Archive for the 'National Housing Market' Category


Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Town & Country Exclusive Market Reports have been mentioning that nearly all our markets are poised for an uptick for months now.

Finally, the media has caught up. They are usually behind the trend by 60-90 days…simply because they're sitting in an office afar and not on the front line of fire.

The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller home price index released a few days ago showed an increase in 19 of the 20 cities tracked. This is the second monthly increase in prices in the major US cities. National home sale prices rose 1.3% in April from March this year.

The National Association of Realtors said in May, more Americans signed contracts to purchase previously owned homes in the fastest pace in two years!

The Wall Street Journal reports that sales on newly built homes climb to the highest level in two years, driven by limited supply of previously owned homes and record low mortgage rates.

Amazingly, the home sales market, for both new & previously owned homes, is significantly improving even with the banks holding on to money with a strangle hold. So, elementary economics teaches us when supply goes down and demand goes up…what happens people?

YEP, you can say it out loud—they already know—PRICES GO UP!

There's never been a better time, don't miss out on this newly emerging market…jump in, the water's perfect!

Even NYT is Drinking the Kool-aid

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I'm losing faith in the media to report on the facts when it comes to the housing market. As I've written in the past, it seems drama is out selling even sex! Negative spins are spinning out of control. This past weekend the NY Times article titled "Weak Sales in Housing; Prices Rise" was yet another example of such. Even the title speaks for itself. Which does the Times put first, the over 8'/. SURGE in the Median Home Sale Price for new homes in Feb … Or the 1.6'/. Drop in the number of new home sales for that same month-Feb-  you don't need to be chief economist to figure out that builders wisely pulled back during the Great Recession on pumping new inventory on to a slow sales market… Thus the slightness in NEW home sales– remember economics 101 the price of anything is determined by the scales supply + demand– if you dig deep in the article, you seel the real news, in addition to the over 8'/. Jump in prices, sales of previously owned homes rose more than 13'/. Since July and this winter has been the best for re-sales in 5 years! Builders have applied for the most permits to build SFR + appts since Oct 2008. so when the Commerce Department + other US Depts put out reports, reporters would be doing their readers a true service by not spinning the story to sell papers. Report on the facts please, and let's all move forward economically. Thank you!

Home Prices Poised to Rise

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The price of anything is based on the scales of “supply and demand”.  That said, January’s U.S. Housing Reports by the National Association of Realtors indicates supply  at a 7 year low while demand at the highest level since May 2010.  The end result is the long awaited increase in home prices. 

While winter (January in particular)) is a slow season in a normal year (whatever that is) – the Report shows several indicators of a healthy housing market. 

Sales are up approximately 13% over the past 6 months.  Real estate sales increased 4.3% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million.  Important to the recovery first time home buyers made for 1/3 of all sales.  All this increased activity on the “demand” side coupled with the lowest level of “supply” since March 2005 at 2.3 million is what positions the housing market for prices increases.


Monday, January 16th, 2012

If I read one more article on how the housing market remains stalled, I think I'll scream! I won't name names–but a major daily publication out of NYC, ran a story on how buyers were holding back because they think prices MAY come down A BIT more and some are choosing to rent instead.


The BIG picture is that BANKS are to blame…PERIOD!!

Tell me, for real, you honestly believe most people would prefer to pay someone else's mortgage than their own — NOT! Most people who are settled in a particular location, would much prefer the stability and comfort–not to mention, the long term benefits–of home ownership. It remains THE AMERICAN DREAM!

And regarding the POSSIBILITY of prices DROPPING A BIT MORE… homes are not commodities–no pork bellies here–homes are not stocks–You would have to be clairvoyant to know where the absolute bottom is–and then time the sale on the absolute top–Do you have a Jeannie in a bottle too?

The single problem, at this time, to increase the number of home sales, are BANKS! Lending has become a bad word to them. The bottom line is, there are buyers who want to buy & sellers who want to sell, banks need to get on board!


Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Freddie Mac said yesterday that the average fixed mortgage rates have dropped to a record 3.89%. So why isn't every Mortgage Broker and bank inundated with applicants?

Simply put….after lending money to anyone with a pulse, they now went to the opposite extreme and we are finding qualified buyers being turned down for 75-80% on conventional loans and on second homes, buyers are asked to put 50% down and provide other collateral.

