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Date Archives: January 2022

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January
31

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

Preparing your home for a listing can be a lot of work — from cleaning to staging, you always want to position your home in a way that impresses potential buyers. However, when it comes to home sales, it's the little things that tend to often have the biggest impact. A lot of minor issues that may not give you a second thought may cause a buyer to hesitate before moving forward.

If you're getting ready to list your home, don't sweat major renovations. Instead, your time may be better spent focusing on the little things that can make a big difference. Here are some examples:

  • Clutter 
    Too many personal items, overflowing closets, and junk lying around can all be off-putting to a buyer. Clutter can ruin a buyer's perception in two ways: it can make your home appear small, stuffy, and cramped, which can give off the impression that the home is too small. When a buyer is surrounded by someone else's clutter can also make it difficult for them to picture themselves living in the home. Decluttering is one of the most important things you can do before listing your home.

  • A Shaky Railing
    You don't want to surprise your buyers with a shaky banister when they grab hold of your railing on their way up
    the stairs. This not only may be a surprise, but it also could be dangerous. Make sure your railing or banister is sturdy and all screws are secure before opening up the home for tours.

  • Bold Paint Colors
    Loud, bright colors may be your style, but it can be a turn-off to many buyers who don't share your same taste in color. If your paint colors consist of bold tones, you may want to consider painting over them with some nice neutral shade. Give your buyers a blank slate to work with.

  • Odd Odors
    Many sellers become nose blind to certain smells and weird odors over time, but buyers will be quick to pick up on the scent of pets, mold, clothes. Even if your home has a bit of a musty smell, you can bet the buyers will notice. Make an effort to eliminate any source of foul odors before listing your home. If you're going to use any candles or scents, be sure they're not too strong.

  • Poor Patching And Touch-Ups
    If patching holes and paint touch-ups are not your specialties, it might be best to leave these to a professional. A poor attempt at filling holes in the wall or touching-up paint can create quite an eyesore. Instead, call a professional painter or carpenter to come in and freshen up the space.

  • Bad Flooring
    Cracked tiles or loose and squeaky floorboards can give buyers the impression that your home is in disrepair. It's also one of the very first things buyers will notice when touring the home. Spend a bit of time fixing-up flooring before listing your home on the market.

  • Dead Light Bulbs
    Don't leave your buyers in the dark. Flipping a non-functioning light switch when touring a home can leave a bad impression. Make sure all bulbs are working and your light switches are functioning, so buyers can truly get a sense of each room.

Major upgrades and renovations may not be necessary before listing your home. Instead, focus on the small, inexpensive repairs that can have a major impact on the outcome of your home sale.

January
30

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Buying a home and wondering if your inspection is necessary? While some buyers may decide to waive their inspection, it's risky decision.
  • Your home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. It assesses the condition of the home you plan to purchase, so you can avoid costly surprises down the road.
  • Let's connect so you have expert advice and a trusted professional who will keep your interests top of mind.
January
28

Why Right Now Is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for Sellers

Why Right Now Is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for Sellers | MyKCM

If you're thinking about selling your house in 2022, you truly have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at your fingertips. When selling anything, you always hope for strong demand for the item coupled with a limited supply. That maximizes your leverage when you're negotiating the sale. Home sellers are in that exact situation right now. Here's why.

Demand Is Very Strong

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 6.18 million homes were sold in 2021. This was the largest number of home sales in 15 years. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explains:

"Sales for the entire year finished strong, reaching the highest annual level since 2006. . . . With mortgage rates expected to rise in 2022, it's likely that a portion of December buyers were intent on avoiding the inevitable rate increases."

Demand isn't expected to weaken this year, either. In addition, the Mortgage Finance Forecast, published last week by the Mortgage Bankers' Association (MBA), calls for existing-home sales to reach 6.4 million homes this year.

Supply Is Very Limited

The same sales report from NAR also reveals the months' supply of inventory just hit the lowest number of the century. It notes:

"Total housing inventory at the end of December amounted to 910,000 units, down 18% from November and down 14.2% from one year ago (1.06 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 1.8-month supply at the present sales pace, down from 2.1 months in November and from 1.9 months in December 2020."

