Skyrocketing Rents in Brooklyn

Brooklyn neighborhoods that once provided a release valve for Manhattan pricing have now become more expensive then Manhattan apartments. In many Brooklyn neighborhoods, “the rent just keeps going up and up – even in the sluggish economy, even in the slight downturn in the housing market,” according to a recent article that appeared in the real estate section of the Wall Street Journal. Most people who turned to Brooklyn because it was seen as a slight bargain are now being forced to look elsewhere. A $2500-a-month studio apartment in Manhattan’s West Village is now cheaper than a studio apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at $2700 a month!

In reality, though, only a handful of people are leaving Brooklyn for Manhattan. Most others venture into Southern Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx where rents remain more reasonable.

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Craigslist Scams and Your Rental Research

Craigslist scams are very common in today’s tight rental market, and even outnumber legitimate rental advertisements in certain markets. To avoid potential scams, Dwellworks consultants use a variety of publicly-available resources to research rentals. To avoid Craigslist scams yourself, follow these rules provided by

  • Deal locally with sellers you can meet in person to avoid 99% of scam attempts.
  • Never wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service. Anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
  • Watch for fake cashier checks and money orders. Banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Never give out financial information, such as bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.
  • Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services and know that only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction.
  • Do not rent housing without seeing the property’s interior, or purchase expensive items without examining them firsthand. It is likely that the housing unit is not actually for rent or the cheap item does not really exist.
  • Do not submit to credit checks or background checks for a job or housing until you have met the interviewer or landlord / agent in person.

Remember that Craigslist is not involved in any transaction, and thus does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification.”

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Special Social Security Application Announcement in NYC

Please note that, effective August 16, the Social Security Administration will be designating one exclusive location in New York City for the processing of all Social Security application forms. All applications must now be processed at the 123 Williams Street location, as alternate locations will no longer offer this service.

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Are home prices on the upswing?

A recent article has presented data to demonstrate that nationally home prices bottomed out in January 2012 and we are beginning the slow climb upward.  It would appear that most signs are pointing towards a rebound:  Miami, Phoenix and Las Vegas posted home-price gains in May, home prices helped lift 700,000 homeowners above water in the first quarter of 2012, and FHFA monthly House Price Index in May was up 3.7 percent from a year earlier.

All of this is looking positive for the overall real estate market, but it has not yet translated into increased consumer spending.  In fact, the Commerce Department released findings that consumer spending declined in July for the first time since August 2011; so it is evident that consumers are remaining cautious to ensure that the market gains are real and sustainable.

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Immigration Alert: 2012 London Olympics

Olympic athletes are not the only ones who need to prepare for the 2012 summer games in London.  The influx of millions of tourists and media coming to the Olympics will impact the entire operation of the country. The Queen’s Jubilee in June and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships held from June 25 to July 8 were just the lead-off to a packed summer schedule. The Olympics run from July 27 to August 12, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 29 to September 9.

The U.S. Embassy in London has issued a statement that nonimmigrant visa services will be limited during July through the end of August.  Travelers requiring visas are advised to apply early to avoid disappointment.  U.K. expats planning to return to London to should click here to renew their visas.

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Housing Rebound Signaled as Banks Resume Foreclosures: Mortgages

The housing market’s rebound has been restrained by the so-called shadow inventory of homes with mortgages at least 90 days delinquent, in foreclosure or already owned by banks, while foreclosures had been stalled since late 2010, when state attorneys general and federal regulators began investigating abuse by banks, including lost or doctored paperwork. They started to pick up again after the nation’s five biggest banks settled the probe for $25 billion in February of this year. Per Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac, “The market has to deal with these distressed properties at some point and I believe we’ve delayed it long enough so seeing these increases isn’t necessarily a bad thing, The market has strengthened and is more equipped to absorb this additional foreclosure inventory.” Mortgage delinquencies are dropping, with the share of home loans at least 30 days late dropping to 7.4 percent in the first quarter from 7.58 percent in the prior three months, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Demand for real estate is rising amid record-low borrowing costs and tight inventories of available real estate. Contracts to buy previously owned homes rose 5.9 percent in May, matching a two-year high reached in March, the National Association of Realtors said. Read the entire Business Week article here.

