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Date Archives: May 2018

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May
31

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin on June 1, 2018, and end on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the formation of tropical cyclones is possible at any time of the year, as shown by the formation of Subtropical Storm Alberto this spring. Alberto marked the fourth consecutive year a storm developed before the official start of the season.

2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Last year's season ended with 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin annually averages 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has stated that there is a 75% chance that the 2018 season will see near or more than the average number of storms in the basin. In addition to the NOAA prediction, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. The 2017 hurricane season was very active, in part, because of a weak La Niña that developed last year.

La Niña is a natural weather phenomenon defined by cooler than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region. Despite occurring in the Pacific, La Niña affects global weather patterns. One affect is decreased wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, which creates conditions more favorable for tropical storm development. 

The La Niña has since disappeared and according to NOAA some weather suggest that the opposite phenomenon of La Niña, El Niño could possibly develop later in the season. El Niño features warmer water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region, creating greater wind shear in the Atlantic and fewer tropical storms.

Even though there is appears to be a small chance we will see El Niño and subsequently have below average Hurricane Season, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. Historically, Savannah has been spared direct hits from hurricanes. As you can see from our map, the frequency of hurricanes directly impacting the 100 Mile Coast is very low. However, we did have to deal with Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 storm in 2016. There was an evacuation, and Savannah residents, politicians and emergency workers learned many lessons. But rather than just hoping that a hurricane doesn't make landfall on our fair coastline, go ahead and prepare yourself and your property for severe weather.

Home Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

What We Learned in 2016

May
21

Home maintenance reminders

Owning your own home is an investment as well as a big responsibility. By identifying and addressing a few routine and simple maintenance issues, you can ensure you and your family's safety, as well as save time and money on costly repairs.

AC Service and Filter

Make sure to change your AC filter regularly. Better still, spend a few extra bucks and spring for quality filters that are designed to filter allergens. If you are using a smart thermostat such as Nest, the system will give you reminders when you're due to change your filter. It's also important to make sure that you keep the grate around the filter clean and as free of dust and dirt as possible.

Dryer Duct 

By keeping your dryer duct clean, you not only reduce the risk of a lint fire, you can also reduce the risk of mold buildup. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that every year more than 2,900 home fires are started by clothes dryers, and the leading cause of these fires is a buildup of lint due to lack of simple maintenance on the part of the owner. 

Lint Trap

This seems like a no-brainer, right? And yet, people overlook this easy step, or either put it off for far too long, leaving dryers with lint traps that are full to the brim. An overfilled lint trap, like a clogged and dirty dryer duct, can be dangerous, not to mention a waste of energy. A lint trap that is too full prevents your dryer from working to its full capacity, which means your dryer is using more energy and costing you more money.

Wood-burning Fireplace

If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, it's a good idea to have both the fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. A professional will have the necessary tools for inspecting your flue and making sure that no debris or animals are in your chimney.

Pressure Washing

Regularly scheduled pressure washings will prevent grime and mildew from breaking down your home's exterior, causing you to worry less about having to replace rotted wood, chipped paint and premature aging of your home. It will also raise your home's curb appeal and can help addd value to your home.

These items are by no means a comprehensive list. But, by including these things in your maintenance routine, you can avoid possibly costly repair bills in the future and ensure a positive impact on your health, safety and wallet.

Thinking About Selling Your Home?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty if you are looking to get your home on the market this spring. 

May
17

Tax reform and the housing market.

tax reform and the housing market

Starting late last year, some predicted that the 2018 tax changes would cripple the housing market. Headlines warned of the potential for double-digit price depreciation and suggested that buyer demand could drop like a rock. There was even sentiment that homeownership could lose its coveted status as a major component of the American Dream.

Now that the first quarter numbers are in, we can begin to decipher the actual impact that tax reform has had on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand? 

The answer is "NO."

According to the Showing Time Index which "tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis" and is a "highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends," buyer demand has increased each month over the last three months and is HIGHER than it was for the same months last year. Buyer demand is not down. It is up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America's belief in real estate as a long-term investment? 

The answer is "NO."

Two weeks ago, Gallup released its annual survey which asks Americans which asset they believed to be the best long-term investment. The survey revealed:

"More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds." 

The survey also showed that the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is the best long-term investment was unchanged from a year ago.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes?