The reality is, inventory decreases every year in December. That's just how the typical seasonal trend goes in real estate. However, the following graph emphasizes how this December was lower than any other December going all the way back to 1999.

Why Right Now Is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity for Sellers | MyKCM

Right Now, Sellers Have Maximum Leverage

As mentioned above, when there's strong demand for an item and a limited supply of it available, the seller has maximum leverage in the negotiation. In the case of homeowners who are thinking about selling, there may never be a better time than right now. While demand is this high and inventory is this low, you'll have leverage in all aspects of the sale of your house.

Today's buyers know they need to be flexible negotiators that make very competitive offers, so here are a few areas that could tip in your favor when your house goes on the market:

  • Competitive sales price
  • Flexible closing date
  • Potential for a leaseback to allow you more time to find a home
  • Minimal offer contingencies

Bottom Line

If you're thinking of selling your house this year, now is the optimal time to list it. Let's connect to discuss how you can put your house on the market today.

January
27

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is excited to announce the hiring of Justin Kennedy as Realtor. He recently began his career in real estate, and looks forward to guiding home buyers and sellers through the process, advising clients and staying on top of market trends. Kennedy holds a Bachelor's degree in Pre-Sports Medicine. Originally from Richmond Hill, he has a passion for the region. He most recently worked in management for a local landscaping company and is excited to share with others why the Lowcountry is the most beautiful place to call home. Bay Street Realty Group is excited to add Kennedy to their Georgia sales team.

For more information, visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

January
26

BEAUFORT, SC -- Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is excited to announce the hiring of Greg Davis as Realtor. He will be working to achieve new business development and sales retention through client care and relationship selling, with a concentration in Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head and all of the gems in between. Working alongside leading agent, Annette Bryant, Davis will gain great expertise and real estate knowledge. 

In addition to real estate, he currently serves as a National Sales Manager for a printing and distribution company based in New York and a partner for a Editorial and Production Services company based in Maryland. Davis will be transitioning to full time Real Estate in the future but has a great passion for Graphic Arts. With over forty years of experience in the industry, he has held positions ranging from Estimating Manager, Purchasing Manager, Customer Service Manager, Fine Paper Sales and Print Sales. Born and raised in Baltimore, Davis attended Loyola College. He and his wife lived on a sailboat for 12 years before moving to the Lowcountry 16 years ago. He enjoys all things outdoors from birding and canoeing to golf and sporting clays; and in his free time plays the ukulele and hand crafts silver jewelry. Davis gives back to the community through LowCountry Food Bank, St. Francis Center on St. Helena Island and the Nature Conservancy. 

Bay Street Realty Group is excited for him to join their sales team so he can share his love for the region with many other potential buyers and sellers.

For more information, visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

January
26

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change?

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change? | MyKCM

Americans are more aware than ever of the effects climate change and natural disasters can have on their homes. According to a report from realtor.com:

"More than 3 in 4 recent buyers, 78%, took [natural disasters] into account when choosing the locations of their homes, . . ."

The study also found that many existing homeowners (34%) have already considered selling their houses and moving to a new location because of the changing climate. If you're like those homeowners and are weighing your options about what to do next, here's some information to keep in mind as you begin the process of selling your existing house and searching for your new home.

Do Your Research and Work with a Real Estate Advisor To Find a Home That Meets Your Needs

As a homeowner, it's impossible to control what types of weather events your home is exposed to. As Maiclaire Bolton Smith, Senior Leader of Research and Content Strategy for CoreLogic, says:

"You can't necessarily remove the location from around you, but there are things you can do to mitigate damage that can happen."

The first step is understanding how to navigate your home sale and purchase with these specific issues in mind. While that can seem like a difficult undertaking at first, with the appropriate resources and experts on your side, you can simplify the process.

The Mortgage Reports provides some tips for purchasing your next house, including, but not limited to:

  • Vetting the location before you buy
  • Researching Climate Action Plans and learning if the city or state has one
  • Working with professionals for additional assessments on the home's ability to withstand natural disasters

Ultimately, your best resource throughout the process is a trusted real estate professional. An agent will help you navigate the sale and required disclosures for your existing home, be your expert advisor on local guidelines and information, and keep your goals and concerns top of mind. Even if your advisor doesn't have the answers to all your questions about how your next home will stand up to natural disasters, they can help connect you with experts and resources who will.

