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News And Mortgage Reports

'Back to School' Means Private School in These Places in U.S.

2014-08-22 15:10:00

Filed under: News, BuyingBy Jed Kolko More than two-thirds of adults with children under 12 say that the neighborhood school district is among the most important considerations when choosing a home, according to a June 2013 Trulia survey. However, some parents factor schools into their housing choices differently. Nationally, 10 percent of school kids grades 1-12 attend private schools, and in some neighborhoods, the majority of kids go to private school. In recognition of the back-to-school season, we analyzed where private school enrollment is high and low across the U.S. These geographic differences reveal why parents choose private or public schools for their kids. For parents looking to move, knowing whether neighborhood kids go to private or public schools can help them decide where to live. First, a neighborhood's level of private school enrollment signals whether you too might want to send your kids to private school if you lived there. Second, even if you plan to send your kids to public school, the share of neighborhood children in private schools affects whether most of the neighborhood kids will be at school with them. Who Sends Their Kids to Private School: Let's start with two essential facts about private schools, which explain a lot about who goes to private school: Essential fact No. 1: Just 20 percent of private school students attend non-sectarian schools; the other 80 percent are in religiously-affiliated private schools, of which half are Catholic. Essential fact No. 2: The cost of private schools is high, but varies widely. On average, tuition is almost $11,000, not counting discounts or scholarships. This ranges from $7,000 for Catholic schools and $9,000 for other religious schools to $22,000 for non-sectarian private schools. Tuition tops out at about $40,000 for the most expensive prep schools. Given the high cost, kids from richer families are far more likely to go to private school than kids from poorer families. Only 6 percent of kids in households with incomes under $50,000 attend private schools, compared with 26 percent of kids in households with incomes of $200,000 or more. Education level, race, and ethnicity matter too. Even adjusting for income, kids whose parents have a college or graduate degree are much more likely to go to private school. Furthermore, non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to attend private school than African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Hispanics with the same household income and parental education level. Since most private schools are religiously affiliated, shouldn't religion matter as well? Sure enough, even after adjusting for income, education, race, and ethnicity, kids of Irish, Italian, or Polish ancestry --traditionally Catholic groups -- are more likely to attend private school than kids of English, German, or Scandinavian ancestry (the Census does not ask about religion). Moreover, when we look at non-Census data on religious congregations, private school enrollment is significantly higher in counties that have a bigger share of Catholic, orthodox Jewish, or Amish congregants after adjusting for other demographic factors (most data in this post are from the Census; see note for data sources). In short, kids are more likely to attend private school if their family is rich, highly educated, non-Hispanic White, Catholic, orthodox Jewish, or Amish. That makes private school attendance much more common in some places than others, as we'll see next. Where Private School Enrollment is Highest: The factors that influence whether kids go to private school vary across the country. As a result, private school enrollment is a lot higher in Louisiana, Hawaii and the Mid-Atlantic states than in the Southwest and Mountain states. These differences are even more striking at the metro level. Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, private school enrollment tends to be highest in places that are richer, more educated and more Catholic, though less Hispanic, than the national average. Among the top 10 metros for private school enrollment, income is particularly high in Honolulu, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Wilmington. New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Cleveland also have a high share of Catholics. Finally, in all of these metros except San Francisco, the Hispanic population share is low. U.S. Metro Private School Enrollment 1. New Orleans -- 25.1% 2. Honolulu -- 20.7% 3. San Francisco -- 19.9% 4. Baton Rouge, La. -- 19.1% 5. Philadelphia -- 18.4% 6. Wilmington, Del.-Md.-N.J. -- 17.6% 7. Cleveland -- 17.5% 8. Milwaukee -- 17.0% 9. Cincinnati-Ky.