After a tipster complained about the size of the units in the newly launched third Northside Piers tower, 1 North 4th Place, officially known as 1N4th, we were invited inside the brand new Williamsburg waterfront rental tower to take a look for ourselves. And while, yes, the units are indeed small (they’re rentals, after all), and expensive, they are also as advertised, containing condo-quality finishes, and, possibly more importantly, access to the building’s many amenities. There’s an enormous lobby as befits a building of this size (there are 509 units in total, 20 or so of which already have residents) with multiple lounging areas, a kitchenette, and a meeting room; a bike room with storage space for more than 250 bicycles; an approximately 3,000-square-foot gym; and more, as you will discover on the rest of the tour.
n January, NAHB produced a study on the impact of home building in the nine-county Kansas City metropolitan area. Like earlier studies, the one for Kansas City estimated the income, jobs and taxes generated by home building activity in the area. However, the Kansas City study is especially notable because it marks the 800th such customized report NAHB has produced for various metropolitan areas, non-metropolitan counties, and states across the country since first offering this service late in 1996.
The map below illustrates the parts of the country covered by the 800 customized NAHB local impact studies. The darker green shading indicates studies covering metro areas or non-metro counties; the somewhat lighter orange shading indicates studies produced for an entire state.
Although a local market area analyzed by NAHB must be large enough to include places where construction workers live, and places where the new home occupants work and shop (most often, a metropolitan area or non-metropolitan county), the construction analyzed can be confined to a particular jurisdiction or development. Over the years, the studies have been used to help get individual projects approved, counter anti-growth proposals, and generate publicity for the local home building industry.
A customized report can be ordered by anyone willing to pay the fee and provide the inputs needed to run the NAHB model. For those lacking the time or resources, a study showing results for a typical or average local area is available immediately on line.
For example, this study shows that the estimated one-year local impacts of building 100 single-family homes in a typical metro area include
- $21.1 million in local income,
- $2.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
- 324 local jobs.
And that the additional, annually recurring impacts resulting from the 100 single-family homes becoming occupied and the occupants paying taxes and otherwise participated in the local economy include
- $3.1 million in local income,
- $743,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and
- 53 local jobs.
The typical local area report, along with instructions for ordering customized reports for a particular area, are available on NAHB’s local impact of home building web page. Readers are urged to check back periodically, as NAHB anticipates updating the information for a typical local area within the next two months. Readers with questions about the local impact estimates or how they’re generated may contact Paul Emrath in NAHB’s Housing Policy Department.
Home prices saw a slight increase in nine cities covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices in December.
Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases in December compared to November.
The 10-City Composite gained 4.3% year-over-year, up from 4.2% in November. The 20-City Composite gained 4.5% year-over-year, compared to a 4.3% increase in November.
The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.6% annual gain in December 2014 versus 4.7% in November.
“The for-sale housing market made great strides toward ‘normal’ in 2014, as runaway appreciation cooled markedly and negative equity fell significantly. But anyone looking to see how far from truly ‘normal’ the market remains need look no further than the red-hot rental market, and its implications on the broader housing market going forward,” said Zillow Group (Z) Chief Economist Stan Humphries. “Many current renters could likely realize significant monthly savings by buying a home now and taking advantage of terrific affordability driven by low mortgage rates and home prices that remain below peak in most areas.”
Global real estate investor Barry Sternlicht told CNBC on Thursday that he disagrees with Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, who predicted a day earlier that the U.S. residential housing market looks topped out.
Housing is a major asset class that’s “actually trailing asset bubbles,” said Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of the $42 billion-plus investment firm Starwood Capital Group. “It’s cheaper to buy a house and finance it, than it is to rent in many markets.”
In a “Squawk Box” interview Wednesday, Shiller, co-founder of the Case-Shiller housing index, said he “won’t bet” on the increase in home prices since 2012 continuing.
“Home prices are … at about the right level based on history. So maybe they won’t go anywhere in the near future,” the Yale professor warned.
A day later on the program, Sternlicht expressed optimism about buying homes as an investment. “The housing sector is going to be a major asset class in this country.”
The Starwood Capital chief did acknowledge that Americans are “a little nervous about taking mortgages.” He blames that, in part, on the gridlock in Washington, D.C., in solving the country’s debt problems and reforming entitlements.
But Sternlicht said the collapse in oil that’s led to cheaper gasoline would help consumers feel more confident. “You’re going to see things like lodging doing better this summer. People will be driving more.” He also predicted the impact of less expensive prices at the gas pump would eventually translate into better retail sales.
On the investor side of the equation, he’s concerned about the easy money policies being pursued around the world.
“Smart investors are really nervous,” Sternlicht said. “It seems to me, there’s a big dike [on] the world’s economies, and the politicians and the [central] banks are plugging all these holes, but it’s getting harder and harder to hold these holes.”
Improving job and wage prospects lifted the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment December Index to its most favorable level since its last cyclical peak in January 2007. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reversed its November retreat based on a more favorable estimate of current business and labor market conditions.
The Consumer Sentiment Index increased to 93.6 in December from 88.8 in November and 82.5 during the same month a year ago. Consumers reported hearing more positive economic developments than any other time in the last thirty years. The survey reported consumers anticipated a significant increase in their incomes in 2015.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased to 92.6 in December from an upwardly revised 91.0 in November. The Present Situation Index soared to its highest level since February 2008.
Just a few months ago, one and two bedroom starter homes topped the price per square foot ratings as investors and first-time home buyer scrambled to buy them, bidding up prices in the process. Prices rose quickly, especially in markets where no new starter homes had been built in years.
Virtually overnight the picture has changed. Now larger homes are selling faster and appreciating at rates faster than starter homes, a solid sign that move up buyers are back in the market and taking advantage of low interest rates and equity increases that have made it possible to sell and buy larger homes.
