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Bedford Hills Homes

DIY Outdoor Stove/Smoker | Bedford Hills Real Estate

For only $300, you can build this durable outdoor cooking unit that can function as a stove, oven, grill, and smoker.
The firebricks are stacked without mortar to allow for expansion and contraction as the temperature changes.

This DIY, wood-fired, outdoor masonry stove can be used four ways: for baking, grilling, cooking, and smoking. Whatever your cooking needs, our outdoor stove/oven/grill/smoker can do it, thanks to interchangeable grill grates and griddle surfaces. If you want to grill steaks or fish, use the grill grate. If you want to bake bread, slide on the steel griddle, stack some bricks on top to retain heat and add the door to hold in the heat. If you want to use the stove top, just slide the metal plate (or griddle) over the top of the firebox.

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors and I wanted to design a highly efficient, multi-purpose stove that uses little firewood (or charcoal) and retains heat for baking and cooking. So, we included a thick insulation layer of lightweight perlite/cement between the firebox and surrounding concrete block, and we included a removable door. This design holds the heat in the firebox where it’s needed. (Perlite is the porous white stuff often found in potting soils. You can buy this mined mineral product at garden centers.)

You can build the outdoor oven in stages, a few hours at a time. (You’ll need a few days between some steps.) Check local building codes before you start building. The oven is made from materials you can buy at local hardware or building stores. You may be able to find some of the materials at a salvage yard, too. (See the materials list and the building diagram). Detailed instructions for building the outdoor brick oven are below. Even if you only use it to bake bread, you can save enough money in one year to more than pay for the $300 cost.

Ideally, the stove is built to a comfortable height with concrete countertop space on each side, plus a roof to protect against the elements. We covered the concrete blocks with tile, primarily for aesthetic reasons, but you could apply stucco over the blocks, or just paint them or use the services of Central PA house painters. Having an outdoor sink and storage space nearby is also convenient.

Our outdoor oven requires a fire in the firebox for about 45 minutes to one hour to reach a baking temperature of 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Or, if you want to grill, you can start in less than half an hour. For comparison, it can take about three hours to get a clay earthen oven up to proper baking temperature. That’s a lot of time and firewood expended, which really adds up if you’re using the oven frequently. The firebrick used in our stove reaches cooking temperature more quickly than clay because its higher density makes it more efficient at conducting heat.

Another key design element is the firebox size — not too small, not too large, but just right. Properly sized fireboxes heat up quickly, have improved combustion, produce less smoke and stay hotter longer. We measured cookie sheets, bread pans, medium and large roasting pans, canners and baking dishes to arrive at our optimal firebox size of 13 inches wide by 28 inches deep by 13 1/2 inches high.

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http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/home/stove-oven-grill-smoker-zmaz10amzraw.aspx

Valuing a Green Home | Bedford Hills Real Estate

From installing rooftop solar panels to putting in new triple pane windows and EnergyStar appliances, people today make all kinds of home upgrades that save energy and lower their utility bills.Bedford NY

But when they opt to sell their “green” home, it’s often less than clear how such upgrades are valued in the real estate market by appraisers, lenders, or purchasers — or even how information about a home’s energy characteristics should be conveyed to real estate agents and potential homebuyers.

“People do upgrade [for energy efficiency], but the problem is, a lot of that information on what they’re doing doesn’t get to the marketplace, doesn’t find its way into the real estate transaction,” says Maria Vargas, who directs theBetter Buildings Challenge program at the Department of Energy.

The department aims to change that with a newly announced program. The agency’s Better Buildings initiative, which seeks to slash overall energy use across U.S. buildings by 20 percent in 10 years, has already been successful in the commercial sector, but now it is turning to the residential arena — with a focus on advancing home energy efficiency.

One surprising strategy for doing so will be helping to improve the flow of information about home energy efficiency (and its effect on driving lower utility bills) in the real estate market — thus helping it to be better valued in markets. To do so, the Energy Department is partnering with those who spread and use this information, including the Appraisal Institute, a professional association for real estate appraisers, the Council of Multiple Listing Services — which ties together the large number of local MLS organizations that provide informational databases of real estate listings — and the National Association of Realtors’ Center for Realtor Technology.

“We want to move in, move out, in a few years, to really accelerate this market,” says Vargas, “so we are better enabling homeowners, and the whole transaction process around selling a home, to include energy efficiency information.”

 

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/05/28/

Increase for Typical New Multifamily Residence Size | Bedford Hills Real Estate

An elevated market share for rental multifamily homes is holding typical new apartment size below levels seen during the housing boom. However, as multifamily developers build more for-sale housing units in the years ahead, the average size of multifamily homes is likely to rise. The recent pattern of change in the size of new multifamily units stands in contrast to the post-recession increase in the size of typical new single-familyhomes.

According to first quarter 2015 data from the Census Bureau and NAHB analysis, the average per unit square footage of multifamily housing construction starts was 1,238, setting a post-recession high. The median was 1,121 square feet, near the cycle high.

MF unit size_1q15

Because the quarterly data are volatile, it is worth examining the numbers on a one-year moving average basis. For the first quarter of 2015, the one-year moving average for the multifamily size was 1,188 square feet, while the median was 1,103.

The current quarterly median is 4% higher than the post-recession low, and the average is 6% higher.

