Uber is Killing Off its Instant Food Delivery Option in New York City

Uber is killing off the “instant” option in UberEats, its food-delivery service, just one month after the standalone app launched in New York City.

“In order to bring you the most exciting selection, the highest quality food, and the fastest delivery time, we’ve decided to narrow our focus,” Uber wrote in an email to Eats users in New York City on Monday. “Starting today, 4/18, we’ll no longer be offering a daily Instant Delivery lunch menu.”

Provided by Quartz

The UberEats app debuted in cities across the US in mid-March, with thepromise to make “getting great food from hundreds of restaurants as easy as requesting a ride.” At launch, UberEats offered New Yorkers two different ways to order food. The first was a Seamless-like experience, in which customers could order food from any of the dozens of restaurants on the app, and Uber would facilitate the delivery.

The second was an upgraded “instant delivery” menu that featured two pre-set lunch options from a rotating group of restaurants that Uber said it would deliver in as little as 10 minutes.

To make these rapid deliveries work, instant UberEats had different logistics from its regular service. Instead of dispatching bike couriers to restaurants, Uber had its inventory for the instant menu brought to a central holding facility in Manhattan’s Midtown neighborhood every morning. Instant deliveries were also made to the curb, whereas normal UberEats orders would be brought to a user’s door.

When Uber demonstrated Eats in March a day ahead of its New York City launch, the company was clearly excited about the instant setting, which was the first option at the very top of the app. Emails that UberEats sent to users also prominently highlighted the day’s instant delivery options.

Provided by Quartz

Still, it was unclear at the time exactly how the economics of instant UberEats worked. Uber, for example, said it did not purchase the food, but rather let restaurants determine how much they wanted to provide each day. The company also declined in March to provide specifics on how many Eats orders its bike couriers could deliver at a time, or per hour.

Sarah Maxwell, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the instant delivery option is only being phased out in New York City, but will still exist in all the other UberEats markets. New York UberEats users will still be able to order from the menus of more than 100 restaurants that partner with Uber in the city. Uber had offered a version of Eats in New York City similar to the instant option within its main, flagship ride-hailing app since April 2015.

Food delivery is a hot space right now, with Uber, Postmates, DoorDash, and Caviar—not to mention Seamless—all vying for consumers’ loyalties. Each of these companies is trying to make it big by applying the Uber model to lunch and dinner logistics. Each is building out a technology platform and hiring an army of independent contractors to bring food on-demand from restaurants to users.

But the actual logistics of these business have proven challenging. The New York Times reported in February that DoorDash spends north of $200 to recruit each driver. Many stopped working for the company within a year. (“Dashers by definition will always churn,” DoorDash CEO Tony Xu told Quartz in early March. “They’re people looking for flexible work.”) Late last month, DoorDash raised new funding, selling shares at a 16% discount. Postmates said in February that it planned to raise money in the first quarter, but the company hasn’t shared any news since then.

Written by Alison Griswold of Quartz 

(Source: Quartz)

Airport Aims to Use Uber Drivers’ Fingerprints to Check Past

Atlanta Airport Uber
AP Photo/Jeff Martin

ATLANTA — A battle over background checks for Uber drivers at the world’s busiest airport comes as cities like Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, consider more thorough screenings to prevent criminals from getting behind the wheel.

Uber has objected to the Atlanta airport’s plan to use fingerprints to check criminal records of its drivers, saying its own record checks are sufficient.

But the district attorney in Uber’s hometown of San Francisco has called the ride-booking firm’s process “completely worthless” since drivers aren’t fingerprinted.

In Houston, city officials say they found that background checks without fingerprints allow criminals who have been charged with murder, sexual assault and other crimes to evade detection in a variety of ways.

Atlanta’s city council on Wednesday is set to consider the airport’s plan for screening drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-booking firms when proposed new rules go before the council’s transportation committee.

Uber has agreements with more than 50 U.S. airports, none of which require the fingerprint-based background checks being proposed by Atlanta’ s airport, the company said in a statement. Those airports include major air hubs in Denver; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

But New York City does fingerprint drivers, and the mayor of Los Angeles this month asked state regulators to allow his city to do so as well.

Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, was among the first in the nation to require drivers for Uber and other ride-booking firms to undergo fingerprint-based background checks using the FBI’s database. Houston’s program began in November 2014, and city officials there say they’re far more thorough than any other way of checking someone’s criminal past.

“Public safety is our No. 1 priority — that’s something the city of Houston does not compromise on,” said Lara Cottingham, Houston’s deputy assistant director of administration and regulatory affairs. “That’s the reason we license any vehicle for hire.”

Since Houston’s ordinance went into effect, the city’s fingerprint-based FBI background checks have found driver applicants who have been charged with murder, sexual assault, robbery and indecent exposure, among other crimes. Those drivers had already cleared the commercial background checks used by ride-for-hire companies, according to a city report released this month.

