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Date Archives: June 2021

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June
30

John Southerland.jpeg

SAVANNAH, GA -- John Southerland recently joined the Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty Commercial Division. As a commercial agent, he will assist in the leasing, management and selling of properties; and will also advise clients on investment opportunities. 

Well rounded in his real estate knowledge, Southerland has appraised commercial and residential properties for the past 20 years, built and/or renovated over a dozen homes and now he's proud to be buying and selling real estate in Savannah. Southerland obtained his real estate license less than a year ago, and has already sold eight homes. A Savannah native, he says he's excited to serve the Savannah real estate community in a new way but will retain his license and continue to work as a commercial real estate appraiser with DeWitt, Cook & Associates.  

Southerland is a finance graduate of Valdosta State University. Prior to real estate, he worked in hospital finance at Candler Hospital and Northside Hospital. Southerland is married with two teenage children. He's an avid golfer, an animal lover and a family man. 

June
30

5 Lifestyle Trends Embraced by Millennials

Millennials are a driving force in today's luxury real estate market. If you want your house to appeal to this demographic, then it's important to understand how they live and what they look for in a home. Here are a few lifestyle trends that have come to define the real estate preferences of millennials.

Health and Wellness
They've been called the "wellness generation," so it should come as no surprise that millennials enjoy taking good care of themselves. From home gyms and meditation studios to saunas and massage rooms, they pay equal attention to the mind and body when it comes to personal wellbeing. Homes that are designed to accommodate this lifestyle will surely be in high demand among these buyers.

Outdoor Living
Any homeowner can appreciate a luxurious outdoor living space, but for young and affluent buyers, this is frequently the number one priority. This generation has an affinity for spending their free time basking in a private, outdoor oasis equipped with high-end features, such as a resort-like swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and al fresco dining area. 

Convenience
Perhaps more than anything, millennials are defined by how strongly they value convenience. As a generation accustomed to the instant gratification of the digital age, they gravitate toward homes that are optimized for efficiency and provide easy access to nearby amenities. Time is a treasured commodity for millennials, and they want a living space that is designed to protect it.

Socially and Environmentally Conscious
As a generation that came of age just as sustainability became a mainstream issue, millennials have largely embraced the idea of an environmentally friendly lifestyle. They seek to minimize their impact on the planet and, as a result, prefer homes that are designed to lower energy and water consumption. Furthermore, they want to know where their home's materials come from and how they were sourced. Certifications that signify ethical and responsible labor practices are an important part of their desire to live in a socially conscious manner. 

June
29

7 Energy-Saving Tips for Staying Cool at Home This Summer

As summer temperatures soar, it's tempting to turn on the air conditioning full blast—assuming you have such a system. But whether you do or not, electric air conditioning isn't cheap to run, nor is it eco-friendly.

Given that Americans use more than double the electricity than many other nations do, sustainability experts suggest energy-efficient ways to stay cool in your home this summer, no matter how hot it gets outside.

  1. Use Fans – Standing or table-top, circulating fans are quiet, effective, and economical for cooling small areas. Keep one in each of the rooms you regularly use and chill out in comfort for less
  2. Mist Your Bed – At bedtime, mist your bed with cold water from the fridge, then turn a fan nearby. This will create an evaporative cooling effect, allowing you to sleep more comfortably even on very hot nights.
  3. Turn Down the Lights – Lights generate heat, so turn them down or off whenever you can do without them. 
  4. Use Light Blocking Curtains – In sunny rooms, light-blocking drapes or curtains can help keep a room from building up heat.
  5. Be Mindful of Oven Use – Oven heat lingers, and nobody wants too much hot food when it's sweltering out. Eat colorful, protein-based salads for optimal nutrition and if you must turn on the oven, do so mainly in the early morning.
  6. Don't Linger at the Fridge – Refrigerators work harder in hot weather. Standing by an open fridge door while you debate what to eat lets out the cool air and makes the fridge work even harder and use more energy.
  7. Take Shorter, Cooler Showers – A short, cool shower is a great way to cool your skin and help you feel fresh. You can also cool down (along with the kids) under a refreshing garden hose sprinkle.
June
28

Parker Simmons.jpeg

BEAUFORT, SC -- Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is excited to announce the hiring of Parker Simmons as Real Estate Salesperson. In this new role, she will guide buyers and sellers through the lengthy real estate process, keeping her clients in the know about current market conditions.

