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Date Archives: February 2021

BHHS Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty Blog Home

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February
26

How to Decorate Your Home - Real Estate Guides - The New York Times

Add Some Light and Life to Your Rooms

Want to brighten up a room but don't have the time to paint or the budget to add a window?

Consider the following easy fixes:

Hang a mirror. Hang a mirror (or lean a large one against a wall) to toss light around your room and open it up.

Add metallics. Golds and silver accents will make any space sparkle. Think picture frames, fixtures, lamps and decorative items like vases or candle holders.

Freshen with flowers. A floral pop can brighten a room, especially with fresh flowers. Add a bouquet to a table for a bit of vibrancy.

Think yellow or white. While light colors may show dirt and grime, white and yellow accents can brighten an area, fast. Add white and yellow throw pillows, swap out the duvet on your bed or hang a new set of curtains.

Declutter. Last but not least, a clutter sweep will help brighten your space up. Stack books, toss old magazines, fold the laundry, nix the knick-knacks and your home will thank you for it.

February
24

The Importance of Cleaning Your Kitchen Appliances

Maintaining Your Kitchen Appliances

Being a homeowner can be costly, but some expenses can be trimmed with regular maintenance. Since so many appliances run in the kitchen, it's one of the best places to start.

Here are some of the best ways to keep your kitchen appliances running well so that they last through their normal lifetime, and hopefully beyond:

Refrigerator
Refrigerators have a life expectancy of 13 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Mold should be the main thing to try to prevent the spread of in a refrigerator. This requires regularly removing all food from it and cleaning every corner. Check each week if expiration dates on food have passed, and toss out anything that's old.

On the exterior, clean dust and any debris from the condenser coils on the back, and check and maintain the seals on the fridge.

Stove or Oven
Gas ranges should last 15 years, which includes the stovetop and oven. Clean both on a monthly basis with an oven cleaner or basic cleaner for the surface.

Even after a self-cleaning cycle, an oven can need some extra scrubbing by hand to remove old food drippings that have turned to ash. Be sure to wear a mask and gloves. For a gas stovetop, you may need to take apart the components to clean them well.

Garbage Disposal
At six years, a garbage disposal may have one of the shortest life spans in a kitchen. A lot of it depends on what you put down there.

Putting big chunks of food, or thick items such as carrots can break a disposal. You're better off throwing those in a trash can or composter.

To keep your garbage disposal smelling clean, fill the sink with soap and water and then let it flush and drain. Cut a lemon in quarters and run them in the disposal until they're gone.

Microwave
Expect nine years of good service from a microwave oven. Spilled food can cause stains inside, and fingerprints, splatters and other things can make the outside dirty.

To clean the inside, heat a cup of water inside the microwave for 2 – 3 minutes. Let it evaporate until steam appears on the glass window, then open it and wipe the inside with a sponge. Scrub the glass plate separately, and use soapy water to clean the inside.

For the exterior, an all-purpose cleaner with a sponge or cloth should work well. Don't spray the cleaner directly on the appliance because it could enter the ventilation holes.

February
23

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cora Bett Thomas Realty's 2020 sales surged 25 percent in 2020.  Sales increased from $291 million in 2019 to $380 million in 2020.

Just as northern buyers began searching for southern coastal homes in droves, Berkshire Hathaway completed a series of mergers and acquisitions that made them the market leader in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia.

In 2019, the Beaufort-based Berkshire Hathaway franchise merged with the Savannah-based Berkshire Hathaway franchise responsible for most of the transactions at The Landings, a luxury retirement community on Skidaway Island. The addition of Bob and Reba Lararmy's successful real estate company, added 35 new agents to the firm.

Shortly thereafter, the franchise acquired Cora Bett Thomas Realty, a market leader in the Savannah/SC Lowcountry region for more than 26 years, with more than 50 agents working in Beaufort, Savannah, Pooler, and St. Simons Island.

With 85 new agents, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is now the largest agency covering both the South Caronlina Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia.

"We had a stellar year," said South Carolina Managing Broker Ken Willis. "I n such an unprecedented time we were thrilled that more people wanted to move to the coast and we're very proud of our team for handling the increased volume."  

February
22

Make Your Hardwoods Shine: Steps for Refreshing Your Hardwood Floors -  Twenty & Oak

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors

If you're the proud owner of a hardwood floor, you may be engaged in a constant cleaning battle. Hardwood looks best when it's buff and gleaming, but with a busy schedule, it can be hard to keep the floors sparkling at all times. Below are a handful of tips for quickly cleaning your wood floors.

Clear the space. This may seem obvious, but it's an often-overlooked step in the cleaning process. Clear your furniture (picking it up, not dragging it) so you can access the full plane of your floor.

Vacuum. Use a vacuum to pick up surface dirt and pet hair that will interfere with your mopping. If your vacuum has a crevice accessory, put it on and get in the tough to reach spots, like corners and baseboards.

