4.5-Acre Oceanfront Maui Property Hits The Market For $5.5 Million

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China's real estate crisis isn't over yet, IMF says

China’s real estate crisis isn’t over yet, IMF says

China’s real estate market has slumped in the last two years after Beijing cracked down on developers’ high reliance on debt for growth.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

BEIJING — China needs to do more in order to fix its real estate problems, the International Monetary Fund said Friday.

The property market contributes to about a quarter of China’s GDP and has been a drag on growth, especially since Beijing cracked down on developers’ high reliance on debt in 2020.

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Chinese authorities started to ease restrictions on financing for the sector over the last several months.

“Authorities’ recent policy measures are welcome, but in our view additional action will be needed in order to end the real estate crisis,” Thomas Helbling, deputy director in the IMF’s Asia Pacific Department, said in a briefing.

“If you look at the measures, a lot of them address financing issues for the developers that are still in relatively good financial health, so that will help,” he added in an interview with CNBC. “But the problems of the property developers’ facing severe financial difficulties are not yet addressed. The issue of the large stock of unfinished housing more broadly is not yet addressed.”

China is slowly coming back, Dassault Systemes CEO says

Apartments in China are typically sold to homebuyers before completion. Covid and financial difficulties slowed construction so much that some homebuyers halted their mortgage payments last summer in protest.

Chinese authorities subsequently emphasized the need to help developers finish building those pre-sold apartments. Still, residential floor space sold in China dropped by nearly 27% last year, while real estate investment fell by 10%, according to official numbers.

“I think it would be helpful to point to a way out and … how the restructuring could be done and who will absorb losses if there are any losses,” Helbling said. He also called for additional measures to address the large stock of unfinished apartments.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

“Otherwise the sector will continue to slump and remain a risk and also constrain households that are overexposed to the property sector, and will have cash tied up and their savings tied up which will be a handicap for the broader economic recovery,” he said.

Helbling declined to name a specific timeframe within which authorities needed to act before the situation got much worse.

“The sooner you address downside risks the better.”

China says it’s not a crisis

The IMF analysis was part of the organization’s latest report on China, following annual discussions with Chinese officials that ended in November.

The officials pushed back on the IMF’s real estate assessment, according to a statement in the IMF report by Zhengxin Zhang, executive director for People’s Republic of China, and Xuefei Bai, senior advisor to the executive director, dated Jan. 12.

China’s property market has generally operated smoothly and “is not in a ‘crisis’ situation,” the statement said, casting the sector’s situation as “a natural evolution of ‘deleveraging and destocking’ in the past few years.”

“The related risks are local and only concern individual firms, and their impact on the rest of the world has been relatively small,” the central bank representatives said. Looking ahead, the Chinese side said they would work toward ensuring the delivery of completed apartments, and merging developers.

Chinese property developers such as Country Garden, Longfor and R&F Properties have seen their shares nearly double or more over the last 60 trading days — about three months, according to Wind Information. But trading in shares of one-time giants Evergrande, Shimao and Sunac have been halted since March 2022.

The IMF report pointed out that a significant portion of investors in Chinese developers’ bonds have been affected.

“As of November 2022, developers that have already defaulted or are likely to default — with average bond prices below 40 percent of face value — represented 38 percent of the 2020 market share of firms with available bond pricing,” the report said.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

“The sector’s contraction is also leading to strains in local governments. Falling land sale revenues have reduced their fiscal capacity at the same time as local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) have also significantly increased land purchases.”

The IMF on Monday raised its global growth expectations for the year due to better-than-expected growth in major countries late last year, softening inflationary pressures and the end of China’s Covid controls.

The new 2.9% forecast for the world is 0.2 percentage points better than anticipated in October. But it’s still a slowdown from 3.4% growth in 2022.

For China, the IMF projects growth of 5.2% this year, faster than the 3% pace in 2022.

— CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

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Mortgage rates drop to the 5% range for the first time since September

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Prospective buyers at an open house in Florida.

Mike Stocker | South Florida Sun Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

The average rate on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has fallen to 5.99%, according to Mortgage News Daily.

The housing market hasn’t seen the rate with a five handle since a brief blip in early September. Before that, it was in early August.

