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Date Archives: July 2021

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July
30

Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans

Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans | MyKCM

Some veterans are finding it difficult to obtain a home in today's market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"Conventional conforming mortgages (mortgages that conform to guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), accounted for 74% of mortgages obtained by homebuyers in May 2021, an increase from about 65% during 2018 through 2019…The share of VA-guaranteed loans has also decreased to 7% in May 2021 from about 10% in past years."

Recent data in the latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae sheds light on the continuation of this trend. Below, we can see just how small of a share of total financing VA loans made up in June of 2021, according to that Ellie Mae report:

Home Sellers: There Is an Extra Way To Welcome Home Our Veterans | MyKCMThe drop in VA loan usage can be attributed to the difficulties veterans continue to face when buying a home. The NAR article elaborates:

"It is extremely difficult for FHA/VA buyers to get accepted in a multiple offer situation. They are on the bottom of the hierarchy."

One contributing factor is that buyers with VA loans can't waive certain contingencies. However, just because a certain contingency must be present for a particular buyer doesn't mean that buyer's offer shouldn't be considered.

What Should Sellers Do To Help Create a Level Playing Field?

As a seller, it's important to consider every offer in front of you regardless of loan type. If you're selecting an offer because some contingencies are waived, keep in mind that it doesn't always mean the offer is what's best for you.

Buyers who can't waive specific contingencies may adjust other terms in their offer to make it more appealing to sellers. This may depend on several factors, including their loan type and location, but a motivated buyer and their agent will do everything they can to present an offer that's as appealing to you as possible.

Ultimately, you should make sure you take time to really understand the terms of their offer and see the big picture. Working with a driven buyer who's motivated to purchase your house may provide a better opportunity for you to reach your overall best option and what's most important to you.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to sell, let's connect. Together, we can make sure you understand the terms of all offers so you can give each one fair consideration, including those buyers using a VA loan. Our veterans sacrifice so much for our country. They've earned our gratitude and should have the same opportunity to obtain the home of their dreams.

July
29

4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures

4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures | MyKCM

With forbearance plans about to come to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are four reasons why that won't happen.

1. There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their home to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the overwhelming fear was the pandemic would decimate the housing industry in a similar way. Many experts projected 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. Only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 3.5%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,863,000. That's definitely a large number, but nowhere near 9.3 million.

2. Most of the 1.86M in forbearance have enough equity to sell their home

Of the 1.86 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 87% have at least 10% equity in their homes. The 10% equity number is important because it enables homeowners to sell their houses and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 13% might not all have the option to sell, so if the entire 13% of the 1.86M homes went into foreclosure, that would total 241,800 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers of the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures coming out of the housing crash 15 years ago. The number does, however, draw a similar comparison to the three years prior to the pandemic.

3. The current market can absorb any listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, there was an excess supply of homes for sale. The situation is exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was a 9-month supply of listings for sale. Today, that number stands at less than 3 months of inventory on the market.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains when addressing potential foreclosures emerging from the forbearance program:

"Any foreclosure increases will likely be quickly absorbed by the market. It will not lead to any price declines."

4. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to prevent a wave of foreclosures

Just last Friday, the White House released a fact sheet explaining how homeowners with government-backed mortgages will be given further options to enable them to keep their homes when exiting forbearance. Here are two examples mentioned in the release:

  • "For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower."
  • "The new steps the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are announcing will aim to provide homeowners with a roughly 25% reduction in borrowers' monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term. This brings options for homeowners with mortgages backed by HUD, USDA, and VA closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

When evaluating the four reasons above, it's clear there won't be a flood of foreclosures coming to the market as the forbearance program winds down.

Bottom Line

As Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman & Associates, notes:

"The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent."

July
28

Pop Quiz: Can You Define These Key Terms in Today's Housing Market? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Pop Quiz: Can You Define These Key Terms in Today's Housing Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The language of buying and selling a home may sound scary at first, but knowing how key terms relate to today's market can help you. For example, current low mortgage rates and higher wages positively impact affordability for buyers, while home price appreciation continues to grow home equity, which sellers can use to fuel a move up.
  • Terms like appraisal (what lenders rely on to validate a home's value) and contingencies (which buyers can minimize to make their offer stand out) directly impact the transaction.
  • You don't need to be fluent in the language of the market to buy or sell. Instead, let's connect today so that we can translate the process together.
July
27

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCM

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today's real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you've likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that's something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can't take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let's take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It's not just today's high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

"The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes."

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCMThe same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

". . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years." 

"Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . ."

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it'll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today's supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today's ultimate sellers' market is here to stay?

We're already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can't bridge the supply gap we're facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation's Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

"…Although part of the answer to the nation's housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today's strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market."

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

"It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply."

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:

"As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner."

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn't mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It's not too late to take advantage of today's sellers' market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It's still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it's still hovering near historic lows. Let's connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

July
26

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now | MyKCM

If you're a prospective buyer or seller, it's important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today's housing market.

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:

"Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception."

For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren't local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That's why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.

Remote Work and Mobility

Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:

"the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus."

With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.

Housing Supply and Affordability

Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE's list of key factors this year:

"According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America's housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation's population."

There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today's low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we're seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.

