Category Archives: Bedford

Fleeing NYC residents return after Covid | Bedford Real Estate

Since July 2021, the city has gained an estimated 6,332 permanent movers, indicating a gradual return to New York City.

Residents who fled New York City during the early days of the pandemic, particularly the wealthiest neighborhoods, are beginning to return.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a comprehensive analysis earlier this week (Nov. 15) of the pandemic’s impact on monthly migration patterns into and out of the city. Using data published by the United States Postal Service (USPS) from change of address forms, the analysis confirms that New York City’s net residential out-migration tripled from 2019 to 2020. The data show that the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods experienced the most population loss; residents in the wealthiest 10% of city neighborhoods, as measured by median income, were 4.6 times more likely to move than other residents during 2020.

In more recent months, the reopening of office buildings, the return of in-person school, and the rebirth of arts and entertainment have helped to attract movers to the city. Since July 2021, USPS data has shown an estimated net gain of 6,332 permanent movers, mainly in neighborhoods that experienced the greatest flight, according to the report.

“New York City is steadily reopening and New Yorkers are returning to the city we love—that’s why it’s vital that we invest in the value proposition that is New York City and make sure we continue to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said New York City Comptroller Stringer. “That means investing in our classrooms and teachers so our children get the very best education, investing in affordable and accessible child care so parents can return to work, and investing in our streetscapes and green spaces to ensure that our neighborhoods are walkable and breathable. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine our city and build back stronger than ever from the losses of the pandemic.”

Despite recent gains, certain neighborhoods have a long road ahead to regain pre-pandemic population. Whether or not these gains continue and accelerate will depend on the trajectory of the pandemic and the city’s ability to maintain in-person activities and attractions, as well as the endurance of telework arrangements and workers’ ability and desire to live farther from their place of work as commuting becomes less burdensome.

Major findings of the analysis include:

• In the first three months of the pandemic, from March to May 2020, more than 60% of net moves from city addresses were marked as temporary, indicating that the person or household intended to return, but since then 79% of net moves have been marked as permanent.

• Excluding moves marked as “temporary,” net out-migration from the city increased by an estimated 130,837 from March 2020 through June 2021, as compared to pre-pandemic trends.

• Residents from the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods were the most likely to leave. Residents in the wealthiest 10% of city neighborhoods, as measured by median income, were 4.6 times more likely to leave than other residents during 2020, recording 109 net move-outs per 1,000 residents vs 24 elsewhere. Moves from wealthier neighborhoods were also more likely to be recorded as temporary. About half of net out-migration from the wealthiest 10% of neighborhoods was marked as temporary in 2020, compared to 44% in the next wealthiest decile and less than 30% elsewhere.

• In September 2021, New York City public schools and colleges opened to full-time, in-person learning; some employers, including city government, called office workers back; and the curtains rose on Broadway after an 18-month shutdown. Not surprisingly, these events coincided with an improvement in net residential migration to the city, particularly in the neighborhoods that experienced the greatest flight in the spring of 2020.

• Since July 2021, USPS data has shown an estimated net gain of 6,332 permanent movers, indicating a gradual return to New York City, mainly in neighborhoods that experienced the greatest flight. On a per-capita basis, the largest net gains over the summer were in Chelsea/Midtown, Murray Hill/Gramercy, Battery Park City/Greenwich Village, and Chinatown/Lower East Side.

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realestateindepth.com/news/

New York Case Shiller Index price rises 17% | Bedford Real Estate

S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) today released the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for August 2021 show that home prices continue to increase across the U.S. More than 27 years of history are available for the data series and can be accessed in full by going to https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.

YEAR-OVER-YEAR 

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 19.8% annual gain in August, remaining the same as the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 18.6%, down from 19.2% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 19.7% year-over-year gain, down from 20.0% in the previous month.

Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in August. Phoenix led the way with a 33.3% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 26.2% increase and Tampa with a 25.9% increase. Eight of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending August 2021 versus the year ending July 2021. 

MONTH-OVER-MONTH

Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a 1.2% month-over-month increase in August, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively.

