Home Sales Soared for 4th straight month!


The numbers: Existing-home sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in September, as the U.S. housing market benefitted from low interest rates.

Total existing-home sales rose 9.4% from August to a seasonally-adjusted, annual rate of 6.54 million, the National Association of Realtors reported. Compared with a year ago, home sales were up nearly 21%.

“Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season,” Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist, said in the report. “I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace, including buyers of vacation homes given the greater flexibility to work from home.”

What happened: The fast pace of home sales has quickly dwindled the remaining supply of homes on the market, however. More than seven in 10 homes on the market in September sold in less than a month. As a result, by month’s end the total inventory of homes for sale dropped to a 2.7 months’ supply, the lowest on record. A 6-month supply of homes is considered to be indicative of a balanced market.

The dwindling inventory of homes for sale, when combined with increased demand from buyers, drove prices higher. The median existing-home price was $311,800, roughly 15% higher than in September 2019. That’s the largest increase in home prices since late 2005.

The big picture: A combination of factors has driven home sales to their highest pace in many years. “Existing home sales continued to register higher than one year ago as low mortgage rates helped offset the sting of sharply higher prices,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at “Greater buyer and, perhaps more importantly, seller confidence also helped boost home sales activity this month.”

But there’s still the chance that the wheels could come off for the housing market in the months to come. Unless sellers choose to enter the market in droves, the limited supply of homes for sale will naturally put a ceiling on how high sales volumes can go. And as the pandemic continues, the risk of a prolonged economic downturn could cause some buyers to rethink making a big purchase right now given rising home prices, especially if they are worried about their job security.

What they’re saying: “Higher earners have been more likely to retain their incomes, allowing the housing market to continue booming despite extremely high unemployment levels. Without a broader recovery, there remains risk to the housing market,” said Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams.

“Mortgage rates are rock-bottom, and most homebuyers are much older than the typical customer-facing employee laid off during the Covid epidemic, but lending standards have tightened. We doubt this will be enough to push activity down materially anytime soon, but we don’t expect further big gains in home sales,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both down in Thursday morning trading.

Original article published by

Written by Jacob Passy

Homes sold two weeks faster in September due to unusual surge in demand

home pic

Homebuyers hoping that a seasonal slowdown in the housing market would dampen rising prices can forget about it.

More buyers piled into the fray in September, spurred by record-low mortgage rates and a pandemic-induced stay-at-home culture, pushing sales to an even faster pace.

In the first read on September demand, homes sold 12 days faster than they did a year ago, according to Homes usually sell 25% faster in September than at the start of the year, but this year they sold 39% faster.

It took just 54 days to sell a home during the month. That is the shortest time since began tracking this metric in 2016. Back then it took 78 days.

Regionally, properties in the Northeast spent 13 fewer days on the market than last year, while those in the South sold 11 days faster. In the Midwest it took nine fewer days to sell a home and seven fewer in the West. In the 50 largest metropolitan housing markets, the typical home sold in 44 days, 10 days faster than last year.

“Many buyers tend to put their home search on hold after the start of the school year, but remote learning and the desire for more space continued to fuel buyer interest in September,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at “Unseasonably high buyer interest coupled with historically low inventory and favorable mortgage rates are creating a perfect storm in the housing market. While this is good news for anyone looking to sell their home, it has created tremendous competition among buyers.”

That competition is making bidding wars the rule rather than the exception. Typical buyers are paying about $20,000 more for a home and face 25% more competition than at the start of the year. Usually they face about 9% more competition.

The median price of a home sold in September was $350,000, up just over 11% annually. Some markets are seeing even steeper gains. Prices were up nearly 17% annually in Cincinnati, up 16% in Boston and up over 15% in Philadelphia.

The listings crunch is only getting worse, with supply down 39% annually. Compared with the start of this year, the number of listings was down 21%. September usually sees 17% more homes for sale than in January. Sellers are just not stepping up. There were nearly 14% fewer new listings compared with a year ago, an even steeper decline than August.

None of the largest 50 metros saw an increase in the number of homes on the market compared with last year and most (35 out of 50) saw a tougher supply crunch than in August. In some markets, like Kansas City, Missouri, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Memphis, Tennessee, the supply of homes for sale is half of what it was a year ago.

Originally posted by CNBC.  Written by Diana Olick, Photo by Wang Ying.

Beverly Hills Mansion Listed for $5 Million Comes With the Use of a Private Jet

The La Peer House in Beverly Hills

Did we mention Max Azria helped design the place?

It’s no longer enough to sell a luxe property as-is. Homes for sale across the globe are throwing in over-the-top amenities to attract buyers. A Dubai development offered a European passport with their properties while a Miami penthouse came with a $3.2 million Aston Martin. Now, a Beverly Hills mansion listed for $4.995 million is throwing in a private jet to help close the deal.


The La Peer House is a stunning 4,400 square foot architectural modern Moroccan masterpiece designed by the late famous couture designer Max Azria of BCBG and Herve Leger. It features unique details like a custom tiled fountain in the entry that leads into a two-story grand center hall complete with a floating spiral staircase. There’s also a formal living room with a marble fireplace, family room with wood beams, floor-to-ceiling French doors that look out onto manicured grounds, and a chef’s kitchen with a nine-foot center island and Viking appliances.



