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Date Archives: February 2020

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February
28

Venture through the streets of Savannah and you're sure to see this beautiful, timeless tradition: Wrought Iron. It's evident, either on, or in the furnishings of most of Savannah's historic homes. But where does this style and tradition begin?

Cora Bett Thomas Realty took a history lesson and is excited to share it with you! The term "wrought iron" originates from the past tense form of the verb to work. Over time the word "wrought" was replaced by the word "worked." So literally, the term means "worked iron." Which makes sense… because the decorative scrollwork is hammered and worked (or wrought) by hand.

If you think back in time, and picture historical architecture, chances are you'll see wrought iron somewhere. It's grandiose! Seen in some of the most beautiful European castles and in America's largest house: The Biltmore. But even more than that, it was used, in history, to build warships, create railways, fight wars and build kingdoms. After centuries of direct exposure to the elements, it is still visible today in historic doors, gates, railings, and fences in some of America's favorite cities: Boston, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Charleston, and most especially Savannah. Its strength, durability, and beauty stand out!

In Savannah, the textures and patterns are unique to each home. The wrought iron is used as ornate entryways into lush gardens, entryways into homes, and railings along front porches. Whatever the use, it's breathtaking, it's timeless, and it's SO Savannah! Wrought Iron has satisfied people's styles and needs for thousands of years… We are excited to see the great value it carries for years to come!

 

February
27

Spring: it's one of the best times of the year in the Lowcountry! Everything comes to life. The landscape is painted in colorful hues. The thoughts of outdoor activities and beach days arise.  Beaufort becomes a destination for visitors. So. what is that makes this season extra special? Here's a list of Cora Bett Thomas Realty's reasons to love spring:

Outdoor Dining

It's that perfect in between! The temps aren't too hot, and aren't too cold. The sand flies (also known as "no-see-ums") haven't quite made their move yet. And the outdoor seating is calling. Beaufort has a great selection of restaurants, many with waterfront views. There are so many, but here are a few of our favorites: Saltus River Grill, Lady's Island Dockside, and Plums.

 

Festivals & Outdoor Activities

There are so many reasons to celebrate life in Beaufort. Each spring, locals have a chance to show off all the history and culture offered in their quaint town. Festival season kicks off in late February with Bands, Brews, & BBQ in Port Royal, then continues through the year. The Soft Shell Crab Festival is in April, A Taste of Beaufort takes place in May, and a few others lead up to the big Annual Beaufort Water Festival in July. These are all opportunities to eat like a local and say cheers with friends in the historic downtown area.

 

Sea Turtle Season

It's a sight to see! Coastal wildlife at work, in their natural habitat. Late spring, the momma sea turtles visit the beaches of Beaufort and build their nests. We are fortunate to have these gorgeous Loggerhead turtles come up the beach at night to lay more than 100 eggs per nest. Of course, the last thing we want to do is tamper with the nests, but there are plenty of experts and researchers helping these momma's get the job done.

 

The Water is Calling

Once spring has sprung, so too has the beach, sandbar, and fishing season. As the temperature of the water begins to rise, the number of boats out and about does as well. The sun is not yet summer hot and there's a light breeze perfect for a day on the boat, a seashell hunt, or relaxing with a good book on Hunting Island.

Spring, we are ready for you!! Whether here permanently, or visiting for a short stay, Beaufort is the place to be during the bright and beautiful spring season!

February
27

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership | MyKCM

There are many clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you're a renter, it's never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here's a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.

1. You Won't Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment

According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"If you've been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won't have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things."

As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That's a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

One thing people who have never owned a home don't always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same piece states:

"Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return."

Whether you're living in your first home or your fifth, it's a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It's one thing you definitely don't get when you're renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with homeownership:

"As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting."

With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today's low mortgage rates, it's a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you're going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let's get together to determine if buying a home sooner rather than later is right for you.

February
27

How Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand | MyKCM

In the spring, many excited buyers get ready to enter the housing market. Others continue dreaming about the homes they'd like to buy. The truth is, many potential buyers continue to dream longer than they need to, simply because they're confused about the homebuying process. Thankfully, working with a trusted real estate advisor can help ease those concerns and make the process to homeownership much easier to understand.

A recent survey conducted by Ipson and Freddie Mac reveals the confidence level of Gen Z and Millennial buyers regarding the homebuying process. The graph below shows the breakdown of the top results, clearly indicating there's a significant portion of younger buyers who are not yet confident with some of the steps in the homebuying process. How Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand | MyKCM

But the trepidation in buying a home is not always limited to the younger generations. Between the homebuying process and the mortgage process, there are 230 possible steps in the transaction. With trusted Cora Bett Thomas Realty advisor on your side, you certainly don't have to know them all to have a successful experience.

There are many reasons why these steps can change as you move through each one. Depending on your personal circumstances, the term or your mortgage, and the type of loan you use, the path you take may need to vary. That's why guidance and support from the experts is key.

In addition to the process itself, respondents in the survey definitely expressed concerns about understanding the types of loans available. Here are just a few of the basic loans to consider. Be sure to speak with your lender about the specifics of what will work best for you:

  • FHA: Loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration for first-time buyers. They generally enable qualified borrowers to enter the housing market with a lower down payment.
  • Conventional: Loans that usually require a larger down payment. Repeat buyers usually use these types of loans since they have an established credit history as well as more money from the sale of their previous home (called equity) for a bigger down payment.
  • VA: Loans available for Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses. They are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • USDA: Loans for those living in rural and suburban areas. A qualified lender can issue a USDA home loan, and they are guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Interest rates also popped up as a common area of confusion among Gen Z and Millennial respondents in the survey. With today's rates hovering at near historic lows, it's a fantastic time for buyers to get more house for their money in the current market. Why? When mortgage rates are this low and wages are increasing as they are today, overall affordability increases, enabling home buyers to stretch their mortgage dollars further. It's just another area where a trusted professional can help simplify the process and give guidance along the way.

