Tag Archives: Westchester Real Estate

Construction worker shortage | South Salem Real Estate

The drumbeat of hammers echoes most mornings through suburban Denver, where Jay Small, the owner of company that frames houses, is building about 1,300 new homes this year.

That’s more than triple what he built a few years ago, when “you couldn’t buy a job” in the residential construction industry, he said.

Now, builders can’t buy enough workers to get the job done.

Eight years after the housing bust drove an estimated 30 percent of construction workers into new fields, homebuilders across the country are struggling to find workers at all levels of experience, according to the National Association of Homebuilders. The association estimates that there are approximately 200,000 unfilled construction jobs in the U.S. – a jump of 81 percent in the last two years.

The ratio of construction job openings to hiring, as measured by the Department of Labor, is at its highest level since 2007.

“The labor shortage is getting worse as demand is getting stronger,” said John Courson, chief executive of the Home Builders Institute, a national nonprofit that trains workers in the construction field.

The impact is two-fold. Without enough workers, residential construction is trailing demand for homes, dampening the overall economy.

And with labor costs rising, homebuilders are building more expensive homes to maintain their margins, which means they are abandoning the starter home market. That has left entry-level homes in tight supply, shutting out may would-be buyers at a time when mortgage rates are near historic lows.

Nationwide, there are 17 percent fewer people working in construction than at the market peak, with some states – including Arizona, California, Georgia and Missouri – seeing declines of 20 percent or more, according to data from the Associated General Contractors of America.

The labor shortage is raising builders’ costs – and workers’ wages – and slowing down construction.

Small, the Denver builder, estimates that he could construct at least 10 percent more homes this year if he had enough workers. But he remains short-staffed, despite raising pay to levels above what he paid during the housing bubble a decade ago.

“It’s getting to the point where you’re really limited in what you can deliver,” Small said. “We lost so many people in the crash, and we’re just not getting them back.”


The average construction cost of building a single family home is 13.7 percent higher now than in 2007, even as the total costs of building and selling a house – a figure that includes such items as land costs, financing and marketing – are up just 2.9 percent over the same period, according to a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders.

The problem is accentuated by strong demand for newly constructed homes, with sales reaching a nine-year high in July.

Private companies say that they are having a hard time attracting workers, and they are often forced to give employees on-the-spot raises to prevent them from going to competitors. Carpenters and electricians are often listed as the most in-demand specialties.

Tony Rader, the vice president of Schwob Building Company, a general contractor in the Dallas area, said his company has started handing out flyers at sporting events, churches and schools in hopes of luring more people into the field.

“The biggest problem I face every day is where are we going to find the people to do the work,” he said, adding that it’s becoming increasingly common for his company and others to turn down projects.

Dallas contractors are fighting over the limited supply of workers as three major mixed-use projects are going up right next to each other on the so-called “$5 billion mile” in Frisco, a northern suburb. Meanwhile, the metropolitan area is adding about 30,000 newly built homes annually.

With fewer workers, contractors are becoming wary of signing new work contracts, especially as many of them include fines for not completing a job by a designated date.

“I’ve got two lawsuits right now where it may cost us mid-six-figures because there’s not enough labor out there to get it done,” said one contractor in the North Dallas area who declined to be identified.

Lawyers in hot residential markets say that it is becoming increasingly common for construction companies to try to negotiate for more time.

“Subcontractors are having a hard time staffing up,” said Edward Allen, a Denver attorney who said he has seen more lawsuits over project delays in the past two years.


Colorado alone will need 30,000 more workers in the construction field in the next six years, a number that does not account for those who will retire, according to a study by the Association of General Contractors.

The state passed a bill last year pledging $10 million over three years to fund free training for plumbers, electricians and carpenters.

Yet Michael Smith, who heads a Denver-based nonprofit that administers the training, said that he can’t fill the seats. High schools are focused on preparing students for college, ignoring those that may be better suited for vocational work. Students may be put off by construction’s reputation as a dangerous, cyclical field, he said.

“We’ve so demonized working with your hands in this country,” he said. “We’ve got a booming economy, and we can’t keep up with the pace of growth.”

Students who go through the four-week program are all but guaranteed a job paying $16 an hour or more immediately, with the possibility of commanding $80,000 or more in annual income after five years without taking on any student debt, he said.

On-the-job training is also a common path for new workers. Eduardo Salcido – a 25-year-old concrete finisher working at a 232-home Toll Brothers subdivision going up in the Denver suburb of Broomfield – said that he received on-site training after entering the construction field as a painter.