Bottom Line

If you're becoming more mindful about the effects of climate change and you're ready to make a move, you're not alone. Let's connect so you have a trusted advisor on your side to help you navigate the sale of your current house and find the perfect spot for your next home.

January
24

Why Pre-Approval Is Key for Homebuyers in 2022

Why Pre-Approval Is Key for Homebuyers in 2022 | MyKCM

You may have heard that it's important to get pre-approved for a mortgage at the beginning of the homebuying process, but what does that really mean, and why is it so important? Especially in today's market, with rising home prices and high buyer competition, it's crucial to have a pre-approval letter prior to making an offer. Here's why.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home this year. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Just as important, being able to present a pre-approval letter shows sellers you're a qualified buyer, something that can really help you land your dream home in an ultra-competitive market.

With limited housing inventory, there are many more buyers active in the market than there are sellers, and that's creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are receiving an average of 3.8 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are still common. Pre-approval gives you an advantage if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it's likely you will. When a seller knows you're qualified to buy the home, you're in a better position to potentially win the bidding war.

Freddie Mac explains:

"By having a pre-approval letter from your lender, you're telling the seller that you're a serious buyer, and you've been pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender for a specific dollar amount. In a true bidding war, your offer will likely get dropped if you don't already have one."

Every step you can take to gain an advantage as a buyer is crucial when today's market is constantly changing. Interest rates are rising, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You're going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it's important to have a team of professionals such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate advisor making sure you take the right steps and can show your qualifications as a buyer when you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. Not only does being pre-approved bring clarity to your homebuying budget, but it shows sellers how serious you are about purchasing a home.

January
23

With Mortgage Rates Climbing, Now's the Time To Act

With Mortgage Rates Climbing, Now's the Time To Act | MyKCM

Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac jumped from 3.22% to 3.45%. That's the highest point it's been in almost two years. If you're thinking about buying a home, this news may have come as a bit of a shock. But the truth is, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Experts have been calling for rates to rise in their 2022 projections, and the forecast is now becoming a reality. Here's a look at the projections from Freddie Mac for this year:

  • Q1 2022: 3.4%
  • Q2 2022: 3.5%
  • Q3 2022: 3.6%
  • Q4 2022: 3.7%

As the numbers show, this jump in rates is in line with the expectations from Freddie Mac. And what they also indicate is that mortgage rates are projected to continue climbing throughout the year. But should you be worried about rising mortgage rates? What does that really mean for you?

As rates increase even modestly, they impact your monthly mortgage payment and overall affordability. If you're looking to buy a home, rising mortgage rates should be an incentive to act sooner rather than later.

The good news is, even though rates are climbing, they're still worth taking advantage of. Historical data shows that today's rate, even at 3.45%, is still well below the average for each of the last five decades (see chart below):

With Mortgage Rates Climbing, Now's the Time To Act | MyKCM

That means you still have a great opportunity to buy now with a rate that's better than what your loved ones may have paid in decades past. If you buy a home while rates are in the mid-3s, your monthly mortgage payment will be locked in at that rate for the life of your loan. As you can see from the chart above, a lot can change in that time frame. Buying now is a great way to protect yourself from rising costs and future rate increases while also securing your payment amount for the long term.

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

"Mortgage rates surged in the second week of the new year. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 3.45% from 3.22% the previous week. If inflation continues to grow at the current pace, rates will move up even faster in the following months."

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are increasing, and they're forecast to be even higher by the end of 2022. If you're planning to buy this year, acting soon may be your most affordable option. Let's connect to start the homebuying process today.

January
21

Two Ways Homebuyers Can Win in Today's Market

Two Ways Homebuyers Can Win in Today's Market | MyKCM

If your goal is to purchase a home this year, you might be looking for any advantage you can get in today's sellers' market. While competition is still fierce for homebuyers, there are ways you can win and secure the home of your dreams, even in a hot market.

Act Early and Save

The earlier you act this year, the more affordable your purchase will be. That's because experts project mortgage rates will rise as we move deeper into 2022. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to be 3.5% by year's end. Experts forecast home prices will rise as well.

