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Bedford Corners Real Estate

Housing starts surge 50% | Bedford Corners Real Estate

U.S. homebuilding bounced back in May as lumber prices pulled back from record highs. 

Housing starts rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.572 million last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. April’s reading was revised lower to 1.517 million from 1.569 million. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had expected housing starts to rise to 1.63 million.

Starts surged 50% on a year-over-year basis in May. Homebuilding rose in the Midwest, South and West but fell in the Northeast. 

The slight increase in homebuilding came as lumber prices topped out on May 7 and fell 22% through the end of the month, finishing below where they ended April. A lumber shortage that developed in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns caused the cost of the critical material to soar, resulting in builders putting off projects and losing confidence.        

Permits for future construction slipped 3% to a rate of 1.681 million units in May, missing the 1.73 million units that economists were expecting. 

The drop in builder confidence was reflected in the latest National Association of Homebuilder’s/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index that was released on Tuesday. The index fell two points in June to 81, a 10-month low. 

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foxbusiness.com/economy/

Pending home sales up 13% | Bedford Corners Real Estate

January marked the fifth straight month that the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has reported a decline in its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI). The index, based on newly signed contracts for the purchase of existing homes, was down 2.8 percent from its December level.

The index in January was at 122.8 compared to 125.5 in December and has lost 10 points since August. Still, pending sales were up 13 percent compared to a year earlier. This January’s PHSI was, in fact, the highest for any January on record.  

Analysts had expected the index to be flat but individual estimates by those polled by Econoday all overshot the actual results. They covered a range from a 1.5 percent downturn to 0.5 percent growth. The consensus was for zero change.

“Pending home sales fell in January because there are simply not enough homes to match the demand on the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That said, there has been an increase in permits and requests to build new homes.” Yun said that increase in single-family permits has been consistent for eight months and is a good sign that the supply and demand imbalance in the residential real estate market could be easing as soon as mid-2021.

“There will also be a natural seasonal upswing in inventory in spring and summer after few new listings during the winter months,” he said. “These trends, along with an anticipated ramp-up in home construction will provide for much-needed supply.”

Following a week where January’s existing-home sales increased, Yun noted that pending contracts are a great early indicator for upcoming closed sales but stressed that the timing of the relationship between existing-home sales and pending home sales may not be in lockstep.

“The two measurements aren’t always perfectly correlated due to varying amounts of time required to close a contract,” Yun said. “This is because a number of fallouts can occur due to a variety of factors, including a buyer not obtaining mortgage financing, a problem with a home inspection, or an appraisal issue.”

He noted that the economy is showing promising signs of improvement, and many millions of Americans are now receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Still, he cautioned that the better economic outlook, rising inflation prospects and higher budget deficits will soon drive increases in interest rates. “I don’t foresee mortgage rates jumping to an alarming level,” he said, “but we should prepare for a rise of at least a decimal point or two.”

The Northeast PHSI fell 7.4 percent to 101.6 in January, putting it 9.6 percent higher than a year earlier. In the Midwest, the index declined 0.9 percent to 113.2, up 8.6 percent from January 2020.

Pending home sales transactions in the South inched up 0.1 percent to an index of 151.3 in January and were 17.1 percent higher year-over-year. The index in the West was at 104.6, a 7.8 percent drop from December but up 11.5 percent from a year prior.

The PHSI is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. Existing home sales numbers for February will be released on March 22.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

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http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/02252021_pending_home_sales.asp

Mortgage Rates Hit Another Record Low | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Freddie Mac  released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 2.67 percent, the lowest rate in the survey’s history which dates back to 1971.

“The housing market continues to surge higher and support an otherwise stagnant economy that has lost momentum in the last couple of months,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Mortgage rates are at record lows and pushing many prospective homebuyers off the sidelines and into the market. Homebuyer sentiment is sanguine and purchase demand shows no real signs of waning at all heading into next year.” Visit tvbedstore website where you can find the best furniture for your new house.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.67 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending December 17, 2020, down from last week when it averaged 2.71 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.73 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.21 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.26 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.19 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.79 percent with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.36 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.

NAR reports 12% home price increase | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Low mortgage rates and record-low housing inventory has driven home price increases throughout the year. The National Association of Realtors is saying that the median single-family home price grew year over year in all 181 metro areas it tracks.

In the U.S., median existing single-family home prices rose 12% year over year to $313,500, NAR said. In 117 metros, there were double-digit price gains from one year ago. For added perspective, in Q2, only 15 metro areas had double-digit price gains.

