Waccabuc Real Estate


Setting aside the fact that no self-respecting hobbit would ever choose to live in a tree instead of burrowing into the side of a hill, this “Hobbit treehouse” in the Black Hills of South Dakota is very, very good, with the entire interior (save for one leather couch, which still basically works) decked in very Hobbit-esque decor. The door, too, is a real highlight. If you’re passing through South Dakota and have big, fuzzy feet, thetreehouse is available for $639/night for a minimum of three nights. It doesn’t say whether there’s a surcharge if a bunch of dwarves unexpectedly show up for a dinner party.










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· Lord of the Rings-Inspired Hotel Invites Guests to Live in a “Hobbit Treehouse” [My Modern Met]
· Chateau De Soleil (Look:) Prodigious Hobbit Tree House!) [VRBO]

US home prices rise steadily in June | Waccabuc Real Estate


U.S. home prices rose solidly in June, another sign of health in the housing market.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5 percent from a year earlier, a slight improvement on May’s 4.9 percent increase, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Prices rose 10.2 percent in Denver, 9.5 percent in San Francisco and 8.2 percent in Dallas. Chicago posted the smallest gain, just 1.4 percent.

Strong sales have been lifting prices. The National Association of Realtors said last week that sales of existing homes rose 2 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million, the fastest pace since February 2007. The Commerce Department reported last week that U.S. builders started work on single family homes in July at the fastest pace since late December 2007, the month the Great Recession began.

“The missing piece in the housing picture has been housing starts and sales,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Down Jones index committee. “These have changed for the better in the last few months.”

Still, some uncertainties weigh on the housing market. The Federal Reserve is considering whether to raise short-term interest rates, a move that might send mortgage rates higher. For now, the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remains below 4 percent. Blitzer says a modest Fed rate increase “won’t derail housing.”

Housing is also drawing strength from a healthy labor market. U.S. unemployment is at 5.3 percent, a seven-year low.’


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Sellers are Pocketing their Biggest Profits since the Peak | Waccabuc Real Estate

Single family home and condo sellers in the first half of 2015 sold for more above their purchase price in the first half of this year than any time since prices were at the peak of the boom.

Homes sold for an average of 13 percent above their original purchase prices, the highest average percentage in home price gains realized by sellers since 2007, when it was 30 percent, according to RealtyTrac.

Major markets where sellers in the first half of 2015 realized the biggest average home price gains were San Jose, California (41 percent); San Francisco (37 percent); Denver (29 percent); Portland (25 percent); Los Angeles (25 percent); and Seattle (20 percent).

“Sales activity has been strong this year and the metrics point to a solid foundation for steady growth. Growing boomerang buyer interest and first time buyer participation combined with smarter lending requirements are fostering a sustainable market,” said Mark Hughes, chief operating officer with First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. “Lower investor, cash, and distressed activity are three reliable indicators that peripheral buying and selling activity is settling back down and the traditional owner occupied residential market is back on solid ground and healthy.”

There were six major markets where sellers in the first half of 2015 on average sold below their original purchase price: Chicago (7 percent below); Cleveland (7 percent below); Hartford, Connecticut (3 percent below); Jacksonville, Florida (2 percent below); St. Louis (1 percent below); and Orlando (1 percent below).

Zillow and Case-Shiller both reported strong appreciation in their first quarter reports, Zillow at 5.2 percent year over year for its 20-city composite and Case-Shiller at 5.0 percent.

“Home price appreciation has settled into a nice groove over the past few months, and ought to remain there going forward. This is still more proof that the for-sale market, while certainly not yet fully healed, is continuing to return to normal,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries when the first quarter results were released May 26. “But relative strength in one indicator shouldn’t be confused with full recovery. Inventory is very low and the housing market is still very much out of balance, particularly on the rental side, where rapid rent increases and tepid wage gains are contributing to a deepening rental affordability crisis. This will make it more difficult for current renters to save up and make the transition into homeownership, particularly for younger would-be buyers the market so sorely lacks and needs.”

Single family homes and condos in June sold for an average of $291,450 compared to an average $287,634 estimated market value for those same homes at the time of sale – a 101 percent price-to-value ratio. June was the first time since July 2013 that the national price-to-value ratio exceeded 100 percent.

Major metro areas with the highest price-to-value ratios — where homes sold the most above estimated market value — were San Francisco (106 percent); Hartford, Connecticut (105 percent); Baltimore (105 percent); Rochester, New York (104 percent); and Providence, Rhode Island (103 percent).


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Home price gains ease | Waccabuc Real Estate

Home price gains ease

S&P/Case-Shiller’s 20-City index notched a 4.9% yearly gain in May, down only a tick from 5% in April but missing expectations of 5.6%. A national index covering all 9 Census divisions accelerated to a 4.4% yearly rise from 4.3%. The seasonally adjusted national index was unchanged during the month, while the 20-City index declined 0.2%. The 20-City index is 14% below its ’05 peak.

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/economy/072815-763737-economic-news-home-price-gains-ease-consumers-wary.htm#ixzz3hDDsiHd5