Mop. Going with the grain, mop your floor from wall to wall, including your baseboards. If your floor is sealed with polyurethane, you can use simple dish soap for a little extra cleaning oomph.

Buff. Using a clean cloth or dry mop to buff the floor until it sparkles. Once fully dry, replace the furniture and enjoy.

February
18

Using Personal Loans Against Credit Card Debt

A poor credit score can affect people in many ways. It can make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage or other type of loan, and can lead to paying higher interest rates on those loans and on credit cards. It can also make it hard to get a cellphone contract or rent an apartment.

By paying off a high credit card balance, borrowers can improve their credit score and, over time, start to see lower interest rates offered to them.

Those with bad credit can pay $4,975 more in interest on their credit card debt than those with good credit, according to a report by Syracuse University.

One option for paying off a massive credit card debt is to get a personal loan from a lender. Keep in mind, personal loans are often expensive, so users may want to limit them to emergencies.

Personal loans come in two forms: secured and unsecured. A secured loan requires collateral that can be taken by the lender if you don't repay the loan, such as a home or a car. An unsecured loan doesn't require collateral, making it a higher risk for the lender and thus a higher interest rate for the borrower.

Applying for a personal loan usually requires information such as your employment history, monthly bills, pay stubs, tax returns for the last few years, a list of unsecured debts like credit cards, and a list of assets and how you're paying them off, among other things.

A lender will determine if you can afford payments for a personal loan. Having bad credit can make proving your repayment ability difficult, but this can be overcome by showing proof of payment history for other loans or assets. The same goes for showing you've paid your monthly bills on time. A steady job and living in the same home for a long time can also work in your favor.

The repayment term for a personal loan varies between 1 – 5 years. Ask how much the monthly payment will be and how much interest you'll be paying over the life of the loan. The lender will likely charge you fees, which can include origination, late, personal check and returned payment fees.

February
12

Why It's Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why It's Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Homeownership provides comfort, stability, and security, and it makes you feel more connected to your community.
  • Your home is something to be proud of and is uniquely yours, so you can customize it to your heart's desire.
  • If you're ready to fall in love with a home of your own, let's connect to get you started on the path to homeownership.
February
11

5 Ways to Pick the Perfect Color Scheme

If you're revamping your interior design scheme, you may be considering a new color palette. Should you go with earthy hues? Vibrant jewel tones? Cool blues and grays? Below are five ways to pick a color scheme that will work for you.

Choose from what you have. If you're not revamping with an entirely new furniture set, then you may want to pick a color from what you already have. A boldly patterned sofa or floor rug can serve as a jumping off point.

Start with three. If you're feeling overwhelmed with options, choose three colors you love and keep it to there, with one as your main color, another as your secondary and a third for accents. (Four if you count white, which is more of a neutral).

Base with black. If you can tie black into your color scheme, you'll always have something easy (and versatile) to return to. No need to get macabre—think black appliances in the kitchen, black end and coffee tables in the living room, and black cabinetry in the bathroom.

Decorate with 60-30-10. This rule, used by many interior designers, gives you a mathematical breakdown of how much of each color you should use to give your space balance. Go with 60 percent of your main color (like, your walls), 30 percent your secondary (hello, furniture) and 10 percent that pop of accent—light sconces, art, throw pillows, blankets, etc.

Move from dark to light. So, you have your chosen colors—now what? A top designer tip when adding color to your home is to place the darkest colors low, like the carpet, floor or furniture, and then move to medium shades for the walls and art, and the lightest hue on the ceiling.

February
10

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty recently gave monetary and food donations to the Skidaway Island First Responders. As a company and with personal agent contributions, the brokerage gathered and donated $1,950 and food for the volunteers. 

"The firefighters at both stations on Skidaway appreciated the monetary donations and delicious snacks provided," says Kelly H. Gordon, President of the Skidaway Island First Responders. "Our main focus is protecting and serving this wonderful community. We couldn't do what we do without generous donations like these." 

"We are so thankful for their service and commitment to our community," says Broker in Charge Will Thurman. "This is just a small way to show them how much we care and appreciate their volunteer services. They make us feel safe knowing that they're there to protect us when the unexpected happens." 

The department plans to allocate the donations made to provide uniforms and gear to their new class of graduates.

February
10

3 Reasons We're Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

3 Reasons We're Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they're forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in "months' supply of inventory," which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months' supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers' market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers' market in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months' supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months' supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months' inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management's International Center for Finance, called "irrational exuberance." The definition of the term is, "unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors." Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of "home" and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today's demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn't just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned 'free and clear' (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:

"17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States."

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That's significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

Bottom Line

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it's the exact opposite. To find out more about the housing market, reach out today!