After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month increase of 1.4%, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 0.9% and 1.2%, respectively. In August, all 20 cities reported increases before and after seasonal adjustments.

ANALYSIS

“The U.S. housing market showed continuing strength in August 2021,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. Every one of our city and composite indices stands at its all-time high, and year-over-year price growth continues to be very strong, although moderating somewhat from last month’s levels.

“In August 2021, the National Composite Index rose 19.84% from year-ago levels, marginally ahead of July’s 19.75% increase. This slowing acceleration was also evident in our 10- and 20-City Composites, which rose 18.6% and 19.7% respectively, modestly less than their rates of gain in July. Price gains were once again broadly distributed, as all 20 cities rose, although in most cases at a slower rate than had been the case a month ago.

“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. More data will be required to understand whether this demand surge represents an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years, or reflects a secular change in locational preferences. August’s data are consistent with either explanation. August data also suggest that the growth in housing prices, while still very strong, may be beginning to decelerate.

“Phoenix’s 33.3% increase led all cities for the 27th consecutive month. San Diego (+26.2%) continued in second place, but in August, Tampa (+25.9%) edged Dallas and Seattle for the bronze medal. As has been the case for the last several months, prices were strongest in the Southwest (+24.1%), but every region logged double-digit gains.”

SUPPORTING DATA 

Table 1 below shows the housing boom/bust peaks and troughs for the three composites along with the current levels and percentage changes from the peaks and troughs.

2006 Peak2012 TroughCurrent
 Index Level Date Level DateFrom Peak (%) LevelFrom Trough (%)From Peak (%)
National184.61Jul-06134.00Feb-12-27.4%268.62100.5%45.5%
20-City206.52Jul-06134.07Mar-12-35.1%274.99105.1%33.2%
10-City226.29Jun-06146.45Mar-12-35.3%287.1796.1%26.9%

Table 2 below summarizes the results for August 2021. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices could be revised for the prior 24 months, based on the receipt of additional source data.

August 2021August/JulyJuly/June1-Year
Metropolitan AreaLevelChange (%)Change (%)Change (%)
Atlanta194.241.9%2.2%20.2%
Boston279.480.5%1.2%17.7%
Charlotte214.781.5%2.2%21.7%
Chicago169.481.0%1.1%12.7%
Cleveland157.620.8%1.2%15.5%
Dallas250.201.8%2.4%24.6%
Denver285.650.9%1.8%21.5%
Detroit157.420.7%1.3%15.7%
Las Vegas251.872.2%2.8%23.8%
Los Angeles361.540.9%1.4%18.4%
Miami317.832.3%2.3%23.8%
Minneapolis217.540.3%1.1%14.0%
New York244.050.5%1.0%17.2%
Phoenix286.742.2%3.3%33.3%
Portland305.220.8%1.5%19.2%
San Diego357.110.5%1.6%26.2%
San Francisco339.940.4%1.1%21.2%
Seattle344.460.2%0.9%24.3%
Tampa296.712.5%2.9%25.9%
Washington284.920.6%0.9%15.1%
Composite-10287.170.8%1.3%18.6%
Composite-20274.990.9%1.5%19.7%
U.S. National268.621.2%1.7%19.8%
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through August 2021

Table 3 below shows a summary of the monthly changes using the seasonally adjusted (SA) and non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data. Since its launch in early 2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices have published, and the markets have followed and reported on, the non-seasonally adjusted data set used in the headline indices. For analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices, as well as for the 17 of 20 markets with tiered price indices and the five condo markets that are tracked.