Potential drivers can pass background checks that don’t rely on fingerprints simply by using an alias, the report found. For instance, one driver cleared by a company that does background checks for Uber underwent Houston’s fingerprint check, which turned up 24 alias names, 10 listed social security numbers and an active arrest warrant, the report states.

Companies that perform background checks for ride-hailing firms typically seek to identify counties where they’ve lived in the past, then search public records from those places, the report states. But the checks don’t search every county, creating “a huge potential gap where crimes go undetected,” the report states.

“The FBI provides the only true nationwide check,” the report states.

Uber has now been operating in Houston for more than a year, “and everything we’ve seen is that the number of drivers getting licenses continues to grow and their business continues to thrive,” Cottingham said.

However, Uber maintains that Atlanta’s plan would add “substantial, additional bureaucratic barriers for drivers,” company spokesman Bill Gibbons said. Atlanta would use the Georgia Department of Driver Services to help check the backgrounds of potential drivers, though specific details of how drivers would be screened haven’t been released.

The ride-booking firm Lyft also says Atlanta’s proposal would prove difficult.

“While the Hartsfield-Jackson staff has recognized the benefits Lyft provides, the current plan as proposed will make it extremely difficult for Lyft to operate,” Lyft said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The conflict in Atlanta is the latest in a series of disputes Uber has had over its background checks of drivers.

In December 2014, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced a lawsuit against Uber, partly over its background checks.

In Los Angeles, “registered sex offenders, a kidnapper, identity thieves, burglars, and a convicted murderer had passed Uber’s ‘industry leading’ background check,” the lawsuit states.

“Uber’s process cannot ensure that the information in the background check report is actually associated with the applicant since it does not use a unique biometric identifier such as a fingerprint,” the lawsuit adds.

Written by Jeff Martin of Associated Press

(Source: Associated Press)

‘Extra! Extra!’ NYC Subway Hawkers May Be Going Away

A "hawker" for amNewYork hands out copies of the free daily newspaper in New York. Under a licensing agreement proposed by the MTA, vendors would no longer be able to distribute papers in the city's subway system.
Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

In a blow to one of the last viable models of newspaper distribution, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has signed off on a plan to stop “hawkers” from handing out free daily newspapers in the city’s subway system. The proposed move, approved Wednesday by the MTA board, threatens to significantly diminish the papers’ visibility at a time when traditional newsstand sales have all but evaporated.

For more than a decade, two free newspapers — amNewYork and Metro New York — have competed for the attention of New York City commuters across the vast underground network, and to do so, they’ve relied on armies of vocal vendors who peddle their products and ensure that any rider who wants one, and presumably many who don’t, gets a copy.

But on Wednesday the MTA boardapproved a proposed licensing agreement that would do away with the hawkers in exchange for lifeless newspaper racks. The non-exclusive agreement, valid for up to six years, would allow for the installation of uniform racks at approved locations throughout the subway system and would prohibit amNewYork and Metro from distributing their papers in the subway by any other means.

An MTA spokesman confirmed with International Business Times that, per the agreement, hawkers will no longer be able to hand out the papers in subway stations or even outside subway entrances. Officials for the agency have long criticized the hawkers, who they say create safety hazards by interrupting the flow of commuters and leaving bundles of newspapers unattended. The MTA said discarded newspapers have led to an increase in track fires.

It’s unclear if the papers’ parent companies have signed the agreement or if they plan to push back. A representative for Newsday LLC, which owns amNewYork, declined to comment. Representatives for Metro International did not respond to repeated requests.

John Murray, vice president of audience development for the Newspaper Association of America, said it’s not uncommon for newspaper companies to reach compromises with city agencies and municipalities over distribution methods, even to their own detriment. While an outright ban on newspaper hawkers would likely stir the ire of free speech advocates, newspaper companies, many of which are already struggling to make ends meet, are typically not eager to enter into pricey court battles. Agreements like the one the MTA is proposing ensure that they are still given access, but restrict the means by which they can distribute.

The loss of the subway hawkers, whose vocal pleas for readers have become a familiar sound to tube-bound New Yorkers, would likely have a negative impact on the papers’ circulation numbers, which in turn could affect advertising rates. AmNewYork boasts the highest daily circulation of any tabloid-sized paper in the city, with an average of 335,900 copies distributed each weekday, according to its 2014 media kit.

“The hawkers are still very valuable, in particular for free-distribution newspapers,” Murray said. “In many cities without the hawkers, the distribution is below that critical mass and you don’t have the scale that you need from a business sense.”

“You don’t generate an audience as large with racks,” he added.

With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and e-readers over the last decade, New Yorkers have plenty of ways to keep themselves occupied during their subway commutes. But broadband connectivity remains spotty or nonexistent in many parts of the underground system, and in many ways New York’s 5.5 million daily subway riders remain one of the world’s largest captive audiences.

In that controlled environment, the two free dailies have proved surprisingly resilient, even as the mobile revolution has decimated many of the city’s newsstands. Offering bite-size, mostly aggregated news, amNewYork and Metro demand very little brain power, which is an obvious fit for half-asleep New Yorkers trudging into work at 5:30 in the morning. Somehow, playing Crossy Road at that hour just doesn’t cut it.