Of course, that’s not all. The kitchen is surrounded by glass doors that lead to a large patio and pool area and an oasis-like backyard complete with a pool, waterfall, and spa. Upstairs the master suite has a walk-in closet, fireplaces, and balcony that boasts picture-perfect views of the property. Meanwhile, the three additional bedrooms include bathrooms with one-of-a-kind tile patterns and travertine tiled balconies. 




But to sweeten the deal, even more, the sellers threw in 25 hours of private air travel on a Phenom 300. So, along with a beautiful new home, the buyer can have access to the private jet, something that’s keen for families in the age of COVID. Being able to board the aircraft directly reduces the risk of exposure and makes traveling safer than ever before. 


Other COVID-friendly amenities include a “Hollywood Style” screening room with a built-in granite bar and wine cooler to have at-home entertaining, several home offices, and a state-of-the-art air filtration system. And all of this is just minutes away from famous dining and shopping on Rodeo Drive.


Originally posted by Departures.  Written by Jordi Lippe-McGraw, Photos by Anthony Barcelo (Courtesy The La Peer House)

Fall Decorating on a Budget

Fall Decorating

There is something about decorating for fall that gives me the warm fuzzies! It may be the promise of cool, crisp evenings with brilliant sunsets, or the fact that fall decorating is all about creating a cozy atmosphere in your home. The fun thing about fall decorating is that it’s easy and inexpensive. Here are a few of my favorite fall decorating ideas that are easy to accomplish on a shoestring budget.

  1. Hit your local nursery, grocery store and fabric store for fall color. Place potted chrysanthemums, pansies, croton, purple fountain grass, or flowering kale on your front porch, in your foyer, or around your fireplace to add color. Tuck some mini pumpkins, Indian corn, or gourds around the base of the plants. Instead of spending money on pots, wrap the plant containers in fall print remnants from the fabric store.
  • Scavenge your yard for fresh ornamental cuttings. Put on your gardening gloves, grab your cutting shears and a basket, and head outside for some free décor. Fall leaves, small branches, ivy, ornamental grasses, flower blooms, pinecones, and seed pods make great accents. Arrange cuttings on your mantel or dining table with LED flameless candles and small gourds, or place branches and blooms in a large mason jar or vintage pitcher.
  • Get creative with pumpkins. There are lots of fun things you can do with a pumpkin besides carving a jack-o-lantern. Try painting some pumpkins in fall colors that coordinate with your home’s decor. Or wrap a few large pumpkins in light strands to light up your front porch. Make pumpkin topiaries by stacking three or four on top of a plantar, largest to smallest, and wrap then in garland or light strands.
  • Go antiquing for cheap accessories. Your local antique market or thrift stores can be a treasure trove for great fall finds. An old wagon, a wooden ladder, woven baskets, ceramic jugs, aluminum tubs, antique picture frames, straw hats, and vintage farm tools all have a rustic fall flavor.
  • More ideas for fabrics. You don’t need a sewing machine to make use of fall fabrics. Many fabric stores stock fall prints or have remnant pieces for quilting. Fold a couple of yards of plaid fleece like a throw blanket and drape it over a chair.  Wrap your throw pillows in a yard of a fall print and secure it with craft ribbon or safety pins. Fold the raw edges under and iron to make a simple table runner. Wind strips of fabric around a grapevine wreath or use them to tie big bows around your pumpkin stems.

So, Can I Have People Over for Dinner Now?

Can I have friends over for dinner?

I’m going to say a provisional yes.

After over three months of total self-isolation in which I went without any IRL social interaction at all, I understand the importance of spending time with friends and loved ones. In the last month or so I’ve hosted and attended several outdoor dinner parties, from a low-key meal with takeout dumplings on paper plates (I hosted) to a multi-course home-cooked extravaganza with cloth tablecloths and fresh floral centerpieces (my friend hosted), and each gathering has felt deeply soul-restoring and even essential.

That said, COVID is as deadly as ever, and this pandemic is far from over. We simply can’t afford to go back to sharing meals or spending time with friends and family in the same ways we used to.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the choices we make about socializing this summer have life-and-death stakes, not just for us but for everyone we come into contact with. It’s extremely important to get it right.

Does it matter if we’re indoors or outdoors?

It matters a ton! Unfortunately there is simply no safe way to eat and drink with other people indoors (unless everyone is fresh from weeks or months of strict quarantine). The absolute best way to get COVID is to spend maskless time inside with others, especially if there is eating and laughing and talking involved. Every small gathering risks becoming a super-spreader event.

The good news (and there is good news!) is that hanging out outside while social distancing is relatively safe. COVID droplets disperse rapidly in the open air, and if you’re keeping your face far from other people’s faces, you are highly unlikely to get sick or get them sick.

Just don’t let the mere fact of being outside lure you into a false sense of safety. It’s still essential to keep your face out of droplet range of others. If you’re not socially distanced from someone, wear a mask. This can be hard for kids to remember, and it’s hard for some adults too.

