Category Archives: Westchester NY

Oregon bans real estate buyer love letters | Waccabuc Real Estate

A real estate firm seeks to block a new Oregon law that bans real estate agents from forwarding “love letters” from homebuyers to sellers.

A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Total Real Estate Group alleges the state’s ban on these communications violates the First Amendment rights of real estate brokers and their clients.

“This censorship is based on mere speculation that sellers might sometimes rely on information in these letters to discriminate based on a protected class,” according to the lawsuit.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon Real Estate Commissioner Steve Strode could not be reached for comment.

Oregon is the first state to ban the practice. Under the law, which is scheduled to take effect in January, real estate agents will not be allowed to pass along personal pitches from buyers that can include details about people’s lives along with photographs and videos. Buyers will still be allowed to communicate directly with home sellers.

In hot markets where multiple bidders jockey for the same house, buyers will do just about anything to get their offer noticed – and that includes writing “love letters” in hopes of making a personal connection with a seller.

Increasingly, the real industry has grown uneasy that “love letters” could violate state and federal fair housing laws by revealing the buyer’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or familial status. Many real estate agents refuse to accept or deliver them.

Democratic Rep. Mark Meek, the state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, told USA TODAY in August that Oregon is not impeding free speech.

“We are limiting transmission of communications that are not relevant and could potentially be breaking fair housing laws,” he said.

No other state has followed Oregon’s lead.

Daniel Ortner, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said the law is “a blatant First Amendment violation.”

“Love letters” can help first-time buyers compete with cash-rich buyers or institutional investors and can help sellers searching for buyers who will care for their homes and be good neighbors, Ortner said. The letters signal genuine interest in a property, he said.

Ortner said the law’s proponents have not produced any examples of fair housing complaints or lawsuits as a result of love letters.

“This is a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence that it is a real problem that’s really resulting in discrimination,” he said. “And you can’t just go and ban whole types of communication in the fear that some small portion of it might somehow be used by someone.”

The backlash against love letters is part of an industrywide reckoning with its complicity in decades of housing discrimination and segregation that kept Black Americans from homeownership.

In 2019, Newsday published the findings of a three-year undercover investigation that exposed discriminatory home-selling practices by real estate agents that helped keep neighborhoods in Long Island, New York, segregated. Agents treated people of color unequally, especially Black residents, the investigation found.

Efforts to reform racist practices and increase Black homeownership intensified after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Last year, the National Association of Realtors warned members love letters were not as harmless as they seemed.

But as stratospheric prices and record low housing inventory fuel bidding wars, love letters are more popular than ever.

Realtors said they don’t want to put their buyers at a disadvantage in competitive situations by refusing to pass them along. Besides, they said, sellers are swayed first and foremost by the offering price and terms.

But the right words can be persuasive. In 2019, the Redfin real estate brokerage studied the most effective strategies to win a bidding war. All-cash offers more than tripled a buyer’s odds. Writing a love letter came in second, increasing a buyer’s chances by 59%.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oregon sued over law banning real estate ‘love letters’ in hot market

Case Shiller price index up 19.7% | Waccabuc 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 July 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 19.7% annual gain in July, up from 18.7% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 19.1%, up from 18.5% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 19.9% year-over-year gain, up from 19.1% in the previous month.

Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in July. Phoenix led the way with a 32.4% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 27.8% increase and Seattle with a 25.5% increase. Seventeen of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending July 2021 versus the year ending June 2021. 

MONTH-OVER-MONTH

Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted an 1.6% month-over-month increase in July, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively.

After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month increase of 1.5%, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. In July, all 20 cities reported increases before and after seasonal adjustments.

