Despite a slight improvement in interest rates, mortgage applications and refinancing activity declined in the latest update from the Mortgage Bankers Association. For the week ended January 24, 2014, applications for home loans decreased 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.
On an unadjusted basis, mortgage applications plunged 9 percent from the prior week. There have only been a handful of increases over the past nine months as the housing market is starting to return to a more sustainable pace. The Refinance Index and Purchase Index both declined 2 percent from the previous week. Meanwhile, the unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3 percent compared with the previous week and was 12 percent lower than the same week one year ago.
Overall, the refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62 percent of total applications, down from 64 percent a week earlier, which was the highest level in a month. Interest rates have rebounded higher in recent months, but a disappointing jobs report earlier this month could keep rates under control for the near future as the Federal Reserve maintains a loose monetary policy. In December, the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs, the smallest monthly gain in three years and a far cry from the 200,000 jobs estimated by economists
[Inside Penthouse One, photo via NY YIMBY]
As expected, the penthouse of Chelsea’s highly-acclaimed Walker Tower sold for more than $50 million, setting a new record for the most expensive home ever sold in Downtown Manhattan. The Journal reports that the all-cash deal closed for $50.9 million, and, evidently, the unnamed buyer was in the space “less than five minutes” before stating “I’ll take it.” Because $50M spur-of-the-moment decisions are never a bad idea.
The full-floor, nearly 6,000-square-foot unit was listed last September for $55 million, and by the end of October, the Times reported that it entered contract for “slightly less than ask.” Can $4 million be defined as “slightly”? No matter, the sale takes the title away from the penthouse of 18 Gramercy Park, which sold for $42 million to the owner of the Houston Rockets in 2012.
Double H Farm, a 87-acre Olympic equestrian training facility and family home in Ridgefield, has hit the market for $55 million.
Canada’s top-earning CEO, Hunter Harrison, who heads Canadian Pacific Railroad, owns the property. He purchased the dairy farm in 2005 and transformed it into one of the country’s leading equestrian facilities. The property is listed with Sally Slater of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Double H Farm farm extends over 97 acres of rolling hills and vast fenced grass paddocks with never-ending views and dramatic sunsets. It has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and 14,250 square feet of living space.
The circa-1765 property is rich in history. Formerly known as the McKeon Farm, it was the oldest working dairy farm in Ridgefield. Conservation property is adjacent to the farm.
Since 2005 the farm has undergone a series of renovations to turn it into a world-class Olympic-level equestrian facility and dream estate.
The house was built in 2009. Framed with vintage, reconditioned barn beams from Vermont, the entire house incorporates green technology, geothermal heating and air conditioning systems and radiant heat in the floors. An elevator goes to all levels of the home.
The living room has 38-foot ceilings, a massive limestone and fieldstone gas fireplace highlighted by a scaffolding of barn beams and a wall of glass overlooking the property. The formal dining room has cove lighting and a gas fireplace. The eat-in gourmet kitchen and family room has an informal dining area, top-of-the-line appliances and a massive center island. The fully outfitted outdoor kitchen is built into the screened porch off the kitchen. There is also an office with a gas fireplace.
The first floor houses the luxurious master bedroom with 20-foot domed ceilings, Venetian plaster walls, a limestone fireplace, a large marble bath with two showers, a hot tubs boise (Jacuzzi), a gas fireplace and his and hers closets in addition to a safe room.
The lower level features a state-of-the-art media room with a gas fireplace and a 105-inch plasma television, wine cellar, sauna, golf room with a putting green and golf simulator and a massage room/gym with a bath and steam shower.
The seven-car garage includes mahogany decks with two stone fire pits, a Jacuzzi spa with a waterfall, a Koi pond, an audio-visual room and a “home networking’ system to work every system in the house.
An additional four-bedroom home and the totally renovated historical home, dating from 1765, grace the property sharing views past the pool and tennis court of a bucolic pond and paddocks. Surrounding conservation land protects this special property for posterity.
