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Date Archives: August 2021

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August
31

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC]

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to selling your house, you want it to look its best inside and out.
  • It's important to focus on tasks that can make it inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal for prospective buyers.
  • Let's connect to make sure your house shows well and catches a buyer's eye.
August
30

Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House

Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House | MyKCM

If you're trying to decide whether or not to sell your house, this is the time to think seriously about making a move. Fannie Mae's recent Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) reveals the number of respondents who say it's a good time to sell is higher now than it was over the past few summers (see graph below). Today, the majority of consumers, 75 percent, say it's a good time to sell a house.Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House | MyKCM

Why is sellers sentiment up year-over-year?

The higher good time to sell sentiment has to do with today's market conditions, specifically low housing supply and high buyer demand. In the simplest terms, we don't have enough houses available for sale to meet buyer demand.

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we're still firmly in a sellers' market because housing supply is well below a balanced norm (shown in the graph below).Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House | MyKCMClearly, the scales are tipped in a seller's favor today. But while housing supply is undeniably low, the right side of the graph shows how the inventory situation is improving little by little each month as more sellers list their homes for sale.

As a seller, that means each month, buyers have more options to pick from. By extension, that means your house may get less buyer attention with time. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, explains it like this:

"More homeowners continue to list homes for sale compared to a year ago Notably, while new listings continue to lag behind a more 'normal' 2019 pace, the gap is shrinking. Even though homes continue to sell quickly thanks to high demand and limited supply, new listings are subtly shifting the balance of market conditions in favor of buyers." 

So, what's that mean for you?

If you've been waiting for the perfect time to sell, there may not be a better chance than right now. Inventory is gradually increasing each month, so selling sooner rather than later will help you maximize your home's potential.

Bottom Line

If you're planning to sell your house, 2021 is still the year to do it. The unique mix of low supply and high demand won't last forever. Let's connect to discuss what you need to do now to sell your house and take advantage of this sellers' market.

August
29

6 Ways to Transition Decor From Summer to Fall

If your home is full of breezy linens, light colors and fresh scents, it's time to make a few tweaks and replace these items with their autumn-inspired accessories. Fall interiors are all about rich fabrics, deep colors and bringing natural elements indoors. However, you don't need to do a complete design overhaul to have a fall-friendly space. Instead, find out the tweaks you can make to transition your summer decor to an autumn scheme seamlessly.

Layer With Texture and Pattern
As you pack away breezy summer fabrics make room for fall's rich counterparts. Updating your throw blankets and pillows is an easy way to make a space feel ready for the chillier months ahead. Throws and pillows in heavy, textured fabrics, like wool, cashmere, velvet, faux fur or plaid will invite you to stay for a while. Casually drape a throw blanket across the sofa or pile them in a basket within reach. 

Incorporate Rich Hues
Rich, warm tones and jewel-hued colors are a perfect autumn color palette. Whether it's olive green, burgundy or indigo, incorporating these deeper colors as accents can lend a fall vibe. Alternatively, you can consider a neutral color palette of warm cream, gray and taupe to create a calm, cozy space.

Bring in Natural Elements
If you spend most of your summer outdoors, the idea of being inside for the months ahead can feel stifling. Ease the transition by bringing natural elements indoors. Incorporate in-season flower bouquets, such as hydrangeas, spray roses, mums; extra greenery, like seeded eucalyptus, which has a more organic look and feel; or branches to fill centerpiece vases.

Update the Lighting
As you plan to spend more time inside, take inventory of your existing lighting. With more evenings indoors, you may need additional task lighting, such as floor and table lamps. You can also update the lampshades on your scones and table lamps in fall-inspired prints and colors, such as plaid, animal print or in richer hues.

Upgrade Your Bedding
As the temperatures dip, upgrade your sheets to a set of Egyptian cotton, silk or percale, and add an extra woven blanket layer. Take advantage of the crisp cool nights by cracking open a window, knowing you will have an extra layer of bedding to keep you cozy.

Remember the Details
As you prepare to spend more time inside your home, pay attention to the details that give your home an extra special touch. Infusing your home with fall scents, updating your coffee table books, refreshing your picture frames with summer memories and replacing the bathroom hand soaps will go a long way to creating a cozy fall atmosphere.

As the autumn season approaches, a few decor tweaks will help create an inviting and cozy fall atmosphere that will make you and your guests feel right at home. 

August
28

5 High-End Front Porch Ideas

Whether it's a wraparound, screened-in, a loggia or a veranda, porch designs are endless. A porch can be a place to make a first impression on guests, a location for your morning coffee, a destination for sunset cocktails or even a place to enjoy an evening fire. Read on to learn how to create a well-designed front porch that will be sure to wow guests and become your own luxurious oasis.

Fireplace Focal Point
Incorporating a stone fireplace into your front porch design creates both a stunning visual focal point and is a destination to warm up and unwind. Both practical and beautiful, it can be used year-round and will impress anyone who visits your home. Accentuating the space with ambient lighting, comfortable seating and a cozy rug underneath will make this the most used area of the house.

Indoor-Outdoor Inspired Living
A porch isn't solely a place for guests to enter your home, but it can be an additional living space. Creating an outdoor living room on your porch means bringing in a beautiful rug, sofa and chairs, and filling the area with abundant blooming flowers and lush greenery. Spend your evenings lounging with a crisp beverage while watching the sunset or welcome passing neighbors for an impromptu chat.

Private Sitting Space
Since a porch is typically in the front of the house, it doesn't offer the same level of privacy a backyard does. However, you can create a private sitting area with a wall of wall-placed shrubs to create a natural privacy screen without interrupting the existing porch design.