The rate started this week at 6.21% and fell sharply Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said inflation “has eased somewhat but remains elevated,” which was a shift from previous language.

That sent bond yields lower, and mortgage rates loosely follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury.

“Measured steps can continue as long as the economic and inflation data is there to support them. This means rates can make progress down into the 5’s but are unlikely to stampede quickly into the 4’s,” said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. “I’m not saying that won’t happen–just that it would take a bit more time than some of the rate rallies we remember from the past.”

Mortgage rates peaked in October with the 30-year fixed at 7.37% and have been sliding since then. For potential homebuyers that means savings. For a consumer purchasing a $400,000 home today with a 20% down payment, the monthly payment is $293 less than it would have been in October.

Lower rates already appear to be juicing buyer interest.

Pending home sales, which measure signed contracts on existing homes, rose in December for the first time in six months. They gained 2% compared with November, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

Stocks of the nation’s homebuilders have been on a tear since rates started to fall back and several are seeing 52-week highs Thursday. The U.S. Home Construction ETF is hitting a new one-year high, up over 3% on the day.

Homebuilder stocks are also reacting positively to earnings beats reported this week from PulteGroup and last week from the nation’s largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton. Both builders reported seeing renewed buyer interest in December, attributing that to lower mortgage rates.

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Hong Kong services to rebound as China reopens, but UBP says sector is coming from 'fragile situation'

Hong Kong services to rebound as China reopens, but UBP says sector is coming from ‘fragile situation’

We're confident that Hong Kong's economy can 'return to expansion' in 2023, says economist

Hong Kong’s service sector will be the part of economy that sees “the biggest rebound” as borders reopen, UBP told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday. 

However, it warned that the sector is coming “from a very fragile situation,” given its contraction in every quarter of 2022. 

“We can’t exclude the possibility of further insolvencies or bankruptcies … even as things do look to improve in the months ahead,” said Carlos Casanova, UBP’s senior economist for Asia.

The latest figures from the Hong Kong government also showed the city’s economy contracted by 4.2% in its fourth quarter, the fourth-straight quarter of declines. Real GDP also shrank by 3.5% year-on-year.

“That contraction was much faster than we had anticipated, our forecast was -2.8%,” Casanova added.

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However, the economist was optimistic that Hong Kong’s economy should be “in a position to return to expansion” in 2023. 

“We are seeing signs that there’s been a sequential acceleration in January. So that’s the good news,” said Casanova.

Factors contributing to possible expansion 

Besides the return of mainland Chinese tourists, Casanova said “more supportive equity valuations” will help improve sentiment in Hong Kong. 

“You also have this expectation that the Fed will hike rates at a more modest pace in 2023 … that at some point you will have a pause,” he explained. 

“And that means that this pro-cyclical headwind that we’ve been experiencing in Hong Kong with tighter monetary policy … will not be such a big drag in the year ahead.” 

Fed raises rates by 25 basis points, expects 'ongoing' increases

Boost for housing demand 

We're no longer expecting a 'huge drop' in Hong Kong property prices, MIB Securities says

“In fact, data on the housing sector earlier this week showed that the number of mortgages that are underwater … is at the highest in 18 years,” Casanova said. 

“But it only takes a very small number of mainland talent to move into Hong Kong in order to at least put a floor on that correction in housing prices.” 

Reversing the number of mortgages that are in negative equity will be “a very important side-effect” from the reopening of borders and recovery of domestic demand, he added. 

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Here's what the Federal Reserve's 25 basis point interest rate hike means for your money

Here’s what the Federal Reserve’s 25 basis point interest rate hike means for your money

Here's what the Fed's interest rate hike means for you

The Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate for the eighth time in a row on Wednesday, in its continued effort to tame persistent inflation.

At its latest meeting, the central bank approved a more modest 0.25 percentage point increase after recent signs that inflationary pressures have started to cool.

“The easing of inflation pressures is evident, but this doesn’t mean the Federal Reserve’s job is done,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “There is still a long way to go to get to 2% inflation.”

What the federal funds rate means to you

The federal funds rate, which is set by the U.S. central bank, is the interest rate at which banks borrow and lend to one another overnight. Although that’s not the rate consumers pay, the Fed’s moves do affect the borrowing and saving rates consumers see every day.