ANALYSIS

“July 2021 is the fourth consecutive month in which the growth rate of housing prices set a record,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. “The National Composite Index marked its fourteenth consecutive month of accelerating prices with a 19.7% gain from year-ago levels, up from 18.7% in June and 16.9% in May. This acceleration is also reflected in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 19.1% and 19.9%, respectively). The last several months have been extraordinary not only in the level of price gains, but in the consistency of gains across the country. In July, all 20 cities rose, and 17 gained more in the 12 months ended in July than they had gained in the 12 months ended in June. Home prices in 19 of our 20 cities now stand at all-time highs, with the sole outlier (Chicago) only 0.3% below its 2006 peak. The National Composite, as well as the 10- and 20-City indices, are likewise at their all-time highs.

“July’s 19.7% price gain for the National Composite is the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data. This month, New York joined Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle in recording their all-time highest 12-month gains. Price gains in all 20 cities were in the top quintile of historical performance; in 15 cities, price gains were in the top five percent of historical performance. 

“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. July’s data are consistent with this hypothesis. This demand surge may simply represent an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in locational preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing. More time and data will be required to analyze this question.

“Phoenix’s 32.4% increase led all cities for the 26th consecutive month, with San Diego (+27.8%) and Seattle (+25.5%) not far behind. As has been the case for the last several months, prices were strongest in the Southwest (+24.2%) and West (+23.7%), but every region logged double-digit gains and recorded all-time high rate increases.”

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%265.3598.0%43.7%
20-City206.52Jul-06134.07Mar-12-35.1%272.34103.1%31.9%
10-City226.29Jun-06146.45Mar-12-35.3%284.7494.4%25.8%

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

July 2021July/JuneJune/May1-Year
Metropolitan AreaLevelChange (%)Change (%)Change (%)
Atlanta190.522.2%2.5%18.5%
Boston278.011.1%1.3%18.7%
Charlotte211.492.2%2.6%20.9%
Chicago168.101.2%1.7%13.3%
Cleveland156.021.1%2.3%16.2%
Dallas245.802.3%3.0%23.7%
Denver283.181.8%2.3%21.3%
Detroit156.191.2%2.2%16.1%
Las Vegas246.362.8%3.4%22.4%
Los Angeles358.501.4%1.9%19.1%
Miami310.502.2%3.0%22.2%
Minneapolis217.141.2%1.8%14.5%
New York241.861.1%0.8%17.8%
Phoenix280.473.3%3.6%32.4%
Portland302.711.5%2.2%19.5%
San Diego355.331.6%2.5%27.8%
San Francisco338.681.2%2.7%22.0%
Seattle343.920.9%1.6%25.5%
Tampa289.592.9%3.0%24.4%
Washington283.680.8%1.6%15.8%
Composite-10284.741.3%1.8%19.1%
Composite-20272.341.5%2.0%19.9%
U.S. National265.351.6%2.2%19.7%
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through July 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.

July/June Change (%)June/May Change (%)
Metropolitan AreaNSASANSASA
Atlanta2.2%2.2%2.5%2.2%
Boston1.1%1.2%1.3%1.0%
Charlotte2.2%2.4%2.6%2.4%
Chicago1.2%1.1%1.7%1.2%
Cleveland1.1%0.7%2.3%1.7%
Dallas2.3%2.4%3.0%2.8%
Denver1.8%2.0%2.3%2.2%
Detroit1.2%1.0%2.2%1.3%
Las Vegas2.8%2.5%3.4%3.1%
Los Angeles1.4%1.7%1.9%1.7%
Miami2.2%2.0%3.0%3.1%
Minneapolis1.2%1.2%1.8%1.2%
New York1.1%1.0%0.8%1.0%
Phoenix3.3%3.2%3.6%3.4%
Portland1.5%1.4%2.2%1.8%
San Diego1.6%1.8%2.5%2.4%
San Francisco1.2%1.4%2.7%2.7%
Seattle0.9%1.4%1.6%1.5%
Tampa2.9%3.0%3.0%3.1%
Washington0.8%1.1%1.6%1.2%
Composite-101.3%1.4%1.8%1.6%
Composite-201.5%1.5%2.0%1.8%
U.S. National1.6%1.5%2.2%1.8%
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through July 2021

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

ABOUT S&P DOW JONES INDICES

S&P Dow Jones Indices is the largest global resource for essential index-based concepts, data and research, and home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. More assets are invested in products based on our indices than products based on indices from any other provider in the world. Since Charles Dow invented the first index in 1884, S&P DJI has been innovating and developing indices across the spectrum of asset classes helping to define the way investors measure and trade the markets.