Written by Christopher Zara of International Business Times

(Source: International Business Times)

10 Best States for Helping Home Buyers

© AP Photo/Nick Ut
© AP Photo/Nick Ut

Most Americans want to achieve the dream of homeownership, but for many, that dream is fraught with financial obstacles. That’s why all 50 states and Washington, D.C., offer specific home-buying-assistance programs to help residents turn homeownership into a reality.

HSH.com recently created a database of the home-buying-assistance programs in every state. From that database, we have assembled a list of the states which offer the most robust set of programs to their residents.

What makes a set of programs the best? We rewarded states with home-buying programs open to the majority of borrowers with the most points — four points per program. Down-payment assistance was assigned the second-most significant weight — three points per program. Finally, all of the other ancillary programs were awarded equally — one point per program.

We divided the programs into several categories: first-time and/or repeat buyer purchase programs, down-payment assistance, mortgage credit certificate, energy efficient, home improvement, veterans, disabled homebuyers, and job-specific.

For states that had a tie score, we used higher population (the ability to help more residents) as the tie-breaker.

Here is HSH.com’s list of the states with the best home-buyer programs:

10. MONTANA

Score: 18
Number of programs: 7
Montana has the third-lowest foreclosure rate in the U.S., according to CoreLogic’s March 2015 National Foreclosure Report. Perhaps it’s all the support the state lends to first-time buyers. Montana offers seven statewide programs: three purchase programs, one down-payment-assistance program, a program designed to construct, acquire or rehabilitate homes for disabled buyers, a low-rate program for veterans, and a mortgage credit certificate.

9. MISSISSIPPI

Score: 19
Number of programs: 7
The Mississippi Association of Realtors acknowledges that while low inventory and added regulation are holding the local market back to a certain degree, the state is making considerable progress following the downturn. To help more residents achieve the dream of homeownership, Mississippi offers seven statewide programs: two purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a program for low-income disabled first-time buyers, and a mortgage credit certificate.

8. IOWA

Score: 20
Number of programs: 7
The spring home buying season has been good to Iowa so far with both prices and sales on the rise. There’s no better time for potential buyers to utilize the home buying programs the state offers. Iowa offers seven statewide programs, including three purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, a program specifically designed for veterans, and a mortgage credit certificate. Down-payment assistance is available statewide to both first-time and repeat buyers.

7. CALIFORNIA

Score: 20
Number of programs: 8
First-time homebuyers face tough conditions in California as affordability continues to decline. To help improve affordability, the state offers two first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a mortgage credit certificate, a program specifically designed for California teachers, and an effort to promote energy conservation by providing buyers with the opportunity to finance energy-efficient improvements.

6. IDAHO

Score: 22
Number of programs: 7
Idaho offers its homebuyers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, and a mortgage credit certificate. Idaho’s purchase programs serve many different audiences: FHA, VA, USDA, manufactured housing, 30-, 20- and 15-year conventional loans, and FHA 203(k) loans.

5. NORTH DAKOTA

Score: 23
Number of programs: 8
The oil boom in North Dakota has begun to attract many new residents to the state. In an effort to turn those residents into homeowners, North Dakota offers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a low-rate program for single parents, veterans, the disabled and/or the elderly, and a home-improvement program.

4. COLORADO

Score: 25
Number of programs: 9
The population boom in Colorado is certainly one of the factors contributing to the state’s limited housing inventory – there simply aren’t enough for-sale properties to accommodate the demand. But the state is certainly doing its part to assist home buyers. Colorado offers four first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, two programs for buyers with disabilities, and a mortgage credit certificate.

3. NEW YORK

Score: 25
Number of programs: 10
According to CoreLogic, New York is one of eight states that reached new home-price peaks in April, further ratcheting up the pressure on buyers to purchase a property before prices and mortgage rates move even higher. To help alleviate some of the pressure on buyers, New York offers three first-time and repeat purchase programs, three down-payment-assistance programs, a veterans program, two home-improvement programs and a recapture-tax program.

2. WYOMING

Score: 28
Number of programs: 9
Wyoming has begun to see an influx of buyers from surrounding states who want to take advantage of the lower real estate and income taxes. To help these new buyers capitalize on the ownership opportunities the state has to offer, Wyoming offers five first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, a home-improvement program, and a mortgage credit certificate.

1. PENNSYLVANIA

Score: 28
Number of programs: 11
Pennsylvania is the top state on our list, offering the most home-buyer-assistance programs. Pennsylvania offers four first-time and repeat purchase programs, two down-payment-assistance programs, two programs for disabled home buyers, two home-improvement programs, a program specifically designed for certain professionals (such as teachers and first responders), and a mortgage credit certificate.
Methodology
Using a weighted average system, HSH.com assigned a score to each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. States that offered first-time and repeat buying programs were awarded most generously (four points per program). Down-payment and/or closing-cost assistance options were weighed as the second-most important feature (three points per program). Finally, all the other ancillary programs were awarded equally (one point per program). We divided the programs into several categories: first-time and/or repeat buyer purchase programs, down-payment assistance, mortgage credit certificate, energy efficient, home improvement, veterans, disabled homebuyers, and job-specific. For states that had a tie score, we used higher population (the ability to help more residents) as the tie-breaker.

