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Pound Ridge Realtor

Fake divorce is path to riches in China’s hot real estate market | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Hong Kong/Shanghai: Earlier this year, Mr. and Mrs. Cai, a couple from Shanghai, decided to end their marriage. The rationale wasn’t irreconcilable differences; rather, it was a property market bubble. The pair, who operate a clothing shop, wanted to buy an apartment for 3.6 million yuan ($532,583), adding to three places they already own. But the local government had begun, among other bubble-fighting measures, to limit purchases by existing property holders. So in February, the couple divorced.


“Why would we worry about divorce? We’ve been married for so long,” said Cai, the husband, who requested that the couple’s full names not be used to avoid potential legal trouble. “If we don’t buy this apartment, we’ll miss the chance to get rich.”

China’s rising property prices this year have been inspiring such desperate measures, as frenzied buyers are seeking to act before further regulatory curbs are imposed. While the latest figures out Friday show easing in some of the hottest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of new homes surged by the most in seven years in September.

On the whole, the real estate market “apparently cooled” in October following targeted measures rolled out in first-tier and some second-tier cities, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. Local governments in at least 21 cities have been introducing property curbs, such as requiring larger down-payments and limiting purchases of multiple dwellings in a bid to cool prices.

According to data available via Divorce Rebuilders, the impact of the curbs may be short-lived as regulators have shown no signs of tightening on the monetary front, according to analysts from UBS Group AG and Bank of Communications Co.

“The curbs will show their effect in the initial two-to-three months, but in the longer term idle capital will still likely flow to property in the largest hubs as ‘safe-heaven’ assets,” said Xia Dan, a Shanghai-based analyst at Bank of Communications. The impact of the curbs will gradually abate as “liquidity is so abundant in a credit binge,” she said.

In the first three quarters of 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, average prices for new homes rose 30% in tier-one cities such as Shanghai, and 13% in smaller, tier-two cities.

The boom traces to 2014, when the People’s Bank of China began easing lending requirements and cutting interest rates. The China Securities Regulatory Commission also lifted restrictions on bond and stock sales by developers, helping them raise money for new projects.

Fevered auctions

Soon, properties were selling for ever-larger sums in government land auctions. By June 2016, China’s 196 listed developers had incurred 3 trillion yuan in debt, up from 1.3 trillion three years before. In many cities, the price per square meter for undeveloped land has risen higher than for existing apartments on a comparable plot next door, a situation the Chinese describe as “flour more expensive than bread.”

Officials have been trying to end the exuberance without harming the economy, a task made more difficult by the property fever’s uneven spread. Many smaller municipalities rely on property sales to plug holes in their budgets, giving them an incentive to increase the supply of developable land. So while premier cities have seen tight supply and high prices, smaller ones have too many apartments and not enough buyers.

“Usually the market moves in tandem,” said Patrick Wong, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. “It’s quite dramatic to see tier-one cities need tightening and lower-tier cities need relaxation.”

Rogue players

The central government is also promising to crack down on rogue players: In early October, the ministry of housing and urban-rural development said it was investigating 45 developers and agents for allegedly engaging in false advertising and other unlawful activities promoting speculation.

There’s some risk that such measures will succeed too well. In a 28 September report by Deutsche Bank AG, economists Zhiwei Zhang and Li Zeng estimated that a 10% decline in housing prices nationwide would lead to 243 billion yuan in losses for developers. Consumer spending could fall, too, since people have taken on more debt to buy property. Mortgages accounted for 23% of new loans in 2014, compared with 35% in the first half of 2016 and 71% in July and August.

“The potential macro risk is alarming,” Zhang and Zeng wrote.

U.S. housing starts trending up | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Housing Starts in the United States is expected to be 1150.00 Thousand by the end of this quarter, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts expectations. Looking forward, we estimate Housing Starts in the United States to stand at 1230.00 in 12 months time. In the long-term, the United States Housing Starts is projected to trend around 1280.00 Thousand in 2020, according to our econometric models.

United States Housing Starts
Housing Starts118911501170121012301280Thousand
United States Housing Starts Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts expectations. We model the past behaviour of United States Housing Starts using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – United States Housing Starts – was last predicted on Tuesday, July 19, 2016.
United States HousingLastQ3/16Q4/16Q1/17Q2/172020
Building Permits115311301141115211781315
Housing Starts118911501170121012301280
New Home Sales551475517510510590
Pending Home Sales-0.20.880.720.911.041.26
Existing Home Sales553054725453543954175182
Construction Spending-
Housing Index0.20.410.40.390.380.31
Nahb Housing Market Index595960605953
Mortgage Rate3.65.13.683.733.776.5
Mortgage Applications7.20.480.530.530.530.53
Home Ownership Rate63.563.5363.5363.5363.5363.53
Case Shiller Home Price Index187192192192193211

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Mistakes most people make when buying homes | Pound Ridge Real Estate

You can check in for a flight from your phone, deposit a check on your phone and pay for Starbucks from your phone, so why would should shopping for a mortgage be any different?