S&P Dow Jones Indices is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies, and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.

Northeast new homes sales rise 48% | Waccabuc Real Estate

After notable and expected downward revisions for prior months, May recorded a decline of 5.9% for sales of newly-constructed single family homes, according to estimates from the Census Bureau and HUD. The May seasonally adjusted annual rate (769k) was the lowest in a year, due to builders slowing sales as a consequence of higher material costs and declining availability of labor, material and lots.

Residential demand continues to be supported by low interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and solid demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs. However, higher building costs, longer delivery times, and general unpredictability in the residential construction supply-chain are having measurable impacts on new home prices. In May, the median price of a newly-built home was 18% higher than a year ago, at $374,400. As NAHB has estimated, higher lumber costs alone are increasing new home prices by $36,000 on average.

Higher costs have priced out buyers, particularly at the lower end of the market. A year ago, 44% of new home sales were priced below $300,000. In May 2021, only 26% of new home sales were priced below $300,000.

Looking back to the spring of last year, the April 2020 data (570,000 annualized pace) marks the low point of sales for the 2020 recession. The April 2020 rate was 26% lower than the prior peak, pre-recession rate set in January. Sales then mounted a historic surge from April until July, outpacing gains in actual construction. Sales have been above the pace of the post-Great Recession trend since the second half of last year. However, since January the trend has been declining and has now dipped below the long-run trend (as indicated by the blue dashed line in the graph above).

Sales-adjusted inventory levels remained healthy in May, although they did increase to a 5.1 months’ supply.

Completed ready-to-occupy homes continue to fall as a share of new home inventory. Such homes were just under 24% of inventory a year ago. They are only a little more than 11% of the total in May 2021.

Moreover, to see how sales patterns have changed in a high demand, low supply market — the count of new homes sold that had not started construction is up 76 percent over the last year. The count of new homes sold that are completed and ready to occupy is down 33 percent.

Regionally on a year-to-date basis new home sales rose in all four regions, up 48.7% in the Northeast, 33.5% in the Midwest, 32.3% in the South, and 5.6% in the West. These significant increases are due in part to lower sales volume during the Covid crisis a year ago.

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Eyeonhousing.org

Mortgage rates average 3.00% | Waccabuc 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 3.00 percent.

“After a run up over the first few months of the year, rates have paused and hovered around three percent since March,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Despite this favorable rate climate, there remains a shortage of homes for sale. The lack of housing supply has been compounded by labor disruptions and expensive building materials that are driving up the cost of new housing, making it difficult for homebuyers to find homes to purchase.”

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 20, 2021, up from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.29 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.26 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.70 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.59 percent with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.17 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 27% | Waccabuc Real Estate

Single-family housing starts ended 2020 on a high note, rising 12% in December to a 1.338 million unit pace – the highest pace since 2006, according to the Census Bureau.

That’s up 27.8% from one year ago, a remarkable figure given the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, per industry officials.

“2020 will go down, quite unexpectedly, as one of the best years for home builders in recent memory, and proof that great challenges — and not just those posed by COVID — can be overcome with hard work and creativity,” said Matthew Speakman, Zillow economist. “Demand for homes remains sky high, despite the still-raging pandemic, as people look to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and find their next home. “

An estimated 1.380 million housing units were started in 2020 – 7% percent above the 2019 figure of 1.29 million

Remarkably, most industry experts believe construction rates will climb even higher in 2021.