-Ind. -- 16.9% 10. St. Louis -- 16.7% Note: among 100 largest U.S. metros. Grades 1-12 only. Among smaller metros, two stand out for high private school enrollment: Lafayette, Louisiana, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Religion explains this. Lafayette has a large non-Hispanic, Catholic population, and Lancaster has the largest Amish population relative to its size among the largest 250 metros. On the flip side, the 10 metros where private school enrollment is lowest are in the Southwest or West. All except Salt Lake City have large Hispanic populations-a reminder that private schools are popular among non-Hispanic Catholics, but not among Hispanic Catholics. Additionally, Fresno, El Paso, and Bakersfield are all relatively low income. Top 10 Metros with the Lowest Private School Enrollment 1. Fresno, Calif. -- 3.7% 2. El Paso, Texas -- 4.3% 3. Bakersfield, Calif. -- 4.6% 4. Las Vegas -- 5.5% 5. San Bernardino, Calif. -- 6.0% 6. Phoenix -- 6.2% 7. Houston -- 6.2% 8. Salt Lake City -- 6.9% 9. San Antonio, Texas -- 7.2% 10. Austin, Texas -- 7.2% Zooming to the neighborhood level, differences in private school enrollment become enormous. But be warned. Census sample sizes shrink for smaller geographic areas, so neighborhood-level averages have a larger margin of error. Still, neighborhood differences vary hugely and highlight the key factors behind private school enrollment. Neighborhoods with extremely high private school enrollment include wealthy areas in big-city school districts. Examples include the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Upper Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington, D.C., and several upscale neighborhoods in mid-size cities. In addition, the much lower-income, orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Monsey, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey, also have high private school enrollment. In several neighborhoods across the country with large Amish, Mormon, and other religious communities, private school enrollment is over 50 percent. New York's Upper East Side, parts of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and Colorado City, Arizona, may have little else in common, but they are all communities where private school is the norm. Neighborhoods with High Private School Enrollment (by ZIP Code) 1. 10952 Monsey New York, N.Y.-N.J. -- 86% 2. 64113 Armour Hills Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. -- 81% 3. 08701 Lakewood Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. -- 78% 4. 19807 Greenville Wilmington, Del.-Md.-N.J. -- 78% 5. 70124 Lake View New Orleans, La. -- 77% 6. 20008 Upper Connecticut Ave. Washington, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V. -- 73% 7. 38028 Eads Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. -- 73% 8. 10128 Upper East Side (80s/90s) New York, N.Y.-N.J. -- 72% 9. 37215 Green Hills / Forest Hills/ Nashville, Tenn. -- 72% 10. 11516 Cedarhurst Long Island, N.Y. -- 70% Note: among Census ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA's) reporting at least 1,000 students enrolled in grades 1-12 across both public and private schools. Small sample sizes mean that differences may not be statistically significant. There's a very important driver of private school enrollment that we haven't mentioned yet: public school quality. Among neighborhoods with similar demographics in the same metro, private school enrollment is much higher in neighborhoods with lower public school GreatSchools ratings. (You can search for homes in neighborhoods with high GreatSchools ratings on Trulia's website.) To see this, you have to adjust for demographic differences. Without that adjustment, private school enrollment looks roughly the same in neighborhoods with better and worse GreatSchools ratings. But that's because neighborhoods with higher-rated public schools tend to have richer families and better-educated parents, exactly the kinds of people more likely to send their kids to private schools. How much does public school quality matter for private school enrollment? A whole lot. In ZIP Codes in top-rated school districts (those with GreatSchools ratings of 9 or 10 on a 1-to-10 scale), just 4 percent of kids go to private school, after adjusting for neighborhood demographics, versus 18 percent of kids in districts rated 1 or 2. Just so that's completely clear: Private school enrollment in the lowest-rated school districts is more than four times as high as private school enrollment in the highest-rated school districts after adjusting for neighborhood demographic differences. One final point: even after adjusting for neighborhood demographics and school quality (using both the GreatSchools rating and our "backpack-to-stroller" ratio, which suggests where parents move when their kids reach school age), private school enrollment is higher in neighborhoods with greater income inequality. It would take a lot more analysis to know what's behind that. It's possible though that private schools are a way for some parents to avoid public schools with greater income diversity. We'll let someone else take up that delicate question. Time To Do the Math: Do Private Schools or Great Public School Districts Cost More? Even for parents committed to sending their kids to public schools, neighborhood private school enrollment matters. Remember that the types of neighborhoods that have great public schools tend to have richer families. These families often send kids to private schools even if the public schools are top rated. Many parents want a great public school that neighborhood kids actually go to. So let's call out 10 ZIP Codes with low private school enrollment, but where families have higher incomes, parents are highly educated, and the school district has an average GreatSchools rating of 8 or more. (This list is for illustration only because small sample sizes mean high margins of error.) Upscale Neighborhoods Where Kids Go to Public Schools (by ZIP Code and showing the median asking price of property, per square foot) 1. 10514 Chappaqua New York, N.Y.-N.J. -- 2% /$326 2. 11753 Jericho Long Island, N.Y. -- 2% /$340 3. 08536 Plainsboro Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. -- 3% /$202 4. 