August/July Change (%)July/June Change (%)
Metropolitan AreaNSASANSASA
Atlanta1.9%2.1%2.2%2.3%
Boston0.5%0.7%1.2%1.2%
Charlotte1.5%1.7%2.2%2.4%
Chicago1.0%0.8%1.1%1.0%
Cleveland0.8%0.8%1.2%0.5%
Dallas1.8%2.1%2.4%2.4%
Denver0.9%1.4%1.8%1.9%
Detroit0.7%0.8%1.3%1.1%
Las Vegas2.2%2.4%2.8%2.5%
Los Angeles0.9%1.0%1.4%1.7%
Miami2.3%2.3%2.3%2.2%
Minneapolis0.3%0.6%1.1%1.0%
New York0.5%0.4%1.0%0.9%
Phoenix2.2%2.3%3.3%3.2%
Portland0.8%1.1%1.5%1.3%
San Diego0.5%1.0%1.6%1.3%
San Francisco0.4%1.0%1.1%1.2%
Seattle0.2%1.1%0.9%1.3%
Tampa2.5%2.5%2.9%2.9%
Washington0.6%0.8%0.9%1.1%
Composite-100.8%0.9%1.3%1.4%
Composite-200.9%1.2%1.5%1.5%
U.S. National1.2%1.4%1.7%1.6%
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through August 2021

For more information about S&P Dow Jones Indices, please visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.

The single biggest risk to housing is rising mortgage rates | Bedford Real Estate

This is not a repeat of the 2008 housing bubble

The wounds from the Great Recession of the mid-2000s are still healing, especially when it comes to housing. An estimated 10 million people lost their homes to foreclosure from 2006 to 2014, following a period of frenzied and speculative home buying fueled by easy credit. The housing market is yet again on a tear with home prices up nearly 19% nationally compared with last year, and that has people rightfully worried that another housing bubble is brewing.

In order to determine if the current housing market is in a bubble, one needs to ask what constitutes a housing bubble. A bubble is present when the price of an asset is rising faster than the fundamentals can justify, often driven by overly optimistic speculation or loose financing. Moreover, a bubble requires conditions that would permit a crash—that is, a period of asset prices falling faster than fundamentals. Rising prices alone, however, are not a sign of a bubble.

Unlike the last housing boom, one could argue that home price growth since the start of the pandemic was justifiable. The demographics of the U.S. were already supporting housing growth and the desire to own only increased as people saved more and spent more time at home. The lifestyle change brought on by the pandemic caused many Americans to reassess their living arrangements, including some renters that turned into house hunters and some existing homeowners that sold to move into a larger home.

The jump in home buying demand hit right as existing housing supply declined rapidly for a variety of reasons, including fear of COVID-19. Home builders, most of whom became more prudent following the last cycle, were cautious with how many homes they were bringing to the market, resulting in equally tight new home inventory.

The supply and demand mismatch pushed prices upward, but that was just the tip of the iceberg for rising home values. Some Americans became much wealthier over the past year following a 31% run-up in the S&P 500 and a nearly 20% jump in home equity. Others became wealthier on a relative basis as remote work led to increased migration, often from higher cost areas to lower cost ones.

Of the contributors to rising prices, none have been more powerful than mortgage interest rates. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 6% from 2002 to housing’s peak in 2005. For comparison, the average mortgage rate from April 2020 through today is just 3%. 

Historically, a gut check of a housing bubble is the home-price-to-income ratio. While home prices appear high compared with incomes, this does not account for interest rates. When we look at the home-payment-to-income ratio, an important measure of affordability, levels are below last cycle, showing the power of cheap financing.

Further, safety measures have been put in place since the Great Recession to help prevent a similar housing collapse. Mortgage credit availability is starkly tighter than in the mid-2000s and the often more risky adjustable rate mortgages represent less than 5% of total purchase and refinanced loans compared with over 35% at the peak of the last cycle. 

However, there are unhealthy signs in housing as well. Investors, a staple of the last cycle, are back. One common measure of tracking investor activity is all-cash sales, which represent 23% of total transactions. While all-cash sales are up from 16% last year, they are still down from a high of 35% in 2011. Home shoppers are feeling the impact of investors active in today’s market, especially at the lowest price points. 

The fear-of-missing-out mentality has also returned, which has resulted in some making rash decisions. People are fearful that if they don’t buy today, they may miss their chance at home ownership forever. This thought process is leading to bidding wars and further upward pressure on pricing, which is resulting in first-time buyers and lower-income home shoppers finding themselves priced out of the market. Others believe that the frenzy has gone too far, and even some that are financially able to buy a home have reached a tipping point and are balking at prices.