Although, it is a little behind the curve on the memo.

And while these changes are mostly focused on the technology aspect of buying a home, the mortgage product side is changing just as much.

In a recent interview with HousingWire, Mat Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage,explained why 3% down mortgages are going to be the new normal.

What’s more, in order to help educate new borrowers on mortgages today, David Gunn, mortgage sales effectiveness director for Fifth Third Mortgage, shared five of the biggest mistakes consumers make when buying homes, along with tips to avoid them:

1.Passing up help.

There are more than 200 federal, state and local programs to assist consumers to make their down payments or pay their mortgage closing costs. Some programs are only for first-time homebuyers, others could be for veterans. 

Tip: Make sure to research programs in your region. “It’s hard to research and navigate programs alone,” Gunn said. “They vary from city to city, and might only be available during certain times of the year.”

2. Believing you make too much money to qualify.

Some buyers think assistance programs are only for low-income households. Some programs assist first-time homebuyers no matter their income levels depending on where they purchase a home.

Tip: Look at programs options. For example, Gunn notes that they have a program that helps pay closing costs on homes purchased in designated low-income areas with loans financed through Fifth Third Mortgage, no matter the consumer’s income. 

3. Thinking you don’t have enough money for a down payment.

The Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage Mortgage allows homebuyers to put down 3%. This will allow the majority of borrowers to enter this program with no cash out of pocket for the down payment.

Tip: Work with your mortgage loan originator to see which programs can help you qualify. “People tell us they can’t afford a house because of the down payment,” Gunn said. “It’s the most common barrier to buying a home. But we find that a buyer needs less money than she thinks to get into a home with a monthly payment that meets her budget.”

4. Clinging to outdated ideas on closing timelines.

Closing times are lengthening. And that can be a good thing. The Know Before You Owe rule enacted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into effect, and has extended the timeline on most home closings. The rule created documents that detail how much a buyer will pay for closing costs, how much each monthly payment will be, and how payments or rates could potentially adjust. Any change to these terms must be given to borrowers with 3 days to review, which is different from the past when changes could be made to the loan before and during closing without a wait.

Tip: “Be patient,” Gunn said. “And know that all of the changes are made to help you better understand the mortgage terms and help you find the best loan for you.”

5. Relying on a one-size- fits-all loan.

Many homebuyers likely had a 30-year-loan on their last house. But it’s not the default loan anymore. For each purchase, loan originators look at the buyer’s financial situation and goals, and might suggest a loan with a shorter term.

Tip: Work through the financials on several options with your loan originator to see what puts you in the best financial position to meet your family’s goals. “It might be better to get a lower term loan now to build equity, and then move into something bigger in a few years,” Gunn said. “We want what is right for you.”


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Avoid these 5 major mistakes most people make when buying homes

Mortgage rates drop to 3.54% | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates declining for the second consecutive week.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.54 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 16, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.60 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.00 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.81 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.87 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.23 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.74 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.82 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.00.

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.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The 10-year Treasury yield continued its free fall this week as global risks and expectations for the Fed’s June meeting drove investors to the safety of government bonds. The 30-year mortgage rate responded by falling 6 basis points for the second straight week to 3.54 percent — yet another low for 2016. Wednesday’s Fed decision to once again stand pat on rates, as well as growing anticipation of the U.K.’s upcoming European Union referendum will make it difficult for Treasury yields and — more importantly — mortgage rates to substantially rise in the upcoming weeks.”

Mortgage Rates average 3.65% | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing mortgage rates moving lower for the sixth consecutive week amid ongoing market volatility. The average 30-year fixed is hovering just above its 2015 low of 3.59 percent.

News Facts

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.65 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending February 11, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.72 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.69 percent.
  • 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.95 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.01 percent last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.99 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.83 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.85 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.97 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 link for theDefinitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.

Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.

“The 30-year mortgage rate dropped another 7 basis points this week to 3.65 percent. This week’s drop leaves the mortgage rate just 6 basis points above last year’s low of 3.59 percent.”

“In a falling rate environment, mortgage rates often adjust more slowly than capital market rates, and the early-2016 flight-to-quality has run true to form. The 30-year mortgage rate has dropped 36 basis points since the start of the year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury has dropped 59 basis points over the same period. If Treasury yields were to hold at current levels, mortgage rates might well sink a little further before stabilizing.”