A recent graduate of Clemson University, Simmons holds a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. After college, she served as a Greenhouse Manager at Jasper Feed & Seed in Ridgeland, SC; responsible for upkeep of landscape inventory and customer service. She's excited to use her experience in client relations as she builds her career in real estate. 

Originally from Anderson, South Carolina, Simmons enjoys giving back to the communities that have given so much to her. Bay Street Realty Group is excited to have her join their growing team. 

June
24

June 22, 2021 - Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group recently added real estate veteran Gretchen Becker as Realtor®. In addition to serving clients throughout all of Beaufort County, she will also be an on-site Sales Consultant at Hearthstone Lakes, selling new homes.

Becker comes to Bay Street Realty Group with years of real estate experience and knowledge. She most recently worked as an agent for the Beaufort Realty Consultants, prior to that she sold real estate in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Naples, Florida. While in Naples, Becker sold homes onsite for a national builder, and received several new home sales awards. She also has a great understanding of the mortgage industry, as she served as a mortgage loan originator in Beaufort for 6 years.

Well traveled, Becker grew up in Bonn, Germany and California. She holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Liberal Arts from St. Mary's College of California. She's a long-time volunteer at the American Red Cross. Bay Street Realty group is excited to welcome her enthusiasm and in-depth understanding for real estate to their team.

June
24

Driven by low interest rates, buyers have  consumed most of the available houses on the market, which is half the size of the prior year. This has pushed median home prices up 14 percent year over year according to Realtor.com. While supply is expected to increase this year as the vaccine rollout eases seller concerns, demand is also expected to escalate as millennials enter their prime homebuying years.


So, if you are looking to buy or sell, what strategies should you employ to get the best price on a home? I always recommend hiring a Realtor, but in these extraordi-nary times, it is even more important to enlist the help of an experienced agent who can guide you through the unique challenges of the current market. Applying a strategy appropriate to your particular situation can make all the difference.


First, sellers must choose one of multiple approaches on how to price their home. Depending on your situation, you may want to use the market-based price approach of comparable home sales to justify your listing price. This is usually the quickest strategy, but it may not reflect the true price if your home has unique attributes that would make it stand out in the market. It also may not be the best technique in an appreciating market. Other sellers may choose the less is more strategy. You may want to list your home for less than its actual value to attract bids in the hope of starting a bidding war. This tactic could drive up the sale price, but it could also backfire, and your home could sell for less than it is worth.

Finally, you may choose to list your home at the highest possible price that you think you could get in the current market. With inventory at record lows, buyers may be willing to pay the price to get into the market. However, if your house sits on the market too long, you may be forced to drop the price. All three of these strategies apply to the current market depending on the scenario. You may have the time to wait for the best offer. You may have already placed an offer on a new home and be eager to sell quickly. A knowledgeable Realtor can advise you on which approach makes sense in your situation. In addition to advising you on a pricing strategy, an experienced Realtor should counsel you on what to do once the bids start rolling in. Because time on market is about a week less than it was at this time last year, your Realtor should familiarize you with a sample sales contract. This way when actual offers come in you will already understand the various terms and can concentrate on the difference between each bid.
You may be tempted to take the first or highest offer so a wise Realtor will send you a read-only copy of the contract so you can weigh the pros and cons of each offer before signing. Sometimes a lower offer may be better because that buyer is prequalified. A professional Realtor can help you discern which offer actually benefits you most. 
On the buyers' side of the equation, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable Realtor is more important than ever. In a seller's market, inventory is low, competition is tough and bidding wars are common. You need to be prepared. In this environment, you should sign a broker-age agreement with your Realtor to allow him or her to give you personal advice and not just guidance.
An experienced Realtor will advise you to prioritize your wish list and stick to it. It can be disheartening to put in multiple offers and lose several bidding wars. Do not be tempted to throw your money at the next available house. You do not want to suffer from buyer's remorse six months down the line. Your Realtor can encourage you to keep your priorities straight and recommend homes that fit your needs.