It's time for Mr. President to step in and balance the regulations so banks will be forced to lend money…a necessary step to not only boost housing but, in turn, boost the overall economy.


Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The big question is – what will 2012 bring in business – besides the health and peace we all hope for – especially in the Real Estate Market?

Is an investment in Real Estate a good one right now on the North Fork? In this blog I will try and provide a lot of information to allow you to come to one conclusion – besides the shear enjoyment of a (second) home in our beautiful East End region, an hour and a half outside of Manhattan’s mid-town tunnel…: YES!

Who would have thought that the budget deficit in Greece would affect the sale of your home in the US? With the huge amount of news we are bombarded with on a daily basis, what should we pay attention to (and what not) to make smart decisions? We need to incorporate in our decisions 1) a bit of economic history, 2) some international economic news , 3) US economic factors and finally, and 4) very local real estate concepts as all real estate in the end is hyper local.

The fall of Lehman in the fall of 08 was a first calamity, a tip of an iceberg making the world aware of unprecedented inter-connectedness caused by economic globalization. A globalization providing challenges but importantly also overall benefits for all participants – often overlooked in analysis. The USA and its “American Dream” tie more than any other country the success of its citizens to home ownership. A great system where banks provide mortgages, then re-sell them (to semi Government entities or private parties), and sell more mortgages allowing people the American Dream is unique in its multiplying effect in any developed world economy. The larger scale applications of futures (starting in the days of Aristotle to stabilize grain markets), options and and derivatives augmented this crisis of confidence and economies were thrown in unexpected tailspins. This finally resulted in doubts even in that rock of financial trust – the possibility of default in important economies’ souvereign debt as budget deficits sky rocket as a result of efforts to stabilize financial markets and stave off deep recessions world wide.

Repackaging good and bad loans and selling unscrupulous financial instruments caused an international crisis in confidence in worldwide financial markets. A crisis in general about the value of any collateral. But in three years we have come far in dealing with these issues, and I think the corrective pendulum swung to far and is about to swing back to the middle! Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water when looking at the causes of economic troubles of 2008, and better understand and appreciate the improvements in the world ecomomy seen today. Let us not overlook the fact that these same maligned instruments properly applied provide businesses a stable planning opportunity, and that smart people profit even when markets go down. Isn’t it just unfair manipulation of markets to achieve such profits that we should be wary of? Hedgefunds in the US and worldwide use this principle-as flow of capital is more important in today’s world economy than production of goods and services. My point: not all effects of more complicated financial instruments are bad.

The good news in the US economy is – the doomsayers didn’t get their way in 2011 – but neither did the bulls. The economy remained flat and since August 2011 the European Souvereign debt crisis seems to dominate any economic news even today. But the news is getting better. Unemployment is finally improving – important precursor to a better Real Estate market. On the East End the bottom did not fall from under the Real Estate market, quite the contrary. As the following graph shows, the market has remained flat but has remained at much higher levels in tranactions and values than all the bad news would suggest- so is the glass half full or half empty? Data suggest it’s filling up again.

Real Estate Activity in New York North Fork Wine Country

Annual Real Estate Sales - Contracts Signed - North Fork

With respect to international news: the truth is: nobody knows for sure what the future will bring. But (according to Onno Ruding, past Treasury Secretary in the Netherlands, Executive Director for IMF, and executive at Citibank) when one looks at the balance of payments for the entire Euro zone things do not look as bad as one would expect from the news – hence the Euro which has not collapsed at all and is stable strong in a range of $1.20-$1.40 to the US Dollar (only a decade ago at 1:1 and nobody thought anything of it). German, Dutch and Finnish Unemployment all are at a long term low. In effect, this crisis of confidence has given rise to the idea of a “German Euro”, and a “Greek Euro” on the other side of the spectrum. The Euro is a strange hybrid of a monetary unity without economic and political unity for the sake of national souvereignty (mostly France’s identity). So is all the Euronews exeggarated in its influence on the US Economy and the US housing market? The fear and a doomsday scenario would be that a failure in Greece’s ability to meet its souvereign obligations might cause a domino effect to Portugal, Spain and Italy, and even France. But short of that happening, a default of just Greece would-worst case- not be catastrophic but quite manageable. I think you can make that case easily – as long as we do not see major unforeseen calamities in 2012, in which case all predictions fail.