Builder Confidence Holds Firm in January | Pound Ridge Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes held steady at 60 in January from a downwardly revised December reading of 60, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI).


The January HMI reading is in line with NAHB’s forecast of modest growth for housing. NAHB expects growth in 2016 for the single-family, multifamily, and remodeling sectors of the residential construction industry as continued job growth supports demand for housing.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

The HMI component gauging current sales condition rose two points 67 in January. The index measuring sales expectations in the next six months fell three points to 63, and the component charting buyer traffic dropped two points to 44.





The Impact of Revisions to Remodeling Spending | Pound Ridge Real Estate

The most recent release of Census’ Construction Spending report included significant revisions to the residential improvements spending category. Residential improvements spending is calculated as the amount of total private residential spending on owner-occupied units after accounting for single-family and multifamily expenditures. As discussed in an earlier post, with these changes, the total amount of spending on residential improvements more closely tracks NAHB’s remodelers’ sentiment.


According to Census, in the January 2016 release of the Construction Spending report, which provides construction spending data up to November 2015, monthly and annual estimates for private residential, total private, total residential and total construction spending for January 2005 through October 2015 were revised to correct a processing error in the tabulation of data on private residential improvement spending.

As illustrated in Figure 1, which shows residential improvements spending measured at a seasonally adjusted annual rate for each quarter, the revised series diverged noticeably from the first quarter of 2012 onward. Between 2012 and the third quarter of 2013, the revised series shows a muted increase while the previous series rose more significantly. In addition, the previous residential improvements series exhibited a steep decline over 2014 with a partial recovery in 2015. In contrast, the 2014 decline in the revised series is shallower, of a shorter duration, and is erased by the first quarter of 2015.

Figure 1 indicates that the revisions to residential improvements spending were sizable, especially in 2014 and the first three quarters of 2015. Between 2012 and the third quarter of 2013, the December 2015 release of residential improvements spending was revised down by an average of $12 billion in each quarter by the January 2016 release. On average, each quarter of spending over this period was revised down by 9%. The largest revision in this period took place in the first quarter of 2013 when the $131.3 billion in residential improvements spending was revised down by 12% to $115.6 billion.


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Porcelain ceramic tile is making a comeback | Pound Ridge Real Estate

For a home builder, the holy grail of materials is one that can do everything.

For a homeowner, the holy grail of materials is one that looks really good and requires no maintenance.

Such a material is now available but virtually unknown to most builders and homeowners in the United States.

It’s not a miracle of nanotechnology or even new. It’s that old workhorse, porcelain ceramic tile, updated with modern equipment and manufacturing processes to such a degree that it may change the look of suburbia as well as our notions of what constitutes a tile.

Manufacturers can now produce porcelain tiles that are huge (5-feet-by-11-feet), really thin ( 1 /8 – to ¼-inch thick) and absorb almost no water. This latter detail means that these big tiles will not crack in freezing temperatures and can be used indoors, outdoors in temperate climates such as the Washington area’s, and for an astonishingly broad range of applications. The tiles are also made in smaller sizes, though much larger than the 4-by-4-inch ones that are standard in so many bathrooms, and they can be nearly ¾-inch thick, depending on the intended use.

The tiles are marketed in the United States by Tennessee-based Crossville, which calls its tiles Laminam, and four Spanish manufacturers. Cosentino calls its product Dekton, Grespania’s version is Coverlam, Inalco’s is Itopkerand TheSize Surfaces’s is Neolith.

Because this type of porcelain tile is so new, the industry has not yet settled on a generic name. Two terms used by the National Tile Contractors Association are “thin porcelain panels” and “thin porcelain tile.”

In keeping with designers’ preference for a “soft” palette, the offerings of these firms favor grays, “greige” (a combination of beige and gray), light and dark brown, charcoal, cream and pure white. Some of the tiles are a solid color, but others mimic wood, concrete, textile patterns, metals and natural stone. The marble lookalikes resemble the real thing so closely that even experts can be fooled.

When you see these supersize tiles in someone’s house for the first time, “great looking tile” is not likely to be your initial reaction . In fact, you probably won’t even realize that you’re looking at tile until someone tips you off. Unlike small, traditional tiles with grout lines running everywhere, big tiles have hardly any grout lines, and the few that are there are nearly invisible.

The big tiles with solid colors present a tasteful, unusual finish; the natural stone lookalikes, especially the marble ones, are stunning. Though marble has a long history in American interiors, the individual tiles have been small. To see an entire counter made of what appears to be a single slab of high-quality Calacatta marble is eye-popping.

Once you know what to look for, where might you use the supersize tiles?