The typical size of newly built multifamily units remains below the averages/medians recorded during the boom years, when the share of for-sale multifamily was considerably higher. The share of multifamily housing starts built for-rent fell to a historical low of 47% during the third quarter of 2005. It is currently (96%) above the approximate 80% share recorded during the 1980-2002 period due to the ongoing surge in rental demand.

MF built for rent

The reason for some of the recent change in multifamily average size is due to market mix. Renters tend toward smaller units than owner-occupiers. In 2012, for example, the median size of all multifamily units completed was 1,098 square feet. However, for rental apartments the median was 1,081, while it was a larger 1,466 for for-sale multifamily residences.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/05/increase-for-typical-new-multifamily-residence-size/

Mortgage Rates Down | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving down slightly this week and remaining near their 2015 lows as the spring homebuying season continues.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.65 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending April 23, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.67 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.33 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.92 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.39 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.84 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.88 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.03 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.44 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.46 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.44 percent.

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 links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quotes
Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates fell slightly to 3.65 percent this week, positive news for potential homebuyers in the market this spring. Purchase applications in 60 of the 100 markets that MiMitracks are up from the same time last year, including 20 markets that are showing double-digit increases. Reinforcing this positive momentum, existing home sales surged 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million units in March, the highest annual rate since September 2013. Housing inventory rose 5.3 percent to 2 million homes for sale, but unsold inventory was little changed at a 4.6 month supply.”

One-of-a-Kind Cooking Spaces | Bedford Hills Real Estate

We asked avid home cooks on Houzz to share photos of where they make their magic. In this first part of a series, learn the stories behind some of their very personal cooking spaces and what they love to whip up there.

Ways to Help Millennials Build Their Credit by Tracy Becker | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Millennials (those aged 18-29) have faced a rough job market and economy as adults, and therefore often have encountered a lot of difficulty building their credit scores. In fact, according to Experian, millennials have an average credit score of 628, the lowest for any age group and 50 points below the national average.  Unfortunately, many of these older millennials are coming to the age point where they want to purchase real estate and/or acquire financing, and have difficulty because of their credit.  As a real estate/financing professional, you can tap into this market, while bringing value and gaining customer loyalty, by sharing these tips and helping millennials with their credit.
Here are some easy ways for millennials to build credit:
● Acquire a credit card
Many millennials are wary of credit cards after seeing others’ debt struggles and unemployment. According to some surveys, over 60% of millennials don’t have a primary credit card.  Opening a primary credit card can be the easiest and quickest way to build credit, and can benefit a huge portion of millennials. Although a first credit card may have a very small balance, even small payments can build a credit history. You can tell millennials to put one low monthly expense on their card.
● Utilize secured credit cards
Even though credit cards are an easy way to build credit, some millennials won’t be able to get approval to open one. Another great option is a secured card, where a cash collateral deposit becomes a credit line for that card. These deposit amounts could be as small as $250-$300. Secured cards are still a great way to build credit if the payments are made on time.
●Keep balances low
When opening credit, millennials have to make sure they charge an amount they can afford every month. High balances can cause higher fees and big credit damage if they aren’t paid off in time. On the other hand, balances can also be used to boost credit scores. The utilization ratio (or balance-to-limit ratio) plays a large part in credit scores. Keeping balances under 10% of credit card limits will result in the highest score possible in this category. This percentage should be used a few months prior to applying for new credit cards or loans to ensure scores are at their best when the lender/creditor is viewing credit applications.
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Tracy Becker, President
155 White Plains Road
Suite 200
Tarrytown, NY 10591
or  (toll free) 866-388-9400
F :(914) 524-5014 ​​

Feb. housing starts plunge 17% | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Builders broke ground on fewer new homes last month as starts plunged 17% from January, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Amid of harsh winter weather, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new home construction fell to 897,000 from 1.08 million the month before, the government said. February was the first month since August when home building fell below an annual rate of 1 million units or better.

January’s rate was revised to 1.08 million from the previously reported figure of 1.06 million, the government said Tuesday.

Economists had expected a small decline in starts for February to an annual rate of 1.045 million units, according to Action Economics’ survey.

Snowstorms in parts of the country were presumed to have slowed construction. Commerce reported starts in the Northeast fell 56.5% and they were down 37% in the Midwest. The South was down 2.5% while starts in the Midwest slumped 9%.

Tuesday’s report shows single-family homes were started at an annual rate of 593,000, down 14.9% from January.

Permits, a gauge of future building activity, rose 3% to a rate of 1.09 million.

Just over 1 million housing units were started last year, the most since the recession. The National Association of Home Builders predicts builders will begin slightly more units this year and that new home starts will pick up this year as the weather and the economy continue to improve.

Home builders’ optimism is flagging slightly as the peak spring home buying season is nearing. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo home builders index for March dropped two points to 53, the NAHB said Monday. It was the third straight monthly decline. The index is seasonally adjusted.

 

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/03/17/feb-housing-starts/24890299/

Mortgage Rates Up | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Freddie Mac today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid a strong jobs report and bringing mortgage rates back to where they were at the start of 2015. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has averaged below 4 percent since the week ending November 13, 2014.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.86 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending March 12, 2015, up from last week when it averaged 3.75 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.37 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.10 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.03 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.38 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.01 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.96 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.09 percent.
  • 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.46 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.44 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.48 percent.

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 links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Quotes
Attributed to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.86 percent for this week following a strong labor market report, essentially bring rates back to where they were at the start of the year. The U.S. economy created 295,000 jobs in February while the unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in January, both outperforming market expectations.