In August, the Chief economist for NAR , Lawrence Yun spoke before the NYSAR conference and made an interesting statement: housing starts are not keeping up with household growth for the past three years, possibly creating a housing shortage if trends continue. Might I add that I think that the US consumer is plain tired of bad news – showing up in droves at the stores in the 2011 Holiday Shopping season?

All Real Estate is local, and everyone knows the saying “location, location, location”. So let’s look at the local facts first. I keep track of an interesting statistic: RE contracts signed, in what I call the “Real North Fork” market area, about from Rte 105 East. Please do not hold this statistic to precise measures, as it is very volatile, but the advantage is that it gives you a very quick overview of what the reports on closings later will tell you more exactly, it is a measure of the activity of RE sales in our market with very little delay. A great predictor.

Pictures speak louder than a thousand words, and the facts speak for themselves:

Residential Sales Contracts Signed North Fork - Over $ One Million - (from MLSLI)

2011 saw 34 transactions over $1 Million, vs 35 in 2010, 33 in 2009 and 2008, and 52 in 2007. The upper end of the market has undoubtedly stabilized. I have seen some very good prices fetched for very good properties – almost comparable to the top of the market in the most spectacular homes segment.

Number of Residential Contracts of sale signed in New York's North Fork Wine Country

Number of Residential Contracts of sale signed in New York's North Fork Wine Country

2011 saw 279 transactions vs 280 in 2010, 243 in 2009, 217 in 2008, and 293 in 2007 but this story is not complete without a picture of the median price and days on market:

Median Prices Contracts Signed North Fork WIne Country

Median Prices Contracts Signed North Fork WIne Country

Days on market before contracts were signed

Days on market before contracts were signed

The North Fork Market stabilized in the Summer of 2010. The full picture would indicate that properties for which contracts were signed seem to have taken longer to get to that point – but any experienced Real Estate broker will tell you that a well priced property sells quickly as there are buyers out there looking for opportunities. The median price of homes sold also is at the bottom of the three years as expected: it is either a beauty contest or a price war – and the buyers still have the upper hand here.

To make the right decision, and benefit from the trends these data show, follow our North Fork T&C experience in this market:

Tips for sellers: your pricing decision will determine if and when you will sell. This is what I would consider if I were selling my house: A good Realtor (r) will help you get first prize in the “beauty contest” and suggest ways to present your property in the best light. Make sure you Realtor (r) works full time – so any buyer can reach him or her easily, and so the home can be shown promptly and easily to buyers when they are available. Also make sure your Realtor makes use of the best technology available. Look at the way their listings show online before choosing an agent. And like-it-or-not: statistics show that most buyers today will find the property they are going to buy online. Feel free to use our Town and Country Website as a standard: again, a picture speaks louder than a thousand words and our state-of-the-art web technology showcases your home beautifully. Ask the question: where will your buyer come from? Does your agent have the wherewithall to reach that buyer? Is there a fit between his or her personality and the buyer you are trying to attract? Is the way this agent markets other properties attractive to that buyer for your home? In the end luck will play a role, but you can reallly improve your odds by selecting the right agent and the right RE company. If you were a buyer – would you enjoy looking at homes with this agent? Is he or she enthusiastic, happy, and a goal getter? All characteristics we look at before we ask associates to join Town and Country Real Estate.

Sellers: things are probably not going to get better quicklier than your running expenses if you hang on. Make use of the fact there’s a lot less market competition now with fewer properties on the market. And think of it this way: if you are going to make use of any buying opportunities after you sell- best to grab them now, so better to sell now and not wait! The only good reason to take a property off the market is if you do not want to sell. And buyers can afford your home now better now than in the (nearer) future- you can almost take that one to the bank.

Tips for buyers: work with a Realtor (r) who knows the market and loves Real Estate – only then will he or she be able to tell you which homes are the ones that you want to look at, know the ins and outs of each home, and allow you to use your time efficiently. You want to be ahead of the curve – once everybody catches on that the worst is over – you will be too late for the best time to buy. Come prepared with a mortgage pre-approval in hand. Be available and ready to go when a home pops up (either new on the market or suddenly lowered to the right price) – for a great deal you will have competition from other buyers and you need to be quick and ready to compete. This morning only 397 homes showed up on MLS, in a market area where normally 550 homes are on the MLS. So be prepared to act. Waiting will not get you a better deal – so if you find what you are looking for and the price is right – buy now while interest rates are still low.