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Signs of a Housing Recovery

The housing market was the first casualty in the financial crisis, and it’s been one of the last to recover.  According to this article in the Washington Post, there are a few signs that things may finally be starting to look up as home sales and housing prices have been creeping upward.

There’s been a consistent rise in the price of distressed homes since the end of 2011 which lends additional support to overall housing prices.  In addition, housing sales have also been recovering as pending homes sales have risen in all four regions of the country, with the western region leading the country with a 14+% increase in pending home sales.  Trulia’s Jed Kolko predicts that housing prices won’t fully recover until late 2015 and the article does mention that there are a lot of false bottoms in the market, so it maybe it’s too early to say we are officially on the upswing. But the trends mentioned above are all good signs pointing in the right direction.

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Mixed Messages on the Housing Market

In recent a MSNCB article , Bill Briggs brought together a number of different viewpoints to illustrate how varied the perceptions are on the state of the real estate market.  The Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller composite index has shown a 0.7 % national bump from March to April.  This slight increase was led by big increases in formally slumping markets like Miami, Tampa, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The reasons for the gains in some areas and declines in others have been pointed to various players in the real estate market.  From lenders holding back inventory to drive up prices to appraisers driving down house values, everyone has a theory on what is happening in the market.  When you throw in the uncertainty of how the futures of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Authority will play out, there seems to be more questions than answers.

Mr. Briggs article is another great reminder than the real estate market is a complex one and where you are buying or selling will have a major impact on how you view the health of the real estate market.


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Dwellworks Cross-Cultural Education for Destination Services Consultants

Dwellworks offered Cross Cultural Education courses to its network of 600+ Destination Services Consultants (DSCs). These education sessions were created in partnership with the Interchange Institute, a non-profit organization focused on the understanding and support of people and organizations in intercultural transition. The courses consisted of three one-hour modules on easily accessible, company-created online webinars. Program topics included the personal side of international relocations, the roots of current social issues and values, and cross-cultural dimensions around the world. In total, 328 DSC’s and Dwellworks associates received some level of cross cultural education from these sessions.

The first group of sessions was completed in late 2011. After much positive feedback from participating DSCs, a second session was recently added and implemented. Kelly Dorsch, Director, Supplier Network at Dwellworks said that “our team received very positive feedback from the participating DSCs. One found the sessions thought-provoking because she was encouraged to think about differences that even the most experienced consultants might take for granted. Many others also said that they look forward to incorporating this training into experiences with future clients.”

“We were excited to offer three distinct, engaging modules for our DSCs,” says Andrew Horvath, Vice President of Destination Services Operations at Dwellworks. “We feel these sessions have equipped them with the knowledge to provide culturally sensitive, high-quality services to transferees moving all over the country.”

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Preparing for the Future: Dwellworks Summer Intern Class of 2012

Internship programs are a great way to grow and retain talent in our local communities.  Dwellworks started with one intern in 2009 and has since created a full-fledged program for college students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to a real-life work environment.  This spring, the program was voted in the top 5 for “Best New Internship Program” in Northeast Ohio at the Expys award, presented by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education and Cleveland Business Connect.  This year’s 21 member class is comprised of students from colleges and universities all over the United States with majors ranging from English to Accounting.

Dwellworks starts the recruiting process every year in January by posting on local job boards and attending career fairs at local universities looking for students that are not only bright and motivated but that will also mesh well with our culture.  In addition to their daily tasks and projects, the interns take part in a company-wide, structured, internship program designed to prepare them for the business world.  Each summer, the interns from all our offices are assigned a project, to work on together, that will make an impact in the company.  The project encourages interaction with off-site team members using the latest technology while completing meaningful work.  “We feel that our interns develop their skills in an encouraging workplace setting, and we are confident that they are well prepared for long, successful careers,” says Shana Zollar, Vice President of Human Resources.

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