What can help remedy high home prices? Finding a solution to the housing inventory crisis, NARs Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

By the end of Q3, 1.47 million existing homes were available for sale, which is 19.2% lower than the total inventory at the end of Q3 last year. As of September 2020, there were enough homes in inventory to last 2.7 months at the current sales pace.

“As home prices increase both too quickly and too significantly, first-time buyers will increasingly face difficulty in coming up with a down payment,” Yun said. “Transforming raw land into developable lots and new supply are clearly needed to help tame the home price growth.”

Some of the metros with the biggest gains in Q3 were Bridgeport, Conn., 27.3%; Crestview, Fla., 27.1%; Pittsfield, Mass., 26.9%; Kingston, N.Y., 21.5%; and Atlantic City, N.J., 21.5%.

According to NAR, the monthly mortgage payment on a typical single-family home rose to $1,059 in Q3. As of Thursday, the average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan rose to 2.84%, Freddie Mac said.

“Favorable mortgage rates will continue to bring fresh buyers to the market,” said Yun. “However, the affordability situation will not improve even with low-interest rates because housing prices are increasing much too fast.”

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/nars-yun-says-median

Northeast home sales soar 31% | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Proof that the local home sales market is very strong despite the COVID pandemic can be found in the latest statistics released today by the National Association of Realtors. NAR reports that existing-home sales in the Northeast rose by a record 30.6% in the month of July.

NAR reported that nationwide home sales continued on a strong, upward trajectory in July, marking two consecutive months of significant sales gains. Each of the four major regions attained double-digit, month-over-month increases, although the Northeast was the only region to show a year-over-year decline.

Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, jumped 24.7% from June to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July. The previous record monthly increase in sales was 20.7% in June of this year. Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 8.7% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2019).

“The housing market is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

The median existing-home price for all housing types in July was $304,100, up 8.5% from July 2019 ($280,400), as prices rose in every region. July’s national price increase marks 101 straight months of year-over-year gains. For the first time ever, national median home prices breached the $300,000 level.

Total housing inventory at the end of July totaled 1.50 million units, down from both 2.6% in June and 21.1% from one year ago (1.90 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 3.9 months in June and down from the 4.2-month figure recorded in July 2019.

Yun notes these dire inventory totals have a substantial effect on sales.

“The number of new listings is increasing, but they are quickly taken out of the market from heavy buyer competition,” he said. “More homes need to be built.”

Last week, NAR released its latest data for metro home prices, which found that in 2020’s second quarter, median single-family home prices saw a 96% increase when compared to a year earlier.

Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 34% of sales in July, down from 35% in June 2020 and up from 32% in July 2019. NAR’s 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released in late 2019, revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 33%.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15% of homes in July, up from both 9% in June 2020 and from 11% in July 2019. All-cash sales accounted for 16% of transactions in July, equal to the percentage in June 2020 and down from 19% in July 2019.

Distressed sales—foreclosures and short sales—represented less than 1% of sales in July, down from 3% in June up from 2% in June 2019.

“Homebuyers’ eagerness to secure housing has helped rejuvenate our nation’s economy despite incredibly difficult circumstances,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco. “Admittedly, we have a way to go toward full recovery, but I have faith in our communities, the real estate industry and in NAR’s 1.4 million members, and I know collectively we will continue to mount an impressive recovery.”

Realtor.com’s Market Hotness Index, measuring time-on-the-market data and listing views per property, revealed that the hottest metro areas in July were Topeka, KA; Rochester, NY; Burlington, NC; Columbus, OH and Reading, PA.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 3.02% in July, down from 3.16% in June. The average commitment rate across all of 2019 was 3.94%.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in July, up 23.9% from 4.26 million in June, and up 9.8% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $307,800 in July, up 8.5% from July 2019.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 580,000 units in July, up 31.8% from June and equal to a year ago. The median existing condo price was $270,100 in July, an increase of 6.4% from a year ago.

“Luxury homes in the suburbs are attracting buyers after having lagged the broader market for the past couple of years,” Yun said. “Single-family homes are continuing to outperform condominium units, suggesting a preference shift for a larger home, including an extra room for a home office.”

Regional Breakdown

For the second consecutive month, sales for July increased in every region and median home prices grew in each of the four major regions from one year ago.

July 2020 existing-home sales in the Northeast rocketed 30.6%, recording an annual rate of 640,000, a 5.9% decrease from a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $317,800, up 4.0% from July 2019.