To buy or not to buy is the question, or for sellers: to sell or not to sell. Buyers may have to pay higher interest rates if they wait longer, and I see prices going up. So buyers who are going to “wait and see” may well have to pay for that privilege. And don’t forget – what banks think buyers can afford will go down very quickly under that scenario.

Town and Country is excited to report that we are experiencing remarkable growth and development in this challenging market. Our T&C agents have helped more buyers and sellers succesfully conclude deals on the North Fork than ever before. December was the busiest month of December most of our agents can recall. Our careful selection of professionals to service your needs is responsible for that. Call us if you are interested in joining us in our success, to buy, sell, or rent, in our Mattituck office at 631 209 0600 or Southold office at 631 765 0500! At Town and Country Real Estate – we are quietly getting the job done.


Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

In reviewing our Town and Country Monthly Reports in preparation for the year's end, it became instantly apparent that this November & December are the busiest we have seen here on the East End in many years! All 8 T&C offices showed a spike in O&A's (offer & acceptances). These O&A's are a result of late season appointments. The activity seems to be broadly noted across the various markets and price ranges. Could this be because the weather has been so mild? While that does help, I'm sure it's not the primary reason! Could it be because our fall selling season (which begins second week in August and runs until Halloween) was annihilated largely due to the stock market's August whiplash (down 300 up 200, down 400 up 200–you remember?) Could it be all the media chatter about a double dip back in the summer scared most people to the point of paralysis? Could it be the pent up demand that has been in the making for 3 years? Or could it be the undeniable statistics that surround the housing market? Now there's the meat! In our T&C blog ( there were several postings quoting siginificant statistics, such as December 20th when the November numbers came out showing foreclosure related filings in Suffolk County were down 82.5% from the prior year same month and down 30% from October this year. On October 27 our BLOG was about the US Commerce Department's New Home Sales Report posting a 5.7% gain in September. The National Home Builders Reports show each new home creates 3 jobs for a year and generates $90,000 in taxes! The T&C BLOG went on to discuss the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Index which showed August Home Sales up in 10 of the 20 cities monitored for the 6th straight month! And back on October 18th, I blogged about Jack Hough's article in the Wall Street Journal titled "It's Time To Buy That House"…a clear evaluation on many levels quoting important statistics such as the National Association of Realtors Housing Affordability Index—which I discussed in several prior blogs.

So when I peruse our monthly reports and discuss my findings with the Partners and Board of Directors, it becomes clear this recovery has legs!

In conclusion, the news helps to build a foundation of much needed comfort, but in the end, the mild weather can only help!

US Home Prices & New Home Sales BOTH rise!

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

WASHINGTON: The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index showed home sale prices rose in August from July in 10 of the 20 cities tracked. This is an indication of stabilization in some of the hard hit portions of the country. July was the 5th straight monthly gains in half the cities monitored.

Additionally, the US Commerce Department released the New Home Sales Report for September which showed a strong increase of 5.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 homes.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that for each new home built, 3 jobs are created for a year and generates $90,000 in taxes….All good news for the National Home Markets and our financial recovery!

Now if the banks would get on board we'd see the recovery speed up.


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Wall Street Journal's Jack Hough, titled his article on Saturday just that… "It's Time to Buy That House".

He discusses the National Association of Realtors, Housing Affordability Index, which Town and Country has written about several times this year, which was 183.7 in August. According to NAR a reading of 100 would indicate that the median income family with a 20% down payment can afford a mortgage on a median priced home.

Jack gives an example of a median priced home in greater Phoenix, purchasing it with 20%, at todays 4.12% interest rate, results in monthly payments less than half what the rental for the same home would be.

Of course, as we discussed many times in prior blogs, the banks are being piggy and not lending the money they should, even to qualified buyers. This must be rectified first, in order to move forward!

Personally, my sentiment has always been the same. I'd rather keep my money in "East End dirt", as I call it, rather than anywhere else on the planet!

As Kramer would say, "Buy, Buy, Buy".


Friday, October 7th, 2011

… Mortgages that is! Yes for the first time in history interest rates on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage is under 4%. The only problem is banks are holding on to their money with a real death grip! There are buyers who want to buy and they have their 20% down, and under normal conditions, qualify for a conventional mortgage, but at this time in history we have banks not lending so they can keep the money in their kitty. Seems to me we need banks to loosen up first in order to get national housing on the right track.