As we move forward, we can take comfort that many of the mortgage guardrails in place are working, with creditworthiness strong and speculative lending largely absent from the market. While today’s prices can be justified, it is unwise to believe they can only go up. 

The single biggest risk to housing—rising mortgage rates—is a real possibility in the next year, and that could bring prices down. Further, other economic, financial, and confidence challenges could also result in a drop or flattening of home prices, even with solid buyers in place. But a drop or flattening in home prices is a far cry from the crash we saw during the Great Recession.

read more…

fortune.com/2021/housing-bubble

Prices of Residential Construction Inputs Up 23% Year-Over-Year | Bedford Real Estate

Prices paid for goods used in residential construction ex-energy rose 3.6% in May (not seasonally adjusted) and have increased 16.5% over the past 12 months, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Building materials (i.e., inputs to residential construction less food and energy) prices have declined just twice since December 2019.

The index for inputs to residential construction, including food and energy, increased more (+4.1%) and is up 22.5%, year-over year.  This increase closely mirrors the 26% increase found in a recent NAHB survey.

Building materials prices have increased 9.4% year-to-date (YTD), in stark contrast to the 0.4% YTD seen in 2020.  However, the 2021 increase YTD is an outlier when compared to pre-pandemic years as well, more than tripling the largest January-to-May increase since 2015 (the most recent data available).

Steel Products

Steel mill products prices climbed 2.4% in May, a substantial slowdown after three months during which increases averaged 15.9%.  Even so, prices are up 75.4% over the past 12 months and have risen 59.4% in 2021 alone.

Softwood Lumber

The PPI for softwood lumber (seasonally adjusted) rose 19.2%–the largest monthly increase since September 2020—and set a record high for the fourth consecutive month. Lumber prices have remained extremely volatile since the 88.5% increase between April and September 2020.

Since falling 22.9% between September and November, the softwood lumber PPI has risen 81.2%. However, recent data from Random Lengths suggests that the index will decline next month as weakening prices in late-May and the first half of June are captured by the BLS survey.

Lumber Futures

Good news has been found in the futures market of late, as July lumber futures have fallen precipitously in recent weeks.  Since May 10, the price of July futures has declined 44.2%.  It is worth noting the features of lumber futures as they explain why changes in the futures market may not be a practical leading indicator of how much builders will pay for framing packages in the months ahead.

First, the specifications of lumber futures contracts state that a futures contract:

  • Is for delivery of roughly 110,000 board feet (all of which is made up 2x4s), assuming the future is held to delivery.
  • Only delivers lumber that is manufactured in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, or Alberta or British Columbia, Canada.
  • Is limited to Hem-Fir, Englemann Spruce, Lodgepole Pine, and/or Spruce-Pine-Fir.  Southern Yellow Pine is notably absent.

Second, if hoarding takes place in the middle of the supply chain as wholesalers and/or distributors attempt to protect against upside risk, these supply chain members may sell inventories if futures and/or mill prices fall.  But the current cash or futures price has little effect on prices paid by builders until prices have fallen to a sufficiently low level for long enough to counteract middlemen being “trigger shy” in an environment of falling mill prices.

Exchange Rate Effects

In addition to nominal price movements and tariffs on Canadian lumber, cross-border purchasers are affected by the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to the Canadian dollar.

The USD has depreciated 4.8% YTD and 10.3% over the past 12 months which has raised the price of Canadian imports in real terms above nominal increases due to other market forces.

Gypsum Products

Prices paid for gypsum products increased 3.4% in May, reaching a record high for the second consecutive month. The index has climbed 14.6% over the past year, but the whole of that increase has occurred since October 2020. The index for gypsum building materials (e.g., drywall) has increased 17.9% since last October.

Ready-Mix Concrete

Prices paid for ready-mix concrete (RMC) climbed 0.2% (seasonally adjusted), following a 1.1% increase in April. Price volatility has eased in 2021 as four of the five monthly price changes YTD have been between -0.2% and 0.3%.

Prices increased in the Northeast (+2.3%) and South (+0.2%) regions in May, while prices paid in the Midwest (-1.1) and South (-0.4%) declined.