He has earned one raise since beginning the training two years ago and is now certified as a semi-skilled finisher.


read more…



Plug the holes in your house this winter | Katonah Real Estate

Leaky spots around windows and doors are notoriously big problems for homeowners in locations with cold winters and humid summers, and they can lead to bigger problems. Even before adding insulation to your house, the most important step in making your house more comfortable is controlling air movement. The principle is pretty simple: plug up the holes in your house. Since doors and windows are the biggest holes in a home, weather-stripping is where your efforts should begin. Weather-stripping is a great DIY project too, since it involves just a very basic knowledge of tools.

Below you’ll find the best ways to weather-strip for reduced drafts and leaks this winter.

Manhattan Real Estate Market Surging at Year’s End | North Salem NY Real Estate

The Manhattan real estate market continued a yearlong trend, ending the final quarter of 2013 with a scarcity of listings and surging sales, while prices remained relatively flat.

Despite the flurry of sales activity at the end of the year, the median sales price of $855,000 was up just slightly from the same quarter of 2012, according to a report by the Douglas Elliman brokerage firm that will be released on Friday.

That number is still far from the market’s peak in 2008, when the median was close to $1 million, but it is up from the market’s bottom in 2009, when the median hovered around $800,000.

“I think we’re going in a very good direction,” Diane M. Ramirez, the chief executive of Halstead Property, said. “The prices are going up but at a very sustainable rate.”

A strong local economy, stock market gains and steady foreign interest helped bolster demand for Manhattan apartments as supply continued to shrink, brokers said. The year ended with the fewest available fourth-quarter listings in 14 years, according to the Elliman report. Despite the low inventory of apartments, the number of sales rose 26.8 percent to 3,297 — the highest fourth-quarter total recorded, outpacing the sales surge at the end of last year when wealthy buyers rushed to close deals before new tax laws kicked in with the new year.

This uptick in sales at the end of 2013 was driven in part by closings in expensive condominiums aimed at the upper echelon that had been in contract for many months. Those deals helped push the median sales price for Manhattan condos, including resales, up 14.3 percent to a record $1,320,000, according to the Elliman report.

“The smart developers realized there was an underserved need for large apartments in New York City and this quarter in particular saw a lot of large apartments closing, which helped to drive up the price,” Pamela Liebman, the chief executive of the Corcoran Group, said.

New development had a robust 32 percent increase in median price, as closings skewed toward the high end, according to a report by the Corcoran Group.

It is a trend that is expected to continue in 2014 as a number of new luxury developments currently in contract at record-breaking prices are poised to close, Ms. Liebman added, noting that highly anticipated closings in Extell Development’s luxury tower, One57, have just begun. More than 10 condos there priced above $45 million were under contract at the end of 2013, two for more than $90 million.

The luxury category, which represents the top 10 percent, “continues to grab headlines” with double-digit year-over-year increases, said Andrew Heiberger, the chief executive of Town Residential, which found in its report that the median sales price of the top 10 percent of the market increased $4,604,019 in the fourth quarter, up 15.1 percent from the same period in 2012. The rest of the market, he said, “remained status quo.”

Co-ops, which account for the majority of sales, sold at a median price of $660,000 in the fourth quarter, down 2.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Town Residential. But at any category, said Hall F. Willkie, president of Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales, buyers do not want to feel like they have overpaid. “They’re wanting the price they pay to be very justifiable,” he said, adding that price sensitivity continues to help keep the market “very healthy.”

In 2014, brokers expect supply to begin to loosen up. “I think you’ll see a little rise in inventory,” said Dottie Herman, the chief executive of Douglas Elliman, adding that as sales prices increase and sellers gain equity and confidence that they can find something to buy, they are more willing to list. “When you have no equity, you’re kind of stuck,” she said.

Jonathan J. Miller, the author of Elliman’s report and the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, agreed. But he said that rising mortgage rates could slow the pace of sales and that “in 2014 we expect inventory to edge higher, but it’s not going to be enough to meet demand.”

HUGE NEWS: Websites soon to end in .mortgage or .home | Katonah NY Realtor

Imagine coming to this website by simply typing “housing.wire” into your web address bar.

That’s right, no “.com” necessary.

This hugely flexible option for online businesses — as well as other, brand-specific URL endings — is one step closer to reality.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers recently released more than a thousand potential URL suffixes, a vast increase in the 22 currently in use.

According to law firm Ballard Spahr, which broke the news in its Privacy and Data Security and Intellectual Property Alert, website domain names will start looking dramatically different.