Front Door Technology
Equipping your front porch with the latest home technology trends will give you insight into who's coming and going, even when you're not around. A video doorbell gives you the luxury of seeing who is at your front door, detects motion and provides two-way audio—all from the convenience of your smartphone. Having a keyless entry keypad on your front door gives you the option of distributing the code for anyone who may need easy access, whether it's a dog walker, cleaning service, etc.

Delivery Drop-Off Station
In a world where nearly everything is available with a few taps on a smartphone, having packages pile up on the front steps can be unsightly. A valet closet, a closet designed to drop off packages, dry cleaning, food delivery, groceries or any other items delivered by delivery personnel, can keep parcels secure until you're able to retrieve them. In addition, installing a keyless entry code on the door will allow delivery personnel to safely leave your items if you're unavailable to receive them directly.

Whether you're building a space to rest or adding additional levels of convenience, your front porch is responsible for your home's first impression.

August
27

How Does a Cash-Out Refinance Work?

A cash-out refinance is a tool that allows homeowners to tap into their equity and use the money however they choose. It's important to understand when it makes sense and to consider the risks.

How the Process Works
With a cash-out refinance, you could take out a new mortgage for a larger amount than the balance owed on your current loan. You would receive the difference between the amounts of the old and new mortgages. 

To be eligible for a cash-out refinance, you must have home equity. Lenders allow homeowners to receive up to 80 to 90% of their equity at closing.

The interest rate for a cash-out refinance could be higher or lower than the rate on your current mortgage. It would most likely be lower than the rates for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. 

How to Use the Money From a Cash-Out Refinance
Many homeowners use funds from a cash-out refinance to make home improvements. Doing that could increase your home's value and help you build equity.

If you used the money from a cash-out refinance to pay off high-interest credit cards, you might save thousands of dollars and raise your credit score. You would have to be careful not to let yourself accumulate large bills again, though.

A cash-out refinance could also help you cover your child's college tuition. The interest rate on a new mortgage might be lower than the interest rate on a student loan.

Drawbacks and Potential Problems 
If you couldn't afford your higher mortgage payments after refinancing, you could lose your home to foreclosure. Think carefully about that, especially if you're thinking about significantly increasing your mortgage balance to pay off large credit card bills.

With any mortgage refinance, you would have to pay closing costs, which are typically several thousand dollars. Weigh the cost against the potential benefit to your overall financial situation to decide whether a cash-out refinance is worth it.

If the balance on your mortgage after you refinanced was more than 80% of your home's value, you would need to purchase private mortgage insurance, which often costs hundreds of dollars per month. You would have to keep paying for PMI until you had 20% equity.

Since a cash-out refinance would mean taking out a new loan, it might take you a lot longer to pay off your mortgage. You may also have to pay a lot more in interest over time than you would have if you had stuck with your original mortgage. Think about how that could impact your retirement and other long-term goals. 

Is a Cash-Out Refinance Right for You?
Refinancing your mortgage to tap into your home equity could be a way to pay for important expenses, increase your home's value or reduce interest charges. It could also land you in trouble if you used it for the wrong reasons or failed to consider the risks. Let's connect and we can decide if a cash-out refinance is right for you!

August
26

How to Make Stairs Safer for Seniors

As people get older, physical decline can increase the risk of falling. For seniors with limited mobility, arthritis or poor vision, stairs can be particularly dangerous. A fall can lead to broken bones, head trauma and even death. Here are some ways to make stairs safer for an older family member.

Reduce the Risk of Tripping and Slipping 
Shoes, clothes and other objects that don't belong on the stairs can increase the chance of falling for people of any age, but especially for seniors. Put things away where they belong. If you don't want to take multiple trips to carry things upstairs, put them on a table or in a basket near the stairs, but not on them.

Smooth stairs can be slippery. Stair treads and non-slip floor coatings can make stairs safer for your loved one. 

Make the Stairs Easy to See
Poor lighting and shadows can make it hard to see, which can increase the risk of falling. Check the lighting above and near the stairs. Make sure that every step is well lit and install additional lighting if necessary. 

As people get older, their vision tends to decline. Limited vision and problems with depth perception can make it difficult to see exactly where a step is located. That can cause seniors to set a foot in the wrong place and fall. Painting the steps a different color than the area around them can make it easier for your loved ones to see where each step is and prevent an accident.  

Check or Install Railings
If a staircase currently has railings, check them to make sure that they're secure. Every step should have a railing within reach on either side. There shouldn't be any gaps. If necessary, replace damaged railings or install new railings on one or both sides of the stairs.

Consider Installing a Stair Lift and/or Outdoor Ramp
For seniors with limited mobility, walking up and down stairs may simply be too dangerous. In that case, a stair lift can be attached to the stairs to make upper floors accessible. Your loved one will be able to sit on a seat and ride safely along a rail to another level of the house. The seat can be folded up when it isn't being used so others will be able to walk up and down the stairs without bumping into it.

If your family member's house has steps leading up to an outside door, they can pose another safety hazard. Outdoor steps have many of the same risks as indoor stairs, but rain, snow and ice can increase the risk of falling. Installing a ramp can make it easier to get in and out of the house safely. Non-slip treads, paint or tape can prevent slip-and-fall accidents for all ages.

August
25

Should You Ever Buy a House Sight Unseen?

A buyer who is interested in a property typically visits it in person to inspect its layout, features and condition. It's also possible to buy a house without seeing it in person. A buyer can make a decision based on photos and videos, and possibly also the observations and opinions of a real estate agent or another person who visits the property on the buyer's behalf.