The answer is "NO."

Not only did the homeownership rate not crash, it increased when compared to the first quarter of last year according to data released by the Census Bureau.

In her latest "Z Report,Ivy Zelman explains that tax reform didn't hurt the homeownership rate, but instead, enhanced it:

"We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case."

4. Has the upper-end market been crushed by new State and Local Taxes (SALT) limitations? 

The answer is "NO."

In the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report it was revealed that:

  • Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 were up 4.5% year-over-year
  • Sales between $750,000 and $1M were up 15.1% year-over-year
  • Sales over $1M were up 17.3% year-over-year

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months? 

The answer is "NO."

According to CoreLogic's latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

Bottom Line

The doomsday scenarios that some predicted based on tax reform fears seem to have already blown over based on the early housing industry numbers being reported.

Contact Us Today!

May
11

housing market

With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today's market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Mortgage Debt
  4. Housing Affordability

1. HOME PRICES

There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:

"Even though CoreLogic's national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were." (emphasis added)

2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today's standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute's Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI).According to the Urban Institute:

"The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan."

The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower's credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.

4 Reasons Why Today's Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again

4 Reasons Why Today's Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again | MyKCM

With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today's market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Mortgage Debt
  4. Housing Affordability

1. HOME PRICES

There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:

"Even though CoreLogic's national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were." (emphasis added)

2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today's standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute's Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI).According to the Urban Institute:

"The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan."

The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower's credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.

Today's Housing Market

3. MORTGAGE DEBT

Back in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn't (or wouldn't) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today.

The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board's household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income.

At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!

4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

With both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008).

May
11

Savannah has quite a lot to offer to both residents and our guests from out-of-town and Savannahians love to share their knowledge of what to do, see, eat, and of course, drink. Here's a list of some of our favorites. Consider this a starter course and be sure to find your own favorites!

Where to Stay

In Savannah, the possibilities are endless: there are dozens of B&Bs, such as The Gastonian, The Ballastone, The Kehoe House, and The Eliza Thompson House, as well as hotels such as The Brice, The Cotton Sail, and Andaz, not to mention any number of rentals available on Cora Bett Thomas Vacation Rentals. The most important thing to consider is location — we recommend staying in the Historic District — most everything on this favorites list will be in walking/biking/pedicab distance and you get to immerse yourself in history. 

Where Should I Get Breakfast?

The Mate' Factor, on Habersham Street, is quite amazing. When we last talked about this place, it was still fairly new. Now, it is a beloved neighborhood staple. It is still a cozy little den that can calm even the most agitated spirit, but now we've been able to enjoy the menu offerings even more. The egg and cheese sandwich is a thing of beautiful simplicity: 2 eggs, a healthy drape of cheese, and on a fresh made roll. Come the hotter months, an iced green drink is the beverage of choice, but in the cooler temps, an Old St. Joe will satisfy your coffee cravings.

Fork and Dagger is a no-frills place that is serving up some of the best breakfasts you've ever seen (hint — lox and cream cheese bagels featuring authentic NY bagels). A personal favorite of Cora Bett herself is Collins Quarter. A beautifully appointed and delicious Southern take on an Aussie style coffee bar and restaurant. Looking for a quick sugar high or a delicious biscuit? Check out Rise Biscuits and Donuts on Broughton Street.

The Coffee Fox

Great Cup of Coffee?

In Savannah, there is no shortage of good coffee right now. We're lucky enough to have a lot of folks with a passion for coffee, and we get to reap the benefits. For us, The Coffee Fox is near the office, so that's where we often go. They serve locally roasted Perc coffee, and they have a delicious horchata latte that is great to treat yourself. We're also pretty much now 100% devoted to the Coffee Fox and their Espresso Tonic.

On the weekends when taking long morning walks hit up either The Sentient Bean or Gallery Espresso — both have great coffee and have been serving up caffeine fixes and small bites for a while. We've also had coffee at Savannah Coffee Roasters and at The Foundry, and enjoy and recommend both of these places. Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of these businesses, but be aware: some of them have pretty simple coffee menus, so if you're looking for a Hazlenut Latte or a Toasted Almond Frappucino, these places might not be your cup of ... yeah. 

Brewery?