Written by Tim Manni of HSH.com

(Source: HSH)

The Exact Moment Big Cities Got Too Expensive for Millennials

Creative Commons
Provided by Creative Commons

(Bloomberg Business) — The rent has been “too damn high” in New York for so long that today’s young professionals might assume it was always that way. Yet it wasn’t until the second quarter of 2004 that the median rent exceeded 30 percent of the median household income for young workers, the threshold at which housing experts say rent is no longer affordable, according to an analysis conducted by Zillow.

Rents are stretching millennial budgets throughout the U.S. Nationally, the typical worker from 22 to 34 years old paid 30 percent of income for rent in the first quarter of 2015, up from 23 percent in 1979, when the analysis begins.  In those places, rental unaffordability is a distinct obstacle for people trying to carve out lives and careers, particularly in the nine major cities shown in the chart below, where more than half of households rent.

The median rent in Los Angeles has been out of the reach of young people since at least the Carter administration. Chicago, by contrast, was affordable for the typical young worker until 2012, the year Kanye West first appeared on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.Most millennials could responsibly budget for rent in Boston as recently as 2004, when the Red Sox broke the team’s long World Series drought. San Francisco dipped in and out of unaffordable territory for years, until—after roughly a decade of affordability—rents shot ahead of millennial incomes in 2003; they have continued to outpace salaries ever since.

A couple of forces are making major cities increasingly unaffordable for millennials at the outset of their working lives. Stagnant wages in many cities have made rental and for- sale housing harder for workers to afford.

Demand for leases has also outweighed supply in many places. In the nine cities shown on the map below, the number of renters is growing faster than the number of rental units, according to a report published in May by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University. That trend is likely to continue if predictions for falling homeownership rates are realized.

For many cities, the affordability gap hasn’t been a growth-killer; in many, it’s a consequence of their sustained popularity. People continue to flock to San Francisco for opportunities in its technology industry, despite median rents that were unaffordable to young workers for the first time in 1982. Looming rental affordability problems in Dallas and Houston are probably the result of booming local economies that have attracted workers faster than builders can erect new housing.

Not unexpectedly, the poor have suffered most from the dearth of reasonably priced housing. In 2013, 60 percent of low- income renters were severely rent-burdened, meaning they spent more than half their income on rent, according to the Furman report. Middle-class renters are also struggling to find affordable housing: More than one-third of moderate-income renters were severely rent-burdened in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

The 30 percent threshold, it should be noted, is merely a proxy for affordability. Transportation costs, which are typically the second-biggest expense in most household budgets, can vary greatly for workers who take public transit and for those who carry car payments and auto insurance. That makes renting in Los Angeles look especially unappealing.

Millennials, meanwhile, can look forward to longer commutes and a harder time putting money away for a mortgage downpayment. Or move to Missouri.

Zillow compared median rents for each metropolitan area with the median income for young workers within that metro, on a quarterly basis, from 1979 through the first three months of 2015.

Written by Patrick Clark of Bloomberg

(Source: Bloomberg)

The Salary You Must Earn to Buy a Home in 27 Metros

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

How much salary do you need to earn in order to afford the principal and interest payments on a median-priced home in your metro area?

To find out, HSH.com took the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 first-quarter data for median-home prices and HSH.com’s 2015 first-quarter average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to determine how much of your salary it would take to afford the base cost of owning a home — the principal, interest, taxes and insurance — in 27 metro areas.

We used standard 28 percent “front-end” debt ratios and a 20 percent down payment subtracted from the NAR’s median-home-price data to arrive at our figures. We’ve incorporated available information on property taxes and homeowner’s insurance costs to more accurately reflect the income needed in a given market. Read more about the methodology and inputs on the final slide of this slideshow.

The first quarter was a soft period for the economy which helped mortgage rates fall in all 27 metros. While home prices rose sharply in the majority of metro areas across the country due to high demand and low inventory, there was an even split on our list of the metros that experienced price increases and price declines.

“Sales activity to start the year was notably higher than a year ago, as steady hiring and low interest rates encouraged more buyers to enter the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “However, stronger demand without increasing supply led to faster price growth in many markets.”

On a national scale, with 20 percent down, a buyer would need to earn a salary of $47,253.07 to afford the median-priced home. However, it’s possible to buy a home with less than a 20 percent down payment. Of course, the larger loan amount when financing 90 percent of the property price, plus the need for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), raises the income needed considerably. In the national example above, a purchase of a median-priced home with only a 10 percent down payment (and including the cost of PMI) increases the income needed to $54,341.84 – just over $7,000 more.

