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Housing Starts Spike to 11-Year High, Permits Stumble

Following a dip last month, housing starts rebounded in May, up 5 percent to 1.35 million from the revised April estimate of 1.286 million, according to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Meanwhile, single-family housing starts jumped up 3.9 percent since April to 936,000, the second-highest reading since the Great Recession, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Multifamily starts (five units or more) dropped slightly to 404,000.

Permit approvals fell 4.6 percent since April to 1.3 million; however, they are still 8 percent above the May 2017 rate, according to the data. Approvals for single-family builds were down 2.2 percent to 844,000 permits, and multifamily approvals came in at 421,000.

“Ongoing job creation, positive demographics and tight existing home inventory should spur more single-family production in the months ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, in a statement. “However, the softening of single-family permits is consistent with our reports showing that builders are concerned over mounting construction costs, including the highly elevated prices of softwood lumber.”

As for completions, rates bumped up 1.9 percent from April to 1.291 million, with single-family completion rates rising dramatically—11 percent from April numbers to 890,000. Multifamily completions came in at 389,000, down 14.1 percent from April rates.

“We should see builders continue to increase production to meet growing consumer demand even as they grapple with stubborn supply-side constraints, particularly rising lumber costs,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel.

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A Handy Guide to Starting a Home Remodel

(Family Features)—Apprehension and inexperience keep many homeowners from pursuing renovation projects that would make their homes more functional, enjoyable and comfortable. Getting your hands dirty on the front end—with some planning and preparation – is the best blueprint for a successful home remodeling project.

To help you start your remodel on the right track, consider these tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services.

Start with a plan
Although it may sound obvious, the first step really is to decide what you hope to accomplish with your renovation. At the least, begin to outline rough ideas to discuss with an expert. Reaching out to contractors before you’ve determined a basic idea for your project can waste time and money. Spend time listing the features you must have, as well as some nice-to-haves if budget allows. Also think about overall functionality, design and layout. If you get overwhelmed or need ideas, don’t hesitate to turn to online showrooms or magazines for inspiration.

Set a budget
If the sky is the limit, skip ahead, but if you’re like most homeowners, money matters. Have a clear idea of what you can afford to invest in your renovation before you get started, and if necessary, research the financing options available to you. Look for financing that provides deferred interest or low monthly payments to help manage the project cost. Setting a clear budget can help keep your contractors accountable, and it goes a long way toward ensuring you can enjoy your finished project without regret.

Draw up the plans
To help set your plan in motion, there are numerous online tools you can utilize to simplify each step of the process including design, budgeting and more. If you’re planning a home remodel, it can be helpful to find a comprehensive resource that offers a one-stop-shop for bathroom remodeling, countertops, custom window treatments, flooring, heating and cooling, water heaters and whole-home water treatment.

Involve a professional
Unless you have the time and skills, you’ll want a licensed and insured contractor to lead the project when you’re ready to get your renovation in motion. It can be wise to solicit multiple bids, not only to ensure you get the best value, but also to find someone whose work, style and experience is most in line with the needs of your project. After all, this person will be a big part of your life during a fairly stressful time period. Always check references and verify the contractor’s standing with local associations.

Get ready for work
Remember that you’ll need to create a work environment that is safe for your contractors and protects your valuable possessions. Establish a clear path to the project space for easy access and removal of debris. Furniture, appliances, room furnishings, valuables and breakable items should be removed from both the path to the work site and the work site itself. If your renovation project will involve an essential room, such as the kitchen or a bathroom, make alternate arrangements such as creating a makeshift kitchen with the bare necessities in another part of the house

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Countertops 101
Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most common renovation projects, and countertops are often a focal point of these redesigns. However, choosing the right countertop can be overwhelming. Here are two of the most popular choices:

Granite countertops have long been the mainstay of a beautiful kitchen or bathroom. Granite is a natural stone, quarried from large stone deposits around the world. It can have many different variations of patterns and colors, giving each slab a unique appearance that is visually rich and dynamic.

In addition to its distinctive beauty and classic elegance, granite is also extremely durable. Granite is highly resistant to heat and scratches and, with proper sealing, offers good water and stain resistance and is easy to clean.

Granite typically needs to be sealed, both prior to installation and at least once per year. If properly maintained, a granite countertop will last for as long as you own your home, making it a potential long-term investment.

Quartz is another popular choice for countertops due to its durability, stain resistance and ease of maintenance.

It’s an engineered product made mostly from up to 93 percent quartz, a non-porous natural stone, combined with a small amount of binder and color. Small particles of glass or reflective metal flakes can also be added to some quartz designs to achieve a more unique look. The result is an attractive slab that can be made in a wide variety of tones and colors, and can be finished to duplicate high gloss polished stone.