To compete in this tough market, you may want to put in your best offer first. This may be higher than the listed price. You should also obtain preapproval letters. These may be required in some instances and may give you an advantage in others. To help your offer stand out from the crowd you may want to offer option money. This is a non-refundable deposit that tells the seller you are serious about your offer because the seller will get to keep the money if you back out of the deal. You also may want to include an escalation clause in your contract so your Realtor can quickly respond in a bidding war up to an agreed upon fixed amount.
A buyer's agent should also consider a seller's non-mon-etary incentives. Your Realtor can consult with the seller's agent to find out what is most important to the seller. The seller may be crunched for time because of a new job or an offer on another house. The seller may need to close on the house before being able to make an ffer on his or her next home. In this case, if you do not need to move in right away, you could offer the seller a temporary occupancy agreement to allow the seller to stay in the house for 60 days after closing. This kind of flexibility could bump your offer to the top. Or, the seller may be emotionally driven. Increasingly, buyers are writing letters or sending video messages to sellers expressing why they love the property and what they plan to do with it. Knowing that a young married couple plans to start a family in the home that gave birth to their own could influence a seller to choose one offer over another.
Buying or selling a home in this tough market can be difficult, but an experienced Realtor can help you overcome these challenges to get the best price for your home.

Will Thurman

Managing Broker/Owner
info@baystreetrealtygroup.com
 
June
20

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCM

The major challenge in today's housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can't keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it's a buyers' market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we're in a sellers' market. Today's inventory level sits far below the norm.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March's inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March's 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows."

Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we're still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here's why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today's low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they're coming to market.

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCMThis inventory shortage doesn't just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they're also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:

"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate."

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCMSam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:

"In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.

While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand."

Despite today's low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.

Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com, explains:

"In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year

In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes."

As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what's ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:

"Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers."

Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.

Bottom Line

Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today's market, there is hope on the horizon. Let's connect to talk about your home search so we can find your dream home this summer.

June
18

Don't Wait To Sell Your House

Don't Wait To Sell Your House | MyKCM

We're in the ultimate sellers' market right now. If you're a homeowner thinking about selling, you have a huge advantage in today's housing market. High buyer demand paired with very few houses for sale makes this the optimal time to sell for those who are ready to do so. Whatever the move you want to make looks like, here's an overview of what's creating the prime opportunity to sell this summer.

High Buyer Demand

Demand is strong, and buyers are actively searching for homes to purchase. In the Realtors Confidence Index Survey published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic is considered "very strong" in almost every state. Homebuyers aren't just great in number right now – they're also determined to find their dream home. NAR shows the average home for sale today receives five offers from hopeful buyers. These increasingly frequent bidding wars can drive up the price of your house, which is why high demand from competitive homebuyers is such a win for this summer's sellers.

Low Inventory of Houses for Sale

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

"For most sellers listing sooner rather than later could really pay off with less competition from other sellers and potentially a higher sales price... They'll also avoid some big unknowns lurking later in the year, namely another possible surge in COVID cases, rising interest rates and the potential for more sellers to enter the market."

NAR also reveals that unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-months' supply at the current sales pace. This is far lower than the historical norm of a 6.0-months' supply. Homes are essentially selling as fast as they're hitting the market. Below is a graph of the existing inventory of single-family homes for sale:

Don't Wait To Sell Your House | MyKCMAt the same time, homebuilders are increasing construction this year, but they can't keep up with the growing demand. While reporting on the inventory of newly constructed homes, the U.S. Census Bureau notes:

"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate."

What Does This Mean for You? 

If you're thinking of putting your house on the market, don't wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low. That's exactly what's happening in the real estate market today.

Bottom Line

As vaccine rollouts progress and we continue to see the economy recover, more houses will come to the market. Don't wait for the competition in your neighborhood to increase. If you're ready to make a move, now is the time to sell. Let's connect today to get your house listed at this optimal moment in time.

June
14

Why This Is Not Like 2008 Again

Why This Is Not Like 2008 Again | MyKCM

During the Great Recession, just over a decade ago, the financial systems the world depended on started to collapse. It created a panic that drove some large companies out of business (ex. Lehman Brothers) and many more into bankruptcy.

The financial crisis that accompanied the current pandemic caused hardship to certain industries and hurt many small businesses. However, it hasn't rattled the world economy. It seems that a year later, things are slowly getting back to normal for many companies.

Why is there a drastic difference between 2008 and now?

In a post from RealtyTrac, they explain:

"We changed the rules. We told banks they needed more reserves and that they could no longer underwrite toxic mortgages. It turns out that regulation — properly done — can help us navigate financial minefields."

Here are the results of that regulation, captured in a graph depicting the number of failed banks since 2007.

Why This Is Not Like 2008 Again | MyKCM

What was different this time?