Here’s a current look at how much salary you would need to earn in order to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home in your metro area.

CLEVELAND: $29,393.54

Mortgage rate: 3.82 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.23 percent

Home price: $105,900

  • Quarterly change: -12.62 percent
  • YOY change: +3.72 percent

Monthly payment: $685.85

Salary: $29,393.54

  • Quarterly change: -$2,616.87

Cleveland retakes the crown as the most affordable metro area on our list. The largest quarterly price decline on our list was more than enough to make Cleveland No. 1 in terms of affordability. Cleveland saw the second-largest salary reduction at $2,617.

PITTSBURGH: $30,786.94

Mortgage rate: 3.75 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.23 percent

Home price: $131,000

  • Quarterly change: -2.96 percent
  • YOY change: +9.17 percent

Monthly payment: $718.36

Salary: $30,786.94

  • Quarterly change: -$929.38

Pittsburgh lost its top spot as the most-affordable metro area, requiring a salary nearly $1,400 higher than Cleveland. But affordable conditions haven’t gone anywhere in the Steel City. With the lowest mortgage rates on our list, you can still afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home and make less than $31,000.

ST. LOUIS: $32,606.92

Mortgage rate: 3.82 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.21 percent

Home price: $134,800

  • Quarterly change: -2.60 percent
  • YOY change: +11.87 percent

Monthly payment: $760.83

Salary: $32,606.92

  • Quarterly change: -$716.17

St. Louis maintains its position at No. 3 on our list. Price and rate declines in the St. Louis metro during the first quarter were middle-of-the –pack as far as our list goes, reducing the required salary by a rather stable figure of $716.

CINCINNATI: $32,741.64

Mortgage rate: 3.86 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.23 percent

Home price: $135,000

  • Quarterly change: -2.24 percent
  • YOY change: +10.93 percent

Monthly payment: $763.97

Salary: $32,741.64

  • Quarterly change: -$743.59

Again, the Cincinnati metro and the St. Louis metro remain near mirror images of one another. Nearly every aspect of these two metros is identical: mortgage rates, rate changes, home prices, quarterly and yearly price changes, monthly payment, required salary, and salary changes.

DETROIT: $34,902.43

Mortgage rate: 3.92 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.26 percent

Home price: $135,000

  • Quarterly change: -0.59 percent
  • YOY change: +21.90 percent

Monthly payment: $814.39

Salary: $34,902.43

  • Quarterly change: -$619.04

Detroit-area home buyers and homeowners both have to be happy with what’s happening to home prices in the Motor City metro. In an area that suffered so dramatically from the Great Recession, home prices continue to show short-term stability and long-term growth.

ATLANTA: $35,577.84

Mortgage rate: 3.84 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.25 percent

Home price: $158,000

  • Quarterly change: +0.19 percent
  • YOY change: +11.35 percent

Monthly payment: $830.15

Salary: $35,577.84

  • Quarterly change: -$222.26

Atlanta is the first metro so far on our list to have experienced both quarterly and yearly price increases. Balancing out the modest quarterly increase was a rate decline of one-quarter percent, reducing the required salary by $222, the lowest salary decline so far.

TAMPA: $38,316.50

Mortgage rate: 3.91 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.22 percent

Home price: $156,000

  • Quarterly change: -2.50 percent
  • YOY change: +7.59 percent

Monthly payment: $894.05

Salary: $38,316.50

  • Quarterly change: +$584.30

It may seem odd that Tampa had both a rate and price decline during the first quarter of 2015 but still saw the required salary increase. The reason is that insurance costs were higher in Tampa. Homebuyers must remember that principal and interest payments aren’t the only monthly costs they will incur — tax and insurance costs also play a role in home affordability.

PHOENIX: $40,729.60

Mortgage rate: 3.82 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.24 percent

Home price: $206,100

  • Quarterly change: +2.90 percent
  • YOY change: +6.07 percent

Monthly payment: $950.36

Salary: $40,729.60

  • Quarterly change: +71.52

Phoenix is the first metro area on this list to crack the $200,000-home-price mark, and the second metro so far to experience both quarterly and yearly home-price growth. That price growth was just strong enough to cancel out the mortgage-rate declines, edging the required salary higher by $72.

ORLANDO: $44,291.94

Mortgage rate: 3.86 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.21 percent

Home price: $186,000

  • Quarterly change: +3.33 percent
  • YOY change: +4.49 percent

Monthly payment: $1,033.48

Salary: $44,291.94

  • Quarterly change: +$2,148.63

The Orlando metro went from a near-$500 salary decline in the fourth quarter of 2014 to an increase of over $2,100 — the second-highest salary increase on our list – in the first quarter. Affordability took a step back in this metro area during the first three months of 2015.