01719 Boxborough Middlesex County, Mass. -- 4% /$185 5. 02466 Auburndale Middlesex County, Mass. -- 4% /$354 6. 60564 Naperville Chicago, Ill. 4% -- /$155 7. 07028 Glen Ridge Newark, N.J.-Pa. -- 5% /$243 8. 01778 Wayland Middlesex County, Mass. 5% /$288 9. 77094 Eldridge- Green Trails Houston, Texas -- 6% /$131 10. 01730 Bedford Middlesex County, Mass. -- 6% /$308 Note: among Census ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA's) reporting at least 1000 students enrolled in grades 1-12 across both public and private schools; with median family income among families with children over $100,000; college attainment among 25-44 year-olds over 75%; and GreatSchools ratings of 8 or more. Small sample sizes mean that differences may not be statistically significant. These 10 ZIP Codes have something important in common: Housing costs are above the national average of $136 per square foot, except for ZIP code 77094 in Houston. In fact, homes in five of these 10 ZIP Codes cost at least twice the national average. Neighborhoods with public schools that parents choose to send their kids to even though they could afford private schools just don't come cheap. So how should you weigh the high housing costs in great public school districts against the cost of private school tuition? The hard truth is that both can cost an arm and a leg. Looking first at public schools: Housing costs are much higher in better-rated school districts. In neighborhoods with average GreatSchools ratings of 1 or 2, the average asking price per square foot is 41% below the metro average. But in neighborhoods with ratings of 9 or 10, prices are 32% above the average. Them's big differences. Now, for private schools. Tuition averages $10,940, which equals 12 monthly payments of $912. Let's put this in a housing context: Our Rent vs Buy calculator shows that a $300,000 house has an effective monthly cost (taking everything into account, including down payment, closing costs, eventual sales proceeds, and opportunity cost-see our methodology for more detail) of $1,326 per month, under all the baseline assumptions. In that sense, private school costs two-thirds as much per month as a pricier-than-average house. Put another way: The effective monthly cost of a $300,000 house ($1,326/month) plus average private school tuition ($912/month) is $2,238/month. That is roughly equal to the effective monthly cost of a $520,000 house, according to our calculator. That's a lot of extra house-or a neighborhood with much higher-rated public schools-if you're not paying for private school. For anyone trying to make these tradeoffs, the math needs to get personal. The cost of private school depends on the actual school you're considering-whether it's a modestly priced Catholic school or Manhattan's elite Dalton School, which has a $40,220 price tag. The cost of living in a higher-rated school district depends on how much house you want: a 32% premium for a GreatSchools rating of 9 or 10 implies more extra dollars for a mansion than a cottage. The cost tradeoff also depends on how many kids you're putting through private school. Our quick-and-dirty math assumes tuition for one. Details aside, the fundamental point is that either private schools or great public schools can drive the math of housing costs. And even if you're not able to or interested in sending your child to private school, the level of private school enrollment among your neighbors might affect your kid's public school experience. Notes: Most of the data in this post come from the Census. Household- and individual-level data are based on the 2012 5-Year American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). ZIP Code Tabulation Area (ZCTA), county, metro, and state data on private school enrollment and demographics come from the 2012 5-Year ACS and 2010 Decennial Census summary tables. "Income" refers to median family income of families with children. "Educational attainment" refers to the share of adults age 25-44 with a bachelor's or graduate degree. Religious congregation data at the county and metro level come from the Association of Religion Data Archives. See this post for more detail about the religious congregation data. Data on private school religious affiliation and average tuition come from the National Center for Education Statistics. Religious affiliation of private schools is from table 2 of this report. Tuition is from this table. Home-price data are median asking prices per square foot among for-sale homes. The national figure is a weighted average of the ZIP code medians, weighted by total student enrollment. Trulia's "backpack-to-stroller" ratio equals the 5-to-9 year-old population divided by the 0-to-4 year-old population in a geographic area. See this post and this post for more detail. The consumer survey question about the most important consideration when choosing a home was conducted online within the United States between June 24-26, 2013 among 2,029 adults (aged 18 and over), by Harris Interactive on behalf of Trulia via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Jed Kolko leads Trulia's housing research and provides insight on market trends and public policy to major media outlets including TIME magazine, CNN, and numerous others. Jed's background includes a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University and more than 15 years of publications and research management in economic development, land use and housing policy, and consumer technology adoption. Permalink | Email this | Comments