“Higher-end properties are taking up a bigger share of a smaller home sales pie, boosting the median home price nationwide higher even as home price appreciation slows to single digits in many of last year’s red-hot local housing markets,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, in a news release last September reporting August sales. “On the other hand, markets where large institutional investors and other buyers have not picked clean lower-priced inventory are continuing to see strong, double-digit increases in median home prices.”
RealtyTrac said the share of sales in August in the $200,000-and-below price range was down 9 percent from a year ago, while the share of sales in the above-$200,000 price range increased 10 percent from a year ago. Breaking down the above-$200,000 price range further, the share of sales in the $500,000-to-$1 million price range increased 18 percent from a year ago while the share of sales in the over-$1 million price range increased 38 percent from a year ago. Overall the share of sales above $500,000 increased 23 percent from a year ago.
Now mortgage technology company FNC reports that property appreciation rates for single-family residential home sales are generally much higher for larger homes and older homes. FNC said a profile of long-term trends in how different types of properties have appreciated over the years shows that larger homes have generally risen in value faster than smaller homes both before and after the last boom-bust housing cycle. The gap persisted, although narrowed quite a bit, during the worst of the housing recession.
The FNC analysis also found that more sales are coming from homes that have been held for ten years or more—a sign of move up buyer activity. “As the market continues to gain traction through the post-recession recovery, we are seeing significant declines in the turnovers of homes held for short periods. Year to date, nearly one in three residential home sales have come instead from homes that have been held for at least a decade or longer—signs of increased participation by trade-up buyers,” said FNC Director of Research Yanling Mayer.
I’ve written in the past about the essential nature of transitional spaces in a home, which are used to link interior and exterior areas. These spaces have been assigned a variety of names throughout the world — loggia, veranda, lanai, portico. Japanese architecture has its own version, called an engawa.
The engawa is a generous hallway, a roofed transition zone, located between the interior rooms in a Japanese home and the garden, created by extending the interior floor outward. It’s a room that defies traditional description — neither completely enclosed nor completely open. In Japanese culture it has a social importance, providing an informal meeting space, a place for sitting, greeting one’s neighbors and sharing a cup of tea. While it’s similar to other architectural elements, it’s also uniquely Japanese. But it’s worth considering in your own project no matter where you live. Here’s why.
The engawa’s versatility is evident in the simple form of this cabin, designed for a couple of dedicated bird-watchers. As we view it from the gable end, we see that the center volume is flanked by two smaller slots of space — the engawa — which functions as a circulation zone and flexible screened porches. The engawa provides the frame against which to view the natural environment around the cabin.
Here the engawa is enclosed by a massive drape that the owners can alter (the drapery itself and via a set of doors) depending on the local conditions.
Creating a place that coexists with nature always requires some adaptation of the shelter to make best use of a particular environment. The engawa is an ingenious device for allowing a home to buffer climatic changes. It’s much like dressing a building in layers. Too hot? Slide open the shutters. Too windy? Slide them closed.
I continue to receive many questions from residents regarding our Town’s upcoming Special Election on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2014 (not regular Election Day) regarding the Ward System. Please see below for additional answers to your questions in an effort to provide clarity on this election. Some of this information may be repetitive from my last email (click here), but worth repeating.
What is this Special Election for? Residents are asked to vote “yes” or “no” on two propositions, as below:
Shall the ward system be established for the election of Councilmen or Councilwomen in the Town of North Castle?
Shall the number of Councilmen or Councilwomen of the Town of North Castle be increased from four to six?
Why is the Town Board having this election? I get this question a lot. The answer is simple. This vote was not initiated by the Town Board. By town law, any resident who secures the requisite number of petition signatures can offer these propositions for a town-wide vote. In this case, North White Plains resident Tony Futia secured the requisite number of signatures and submitted to the Town Clerk for processing through the Board of Elections.
What is the main difference in the Ward system from our current system? This is probably the most commonly asked question. Currently we operate in an “at large” system, meaning that all residents have the right to vote for all Councilmen, currently 4. In the Ward system, residents are limited to voting for only 1 of the 4 (or 6) Councilmen. (Please note that in either system, all residents can vote for the Supervisor.)
What do I think? How do other Board members feel about the Ward system? You should contact myself and other Board members directly if you have questions as to our opinions on this system.
Does this Special Election cost the Town money? Good question and it does. I cannot provide an exact cost, but we are tracking all expenditures as they occur. Items like printing, postage, legal costs, and election inspectors are all examples of additional expenditures.
How can I get more details? By now, you should have received a large post card in the mail from the Town (click here). Our apologies if you received multiple copies. To insure that no resident was disenfranchised, we mailed to every registered voter and every household. Please note that the Town Clerk’s telephone number was listed incorrectly on the bottom of the card, the correct number is (914)273-3321.
What if I am not registered to vote? We are having a special day of registration on Monday, November 3rd. Please refer to the postcard link above for locations on where to register to vote if you are not already registered.
What about our own Town Board election this year – is that part of the Special Election? This is a really good question as there has been some confusion on this. There answer is No. The election for the Councilman seat will be on the regular ballot on Nov. 4th. (This election is necessary because when I became Supervisor, my Councilman term had 2 years left on it. The first year of that span was filled by Jose Berra, but an election is required to fill out the rest of the term, namely the 4th year of that term.)
Thank you for your attention to this very important election. First of all, regardless of your position on this issue, I urge you to vote on Thursday, November 13. We live in a democracy and everyone should exercise their right to vote. (And don’t forget to vote on the regular Election Day, Tuesday November 4th too.) Second, if you have any other questions, please click on this link (click here) which will take you to the Town web page for all information that we have posted regarding this election.
Thank you again,
Michael J. Schiliro