February
8

6 Foundational Benefits of Homeownership Today

6 Foundational Benefits of Homeownership Today | MyKCM

Over the past year, our homes have become an integral part of our lives more than ever. They're much more than the houses we live in. They're our workplaces, virtual schools, and safe havens that provide shelter, stability, and protection through the evolving health crisis. Today, 65.8% of Americans are fortunate enough to call their homes their own.

As we continue to think about the future, our goals for the year, and what we want to achieve well beyond 2021, it's a great time to look at the benefits of owning a home. Below are some highlights and quotes on the benefits of homeownership shared by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From feel-good motivations to economic and social impacts on the local community, these items may give you reason to believe homeownership stretches well beyond your financial investment.

Non-Financial Benefits

Owning a home brings a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and pride.

  • Pride of Ownership: It feels good to have a place that's truly your own, especially since you can customize it to your liking. "The personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment achieved through homeownership can enhance psychological health, happiness and well-being for homeowners and those around them."
  • Civic Participation: Homeownership creates stability, a sense of community, and increases civic engagement. It's a way to add to the strength of your local area and drive value into your neighborhood.

Financial Benefits

Buying a home is also an investment in your financial future.

  • Net Worth: Homeownership builds your net worth. Today, the median household net worth of all homeowners is $254,900, while the median net worth of renters is only $6,270.
  • Financial Security: Equity, appreciation, and more predictable monthly housing expenses are huge financial benefits of owning a home. Homeownership is truly the best way to improve your long-term financial position.

Economic Benefits

Homeownership is even a local economic driver.

  • Housing-Related Spending: An economic force throughout our nation, housing-related expenses accounted for more than one-sixth of the country's economic activity over the past three decades.
  • Entrepreneurship: Homeownership is also a form of forced savings that can provide entrepreneurial opportunities. "Owning a home enables new entrepreneurs to obtain access to credit to start or expand a business and generate new jobs by using their home as collateral for small business loans."

Bottom Line

The benefits of homeownership go well beyond the basics. Homeownership is truly a way to build financial freedom, find greater satisfaction and happiness, and make a substantial impact in your community. If owning a home is part of your dream this year, let's connect so you can begin the homebuying process today.

February
5

Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year.

Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCM

Every year, households across the country make the decision to rent for another year or take the leap into homeownership. They look at their earnings and savings and then decide what makes the most financial sense. That equation will most likely take into consideration monthly housing costs, tax advantages, and other incremental expenses. Using these measurements, recent studies show that it's still more affordable to own than rent in most of the country.

There is, however, another financial advantage to owning a home that's often forgotten in the analysis – the wealth built through equity when you own a home.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, discusses this point in a recent blog post. She explains:

"Once you include the equity benefit of price appreciation, owning made more financial sense than renting in 48 out of the 50 top markets, with the only exceptions being San Francisco and San Jose, Calif."

What has this equity piece meant to homeowners in the past?

ATTOM Data Solutions, the curator of one of the nation's premier property databases, just analyzed the typical home-price gain owners nationwide enjoyed when they sold their homes. Here's a breakdown of their findings:Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCMThe typical gain in the sale of the home (equity) has increased significantly over the last five years.

CoreLogic, another property data curator, also weighed in on the subject. According to their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity in just the last year alone.

What does the future look like for homeowners when it comes to equity?

Here are the seven major home price appreciation forecasts for 2021:Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCMThe National Association of Realtors (NAR) just reported that today, the median-priced home in the country sells for $309,800. If homes appreciate by 5% this year (the average of the forecasts), the homeowner will increase their wealth by $15,490 in 2021 through increased equity.

Bottom Line

As you make your plans for the coming year, be sure to consider the equity benefits of home price appreciation as you weigh the financial advantages of buying over renting. When you do, you may find this is the perfect time to jump into homeownership.

February
3

Click here to view our January Dataw Island Newsletter

February
3

Click here to see our January Harbor Island Newsletter

February
2

Click Here to read our January Newsletter for an overview of the Market on Fripp Island

February
1

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cora Bett Thomas Realty Add Marjory Mitchell to the Team as Realtor®

Marjory Mitchell.jpg

BEAUFORT, SC – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group recently welcomed Realtor® Marjory McMillan Mitchell as a new agent. In this role, Mitchell will provide guidance and assist sellers and buyers in the process of marketing and/or purchasing property for the right price under the best terms.

Although new to real estate, Mitchell is no stranger to the Low Country. Having lived on Fripp Island for most of her life, she's an expert and loves every aspect of life on the coast. 

A salesperson at heart, she has over 31 years experience working as a Military Sales Representative with The Jim Terry Group, selling military souvenir items to Army and Air Force Exchanges in the Southeast; as well as selling to the Navy Exchanges worldwide. 

She also enjoys volunteering her services to the Bft area with her 31 yrs with The Beaufort Charities organization. We are lucky to have her join our team of real estate experts.

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