Room of the Day: A Breezy Midcentury Style That Travels Well

2014-08-22 10:36:00

Filed under: Design, News, Advice, Home ImprovementBy Mary Jo Bowling Photos by David Duncan Livingston Blye Faust wanted some of Southern California's relaxed, beach-centric style to migrate north with her when she moved from Santa Barbara to Belvedere, a small island in Marin County, California. She and her family (husband Aaron and a 2-year-old son) found a Midcentury ranch-style home to rent that was perfect for them at the moment. Although a move could be in the future, Faust gave the home a dose of style for the here and now. Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ByBlye Interiors "We love this house," says Faust, of ByBlye Interiors. "And although we don't own it, we wanted to make it our own." Located at the front door, the long, narrow living room is the hub of the household, and this is where family and friends gather. "We have 10 chairs in the dining room off this space, so we wanted to put seating for that many people in this room," says Faust. "After dinner people just migrate to the living room." The sun-filled space has an atomic-era vibe that reminded Faust of her life in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, and she wanted to play up that style. First step: Paint the pastel yellow walls white. "I love white walls; they are the nicest clean slate to work with," she says. "My idea was to make a neutral base and add color in the furnishings and art." Paint: Coconut, C2 Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ByBlye Interiors Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ByBlye Interiors A bouquet of color comes from a vivid floral painting by her great-grandmother Katherine Dunne Pagon. The rug's watery hues pick up the blue in the painting. "We were on a budget, so on a whim I searched Etsy for a rug," she says. "That's where I found this piece." Faust chose to invest in the chairs, sofa and coffee table -- pieces she plans to take with her should the family outgrow this space. "We love this architecture and this neighborhood, and there are several homes like this one nearby," she says. "It's not inconceivable that we would end up in something similar. Regardless, I think I'd like the furniture anywhere." (Chairs: Lawson-Fenning; coffee table base: James Devlin Studio; coffee table top: Fox Marble.) The blue and white palette takes an edgy turn with dashes of black -- such as the black leather sofa Faust designed for the space. "I love these colors together in fashion," says the designer. "If these shades were in an outfit, I'd be delighted to wear it." Wanting to add some design diversity to the room, Faust created the sofa in a style that's more contemporary than pure Midcentury. The black leather fabric has a rock 'n' roll look but a family-friendly attitude. "I think that kids can jump and play on it, and it will weather nicely," she says. "And the dark color hides a lot of marks and stains." Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ByBlye Interiors When it came to the art, Faust wanted something that would make a big impact in the room but a little dent in the wallet. She searched for "black and white art" on Etsy and discovered Cindy Robinson. The striking table, smooth on the outside and jagged on the inside, came with its "teeth" painted white. Faust had it stripped and refinished in a natural wood color. Now the white wall allows the table's lines to shine. The rattan chairs are vintage. Faust liked their California-in-the-1960s look and their portability, a plus for gatherings. (Table: Noir; art: Cindy Robinson>) ByBlye Interiors Contemporary Living Room by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ByBlye Interiors "The room is a reflection of me and my taste," says Faust. "We wanted it to be a calm, fun and welcoming space." More ideabooks: How to Start a Decorating Project More Rooms of the Day Photos: Browse thousands of living rooms  Permalink | Email this | Comments

Julia Stiles' Manhattan Condo Sells for $2.7 Million

2014-08-22 07:49:00

Filed under: News, Celebrity Homes, Selling ZillowJulia Stiles' just-sold condo in Gramercy Park has two small fireplaces and there's an upright piano in the living room. APJulia Stiles By Emily Heffter Actress Julia Stiles has sold her condo in New York's Gramercy Park for $2.7 million. Stiles was last seen on the big screen in "Silver Linings Playbook." Right now, she's starring with James Wirt in an off-Broadway play called "Phoenix." She first listed the condo at 310 E. 15th St., No. 3B last summer. Stiles' father bought the 2,081-square-foot, three-bedroom, 3.5-bath condo in 2004, but her name is on the property records as the seller. The unit has a private rooftop deck and a balcony off the living room. Each of the upstairs bedrooms has its own bathroom. The unit is modestly decorated, with blue subway tile in the kitchen, two small fireplaces and an upright piano in the living room. Stiles, 33, was a child actress who grew up in New York City. She is known for her work in "10 Things I Hate About You," "The Bourne Identity" and sequels, and her long-running role in the television show "Dexter." Her apartment sale was first spotted by Variety's Real Estalker.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Housing Market Recovery Finally Back on Track?