This rate hike will correspond with a rise in the prime rate and immediately send financing costs higher for many forms of consumer borrowing — putting more pressure on households already under financial strain.

“Inflation has shredded household budgets and, in many cases, households have had to lean against credit cards to bridge the gap,” McBride said.

On the flip side, “with rates still rising and inflation now declining, it is the best of both worlds for savers,” he added.

How higher interest rates can affect your money

1. Your credit card rate will rise

Since most credit cards have a variable rate, there’s a direct connection to the Fed’s benchmark. As the federal funds rate rises, the prime rate does, as well, and your credit card rate follows suit within one or two billing cycles.

“Credit card interest rates are already as high as they’ve been in decades,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. “While the Fed is taking its foot off the gas a bit when it comes to raising rates, credit card APRs almost certainly will keep climbing for at least the next few months, so it is important that cardholders continue to focus on knocking down their debt.”

Credit card annual percentage rates are now near 20%, on average, up from 16.3% a year ago, according to Bankrate. At the same time, more cardholders carry debt from month to month while paying sky-high interest charges — “that’s a bad combination,” McBride said.

At more than 19%, if you made minimum payments toward the average credit card balance — which is $5,474, according to TransUnion — it would take you almost 17 years to pay off the debt and cost you more than $7,528 in interest, Bankrate calculated.

Altogether, this rate hike will cost credit card users at least an additional $1.6 billion in interest charges in 2023, according to a separate analysis by WalletHub.

“A 0% balance transfer credit card remains one of the best weapons Americans have in the battle against credit card debt,” Schulz advised.

Otherwise, consumers should consolidate and pay off high-interest credit cards with a lower-interest personal loan, he said. “The rates on new personal loan offers have climbed recently as well, but if you have good credit, you may be able to find options that feature lower rates that what you currently have on your credit card.”

2. Mortgage rates will stay higher

Rates on 15-year and 30-year mortgages are fixed and tied to Treasury yields and the economy. As economic growth has slowed, these rates have started to come down but are still at a 10-year high, according to Jacob Channel, senior economist at LendingTree.

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is now around 6.4% — up almost 3 full percentage points from 3.55% a year ago.

“Relatively high rates, combined with persistently high home prices, mean that buying a home is still a challenge for many,” Channel said.

This rate hike has increased the cost of new mortgages by around 10 basis points, which translates to roughly $9,360 over the lifetime of a 30-year loan, assuming the average home loan of $401,300, WalletHub found. A basis point is equal to 0.01 of a percentage point.

“We’re still a ways away from the housing market being truly affordable, even if it has recently become a bit less expensive,” Channel said.

Other home loans are more closely tied to the Fed’s actions. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, are pegged to the prime rate. Most ARMs adjust once a year, but a HELOC adjusts right away. Already, the average rate for a HELOC is up to 7.65% from 4.11% a year ago.

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3. Auto loans will get more expensive

Even though auto loans are fixed, payments are getting bigger because the price for all cars is rising along with the interest rates on new loans, so if you are planning to buy a car, you’ll shell out more in the months ahead.

The average interest rate on a five-year new car loan is currently 6.18%, up from 3.96% last year.

The Fed’s latest move could push up the average interest rate even higher, although consumers with higher credit scores may be able to secure better loan terms or look to some used car models for better deals.

Paying an annual percentage rate of 6% instead of 4% would cost consumers $2,672 more in interest over the course of a $40,000, 72-month car loan, according to data from Edmunds.

“The ever-increasing costs of financing remain a challenge,” said Ivan Drury, Edmunds’ director of insights.

4. Some student loans will get pricier

Federal student loan rates are also fixed, so most borrowers won’t be affected immediately. But if you are about to borrow money for college, the interest rate on federal student loans taken out for the 2022-23 academic year already rose to 4.99%, up from 3.73% last year and any loans disbursed after July 1 will likely be even higher.

If you have a private loan, those loans may be fixed or have a variable rate tied to the Libor, prime or T-bill rates, which means that as the central bank raises rates, borrowers will likely pay more in interest, although how much more will vary by the benchmark.