That means the longer you wait, the more it will cost you to buy a home. Instead, act early and purchase your home before rates and prices rise further. Not to mention, the sooner you buy, the sooner you can experience the benefits of continued home price appreciation yourself. Once you have your home, you'll be able to watch its value rise, giving you confidence that your investment is a sound one.

Buy Now, Move Later

Keep in mind, with high buyer demand like we're seeing today, you'll be competing against other potential homebuyers, which means you need to find a way to stand out. One way to accomplish this is to negotiate with sellers and present terms that meet their ideal needs. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.comexplains one lever flexible buyers can pull to entice sellers:

"For buyers with more flexible timelines – such as those making a move from a big city – offering a couple extra months on the closing date could sweeten the deal for sellers who also need to buy their next home."

In other words, if you're eager to purchase a home now before it becomes more costly and you don't have to move right away, you could extend the date of your closing and provide the seller with the time they need to find their next home. That's a deal that could benefit both parties and help you stand out from the crowd.

Of course, it's important to work with a real estate professional for expert advice on how to make your best offer. Your trusted advisor knows what's working in your market and what may appeal to sellers.

Bottom Line

Experts project home prices and rates will increase in 2022. That means buyers who are ready should act soon and find ways to strengthen their offer to meet sellers' needs. Let's connect today to learn how you can win in today's market.

January
20

Click here to see Savannah's 2021 Q4 Market Report

January
20

Click here to review the 2021 Q4 Market Report

January
20

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low?

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low? | MyKCM

One key question that's top of mind for homebuyers this year is: why is it so hard to find a house to buy? The truth is, we're in the ultimate sellers' market, so real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The number of buyers searching for a home greatly outweighs how many homes are available for sale.

While low inventory in the housing market isn't new, it's a challenge that continues to grow over time. Here's a look at two reasons why today's housing supply is low and what that means for you.

1. New Home Construction Fell Behind for Several Years

The graph below shows new home construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed. Builders exceeded that average during the housing bubble (shown in red on the graph). The result was an oversupply of homes on the market, so home values declined. That was one of the factors that led to the housing crash back in 2008.

Since then, the level of new home construction has fallen off. For the last 13 straight years, builders haven't been able to construct enough homes to meet the historical average (as illustrated in green on the graph). That underbuilding left us with a multi-year inventory deficit going into the pandemic.

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low? | MyKCM

2. The Pandemic's Impact on the Housing Market

Then, when the pandemic hit, it fueled a renewed appreciation and focus on the meaning of home. Having a safe space to live, work, school, and exercise became even more important for Americans throughout the country. So, as mortgage rates dropped to at or below 3%, buyers eagerly entered the market looking to capitalize on those low rates to secure a home that would fulfill their changing needs. At the same time, sellers hesitated to put their houses on the market as concerns about the pandemic mounted.

The result? The number of homes available for sale dropped even further. A recent article from realtor.com explains:

"Last month, the number of home listings dropped 26.8% compared with the same time a year earlier. This meant there were about 177,000 fewer homes listed in what's already typically a slower month due to the holidays and colder weather. . . ."

What Does All of This Mean for You?

For a buyer, low inventory can be a challenge. You want to find the home of your dreams, and you don't want to settle. But what if there just aren't that many homes to choose from?

There is some good news. Experts are projecting more homes will soon become available thanks to sellers re-entering the market. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, shares this hope, but offers perspective:

"We expect that we'll start to see a turnaround and inventory will stabilize and start to go up a little bit in 2022. . . . But that means we're looking at inventory levels of roughly half of what we saw before the pandemic. For buyers, the market is likely to continue to move fast. If you see a home you like, you want to jump on it right away."

Basically, inventory is still low, even though more homes are coming. But you shouldn't put your plans on hold because you're waiting for those additional houses to hit the market.  Instead, stick with your search and persevere through today's low inventory. You can find your next home if you're patient and focused.

Remember your goals and why finding a home is so important. Those things should be the driving force behind your search. Share them with your agent and be clear about your priorities. Your trusted advisor is your greatest support as you navigate today's low housing supply to find the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line 

If you're planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience given today's low inventory. Let's connect to discuss what's happening in our area, what homes are available, and why it's still worthwhile to prioritize your home search today.