When Might It Make Sense to Buy a Property Without Seeing It in Person?

If you're planning to move a long distance, it may not be possible for you to travel to another state to see a house yourself. In that case, you may decide to purchase a home sight unseen, especially if you need to move soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people buy and sell homes. Strong demand has caused properties to be snapped up quickly. In addition, concerns about the spread of the coronavirus have made buyers more willing to purchase a property without first seeing it in person.

With properties currently receiving multiple offers in a matter of hours, interested buyers have to act quickly. If you find a property that appeals to you, you may decide to place an offer without seeing the house in person so you can avoid a bidding war. 

How Can You Protect Yourself When Buying a Property Sight Unseen?

Pictures and videos can provide valuable information about a home, but they can't tell the whole story. The listing photos and videos may not cover the entire house. Defects may not be apparent in the images that are provided. Other negative features, such as an unpleasant odor, will only be detectable during an in-person visit.

Even if you can't go to a house yourself before you place an offer, another individual can act on your behalf to help you make an informed decision. Your real estate agent or a family member or friend who lives in the area can visit a property that you're interested in buying and give you information on any issues of concern. If you have questions, let's connect!

Before buying any house, you should have it inspected so you know if it has major problems, such as a cracked foundation or a leaky roof. A home inspection is even more critical when buying a property sight unseen. 

Include an inspection contingency in your offer. That will allow you to have the house inspected and will give you the right to request repairs or a price reduction, or to back out of the deal if the home inspector finds serious problems. 

August
23

Is an Interest-Only Mortgage Right for You?

With an interest-only mortgage, the homeowner only pays interest for five to 10 years. After that period ends, the homeowner can begin to make significantly higher payments that include both interest and principal, pay a lump sum or refinance the mortgage. 

Reasons to Consider an Interest-Only Mortgage
An interest-only mortgage might make sense if you planned to live in a house for a relatively short time. Interest-only loans are also popular with buyers who flip houses and want to have cash available for renovations.

Lenders consider debt-to-income ratio when deciding how much to allow a homebuyer to borrow. If you opted for an interest-only loan with low monthly payments, you would be able to buy a more expensive house than you could otherwise, since the low payments would have less of an impact on your monthly obligations than a large mortgage payment would. 

If your income is currently low but you expect it to increase significantly in the future, it might make sense to have low interest-only payments now and start paying off the principal later. If your income fluctuates throughout the year, an interest-only mortgage could give you the flexibility to adjust your payments based on your income each month.

Only paying interest for several years could allow you to put money toward other goals. You might be able to invest funds in the stock market or a business, earn a high rate of return and increase your net worth.

Risks Associated With an Interest-Only Mortgage
An interest-only mortgage could be risky. If you expected your income to increase significantly, but it didn't, you might be unable to afford the higher mortgage costs when the interest-only period was over.

If you only paid interest for several years and didn't put any money toward the principal, you wouldn't build equity. If housing values fell, you might be unable to sell the house or refinance the mortgage since you would owe more than the property was worth. 

With an interest-only mortgage, some borrowers choose an adjustable-rate so they can make minimum payments that don't cover all the interest due. If you chose that option, you could wind up owing even more than the balance at the start of the contract, which could make it difficult or impossible to refinance. 

Some lenders allow borrowers with interest-only mortgages to make payments toward principal, but others charge prepayment penalties to discourage that. If you want the ability to make extra payments or refinance before the interest-only period ends, ask if the lender charges a prepayment penalty so you don't get hit with an unexpected fee.

Is an Interest-Only Mortgage a Good Choice for You?
An interest-only mortgage makes sense for homebuyers in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, some homebuyers use it to buy an expensive house and put off making payments, then find themselves in financial trouble. Carefully weigh the pros and cons and talk to a mortgage professional before deciding whether to take out an interest-only home loan. Let's connect when you're ready to start your home buying process!

August
22

5 Things to Do Now If You Plan to Retire in 5 Years

The prospect of retirement can be exciting,  rewarding and sometimes a little scary, especially if you have concerns about your financial readiness. Presumably, it's a prospect you've spent years preparing for. But no matter how diligent you've been about saving, if you are planning to retire in five years or so, financial advisors suggest you take the following five steps right now. 

  • Map Out Your Long-Term Plan – Do you plan to move? Travel? Stay where you are? Rein in your spending or keep it level? How much money will it take to accomplish your plan? If you haven't done so already, this is the time to meet with a financial expert who can help you calculate how much money you will need to meet your goals over the long term.
  • Increase Your Savings – Even if you think you are on track, this is the time to bulk up your savings. Increase the automated amounts you've been saving out of every paycheck, socking away as much as you can into retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, savings. Remember, you can never have too much to fall back on.
  • Check Your Portfolio – Make sure it's diversified and aligns with your retirement time expectation. If your risk tolerance is decreasing as you are aging, talk with your financial advisor about making changes.
  • Think About Health Insurance – If it expires when you retire, it can be a huge expense, especially if you will be retiring before age 65, the eligibility age for Medicare. Be sure you have a plan for managing health-related expenses.
  • Explore Your Non-Financial Choices – Unless you plan to become a dedicated couch potato, you should investigate your lifestyle choices now. Do you want to work part-time? Start a business? Move to a new city? Pick up a sport or a new hobby? Now is the time to explore the possibilities and requirements, so when the day comes to turn in your keys, you can embark on retirement with confidence.
August
20

Options for First-Time Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Options for First-Time Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

August
19

More Young People Are Buying Homes

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCM

There's a common misconception that younger generations aren't interested in homeownership. Many people point to the fact that millennials put off purchasing their first home as a reason for this belief.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, explains why millennials have put off certain milestones linked to homeownership. Those delays led to their homeownership rates trailing slightly behind older generations:

"Historically, millennials have delayed the critical lifestyle choices often linked to buying a first home, including getting married and having children, in order to further their education. This is clear in cross-generational comparisons of homeownership rates which show millennials lagging their generational predecessors."