“We expect single-family construction to move up 9% in 2021 — a much-needed relief valve for homebuyers,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “While buyer demand has slowed since December, it remains notably higher than one year ago, giving builders a strong incentive to keep building.”

Hale added that builder optimism is higher than it was one year ago, but rising material costs and low land inventory are weighing on builder confidence in the short term.

“Supply-side headwinds will remain in 2021,” added Odeta Kushi, First American deputy chief economist. “Given the underbuilding that took place in the decade following the Great Recession, it will take years for builders to close the deficit.”

Even with the promise of additional relief funding from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, most homebuyers are still looking for houses with large work-from-home areas — a sign that confidence in the eradication of the virus, and a restart of face-to-face interaction, remains low.

“The past year has also cemented the smooth transition towards touring homes virtually and digitalizing many parts of the mortgage process, making homebuying much safer in light of the ongoing public health situation,” said John Pataky, executive vice president at TIAA Bank.

Privately-owned housing starts in December also jumped from November — a 5.8% rise with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.669 million. That’s also 5.2% above the December 2019 rate of 1.587 million.

Austin Niemiec, Rocket Pro TPO executive vice president, urged brokers to maintain a focus on purchasing and ensuring solid internal processes.

“Brokers should be ready to support clients looking to secure their dream home,” he said. “This will be another strong year for loan officers, and new houses will play an important role in making sure we assist buyers at a high level.”

In authorizations, units in buildings with five units or more were authorized at a rate of 437,000 in December. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,709,000 — 4.5% above the revised November rate of 1.635 million.

Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate
of 1.226 million, a rise of 7.8% above the November figure of 1.137 million.

Lawrence Yun,  National Association of Realtors chief economist, is optimistic the housing sector will be a major player in the economy’s recovery in 2021.

“More construction also means more local job creation,” he said. “The worst of the housing shortage could soon come to an end.”

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housingwire.com/articles/

Homeowners are $1 trillion richer thanks to the pandemic-driven housing boom | Waccabuc Real Estate

  • In the past year, homeowners with mortgages, representing about 63% of all properties, have seen their equity increase by 10.8%, according to CoreLogic.
  • That equates to a collective $1 trillion in gained equity, or an average $17,000 per homeowner.
  • This is the largest equity gain in more than six years.
Rick Nazarro of Colonial Manor Realty waits in the driveway as a couple enters a property he is trying to sell on May 2, 2020 in Revere, Massachuetts.

Blake Nissen | The Boston Globe via Getty Images

American homeowners are $1 trillion richer as the pandemic-driven housing boom pads their pockets.

As prices rise, home equity multiplies. In the past year, homeowners with mortgages, representing about 63% of all properties, have seen their equity increase by 10.8%, according to CoreLogic.

That equates to a collective $1 trillion in gained equity, or an average $17,000 per homeowner, the largest equity gain in more than 6 years.

Homeowners in some states saw greater equity gains than others. States with the hottest home prices saw the biggest gains.

In Washington state, homeowners banked an average of $35,800. In California they gained $33,800 and in Massachusetts an average of $31,200.

However, homeowners in North Dakota, which was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, saw the lowest annual equity gain of just $5,400.

“Over the past year, strong home price growth has created a record level of home equity for homeowners,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The average family with a home mortgage loan had $194,000 in home equity in the third quarter. This provides an important buffer to protect families if they experience financial difficulties.”

It has contributed to historically low foreclosure rates, although part of that is also due to mortgage forbearance programs put in place at the start of the pandemic. Still, it will help those borrowers who are struggling most and may not be able to keep their homes. They can sell into the market and potentially still make a profit.

Prices are rising so quickly because demand for housing is incredibly strong and supply equally lean. The work and school-from-home culture of the pandemic only increased demand that had already been rising, as the millennial generation aged into their homeowning years. Mortgage rates, which have set 14 record lows so far this year, have helped even more buyers get in the game.