Bottom Line

New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let's connect today.

July
25

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong | MyKCM

The pandemic created a tremendous interest in vacation homes across the country. Throughout the last year, many people purchased second homes as a safe getaway from the challenges of the health crisis. With many professionals working from home and many students taking classes remotely, it made sense to see a migration away from cities and into counties with more vacation destinations.

The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this increase in vacation home sales continues in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where "vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock" and compares that data to the overall residential market.

Their findings show:

  • Vacation home sales rose by 16.4% to 310,600 in 2020, outpacing the 5.6% growth in total existing-home sales.
  • Vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year during January-April 2021 compared to the 20% year-over-year change in total existing-home sales.
  • Home prices rose more in vacation home counties – the median existing price rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.

This coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.

As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.

Bottom Line

If you're one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you're likely wondering what this means for you. If you're considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options. There are still plenty of buyers in the market. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your second home, enjoy it! Current market conditions show that it's a good ongoing investment.

July
23

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow | MyKCM

In today's real estate market, low inventory and high demand are driving up home prices. As many as 54% of homes are getting offers over the listing price, based on the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogic, elaborates:

"The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing."

While this is great news for today's sellers, it can be tricky to navigate if the price of your contract doesn't match up with the appraisal for the house. It's called an appraisal gap, and it's happening more in today's market than the norm.

According to recent data from CoreLogic, 19% of homes had their appraised value come in below the contract price in April of this year. That's more than double the percentage in each of the two previous Aprils.

The chart below uses the latest insights from NAR's Realtors Confidence Index to showcase how often an issue with an appraisal slowed or stalled the momentum of a house sale in May of this year compared to May of last year.

What To Expect as Appraisal Gaps Grow | MyKCM

If an appraisal comes in below the contract price, the buyer's lender won't loan them more than the house's appraised value. That means there's going to be a gap between the amount of loan the buyer can secure and the contract price on the house.

In this situation, both the buyer and seller have a vested interest in making sure the sale moves forward with little to no delay. The seller will want to make sure the deal closes, and the buyer won't want to risk losing the home. That's why it's common for sellers to ask the buyer to make up the difference themselves in today's competitive market.

Bottom Line

Whether you're buying or selling, let's connect so you have an ally throughout the process to help you navigate the unexpected, including appraisal gaps.

July
22

Today's Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends

Today's Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends | MyKCM

As we move into the second half of the year, one thing is clear: the current real estate market is one for the record books. The exact mix of conditions we have today creates opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Here's a look at four key components that are shaping this unprecedented market.

A Shortage of Homes for Sale

Earlier this year, the number of homes available for sale fell to an all-time low. In recent months, however, inventory levels are starting to trend up. The latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report from realtor.com says:

"In June, newly listed homes grew by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, and by 10.9% on a month-over-month basis. Typically, fewer newly listed homes appear on the market in the month of June compared to May. This year, growth in new listings is continuing later into the summer season, a welcome sign for a tight housing market."

This is good news for buyers who crave more options. But even though we're experiencing small gains in the number of available homes for sale, inventory remains a challenge in most states. That's why it's still a sellers' market, giving homeowners immense leverage when they decide to make a move.

Buyer Competition and Bidding Wars

Today's ongoing low supply, coupled with high demand, creates a market characterized by high buyer competition and bidding wars. Buyers are going above and beyond to make sure their offer stands out from the crowd by offering over the asking price, all cash, or waiving some contingencies. The number of offers on the average house for sale broke records this year – and that's great news for sellers.

The latest Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says the average home for sale receives five offers (see graph below):Today's Real Estate Market Explained Through 4 Key Trends | MyKCMFor buyers, the best way to put a compelling offer together is by working with a local real estate professional. That agent can act as your trusted advisor on what terms are best for you and what's most appealing to the seller.

Home Price Appreciation

The competition among buyers is driving prices up. Over the past year, we've seen home price appreciation rise across the country. According to the most recent Home Price Index (HPI) from CoreLogic, national home prices increased 15.4% year-over-year in May:

"The May 2021 HPI gain was up from the May 2020 gain of 4.2% and was the highest year-over-year gain since November 2005. Low mortgage rates and low for-sale inventory drove the increase in home prices."

Rising home values are a big part of why real estate remains one of the top sought-after investments for Americans. For potential sellers, it also means it's a great time to list your house to maximize the return on your investment.

A Rise in Home Values and Equity

The equity in a home doesn't just grow when a homeowner pays their mortgage – it also grows as the home's value appreciates. Thanks to the jump in price appreciation, homeowners across the country are seeing record-breaking gains in home equity. CoreLogic recently reported:

"…homeowners with mortgages (which account for roughly 62% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by 19.6% year over year, representing a collective equity gain of over $1.9 trillion, and an average gain of $33,400 per borrower, since the first quarter of 2020."

That's a major perk for households to leverage. Homeowners can use that equity to accomplish major life goals or move into their dream homes.

Bottom Line

If you're thinking about buying or selling, there's no time like the present. Let's connect to talk about how you can take advantage of the conditions we're seeing today to meet your homeownership goals.

July
20

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right.