Currently, average private student loan fixed rates can range from just under 4% to almost 15%, according to Bankrate. As with auto loans, they also vary widely based on your credit score.

For now, anyone with existing federal education debt will benefit from rates at 0% until the payment pause ends, which the Education Department expects to happen sometime this year.

What savers should know about higher interest rates

The good news is that interest rates on savings accounts are finally higher after the recent run of rate hikes.

While the Fed has no direct influence on deposit rates, they tend to be correlated to changes in the target federal funds rate, and the savings account rates at some of the largest retail banks, which have been near rock bottom during most of the Covid pandemic, are currently up to 0.33%, on average.

Also, thanks, in part, to lower overhead expenses, top-yielding online savings account rates are as high as 4.35%, much higher than the average rate from a traditional, brick-and-mortar bank.

Rates on one-year certificates of deposit at online banks are even higher, now around 4.75%, according to DepositAccounts.com.

As the Fed continues its rate-hiking cycle, these yields will continue to rise, as well. However, you have to shop around to take advantage of them, according to Yiming Ma, an assistant finance professor at Columbia University Business School.

“If you haven’t already, it’s really important to benefit from the high interest environment by getting a higher return,” she said.

Still, because the inflation rate is now higher than all of these rates, any money in savings loses purchasing power over time. 

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Real Estate Buyers Are Not Liars, Agents Just Need To Listen

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Mortgage demand took a big step back last week, even after interest rates fell further

Mortgage demand took a big step back last week, even after interest rates fell further

A “For Sale” sign outside a house in Albany, California, on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

After a stronger start to the year, mortgage demand plunged last week, despite another drop in interest rates.

Total mortgage application volume fell 9% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) decreased to 6.19% from 6.20%, with points falling to 0.65 from 0.69 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. The rate was 3.78% the same week one year ago.

Even with rates well off their recent highs, applications to refinance a home loan fell 7% for the week and were 80% lower than the same week one year ago. Homeowners may have jumped back briefly after the holiday lull, causing demand to rise over much of January, but overall there are still very few borrowers who can benefit from a refinance at today’s rates, so demand is now falling again.

Mortgage applications to buy a home fell 10% for the week and were 41% lower year over year. While both home prices and mortgage rates are coming down steadily, the supply of homes for sale is still quite low, and that may be keeping mortgage demand under pressure.

“Purchase activity is expected to pick up as the spring homebuying season gets underway, bolstered by lower rates and moderating home-price growth,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “Both trends will help some buyers regain purchasing power.”

Mortgage rates have been moving in a narrow range for the last few days, but that could all change depending on commentary expected from the chairman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. The central bank is expected to hike its interest rate, but that doesn’t necessarily raise mortgage rates. The monthly employment report Friday could also move rates decidedly, depending on what it says about the state of the economy, recession and inflation.

“There are also several important economic reports that could lead traders to revise their assessment of the Fed’s likely course of action,” noted Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. “In other words, even after the Fed-induced volatility, traders could find new reasons to buy/sell bonds at an even faster pace, thus causing bigger movement in rates for better or worse.”

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Florida County Map Shows Where The Income Gap Is Biggest

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Average household income, or as called more precisely by the Census Bureau, mean household income, is quite different from median household income. For example, a city’s median household income is the income of the household that’s at the 50% point of the entire distribution of households in that city. In contrast, the mean household income is the average of all the households and their respective incomes for the entire city.

This difference between median and mean, or average, household income is crucial to understand: Average household income can be distorted by a small number of households that earn outsized incomes compared to the rest of the area; these high-income households will then “pull” the average household income for, say, a county upward. However, these high-income households do not have the same effect on the median household income since that’s simply the household whose income is right at the halfway mark between the whole range of households, from the lowest-earning to the highest-earning, in a given area. Thus, a large difference in a city or county between its mean household income and its median household income implies that income inequality is an issue.