SAN ANTONIO: $45,018.15

Mortgage rate: 3.93 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.16 percent

Home price: $184,700

  • Quarterly change: -0.43 percent
  • YOY change: +9.10 percent

Monthly payment: $1,050.42

Salary: $45,018.15

  • Quarterly change: -$356.15

San Antonio continues to be the most affordable Texas metro on our list. The rate and price declines of 0.16 percent and 0.43 percent, respectively, helped increase affordability to the tune of $356 during the first quarter.

MINNEAPOLIS: $47,105.09

Mortgage rate: 3.83 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.24 percent

Home price: $209,400

  • Quarterly change: -0.29 percent
  • YOY change: +11.26 percent

Monthly payment: $1,099.12

Salary: $47,105.09

  • Quarterly change: -$521.44

For the first time in a long time, the Minneapolis was not the first metro to crack the $200,000-home-price mark; Phoenix beat them to the punch. While year-over-year price gains persist in the Twin Cities metro, back-to-back quarterly declines in rates and prices continue to improve affordability.

DALLAS: $48,715.63

Mortgage rate: 3.85 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.24 percent

Home price: $192,500

  • Quarterly change: +1.53 percent
  • YOY change: +10.13 percent

Monthly payment: $1,136.70

Salary: $48,715.63

  • Quarterly change: -$70.90

After salary increases in the first three quarters of 2014, the Dallas metro continues on a path of increased affordability thanks to a moderate median-price increase and a rate decline of nearly one-quarter percent.

PHILADELPHIA: $48,776.36

Mortgage rate: 3.88 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.26 percent

Home price: $204,900

  • Quarterly change: -3.94 percent
  • YOY change: +1.54 percent

Monthly payment: $1,138.11

Salary: $48,776.36

  • Quarterly change: -$2,137.68

Home prices continue to trend downward in the Philadelphia metro. While this trend is coming at the expense of home sellers, buyers are certainly rejoicing over the increased levels of affordability. The required salary to purchase a home in the City of Brotherly Love fell by $2,138 during the first quarter, the fourth-largest decline on our list.

HOUSTON: $49,639.64

Mortgage rate: 3.87 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.22 percent

Home price: $200,300

  • Quarterly change: +0.50 percent
  • YOY change: +8.50 percent

Monthly payment: $1,158.26

Salary: $49,639.64

  • Quarterly change: -$343.74

The Houston metro swapped places with the Philly metro for the first quarter, further extending the title of the most expensive Texas metro on our list. Affordability conditions are eroding a bit in the Houston area as home prices continue to rise.

BALTIMORE: $50,270.32

Mortgage rate: 3.82 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.21 percent

Home price: $223,100

  • Quarterly change: -4.33 percent
  • YOY change: -0.62 percent

Monthly payment: $1,172.97

Salary: $50,270.32

  • Quarterly change: -$2,391.64

The price and salary declines look very similar in the Charm City metro in the first quarter of 2015 as they did in the fourth quarter of 2014, just to a lesser extent. Home prices, both quarterly and YOY, continued to weaken as did the required salary. Last time the required salary in the Baltimore metro fell by over $4,000; this time was about half that.

CHICAGO: $53,470.17

Mortgage rate: 3.89 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.20 percent

Home price: $192,500

  • Quarterly change: -1.33 percent
  • YOY change: +8.82 percent

Monthly payment: $1,247.64

Salary: $53,470.17

  • Quarterly change: -$876.45

Chicago’s home prices have leveled off a bit. The quarterly decline in the Chicago metro went from 12.04 percent in the fourth quarter to just 1.33 percent during the first quarter. The end result is still the same: a lower required salary to afford a home in the Windy City metro.

SACRAMENTO: $58,488.22

Mortgage rate: 3.96 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.23 percent

Home price: $275,800

  • Quarterly change: +2.64 percent
  • YOY change: +7.82 percent

Monthly payment: $1,364.72

Salary: $58,488.22

  • Quarterly change: +$75.73

With the highest mortgage rate on our list, and with both quarterly and yearly price gains, it’s little wonder that Sacramento’s affordability decreased slightly in the first quarter. What’s interesting about the Sacramento metro is that the yearly price gains are almost exactly the same as they were in the previous quarter, and the quarterly price increase in the fourth quarter cancels out the quarterly decline in the fourth quarter. That’s why affordability has been so consistent in the River City metro.

PORTLAND, OREGON: $59,428.71

Mortgage rate: 3.87 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.24 percent

Home price: $289,400

  • Quarterly change: +0.17 percent
  • YOY change: +6.44 percent

Monthly payment: $1,386.67

Salary: $59,428.71

  • Quarterly change: -$1,174.79

Portland moved up one spot on our list this time around as meager price growth and interest rate declines made the metro area more affordable. A borrower could have earned $1,175 less in the first quarter and still been able to afford the median-priced home in the Portland area.

MIAMI: $59,869.76

Mortgage rate: 3.87 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.22 percent

Home price: $269,100

  • Quarterly change: +1.55 percent
  • YOY change: +3.90 percent

Monthly payment: $1,396.96

Salary: $59,869.76

  • Quarterly change: +$1,438.27

While Miami’s YOY price growth remains moderate, the metro area broke out of its quarterly pattern of price declines. Despite falling mortgage rates during the first three months of 2015, affordability declined as the required salary increased by nearly $1,500.