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right. | MyKCM

There's no denying we're in a sellers' market. With low inventory and high buyer demand, homes today are selling above the asking price at a record rate. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

  • Homes typically sell within 17 days (compared to 26 days one year ago).
  • The average home sold has five offers to pick from.
  • 54% of offers are over the asking price.

Because so many buyers are competing for so few homes, bidding wars are driving up home prices. According to an average of leading expert projections, existing home prices are expected to increase by 8.9% this year.

Yet even in today's red-hot sellers' market, it's important to price your house right. While it may be tempting to price your house on the high side to capitalize on this trend, doing so could limit your house's potential.

Why Pricing Your House Right Matters

Here's the thing – a high price tag doesn't mean you're going to cash in big on the sale. While you may be trying to maximize your return, the tradeoff may be steep. A high list price is more likely to deter buyers, sit on the market longer, or require a price drop that can raise questions among prospective buyers.

Instead, focus on setting a price that's fair. Real estate professionals know the value of your home. By pricing your house based on its current condition and similar homes that have recently sold in your area, your agent can help you set a price that's realistic and obtainable – and that's good news for you and for buyers.

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right. | MyKCM

When you price your house right, you increase your home's visibility, which drives more buyers to your front door. The more buyers that tour your home, the more likely you'll have a multi-offer scenario to create a bidding war. When multiple buyers compete for your house, that sets you up for a bigger win.

Bottom Line

When it comes to pricing your house, working with a local real estate professional is essential. Let's connect so we can optimize your exposure, your timeline, and the return on your investment, too.

July
19

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCM

In today's real estate market, mortgage interest rates are near record lows. If you've been in your current home for several years and haven't refinanced lately, there's a good chance you have a mortgage with an interest rate higher than today's average. Here are some options you should consider if you want to take advantage of today's current low rates before they rise.

Sell and Move Up (or Downsize)

Many of today's homeowners are rethinking what they need in a home and redefining what their dream home means. For some, continued remote work is bringing about the need for additional space. For others, moving to a lower cost-of-living area or downsizing may be great options. If you're considering either of these, there may not be a better time to move. Here's why.

The chart below shows average mortgage rates by decade compared to where they are today:

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCMToday's rates are below 3%, but experts forecast rates to rise over the next few years.

If the interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than today's average, take advantage of this opportunity by making a move and securing a lower rate. Lower rates mean you may be able to get more house for your money and still have a lower monthly mortgage payment than you might expect.

Waiting, however, might mean you miss out on this historic opportunity. Below is a chart showing how your monthly payment will change if you buy a home as mortgage rates increase:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCM

Breaking It All Down:

Using the chart above, let's look at the breakdown of a $300,000 mortgage:

  • When mortgage rates rise, so does the monthly payment you can secure.
  • Even the smallest increase in rates can make a difference in your monthly mortgage payment.
  • As interest rates rise, you'll need to look at a lower-priced home to try and keep the same target monthly payment, meaning you may end up with less home for your money.

No matter what, whether you're looking to make a move up or downsize to a home that better suits your needs, now is the time. Even a small change in interest rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power.

Refinance

If making a move right now still doesn't feel right for you, consider refinancing. With the current low mortgage rates, refinancing is a great option if you're looking to lower your monthly payments and stay in your current home.

Bottom Line

Take advantage of today's low rates before they begin to rise. Whether you're thinking about moving up, downsizing, or refinancing, let's connect today to discuss which option is best for you.

July
18

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • "1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more"
  • "1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more"
  • "47% don't know what a good interest rate is"

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they've decided homebuying isn't for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you're interested in buying but aren't sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn't have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:

"The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary."

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don't feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they'll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

"Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years..."

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

"As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year."

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying power. If you've been on the fence about buying a home, there's no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you're not alone. Let's connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you'll need to start your search, and what to expect.

July
16

Your Home Equity Can Take You Places [INFOGRAPHIC]

Your Home Equity Can Take You Places [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The amount of wealth Americans have stored in their homes has increased astronomically.
  • On average, homeowners gained $33,400 in equity over the last 12 months, and the average equity on mortgaged homes is now $216,000.
  • When it's time to sell, your home equity can help accomplish your goals. Let's connect to discuss how you can take advantage of today's sellers' market to get the most out of your home sale.
July
15

 Diving Deep into Today's Biggest Buyer Concerns

Diving Deep into Today's Biggest Buyer Concerns | MyKCM

Last week, Fannie Mae released their Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). Though the survey showed 77% of respondents believe it's a "good time to sell," it also confirms what many are sensing: an increasing number of Americans believe it's a "bad time to buy" a home. The percentage of those surveyed saying it's a "bad time to buy" hit 64%, up from 56% last month and 38% last July.

The latest HPSI explains:

"Consumers also continued to cite high home prices as the predominant reason for their ongoing and significant divergence in sentiment toward homebuying and home-selling conditions. While all surveyed segments have expressed greater negativity toward homebuying over the last few months, renters who say they are planning to buy a home in the next few years have demonstrated an even steeper decline in homebuying sentiment than homeowners. It's likely that affordability concerns are more greatly affecting those who aspire to be first-time homeowners than other consumer segments."

Let's look closely at the market conditions that impact home affordability.

A mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate on the loan used to purchase it. Lately, monthly mortgage payments have gone up for buyers for two key reasons:

  1. Mortgage rates have increased from 2.65% this past January to 2.9%.
  2. Home prices have increased by 15.4% over the last 12 months.

Based on these rising factors, a home may be less affordable today, but it doesn't mean it's not affordable.

Three weeks ago, ATTOM Data released their second-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Affordability Report which explained that the major ownership costs on the typical home as a percent of the average national wage had increased from 22.2% in the second quarter of 2020 to 25.2% in the second quarter of this year. They also went on to explain:

"Still, the latest level is within the 28 percent standard lenders prefer for how much homeowners should spend on mortgage payments, home insurance and property taxes."

In the same report, Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer with ATTOM, confirms:

"Average workers across the country can still manage the major expenses of owning a home, based on lender standards."

It's true that monthly mortgage payments are greater than they were last year (as the ATTOM data shows), but they're not unaffordable when compared to the last 30 years. While payments have increased dramatically during that several-decade span, if we adjust for inflation, today's mortgage payments are 10.7% lower than they were in 1990.

What's that mean for you? While you may not get the homebuying deal someone you know got last year, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still buy a home. Here are your alternatives to buying and the trade-offs you'll have with each.

Alternative 1: I'll rent instead.

Some may consider renting as the better option. However, the monthly cost of renting a home is skyrocketing. According to the July National Rent Report from Apartment List:

"…So far in 2021, rental prices have grown a staggering 9.2%. To put that in context, in previous years growth from January to June is usually just 2 to 3%. After this month's spike, rents have been pushed well above our expectations of where they would have been had the pandemic not disrupted the market."

If you continue to rent, chances are your rent will keep increasing at a fast pace. That means you could end up spending significantly more of your income on your rental as time goes on, which could make it even harder to save for a home.

Alternative 2: I'll wait it out.

Others may consider waiting for another year and hoping that purchasing a home will be less expensive then. Let's look at that possibility.

We've already established that a monthly mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate. A lower monthly payment would require one of those two elements to decrease over the next year. However, experts are forecasting the exact opposite:

  • The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) projects mortgage rates will be at 4.2% by the end of next year.
  • The Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES), a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for home prices to increase by 5.12% in 2022.

Based on these projections, let's see the possible impact on a monthly mortgage payment:

Diving Deep into Today's Biggest Buyer Concerns | MyKCM

By waiting until next year, you'd potentially pay more for the home, need a larger down payment, pay a higher mortgage rate, and pay an additional $3,696 each year over the life of the mortgage.

Bottom Line

While you may have missed the absolute best time to buy a home, waiting any longer may not make sense. Let's connect today! Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says it best:

"Affordability is likely to worsen before it improves, so try to buy it now, if you can find it."

July
14

Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market

Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market | MyKCM

In real estate, it's normal to see ebbs and flows in the market. Typically, the summer months are slower-paced than the traditionally busy spring. But this isn't a typical summer. As the economy rebounds and life is returning to normal, the real estate market is expected to have an unusually strong summer season.

Here's how this summer is stacking up against the norm and what it means for you.

Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market | MyKCM

Inventory is increasing.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), inventory levels have been rising since February of this year. Looking at the graph below, there's a clear upward trend, as shown in the green bars. Currently, there's roughly a 2.5 months' supply of homes for sale. And while inventory is trending up as more houses are coming to the market, it's still much lower than several of the previous summers, as the orange bars indicate.

Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market | MyKCMIf you're looking to buy, some relief is on the way in the form of more homes coming to the market. Just remember, we still have less inventory than the norm, so be patient in your search.

If you're thinking of selling, now is the time. Work with your agent to list your house before it has more competition on the market.

Time on the market is still shorter than normal.

Unlike the typical summer trend, time on the market is moving at the fastest speed we've seen since NAR started collecting this survey-based information in 2011. The most recent Realtors Confidence Index shows that the average home is on the market for just 17 days, as shown in green in the graph below. This means houses are selling at a much faster pace than a typical summer, which the orange bars represent.Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market | MyKCM

If you're looking to buy, this means you need to be prepared to move fast. Brace for a quick pace and rely on your agent to stay in the know on the available homes in your area.

If you're thinking of selling, data shows your house will likely sell quickly. If you're worried about where you'll go once your house sells, consider a newly built home as a good way to move up.

Price appreciation is still rising.

The last big factor making this an unusually strong market this summer is home price appreciation. According to the State House Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), we're currently experiencing double-digit house price appreciation and have an average of 12.6% appreciation across the country. The graph below uses data from NAR to show a more granular view of how prices have changed month-to-month over the past few years. The green bars show the current price appreciation we're experiencing today. Our current levels are well above what we've seen in recent summers, shown by the orange bars.

Why This Isn't Your Typical Summer Housing Market | MyKCMIf you're looking to buy, competition and bidding wars are driving prices up. Getting pre-approved can show the seller you're serious and help you know what you can afford. Once you do, work with your agent to make a strong offer that stands out.

If you're thinking of selling, seize this opportunity to use your additional equity from this price appreciation to power your next move.

Bottom Line

This isn't a typical summer. Whether you're buying or selling, let's connect to talk about how you can capitalize on today's market conditions to sell your house or find your dream home.