Florida stands out when it comes to income inequality. The Gini index is a measure of income inequality, in which zero represents perfect equality and one represents perfect inequality. According to the Census Bureau’s newly released 2021 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates, for the United States overall, its Gini index is 0.4818. For the state of Florida, its Gini index is higher, 0.4850. Florida is the sixth most unequal state in terms of income out of all 50 states, trailing behind:

  1. New York – Gini index: 0.5138
  2. Connecticut – Gini index: 0.4972
  3. Louisiana – Gini index: 0.4965
  4. California – Gini index: 0.4874
  5. Massachusetts – Gini index: 0.4852

Average Income in Florida vs. Median Income in Florida

What makes Florida particularly interesting when it comes to income inequality is its incredibly diverse population and socio-economic climate. It’s a state that’s home to millions of transplanted retirees, mixed with large numbers of lower-income service workers, mixed with ostentatious wealth in cities like Miami and its surroundings. That’s why we analyzed Florida by analyzing all of its counties in terms of the gap between average household income and median household income. We then created a map to better display just how large this gap in income inequality can get.

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Below you’ll find the Florida county map that details each county’s mean household income, median household income, and the difference between them (with median household income being subtracted from mean household income). The darker the red the county, the greater the gap between the county’s average household income and median household income; yellow shades are the counties in the middle; and the darker the green the county is, the smaller the gap between the county’s average household income and median household income.

Based on the data and the Florida county map, Collier County displays the greatest difference between average household income and median household income, at $45,134: Its mean household income of $120,677 minus its median household income of $75,543. Collier County encompasses wealthier cities such as Marco Island (median income of $93,134 and mean income of $148,234) and Naples (median income of $125,306 and mean income of $248,988), as well as lower-income places like Immokalee (median income of $40,144 and mean income of $57,397). In Collier County, 37.2% of households earn $100,000 or more alongside 33.1% of households that earn less than $50,000. Not surprisingly, the Gini index in Collier County is 0.5264 (versus the U.S.’s 0.4818), making the county the second most unequal in terms of income, behind only Hardee County, whose Gini index is 0.5343. Hardee County features 56.6% of households that earn less than $50,000 while 15.1% of households earn $100,000 or more.

Based on the data and the Florida county map, Collier County displays the greatest difference between average household income and median household income, at $45,134: Its mean household income of $120,677 minus its median household income of $75,543. Collier County encompasses wealthier cities such as Marco Island (median income of $93,134 and mean income of $148,234) and Naples (median income of $125,306 and mean income of $248,988), as well as lower-income places like Immokalee (median income of $40,144 and mean income of $57,397). In Collier County, 37.2% of households earn $100,000 or more alongside 33.1% of households that earn less than $50,000. Not surprisingly, the Gini index in Collier County is 0.5264 (versus the U.S.’s 0.4818), making the county the second most unequal in terms of income, behind only Hardee County, whose Gini index is 0.5343. Hardee County features 56.6% of households that earn less than $50,000 while 15.1% of households earn $100,000 or more.

The southern tip of Florida is home to many of the counties with the highest income inequality. Martin County, which has the third highest Gini index of income inequality of 0.5238, has an average household income of $108,358 versus a median household income of $69,769, for a difference of $38,589. Palm Beach County, which stretches from West Palm Beach and Boca Raton on the Atlantic coast westward to Florida’s rural interior, has the fifth highest Gini index of income inequality at 0.5199. Similarly, Monroe County, which covers much of the Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, has the sixth highest Gini index of income inequality at 0.5157.

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New York AG will seek sanctions on Trump, lawyers over 'false' court filings in fraud suit

New York AG will seek sanctions on Trump, lawyers over ‘false’ court filings in fraud suit

Former US President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a 2024 election campaign event in Columbia, South Carolina, on January 28, 2023.

Logan Cyrus | AFP | Getty Images

The New York attorney general’s office on Tuesday said it will ask a judge to impose sanctions on former President Donald Trump and his attorneys in a pending $250 million fraud lawsuit for “falsely” denying facts they previously admitted and other issues related to his recent court filing.

Attorney General Letitia James‘ team also plans to ask Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron to make a series of rulings that would hobble Trump’s ability to contest her civil lawsuit.

The planned requests were revealed nearly two weeks after a federal judge in Florida sanctioned Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba nearly $1 million for filing what that judge called a “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others.

Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on James’ plan, which was disclosed in a letter to Engoron from one of the attorney general’s lawyers.

James is suing Trump, the Trump Organization, three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, and others for what she said was widespread fraud involving false financial statements and improper valuation of real estate assets. The defendants deny the allegations.