Bottom Line

There are many possible steps in a real estate transaction, but they don't have to be confusing. To understand your best course of action, let's get together today to ensure you have a trusted advisor who will help you feel confident and informed at every turn.

February
25

Let the shenanigans begin! St. Patrick's Day is a special time in Savannah. The fountains turn green and the locals and visitors, alike, become Irish for the day. But where do these celebrations trace back to? Cora Bett Thomas Realty dug up the details, just for you!

As many already know, in 1733, James Oglethorpe established the first permanent settlement here in Savannah. It is said that at least nine of the settlers here, who were granted land, were Irish. The St. Patrick's Day parade was established as a way for Irish Americans to show their pride. Years later, in 1812, the Hibernian Society of Savannah was formed by 44 prominent Savannah gentlemen to help needy Irish immigrants in the area. The following year, members of the Society came together and marched privately to the Independent Presbyterian Church for the first St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Then in 1824, the first public procession was marked down in the history books. On March 16th of 1824, the Hibernian Society published an article in The Georgian (the local paper at the time) inviting citizens to join the Roman Catholic Church on the Feast of St. Patrick (which was the next day). They invited all local Irishmen to meet for mass and a public parade through the streets. It wasn't until 1870, that the first grand marshal was elected and bands joined in on the march… creating more of what we know today. This year, nearly 300 units will be a part of the parade, marching through the streets of the historic district for hours.

While the celebrations have evolved greatly over time, and St. Patrick's Day has become an even bigger celebration with music, dancing, drinks, and a bustling downtown Savannah, the heritage and culture still remain at the heart of it all.

The festivities have expanded into weeks of celebration. Everything kicks off with the Irish Festival (which happened February 15-16th this year). Then the very first Sunday each March, the Investiture of the Grand Marshal takes place and the parade committee is in full preparation mode. Hundreds of people also look forward to The Greening of the Fountain in historic Forsyth Park (which marks the entire city of Savannah "turning green"), and the Celtic Cross Mass, parade and ceremony (which represents how things originally started nearly 200 years ago).

At Cora Bett Thomas Realty, we'd love to give a special shout out to the Hibernian Society of Savannah, for planting the roots of what we know today! May the luck of the Irish be with you all!

February
13

 

The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | MyKCM

The success of the U.S. residential real estate market, like any other market, is determined by supply and demand. This means we need to look at how many potential purchasers are in the market versus the number of houses that are available to buy. With early 2020 housing data now rolling in, it's quite evident there are two big stories impacting this year's residential real estate market:

1. Buyer demand is already extremely strong
2. Housing supply is at a historically low level

Demand

ShowingTime is a firm that compiles data from property showings scheduled across the country. The latest ShowingTime Showing Index reveals how showings have increased in each of the country's four regions for five months in a row.

Supply

Move.com also just released information indicating that the number of homes currently for sale has declined rapidly and now sits at the lowest level in almost a decade. They explained,

"National housing inventory declined 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than 4 years, pushing the supply of for sale homes in the U.S. to its lowest level since realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012."

In response to these numbers, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, said,

"Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we've hit another new low of for sale-listings in January."

The decrease in inventory impacted every price range, too. Here's a graph showing the data released by move.com:The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Since there's a historic shortage of homes for sale, putting your home on the market today could drive an excellent price and give you additional negotiating leverage when selling your house. Let's get together to determine if listing your house now is your best move. Reach out to an agent today and let's get started! 

February
5

Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts

Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts | MyKCM

We're currently in the longest economic recovery in U.S. history. That has caused some to ask experts to project when the next economic slowdown (recession) could occur. Two years ago, 67% of the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for the Economic Forecasting Survey predicted we would have a recession no later than the end of this year (2020). The same study done just three months ago showed more than one third of the economists still saw an economic slowdown right around the corner.

The news caused concern among consumers. This is evidenced by a recent survey done by realtor.com that shows 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur by the end of this year.

Wait! It seems the experts are changing their minds….

Now, in an article earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed only 14.3% of those economists now believe we're in danger of a recession occurring this year (see graph below):Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts | MyKCMThe WSJ article strongly stated,

"The U.S. expansion, now in its 11th year, will continue through the 2020 presidential election with a healthy labor market backing it up, economists say."

This optimism regarding the economy was repeated by others as well.

CNBC, quoting Goldman Sachs economists:

"Just months after almost everyone on Wall Street worried that a recession was just around the corner, Goldman Sachs said a downturn is unlikely over the next several years. In fact, the firm's economists stopped just short of saying that the U.S. economy is recession-proof."

Barron's:

"When Barron's gathers some of Wall Street's best minds—as we do every January for our annual Roundtable—we expect some consensus, some disagreement…But the 10 veteran investors and economists who convened in New York on Jan. 6 at the Barron's offices agree that there's almost no chance of a recession this year."

Washington Post:

"The U.S. economy is heading into 2020 at a pace of steady, sustained growth after a series of interest rate cuts and the apparent resolution of two trade-related threats mostly eliminated the risk of a recession."

Robert A. Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank:

"I expect that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession in 2020."

Bottom Line

There probably won't be a recession this year. That's good news for you, whether you're looking to buy or sell a home anywhere along the 100 mile coast, we have an agent ready to serve you! 

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