January
18

2022 Home Design Trends

If you're feeling inspired to give your home a refresh in the new year but aren't sure where to start, familiarize yourself with the most anticipated trends for the upcoming year. Whether you incorporate a few or many, these must-have home design trends will keep your home feeling fresh and relevant. Read on to find out the top home design trends for 2022.

Enclosed Spaces
Open concept spaces began waning in popularity over the last several years. With people working, learning and entertaining at home more, there is a greater need for more quiet, private spaces. This shift embraces returning to a more traditional home layout, which was more prevalent before the popularity of open-concept spaces.

Homework Rooms
In 2020 and 2021, the focus was on home offices. Looking into 2022, homework rooms reign supreme. With remote learning, school closures and quarantining still in effect, giving your child a dedicated space to stay focused on schoolwork helps provide them with a space to succeed. Equipping the room with high-speed wi-fi, plenty of outlets and smart boards, will let your child comfortably focus on learning. This space can transition into a second home office, library or craft room one day.

Curved Furniture
Furniture with curved lines brings softness to a space. For example, curved back sofas, arched cabinets or rounded dining chairs soften the angular lines that have been so prevalent during recent years. As a result, curved pieces can create a more welcoming and inviting feel in a room.

Nature-Inspired Colors
The 2022 colors of the year chosen by the major paint retailers are in various shades of green and have a unifying theme: grounding, calming and optimistic. Benjamin Moore October Mist is a gently shaded sage. The silver-green color evokes creativity and can quietly anchor a space while encouraging individuality. Sherwin-Williams Evergreen Fog is also a soft shade of green. It's a beautiful, mid-tone, green-gray hue with a slight blue undertone. It is a gentle yet sophisticated color that can be subtle and make a statement. Behr's Breezeway, another silvery-green shade with cool undertones. 

Vintage Furniture
Between continued shipping delays and a focus on sustainability, selecting vintage furniture pieces is an excellent way to avoid long lead times and be environmentally conscious with your purchase. Additionally, vintage pieces have a warmth, interest and depth that new furniture often lacks.

Natural Materials
The past few years have resulted in spending more time outside. Because of this reconnection with nature, natural interior materials will be at the forefront of many design plans. Examples of materials include marble, terracotta, travertine and stoneware, soft, organic materials and warmer tones. Bringing these organic materials indoors adds depth and visual interest to a space and creates a calming atmosphere.

Elevated Outdoor Furniture
Investing in outdoor furniture is a wise investment, as outdoor living spaces will continue to be an extension of the interior. Outdoor furniture that is intentionally selected, stylish, comfortable and long-lasting is important as entertaining outdoors continues to be an ongoing theme. Designing this outdoor space like you'd create an indoor living room can help you quickly expand your living and entertaining area.

January
17

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership | MyKCM

Homeownership has long been considered the American Dream, and it's one every American should feel confident and powerful pursuing. But owning a home is also a deeply personal dream. Our home provides us with safety and security, and it's a place where we can grow and flourish.

Today, we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of us will remember his passion and determination for the causes he championed, including his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. As we reflect on his message today, it may inspire your own dream of homeownership. And if so, know you're not alone. With a trusted real estate advisor at your side, you can begin your journey toward homeownership by answering the questions below.

1. Where Do I Start?

The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, how much space you need, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can spend.

Then, when you decide you're ready to buy, you'll need to apply for a mortgage. Your lender will look at several factors to determine how much you're able to borrow, including your credit history. Lenders want to understand how well you've managed paying your student loans, credit cards, car loans, and other past debts.

According to Freddie Mac:

"To get a rough estimate of what you can afford, most lenders suggest that you should spend no more than 28% of your monthly gross (pre-tax) income on your mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance."

2. How Do I Save Enough for a Down Payment?

Speaking of how much you can afford, you'll want to know what to save for a down payment. While the idea of saving for a down payment can be daunting, there are many different options and resources that can help.

According to Business Insider, automatic savings can bring you one step closer to achieving your target down payment:

"If you receive your paycheck as a direct deposit, you may want to arrange for your company to send a percentage of each check directly into a savings account for the down payment. . . . The automatic-savings strategy makes it so you don't have to constantly remember to save money."

Before you know it, you'll have enough for a down payment if you're disciplined and thoughtful about your process. And the best part is, you may need to save less for your down payment than you think. Your agent and lender can help you understand your options.