Other Building Materials

The chart below shows the 12-month and year-to-date price changes of other price indices relevant to the residential construction industry.  As Congress continues to work on an infrastructure package, the Construction Materials index is particularly salient.  This index is much more heavily weighted with products necessary and used in large amounts in the production of “traditional” infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges, rail).

read more…

eyeonhousing.org/2021/06/

Building materials prices continue to rise | Bedford Real Estate

Prices paid for goods used in residential construction ex-energy rose 1.7% in April (not seasonally adjusted) and have increased 12.4% over the past 12 months, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Building materials (i.e., inputs to residential construction less food and energy) prices have declined just twice since December 2019.

The index for inputs to residential construction, including food and energy, increased less (+1.3%) as the index for final demand energy declined 2.4% over the month.

Steel mill products prices climbed 18.4% in April following a 17.6% increase in March.  Prices are up 55.6%, year-to-date, and the month-over-month percentage increase set a record high for the third month in a row. Steel mill products price volatility is greater than it has been at any time since the Great Recession.

Over the past three months, prices have climbed 22.0%.  Perhaps more concerning than rising prices is that the pace of price changes has quickened each of the past nine months.

Prices paid for softwood lumber (seasonally adjusted) rose 6.5%, setting a new record high for the third consecutive month. Lumber prices have remained extremely volatile since the 88.5% increase between April and September 2020. Since falling 22.9% between September and November, the softwood lumber PPI has risen 52.0%.

In addition to nominal price movements and tariffs on Canadian lumber, cross-border purchasers are affected by the strength of the U.S. dollar relative to the Canadian dollar. The USD has depreciated 5.0%, year-to-date, and 13.1% over the past 12 months.

Prices paid for gypsum products increased 4.4% in March bringing the two-month increase to 6.6%. The PPI for all gypsum products has increased 12.5% over the past 12 months while the index for gypsum building materials (e.g., drywall) is up 13.3%.

Prices paid for ready-mix concrete (RMC) climbed 1.1% (seasonally adjusted), following a 0.2% increase in February. RMC prices have exhibited unusual volatility since early 2018. increasing or decreasing by 1.0% or more five times during the period. Since January 2000, RMC prices have moved by 1.0% or more 26 times and five have been over the past three years.

Prices increased in all four regions from March to April, up 2.8%, 2.0%, 0.8%, and 0.8% in thes Northeast, West, South, and Midwest, respectively. The index increased the most in the Northeast (+5.6%), followed closely by the West (+5.3%).  In contrast, prices held relatively steady in the Midwest (+2.0%) and declined 0.6% in the South, year-over-year.

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eyeonhousing.org

Mortgage rates average 3.09% | Bedford Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.09 percent.

“As expected, mortgage rates continued to inch up but are still hovering around three percent, keeping interested buyers in the market,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “However, residential construction has declined for two consecutive months and given the very low inventory environment, competition among potential homebuyers is a challenging reality, especially for first-time homebuyers.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.09 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending March 18, 2021, up from last week when it averaged 3.05 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.65 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.40 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.38 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.06 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.79 percent with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.77 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.11 percent.

The PMMS is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20 percent down and have excellent credit. Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Housing starts up 13% | Bedford Real Estate

U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.55 million in November, representing a 1.2% increase from the previous month’s figure, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday. Compared with last year, housing starts were up nearly 13%. The pace of building permits was the highest in 14 years.

Permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million, up 6.2% from October and 8.5% from a year ago.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a pace of 1.54 million and building permits to come in at a pace of 1.57 million.

A surge in the multifamily sector — which includes apartment buildings and condos — drove the increase in both housing starts and building permits. Multifamily starts were up 8%, versus 0.4% for single-family homes. And the number of permits issued for buildings with five or more units rose nearly 23% between October and November, compared with a 1.3% uptick for single-family structures.

New-home construction activity didn’t grow evenly across all parts of the country. Housing starts surged roughly 59% in the Northeast, driven by the multifamily boom, but fell nearly 5% in the Midwest and 6% in the South. The Midwest and South both experience slowdowns in new construction of single-family homes.