July
12

BEAUFORT, SC -- Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group recently welcomed Andrea Dreier to the team as Receptionist. In this new role, she will greet potential clients, manage the company's call center, organize leads and new listings and oversee the calendar for on-duty agents. 

Dreier comes to Bay Street Realty Group with a wealth of organizational and customer service experience. She most recently served as a Medical Assistant at Coastal Neurology, where she was responsible for tracking patient vitals, making rounds with physicians, auditing medical records, handling insurance and organizing paperwork. Prior to that, she served as Bookkeeper and Medical Assistant in another medical facility in Madison, Ohio. 

Dreier attended the I.C.M School of Business in Cleveland, Ohio. One of her most loved hobbies is writing. She has published two children's books and is passionate about giving back to children through her writing. Bay Street Realty Group is excited to have her join their team. 

For more information, visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

July
12

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer | MyKCM

While the housing market forecast for the second half of the year remains positive, there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Here are four things to consider if you're trying to decide if now's the right time to make a move.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly. The report notes homes are selling in an average of just 17 days.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer competition, and homes selling quickly is a great sign for sellers. It's one of several factors that indicate buyers are motivated to do what it takes to purchase the home of their dreams.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling fast, homes are receiving multiple offers. NAR reports sellers are seeing an average of 5 offers, and these offers are competitive ones. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogic, said in a recent interview:

"The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing."

This confirms buyers are ready and willing to enter bidding wars for your home. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale, which while improving, remains at near-record lows. As NAR details:

"Total housing inventory at the end of May amounted to 1.23 million units, up 7.0% from April's inventory and down 20.6% from one year ago (1.55 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.5-month supply at the present sales pace, marginally up from April's 2.4-month supply but down from 4.6-months in May 2020."

There are signs, however, that more homes are coming to market. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, notes:

"It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply."

If you're looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You're Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

Over the past 12 months, homeowners have gained a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. In that same period, homeowners have also spent a considerable amount of time in their homes, and many have decided their house doesn't meet their needs.

If you're not happy with your current home, you can leverage that equity to power your move now. Your equity, plus current low mortgage rates, can help you maximize your purchasing power.

But these near-historic low rates won't last forever. Experts forecast interest rates will increase in the coming months. Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at NAR, says:

"Nevertheless, as the economic outlook for the United States looks brighter for the rest of the year, mortgage rates are expected to rise in the following months."

As interest rates rise, even modestly, it could influence buyer demand and your purchasing power. If you've been waiting for the best time to sell to fuel your move up, you likely won't find more favorable conditions than those we're seeing today.

Bottom Line

With supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers, sellers are well-positioned to take advantage of current market conditions right now. If you're thinking about selling, let's connect today to discuss why it makes sense to list your home sooner rather than later.

July
11

How to Stage Your Home When You Have Children

Staging a home is important for open houses and showings. It can make the home more appealing to potential buyers and help them imagine their own family living there. Keeping a house clean and ready to be shown is already challenging. But if you have children, especially on the younger side, it can be particularly difficult to keep your home tidy and clutter-free. Here are a few tips and tricks for staging your home—and keeping it in tip-top shape—in a household with children.

Staging 101
Whether you have kids or not, there are some steps that always apply when staging a house for sale. First, go through each room and get rid of any unnecessary clutter, such as magazines, knick knacks and other items that could create the impression of an untidy house. Put away personal items, such as family photos, so prospective buyers can envision the home as their own. 

Next, give the entire house a deep cleaning. If you don't have time to do it yourself or would prefer to have someone else do it, hire a professional cleaning company. If the house has an odor, find and address the source. Don't use air fresheners or scented candles to try to cover it up, as this can actually make the odor worse and turn off potential buyers.

Staging a Home With Children
Explain to your children that people will be coming to look at the house and that you need to keep it as clean as possible. Young kids may not understand, but older children may be more cooperative and helpful.

Let your kids choose their favorite toys to keep in their bedrooms or in a playroom. Transfer other toys to a storage area temporarily to avoid having the house be too cluttered. Explain to your kids that you aren't throwing away their toys and that they will be able to play with them again in your new home. Put away bikes, sports equipment and any other large outdoor toys in the garage, a closet or a storage unit.

If your for sale home features a playroom, try to stage it in a way that can appeal to parents with children of any age. Pack up any puzzles and games with lots of pieces. Arts and crafts supplies, such as paint, markers, stickers, clay and glitter are messy and can be tough to clean up on short notice. Be sure to put them away before you start the staging process.

In children's bedrooms, keep things simple. Get rid of unnecessary furniture and items taking up a lot of floor space, such as a dollhouse or large toys. Decorate the room in a neutral palette and be sure to remove any personal items, such as photos, drawings and gender- or age-specific decor. Make sure children's bedrooms are well lit and keep curtains or blinds open during showings. 

Get Help Staging Your Home 
Staging a house can be complicated, especially when you put children into the mix. But this is a great process to help attract serious buyers. Your Real Estate Agent can give you advice on how to declutter and redecorate, and may even recommend a professional stager who can assist you.

July
9

Understanding What Flood Insurance Does and Doesn't Cover

Flooding can happen anywhere—and even an inch of water can cause major damage to your home. If you're looking to take out a mortgage on a house in a high-risk flood zone, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. Before you buy a policy, though, it's important to understand what flood insurance does and doesn't cover.

