by Laura Matiz
Last fall I wrote (Rates: How Low Can They Go?, Oct 19, 2014) about the downward movement in mortgage rates as 30-year, fixed loans crossed the 4% barrier. Rates eventually bottomed out in April 2015 at a monthly average rate of 3.67%, but have been on the rise since then and have recently crossed above 4% as shown in the latest data from Freddie Mac.
The per month difference from the bottom rate (3.6%) to 4% is about +$23 per $100,000. The rising cost of financing homes might affect some sales in the second half of the year, but other factors such as the improving labor market and a strong housing sales will trump the effects of the rising rates leading to more home purchasers. It is important to note that mortgage rates are still near historical lows. With the rates inching upward, the mortgage refinancing market is likely to slow down. The best way to shop for a mortgage loan is via a mortgage banker. Please contact me if you need a referral.
Market outlook reports:
by Laura Matiz
In the spirit of this Sunday's Father's Day, I was thinking about more meaningful gifts than a book, a tie, or a summer polo shirt. One gift idea that came to mind is a "man cave" just for Dad. By now, most readers are likely familiar with the term: a space in the den or basement for men middle aged and older to watch sports, play pool, or drink a few beers with pals. A place to tune out the stresses of modern life. Wi-Fi required.
It is not easy to set up that special space for Dad in most NYC apartments given space limitations. The man cave has to be more a concept than a separate room. The man cave will likely be a nook, but creating a nook is infinitely more doable. A nook can be carved out of any existing room by moving some furniture around. So what are some ideas?
First, a man cave must serve Dad's favorite pastime. Here are three examples for Dad, the reader; Dad, the sports fan; and Dad, the music fan:
For Dad, the reader: the nook must be a quiet and comfortable place to sit with a book. A nice club chair, a lamp, a small table to hold beer and snacks, and an accessible shelf to hold the library should suffice. Place it behind the large sofa or in the corner of a dining room. The nook should be away from the heavy traffic of the apartment, but close enough to the fridge. Top it off with a gift certificate to B&N with a reminder of their same-day delivery in Manhattan and an account on Goodreads.com.
For Dad, the sports nut: the nook must have space for a 4K TV (HDTVs are so yesterday) which means power and cable feeds must be nearby. Like the reader nook, a comfortable seat is a must—many games now last more than three hours and some Sundays, there are three games that have to be watched. The TV doesn't have to be as big as the one in the living room, but it has to be big enough so that it doesn't feel like a computer screen.; that's what Dad has stared at all week and he needs a break. This set up is more challenging in a small apartment, but you can take over the kid's room. She's in college anyhow. What are the chances Jill is coming back home after graduation? If you are not sure, do a partial conversion. Dad won't notice the pink tones once the game is on anyway. If Jill comes back home, getting the beer smell out of the rug should be fairly easy with modern cleaners.
For Dad, the music aficionado: take the readers's nook above and add an highly-rated self-powered speaker ($300 and up) and you would be set. Headsets are required because you need an alternative when you want to hear yourself think. Dad is always quoting the Spinal Tap movie's, "this amp goes to 11" line and on top of that, he is losing his hearing. You also don't want to blow out those expensive self-powered speakers the first week. Classical music and opera lovers will also enjoy the headsets to avoid overhearing the housewives of New York bickering while you are watching the TV. One more optional but critical addition for the music lover is a turntable. It will make Dad feel young again. The turntable can be purchased at any of the eleven Urban Outfitters stores in Manhattan. If you don't have that hipster look, this is where the kids can help with the shopping. They won't seem so out of place at Urban Outfitters. Setting up the turntable will require a little more space to hold the vinyl, but draw the line on the peach crate that held his records back in the '70s. That look just won't work in your apartment anymore.
Once the man cave (um, nook) is ready, Dad will brag to all his friends about his special place. That will make you so happy you didn't get him another tie. And, if you do it right, you can even tell him that it raised the value of your apartment.
Happy Father's Day!
by Laura Matiz
This week I hosted a special cocktail hour for past and present clients, customers, and business colleagues. The superb evening was co-hosted with Jeffrey Appel, Everbank's Sales Director. The usual top-notch fare at the Columbus Club and the intimate setting of their Oak Room allowed for much networking and camaraderie among the attendees.
The highlight of the event was Oz Pearlman, world-renowned mentalist extraordinaire. He amazed the crowd with illusions and tricks that had everyone buzzing and wondering how they were done. The trick that stands out for me—and I'm still grappling with what happened—is when he asked a guest to sign a dollar bill from his wallet and then to fold and sit on it. What happened next is unbelievable. Oz (pronounced OHs) asked for people to provide him with numbers for what appeared to be part of another trick. Another guest was asked to be his assistant to multiply the large numbers using her iPhone's calculator. Once the multiplication was totaled, Oz wrote the seven-digit result on a large pad. He then turned and asked for the nesting dollar bill to be revealed. The serial number on that bill matched the number on the iPhone calculator. I heard more than one loud, "No way!" He never looked at the bill, nor could he have known the random numbers thrown out by the audience.
Many thanks to those who joined Jeff and me at the event. It was fabulous and I hope the first of many to come. Of course, I want to thank all my clients, customers, and colleagues who place their trust and confidence in me: thank you.