Two Tides Brewery is the new kid on the block, and we've heard nothing but great things about them, their beers, and their brewery. We've yet to visit, but since we are often entertaining beer-loving friends and family, all signs point to us visiting Two Tides. Stay tuned. As for Service Brewing and Southbound Brewing, well, they are still killing it. And of course, Savannah's old standard, Moon River. All of these places keep churning out more and more beers, and engaging the community with events. We can't say enough good things about our local breweries.

Art Scene?

In Savannah you can hardly take a step without bumping into great art, but if you're looking for a specific venue, the Telfair Museums is a well-known group of museums that includes the Jepson Center for the Arts and the Telfair Academy, and the SCAD museum is also a great place to visit. We recommend stopping in at Blick Art Materials on Broughton Street, and check out the works by Panhandle Slim. There's also the Art Rise First Friday Art March in Starland, which is on the first Friday of every month. It's a great way to check out local vendors and artists in one night. Also, check out the recent addition of Roots Up Gallery, located in the Downtown Design District, which showcases a number of local artists.  

Farmers' Market or Food Market?

The Forsyth Farmers' Market is great — it's one of the first farmer's markets to implement the use of EBT (or tokens) as a form of payment. Not only does the market serve great locally-grown food and flowers every Saturday from 9am-1pm, but the Market is also working to bring fresh produce to urban areas that are unable to access such goods regularly. Do yourself a favor and buy fresh, local food and at the same time support community outreach and education. Win win. The FFM is still rocking and rolling, with more and more vendors every month. Not only is the FFM a great way to support local farmers AND mingle with your neighbors, but they are also engaging in initiatives to bring healthy eating to lower-income families via urban gardening and fresh-food truck deliveries.

Barbecue?

We recommend Sandfly Bar-b-q at the Streamliner Diner. The building alone is worth a visit, but the food is worth sittin' a spell. While the regular menu is good in and of itself, hope that you show up on a night when the "Daily Special" is the "Pulled Pork Quesadilla with Ghost Pepper Cheddar." Enjoy with any of the craft beers listed (but ask for the draft specials first), and finish it up with whatever homemade dessert is perched serenely under the plastic dome of the cake stand at the bar. You also cannot go wrong with Wall's B-BQ, tucked a away in a lane in the Historic District. The crew over at Wall's serves up  delicious Southern smoked meats, but leave room for the variety of amazing scratch-made sides.

Savannah Locals Guide

Hottest new dinner spot?

There are a number of new places opening their doors and receiving a lot of attention, such as Savannah's iteration of the Charleston favorite, Husk. But if you want to find the locals, Atlantic is the place. This place is so good. Perched on the corner of Drayton and Victory (which makes it a challenging drop off for Uber drivers, so be prepared to give them some coaching), this neighborhood eatery/imbibery is a local favorite. The lot formerly housed a gas station, so the dining room is small, but there is outdoor seating available. Atlantic does not take reservations, but again, the patio makes it worth the wait. Small plates ideal for sharing and reasonably priced, as well as a well-curated wine list, is what makes this place truly Savannahian, as it is ideal for any and every occasion. We also highly recommend El Coyote, which is just down the street from Atlantic. This Mexican-based restaurant is long on style and substance. You can taste the difference in the food and cocktails, but your wallet won't feel the sting.

Best cocktail bar?

Alleycat Lounge. No question about it. This place is always packed by locals and tourists who have been let in on the secret. This lounge has a menu that can take an entire night to read, but if you leave unsatisfied in your drink order, then it is your fault. These guys know their business, and their business is cocktail-making. Strike up a conversation with anyone on the Alleycat crew and they will help you choose the perfect cocktail if need be. 

Live music?

The live music scene in Savannah just continues to blossom. This year, the Savannah Music Festival held its first outdoor, all-day, multiple-band finale, and it was amazing. If you miss that, you can still catch classic acts such as the funky Voodoo Soup and our homegrown outlaw country band, Damon and the Shitkickers. You can hear Damon and the guys just about every Saturday happy hour at the Jinx. El Rocko Lounge and the Worm Hole feature a constantly rotating lineup of new musical acts. 

Where to Stay Out Late?

