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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has released results from its February 2017 SCE Housing Survey, which provides information on consumers’ housing-related experiences and expectations. The survey, which is part of the broader Survey of Consumer Expectations, shows an increase in home price growth expectations, especially for growth during the next year. In addition, the majority of households continue to view housing as a good financial investment; expected changes in mortgage rates have slightly increased since last year’s survey; and renters’ perceived access to mortgage credit has continued to ease.

Here, the key findings from the February 2017 survey:

Home prices/rents

Average home price change expectations at both the one- and five-year horizons increased from 2016. For example, the mean one-year ahead expected change in home prices in 2017 was 5.1 percent, which is 1.8 percentage points higher than last year and the highest level since the inception of the survey in 2014. Five-year growth expectations also increased from last year, but remain at or below the levels in 2014 and 2015.

There was a drop in the perceived downside risk in home prices over both the one- and five-year horizons. At the one-year horizon, the average probability of home prices decreasing declined from 43 percent in 2016 to 37.5 percent.

Rent change expectations increased at both the 1- and 5-year horizons, by 0.8 and 0.5 percentage points, respectively.

Housing outlook

Attitudes toward housing continued to remain positive: 60.4 percent of all respondents think that buying property in their zip code is a very or somewhat good investment, and 12.7 percent think it is a bad investment. Although slightly less optimistic than respondents overall, most renters are also enthusiastic about buying property, with 55.9 percent viewing it as a good investment and 15.6 percent viewing it as a bad investment. Higher-income (annual income of $60,000 or more) and more educated (a bachelor’s degree or more) households continue to have a more optimistic outlook of housing compared to their counterparts.

The average probability of buying a home, conditional on moving within the next three years, was largely unchanged from 2016 at 63.6 percent. The average probability of moving during the next year declined slightly, from 19.2 percent to 17.8 percent.

Mortgage rates

On average, households perceive mortgage rates for themselves and nationally to have increased by about 40-50 basis points from 2016. This change is roughly in line with the increase in actual mortgage rates. Less-educated and lower-income households perceived larger increases.

Average expectations of future mortgage rates similarly increased for both the one- and three-year-ahead horizons. For example, the average year-ahead mortgage rate expectation was 5.6 percent, up from 5.2 percent in 2016. The average probability that mortgage rates will increase over the next year rose from 49.5 percent in 2016 to 52 percent; this is primarily driven by older respondents (ages 50 or older).


The average probability of mortgage refinancing over the next year declined to 10.2 percent, from 11.3 percent in 2016.

The average probability of investing at least $5,000 in the home over the one- and three-year horizons remained steady. The average probability for the one-year horizon stands at 32.4 percent; the corresponding value for the three-year horizon is at 46 percent.


Renters continue to perceive obtaining a mortgage (if they want to buy a home) as difficult, with 65 percent stating that it would be somewhat or very difficult to get a mortgage. However, renters are gradually beginning to perceive credit access as becoming easier. For instance, this year 20 percent of renters stated it would be somewhat or very easy for them to obtain a mortgage if they wanted to, compared to fewer than 15 percent in 2014 and 2015. These movements held across demographic groups, although they are less pronounced for older renters.

Renters continue to report a strong preference for owning homes. The share of renters who report preferring or strongly preferring to own instead of rent (if they had the financial resources to do so) stood at 72.3 percent, a slight decrease from 74.1 percent in 2016. Younger and less-educated respondents are particularly likely to express a strong preference for owning.esplanade


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It’s no secret that foreign investors target real estate in the U.S. Markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago seem to be the most likely recipients of funds from foreign investors, but you may be surprised to learn that this unique set of investors also targets unlikely areas like Watertown, New York and Anchorage, Alaska.
What’s the reason behind these investment decisions? That depends on the location. The popularity of Watertown relates to its proximity to Canada and its appeal to Canadian investors. Cities in the northern portion of Washington state also enjoy popularity among foreign investors for the same reason.
The appeal of locations like Anchorage is harder to identify. Investors from all over the world flock to the Alaskan city. Home prices are on the rise in Anchorage, and the relatively low unemployment rate may make the city more attractive for real estate investors who are hoping to quickly turn a profit on their purchase.
Miami is known to draw investors from Latin America, but market trends show that the entire state of Florida attracts foreign investors. Mexican real estate investors are active in Texas and California, and Indian investors tend to focus on markets in San Jose and New York.
Some investors have largely pulled out of the U.S. real estate market. Japanese investors maintain a minor presence in Hawaii and Seattle, but these investors once purchased real estate across the country. Domestic investors who target quieter markets may be surprised to learn that they have competition from abroad.
Tags: home buyers, home owners, housing market, real estate, u.s. market