2014-08-21 16:26:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, Financing Jeff Chiu/The Associated PressThis property in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood recently sold for $600,000 more than its asking price. By Christopher Rugaber WASHINGTON -- A fourth straight monthly increase in sales of existing homes provided the latest evidence Thursday that the U.S. housing market is rebounding from a weak start to the year. Housing has been a drag on an otherwise strengthening economy, in part because a harsh winter delayed many sales. But Americans are stepping up purchases as more homes have been put up for sale. And low mortgage rates and moderating price gains have made homes more affordable. "The momentum is in the right direction," said Andrew Labelle, an economist at TD Bank who noted that the past four months have marked the fastest four-month sales gain since 2011. "Sustained jobs gains, as well as the fall in mortgage rates since the beginning of the year, appear to have unleashed at least some pent-up demand." Sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That was the highest annual rate since September of "We were seeing sales in clumps.... Now we're seeing sales the good old-fashioned way: One at a time." last year. The increase follows other encouraging signs that the housing market is improving. The pace of home construction starts surged 15.7 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.1 million homes, the government said this week. Applications for building permits, a gauge of future activity, also strengthened last month. And a survey of homebuilders released Monday showed that they were more confident about future sales. The encouraging readings contrast with reports earlier this year, when weak sales and limited building led economists to characterize housing as a faltering piece of the economic recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer had pointed to housing as an economic weak spot. Economists noted that housing still hasn't fully recovered from its slowdown earlier this year. The annual sales pace remains 4.3 percent below last July's rate. And construction has merely returned to its pace in October; it has yet to exceed it. Yet economists say they're encouraged by signs that the latest sales gains are sustainable. Stephanie Karol, an economist at IHS Global Insight, said a "virtuous cycle" is emerging: More homeowners are listing their properties for sale. A greater supply of homes then encourages more potential buyers to take the plunge. And that, in turn, helps sustain modest price gains, which lead more people to sell. "This is exactly the sort of pattern we want to see," Karol said. The number of homes for sale rose 3.5 percent in July from June to 2.37 million, the most in nearly two years. Affordability is improving. The median price slipped a bit in July from June to $222,900, the Realtors said. Though that was still 4.9 percent more than a year ago, year-over-year price gains have slowed. And the average rate for a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.1 percent this week, the lowest level this year, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. At the start of the year, the average rate was 4.53 percent. A study released Thursday by data provider Zillow found that homebuyers paid just 15.3 percent of their incomes on the mortgage for a typical home in the April-June quarter. That's much lower than the 22.1 percent share during the housing bubble that ended in 2006. The Realtors report also showed that healthy sales make up a rising share of purchases. Fewer home sales stem from foreclosures or involve homes for which the seller owed more on their mortgage than the home was worth. Those "distressed" sales made up just 9 percent of sales in July -- the lowest proportion since the Realtors began tracking the figure in October 2008. Distressed sales, which tend to drag down neighborhood prices, had made up 36 percent of sales in 2009. Many distressed sales were made to investors, including private equity firms. They bought large numbers of homes and drove up overall sales in 2011 and 2012. Ron Peltier, CEO of HomeServices America, a real estate brokerage affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway, noted that those sales weren't sustainable. "We were seeing sales in clumps," he said. "Now we're seeing sales the good old-fashioned way: One at a time." First-time homebuyers made up 29 percent of sales in July, up slightly from June and the second straight gain. Still, that's well below the typical figure of 40 percent. First-time buyers are critical to a housing recovery, in part because they enable homeowners seeking to buy larger homes to sell. First-time buyers are likely benefiting from strong job gains. Hiring since February has reached its healthiest pace since 2006. But first-timers also face higher credit standards and down-payment requirements, making it harder for many to qualify for mortgages. Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at Permalink | Email this | Comments