So far, homebuying has not eased much, especially for newly built homes. Signed contracts on existing homes, however, fell slightly in September and October. This may be less a demand issue and more a problem with continued tight supply, as well as weakening affordability.

Some, however, claim the run on housing may actually be running out of steam.

“With pent-up demand from the spring now largely expended, mortgage interest rates unlikely to fall further, inventory at record lows and early signs that the exodus from cities is slowing, home sales will edge back further over 2021,” wrote Matthew Pointon, property economist with Capital Economics. “That, alongside tight credit conditions, suggest the current boom in house prices will prove short-lived.”

The exodus from major cities also appears to be slowing, with some buyers heading back in looking for bargains.

While home price gains may ease, prices are unlikely to weaken dramatically, simply because of the supply and demand imbalance. That will continue to help those borrowers who have the least amount of equity.

As it stands now, the share of borrowers in a negative equity position, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, is down over 18% from a year ago. There are now just 3%, 1.6 million mortgaged properties, in a negative equity position.

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cnbc.com

NYC apartment sales drop 57% | South Salem Real Estate

a garden in front of a house: Photo of home for sale in Huntington, New York on August 5, 2020. New York City suburbs are seeing a huge increase in real estate demand amid the pandemic. Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty ImagesNewsday RM via Getty Images Photo of home for sale in Huntington, New York on August 5, 2020. New York City suburbs are seeing a huge increase in real estate demand amid the pandemic.

  • New York City apartment sales plunged in July, according to a report from the real-estate firm Douglas Elliman.
  • But in neighboring suburbs, home sales are surging as wealthy New Yorkers seek greener pastures. 
  • For Connecticut — which has struggled to rebound even from the last recession — the migration could be a boon for its struggling finances. 

Only one Manhattan condo sold for more than $10 million in July, according to a new report, as many wealthy New Yorkers continue to flee the city for greener pastures.

Overall apartment sales fell 57% in July compared to the same month in 2019 as for-sale listing soar, real estate firm Douglas Elliman said in its monthly report, a highly-watched data source for the nation’s largest housing market.

As the US largely fails to stop the spread of the coronavirus, short-term escapes appear to be turning in to long-term moves, potentially fueling a rebirth for struggling suburbs. In Westchester County, directly north of the five boroughs, overall single-family sales were up 112% over last year, with those over $2 million more than quadrupling.

And in Connecticut, the areas closest to New York City saw a similar uptick in-step with Westchester. The state was hit hard by the housing crisis more than a decade ago, and has struggled to recover in the years since. Connecticut is one of just two states in the country where gross domestic product has yet to recover from the previous recession and its employment numbers have lagged neighboring states, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

“We are going to market ourselves more to those individuals as opposed to marketing ourselves to the company,” a state economic-development official told The Wall Street Journal, assuming that the days of commuting to an office in Manhattan’s core or corporate parks are on the skids for now. People working from home in Connecticut could be a much-needed boost to the state’s income tax base — and its lawn-laden towns and countryside feel all the more attractive in the middle of a pandemic.

But while the shift in high-end housing is shaping up to be a boon for some towns and brokers, investors are circling distressed assets at depressed prices as unemployment remains above 10% and out-of-work Americans struggle to pay rent.

“Real-estate investors — when you take the emotion out of it — many of them have been waiting for this for a decade,” David Schechtman, a broker with Meridian Capital Group, told The Wall Street Journal in April. The economy has seen little improvement in the months since.

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https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/

Best US mountain towns | Waccabuc Real Estate

Magnificent natural beauty and unbeatable scenery abounds in America’s legendary mountain ranges. But if you’re not into backcountry camping or roughing it, accessing this country’s towering terrain can be puzzling. Lucky for you, there are plenty of mountain towns chock-full of character and class that make visiting some of the United States’ most stunning regions a breeze.

From the obvious to the underrated, these are the best mountain towns in America.