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Most every homeowner enjoys finding new ways to improve their home, and many of these improvements can greatly increase the value of the home. Unfortunately, some home renovations may also lead to a visit by the tax assessor and a higher tax bill.
Home Improvements That May Raise Your Taxes
• An Additional Bathroom: Many homeowners add a bathroom for their teenagers to share or for use as a guest bath. This is a great convenience, but the tax assessor will look at it as an improvement that will allow more people to reside in your home. Because this addition will increase the square footage of your home, this will raise the home’s value and raise your tax bill.
• Outside Improvements: If you enjoy your outdoor living space, then you may want to add improvements to make your yard more family friendly. Popular improvements include an in-ground swimming pool, a large deck at the back of your home and even a simple storage or garden shed. All of these items have the potential to increase your property value and your tax bill.
Know Your Facts Before Making Improvements
These are just a very few of the many home improvements that may trigger a reassessment of your property and potentially raise your taxes. It’s best to do your homework before you commit to making any improvements so that you can decide if any potential tax hikes will be worth the improvements. Both your real estate agent and your local tax office may be contacted for more information.
Tags: home improvement, real estate market, taxes

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It’s always nice to witness first hands the healthy growth of our local real estate market. Certain pocket areas have increased considerably in list price, sales price and location desirability in a short period of time.

East Manhattan is one of those micro areas.

I was happy to see a glorious new listing while out on Broker’s Open today The sun was shining, and life seemed hopeful, serene and calm (if one wore blinders).

Fresh with that new car smell we all love, sat 1304 Lynngrove Drive. 5 beds and 6 baths are the backdrop of this bright, super natural, white light filled single family home on a 5398′ lot.

Creative finishes, glitteringly gorgeous light fixtures are icing on the spacious 3746′ home. The Nano doors open to a petite  yet generous outdoor space with fire pit.

The price tag is as high as the ceilings..so the $3 Million question is indeed that! Will it fetch $2,999,900?

In this market, who knows. It just might.


Let’s Talk Backyard Retreats

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It’s time for summer break, but why make expensive travel plans? Let the crowds have the beaches, and leave theme parks to the throngs. These four vacation retreats beckon just outside your back door.
1. Lounge in Landscaped Gardens – Elevate exterior design with creative gardening. Traditional trellis walls shaded with favorite vines establish natural privacy. Grace your getaway with a butterfly garden, or practice peaceful relaxation with an Oriental theme. Landscape design keeps your backyard retreat beautiful, and it increases property value.
2. Play on a Pretty Patio – This little piece of real estate has so much potential, so think beyond the umbrella table. Brighten up your great outdoors with cool, colorful pavers underfoot. Lay down luxurious natural stone, and install a small fire pit. Finish off your summertime oasis with miniature fountains and lovely container plants.
3. Man the Deck for Fun – Outgrow the backyard grill with an outdoor kitchen that turns the deck into a summer fun center. Add bench seating along the rails for hidden storage space that welcomes extra guests. Built-in tables double down for dining and family game nights. Top it all with a shady pergola, and enjoy your retreat year-round.
4. Splash in Your Own Pool – You don’t need an Olympic-sized layout. An above-ground pool keeps you cool, and a hot tub keeps you relaxed. Take the splash with a traditional water hole, or save space with a slim lap pool. A personal water world in your backyard keeps summertime living easy.


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Smart Home
Does anyone actually need a home with a front door that unlocks automatically as soon as they approach it? Probably not. However, many people are likely to want these types of conveniences, and they could also make selling a home much easier along with boosting its final sale price.
Thanks to the increasing cheapness of tiny computers, which can be put into a variety of boring household devices, and the proliferation of WiFi, old and staid products in the home are getting a makeover. Along with the aforementioned door that can be unlocked remotely, air conditioners, refrigerators and washers and dryers with the ability to connect to the Internet are becoming available. Many of these new smart devices offer both remote management and diagnostic capabilities.
For example, if a washing machine is having problems with balance or load issues, it can alert someone with a text message. Air conditioners that are low on coolant can also let people know that they need to have a technician out. Some of these technologies have been available for a while, but thanks to wireless connectivity, they don’t require someone to have wires running throughout their home to work, which makes them far cheaper to install.
Another major benefit that is likely to draw in potential home buyers is the ability to improve a home’s energy efficiency. Remotely controlled lighting and HVAC systems can cut down on power consumption when members of a household are not around, making smart devices both nifty and potential money savers.