America’s building boom is continuing for now — and that’s good news for prospective home buyers. The severe shortage of existing homes for sale has pushed prices higher. As a result, the new-home segment of the market holds renewed importance.

“New home construction stands out as a clear solution to the rising challenge of affordability especially as housing demand is expected to continue to grow,” said Realtor.com senior economists George Ratiu. “However, without a significant supply of new construction, many would-be buyers will be forced to sit on the sideline due to record-high home prices.”

But Ratiu signaled one concern for the market: The pace at which builders completed their projects slowed in November. The number of completions fell nearly 1% for single-family homes and 35% for multifamily buildings. “The momentum for single-family starts and completions is slowing,” Ratiu said.

“Single-family housing continues to be well-supported by strong demand and low mortgages rates,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note.

“Builders are hyper-optimistic,” Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economics, wrote in a research note. “Whether that is irrational or not, well we shall see.”

read more…

marketwatch.com/story/new-home-construction/

U.S. home building surges 14% | Bedford Real Estate

U.S. homebuilding increased more than expected in October as the housing market continues to be driven by record low mortgage rates, but momentum could slow amid a resurgence in new COVID-19 infections that is putting strain on the economic recovery.

The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday also showed building permits unchanged at a 13-1/2-year high. It followed on the heels of data on Tuesday showing the smallest gain in retail sales in October since the recovery from the pandemic started in May. The economy is slowing as more than $3 trillion in government coronavirus relief dries up.

Daily new COVID-19 cases have been exceeding 100,000 since early this month, pushing the number of infections in the United States above 11 million, according to a Reuters tally. Several states and local governments have imposed restrictions on businesses, raising fears that the resulting weak demand could unleash a fresh wave of layoffs that could reverberate across the economy and slow the housing market’s run.

“The million dollar question remains how long the recovery in housing can continue as the shocking number of new coronavirus cases is paralyzing commerce in many parts of the country and leading to new restrictions and lockdowns,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

Housing starts rose 4.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.530 million units last month. That lifted homebuilding closer to its pace of 1.567 million units in February. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast starts would rise to a rate of 1.460 million units in October.

Permits for future homebuilding were unchanged at a rate of 1.545 million units in October, the highest since March 2007.

The densely populated South region accounted for 56.1% of homebuilding last month. Groundbreaking activity also rose in the West and Midwest, but tumbled in the Northeast.

Homebuilding surged 14.2% on a year-on-year basis.

Single-family homebuilding, the largest share of the housing market, raced 6.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.179 million units last month, the highest level since April 2007.

Single-family starts have increased for six straight months. This segment of the market is being boosted by the pandemic, which has seen at least 21% of the labor force working from home. That has led to a migration from city centers to suburbs and other low-density areas as Americans seek out spacious accommodation for home offices and schools.

“The South and inland and mountain regions of the West are seeing a huge influx of residents from the large metro areas in the Northeast and West Coast,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Just over 80% of all single-family homes built over the past year have been in the South or West, which means that construction can continue at a much higher pace during the winter months than in prior years.”

A survey on Tuesday showed confidence among single-family homebuilders rose to an all-time high in November. But builders said “lot and material availability is holding back some building activity.”

Single-family building permits climbed 0.6% to a rate of 1.120 million units in October.

A separate report on Wednesday from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed applications for loans to buy a home increased 4% last week from a week earlier.

The coronavirus recession, which started in February, has disproportionately affected lower-wage earners. At least 20 million people are on unemployment benefits.

The PHLX housing index was trading higher, outperforming a mixed U.S. stock market. The dollar slipped against a basket of currencies. Prices of longer-dated U.S. Treasuries were trading higher.

Though the housing market accounts for a fraction of gross domestic product, it has a bigger economic footprint. Its continued strength should help to keep the economy afloat even as GDP growth is expected to decelerate significantly in the fourth quarter after a historic performance in the July-September period.

Homebuilding is being driven by lean inventories, especially for previously-owned homes, and low mortgage rates. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is around an average of 2.84%, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac.