The post mentioned above explains:

"In 2008 the government saw the foreclosure meltdown as a top-down problem and set aside $700 billion for banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Not all of the $700 billion was used, but the important point is that the government did not act with equal fervor to help flailing homeowners, millions of whom lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales.

This time around the government forcefully moved to help ordinary citizens. Working from the bottom-up, an estimated $5.3 trillion went to the public in 2020 through such mechanisms as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanded unemployment benefits, tax incentives, and help for local governments. So far this year we have the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan with millions of $1,400 checks as well as proposals to spend trillions more on infrastructure…Bank deposits increased by nearly $2 trillion during the past year and credit card debt fell."

Bottom Line

Many have suffered over the past year. However, the economic toll of the current recession was nowhere near the scope of the Great Recession, and it won't result in a housing crisis.

June
10

Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home

Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home | MyKCM

When stay-at-home mandates were enforced last year, many households realized their homes didn't really fulfill their new lifestyle needs. An office (in some cases two), a media room, space for children to learn, a gym, and a large yard are all examples of amenities that became highly desirable almost overnight.

Zelman & Associates recently reported that sales of primary residences grew by 9% in 2020. That increase in demand was met by the lowest supply of homes for sale in history. High demand and low supply caused prices to skyrocket over the past twelve months. Here are three home price indexes released most recently that show how home values have risen:

Prices increased by double digits in every region of the country and in 19 of 20 major metros. Chicago was the only exception, where prices still rose by 9%.

What does this mean to those who purchased a second home during the pandemic?

Many people didn't want to give up a home in the city or close to their office. Instead, they purchased a larger second home farther away and moved there to stay safe and have more space. According to the same Zelman report, sales for second homes rose an astonishing 27% in 2020.

That large second-home retreat on a lake or in the mountains would demand a higher price than the average house. Let's assume a buyer purchased such a home for $500,000. Assuming the middle 13.2% appreciation shown above, that home would now be worth about $566,000.

Those who bought second homes to improve their lifestyle during the height of the pandemic, or those who just wanted to be in a safer environment, also made a great investment.

What should these homeowners do now as the pandemic is receding, and the economy is reopening?

The buyers of those second homes now have a decision to make. Many will move back to the original home they still own (the one that's closer to work, friends, and family). Should they keep the second home? That could depend on answers to questions like these:

  • Now that you may have to go back to the office (at least a few days a week) and students are required to physically attend school, would you still use the second house enough to warrant the expenses of an additional home?
  • Would you go to the second home on most weekends, or would you return to the movie theater, attend sporting events, eat out at fine restaurants, or spend your time traveling again?

Bottom Line

If you purchased a larger second home during the pandemic, you were able to make day-to-day life much easier for those important to you. You also made it much safer. However, with those goals already accomplished, you now need to decide whether to continue paying the extra expenses or sell the house and cash in your profit. If you decide selling makes sense, let's connect today to discuss the value of your second home.

June
1

6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month

6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month | MyKCM

Our homes are so much more than the houses we live in. For many, they've also become our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe harbors in which we've weathered the toughest moments of a global pandemic. Today, 65.6% of Americans call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

As National Homeownership Month kicks off this June, homeowners have every reason to celebrate. A survey by Gallup just ranked real estate as the best investment you can make for the eighth year in a row. However, unlike other investment options, the benefits of owning a home aren't purely financial. Here are the top ways Americans are winning by owning a home.

Non-Financial Benefits:

1. Civic Participation: Owning a home is owning a part of your neighborhood. Homeowners have a stronger connection to their neighborhoods and are more committed to volunteer work and other ways to get involved.

2. Pride of Ownership: Owning a home is having a space that is uniquely yours. You can customize it to your personal liking and make it reflect your personality and values.

3. A Safe Space: Owning a home gives you a sense of security and privacy – two things that have become even more valuable as we've tackled the challenges of the recent health crisis.

Financial Benefits:

1. Forced Savings: Owning a home builds equity. Your equity grows with each payment you make toward your mortgage. This form of forced savings can be used down the road to help you accomplish your biggest financial goals.

2. Appreciation: Owning a home is making an investment that steadily gains value, and experts project home values will continue to rise in the years to come.

3. Stability: Owning a home means having better control over your future housing payments. Over the years, a mortgage stays relatively steady, but rent costs continue to rise.

Bottom Line

If you own your home, take time this June to celebrate the ways homeownership has added value to your life. If you hope to become a homeowner this year, let's connect today to take the first steps toward achieving your goal.

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