Let’s Talk “The Arthur J” Manhattan Beach

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J J's

Let’s Talk Home Run,

It is with a heart filled with gratitude, excitement, and culinary enthusiasm that I write about the soft opening at the Arthur J restaurant in Manhattan Beach.

Saturday night at 5:30 my husband and I and two friends were invited to dine at the Arthur J prior to the main opening  Tuesday night.

I had been been looking forward to David’s third adventure with Jerry Garbus at his side, for months, and I could wait no longer.

We got there early to take it all in. The exterior, the bar, the dining room, the shinny excited looks on the staff’s well prepared faces.

So there we were, flanked by Chef David who seemed uncharacteristically nervous and jittery. Yet everything gleamed from the flatware to the place settings to the white teeth on the staff’s anticipation filled smiles.

The cocktail menu was varied and creative. I tried the Peruvian contraband. It was served up with a flourish and had extreme flavors that tickled the senses, amused my taste buds and had my heart doing somersaults. Can you tell how thrilled I was?

Our friends arrived and we were taken to our sumptuous booth which was reminiscent of just how lovely old-school dining really is.

I breathed everything in. The fantastically subdued music, not vying for attention with our dinner guests conversations, the knives which of course are a crucial element at a steak restaurant, the wine glasses and the overall atmosphere. The Decor was perfect.

As guests there was a planned menu with selections. After some arm wrestling at our table we decided to have the popovers, shrimp cocktail, the cannelloni, a bone in ribeye, a T-bone, and a little fillet mignon. For sides we had mashed potatoes,  creamed spinach. Dessert was ever present on my mind and it took mediation, and some light couples therapy, but we in the end we chose the banana dessert unanimously.

Our Argentinian wine connoisseur friend was at the helm for the wine menu. And we had two lovely bottles. The wine list is extensive and impressive.

The menu selection  mirrored and evoked happy  memories of a dining time gone by.

The popovers. They were perfection. They were light, airy and the cheese pairing inside the popover was not overpowering, it was delicate, fragrant and flavorful. The experience, from the very first bite took me back to happy childhood days having popovers with my mother, and also delicious memories of Yorkshire pudding. It was a combination of both genres.

The  shrimp in their cocktail were humongous Amazon sized shrimp. They were tender, rich, with salty brine notes and basically incredible.

The cannelloni, which were stuffed with mushrooms, were ethereal. The pasta was as light as angels eyelashes, the sauce like a gossamer shawl wrapped around my palate. Oohing an awe’ing emanated from our table. My husband tried to stab my hand with his fork when I angled for the last bite, but being younger and swifter I prevailed!

Now onto the  fire grilled meat. I can only comment on the bone in ribeye that I shared with our friend Claudio. It was so fantastic I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe it. Hints of smoke, but in the background, not overpowering. The flavor of the meat was the forward flavor. Simplicity is one main descriptors I would use. Tender, but enough body to allow the teeth and tongue to linger and release the fleshy goodness.

I didn’t get a chance to taste the T-bone, or the petite filet because I was intently focused on the bone in ribeye I could think of nothing else.

The mashed potatoes, in all of their creamy perfect deliciousness were just a distraction to my main attention.

The conversation and wine flowed. I watched familiar and envious faces come in, admire the restaurant and ask to be seated, alas non. Not tonight!

Dessert and coffee came and the banana creation was delicious, creamy, and thankfully not overly banana-y.

If I had to dig deep down into my soul and try to find one note of positive criticism because this was a trial run for David and Jerry, the only comment would be that the banana dessert could possibly have a different presentation. I know it’s a small observation but that’s all I can come up with!!!!

We were part of the first service and not wanting to over stay our welcome my husband let it be known  it was time to depart. I however, did not want to leave. I forced myself to psychological detach from the event,  from the evening. I have phantom burn marks on my legs from my husband prying me out of the booth!

On the way out I had one last treat, I had the honor to meet Jerry’s parents and tell them what a wonderfully beautiful person their son is.

The night was young, my heart was young, but the rest of me was pretty tired so we went home discussing each and every mouthful Needless to say, the conversation was dominated by our amazing meal.

Thank you David, thank you Jerry, thank you Ryan, thank you all the staff of the Arthur J and we will be back!imageimage imageimage image imageimage

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