Outfitting an Art-Filled Penthouse in New York City

2014-08-21 14:59:00

Filed under: Design, News, LifestyleBy Brad Goldfarb Along with the High Line, Frank Gehry's IAC headquarters, and the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum slated to open next spring, a parade of striking residential buildings by an all-star cast of architects, including Jean Nouvel, Richard Meier, and Shigeru Ban, has completely transformed the complexion of New York City's West Side in the past decade or so. One of these structures -- the tower known as 200 Eleventh Ave., devised by Annabelle Selldorf in the heart of Chelsea's gallery district-offers a state-of-the-art amenity no other high-rise in the city can match: apartment-level parking, made possible by an elevator that deposits occupants and their cars directly at their own doors. Add enticing features like double-height ceilings and panoramic views, and it's easy to understand why the address has become so desirable. For one couple, who live primarily in Paris and Aspen, Colorado, with their two children, a spur-of-the-moment visit to a duplex penthouse in the building was all it took to end a nascent search for the "In the living room the decorator created "the impression that the room was floating like a helium balloon," he says, "with the Hudson River below and clouds above." perfect pied-à-terre. "Our decision to take it was pretty instant," says the wife. Just a few years earlier the pair had sold what many would consider the ultimate Manhattan trophy home -- a sprawling apartment on Fifth Avenue. "We wanted to be downtown, in a smaller and more contemporary space," explains the husband. And the move to Chelsea, with many of the city's leading galleries just steps away, would put the duo in the center of the art scene, a world in which both are active. They envisioned the residence not only as a place to call home in New York but also as a glamorous setting for entertaining. To tailor the developer-outfitted unit into the inviting showplace they pictured, the couple turned to Paris-based interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot, whom they'd worked with before. "My husband wanted something less traditional than our other homes," says the wife. "I am all about warmth, ease and comfort, especially for our children. Jean-Louis understands that balance." Deniot also grasped that to make the apartment function as his clients wished, a few structural modifications would be necessary. Carried out in collaboration with Peter Pelsinski of the New York firm SPAN Architecture, these changes ranged from the cosmetic -- adding ceiling coves to conceal lighting, ductwork and wiring -- to the more ambitious, such as enclosing one of the two outdoor terraces to form a double-height family room (which can also serve as a dining room, thanks to a Deniot -- designed cocktail table that rises to dining level at the touch of a button). When it came to the decor, Deniot selected a variety of statement pieces, among them a backlit brass sunburst sculpture by C. Jeré in the powder room and an Hervé van der Straeten bronze-and-lacquer bar cabinet in the living room. The emphasis on high-impact furnishings was an approach the homeowners readily embraced, and their contributions to the mix included a curvy chrome-and-ebony dining table with matching consoles by Guy de Rougemont. These, in turn, inspired the sleek kitchen island, which Deniot fronted with a Mondrianesque arrangement of stainless-steel and wood panels. Not surprisingly, views were central to Deniot's design, with the sky, river, and cityscape informing many of his choices. In the living room the decorator created "the impression that the room was floating like a helium balloon," he says, "with the Hudson River below and clouds above." Floor-to-ceiling curtains custom embroidered with patterns suggestive of watery reflections line the 24-foot-tall windows, while a silk carpet in pale blues and grays underscores the ethereal mood. Anchoring the room is a vintage Steinway piano, lacquered blue by Deniot. "Jean-Louis struggled with having a brown or a black piano," says the wife. "So we compromised." In the master bedroom, where a bronze Paul Evans lamp from the 1970s resides harmoniously atop a bespoke lacquer bookcase, Deniot's penchant for combining old and new is on vivid display. "I try to mix things so you can't tell what's vintage and what's recent," he says. Throughout the home, walls are clad in compelling textiles, such as the evocative print of rolling hills in the guest room, chosen for the way it echoes the distant landscape across the Hudson. Of course, art plays a major role as well. Among the pieces acquired for the space is the Antony Gormley sculpture on the second-floor landing. Another high-light is the arresting multicolor wall sculpture by Mauro Perucchetti commissioned for the spot above the living room fireplace. Still, "it's not an ideal apartment for art," concedes the husband. "With all the windows there's limited space for hanging anything. It's the classic trade-off." But then, those New York City views are their own kind of masterpiece. Tour the Jean-Louis Deniot-devised Chelsea apartment. Also at Tommy Hilfiger's Incredible Miami Home Permalink | Email this | Comments