Double H Farm features two barns with more than 40 stalls. The main barn has 20 spacious and airy stalls, four grooming and wash stalls in addition to laundry, tack and feed rooms. There are three staff apartments with living rooms and kitchens. The second barn, built for the breeding operation, has 14 stalls and two grooming and wash stalls.
For complete information on the property, view the listing website.
Home prices in November fell slightly for the first time since November 2012, as the combination of price gains earlier in 2013 and higher mortgage rates caused prices to reach a plateau, according to a leading index of housing-market activity.
The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 top cities fell 0.1% in November. A separate 10-city index also fell by 0.1%, Standard & Poor’s/Dow Jones Indices said in a statement. The 20-city index showed prices 13.8% higher than a year earlier, while the 10-city index rose 13.7%.
The company said the dip is not a reversal of the housing recovery. Prices typically dip in November and this performance was the best for any November since 2005.
“Beginning June 2012, we saw a steady rise in year-over-year increases, (and) November continued that trend,” said David Blitzer, head of the index committee at S&P/Dow Jones Indices. “The Sun Belt continues to push ahead with Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa taking eight of the top nine spots.”
Home prices are still rising despite last May’s jump in mortgage interest rates, Blitzer said. Mortgage applications for purchase were up in recent weeks, confirming home builders’ optimism shown in surveys by the National Association of Home Builders, he added.
“Build it and they will come.” That phrase had characterized Clark County’s real estate market for decades. But are we ready to build the housing that will meet the needs of those who help drive the local market: the baby boomers?
The year 2013 was a continuation of the momentum in home sales that started in 2012. Prices continued to modestly increase. With this stability in the market, many savvy but cautious buyers were ready to take the plunge.
This improvement in the housing market also created hope for many homeowners who had suffered substantial losses in value over the past several years and now found themselves in a more favorable position to sell.
The shift from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market came early in the year, when buyers very aggressively returned to the market. The listing inventory in certain price ranges was quickly depleted.
A seller’s market emerged, with multiple offers on some properties, especially in the lower price ranges — less than $200,000, and $200,000 to $250,000. Prompted by low interest rates and good values, buyers continued to pursue homeownership.
The next 12 months should be characterized by an increase in housing inventory. More homeowners will be reaching the point where their equity position is improved enough to no longer be “underwater.” As those sellers enter the housing market, we should see inventories adequate to satisfy a thirsty supply of buyers.
Many baby boomers are homeowners who want to move from a large two-story into a single-level home in a quality, secure neighborhood with perhaps a smaller yard. They are not finding many choices in this category, particularly if they aren’t interested in paying more than $400,000 for the home. They want newer, quality construction — they don’t want to downgrade, they just want to downsize.
Location: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Price: $15,900,000 The Skinny: There’s an extremely fine line between awe-inspiring opulence and self-parody, a line that this newly renovated SoCal mega-manse smashes with a diamond-encrusted sledgehammer and then plows over with a gold-plated Rolls Royce that runs on cognac and burning bales of thousand dollar bills. It’s not that, as a matter of principle, there’s anything necessarily wrong with wine cellars, or wainscoting , or even drapes, if that’s your thing. In practice, however, an unlimited renovation budget combined with a desire to project refinement can lead to real trouble (not to mention an overabundance of reproduction statuary). Still, where one person sees trouble (wall paintings) someone else may see a home full of killer features (shooting fountains), and this mansion’s decor certainly provides plenty of opportunities for judgment-passing one way or the other. Even the brokerbabble pays homage to the sheer physical power of the place: “Upon entering, the beauty of the home instantly overwhelms you,” though whether it’s beauty that overwhelms is an open question. The six-bedroom, 10-bathroom home, which tops out at 12,500 newly bedazzled square feet and also boasts a 100,000-gallon pool, is asking $15.9M.