Quartz is one of the most durable countertop materials and one of the easiest to maintain. It is highly resistant to heat, water and stains, including stains from coffee, wine, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and more. Unlike granite, quartz does not need to be sealed, making it easier to maintain over time.

Source: JCPenneyhomeservices.com

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That Frequent Flyer Seat May Be Easier to Book—Here’s Why

(TNS)—Airlines are making it easier for frequent flyers to redeem their travel rewards, as major carriers work harder to keep their most loyal customers happy, according to a seat availability survey released recently.

American Airlines showed the biggest improvement, rising from the bottom of the pack to ninth in the annual survey, with members of its AAdvantage program able to book reward seats on more than 82 percent of flights, up nearly 28 percentage points from last year.

Overall reward availability for the 25 airlines surveyed increased to 73.6 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from last year.

“There is a recognition among the big airlines in the U.S. that there’s got to be a minimum amount of reward seats available, and you’re seeing them all kind of drift towards a band close to each other in the charts,” said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, an airline consulting firm near Milwaukee, which conducts the annual survey.

Southwest Airlines repeated as frequent flyer champion, with 100 percent of seats available for booking through its Rapid Rewards program. The MileagePlus loyalty program at United Airlines ranked 12th at nearly 76 percent, up about 11 percentage points from last year.

The survey, sponsored by travel technology firm CarTrawler, was conducted in March and used 7,420 booking inquiries to assess reward availability for two passengers traveling from June through October. The maximum price for domestic travel was capped at 25,000 points or miles, depending on the loyalty program.

Frequent flyer programs have been around for decades, but the advent of credit card miles has increased traveler participation and competition among airlines in recent years. Sorensen said airline-associated credit cards account for more than 60 percent of reward miles accrued and represent an increasingly important revenue source for the airlines.

“When you are a cardholder who uses your charge card for everyday purchases, who buys tickets on the airline, you’re a really good customer because they are getting revenue from you from a variety of different sources,” Sorensen said. “Plus, you’re really engaged in a relationship with the company. You become tied through this net of accrual and flying the airline.”

Discount carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue, whose TrueBlue program ranked fourth at 94.3 percent, tend to make more seats available to frequent flyers than traditional carriers, the survey showed. But the huge gains by American represent the growing importance all airlines are placing on making loyalty rewards easier to access.

Josh Freed, a spokesman for American, said the carrier’s gains were part of a “long-running effort” to improve availability and catch up with its peers at United and Delta Air Lines, whose SkyMiles loyalty program ranked 13th in the latest survey with 72 percent reward seat availability.

“Our long-term goal is to be roughly comparable to the other big network airlines in terms of availability, and this is evidence that we’re making progress” Freed said.

A key change in the AAdvantage rewards program was opening up connecting flight availability, Freed said.

“That enabled people that don’t live in a hub city to have a better chance of getting the reward ticket that they are seeking,” he said.

©2018 Chicago Tribune
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Home Buyers: You can automatically receive personalized Chautauqua County MLS listings by e-mail. Simply choose Free Home Finder and fill in the requested information. Early each morning we will search the local MLS and find the properties that match your criteria and notify you immediately with the latest listing information!!

 

Chautauqua County Home Sellers 

If you're planning to sell your home in the next few months, this FREE service is designed to help establish your home's current market value. Simply choose My Home's Value and fill out the requested information. We will use comparable sold listings to help you calculate the fair market value of your home and return it to you by email. 

 

About Chautauqua

Chautauqua County occupies the extreme southwest corner of New York State. The county takes its name from the largest lake in the area, which is twenty miles long and 1,308 feet above sea level. At one end is located Mayville, the county seat and at the other end is the city of Jamestown. 

Outstanding recreational opportunities exist in the county, from hiking and biking on the county's public trail systems, to fishing, boating and canoeing on the lakes, to skiing and snowmobiling. The famous Chautauqua Institution, founded in 1874 and located on Chautauqua Lake, hosts educational and cultural programs each summer. 
-courtesy of the Chautauqua County Government

 

Your Real Estate Advantage

For over twenty years, Real Estate Advantage has been serving buyers, sellers and renters in Chautauqua County. We are a full service brokerage and we also provide property management services. With over 23 agents to assist you, we feel we are one of the most knowledgeable and experienced agencies in the area. We offer full disclosure to buyers and will work at your pace. Please call us today and let us help you start a life of living on Lake Chautauqua! 

Chautauqua Lake Real Estate and Vacation Rentals 800-707-2295 
Serving Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown, Lakewood, Mayville and Bemus Point

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