Existing-home sales jumped 27.5% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1,390,000 in July, up 10.3% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $244,500, an 8.0% increase from July 2019.

Existing-home sales in the South shot up 19.4% to an annual rate of 2.59 million in July, up 12.6% from the same time one year ago. The median price in the South was $268,500, a 9.9% increase from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West ascended 30.5% to an annual rate of 1,240,000 in July, a 7.8% increase from a year ago. The median price in the West was $453,800, up 11.3% from July 2019.

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June construction prices rise | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Prices paid for goods used in residential construction increased 1.9% in June (not seasonally adjusted) according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is the second consecutive monthly increase since the index declined three months straight by a total 5.4%.

The index has decreased 3.0% year-to-date (YTD), five times the magnitude of the prior record for a June YTD decrease (-0.6% in 2009). Prices paid for goods used in residential construction have only fallen four times between January and June since 2000.Well when buying real estate it also includes important parts like garage door.Price of garage door may vary,So you might get confused which garage door to buy! Don’t worry check over here and you will able to clear all your doubts here.

The increase in prices paid for goods used in residential construction was led by a 12.9% increase in softwood lumber prices. Since decreasing 10.8% in April, softwood lumber prices have risen 16.5% and are now at the highest level since July 2018—the peak of the early- to mid-2018 runup. Although the YTD percentage increase in prices paid for softwood lumber is roughly two-thirds of the increase seen over the same period in 2018, timing of PPI data collection suggests that a recent, sharp advance in prices will be captured in the July PPI report.

Prices paid for gypsum products climbed 0.6% in June after increasing 1.5% in May (seasonally adjusted). The price index for gypsum products has risen 0.8% over the past 12 months and is 7.7% lower than the most recent peak reached in March 2018.

Even after the monthly increase, gypsum product prices have declined 2.5% YTD. Prices fell by 3.9% over the same period in 2019 and are just 4.4% higher than they were to start 2017.

Nationally, prices paid for ready-mix concrete (RMC) advanced 0.1% in June (seasonally adjusted) after no change in May.

Prices rose in the Northeast and West regions by 0.6% and 4.5%, respectively, while prices paid in the Midwest (-0.4%) and South (-2.3%) decreased month-over-month.

Other changes in indexes relevant to home building and infrastructure are shown below.

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Housing hot with economy cold | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Housing Is Hot With the Economy in the Deep Freeze
Housing Is Hot With the Economy in the Deep Freeze

(Bloomberg Opinion) — No matter how you look at it, the economic fallout from the coronavirus is going to be brutal, with a projected 6.5% decline in real gross domestic product in 2020 and an unemployment rate of 9.3% at year-end, according to the Federal Reserve. In ordinary times, and without any policy response from government, a blow of this magnitude should weaken the housing market.Yet, what we’re starting to see is the very opposite. For various reasons, the supply of homes on the market continues to fall to record lows and home prices are, if anything, accelerating. For many homeowners stressed about the value of their biggest investment, it’s a welcome relief. But this signals one more hurdle for would-be millennial homebuyers as they age into their family-forming years.

The biggest reason we’re seeing home-price growth accelerating in the middle of a pandemic is that the disruption to the supply of housing is persisting longer than the disruption to demand — that is, would-be buyers. Wednesday’s weekly mortgage data showed that purchase applications rose for the eighth consecutive week and are approaching an 11-year high on a seasonally adjusted basis. Part of the reason for the quick rebound in demand is surely the decline in interest rates on mortgages to all-time lows, with few signs they are likely to rise for the foreseeable future.

But as is always the case in the housing market, supply doesn’t respond as quickly as demand. Single-family housing starts plunged in March and April, with the most recent report showing a 25% year-over-year tumble. Part of this decline is because construction in some states shutdown, and much more so in some regions than others. Single-family starts fell 73% in the Northeast but only 13% in the South. Even where construction continued, the pace slowed as builders adopted social distancing and other health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Even as demand rebounds, homebuilders may be slow to acquire new construction lots and might hold back on increasing production after getting the scare they did in March and April. They may prefer to wait a while to make sure these revived levels of demand are sustainable, while they also shore up their balance sheets before beginning to build at the same pace as earlier this year.

Beyond the impact on construction, a little discussed factor leading to fewer homes on the market is mortgage forbearance programs put in place by banks, states and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From a policy standpoint it’s great that banks and governments are helping to prevent a deluge of foreclosure as millions of people lose their livelihoods because of the pandemic. But a consequence of that policy change is that it deprives the housing market of the supply of foreclosed properties that occurs even in strong economies and solid job markets; this amounted to almost 500,000 houses in 2019.