DENVER: $64,558.05

Mortgage rate: 3.88 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.20 percent

Home price: $338,100

  • Quarterly change: +7.40 percent
  • YOY change: +17.23 percent

Monthly payment: $1,506.35

Salary: $64,558.05

  • Quarterly change: +$2,915.90

Substantial price gains in the Denver metro area sent the required salary higher by nearly $3,000 in the first quarter. Higher home prices are a result of inadequate inventory in relation to strong buyer demand. A 20-basis-point decline in mortgage rates kept the salary figure from rising even higher.

SEATTLE: $71,702.81

Mortgage rate: 3.95 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.20 percent

Home price: $352,400

  • Quarterly change: +0.11 percent
  • YOY change: +3.68 percent

Monthly payment: $1,673.07

Salary: $71,702.81

  • Quarterly change: -$1,141.50

Home prices have been pretty stable in the Seattle metro area since the second quarter of 2014. Flat home prices and falling rates continued to reduce the amount of salary a Seattle-area homebuyer needs to afford a median-priced home.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: $75,978.18

Mortgage rate: 3.78 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.20 percent

Home price: $367,800

  • Quarterly change: -1.34 percent
  • YOY change: +2.48 percent

Monthly payment: $1,772.82

Salary: $75,978.18

  • Quarterly change: -$1,416.64

Once again, mortgage rates in the D.C. metro area are amongst the lowest on our list. A modest quarterly decline in prices was enough to send the required salary lower by nearly $1,500 in the first quarter of 2015. Home prices have been falling in the nation’s capitol since the second quarter of 2014.

BOSTON: $77,148.48

Mortgage rate: 3.80 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.25 percent

Home price: $374,600

  • Quarterly change: -2.24 percent
  • YOY change: +3.14 percent

Monthly payment: $1,800.13

Salary: $77,148.48

  • Quarterly change: -$2,901.45

The Boston and D.C. metro areas continue to be closely aligned in terms of affordability conditions: the mortgage rate, quarterly home price and required-salary declines are very similar. However, you will need to earn about $1,200 more a year to afford the median-priced home in the Boston metro versus D.C.

LOS ANGELES: $85,081.43

Mortgage rate: 3.83 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.24 percent

Home price: $434,700

  • Quarterly change: -3.59 percent
  • YOY change: +7.02 percent

Monthly payment: $1,985.23

Salary: $85,081.43

  • Quarterly change: -$4,583.43

The affordability battle between the Los Angeles and New York City metros continues, and in the first quarter LA edged NYC by a nose. Home prices have been steadily falling in the LA metro since the third quarter of 2014. Quarterly rate and price declines shaved over $4,500 off the required salary to afford a median-priced home in the Los Angeles metro.

NEW YORK: $85,240.35

Mortgage rate: 3.90 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.32 percent

Home price: $388,600

  • Quarterly change: +0.65 percent
  • YOY change: +1.91 percent

Monthly payment: $1,988.94

Salary: $85,240.35

  • Quarterly change: -$1,639.80

The New York metro had the largest quarterly-mortgage-rate decline on our list at 0.32 percent, but the minute increase in quarterly prices didn’t affect the required salary as much as it did in the LA metro. You may be thinking, how can the NY metro be less affordable than LA when the Big Apple home price is so much lower. The answer is the taxes and insurance costs are a lot higher in the New York metro area.

SAN DIEGO: $96,404.80

Mortgage rate: 3.87 percent

  • Quarterly change: -0.20 percent

Home price: $510,300

  • Quarterly change: +3.49 percent
  • YOY change: +5.65 percent

Monthly payment: $2,249.45

Salary: $96,404.80

  • Quarterly change: +$972.13

Affordability eroded in the San Diego metro area during the first quarter as home-gains outstripped the mortgage-rate decline of 0.20 percent. Is San Diego finally making a run at San Francisco as the least-affordable metro on our list? Despite the salary increase, it’s still not even close.

SAN FRANCISCO: $141,416.54

Mortgage rate: 3.88 percent (jumbo rate)

  • Quarterly change: -0.14 percent

Home price: $748,300

  • Quarterly change: +0.59 percent
  • YOY change: +10.08 percent

Monthly payment: $3,299.72

Salary: $141,416.54

  • Quarterly change: -$1,342.30

San Francisco remains the king of inaffordability. The first-quarter rate decline of 0.14 percent was the smallest drop on our entire list. However, that subtle rate decline and relatively stable home prices was enough to lower the required salary by $1,342. Yet, when you need to earn $141,417 to simply purchase the median-priced home, does $1,400 really matter one way or the other?

How did we come up with these salaries?

