March 18, 2014

High-Priced Condos And Bigger Homes

The Times Union reports on New York. “A report state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released this week was a reminder that New Yorkers’ incomes haven’t kept up with the cost of living here. Based on the federal guideline that ‘affordable housing’ means you’re not spending more than 30 percent of your household income on rent or a mortgage payment, 3 million families in New York can’t afford the roof over their head. Alex Monticello, the owner of Monticello Realty and a licensed real estate broker, said the problem isn’t housing prices.”

“A look at the median sale price of a home in the Capital Region between 2007 and 2013 doesn’t show runaway prices. In 2007, when the market was booming, it was $199,000. In 2013: $202,100. The problem is incomes, he said. For homeowners, median income between 2000 and 2012 declined by 1.6 percent — or $963 — while housing costs jumped by nearly 10 percent, pushed upward by a 12.3 percent increase in median property taxes, DiNapoli’s report found.”

“‘Part of the solution to addressing the affordability of housing across New York is to raise the minimum wage and provide universal pre-kindergarten, which will address the larger macro economic issues,’ Monticello said.”

The Boston Herald in Massachusetts. “A scarcity of residential property for sale in Boston has led to a smouldering real estate market marked by standing-room-only open houses, bidding wars and all-cash purchases. Open houses at many properties resemble opening day at a blockbuster movie, with lines stretched down the block. ‘No longer is one person on our end enough to handle it,’ said Ryan Persac of Otis and Ahearn Real Estate. ‘We have to get assistance from other agents to be door people and elevator people.’”

Kimberly Grose said she would have been thrilled to get $500,000 for her 737-square-foot, one-bedroom South End condo, which she bought for $150,000 in 1995. But Garofalo listed it last month at $550,000, then raised the price to $559,0000 in time for the open house, which was attended by about 35 people. Three days later, he opened it up for bids, and received about a half-dozen offers, including one that was all cash and another that was two-thirds cash from a woman who wrote Grose a letter, professing her love for the property. ‘I took the all cash one,’ she said, for $600,000.”

The Tewksbury Advocate in Massachusetts. “A Brookings Institution study released in May 2013 that said poverty in the suburbs is rising rapidly. Across the region, inside buttoned-up homes with manicured lawns, people are struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table. ‘Since 2000 we saw the poor population in suburbs grow by 65 percent,’ said co-author Elizabeth Kneebone. That means the number of residents living below the federal poverty line grew by 65 percent from 2000 to 2012. ‘That’s more than twice the pace of growth as occurred in central cities,’ she said.”

“Among communities northwest of Boston, Billerica, Burlington, Lincoln and Winchester were among those that saw significant increases in poverty rates since 2000. ‘There’s a disturbing number of people who have been on unemployment for some time and have run out of unemployment [benefits] and have not been able to find another job,’ said Westford Social Worker Alison Christopher. People in this category are not eligible for transitional assistance and don’t typically qualify for disability, she said. Yet, they have mortgages to pay and some are facing foreclosure, Christopher added.”

The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey. “A luxury condominium in Atlantic City, Bella, is offering a free Smart car, a free smart (or hybrid) TV and a free smartphone with the purchase (a signed contract) of a two-bed, two-bath condo before April 30. The price of those condos starts at $249,000 - the lowest they have ever been, according to marketing director Paula Celletti-Baron.”

“When Scannapieco Development Corp. remodeled the 1980s building in 2005, it was selling the two-bed, two-bath condos for about $450,000 - but that was before the housing market crash, Celletti-Baron said. At that time, some people either stopped looking for second homes or sold the ones they had. There are currently about 50 units - most of which are still brand new - available at Bella. The option for the freebies is valued at about $30,000, which buyers can choose as cash toward their purchase instead, Celletti-Baron said.”

“Four Seasons at Harbor Bay, by Red Bank-based K. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., is offering a discounted price on spec, or pre-built, homes for ‘quick move-ins’ by the end of March. The discounts vary in price, ranging between $40,000 and $50,000. One spec home listed on the website, is priced at $299,950 - discounted from about $306,000.”

“Another development - the Village Grande at English Mill, in Egg Harbor Township - is throwing in a premium kitchen package to attract buyers. D.R. Horton has put together a package that includes a kitchen island counter, 42-inch cabinets, granite countertops, hardwood flooring and a stainless steel gas range, dishwasher and microwave. ‘For shore properties, there is a small amount of time that is the busy season - as soon as the Super Bowl ends and not a minute after Memorial Day,’ said Laura Krebs, public relations representative at Cashman & Associates.”

Seacoast Online on New Hampshire. “The Blue Ribbon Senior Committee report states the number of people between the ages of 25 to 44 living in the city has dropped from 7,520 in 2000 to a projected 6,513 in 2014, a 13.5 percent decrease. At the same time, the number of city residents age 5 to 17 is projected to drop to 2,287 this year from 2,556 in 2000, a 10.5 percent decrease, according to the report. ‘It’s frightening because economically the 25 to 45 age group are the people usually contributing the most to the city,’ said City Councilor Eric Spear. ‘They’re spending the most money, they’re earning the most money and they’re spending it in the local economy.’”

“Spear blames the lack of affordable housing in the city as the main reason the population numbers are dropping for children and people age 25 to 44. Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine called the drop in the two populations ‘a very disturbing trend, not only for Portsmouth but the entire Seacoast and the state.’ He believes city officials should encourage developers to build ‘work force housing that doesn’t take up a lot of space,’ while pointing to what he feels has been an emphasis by developers on building ‘high-priced condos.’ ‘There seems to be this rush to build bigger and bigger homes,’ Splaine said.”

The York Dispatch in Pennsylvania. “Despite other indicators that the local economy is improving, foreclosure filings and sheriff’s sales remain high in York County. Prothonotary Pam Lee’s York County office processed 1,823 foreclosures in 2013 — a 4.7 percent jump from the 1,740 filings in 2012. And the filings in 2012 were a 40 percent increase from the 1,239 filings in 2011. This year is off to a similar start.”

“Though the unemployment rate has slowly dropped to 6.6 percent, it’s still a long way off from the 4 percent rate York County had before the recession. Also, the jobs that have been added are mostly in the service industry and don’t pay a high wage. ‘With the number (of foreclosures) staying high, it makes me wonder if people don’t have enough income because they can’t afford to stay in their houses,’ Lee said.”

Bits Bucket for March 18, 2014

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