Some options for socially distant outdoor dinner parties in yards, courtyards, driveways, or parks:

➤ You and your guest can sit at opposite ends of a large picnic table (pretend you are Belle and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast).

➤ Each person or household can sit at separate tables that are at least six feet apart. It’s possible to carry on a shared conversation this way, especially if everyone sits so that they are facing the people at the other table(s). I have a couple different friends who host gatherings like this once or twice a week, and after a while it seems almost normal.

➤ Everyone can bring individual camp chairs and/or picnic blankets and position them within conversational range (but out of COVID range) of each other. You can also use individual folding tray tables to pair with folding chairs.

➤ Bathrooms are an issue. At the social gatherings I’ve hosted and at some I’ve attended, people have briefly gone inside one at a time while masked to use the facilities. It’s not riskless, but it’s relatively low-risk. If you are not planning to provide bathroom access, be sure to let people know in advance so they can plan accordingly.

Should we only invite people who have tested positive for antibodies? And do we just take people at their word?

Antibody tests are basically irrelevant. For one thing, they are not that accurate. According to the CDC, you might get a false positive if you’ve had other coronaviruses such as the common cold, and you might test negative even if you currently have COVID, since it can take 1-3 weeks for antibodies to show up after infection. You might test negative if you already had COVID, since antibody levels tend to plummet within a few weeks or months of infection. And even if you get a positive test result that was completely accurate at the time you took it, we simply don’t yet know how much protection antibodies offer and for how long.

Meanwhile COVID tests in their current form aren’t much better. False negatives are very common, and results can take a long time to arrive.

Scientists are working on developing cheap take-at-home COVID tests that people can take every day, like pregnancy tests. Something like that seems like it could instantly transform our lives into a nonstop round of indoor dinner parties. But we’re not there yet.

In the absence of reliable testing, we have to rely on our own risk-reducing behavior and the behavior of those around us. If you’re considering being unmasked indoors with someone, ask yourself, “Would I trust this person with my life? Should they trust me with theirs?” because that is what you are both doing.

Is it wrong to invite a friend of a friend, or someone that the group is less familiar with? As the host, should I share the full guest list with everyone so they know who’s joining?

It’s always nice to let other people know who will be at a gathering, but this is more of a courtesy issue than a safety issue. Your baseline assumption should be that everyone you invite might be contagious. This goes for your best friends as well as for strangers.

Do we need to avoid using the same utensils or pouring wine from the same bottle?

Surfaces aren’t a major mode of transmission for COVID. In fact, worldwide, there is only one possible documented case of someone getting COVID from a surface, so it’s highly unlikely you are going to get COVID from touching a bottle. That said, it can’t hurt to provide hand sanitizer at the table for guests, and if you want to provide separate bottles of wine for each household, I imagine nobody would complain.

The main risk in pouring wine from a shared bottle is less the contact with the bottle itself than the proximity to others. For this reason it makes sense to set up a buffet station where people can serve themselves food or drinks one at a time.

When it comes to sharing utensils, it matters whether you’re sharing communal salad tongs (low risk) or your own personal dinner fork (not recommended).

How should I prep guests? Pre-dinner email?

An email is a great idea. There’s so much variation in behavior these days—some people are acting as if the pandemic is a thing of the past, while others are scrupulously masking and social distancing. I’ve felt incredibly awkward and scared when friends-of-friends have gone in for a hug the second they meet me (I’m not even hugging my family and closest friends right now!). Meanwhile, I feel fine about taking off or lowering my mask outdoors when I’m socially distant, but I know that this choice can freak other people out.

In order to make sure everyone is on the same page, it’s helpful to spell out the protocols for your dinner party in your email (what are your expectations and plans regarding masking, social distancing, bathroom use, etc.?). That way guests know what to expect, and they can either adapt their behavior to the norms you set or stay home.

What about renting a house with friends? How can we safely share space?

Again, there is no truly safe way to be unmasked indoors with people unless you have all been strictly quarantining for weeks.

I do know several people who are quarantining in preparation for vacation with people outside their households. One friend and her husband and daughter are planning to share an AirBnB with another family. She says,

This is a family we’re very close with, who we have a lot in common with (interests, temperaments, parenting philosophies), and who like us have been strictly sheltering-in-place/quarantining since March. We wouldn’t consider it with any other family we know. We have been having regular awkward yet necessary conversations to ensure we’re on the same page about what we are and are not comfortable with, not unlike convos you might have with sexual partners. We’re taking it very seriously.

If you aren’t up for these awkward conversations, your best bet is to find a place where you and your friends can stay in nearby houses, cabins, or camp sites, so you can spend socially distant time together outdoors and then retreat to your own separate spaces. As another friend reports,

My friend crew here in Maine just did our annual queer camping trip … Different campsites for all pods, food handled separately, but then we’d gather (mostly distantly, and again myself and my s.o. hung back from group portions that weren’t distancing) around the fire.

It’s hard to accept that we have so many more months of masking and distancing ahead of us, but if we find safe ways to spend time together now, we can increase our odds of enjoying some old-fashioned, air-conditioned, mask-free, socially-close friend time sometime in 2021.

Originally posted by  Written by Briallen Hopper.