So, it's partially true that some millennials have waited on homeownership to focus on other things in their lives – and that's impacting certain housing market trends.

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates the average age of a first-time homebuyer is higher today than it's been over the past 40 years. As the graph below shows, homebuyers today are purchasing their first home an average of 4 years later than people in the 1980s and early 1990s:

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCMBut just because millennials are hitting certain milestones later in life doesn't mean they're not interested in becoming homeowners. The recent U.S. Census reveals a significant increase in homeownership rates for millennials and other young homebuyers.

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCM

As the graph above shows, millennials are entering the market in full force, and their share of the market is growing. Based on the data, the belief that younger generations don't want to buy homes is a misconception. In fact, the recent Capital Market Outlook report from Merrill-Lynch further drives home this point, as it specifically mentions the effect millennials are having on demand:

"Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle."

Kushi is following the trend of millennial homeownership and puts it more simply, saying:

". . . it's clear that younger households (millennials!) are driving homeownership growth."

As the largest generation, millennials' impact on the market is growing as more and more people from that generation reach homebuying age – and Generation Z isn't far behind, either. That means younger generations will likely continue to drive demand in the housing market for years to come.

Bottom Line

If you're a member of a younger generation and interested in purchasing a home, you're not alone. Many of your peers are on their path to homeownership, too. Let's connect today and discuss what you can do to accomplish your homebuying goals.

August
18

BEAUFORT, SC -- Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is thrilled to announce the hiring of Hays McDaniel as Associate Broker for their South Carolina offices. In this role, he will connect home buyers and sellers, maintain property data, and review and evaluate real estate transactions for quality control and accuracy.

Hays recently graduated from The University of South Carolina, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration and is a Beaufort native. Real Estate is in his blood, as his father, Todd McDaniel, has been a top ranked Realtor in the region since 1993. Hays learned a lot about the industry, his work ethic and his dedication to clients from his dad.

Bay Street Realty Group is excited about Hays joining their team and looks forward to all of his success in the years to come. 

For more information, visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

August
18

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand | MyKCM

One of the major questions real estate experts are asking today is whether prospective homebuyers still believe purchasing a home makes sense. Some claim rapidly rising home prices are impacting demand and, by extension, leading to the recent slowdown in sales activity.

However, demand isn't the real issue. Instead, it's the lack of supply (homes available for sale). An article from the Wall Street Journal shows this is true for new home construction:

"Home builders have sold more homes than they can build. Now they are limiting their sales in an effort to catch up."

The article quotes David Auld, CEO of D.R. Horton Inc. (the largest homebuilder by volume in the United States since 2002), explaining how they don't have enough homes for the number of buyers coming into their models:

"Through our history, to have somebody walk into our models and to tell them, 'We don't have a house for you to buy today', is something that is foreign to us."

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, also explains that, in the existing home sale market, the slowdown in sales was a supply challenge, not a lack of demand. Responding to a recent uptick in listings coming to market, she notes:

". . . if these changing inventory dynamics continue, we could see a wave of real estate activity heading into the latter part of the year."

Again, the buyers are there. We just need houses to sell to them.

If the slowdown in sales was the result of demand waning, we would start to see home prices beginning to moderate – but this isn't the case. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, explains:

"There's a lot of conversation around rising prices and falling quantity in the housing market, and there's this concept, or this idea, that it's a demand-side problem . . . . But, if demand were falling dramatically, we would actually see less price pressure, less home price growth."

Instead, we're seeing price appreciation accelerate throughout this year, as evidenced by the year-over-year percentage increases reported by CoreLogic:

  • January: 10%
  • February: 10.4%
  • March: 11.3%
  • April: 13%
  • May: 15.4%
  • June: 17.2%

(July numbers are not yet available)

There's a shortage of listings, not buyers, and there are three very good reasons for purchasers to still be interested in buying a home this year.

1. Affordability isn't the challenge some are claiming it to be.

Though home prices have risen dramatically over the last 18 months, mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Because of these near-record rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for most buyers.

While homes are less affordable than they were last year, when we adjust for inflation, we can see they're also more affordable than they were in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s.

2. Owning is a better long-term decision than renting.

A recent study shows renting a home takes up a higher percentage of a household's income than owning one. According to the analysis, here's the percentage of income homebuyers and renters should expect to pay now versus at the end of the year.

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand | MyKCM

While the principal and interest of a monthly mortgage payment remain the same over the lifetime of the loan, rents increase almost every year.

3. Owners build their wealth. Renters build their landlord's wealth.

Whether you're a homeowner or an investor, real estate builds wealth through growing equity year-over-year. If you own, your household is gaining the benefit of that wealth accumulation. Fleming says:

"The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation . . . . We have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you're owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset."

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, elaborates in a recent article:

". . . once the home is purchased, appreciation helps build equity in the home, and becomes a benefit rather than a cost. When accounting for the appreciation benefit in our rent versus own analysis, it was cheaper to own in every one of the top 50 markets, including the two most expensive rental markets, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif."