Some homeowners may also be delaying the listing of their homes for sale because they’re sheltering-in-place, or have lost their jobs and can no longer provide income verification to buy a different home. They may also not be comfortable having potential buyers, who could be carrying the virus, walking into their homes for sales showings.

Put it all together and housing supply continues to fall. Mike Simonsen of Altos Research, who tracks real-time housing data, notes that there are only 700,000 single-family homes for sale in  U.S. compared to more than 900,000 at this time last year. Normally at this time of year the housing supply has been rising for a few months amid the traditional spring buying season, only to fall later in the year as activity slows. But that’s not what we’ve seen during the past few months, as supply continues to contract. As a result, the percentage of homes for sale with price reductions is the lowest he’s seen in his database, a leading indicator suggesting faster home-price growth in coming months.

Presumably, at some point the coronavirus crisis will pass, foreclosures will move forward again and all participants in the housing market from would-be buyers, sellers and homebuilders resume normal behavior. To the extent home prices rose too high because of supply distortions, we should see home prices leveling off or even declining. But it’s not clear that this will be a 2020 story. And in the meantime, steadily rising home prices may join steadily rising stock-market prices in the middle of a pandemic as a phenomenon that continues to flummox everyone.

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bloomberg.com

Cuomo extends halt on NYS evictions | Bedford Corners Real Estate

An aerial view of trees and buildings in New York City for an article discussing the eviction moratorium.

Faced with mounting pressure from tenant advocates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended New York’s eviction moratorium another two months until August.

The measure builds on a March 20 order that prohibits residential and commercial evictions statewide through June. Now, that moratorium is in place through August 20 along with a ban on fees for late or missed rent payments during that same period.

“I hope it gives families a deep breath,” Cuomo said at a press conference announcing the extension. “Nothing can happen until August 20 and then we’ll figure out between now and August 20 what the situation is.”

Under the new executive order, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant until the measure expires, preventing renters who are suffering a sudden financial hardship from being forced into the streets during a pandemic. The moratorium does not cancel rent payments, and tenants are still on the hook to pay back their landlords for any missed payments.

Renters who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic also now have the option to put their security deposit toward paying rent—a measure New Jersey and Connecticut already allow and one that Mayor Bill de Blasio and other New York elected officials have advocated for since early April.

But there’s a catch: Those deposits must be repaid within 90 days of their usage. And if the amount of the deposit is less than a full month of rent, tenants still owe the remaining rent due that month, according to the executive order.

Cea Weaver, the campaign coordinator with Housing Justice For All, which is spearheading the push to cancel rent statewide, called the governor’s eviction moratorium extension and security deposit payments “half measures” that fail to truly protect tenants.

“It’s continuing to not face the problem,” says Weaver. “He’s ignoring the real issue—that tenants can’t pay—and just postponing the date of when there will be mass evictions.”

When asked about relief for landlords who may have difficulty making mortgage payments without rent revenue, Cuomo noted that the state is working on “relief from the banks for landlords also.” Landlord groups are not thrilled with Cuomo’s lack of details on support.

James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, acknowledged that tenants and small retailers impacted by the pandemic “will need more time to pay their bills and more help from the federal government to do so” but those who have the ability to pay “should not get away with not paying rent.”

But paying—or not paying—rent may not be much of a choice for those who aren’t earning an income. The eviction moratorium keeps New Yorkers in their homes during a public health crisis, but crucially, it does not address the months of back rent tenants must eventually repay. Lawmakers and housing attorneys argue that there will be a “tidal wave” of eviction cases filed in the courts—potentiallyleading to mass homelessness—once that moratorium is lifted. And with COVID-19 hobbling New York’s economy, renters have few options to make up what’s owed.

Many in the state are still struggling to access unemployment benefits. And while federal stimulus checks of $1,200 have offered some relief, the one-time payment is woefully inadequate for the long-term financial burdens New York renters, homeowners, and small property owners face. (Others still, such as undocumented immigrants, don’t qualify for this aid.)

Cuomo has maintained that the eviction moratorium “solves” New York renters’ woes, and this week he doubled down on that assessment, saying that the extension and new security deposit mechanism “takes this issue off the table until August 20.” While the moratorium is a piece of the rent relief jigsaw puzzle, housing attorneys note that is it not a fullsolution.