These listings are the first wave of ICANN new generic top-level domain names, or gTLDs, as they are more commonly referred to. Some are already online, and the mortgage-type listings will be available in a matter of months.There is no specific timetable.

“What it means to the mortgage banking industry is they also need to consider their internet security, as well as their trademarks and whether or not they need to defensively register,” said Amy Mushahwar, privacy and data security cousel for Ballard Spahr. “Any internal naming architecture, internal email server with .loans for example, could also create a conflict. They need to take a peek and not only see any names worth registering, but whether any of the thousands of new names could impact their existing digital structure.”

In response to a request from HousingWire, Ballard Spahr pulled a list of housing and banking potential substitutes for .com or .org.

Those examples include, but are not limited to:


There are also many brand strings available, below are a few examples: .BBT .CAPITALONE .CITI .HSBC Ballard Spahr said it plans to complete a more comprehensive list of potential URL endings in the near term. Companies, and no doubt there will be plenty, looking to cash in on this new option should be warned, however, as risks include adding to consumer confusion.

And that’s not all.

“Issues arising from the complexity of Domain Name System (DNS) expansion, if not fully resolved, could pose security risks and potentially destabilize global Internet operations,” the Ballard Spahr alert stated.





Armonk, Chappaqua Lead in Highest Ask Price | #RobReportBlog

Armonk,   Chappaqua Lead in Highest Ask Price | #RobReportBlog
Katonah $18,995,000.00
Pound   Ridge $5,700,000.00
South   Salem $12,200,000.00
Mt Kisco $3,950,000.00
Chappaqua $24,750,000.00
North   Salem $18,500,000.00
Armonk $24,900,000.00
Bedford $14,500,000.00
Bedford   Hills $10,995,000.00
Bedford   Corners $12,000,000.00

The Facebook Conversion Formula: A Blueprint for Turning Fans into Customers | Katonah Realtor

The Facebook Conversion Formula- A Blueprint for Turning Fans into Customers

Just having a Facebook Page is really just the beginning of building a  successful social media strategy. But with the right formula will not only help  you engage with Fans, but generate hot leads and real ROI from your Facebook  following.

So the Facebook sales cycle in its simplest form is:

  1. Grow your Facebook fans
  2. Promote to gain email and phone inquiries
  3. Nurture those fans to convert them to hot leads
  4. Convert those hot leads into revenue

That is the Facebook conversion formula. In essence a blueprint for turning  fans into customers

sales cycle Facebook

So how do you implement that process?

How to get more (relevant) fans

8.11% of all traffic on the internet comes from Facebook. The people looking for your products are already  on Facebook, the question is how do you find them where they are already  looking? The first step to growing your fan base is developing a user persona around  your ideal Facebook Fan. You can’t find what you’re not looking for.

Traits of your ideal fan, and ultimately your leads and customers, are based  on demographics, interests and likes, jobs experience and geography. Combining  characteristics from each of these categories will allow you develop a usage  scenario. In this case, the usage scenario is how your brand and ideal user  interact on social media and Facebook in particular.

All of your usage scenarios come together to become your content strategy.  Your content strategy should be broken into pillars; categories of content that  are relevant to your ideal fan personas and on-strategy for your business.

Below are 5 examples of types of pillars you may develop for your persona.  All of your content and posts should fit into one of these categories. Note,  that these 5 may or may not be relevant to your own business.

Turning Facebook Fans into sales

Convert your Facebook fans into leads

A fan becomes a lead when they willingly provide contact information, sign-up for your email  newsletter or otherwise opt-in to learn more about your business. This is best  achieved when there is already brand affinity in-place and you have already  positioned yourself as the industry expert.

To build that brand awareness and affinity, you’ll use your content pillars  to create good and engaging content. In providing immense value, you will create  trust and solidify yourself as an industry expert. This exchange of information  will create long-term, loyal customers.

Start by encouraging engagement with your content in the Facebook news feed.  According to a Hubspot Study in 2013, photos on Facebook generate 53% more  likes than the average post. The more likes, shares and comments you receive,  the more visible future content will be to your fans.




Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/12/06/the-facebook-conversion-formula-a-blueprint-for-turning-fans-into-customers/#ucYOOSCXLMH6x0jm.99

Indian Point Responds To Schumer’s Security Remarks | Mt Kisco Homes

Officials from the Indian Point Nuclear Facility issued a response to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) suggestion that the plant’s maritime security be upgraded with around-the-clock boat patrols.