To compile these results, HSH.com calculated the annual before-tax income required to cover the mortgage’s principal, interest, tax and insurance payment. We used standard 28 percent “front-end” debt ratios and a 20 percent down payment subtracted from the median-home-price data to arrive at our figures. Loans with less than a 20 percent down payment will incur mortgage insurance, which would in turn increase the required salary.

We utilized the NAR’s 2015 first-quarter data for median home prices and our 2015 first-quarter average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage to determine how much money homebuyers in 27 major metro areas would need to earn in order to purchase the median-priced home in their market.

The average mortgage rate information we used was for purchase-money mortgages made to borrowers with good to excellent credit.

We created metropolitan-area average property tax information using data made available from the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research think tank, based in Washington, D.C.

We used statewide average homeowner insurance premium costs from the Insurance Information Institute, whose mission is to improve public understanding of insurance.

Note: Property taxes and insurance costs are specific to an individual property itself and will be different for any single property in which you may have an interest. Also, if other personal debts exceed 8 percent of one’s given monthly gross income, this will increase the salary needed to qualify.

Data for the Pittsburgh metro area was provided by RealSTATs, a locally owned and operated real estate information company. Home-price data for Detroit was provided by Realcomp II Ltd., Michigan’s largest Multiple Listing Service.

Written by Tim Manni of HSH.com

(Source: HSH)

‘My Handheld’s Down!’: How the New York Stock Exchange Went Dark

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The first sign of trouble on the New York Stock Exchange was a color — a sickly yellow.

On the hand-held computers on the cavernous trading floor, that color meant one thing: the Big Board was down.

What began Wednesday morning with a seemingly workaday software glitch soon escalated into one of the most startling computer outages in Wall Street history — and, for the Big Board, a race against the clock.

At the 9:30 a.m. opening bell, traders’ orders for some stocks weren’t reaching the proper destinations for processing. Techies were frantic to fix the problem. At about 9:32 a.m., they succeeded.

Two hours later, boom.

One floor trader started shouting, “My handheld’s down! My handheld’s not working!” He and other traders hurried over to a ramp on the trading floor where NYSE executives usually meet with them to explain any problems. Not today. Three hours later, still nothing. Everyone was just standing around.

“The order flow wasn’t being entered into the display books on the trading floor,” said Pete Costa, president of Empire Executions Inc. who’s worked at the exchange in downtown Manhattan for 34 years. “As soon as that happened, the exchange shut down to understand what was going on.”

Every computer screen “went this pukey, canary yellow color,” Costa said. “That means the stock has stopped trading.”

System Reboot

Seven thousand orders were sent but never executed, he said. The system had to be rebooted. That took about 45 minutes.

The big concern was getting the exchange up and running as soon as possible. The 4 p.m. closing bell loomed. That’s when the NYSE sets stock prices that indexes and mutual funds use to calculate their values.

“My initial reaction was, ‘That’s OK, I hope they can reopen for the close,’” said Jamie Selway, head of the electronic brokerage at Investment Technology Group Inc. in New York. At the open and before the close, orders can be routed to other exchanges, he said. But at the close, the world needs the NYSE.

The traders at Cambridge Global Payments, a global foreign- exchange and payments provider in Toronto, “kind of paused” when the NYSE went down, said Karl Schamotta, the firm’s director of foreign-exchange research and strategy.

“The trading floor took a moment to collect its thoughts before we moved forward,” he said. Because of the meltdown in China’s stock markets and concern over a possible Greek exit from the euro zone, “we’re sitting in a situation where traders have their fingers on the trigger globally, so there’s certainly a fear complex.”

Back Up

There was little time for exchange officials to pause. Art Cashin Jr., a managing director for UBS Financial Services Inc. and one of six executive floor governors at the NYSE, answered his phone a few minutes before 2 p.m. and said, breathlessly, “We’re dealing with the glitch. We’re rushing to try to get it open.” And hung up.

The exchange was back in business by 3:10 p.m.

In Greenwich, Connecticut, Marc Pfeffer had two worries about the shutdown.

The first was that it was due to hacking. That concern was laid to rest by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official soon after the shutdown.

The other was the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting at 2 p.m. The opinions of the central bankers drive sentiment for stock-pickers worldwide, and Pfeffer, a senior portfolio manager at CLS Investments, was anxious that a rush of orders might prove unwieldy with the largest U.S. exchange out of commission.

Fragmented Marketplace

It turned out that he needn’t have worried.

“From where I sit, it doesn’t seem to have had any impact at all,” Pfeffer said. “And for our business, it’s been business as usual.”

That’s because the NYSE is one of 11 exchanges and more than 50 private venues where American stocks change hands. While today’s issue affected transactions on the company’s main market, investors could still buy and sell stock elsewhere.

“One of the benefits of a decentralized, competitive market is that it makes the markets more resilient to an outage in a single market,” said Adam Nunes of Hudson River Trading in New York. “ The market was less resilient to this kind of outage 10 years ago.”

Written by Sam Mamudi, Leslie Pocker, and Ryan Hoerger of Bloomberg

(Source: MSN)

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