Today, that equity buildup is substantial. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:

"The median sales price of single-family existing homes rose in 99% of measured metro areas in the second quarter of 2021 compared to one year ago, with double-digit price gains in 94% of markets."

In 94% of markets, there was a greater than 10% increase in median price. That means if you bought a $400,000 home in one of those markets, your net worth increased by at least $40,000. If you rented, the landlord was the recipient of the wealth increase.

Bottom Line

For many reasons, housing demand is still extremely strong. What we need is more supply (house listings) to meet that demand.

August
17

What Does Being in a Sellers' Market Mean?

What Does Being in a Sellers' Market Mean? | MyKCM

Whether or not you've been following the real estate industry lately, there's a good chance you've heard we're in a serious sellers' market. But what does that really mean? And why are conditions today so good for people who want to list their house?

It starts with the number of houses available for sale. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows housing supply is still astonishingly low. Today, we have a 2.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace. Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a 'normal' or 'neutral' market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):What Does Being in a Sellers' Market Mean? | MyKCMWhen the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it's much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which leads to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they're going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer. As this happens, home prices rise, and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms.

Right now, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. Low mortgage rates and the ongoing rise in remote work have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live – and they're taking action. If you put your house on the market while supply is still low, it will likely get a lot of attention from competitive buyers.

Bottom Line

Today's ultimate sellers' market holds great opportunities for homeowners ready to make a move. Listing your house now will maximize your exposure to serious buyers who will actively compete against each other to purchase it. Let's connect to discuss how to jumpstart the selling process.

August
16

A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers

A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCM

When you hear the phrase home price appreciation, what does it mean to you? Through context clues alone, chances are you know it has to do with rising home prices. And as a seller, you know rising home prices are good news for your potential sale. But let's look past the dollar signs and dive deeper into the concept. To truly understand home price appreciation, you need to know how it works and why it matters to you.

Investopedia defines appreciation like this:

"Appreciation, in general terms, is an increase in the value of an asset over time. The increase can occur for a number of reasons, including increased demand or weakening supply, or as a result of changes in inflation or interest rates. This is the opposite of depreciation, which is a decrease in value over time." 

When we consider this definition and how it applies to real estate, a few words stick out: supply and demand. In today's real estate market, we're experiencing high buyer demand and very few sellers listing their homes for sale (see maps below):
A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCMNo matter the industry, anytime there's more demand than supply, prices naturally rise. It happens because buyers are willing to pay more to secure the scarce product or service they're looking for. That's exactly what's happening in today's real estate market. Buyers are competing with one another to purchase a home, leading to bidding wars that drive prices up. For sellers, the rising prices mean that opportunity is knocking.

According to Quicken Loans, the national average home price appreciation rate is between 3-5% in a typical year. Today, home prices are appreciating well beyond the norm thanks to high demand. Here are the latest expert projections on the rate of home price appreciation for this year (see chart below):

A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCM

Compared to the normal pace of 3-5% appreciation per year, the current average forecast of nearly 11.5% is significant.

For sellers, this means that with the current rise in prices, your house may be worth more than you realize. That price appreciation helps give your equity a boost. Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation. It works like this (see chart below):

A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCMYou can use your built-up equity to power a move into your dream home, or you can put it toward life-changing goals like funding an education or opening a business.

But don't wait. While price appreciation is strong now, those same experts say it'll start to appreciate at a more normalized pace next year. If you list your house sooner rather than later, you'll be in a better position to capitalize on the higher-than-average home price appreciation we're seeing today.

Bottom Line

If you're thinking of selling your house, there really is no time like the present. Let's connect so you can get an expert market analysis of your home and its potential.

August
14

The Best Use of Time (and Money) When It Comes to Renovations

The Best Use of Time (and Money) When It Comes to Renovations | MyKCM

In the current sellers' market, many homeowners wonder what, if anything, needs to be remodeled before they list their house. That's where a trusted real estate professional comes in. They can help you think through today's market conditions and how they impact what you should – and shouldn't – renovate before selling.

Here are some considerations a professional will guide you through:

1. With current supply challenges, buyers may be willing to take on projects of their own.

A more balanced market typically sees a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Above that, and we're in a buyers' market. Below that, and we're in a sellers' market. According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), our current supply of homes for sale, while rising, still remains solidly in sellers' market territory:

"Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, modestly up from May's 2.5-month supply but down from 3.9 months in June 2020."

So, what's that mean for you? If you're a seller trying to decide whether or not to renovate, this is especially important because it's indicative of buyer behavior. When there aren't enough homes for sale, buyers may be more willing to purchase a home that doesn't meet all their needs and renovate it themselves later.

2. Not all renovation projects are equal.

You don't want to spend time and money on a project that isn't worth the cost or is too niche design-wise for some homebuyers. According to an article by Renofi.com, basing home updates on what's trendy right now can be a costly mistake:

"The last thing you as a homeowner want to do is center your home design around a passing fad - even worse, one thats design quality won't last a good while."

Before making any decisions, talk to your real estate advisor. They have insight into what other sellers are doing before listing their homes and how buyers are reacting to those upgrades. Don't spend the time and money to be trendy – if your buyer wants to upgrade to the newest fad later, they can.

3. If you've already made upgrades this past year, your agent can help spotlight them.

If you have already completed some renovations on your house, you're not alone. The pandemic kept people at home last year, and during that time, many homeowners completed some home improvement projects. HomeAdvisor's 2021 State of Home Spending Report found:

"35% of households that completed an improvement project undertook some type of interior painting, while 31% completed a bathroom remodel and 26% installed new flooring."

Let your real estate professional know if you fall in this category. They can highlight any recent upgrades you've made in your house's listing.