National Flood Insurance Program 
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers two types of policies. One covers the cost to rebuild a house or its actual cash value, whichever is less, with a maximum coverage amount of $250,000. The second type of policy covers the actual cash value of personal property, up to a maximum of $100,000. You have the option to purchase one or both policies. Be aware that these policies have separate deductibles.

A flood insurance policy will only cover losses that are a direct result of flooding. "Flooding" means that water must cover at least two acres or must have damaged your home and at least one other property.

Federal flood insurance will cover the plumbing and electrical system, furnace, fuel tank and fuel, water heater, heat pump and air conditioner. It will often cover a refrigerator, stove and built-in appliances, such as a dishwasher, as well as permanently installed carpeting, curtains, blinds, damaged cabinets, foundation walls and staircases. These policies can also cover a detached garage and personal property, as well as mudflow, groundwater seepage and a sewer backup.

NFIP limits coverage for a basement, crawlspace or living space with a floor below ground level and will not cover damage caused by mold, mildew or moisture unrelated to flooding or that the homeowner could have prevented. These policies will not pay for damage caused by the movement of the earth, even if the movement was a result of flooding. They will also not cover loss of use, additional living expenses, financial losses due to business interruption, most vehicles or property located outside of an insured building.

Thousands of agents across the country sell NFIP policies, even to homeowners who don't live in a flood plain. Coverage takes effect 30 days after a policy is purchased, meaning if a hurricane is in the forecast, you can't purchase flood insurance at the last minute and expect to be covered. Be sure to be proactive to protect yourself and your home, especially in a high-risk area.

Private Flood Insurance
Some private insurance companies also offer flood insurance policies that can provide supplemental coverage above the federal limits or serve as a primary flood insurance policy. In some cases, private flood insurance may be less expensive than an NFIP policy and it may cover additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable. 

Do You Have the Right Flood Insurance Coverage?
Many homeowners don't think they are at risk of flooding or assume their homeowners insurance policy covers it. A flood insurance policy can cover many of the costs associated with flood damage and is worth the cost if you live in an area where flooding is more common. If you don't have flood insurance coverage, you can discuss your options with your insurance agent, or your Real Estate Agent can offer smart suggestions based on your neighborhood and risk.

July
8

Laundry Tips for After Your Vacation

Vacations may mean family fun and lasting memories, but between travel and cleaning, coming home from a vacation can make you more tired than before you left. After some much-needed time off, no one wants to spend days catching up on dirty laundry. Thankfully, a little planning before and during your vacation can make all the difference when you come home. 

Keep a Laundry Bag in Your Suitcase
Avoid the need to wash clothes unnecessarily by keeping a laundry bag in your suitcase. This will ensure you can easily sort through dirty items during your trip, allowing you to keep your hotel space clean while preventing dirty and clean clothes from mixing together. Going on a beach or waterpark trip? Purchase a waterproof bag to ensure that your soggy clothes don't leak on the rest of your items.

Start a Load of Laundry Right When You Come Home
After a long trip, it can be tempting to relax as soon as you arrive home. Resist this urge and immediately start a load of laundry. This will ensure that you're not bogged down by a huge to-do list in the form of dirty clothes, and if you pack your dirty clothes well, starting a load quickly is a simple task that will have a big impact.

Families Designate One Suitcase for Dirty Clothes
If you're traveling with a few family members, particularly if your party includes children,  dedicate one suitcase at the end of your trip to exclusively put all the dirty clothes into. Once you arrive at home, you can have each family member put their respective suitcases and clean items away, while the suitcase with dirty items is placed in your laundry room. This way, you're not going to each family member requesting their dirty items and a load of laundry can be done upon arrival back home.

Wash Swimsuits First
Wet swimwear can get stale or sour if they're not addressed quickly. When you arrive home, be sure to prioritize any wet or soiled items in the first load. If you must leave any loads for the next day, you've already tackled the items that should be taken care of quickly. If you brought along any beach towels, be sure to include these in the wash with your swimsuits.

Wash Clothes as You Go
If you are taking an extended trip, take advantage of your hotel or rental home's laundry amenities. This can prevent the need for loads of laundry once you've arrived at home, and can also help you pack lighter, which could save on luggage costs. 

July
8

SAVANNAH, GA -- Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty is excited to announce the hiring of Kristine Compton as Realtor®. In this role, she will deliver an extraordinary experience to her clients, whether buying or selling. A good listener, she's excited to first learn her clients' specific needs, and then provide expert guidance while exceeding their expectations. 

A Savannah expert, and "the girl who knows everyone", Compton has been in sales in the Lowcountry since 1996. Most recently, she served as the Membership Director for The Club at Savannah Quarters where she worked closely with area realtors to welcome new residents to the community. She also provided unmatched customer service to the members and helped make connections that cultivated lasting friendships. Prior to this, Compton worked for South Magazine for seven years, as Associate Publisher and Sales Manager. She's a marketer by trade, and that's exactly how she found her home here in Savannah. While working in Public Relations for The Schooner America, which carried the Olympic torch down the Savannah River in 1996, she fell in love with the Hostess City and never looked back. 