“The governor must go farther,” says Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society. “We welcome the extension of the eviction moratorium, but make no mistake, it doesn’t stop tenants from being at risk.”

In March, New York Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks announced a suspension on eviction proceedings in the courts, but a loophole of sorts briefly allowed landlords to file new eviction cases. Cuomo ultimately blocked those new cases by pausing the statue of limitations until May 7. That block has now been extended to June 6, according to Office of Court Administration spokesperson Lucian Chalfen.

In his latest executive order, Cuomo has banned the “initiation of a proceeding or enforcement” of evictions or a foreclosure, but only for those who are “eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic for a period of sixty days beginning on June 20.” Davidson fears the language of that provision leaves undocumented immigrants, and others who don’t qualify for unemployment aid, in a vulnerable position.

“Are they supposed to out themselves as undocumented to their landlords to be protected under this provision?” Davidson questioned, who has dealt with instances of landlords calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on undocumented tenants. “It would seem this is putting undocumented New Yorkers in danger. It’s not clear to me how I would advise a client about what to do about this provision.”

The governor’s office did not immediately clarify the provision.

In the meantime, Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), says greater federal support, such as additional stimulus aid and emergency housing vouchers, are sorely needed to help renters and landlords alike.

“New York State leaders are doing what they can and must to avoid a housing crisis in New York,” said Martin. “But it is past time for the federal government to step up and provide renters and building owners with the relief they need. If they do not millions of New Yorkers will suffer.”

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ny.curbed.com

Cuomo taxes lead to NYS flight | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The mass exodus of New Yorkers leaving the Empire State has reached a new fevered pitch, with nearly 80,000 choosing to move out to cheaper pastures, according to a new study.

But where are they going?

Whether it’s the high costs of living, a lack of well-paying jobs, or poor Northeastern weather, the population in New York State dropped by 76,790 between 2018 and 2019, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The number represents a 0.4 percent drop in the state’s population year-to-year, which has dropped by nearly 1.5 million in the past decade.

According to the website Zippia , which used data from the Census to determine where New Yorkers are landing, the most popular destinations are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Connecticut, and North Carolina.

“New York, New York, what a wonderful place, except for the people who left the Big Apple last year that is. New York may be a cultural and economic hub in the United States,” Zippia stated. “However, it comes at a steep price. No doubt those high prices are partially to blame for New York being the most quickly shrinking state in the United States.”

According to reports, the population drop may cause New York to lose up to two congressional seats by 2022, dropping it from 27 to 25 members in office.

Last year, President Donald Trump was questioned about comments he made in 2017 stating that upstate New York residents should consider moving out of the state. The commander-in-chief doubled down on those statements.

“If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I love those people. Those people are my voters. They’ve been treated very badly.”

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office, the combined state/local tax rate for high-income New Yorkers is the second-highest in the country. The top one percent of taxpayer accounts for nearly half (46 percent) of State Income Tax liability. More than 95 percent of the tax increase from SALT falls on the top 20 percent of taxpayers – these taxpayers pay 87 percent of New York income taxes.

The governor said that the tax reforms encourage New York’s wealthiest to move to other states, “and even if a small number of high-income taxpayers leave the state, it would harm state revenues” and impact funding for education, healthcare, infrastructure, and a planned middle-class tax cut.

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www.dailyvoice.com/new-york/mtkisco/news

Home builder confidence at 10-year high | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Homebuilder confidence grew in December thanks to the nation’s low-interest rates and strong job market, according to this month’s Housing Market Index.

The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, which publish the monthly report,  revealed sentiment increased by 5 points to 75, markingthe highest reading since June of 1999.

 “Builders are continuing to see the housing rebound that began in the spring, supported by a low supply of existing homes, low mortgage rates, and a strong labor market,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.

In December, the index measuring current sales conditions rose to 84 points, while buyer traffic grew to 58 points and sales expectations over the next six months inched forward to 79 points.

The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores show the South grew to 76 points, the West increased to 84 points and the Midwest climbed to 63 points. However, the report indicates the Northeast declined to 61 points.

Although sentiment improved in a majority of the nation’s regions, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz warns homebuilders across the country continue to grapple with affordability concerns.

“While we are seeing near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, we are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labor and land availability,” Dietz said.  “Higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.”

NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder opinions of single-family home sales and expectations, asking for a rating of good, fair or poor. Builders are also asked to rate prospective buyer traffic from very low to very high. The scores are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index with a rating of 50 or over indicating positive sentiment.

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