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Trump and the other defendants last week responded to the lawsuit with a court filing that contained so-called verified answers to the allegations.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for James told Engoron that “each of the Verified Answers is deficient in a host of ways.”

“Defendants falsely deny facts they have admitted in other proceedings,” wrote Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel of the AG Office’s Division of Economic Justice.

“They deny knowledge sufficient to respond to factual allegations that are plainly within their knowledge,” Wallace wrote.

“And they propound affirmative defenses that have been repeatedly rejected by this Court as frivolous and without merit,” he added.

Wallace said the attorney general’s office plans to file a motion asking Engoron to take several steps that would undercut Trump’s defense to the suit. One would be the judge assuming that Trump had effectively admitted the allegations that he and his co-defendants had improperly denied.

James also will ask that Engoron “sanction defendants and their counsel,” according to Wallace’s letter.

The letter said that “a cursory review” of the verified answers shows “that a number of the denials are demonstrably false and actually contradict sworn statements by the Defendants in other proceedings.”

Wallace pointed to the Trump defendants’ flat denial of “each and every allegation therein” in James’ lawsuit that Trump remained the inactive president of the Trump Organization while serving in the White House.

“But the allegation that Mr. Trump was the ‘inactive president of the Trump Organization,’ while in the White House, is taken directly from his own sworn testimony in Galicia v. Trump on October 18, 2021,” Wallace wrote. “In fact, [James’] complaint uses Mr. Trump’s own phrasing.”

Eric Trump in the verified answers denied that the Seven Springs LLC controlled by the Trump company bought a property in Westchester County, New York, in 1995 for $7.5 million after the company admitted it did in a prior court proceeding, Wallace said.

The lawyer concluded by saying Engoron “has already admonished Defendants and their counsel for their continued invocation of meritless legal claims but exercised its discretion in not imposing such sanctions, ‘having made its point.'”

But Wallace added, “It does not appear that this point was taken, however, and [Office of the Attorney General] would ask the Court to renew the issue.”

3 key things to know before opening a home equity line of credit

3 key things to know before opening a home equity line of credit

HELOC use rose as cash-out refis dropped

Last year, as mortgage rates climbed higher, accessing home equity by taking cash against it during refinancing (a so-called cash-out refi) became less appealing.

Rates on mortgages went from close to 3% at the beginning of 2022 to a peak of above 7% in the fall. Right now, the average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 6.21%, according to Mortgage News Daily.

As cash-out refis fell, HELOC use began to climb. Last year through September, lenders originated HELOCs totaling $214 billion, up from $159.5 billion during the same period in 2021, according to CoreLogic.

Real estate remain's a sellers' market, says Realtor.com's Danielle Hale

“In a low-rate environment, people were looking at cash-out refis,” Bellas said. “Now … a lot of people have a mortgage with a very low rate, so to do a cash-out refi, they’d be paying [a higher rate] on their full mortgage.”

“We’ve had quite a few people over the past 12 months … elect to go with the HELOC because of that,” Bellas said.

How HELOCs compare with other borrowing options

I would not use a HELOC to buy frivolous things or things you can’t afford.

David Demming

President of Demming Financial Services

However, like your mortgage, a HELOC is a lien against your house — meaning that if you don’t repay as promised, the lender would have the right to foreclose on your house.

“I would not use a HELOC to buy frivolous things or things you can’t afford,” said certified financial planner David Demming, president of Demming Financial Services in Aurora, Ohio.

“It should be a short-term bill that you’re going to pay off within a finite period of time,” Demming said.

Here are three key things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

1. Variable interest rates make it tricky to budget

2. It may be difficult to pay off the principal

HELOCs typically only come with monthly interest payments — meaning none of your minimum payment goes toward the principal.

“If you don’t have a lot of excess funds and are making interest-only payments, it can be difficult to find the cash and discipline to pay down that balance,” Bellas said.

“I’ve seen people with a $50,000 balance and five years later it’s still close to that [amount],” he said.

HELOCs generally have a “draw” period when you can take money out that often lasts 10 years and then a repayment period of, say, 10 or 20 years, when you start paying both interest and principal. And because of that, your payments will jump if you have only been paying interest.