They can be used to finish walls as well as for flooring, countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, kitchen sinks and fireplace surrounds. If you want to go really crazy, the thinnest tiles can be used to finish doors, tables, desks and stairs. Capitalizing on the unusually high heat resistance of the supersize tiles, the Spanish firm Inalco is experimenting with installing burners directly into the counter, which would eliminate the need for a separate cooktop. The tiles are extremely scratch and stain resistant. Spills do not have to be cleaned up right away, an appealing feature if you’re one to leave the kitchen cleanup until the next morning after your last dinner guest leaves at midnight.

Another plus with the large tiles in the kitchen is crack resistance. Traditionally manufactured tiles can crack when heavy objects are dropped on them. These porcelain tiles, however, are manufactured with a different process that makes them extremely crack resistant. As Jacobo Pardo of Grespania explained, as long as the tile is installed properly, “you can drop a large cast iron frying pan on the counter, no problem. If you drop a big cast iron pan on the floor, it won’t crack.”

In addition to their size, another difference between these tiles and traditional ones is their surface finish, which can vary from a soft matte to a highly reflective glossy (Cosentino’s Lorenzo Marquez said his firm’s “X-Glossy” finish is so polished “you can almost see your face [reflected in] a black or white Dekton surface.”) The tiles range from a smooth surface to a “gentle relief” that feels slightly irregular, “bush hammered” with a uniform nubby surface, and “hand tooled” with deeper gauges that appear to be hand made.

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Underwater homes continue to surface | Pound Ridge Real Estate

The U.S. rate of underwater homeowners – those who owe more on their home than it’s worth – continued to drop in the first half of 2015. But condo owners are still more likely to be stuck in negative equity than people who own single-family homes.

Homes in the low end of the housing market are more likely to be underwater. Fortunately, while homes across the U.S. are appreciating, homes at the low end are appreciating faster. This is causing the negative equity rate to decline.

In the U.S., 14.4 percent of all mortgaged single-family homes are underwater, according to Zillow’s Second Quarter Negative Equity report. Condos are lagging behind in the recovery, at 19.3 percent.

Overall, more condos than homes are upside down in every large U.S. housing market except Pittsburgh, Detroit and Memphis.

Here are the top 10 markets where condos are deeper underwater than single-family homes:

  1. Jacksonville, FL. The negative equity rate for single-family homes in Jacksonville is at 21.3 percent, more than half the 41.5 percent rate for condos.
  2. Chicago, IL. 32.6 percent of condo owners in Chicago are upside down on their mortgage, and 19.2 percent of single-family home owners are upside down on theirs.
  3. Orlando, FL. Orlando comes in third with 16.8 percent of single-family homes in negative equity and 29.9 percent of condos are in the same boat.
  4. Sacramento, CA. 12.5 percent of single-family homeowners in Sacramento owe more on their home than it’s worth, compared to the 25.4 percent of condo owners.
  5. Las Vegas, NV. The negative equity rate for condo owners in Las Vegas is 36.7 percent. The rate is 23.8 percent for single-family homeowners.
  6. Providence, RI. 25.9 percent of condo owners in Providence are upside down on their mortgage. The rate drops to 14.4 percent when it comes to single-family homes.
  7. Columbus, OH. Single-family homes in Columbus have a 13.1 percent negative equity rate, compared to a rate of 24.6 percent in condos.

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Building and retaining a successful real estate team: Identify strengths, procedures and your ‘big why’ | Pound Ridge Real Estate


You’ve decided to start a real estate team, determined your compensation models and hired a really terrific person. The next issue you will face will be how to integrate that person into your new or existing team and how to retain him. When agents start a team, most become frustrated when the team does not perform well right from the beginning.

A critical point to keep in mind is that building a high-performance team requires time, patience and the team leader’s attention. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman created an excellent model that describes the four steps required in creating and maintaining a successful team.

The four steps are, “forming, storming, norming and performing.”Whether you are starting your team from scratch or adding new members to an existing team, a critical point to keep in mind is that you must go through the process below every single time the team changes.

1. Forming When you add a new team member, everyone is excited and hopeful about the future. They may also be apprehensive, especially if the person is joining an existing team. The forming stage is about realigning tasks and job descriptions to fit the strengths and the weaknesses of your current team members.

This is the reason that it is so important to use a behavioral assessment such as the DISC, as well as Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder. Each of these tools allows everyone on the team to see what each team member does well and what needs to be handled by other team members. It also helps the team leader to identify the skills needed for the next hire.


– See more at: http://www.inman.com/2014/04/28/building-and-retaining-a-successful-real-estate-team-identify-strengths-procedures-and-your-big-why/?utm_source=20140428&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailyheadlinesam#sthash.ssbrtzd7.dpuf