Compton has a servant's heart and has been involved in numerous organizations in the region, including: CASA, American Diabetes Association, Leukemia Lymphoma Society of America and Savannah Christian Preparatory School. Bay Street Realty Group is thrilled to welcome her passion for Savannah, her high energy and her professionalism to the team. 

July
7

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • "1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more"
  • "1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more"
  • "47% don't know what a good interest rate is"

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they've decided homebuying isn't for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you're interested in buying but aren't sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn't have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:

"The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary."

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don't feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they'll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

"Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years..."

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

"As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year."

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying power. If you've been on the fence about buying a home, there's no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you're not alone. Let's connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you'll need to start your search, and what to expect.

July
6

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is thrilled to announce the hiring of Brooke Coyne as a real estate agent. As a Realtor®, she will provide guidance and assist sellers and buyers in marketing and purchasing properties.

A caring nature with an empathetic heart and a detail-oriented mindset, Coyne most recently worked as a Nurse Practitioner in Beaufort and Bluffton, South Carolina. She will continue to work on a PRN basis doing home visits within the community, but Coyne has always had an interest in real estate, as both her father and brother are involved in construction. She's always enjoyed seeing the transformation of properties, as people modify a house to make it their home, and feels as though this is the time to dive right in. Coyne says, "Our homes are the place in this world in which we have the most control of our surrounding environment. I am passionate about helping people identify what 'home' means for them, and helping them find and obtain that place within our own community." 

Coyne received her Master of Science in Nursing from Vanderbilt University, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Francis Marion University. She has also served The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control providing public health in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Charleston counties. 

For more information, visit www.brookecoyne.com.

July
6

A Look at Home Price Appreciation Through 2025

A Look at Home Price Appreciation Through 2025 | MyKCM

Home prices have increased significantly over the last year, which in turn has grown the net worth of homeowners. Appreciation and home equity are directly linked – as the value of a home increases, so does a homeowner's equity. And with these recent gains, homeowners are witnessing their financial stability and well-being grow to record levels.

In more good news for homeowners, the most recent Home Price Expectations Survey – a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists – forecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years, adding to the record amount of equity homeowners have already gained over the past year. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation from the report:

A Look at Home Price Appreciation Through 2025 | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for Homeowners?

Home prices are climbing today, and the data in the survey indicates they'll continue to increase, but at rates that approach a more normal pace. Even still, the amount of household wealth a homeowner stands to earn going forward is substantial. This truly becomes clear when we consider a scenario using a median-priced home purchased in January of 2021 and the projected rate of appreciation on that home over the next five years. As the graph below illustrates, a homeowner could increase their net worth by a significant amount – over $93,000 dollars by 2026.A Look at Home Price Appreciation Through 2025 | MyKCM

Home Price Appreciation and Home Equity

CoreLogic recently released their quarterly Homeowner Equity Insights Report, which tracks the year-over-year increases in equity. It shows an average annual gain of $33,400 per borrower over the past 12 months. In the report, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, further explains:

"Double-digit home price growth in the past year has bolstered home equity to a record amount. The national CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded an 11.4% rise in the year through March 2021, leading to a $216,000 increase in the average amount of equity held by homeowners with a mortgage."

The expected, sustained growth of home prices means homeowners can continue to build on the past year's record levels of home equity – and their financial prosperity. It also presents today's homeowners with a unique opportunity: using their growing equity for a home upgrade. With so few homes available to purchase and strong buyer demand, there may not be a better time to sell your current house and move into one that better meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Home prices are expected to continue appreciating over the next five years, and the associated equity gains are the quickest way homeowners can build household wealth. If you're a current homeowner who's ready to take advantage of your built-up equity, let's connect today to discuss your options.

July
4

July
3

Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent

Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent | MyKCM

Selling a house is a time-consuming process – especially if you decide to do it on your own, known as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO). From conducting market research to reviewing legal documents, handling negotiations, and more, it's an involved and highly detailed process that requires a lot of expertise to navigate effectively. That's one of the reasons why the percentage of people selling their own house has declined from 19% to 8% (See graph below):

Save Time and Effort by Selling with an Agent | MyKCMTo help you understand just how much time and effort it takes to sell on your own, here's a look at a few of the things you need to think about before putting that "For Sale" sign up in your yard.

1. Making a Good First Impression

While it may sound simple, there are a lot of proven best practices to consider when prepping a house for sale.

  • Do you need to take down your personal art?
  • What's the right amount of landscaping to boost your curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

If you do this work on your own, you may invest capital and many hours into the wrong thingsYour time is money – don't waste it. An agent can help steer you in the right direction based on current market conditions to save you time and effort. Since we're in a hot sellers' market, you don't want to delay listing your house by focusing on things that won't change your bottom line. These market conditions may not last, so lean on an agent to capitalize on today's low inventory while you can.

2. Pricing It Right

Real estate professionals have mission-critical information on what sells and how to maximize your profit. They're experienced when it comes to looking at recent comparable homes that have sold in your area and understanding what price is right for your neighborhood. They use that data to price your house appropriately, maximizing your return.

In a FSBO, you're operating without this expertise, so you'll have to do your own homework on how to set a price that's appropriate for your area and the condition of your home. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that's inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they're even in the front door, or run into problems when it comes time for the appraisal.