Homebuying Remains a Bargain, Renting Is Getting More Costly

2014-08-21 12:39:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, RentingBy Cory Hopkins Buying a home remains a real bargain compared to renting in most areas nationwide, as the share of income typically needed to afford the average home is much lower today than it was in the past. But while buying a home is a great deal, for those current renters looking to buy -- particularly millennials -- saving up the necessary down payment can be a real challenge as rents keep rising. Zillow's July Real Estate Market Reports examined both mortgage affordability and rental affordability nationwide and in dozens of large markets. (See the chart below.) U.S. homebuyers should currently expect to pay 15.3 percent of their incomes to a mortgage on the typical home, far less than the 22.1 percent share "The affordability of for-sale homes remains strong, which is encouraging for those buyers that can save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates." homeowners devoted to mortgages in the pre-bubble years between 1985 and 1999. As of June, homebuyers in just six of the country's 100 largest metro markets analyzed by Zillow were paying a larger portion of their incomes today than historically in order to buy their area's median-priced home. This widespread affordability is driven largely by very low mortgage rates, which help keep overall monthly costs down for homebuyers. But mortgage rates are expected to rise in the coming year. When mortgage rates hit 5 percent, still very low by historical standards, the number of unaffordable metros for homeowners among the top 100 will more than double, to 13. At 6 percent mortgage interest rates, the number of unaffordable metros will almost double again, to 24. Renters, meanwhile, are facing a much different environment. Rents didn't experience the huge drop seen in home values during the recession, and instead have just kept chugging upward for much of the past decade. Plus, renters can't take advantage of very low mortgage rates, like homebuyers can. As a result, renters signing a lease today should expect to pay about 29.5 percent of their income to rent, compared to 24.9 percent in the pre-bubble period. In 88 of the nation's 100 largest metro areas, renters should currently expect to pay a larger share of their income toward rent than they would have historically. The disparities between homeowners and renters are magnified among the millennial generation. Because a much larger proportion of millennials rent compared to other generations such as Generation X and baby boomers, the problem of saving up for a down payment and other costs associated with homeownership is much greater among younger potential homebuyers. "The affordability of for-sale homes remains strong, which is encouraging for those buyers that can save for a down payment and capitalize on low mortgage interest rates. But the health of the for-sale market is directly tied to the rental market, where affordability is really suffering" said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. "As rents keep rising, along with interest rates and home values, saving for a down payment and attaining homeownership becomes that much more difficult for millions of current renters, particularly millennial renters already saddled with uncertain job prospects and enormous student debt. In order to combat this phenomenon, wages need to grow more quickly than they are, particularly for renters, and growth in home values will need to slow." BuyingThe median annual income nationwide was $53,216 as of the end of the second quarter. But according to the Census Bureau, homeowners and renters make drastically different salaries -- homeowners make $65,514 per year, while the typical renter in the U.S. makes just $31,888. BuyingStill, there are some areas where buying and renting are affordable. In a dozen markets nationwide, the share of income needed to pay either a typical mortgage or the median rent in an area is lower now than it was historically, making these markets great for any generation of homebuyer or renter.  Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments

Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level of the Year

2014-08-21 12:24:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Gene J. Puskar/AP WASHINGTON -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, with the 30-year loan rate hitting its low for the year. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage fell to 4.10 percent from 4.12 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, slipped to 3.23 percent from 3.24 percent. Mortgage rates have fallen in recent weeks after climbing last summer when the Federal Reserve began talking about reducing the monthly bond purchases it was making to keep long-term borrowing rates low. Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.43 percent Wednesday, close to its low for the year of 2.41 percent.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

Existing Home Sales Rise at Fastest Pace in 10 Months

2014-08-21 11:06:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, Selling Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images By Jason Lange WASHINGTON -- Americans resold their homes in July at the fastest pace in almost a year, a sign the housing market was gaining steam again after a year-long slump. The National Association of Realtors said Thursday existing home sales increased 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 5.15 million units. That was above analysts' expectations and marked the fourth straight month the pace of home resales accelerated. Home resales dropped in the summer of 2013 after the Federal Reserve signaled it would dial back its monetary stimulus for the economy, pushing mortgage interest rates higher. The Fed, however, ended up keeping a bond-buying program running at full throttle for longer than investors expected, and mortgage rates edged lower again. This, coupled with robust job growth this year, helped push home resales in July to their highest level since September 2013. Distressed sales, which include foreclosures and short sales, made up only 9 percent of sales last month, the lowest share since the group starting tracking this information in October 2008. More homes also are being put on the market, keeping prices from rising as quickly and providing potential buyers with more choices. The number of homes on the market for resale rose to 2.37 million in July, the highest level since August 2012 and 5.8 percent more than in July of last year. The median sale price was $222,900, 4.9 percent higher than in July 2013.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