Here is the statement issued by Indian Point officials:

“We take every aspect of the security of Indian Point seriously, including the safety of the waterfront. The plant’s security capabilities are reviewed regularly by federal inspectors at the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), including during mock scenarios where our security teams must effectively defend against water-born adversaries in extremely realistic drills. The NRC has said that Indian Point is secure and that our highly-trained onsite security teams can protect the facility on land and at the waterfront. We look forward to working with the Dept. of Homeland Security in any additional review and expect that their work will confirm Indian Point has significant security capabilities and is a secure facility.”

Day and night boat patrols are not currently required of Indian Point, but Schumer said that 24-hour security by boat is a reasonable and achievable goal – by drawing on the combined resources of the U.S. Coast Guard, New York State, and local law enforcement – and called for federal experts to provide recommendations on the best way to close any gaps in Indian Point’s security.




5 Fab Not-Beige Bedroom Neutrals | Katonah Real Estate

Let me start off by saying that I am in no way looking to bash beige. There are many beautiful shades of the neutral hue that are appropriate and look fantastic in and on homes. But when I am hired to do a paint color consultation, I often avoid suggesting beige. And clients even ask to avoid it, which leads me to believe that many homeowners are tired of the hue, or they see it as a crutch to fall back on when they’d really prefer something different, something with a little more oomph.
For those of you who just aren’t a fan of bold, intense color but want to move beyond white and beige, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite not-beige neutrals that I think look fantastic in bedrooms. These are softer, more soothing hues that work well with a variety of other colors, materials and styles of decor. Yet they still look fresh and current.

1. Light Purples
Whether you go for a cool lavender or a warmer mauve, the trick to making this color appear sophisticated rather than sugary is to go with a shade that has a good amount of neutralizing gray or brown in it. The paint color here contains both gray and brown, which neutralizes the purple. You get the best of both worlds — a neutral hue with just a hint of color.
Get a similar look with Beguiling Mauve from Sherwin-Williams
This lavender has less gray in it than the previous color, but it still has an iciness, which keeps it soft and soothing.
Get a similar look with North Cascades from Benjamin Moore
This pretty wall color has more red and brown in it, which adds warmth. The hint of brown also nudges it toward neutral territory.
Get a similar look with Plum Frost from Behr.
2. Blue-Grays
A soft blue with a hint of gray is a fantastic choice to create a soothing, relaxing vibe in a bedroom. Those who live in areas where cool and overcast days outnumber warm and sunny ones may want to opt for a hue with more blue and less gray.

Ideabooks Aid Design Collaboration in Seattle | Waccabuc Real Estate

Style can be hard to verbalize. What’s my personal home decor style? It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I don’t know that I could sum it up in a sentence, but I do know that I could point it out in a picture. Tom and Jessica Freeman discovered this while remodeling their 1902 Seattle home. Both had strong opinions about what they wanted in their new house but were unsure how to communicate that to the right architect.
After browsing the 2 million-plus photos on Houzz, the couple narrowed their search by metro area so they could look at projects in Seattle. They came across architect Michael Knowles’ work. Drawn by his more traditional projects they saw on Houzz, they ended up hiring both Knowles and his wife, Colleen, an interior designer. Sharing and collaborating design concepts via their Houzz ideabooks streamlined the process and helped lead the couple to their dream home.
Houzz at a Glance Who lives here: Tom and Jessica Freeman Team: Michael Knowles, architect; Colleen Knowles, interior designer Location: Seattle Size: About 2,400 square feet; 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms
Photography by Tom Marks

The 1902 house had undergone an extensive renovation in the 1980s, but the bones of the house were good. “We pretty much touched every room, but some had a lighter touch than others,” says Michael Knowles.
The kitchen went through the biggest changes. Although the footprint remains the same, a few structural changes and new surfaces resulted in a dramatic update. Previously it had a vaulted, open ceiling with a clerestory window. Although the window was intended to bring in more light, a neighbor’s house blocked the view, and the open ceiling felt like wasted space.
The floor plan made the most of the space and worked well for the couple’s cooking habits. The Freemans didn’t particularly like the color of the cabinets, but they were solid wood and well made, so they kept them.
AFTER: After searching through dozens of kitchen photos on Houzz featuring black granite, the Freemans determined the look they wanted very quickly. “The ideabooks allowed us to communicate with Michael and Colleen much faster,” says Jessica Freeman. “It was an absolute dream to work with them.”
Michael closed off the kitchen ceiling and repainted the cabinets in a bright white. The cabinets had to be removed during construction, but he put them back in using almost the same layout. A new granite countertop and gray tile backsplash add contrast to the color palette, while new pot lights and ceiling pendants make the kitchen feel brighter than it did with the higher ceiling.