For instance, a $50,000 balance would yield interest-only payments of $312.50 and then jump to $593.51 during a repayment period of 10 years, according to InvestorsBank.com’s HELOC calculator.

If your HELOC has a balance when you sell the home, it must be paid off along with the primary mortgage on the house.

3. Beware of transferring debt to a HELOC

Sometimes, homeowners turn to a HELOC to pay off higher-interest debt, such as credit card balances.

On the face of it, shifting high-rate balances to a HELOC could make sense. However, if you don’t have a plan to pay off the HELOC, you’re just delaying the inevitable, Bellas said.

“The danger is really that you’re recategorizing the debt and kicking it down the road,” Bellas said. “There’s probably a bigger thing that needs to be addressed.”

Luxury developers in Los Angeles bet someone will pay record prices for these condos

Luxury developers in Los Angeles bet someone will pay record prices for these condos

Two developers in California are looking to lure a buyer willing to do something no other buyer has ever done before in Los Angeles history – pay between $50 million and a $100 million for a condo. 

A deal anywhere near those asking prices would shatter a record in the City of Angels, where no single condo unit has ever sold for more than $22.5 million, according to public records.  

A rendering depicts the penthouse terrace and pool at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles which is on the market for $75M.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

A behemoth duplex-apartment located at 9000 West 3rd Street in Beverly Hills comes with a price tag of $75 million. 

One LA, as the penthouse is called, hit the market back in July. It spans the top two floors of the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles, part of an ultra-luxe condo project by the Genton Development Company that includes 59 units across 12 stories.

Rendering depicting the finished penthouse atop the Four Seasons Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

It’s the first stand-alone Four Seasons residence in North America and it sits across the street from its namesake hotel. According to the building’s website, the crown-jewel residence delivers almost 13,000 sq ft of indoor living area and nearly 6,000 sq ft of outdoor space.

Rendering of the primary bedroom at the penthouse known as ONE LA.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

The penthouse, which appears fully furnished in renderings used to market the unit, is actually being sold “white-box,” meaning a buyer would take possession of unit as an unfinished shell. That means no kitchen, no baths, no millwork, no fixtures. It’s so empty that Billy Rose, co-founder of The Agency RE and co-listing agent on the deal, can be seen with his team in a marketing video riding bikes through the vast raw space.

At the current asking price, the unfinished unit is over $5,700 a sq ft. Rose told CNBC finishing costs vary widely depending on a buyer’s taste, but $8 million is a ballpark estimate. Some buyers, he said, actually prefer the blank canvas delivery so they can customize the residence to their personal taste. 

A 19-person IMAX theater is one of the luxe amenities offered at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

The building’s amenities include in-residence dining and housekeeping, a private 19-seat IMAX theater with access to first-run films and private screenings, a fitness center designed by nutritionist and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, a pool with private cabanas, and Four Seasons staff at your beck and call, according to the website.

A double shot of luxury

The sunset view of the top-floor penthouses asking $100M at 8899 Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood.

DroneHub Media

The other ultra high-priced penthouse that’s reaching for LA’s most rarified air is located at 8899 Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood. It has a $50 million asking price that can be super-sized to $100 million.

The 10-story, 40-unit building, designed by architecture firm Olson Kundig, was developed by Townscape Partners. The top floor is divided into two similarly sized penthouses, one on the east and the other on the west.  

According to broker Fredrik Eklund of Douglas Elliman, who reps the development and recently took CNBC on a tour of penthouse east, the four-bedroom, five-bath residence spans about 6,450 sq ft, with 14-foot ceilings. It has motorized glass panel walls that slide away for access to another almost 1,500 sq ft of outdoor space on the wrap-around balcony.  

Unlike One LA, unit PHE is being delivered finished. it’s currently staged with furnishings by ASH Staging. They are not included in the $50 million asking price, which comes to over $7,700 a square foot.  

The view from 8899 Beverly Blvd’s unit PHE where glass panels walls slide away and open to a wraparound balcony.

ASH Staging

The developer has yet to officially list either of the two top-floor penthouses, but has been testing the market’s appetite for PHE since at least April. That’s when the developer started marketing the unit with a $50 million price-tag in a so-called whisper campaign – a term that usually describes the word-of-mouth marketing used to shop around an off-market residence.