Bruce Willis Sells Beverly Hills Mansion for $16.5 Million

2014-08-21 07:49:00

Filed under: News, Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling TruliaBruce Willis paid $9 million for this estate when he bought it from movie industry titan Alan Ladd Jr. in 2004. ShutterstockBruce Willis In a housing market that's going up, up, up, actor Bruce Willis had a hard time selling his Beverly Hills mansion. Originally listed for $22 million in May 2013, Willis was forced to chop $2 million off the asking price of his sprawling, gated Beverly Hills hacienda in August 2013. With a $19,995,000 price tag, the gorgeous home continued to languish on the market. Until now. Property records show that Willis finally found a buyer at a much lower price. He sold the spread for $16.5 million on August 15, 2014. After so many years on the market, Willis must be thrilled that the deal is done, and he and wife Emma Hemming can fully enjoy East Coast life in their chic condo in New York City. Despite the lower sale price, Willis still made a profit over the $9 million he paid for the estate way back in June 2004, when he bought the pad from movie industry titan Alan Ladd Jr. The 1928 Spanish-style residence sits on about an acre of flat land in a prime section of lower Beverly Hills and has 11 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms spread out over 10,379 square feet of interior space that also includes a state-of-the-art screening room, his-and-hers bathrooms and two staff rooms. Outside, a large pool, tennis courts and the surrounding areas are an entertainer's paradise. Branden Williams of Hilton & Hyland represented both Willis and the buyer in the deal. Permalink | Email this | Comments

Bank of America Reaches Record Mortgage Settlement With U.S.

2014-08-20 15:40:00

Filed under: News, Economy, Financing, Foreclosures The Associated PressBank of America reportedly will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion in the settlement. By Jeff Horwitz and Michael Virtanen WASHINGTON -- Bank of America has reached a record $17 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday. One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday at the earliest, said the bank will pay $10 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion. The deal is the largest settlement arising from the economic meltdown in which millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. It follows agreements in the last year with Citigroup for $7 billion and with JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $13 billion. Like the Bank of America deal, those Bank of America had argued that it shouldn't be held liable for the subprime mortgages issued by Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. settlements were a mixture of hard cash and "credits" for various forms of consumer aid that the banks promised to provide in coming years. The Bank of America settlement was negotiated through a joint federal and state working group established by President Barack Obama two years ago with the Justice Department and other federal and state authorities. Individual states are expected to share in the settlement. Justice Department spokeswoman Ellen Canale declined to comment, as did New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a co-chairman of the group. The bank also declined comment. The deal requires Bank of America to acknowledge making serious misrepresentations about the quality of its residential mortgage-backed securities issued by itself and by Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch. Those institutions were acquired by the bank when they were on the brink of failure in 2008 and they were responsible for the bulk of the questionable loans. The deals are intended to offer some financial relief to homeowners, whose mortgages were bundled into securities by the banks in question and then sold to investors. The securities contained residential mortgages from borrowers who were unlikely to be able to repay their loans. Still, the securities were promoted as relatively safe investments until the housing market collapsed and investors suffered billions of dollars in losses. The poor quality of the loans led to huge losses for investors and a slew of foreclosures, kicking off the recession that began in late 2007. The cash totals now being paid by some of the country's largest banks are not nearly enough to reverse the damages caused by the bursting of the housing bubble and the ensuing recession. Bank of America had argued that it shouldn't be held liable for the subprime mortgages issued by Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. Combined, those three firms issued $965 billion in mortgage-backed securities from 2004 to 2008, according to public records. Roughly 75 percent of that total came from Countrywide. In a federal lawsuit last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Bank of America and two subsidiaries with defrauding investors in an offering of residential mortgage-backed securities by failing to disclose key risks and misrepresenting facts about the underlying mortgages. The Justice Department filed a parallel civil action against Bank of America alleging violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act. Virtanen reported from Albany, New York. Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Pete Yost and Eric Tucker contributed to this report. Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Last updated on Aug 22, 2014.