Bottom Line

When it comes to renovations, your return-on-investment should be top of mind. Let's connect today to talk through any upgrades you've already made and to find out what you should prioritize before you sell to maximize your house's potential.

August
13

Sellers Are in a Sweet Spot [INFOGRAPHIC]

Sellers Are in a Sweet Spot [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • In today's sellers' market, you're set up to win big when you list your house.
  • That's because homes are selling fast, receiving 4.4 offers on average and often selling above the asking price. Then, when you buy your next home, you'll also win by addressing your changing needs and taking advantage of near historic-low mortgage rates.
  • If you're ready to make a move, let's connect so you can capitalize on today's market and find your next dream home.
August
12

Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades?

Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades? | MyKCM

There are many headlines about how housing affordability is declining. The headlines are correct: it's less affordable to purchase a home today than it was a year ago. However, it's important to give this trend context. Is it less expensive to buy a house today than it was in 2005? What about 1995? What happens if we go all the way back to 1985? Or even 1975?

Obviously, the price of a home has appreciated dramatically over the last 45 years. So have the prices of milk, bread, and just about every other consumable. Prices rise over time – we know it as inflation.

However, when we look at housing, price is just one component that makes up the monthly cost of the home. Another key factor is the mortgage rate at the time of purchase.

Let's look back at the cost of a home over the last five decades and adjust it for inflation by converting that cost to 2021 dollars. Here's the methodology for each data point of the table below:

  • Mortgage Amount: Take the median sales price at the end of the second quarter of each year as reported by the Fed and assume that the buyer made a 10% down payment.
  • Mortgage Rate: Look at the monthly 30-year fixed rate for June of that year as reported by Freddie Mac.
  • P&I: Use a mortgage calculator to determine the monthly principal and interest on the loan.
  • In 2021 Dollars: Use an inflation calculator to determine what each payment would be when adjusted for inflation. Green means the homes were less expensive than today. Red means they were more expensive.

Are Houses Less Affordable Than They Were in Past Decades? | MyKCMAs the chart shows, when adjusted for inflation, there were only two times in the last 45 years that it was less expensive to own a home than it is today.

  1. Last year: Prices saw strong appreciation over the last year and mortgage rates have remained relatively flat. Therefore, affordability weakened.
  2. 2010: Home values plummeted after the housing crash 15 years ago. One-third of all sales were distressed properties (foreclosures or short sales). They sold at major discounts and negatively impacted the value of surrounding homes – of course homes were more affordable then.

At every other point, even in 1975, it was more expensive to buy a home than it is today.

Bottom Line

If you want to buy a home, don't let the headlines about affordability discourage you. You can't get the deal your friend got last year, but you will get a better deal than your parents did 20 years ago and your grandparents did 40 years ago. Let's connect when you're ready to purchase a home!

August
11

Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium.

Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | MyKCM

It's no secret that one of the top stories in today's real estate market is low housing supply and high buyer demand. If you're a first-time buyer looking for a starter home or are someone who's interested in downsizing, it may be worth considering a condominium (condo) as a worthwhile option.

In fact, trends indicate condos are gaining popularity among buyers. In the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the data shows condo sales rising throughout the first half of this year (see graph below):

Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | MyKCMThere are a few reasons more and more people are opting to buy condos – the benefits of condo life can be quite compelling. Let's explore the main perks to find out if a condo is a good fit for you.

Affordability

According to the NAR report, the median sales price of a condo is roughly $59,000 less than the median price of a single-family detached home (see graph below). This makes condos a great option for first-time homebuyers, those with limited down payment savings, or those looking to save money by downsizing.Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | MyKCM

Maintenance

A recent article from BankRate adds low maintenance as another perk of a condo lifestyle. Generally, exterior maintenance for condos is handled by a Homeowner's Association (HOA). This can include things like landscaping and upholding a certain standard of cleanliness and condition for walkways, siding, and roofs. If you're looking for a lower-maintenance option or see the appeal in being hands-off with upkeep, condos may be a good choice for you. With exterior maintenance off your plate, you'll have more time for yourself and your hobbies.

Amenities

You can use that free time to enjoy some of the value-adding features your condo community may have, which could include dog parks, pools, a rentable clubhouse and grilling area for events, and more. If being able to host or attend community social outings is important to you, condos may give you more opportunities to enjoy the company of your neighbors. As a bonus, some condos even have gyms and on-site security teams.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Condos are great options that often come with various features and benefits that may be important for your lifestyle. Fannie Mae sums up the appeal nicely:

"Condominiums, or condos, can be great alternatives to detached homes. City dwellers, singles, couples, seniors, and many others may find condos that suit their needs and budgets. Others may simply prefer low-maintenance living. Buyers who feel 'priced out' of homes may discover condos offer an affordable homeownership alternative."

Bottom Line

If you're looking for a home, it may be time to consider a condo as an option. Let's connect to explore if one would be a good fit for your homeownership needs.

August
10

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy?

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCM

According to recent data from realtor.com, median rental prices have reached their highest point ever recorded in many areas across the country. The report found rents rose by 8.1% from the same time last year. As it notes:

"Beyond simply recovering to pre-pandemic levels, rents across the country are surging. Typically, rents fluctuate less than 1% from month to month. In May and June, rents increased by 3.0% and 3.2% from each month to the next."

If you're a renter concerned about rising prices, now may be the time to consider purchasing a home.