It's pretty easy to get a little inebriated in Savannah — that's the price you pay for allowing people to leave bars with to-go cups. But as far as specific places go, The Rail Pub, recently named the country's best dive bar, is a wonderful place to stop in for happy hour or a no frills beer and a shot experience. Or if you're really thirsty, you can grab a 40-ounce Miller Light for $5 (just remember that you should tip at least a buck or 2, so handing over a $5 bill isn't advisable). McDonough's is where people often end up at the end of the night, whether they intend to or not. This dive is actually pretty large and well-lit, but trust me — it's a dive, and all kinds of trouble can be found here. Including karaoke seven nights week as well as one of the few late night kitchens. 

Late-night eats spot?

Our new favorite is The Diplomat Luncheonette. Don't let the name fool you — they are open for lunch (and they deliver!), but this place also reopens at night (usually around 10pm or so). The sandwich shop is located beside local favorite, The Original Pinkie Masters, and serves up delicious gigantic sandwiches on fresh homemade bread, accompanied by some of the most magnificent sides (I'm looking at YOU, charred broccoli with feta). 

Beach day?

Tybee Island, of course. South Beach is great to avoid crowds, but there will usually be just enough folks around to take up the few parking spots at that end. North Beach has more parking, plus you can walk up to the bar at North Beach Grill and get a drink. The most important thing is to not set up right by the pier and pavilion if you are looking for a little more of "chill" day at the beach. Instead, set up at either end of the island and then walk around. Fannie's on the Beach has a deck that overlooks the beach and pier, so if you have an aversion to sand, grab a drink and a chair and watch the waves from there. After the beach, stop at Huc-A-Poo's before leaving the island for a slice of pizza. The "Poo" is a great local hangout and they have been doing it right for years. 

Most underrated spots in the city?

The Frali Gourmet, which is located on Liberty Street across from the Savannah Civic Center. The family run operation has been selling fresh pasta and sauces for years, but they also have a full dining menu, and it is amazing. The family has a connection to one of Savannah's most famous but closed Italian restaurants of the past as well. The menu features a variety of fresh pastas, your choice of homemade sauces, and you can add proteins to your liking. Call ahead for larger parties and the crew will gladly make arrangements. 

In Vino Veritas is a wine bar that we have mentioned before, and most people visit for the wines on tap. But locals stick around for the shareable drink specials, such as ½ off bottles and BOGO bottles late night. The wine bar currently offers small cheese and charcuterie plates, but rumor has it that a partnership with another local favorite is in the works for some killer brunch and daytime food. Stay tuned.

Daytrip?

Bluffton, South Carolina. It's only a 30 minute drive, and it's a scenic one — lots of palmettos and oak trees and of course the drive over the Talmadge Bridge. Bluffton has its share of shops and eateries, and it's an easy jaunt. Plus, you get to travel to another state and back in less than a day. One of our favorite restaurants in the area for breakfast and true Southern fare is Cahill's, which is right outside of Old Town Bluffton. This restaurant-slash-market has been around forever and serves up some of the most delicious breakfast food. It is hands down the BEST chicken and waffles we've ever had, especially the spicy chicken version. The larger than average fresh squeezed orange juice mimosas don't hurt, either.

May
4

May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home. This makes May the best month to sell your home.

For the study, ATTOM performed an "analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017" and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month:

May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home

ATTOM even went a step further and broke their results down by day.

Top 5 Days to Sell:

  • June 28th – 9.1% above market
  • February 15th – 9.0% above market
  • May 31st – 8.3% above market
  • May 29th – 8.2% above market
  • June 21st – 8.1% above market

It should come as no surprise that May and June dominate as the top months to sell and that 4 of the top 5 days to sell fall in those two months. The second quarter of the year (April, May, June) is referred to as the Spring Buyers Season, when competition is fierce to find a dream home, which often leads to bidding wars.

One caveat to mention though, is that when broken down by metroATTOM noticed that while warmer climates share in the overall trend, it turns out that they have different top months for sales. The best month to get the highest price in Miami, FL, for instance, was January, and Phoenix, AZ came in with November leading the charge.

If you're thinking of selling your home this year, the time to list is NOW! According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in an average of just 30 days last month! If you list now, you'll have a really good chance to sell in May or June, setting yourself up for getting the best price!

Bottom Line

Contact Us Today! Let's get together to discuss the market conditions in our area and get you the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy! 

From KCM

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