Starts for the volatile multi-family segment were unchanged at a pace of 351,000 units. Building permits for multi-family housing projects fell 1.6% to a rate of 425,000 units. It was the third straight monthly decline.

“This is an indication that developers are reining in investment as rental vacancy rates have risen,” said Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics in New York.

According to Wells Fargo Securities’ Vitner, rental data also suggest a shift in renter preferences away from urban lifestyle apartments to suburban apartments that offer more outdoor amenities.

Housing completions fell 4.5% to a rate of 1.343 million units last month. Realtors estimate that housing starts and completion rates need to be in a range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million units per month to close the inventory gap. The stock of housing under construction increased 1.2% to a rate of 1.224 million units, the highest since December 2006.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-housingstarts/u-s-housing-starts-blow-past-expectations-covid-19-poses-risk-idUSKBN27Y1U2

Trump selling Bedford estate Seven Springs| Bedford NY Real Estate

President Trump's Seven Springs Estate
Trump (Johnny Milano for The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump Organization is considering selling its sprawling Westchester, N.Y., estate, according to people familiar with the matter, after years of unsuccessful development attempts that ended with an agreement to preserve part of the property.

The New York attorney general’s office has said it is examining whether any benefits Mr. Trump received from that agreement were improper as part of a broader investigation of alleged fraud by the president and his businesses.

Trump representatives have had conversations with local brokers about the possibility of a sale, the people said. The 213-acre property, known as Seven Springs, isn’t currently listed publicly. While President Trump has previously valued the property at more than $200 million, local agents estimated the property would trade for around $50 million or less. They said much of the previously perceived value was likely tied up in prior failed development plans, including a proposed residential subdivision.

A Trump Organization spokeswoman called Seven Springs “one of the largest, most valuable and most iconic properties in Bedford.” She added, “If the right opportunity presents itself, the Trump family would certainly entertain it.”

The Trump Organization has owned Seven Springs since 1995, when it purchased the property for $7.5 million. At the time, local agents said it was a bargain. Although it had been on the market for a year and was viewed as something of a white elephant, other major properties in Westchester County had sold for multiples of that amount.

Mr. Trump first attempted to build a golf course on the property but encountered fierce local opposition. The Trump Organization then pursued building a residential subdivision of luxury homes.

A 2011 Trump financial document values the property at $261 million, based on what it said was an assessment by Mr. Trump, his associates and outside professionals. It said the figure comes from the funds he would receive as homes were constructed and sold, plus the value of the existing mansion and other buildings.

Those homes were never built. Local real-estate agents said Mr. Trump had a particularly difficult time getting his plans approved because the property straddles several municipalities—Bedford, New Castle and North Castle.

In late 2015, Mr. Trump entered into an agreement with the nonprofit North American Land Trust not to develop 158 acres of the property. That area included 95 acres of mature forest and 52 acres of herbaceous meadows, according to the agreement. Under such agreements, known as conservation easements, a property owner can deduct the land’s value in exchange for not developing it.

If the property were sold, the new owner would be bound by the terms of the easement, according to the agreement.

As part of its fraud investigation into the president and his company, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has said it is examining whether the value of the easement was improperly inflated to get a larger tax dedication.

The Trump Organization has said the investigation by Ms. James, a Democrat, is all about politics. Eric Trump said on Twitter that Ms. James’s “sole focus is an anti-Trump fishing expedition that she promised during her campaign.”

A 2016 appraisal, prepared by real-estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield for tax purposes at the request of Eric Trump, valued the property at $56.5 million and the easement at $21.1 million, according to court papers.

The estate dates to around 1919, when it was built for Eugene Meyer, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, first president of the World Bank and onetime publisher of the Washington Post. The main house, designed by architect Charles A. Platt, is constructed from sandstone quarried on the property. Artisans from Italy were tapped to ensure that the home’s 60 rooms, including 15 bedrooms and two service wings, were opulently designed, according to the Trump Organization website.

The Trump Organization estimates that the mansion spans about 50,000 square feet, making it one of the largest homes in the area. It has three pools, including an indoor pool cased in white marble, as well as a large wine cellar, an antique bowling alley and carriage houses. A second home on the property, built in Tudor style in 1919, was constructed by H.J. Heinz of the Heinz Ketchup empire, who was a friend of Mr. Meyer’s.