In this case, Townscape Partners and Eklund have been whispering pretty loudly about the deal to the press for months. The team is simultaneously shopping an even pricier off-market deal that pairs both of the top-floor penthouses as a combo with a $100 million ask.

The primary bedroom in Penthouse East at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

ASH Staging

The combination residence would position its owner at the highest vantage point in West Hollywood. As a pair, the penthouses deliver eight bedrooms, 10 baths and four kitchens – each includes a main kitchen and an adjacent staff kitchen.

According to Eklund, the package deal brings the total interior footage to somewhere around 13,000 sq ft with an additional 6,000 sq ft outside. Building amenities include an over 12,000 sq ft outdoor area with pool, fireplaces and dining area. There’s also a fitness area and a yoga studio, and a fine-dining restaurant is coming soon.

Penthouse PHE’s primary bath.

ASH Staging

On the subterranean level there are so-called car stables, a term Eklund uses to describe the building’s luxury garage. The parking area includes moody lighting, herringbone-patterned tile flooring and parking spots tucked behind sliding doors made of wood and steel. 

The broker told CNBC a pair of parking spots here cost $750,000, but as part of the penthouse deals the developer would throw in a few spots for free. It would also include a garage-level penthouse-only private lobby with views of the garage, plus seating and elevators that can whisk penthouse guests directly to the top floor. 

The so-called auto stables on the garage level at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

DroneHub Media

Too expensive even for LA?

A rendering of the rooftop terrace at ONE LA.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

At the current asks, a prospective buyer of either One LA or the penthouses at 8899 Beverly Blvd would have to take a gigantic leap from the records established at The Century. While Miller told CNBC real estate markets don’t typically make drastic moves like this, this sort of thing has happened before in LA.

The example he points to is a sliver of the town’s single-family housing inventory known as ultra-luxury spec-mansions. Over the past decade, these homes suddenly achieved sales that broke through the $50 million mark and sustained it. Now the once unimaginable price-level is breached regularly in the high-end spec market.

“It’s a subset of the greater market that doesn’t have a linear or direct connection to what was the luxury market before,” said Miller.

According to Miller, a sudden spike in a housing subcategory like spec homes can happen when developers convince buyers that they’ve created a new real estate product that’s so different from what existed before that it should command a significant premium.

The full-service pool area at the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard and CRTKL

“It’s the beginning of a new dataset,” Miller said.

Rose calls LA’s new super-luxury condo inventory “2.0,” a wave of apartments he describes as more modern, luxurious, and amenity-packed than any condo inventory that came before it. He believes those are some of the reasons the units should command higher prices over the previous wave, which Rose believes includes the record breaking sales at The Century Condo.

So far Rose’s 2.0 theory is supported by a recent sale at the The Pendry Residences, another luxury condo project in West Hollywood, where a 2,700 sq ft unit sold for $13 million and breached $4,800 a sq ft. That is now the highest price per sq ft ever achieved for a condo in LA. This record is more than double the price per sq ft reached in each of those three top sales at The Century Condo.

A seating area on the wraparound balcony of penthouse east at 8899 Beverly Blvd.

ASH Staging

Eklund believes his $100 million whisper listing can and will break a price record in LA. What’s happened already in New York helps. On Central Park, he said, trophy condos have surpassed $10,000 and even $12,000 a sq ft. 

“That happens a lot, so is Los Angeles undervalued still?  Long term, maybe,” Eklund said.

Over the last decade, multiple listing service data shows more than 140 units in New York have sold for $35 million, compared to zero at that level in LA. But Miller adds a giant caveat: the two condo markets are very different. While he said The Pendry sale is clearly a sign, this new market would need to deliver a lot more transactions to determine if it’s sustainable. 

In other words: developers of One LA and the trophy penthouses at 8899 Beverly are in uncharted territory. 

“This is a new market segment,” Miller said. “So we’ll have to see how consumers respond.” 

A seating area and fireplace inside 8899 Beverly Blvd’s penthouse east residence.

ASH Staging

$7.3 Million California Mountain Contemporary Comes With Ski Country Perks

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