Monthly Rents Are Higher Than Monthly Mortgage Payments

When you weigh your options of whether to buy a home or continue renting, how much you'll pay each month is likely top of mind. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), monthly mortgage payments are rising, but they're still significantly lower than the typical rental payment. NAR indicates the latest data on homes closed shows the median monthly mortgage payment is $1,204.

By contrast, the median national rent is $1,575 according to the most current data provided by realtor.com. In other words, buyers who recently purchased a home locked in a monthly payment that is, on average, $371 lower than what renters pay today (see graph below):

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCM

Rents Are Rising Sharply, and They Continue To Increase

The difference in monthly housing costs when comparing renting and homebuying today is significant, but many would-be homebuyers wonder about the future of rental prices. If we look to historical Census data as a reference, the median asking rent has risen consistently since 1988 (see graph below):

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCMThe rise in rent over time clearly shows one of the major advantages homeownership has over renting: stable housing costs. Renters face increasing costs every year. When you purchase your home, your mortgage rate is locked in for 30 years, meaning your monthly payment stays the same over time. That gives you welcome peace of mind and predictability for many years ahead.

Bottom Line

With rents continuing to rise across the country, renters should consider if now is the right time to buy. There are multiple benefits to buying sooner rather than later. Let's discuss your options so you can make your most powerful decision.

August
9

The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale

The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale | MyKCM

If you're thinking of buying or selling a house, chances are you're focusing on the many extraordinary ways it'll change your life. What you may not realize is that decision impacts people's lives far beyond your own. Home purchases and sales are significant drivers of economic activity. They have a major impact on your community and the entire U.S. economy via the multiple industries and professionals that take part in the process.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a report each year that highlights just how much economic activity a home sale generates. The chart below shows how the sale of both a newly built home and an existing home impact the economy:The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale | MyKCM

To dive a level deeper, NAR also provides a detailed look at how that varies state-by-state for newly-built homes (see map below):

The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale | MyKCM

As you can see, a single home sale can have a massive effect on the overall economy. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zonda, talks about this in a recent article, noting there's a significant impact at each distinct phase of the transaction:

"The housing market contributes to the economy in four main stages: during planning and land development, throughout the actual construction of the home, at the point of sale, and upon moving in."

When you buy or sell a home, you're leaving a lasting impression on the community at large in addition to fulfilling your own needs. That's because each stage of the process involves numerous contractors, specialists, lawyers, town and city officials, and so many other professionals. Every individual you work with, from your trusted real estate advisor to the architects who design new homes, has their own team of professionals involved behind the scenes.

Bottom Line

Homebuyers and sellers are economic drivers in their community and beyond. If you're thinking of buying or selling, let's connect today to start the process. It won't just change your life; it'll make a powerful impact on our entire community.

August
5

How to Prepare Your Home for Flooding

While no one ever wants to imagine their home filling with water, for many areas of the country, flooding is a scary reality for many homeowners. Whether a natural disaster is on the way or you simply want to be aware of how to protect your home when flash flood warnings sound, we have five steps to preparing your home for flooding.

Clear gutters. If flooding is predicted in your area, help your home out by clearing all gutters, downspouts and drains so your home can battle the rising water.

Elevate outdoor electric units. Outdoor generators, fuel tanks and air-conditioning units should not be left on ground level outdoors. Elevate them as best you can and securely anchor them so they don't float away if flooding occurs.

Power down. Shut off your electricity via your breaker panel to stay safe.

Move items upstairs. When flooding is likely, take charge by moving items upstairs and further from the flood zone. Furniture, rugs, electronics and important paperwork should all be moved to the highest ground possible. Make copies of important paperwork and store them digitally so you don't lose them.

Raise appliances. While you likely can't lug your refrigerator upstairs, you can elevate your appliances on concrete blocks to minimize damage if only a few inches of water floods in.

August
4

Kitchen Trends That Are Going Out of Fashion

Most of us spend a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing meals and cleaning up. In many cases, we spend so much time in our familiar kitchen space that we don't pay much attention to what it looks like.

But the trends, they are a-changin'. Today's kitchens are sleek and practical. Design experts list seven kitchen looks that are quickly going out of style:

Short backsplashes. Backsplashes that reach up to six to eight inches above the countertop are sorely outdated. If you're up for a remodel, take the backsplash all the way up to the upper cabinets to make your kitchen feel bigger and cleaner. 

Distressed wood cabinets. Once the darling of country-style kitchens, the clunky distressed wood of yesteryear is giving way to natural wood or white finishes.

Over the stove microwaves. When microwaves came into fashion, homeowners put them over the stove to save counter space. But today's families want necessities accessible for the entire family. Some are redesigning cabinets to move the microwave into an under-counter nook where smaller family members can reach it. 

Top-of-cabinet décor. Gone are the days of filling the space between the tops of your cabinets and the ceiling with dusty accessories like artificial flowers or greenery. Removing them from above the cabinets gives the room a more open feel.

Hanging pots and pans. Once, every kitchen shown in a magazine had a big, beautiful, hanging rack filled with copper or stainless-steel pots and pans. Kitchen designers today are making room for them in drawers or cabinet, trading in that outdated country look for cleaner, minimalist lines. 

Anything but stainless steel. Over the years, kitchen appliances have gone from white to copper to avocado green and back again. But the desired look today is the cool, sleek look of stainless steel.

Kitchen desks. At one point in time, every upscale kitchen featured desk space—a little nook where you could scan the mail, pay bills, etc. But those mess-collectors are now yesterday's news. Moving desk chores to another room can give your kitchen extra space and alternative storage options.