3. How Can I Reach My Financial Goals?

Another way to increase your savings is by sticking to a planned budget. If you've never budgeted before, there are tools available. For example, MoneyFit.org provides a budgeting worksheet you can use to create your own plan and five rules to follow when you're saving. They recommend you:

  1. Identify Goals
  2. Record Expenses
  3. Record Earnings
  4. Compare and Calculate
  5. Fix Weak Spots

If you're already budgeting, consider finding ways to tighten your spending a bit more to accelerate your journey to homeownership. After all, putting even a little extra into your savings each month can truly add up over time.

Bottom Line

As you set out to realize your dream of homeownership this year, know that it's achievable with careful planning. Most importantly, let's connect today so you don't have to walk alone on this journey.

January
14

When Is the Right Time To Sell? [INFOGRAPHIC]

When Is the Right Time To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market.
  • The latest data indicates home showings are rising. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you'll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won't be on the market long.
  • Today's market favors sellers. If you're ready to move, let's meet to discuss the benefits you can expect when you sell this season.
January
13

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group Recently Added Justin Keown to their Team as Realtor BEAUFORT, SC

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group is excited to announce the hiring of Justin Keown as Realtor. In this role, he will use his expertise to advise clients, stay on top of Beaufort market trends and guide buyers and sellers through the real estate process. A South Carolina native, Keown is excited to be back in the Lowcountry after receiving his Bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University, his Master's degree from Troy University and completing a successful 10-year collegiate football coaching career. He is an experienced Realtor, and joins the Bay Street Realty Group after a successful real estate career in Montgomery, Alabama where he received the 2021 Top Producer of the Year Award. A mentor and coach at heart, Justin Keown combines his passion and love for helping others with his knowledge of the real estate business, and today's technology, to provide buyers and sellers with top-notch service. Keown is married with two kids. He's a proud supporter of Breast Cancer awareness through The American Cancer Society's Real Men Wear Pink campaign and is involved with Amvets Post No. 70 in Port Royal. Bay Street Realty Group is excited to have Keown on their team and looks forward to all of his success in the years to come.

January
12

9 Home Items to Get Rid of for the New Year

The new year can bring new beginnings. Unfortunately, without the proper planning, you will feel like you are already behind on day one. If you truly want to start the new year off on the right foot, you'll need to do some prep work before the day arrives. Getting your home and your mind ready for your New Year's goals can require letting some things go. Here are some items in your home that you can easily get rid of for the new year to bring more organization to your home and mind.

- In Your Living Spaces:

Outdated Books 
Book lovers may want to keep their favorite tomes, but even they can agree that a dated atlas or textbook doesn't serve the reader well.

Broken Trinkets
That glass item you had on display broke months ago, and you've still been meaning to fix it. If you won't repair it or take it to be repaired right now, it's time to let it go. 

Inherited Memorabilia
Your great aunt's favorite collection may have made its way onto your shelf, but do you enjoy the real estate it takes up? If not, pass it along to another person who will. Keep one or two favorites and donate the rest to family or a charity.

- In the Kitchen:

Expired Spices
Spices lose their pizzazz over time. Keep your food tasting its best by discarding anything too old.

Chipped Dishes
Chipped or cracked dishes are liable to break unexpectedly when heated or cooled. Discard them to ensure that you don't have a mess on your hands in the future.

Specialty Cooking Tools 
Holiday cooking items and one-off cooking tools can take up a lot of usable space in your kitchen. Be honest about what you have the space, time and skillset to cook or bake in your current space.

- In Kids' Rooms or Play Spaces:

Incomplete Games or Puzzles
No one wants to spend time on a puzzle only to leave it unfinished due to missing pieces. Save everyone the frustration and avoid the donation pile, toss this item straight in the recycling bin.

Age-Specific Toys
Donate toys that are too young for your child. If you do plan to have another, most items can be bought gently used later. 

Party Favor Toys
Low-quality toys are not fun long-term, but still make a big mess. Do yourself a favor and toss or recycle the tiny and cheap items. Your child likely will never notice.