Telluride, Colorado

Credit:Adventure_Photo/iStock

Boasting world-class ski slopes sprawling across more than 2,000 acres, it’s no wonder Telluride and its ski resort top our list of best mountain towns in America. It was also ranked as the number one Best Small Town to Visit according to U.S. News and World Report. The town of roughly 2,500 residents is nestled in a steep valley dominated by the San Juan Mountains. Come in winter and choose from nearly 150 uncrowded ski trails. Visit in summer and the same terrain becomes an epic hiking range. History buffs will enjoy poking around this former gold mining town and visiting the Telluride Historical Museum and even non-skiers will love soaking up the atmospheric Mountain Village.

McCall, Idaho

Credit:knowlesgallery/iStock

Lesser known, but no less enticing, McCall is a perfectly-situated resort town offering a host of activities in every season. Payette Lake, a glassy glacier lake framed by the snow-dusted peaks of the Payette National Forest, booms in the summertime. Brundage Mountain’s mixture of groomed trails and backcountry terrain draws skiers and snowboarders throughout the long winters. Top off a chilly day on the slope with a dip in the Gold Fork Hot Springs, just 30 miles south of town. And if you visit in winter, the renowned McCall Winter Carnival is a must.

Taos, New Mexico

Credit:JacobH/iStock

It’s usually deserts, not mountains, that come to mind when you think of the American Southwest. But you can find the best of both worlds in Taos, a spirited town full of culture and tradition that also happens to be wrapped in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos is best known for Taos Ski Valley, a rugged and untamed resort with beginner to advanced trails. But the town also houses the only Native American community that’s designated both a UNESCO site and National Historic Landmark. Taos Pueblo showcases 1,000 years of history in its iconic mud and straw dwellings. Combine the slopes and the deep-rooted history with the town’s natural beauty and its appeal becomes undeniably clear.

Helen, Georgia

Credit:SeanPavonePhoto/iStock

Sitting on the cusp of the Blue Ridge Mountains (a segment of the Appalachians) in northeast Georgia, Helen oozes charm. With cobblestone streets, mountain cabins for purchase, and painted buildings, you’ll feel like you stepped out of Georgia and into a European alpine village. Its location makes it a desirable year-round destination. The Chattahoochee National Forest flows right into Helen’s state parks, veiling numerous waterfalls, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, multiple beaches, and countless fishing spots. Designated Georgia’s Outdoor Adventure Destination, Helen also offers tubing in the Chattahoochee River, camping, mountain biking and kayaking. In between adventures, dive into the dozens of specialty shops packed into the town’s two square miles. Helen’s got everything you might want – and more.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Credit: gary yim/Shutterstock

Located on the southern border of two heavy-hitting national parks and surrounded by the almighty Teton Mountain Range, Jackson Hole is far from an unknown mountain town. The town’s claim to fame is undoubtedly the world-renowned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort which is more like its own self-operating village. Hotels and restaurants pepper Rendezvous Mountain, but it’s the world-class ski slopes spread over 2,500 acres and the 400 inches of annual snowfall that make the resort a destination in itself. Not being a snow bunny isn’t an excuse to avoid Jackson Hole. There are still plenty of other activities to enjoy, like exploring Grand Teton National Park, catching a show at the historic Jackson Hole Playhouse and taking a dip in the exquisite Granite Hot Springs.

Asheville, North Carolina

Credit:Sean Pavone/iStock

Asheville marches to the beat of its own drum (literally) and offers no apologies. Littered with breweries, hipster hang-outs, and live music venues, Asheville is a quirky mountain town with a ton of flair. Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville sits a mere 130 miles northeast of our Helen, Georgia but embodies its own drastically-different character. Scenic drives, hiking and picnicking top our list of favorite pastimes in Asheville. When it’s time to let loose, hit up the downtown for a generous helping of live music bars, worldly cuisine, craft breweries and off-beat entertainment options – dinner and a belly dance, anyone?

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https://www.thediscoverer.com/blog/the-best-mountain-towns-in-america/

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