August
3

Protecting Yourself from Alarm System Scammers

If you have a sign in your front yard warning burglars that you have a home alarm system in place, you could be attracting a new breed of scammer. That's the warning from the consumer watchdogs at Consumer Reports, who say scammers look for signs of existing installations, especially older-looking signs, then strike with one of two approaches:

  1. Fraudsters claiming to be remote access technicians from your security company tell you, they noticed glitches in your system and they want to repair it. You let them in and they tamper with your system so they can return and burglarize your house.
  1. Scammers claim your company has gone out of business and they've taken over their accounts. They "examine" your system and convince you to buy new equipment. They take your money and are never heard from again.

The fact is that legitimate home security system companies never simply send a repairman unannounced to your door. Even if they telephone first, call them back to confirm. Similarly, if your monitoring company had gone out of business, you would have been notified by mail, not by telephone and certainly not by someone simply showing up.

Security experts say you can protect against these scams by taking the following steps:

  • Get references. Ask any salesperson for names of previous customers, especially in your neighborhood, whom you can check with for legitimacy.
  • Do a background check. Demand information about the contractor's license: the number, state of registration, etc. Check them out before taking any action.
  • Get it in writing. Insist that estimates for service or equipment be in writing, specifying who will install it, how it will be maintained and the cost—and pay by credit card, not with cash.
  • Read the contract. Ensure that everything you've agreed to is written into the contract. Check the small print for any monitoring fees or terms you did not agree to.

Most importantly, remember that the FTC's cooling-off rule gives you three business days to cancel the deal if you sign the contract at home. You do not have to give a reason and you can change your mind even if the equipment has already been installed.

When you're ready to find your forever home, let's connect and get your dream home a scam free alarm system!

August
2

SAVANNAH, GA -- Miles Robertson recently joined the Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty Commercial Division. In this role as a commercial agent, he will work as an intermediary between owners and tenants on rental properties. He will also oversee property transactions between buyers and sellers, and assist clients with business development and investment opportunities. 

A Savannah native, Robertson has detailed knowledge of the region. Not only by land, but by water as well, he has been a Charter Boat Captain and fishing guide for years. Prior to that, he served as a Pricing Analyst for Great Dane here in Savannah. He's a graduate of Savannah's Armstrong State University with a major in Economics and a minor in Accounting. 

Bay Street Realty Group is thrilled to have him on the Commercial team and looks forward to all of his continued successes around Savannah.

For more information, visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

August
2

Is Granite on its Way Out?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are in less demand today, while the use of quartz is on the rise.

Why? For one thing, man-made quartz countertops are offered in a far greater range of looks and feels. Reason number two: it's a bit easier to maintain over the long haul, and it's deemed a better environmental choice because it emits lower levels of radon—a potentially cancer-causing agent. To be fair, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the radioactive materials in granite countertops are far too minuscule to pose a health threat.

So what, exactly, is a quartz countertop? It's made of engineered stone, composed of at least 90% ground-up quartz mixed with a binder (like resin) then molded into a slab. Because pigment is added during the manufacturing process, the sky's the limit when it comes to color. And quartz is non-porous and fairly resistant to stains, mold and bacteria.

Unlike granite countertops, which require periodic resealing to maintain their beauty, quartz is low-maintenance, needing only regular cleanings with soap and water or a mild detergent.

Quartz can be more impervious than granite to cracking or chipping under average conditions, although it is not quite as heat-proof. Most manufacturers recommend using a trivet when placing scalding hot pots or pans on a quartz countertop.

Apart from durability and maintenance, quartz comes in an infinite variety of designs, ranging in look and feel from sleek solid colors to organic-looking variations that resemble real substances found in nature, like veined marble. It can have a smooth and shiny finish or a softer, brushed feel (almost suede-looking). Choose wisely because the design can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room.

Quartz counters may be a bit more expensive, up to 10 percent higher in cost than their granite counterparts, but shopping around and resealing over the years can mitigate any cost differences.

So, what side are you on? Natural stone mined from the earth or a man-made variation?

August
1

A Beginner's Guide to Painlessly Going Green

You've heard the warnings about global warming, you feel compassion for stranded polar bears and you worry about overwhelming the landfills. As a homeowner, you may not be ready for composting, but there are ways to become an eco-friendlier household.

Ecologists provide simple but useful tips that even the laziest activist can use to do their part in helping the environment:

Cut down on water use. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Drink tap water in reusable containers instead of plastic bottles. Lower the water level when doing small laundry loads and don't run the dishwasher until it's full.

Use less power. Shut off the lights before you leave in the morning, and unplug electrical equipment that you aren't using during the day and while you sleep—especially your work and home computers.

Adjust the thermostat. Set it for a few degrees higher in summer, and a few degrees lower in winter. You likely won't feel much of a difference, and you'll like the decrease in utility bills.

Replace your light bulbs. Sources say if every American household replaced one regular lightbulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

Change your shower-head. A low flow version will save water while providing just as much pressure.

Save on paper. Keep a digital calendar and notes instead of paper ones. Whenever possible, re-use the back side of old printed sheets for new but less important print jobs. Sign up for paperless billing and pay your bills online.

Use less plastic. Use reusable grocery bags even where they're not required. Re-use empty plastic food containers with tight fitting lids, such as cottage cheese containers, for leftovers and storage purposes—be sure any unwanted plastic goes into the recycle bin.

Eat less meat. If you're not ready to go vegetarian, try committing to a meatless dinner once or twice a week to decrease the resources you use. Producing wheat and even veggies takes far less water than producing beef, and there are plenty of tasty meatless recipes online that families can explore together.

When you are ready to purchase a home, let's connect so I can help you go green!

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