January
11

Hook Buyers With A Home Office Space

With so many people working from home these days, it's no surprise that a home office has become a popular selling point. In fact, it's now a "must-have" feature for many buyers. By advertising a home office in your listing, you stand to increase your sale price by as much as 4%. The good news is it's fairly easy to add an office to your home. However, it's important to stage it the right way. By following these tips, you can generate buyer attention with the perfect office setup:

  • Choose The Right Spot
    An extra room is usually the best place to stage a home office, but if your home doesn't have an extra room, don't fret! Consider any unused space in the home. You'd be surprised at how many areas can serve as a home office, but you might need to get creative. Do you have space under the stairway? Is there an unused section of your basement or game room? Does your living room have an extra nook sectioned off from the rest of the room? If you don't have a dedicated room, search for opportunities throughout the rest of the home.

  • Stage Your Furniture
    A home office setup is actually fairly simple because, at a minimum, you only need a nice desk and a chair. However, if you have some space to work, you should attempt to maximize it. Consider adding a nice lamp as a desk piece. Visitor seating is always a good idea, or you could create a reading nook in the corner of the room by adding a comfortable chair and a floor lamp. A small filing cabinet that easily fits underneath the desk is also a great accessory.

  • Emphasize The Light
    Lighting is an important feature of a home office. If the room receives lots of natural light, be sure to open the blinds or remove the window treatments for staging photos and home tours. If the room is lacking natural light, try to create a well-balanced source or ambient light by adding some floor lamps.

  • Avoid Any Personalization
    While no home office is complete without family photos, bobbleheads, and knick-knacks, you should strive to avoid personalizing the office space. Remember, your goal isn't to show off your own office, it's to create a space where buyers can envision themselves working. Your own personal decor can be distracting or a turnoff to a buyer.

  • Eliminate Clutter
    If you're actively using your office space, it's important to keep it clean and clutter-free. Keep all office supplies stored away inside a drawer or cabinet. Make sure the surface of the desk is completely clear. If you're struggling to declutter, consider using some office organizers to neatly group and store items on your shelf space or in a nearby closet.

Home offices have never been more important. By not having one, you run the risk of excluding many potential buyers who work from home. Your listing agent can help you find the best way to add and show off a new home office space to hook buyers today.

January
10

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're looking to buy a home, you may want to put these items on your to-do list to ensure you hit your goals.
  • It's important to start working on your credit and saving for a down payment early. When you're ready to begin your search, work with a real estate professional and get pre-approved so you know how much you can borrow.
  • Let's connect so you have the guidance you need to achieve your homebuying goals this year.
January
6

There Won't Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market

There Won't Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market | MyKCM

When mortgage forbearance plans were first announced and the pandemic surged through the country in early 2020, many homeowners were allowed to pause their mortgage payments. Some analysts were concerned that once the forbearance program ended, the housing market would experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago.

Here's a look at why that isn't the case.

1. There Are Fewer Homeowners in Trouble This Time

After the last housing crash, over nine million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they gave it back to the bank. Many believed millions of homeowners would face the same fate again this time.

However, today's data shows that most homeowners exited their forbearance plan either fully caught up on payments or with a plan from the bank that restructured their loan in a way that allowed them to start making payments again. The latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) studies how people exited the forbearance program from June 2020 to November 2021.

Here are those findings:

38.6% left the program paid in full
  • 19.9% made their monthly payments during the forbearance period
  • 11.8% made up all past-due payments
  • 6.9% paid off the loan in full
44% negotiated work-out repayment plans
  • 29.1% received a loan deferral
  • 14.1% received a loan modification
  • 0.8% arranged a different repayment plan
0.6% sold as a short sale or did a deed-in-lieu
16.8% left the program still in trouble and without a loss mitigation plan in place

2. Those Left in the Program Can Still Negotiate a Repayment Plan

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 890,000. Those who remain in forbearance still have the chance to work out a suitable plan with the servicing company that represents their lender. And the servicing companies are under pressure to do just that by both federal and state agencies.

Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President at RealtyTrac, says in a recent tweet:

"The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] and state [Attorneys General] look like they're adopting a 'zero tolerance' approach to mortgage servicing enforcement. Likely that this will limit #foreclosure activity for a good part of 2022, while servicers explore all possible loss [mitigation] options."

For more information, read the warning issued by the Attorney General of New York State.

