Rates drop with the remperatures…

Mortgage Rates Hit 4-Month Lows

Matthew Graham | Mortgage News Daily | Oct 18 2013 | link

Mortgage rates fell only slightly today, but with yesterday already near 4-month lows, today’s moderate improvement makes it official–at least in terms of closing cost.  The actual interest rate that the best qualified buyers are likely to be quoted isn’t any lower than the previous 4.25%  (best-execution).  The gains would instead be seen in the form of slightly lower closing costs, or slightly higher lender credit depending on the scenario.

Very little happened today to inspire market movement.  There was no significant economic data and no surprising clues about Fed policy.  Before, during, and after the shutdown, we’ve maintained that bond markets are most intently focused on the official Employment Situation Report.

For the past 3 weeks the focus was on the absence of the report, which caused uncertainty.  With the exception of the last few days before the debt ceiling deadline, this led to a narrow interest rate environment.  With the shutdown over, the jobs report will now be released this coming Tuesday.  With it comes our first major cue for interest rate momentum since September 18th.

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Cul-de-sacs create communities…

The Case for Cul-de-Sacs

Emily Badger | The Atlantic Cities | October 17, 2013 | link

The Case for Cul-de-Sacs

In a weird way, Thomas R. Hochschild Jr. actually first encountered the social cohesion of cul-de-sacs in his latest research when he wandered into one in Connecticut with his clipboard and polo shirt, and someone called the cops.

That never happened on the other types of streets he was studying, places where it would turn out the neighbors didn’t know each other as well, and it was less clear who “belonged.” Repeatedly, though, he found at the end of cul-de-sacs families who watched each others’ children and took in each others’ mail, who barbequed and orchestrated the removal of snow together, and who considered each other close friends. In cul-de-sacs, these families had a stronger sense of shared social space and territoriality. An outsider stood out.

In sociologist’s terms, Hochschild ultimately concluded that people who live in traditional bulb cul-de-sacs have the highest levels of attitudinal and behavioral cohesion (covering both how they feel about their neighbors and how much they actually interact with them). People who live on your average residential through-street have the lowest levels (in between the two are “dead-end” cul-de-sacs that lack that traditional, circular social space).

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Are you willing to pay to park in your neighborhood?

Why Drivers Should Pay to Park on Residential Streets

Eric Jaffe | The Atlantic Cities | October 15, 2013 | link

Why Drivers Should Pay to Park on Residential Streets

There are lots of reasons to charge city drivers for street parking. Street space belongs to everyone, competition for spots causes congestion, underpriced parking encourages driving — the list goes on. As private car owners benefit from these curbside subsidies, it’s the public welfare that suffers.

Things aren’t so bad on commercial streets, where drivers have been perfectly willing to pay for a spot. Several U.S. cities have started to charge market-rate street prices in business districts with great success. But commercial parking makes up only a sliver of all city street space; in New York, for instance, commercial meters account for just 2 percent of the street-parking stock, whereas residential spots account for most of the rest.

That’s a problem, because city drivers are traditionally unwilling to pay for a spot on a residential street. Some cities do require residential parking permits, but the fees tend to be nominal (the U.S. high is about $100 a year) and don’t reflect proper value of the space. Public officials tend to view residential street parking charges as a political poison.

This conventional wisdom stops most cities from raising residential permit rates. But while it may describe the mindsets of many city drivers, it doesn’t apply to all of them. In an upcoming issue of Transport Policy, transport researchers Zhan Guo of New York University and Simon McDonnell of the City University of New York report that roughly 53 percent of New Yorkers are willing to pay something for residential street spaces — and this something averaged about $400 a year:

The greater-than-50% approval rate and the high price tag both indicate that pricing curb parking for residents is feasible, at least in our sample.

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Some details for those down-sizing…

6 Tips for Boomers Leaving Big Homes Behind


Richard Satran | U.S. News | link

Preparation, Preparation – Then Location



When people sell their homes, one in four buy a less expensive place for a simpler, more affordable life. But baby boomers appear reluctant to make that big step.

So far boomers under age 65 have not been downsizing much. What’s keeping the take-to-the-highway Woodstock generation stuck? Lots of factors are making it difficult, some practical and some psychological, but the decision to downsize can be a good one. Here are six steps on how to make the most of less house:

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Will Facebook build your next home?

Eight Fast Facts All About Facebook’s Foray Into Housing


Amy Schellenbaum | Curbed | October 8, 2013 | link


Social media giant Facebook, a company that brags a culture that’s more college than corporate, what with an ever-flowing stream free ice cream, “walking meetings,” on-site shopping, and outdoor movie nights, has not only recruited the likes of starchitect Frank Gehry to build a hulking new wing for its mothership HQ in Menlo Park, Calif., but is also, so the Wall Street Journal reports, now on track to build a housing development just a five-minute bike ride (“You don’t even have to put on the brakes,” architect John Tenanes, Facebook’s director of real estate, told the WSJ) from the main campus. It’s a move that’s been largely untouched by corporations since the first half of the century, when U.S. tycoons and robber barons provided their employees housing amenities near their factories—Fordlandia, anyone?—to increase efficiency. If all goes well, it could be the beginning of a new era in corporate perks, one that transcends even—gasp!—in-office arcades and spas. Anyway, eight fast facts about Anton Menlo, as gleaned by the Journal:

