Continued improvement is seen in rate of decline

The chart above depicts the annual returns of the 10-City and 20-City Composite Home Price Indices.

The chart above depicts the annual returns of the 10-City and 20-City Composite Home Price Indices.

Data through July for released by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show that the annual rate of decline of the 10-City and 20-City Composites improved compared with the previous month.  Although remaining negative, the statistics tell of approximately six months of improved readings, which omit apartments, beginning in early 2009.

In New York, prices increased 0.8 percent in July but were 10.3 percent lower than  last July. Continue reading

Don’t wait for spring to clean out your closets

Sweet isnt she? The dog, not the bitch?

Sweet isn't she? The dog, not the bitch.

If you think your closets are overstuffed, if you’ve had to rent extra storage space, if you can’t find that chapeau that you well recall and if mushrooming clutter is your bane, you’ve got nothin’ on the folks listed by the New York Times in its blog recently.

I wrote about the list in my current e-newsletter, so you can skip this post if you saw it. But I’m adding some additional names below. Continue reading

Rents down, a “cold winter” is seen for landlords

While many landlords and property owners assumed that the traditional flurry of activity would allow them to unload much of their excess inventory and raise prices, writes the Real Estate Group of New York in its latest monthly report, “this has not been the case.”  The report on August rents continued:

“In fact, we’ve observed that many of the landlords and property managers who were eager to test the market by increasing prices and removing incentives from their units saw quickly that these tactics were premature.”

While activity has increased, the numbers have not shown significant improvement. Rents have stabilized, but at levels nearly 10% back from already depressed 2008 numbers. And although vacancies showed improvement this month, they have yet to establish the trend necessary to absorb the considerable amount of excess inventory that is continuing to depress the market.

The tables below distill the findings, but the tables are hard to read here, I know.  You may want to check them out in a PDF from the source.

These tables from the Real Estate Group of New York tell the whole story.

These tables from the Real Estate Group of New York tell the whole story.

As Manhattan heads towards the traditionally slower winter months, it seems unlikely that the market will rebound in 2009, the report says. It goes on: Continue reading

There outta be a law. And there is!

The law is called the Fair Housing Act, and it exacts penalties against real estate brokers who discriminate against an individual on the basis of national origin, as well as other characteristics such as religion and race.

Well, one real estate broker is so proud of his having flouted the law that he has flaunted his violation in the press. Continue reading

The Census Bureau confirms recession’s effects

A smaller share of Americans married, drove to work alone, owned their own home or moved to a new residence last year than the year before, reports the New York Times.

More lived in overcrowded housing. Property values declined. And fewer immigrants arrived, which meant that for the first time since the beginning of the decade, the total number of foreign-born people in the country did not grow.

Those were among the findings released  in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, a wealth of data comparing the nation’s profile in 2008 with that of 2007.

For example, after rising steadily since 2000, median home values dropped in 2008, and the homeownership rate fell half a point, to 66.6 percent, the lowest since 2002. Among blacks, who have been disproportionately affected by foreclosures, home ownership fell a full point, to 45.6 percent.

Furthermore, in a country where people typically move to take advantage of better job opportunities, those who changed residences fell to 15 percent in 2008, from a recent peak of 16 percent in 2006.

Earlier private and government surveys suggested that immigration was slowing, but these were the first annual census figures showing it to be stagnant. Continue reading

Moody’s is depressingly consistent. And wrong.

Moody’s Investors Service has thrown cold water on optimistic projections of a V-shaped recovery in the battered U.S. housing market, predicting it could take more than 10 years to get back to boom-level prices, according to

“For many reasons, the rebound will be disproportionately small compared to the decline,” Moody’s said last week in its latest outlook on the residential market. “It will take more than a decade to completely recover from the 40% peak-to-trough decline in national home prices.”

What’s depressing is that Moody’s – which helped get us into a recession by incorrectly (and self-servingly) grading mortgage-backed securities – has been wrong all along.

The company is wrong again. Continue reading

Your lender may worry most about the building

Most borrowers understand that mortgage lenders scrutinize their credit scores and liquid assets when it comes to approving them for a loan. The underwriters can be persistent is demanding more and more documentation.

These days, that’s the easy part. That’s because Fannie Mae is looking hard at the buildings themselves. For co-ops, the troubled loan guarantor’s chief concerns center on the following: Continue reading

Rates are heading for a 38-year record

Freddie Mac says the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.04 percent this week, down from last week’s 5.07 percent.  Last year at this time, it was 5.78 percent.  The last time the 30-year FRM was lower was the week ending May 28, 2009, when it averaged 4.91 percent.

The 15-year this week slipped to 4.47 percent from 4.50 percent. the lowest it has been since Freddie Mac started tracking the 15-year FRM in 1991.  A year ago, it averaged 5.35 percent. This is

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) was unchanged at 4.51 percent, but it was 5.67 percent last year.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.58 percent this week, down from last week’s 4.64 percent and 5.03 percent in 2008.

Said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist:

“Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages eased for the third consecutive week and remained at 3-month lows.  Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have averaged just above 5 percent through mid-September, which is roughly a percentage point below last year’s average and suggests that 2009 may reach a record annual low since the survey began in 1971.

“Low mortgage rates are aiding new home construction. Housing starts for single family homes have increased consecutively over the five past months ending in July, although starts eased slightly in August. Moreover, homebuilder confidence improved for the third straight month in September, with all four regions showing positive gains, according the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index.”

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

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Encouraged by August sales, some sellers are nuts

While a significant portion of listings — roughly 33 percent, according to — saw price cuts last month, there was an increase in sales and many brokers started  elevating asking prices to enhance their units’ image, leave room for haggling or operate as if the market were turning around.

So reports the Real Deal.

Upwards of 850 homes in Manhattan sold in August, according to figures compiled by the publication, which used data.  That was up from approximately 760 deals made a month prior.  Almost 5 percent of all Manhattan homes on the market last month, the data show, saw price increases; those price changes averaged 6.4 percent.

Are those brokers who are raising prices nuts? Continue reading

I’ve decided that the limb is beckoning me

A broker from another firm just told a mutual professional acquaintance that he is engaged in two bidding wars.   And that acquaintance has a buyer who lost a bidding war with an offer of $200,000 more than the asking price of a $1.7 million property.

In the last day, as well, buyers of mine were unsuccessful in making an all-cash offer $45,000 above the $1.15 million asked for an apartment listed for two weeks. They lost because the sellers felt a moral obligation to honor their commitment to a buyer who also offered all cash, but only at or near the asking price.

What’s more, my buyers’ offer was the second I’ve communicated in a month; the first was from other clients of mine who, thankfully, are now under contract to buy a 1,675-sf co-op elsewhere. Continue reading