Mr. Trump famously allowed representatives of the late Moammar Gadhafi, the then-Libyan leader who was in New York to address the United Nations General Assembly, to pitch a Bedouin-style tent on the property in 2009. After local opposition, the leader didn’t stay there.

The Trump Organization website says Seven Springs is now used as a family retreat.

A nearby property owned by horse-racing enthusiasts Barry K. Schwartz, the co-founder of Calvin Klein Inc., and his wife, Sheryl Schwartz, spans about 740 acres, nearly three times the size of the Trump property, and is on the market for $100 million. A mansion less than 20 miles away in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., that was owned by the estate of David Rockefeller, the venerable chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, sold for $33 million in 2018. It sits on roughly 75 acres.

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https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/trump-organization-considers-sale-of-its-seven-springs-property/

Rent prices continue falling | Bedford Real Estate

Rent prices in top cities are down “substantially” compared to last year — especially in San Francisco, according to Realtor.com.

City landlords are slashing rent prices to attract tenants as they lose renters to cheaper, quieter suburbs during the coronavirus pandemic. In the most dramatic cities studio rent prices fell 31% compared to last year, according to Realtor.com’s September rent prices report.

“This is likely a reflection of people with flexibility, like renters, choosing to relocate elsewhere or even possibly move in with friends and family to save money in a period of economic uncertainty, with flexibility that changes like remote work have allowed them to move elsewhere to places that are more affordable,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

San Francisco rent prices were the hardest-hit by the pandemic as big tech companies in Silicon Valley required or allowed workers to work remotely — first during lockdowns, and then long-term, in many cases.

The median studio apartment in San Francisco is going for 31% less than it did last year, now only $2,285. One bedroom apartments cost 24.2% less than last year at only $2,873 a month (the first time they’ve ever hit under $3,000, according to Zumper, a San Francisco-based listing company). In nearby San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda rents dropped 9%-19%. Rents were less volatile for larger apartments, the Realtor.com study found.

But almost two hours outside San Francisco in Sacramento, rent prices are actually rising 10%-16%. Sacramento was the top out-of-metro location where Bay area renters searched for apartments year-to-date, according to Zumper’s 2020 migration report. Sacramento was also tied as the sixth most common migration destination in the country, according to Opendoor, a San Francisco-based iBuyer that operates in Sacramento and 20 other markets.

“People from the Bay area may be moving to Sacramento if they don’t have to commute into the office every day,” said Hale.

Top 10 markets with largest one-bedroom rent prices decreases. Data by Realtor.com. Graphic by Chelsea Lombardo/Yahoo Finance.
Top 10 markets with largest one-bedroom rent prices decreases. Data by Realtor.com. Graphic by Chelsea Lombardo/Yahoo Finance.

Pushing for occupancy before seasonal slowdown

Rent prices dropped significantly in major cities all across the country, plummeting up to 15% for studio apartments in places like New York City, Pittsburgh, Boston and Honolulu, and 12% in Seattle, according to Realtor.com. Rent cuts were less steep for one-bedrooms, between 7% and 12% in most cities.

“Apartment owners are pushing to get occupancy as high as possible before leasing activity suffers the seasonal slowdown that occurs during the cold weather months,” said a statement by Greg Willett, chief economist of RealPage, a Texas-based property management software company. “In some cases, they are cutting rents in an attempt to capture bigger shares of total demand.”

Meanwhile, rent rose in unlikely places such as Tulsa, Okla., which had a staggering 36% hike in studio rent increases. Rent in suburbs that many Americans have never heard of, like Hillsboro, Fla., Montgomery, Pa. and Essex, N.J., rose about 19%-29%.

“Even prior to the pandemic, there was a movement from larger metros to smaller metros…,” said Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist for First American Financial Corporation, a California-based title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions company. “This trend has been accelerated by the pandemic as younger households look for more space and are increasingly able to work from home.”

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https://finance.yahoo.com/news/rent-prices-are-plummeting