3. Maximizing Your Buyer Pool (and Profit)

Contrary to popular belief, FSBOs may actually net less profit than sellers who use an agent. One of the factors that can drive profit up is effective exposure. Simply put, real estate professionals can get your house in front of more buyers via their social media followers, agency resources, and proven sales strategies. The more buyers that view a home, the more likely a bidding war becomes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average house for sale today gets 5 offers. Using an agent to boost your exposure may help boost your sale price too.

4. Navigating Negotiations

When it comes to selling your house as a FSBO, you'll have to handle all of the negotiations. Here are just a few of the people you'll work with:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer's agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property's value to protect the lender

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate potential snags that may pop up. When appraisals come in low and in countless other situations, they know what levers to pull, how to address the buyer and seller emotions that come with it, and when to ask for second opinions. Navigating all of this on your own takes time –a lot of it.

5. Juggling Legal Documentation

Speaking of time, consider how much free time you have to review the fine print. Just in terms of documentation, more disclosures and regulations are now mandatory. That means the stack of legal documents you need to handle as the seller is growing. It can be hard to know and truly understand all the terms and requirements. Instead of going at it alone, use an agent as your shield and advisor to help you avoid potential legal missteps.

Bottom Line

Selling your house on your own is a lot of responsibility. It's time consuming and requires an immense amount of effort and expertise. Before you decide to sell your house yourself, let's discuss your options so we can make sure you get the most out of the sale.

July
2

Pros and Cons of Buying Mortgage Discount Points

When you take out a mortgage to buy a new home, you may have the option to purchase discount points. If you buy one point, you'll have to pay a fee equal to 1% of the loan amount directly to your lender. 

In exchange, you'll get a reduction in the interest rate. The amount of that reduction will depend on your lender. Buying discount points may or may not be a good idea, depending on your individual circumstances and how long you plan to stay in the house.

Purchasing Discount Points Can Save You Money 
If you buy one or more discount points, that will reduce your interest rate, translating to lower monthly payments. Purchasing points can make a mortgage more affordable and give you more money in your monthly budget to devote to other priorities, such as saving for retirement.

You May or May Not Break Even If You Buy Discount Points
The savings you'll enjoy by getting a lower interest rate will grow over time. If you expect to live in your house for a long time, buying mortgage points may be a good idea. If you'll probably move relatively soon, you may not save enough in interest to make the initial payment for points worthwhile.

Divide the cost of points by the amount you can save each month to figure out how long it will take for your savings to equal the upfront cost. If you don't expect to live in the house for too long, it doesn't make sense to buy points. 

If you take out an adjustable-rate mortgage and buy discount points, the reduction in the interest rate may only apply in the initial period before the rate resets. If you won't break even before then, don't pay extra for points.

You May Be Better off Making a Bigger Down Payment
If you put down less than 20%, you'll most likely have to purchase private mortgage insurance, which may add hundreds of dollars per month to your housing costs. If you pay for points to lower your interest rate, the amount you'll save may be more or less than the cost of PMI. 

If it will take several years to break even after buying points, it may make more sense to make a larger down payment and avoid PMI. You'll need to look at the cost of the house you want to buy, your interest rate and the total amount of money you have to work with to figure out if buying points or making a larger down payment is the better option. Let's connect!

July
1

4 Tips for Starting Your Home Search Online

With people shopping online more than ever, it comes as no surprise that this tech platform has become ubiquitous within the real estate industry. From millennials to boomers, homebuyers of all ages and demographics are starting their home search from the comfort of their own computer or mobile devices. Taking into account that more listings than ever offer virtual and 3D home tours, there is so much information available online that buyers depend on. Here are four tips for starting your home search online and finding your perfect home from wherever you are.

Check the Right Websites
House-hunting online wouldn't be possible without websites like ours, BayStreetRealtyGroup.com. With certain research tools available, such as searching by location, price point, number of bedrooms and more, you have the ability to find exactly what you are looking for. Also, with 3D tours, 360-degree room views and aerial drone footage of the property and neighborhood available, it is easier than ever to explore a home's floor plan and imagine what it could be like to furnish and live in a specific space. 

Review Public Records
Head to your town or city county assessor or treasurer office online and enter an address of a home you are interested in. Because tax records are public information, you can see what the current owner, as well as past owners, paid for the property. Here, you can also explore the assessed value, property taxes, construction and remodel permits, property lines, square footage and more. 

Explore the Neighborhood
While you enjoy the ease of searching online, nothing compares to the real thing. If you find a home or property online that you are interested in, and if you are close enough in distance, take a ride to see the home with your own eyes and explore the neighborhood. Or, continue your online journey, enter the address into Google maps and use the street-view to see what is around the home, including different neighborhoods, businesses and school districts.

Hire a Real Estate Agent
Of course, you don't need a real estate agent at the beginning of your online home search. But even if you aren't ready, whether emotionally or financially, a professional can help you especially in your online search. Real estate agents have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and proprietary databases not available to the masses. These websites are more accurate than the regular home search websites and can offer more accurate information. Hiring an agent can help you take advantage of all of these resources and especially help you move to the next step in finding a new home. 

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Login to My Homefinder