8. Facebook is using a “local developer” to build a 394-unit housing “community” on 630,000 square feet.

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Our lifeline to SF – the future of BART

Ambitious Expansion Plans Mulled for BART’s Future


Dylan Pilaar | Curbed SF |  October 2, 2013 | link

bartmetrovidsvision.pngBART is considering over 100 different investment options that could nearly double the system’s capacity over the next few decades. As summarized by the folks over at SPUR, the “Bart Metro” concept would increase capacity in the current system by adding stations at 30th Street and Market & Van Ness, as well as a turnback at Glen Park. Far more ambitious portions of the vision include a line down Geary out to Ocean Beach and a spur down 19th Avenue that would connect to Daly City Bart. More familiar proposals in plan include a second Transbay tube that would relieve capacity constraints on the current tunnel. The proposals on the map seem almost too good to be true, and will certainly require unprecedented funding commitments from all levels of government. Nevertheless, with or without the build out of the “Bart Metro” concept, Bay Area residents will soon reap the benefits of shiny new trains.

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Winterizing the metals on your home…

How to Maintain the Metal Parts of Your Home

Bob Vila | Zillow Blog | September 30, 2013 |link

house with metal gate and patio furniture
Stroll around a typical American backyard and, among the grass and trees and landscaping, you’re likely to find … metal. Patio furniture, barbecue grills, handrails, fences and gates — they are all made out of (or at least include some) iron, steel or other metals. As handsome as they may be, they are subject not only to the usual wear and tear but also to infiltration by metal’s worst enemy: rust. It takes a bit of work to keep those metal beauties in good shape, but it’s worth it.

The greatest potential for damage comes with exposing raw metal to the elements. The key is to avoid chipping whatever coating covers the metal (which is how the rust gets started), and to protect the metal as best as you can from exposure to water and harsh weather. While this sounds like a tall order, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. Follow these basic tips to keep your metal furniture in fine shape.

Buy right

The first step in making your metal last is to choose your pieces wisely. The highest quality metal furnishings have a baked-on enamel or powder-coated surface, which are your best bets for a long and rust-free life. Painted or varnished metal is less expensive, but it’s more vulnerable to peeling and flaking. The more expensive options may turn out to be more economical in the long run, as they will last for years.

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Super retro – the pyramids make a come-back!

Here’s How One Artist Wants to Bring Back the Pyramid

Amy Schellenbaum | Curbed National | September 30, 2013 | link

PyramidHouseJuanCarlosRamos3.jpgRendering via My Modern Met

With these edgy, light-filled renderings, Mexican architectural visualization artist Juan Carlos Ramos has dreamed up a way to bring the iconic pyramid shape outside the realm of kitschy hotels and into the realm of kitschy single-family homes. As a house, the pyramid, a long-time favorite of ancient peoples (and, you know, Bjarke Ingels) has previously been limited to 1980s relics and the architectural dregs of 1960s counterculture, but Ramos has succeeded in designing a pyramidal home that has all of the makings of a contemporary real estate hit: a privacy-eschewing glass wall, sunken living areas, an open plan, and photo-realistic renderings beautiful enough to be oil paintings.

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Step aside Boomers…

Are Millennials the New Luxury Buyers?

Samantha DeBianchi | Zillow Blog | September 20, 2013 | link


Luxury Malibu listingAlthough it’s been argued that rising mortgage rates and home values have largely excluded millennials from the housing recovery, a portion of Generation Y has skipped traditional starter homes and moved right to the top.

From Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to entrepreneurial Facebook users, more and more millennials are purchasing luxury properties. And with the market as hot as it is, why wouldn’t they?

Interest rates are still relatively low by historical standards, and overall consumer confidence and the belief that real estate is a wise investment have led more and more millennials to skip the baby steps and move right to a luxurious lifestyle by purchasing their million dollar (and multi-million dollar) baby.

Here are a few more factors influencing the trend:

Familial assistance

As older generations have been through the “better and worse” of the real estate market, they realize today is in fact a great time to buy. In turn, they’re providing their children with financial assistance —  from hefty down payments to purchasing a property with a child — to help them achieve the American Dream.

Safest bet

Young buyers have also come to the conclusion that investing in real estate is a lot less risky than riding through the stock market. Millennials have seen how the market can and will change, allowing them to be more prepared for adjustments within the real estate sphere. When prepared, a more confident decision can be made, leading them to not only purchase luxury properties but also to add investment properties to their portfolios.

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“Cozy” doesn’t being to describe it…

The City’s Smallest Apartment for Rent is 264 Square Feet


Mallory Farrugia | Curbed SF | September 20, 2013 | link

Most of the rental discussion in San Francisco these days revolves around properties that rent for more than $2,000/month. So we asked: Is it possible to rent a habitable space for significantly less than that – say, less than $1,500/month? What we found looks to be the smallest apartment currently available for rent in the city: it’s 264 square feet and going for $1,200/month.This micro-pad is located in SoMa and boasts an elevator in the building, laminate wood floors, a stove, a small refrigerator (which as yet to be installed), and a full bathroom. In fact, the bathroom may actually be nearly as big as the living space. No closets though – so you’ll have to use valuable floor space for a little bit of storage. Depressing thought? Cheer up: it’s still cheaper and bigger than thesmallest apartment on the market in Manhattan.

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