3. Most Homeowners Have More Than Enough Equity To Sell Their Homes

For those who can't negotiate a solution and the 16.8% who left the forbearance program without a work-out, many will have enough equity to sell their homes and leave the closing with cash instead of facing foreclosures.

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, the average homeowner has gained record amounts of equity in their home. As Frank Martell, President & CEO of CoreLogic, explains:

"Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they've also enabled many to continue building their wealth."

4. There Have Been Far Fewer Foreclosures Over the Last Two Years

One of the seldom-reported benefits of the forbearance program was that it allowed households experiencing financial difficulties prior to the pandemic to enter the program. It gave those homeowners an extra two years to get their finances in order and work out a plan with their lender. That prevented over 400,000 foreclosures that normally would have come to the market had the new forbearance program not been available. Otherwise, the real estate market would have had to absorb those foreclosures. Here's a graph depicting this data:

There Won't Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market | MyKCM

5. The Current Market Can Easily Absorb Over a Million New Listings

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, they added to the oversupply of houses that were already for sale. That resulted in over a nine-month supply of listings, and anything over a six-month supply can cause prices to depreciate.

It's exactly the opposite today. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reveals:

"Total housing inventory at the end of November amounted to 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% from one year ago (1.28 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, a decline from both the prior month and from one year ago."

A balanced market would have approximately a six-month supply of inventory. At 2.1 months, the market is severely understocked. Even if one million homes enter the market, there still won't be enough inventory to meet the current demand.

Bottom Line

The end of the forbearance plan will not cause any upheaval in the housing market. Sharga puts it best:

"The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the 'forbearance equals foreclosure' narrative was incorrect. . . ."

January
4

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | MyKCM

As you set out on your homebuying journey, you likely have a plan in place, and you're working on saving for your purchase. But do you know how much you actually need for your down payment?

If you think you have to put 20% down, you may have set your goal based on a common misconception. 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."

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it's typically not required to put 20% down. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn't been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today, that number is only 13%. And it's even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose median down payment is only 7% (see graph below):

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for You?

While a down payment of 20% or more does have benefits, the typical buyer is putting far less down. That's good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

If you're interested in learning more about low down payment options, there are several places to go. There are programs for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you need to do your homework. If you're interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Remember: a 20% down payment isn't always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let's connect to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.

January
3

Selling In 2022: What You Can Expect

2021 was a great year for home sellers. Record low inventory combined with low interest rates sparked the hottest seller's market in several decades. It wasn't uncommon to see homes fly off the market in less than a day, while bidding wars often drove sales 10-15% over asking price.

While typical real estate seasonality has cooled things off just a bit over the last couple of months, many sellers are wondering what to expect in 2022. If you weren't ready to list your home this year, you might be wondering if you missed the boat.

While there are most certainly changes ahead in 2022, it's still likely to be a great time to list your home. Here is what to expect:

  • Mortgage Rates Will Rise
    In order to combat record inflation, the Fed is expected to make raise interest rates multiple times throughout 2022. Last year's record low interest rates were a major factor in the heightened level of buyer demand, so it's realistic to expect interest rate changes to slow the market down just a bit, especially in the back half of the year.

  • Price Increases Will Slow Down A Bit
    Homes prices rarely fall, and there is no expectation that they will in 2022; however, it's safe to assume price gains will cool off a bit. The national median home price jumped 16% in 2021, and it's unrealistic to expect we'll see the same type of increase next year. It's probably safe to assume price appreciation will be in the ballpark of 4% to 6%.

  • Strong Demand From First-Time Buyers
    Many first-time homebuyers were priced out of the market in 2021, so it's no surprise that many are looking to try again in 2022. This means competition will be fierce for starter homes at entry-level price points. First-time buyers still likely have some uphill challenges as rates climb and prices remain at all-time highs; however, we expect to see many first-time buyers return to the market in early spring.

  • Inventory Will Start To Increase
    Sellers may face more competition in 2022, as a lot of this year's inventory challenges are likely to abate. The pandemic made some owners more reluctant to sell in 2020-2021, but a lot of those fears have started to dissipate. Additionally, worker shortages and supply chain issues caused major disruptions to the home building market in 2021. As these issues begin to normalize, we'll see an increase in inventory in the coming years.

  • Buyers Will Still Prefer The Suburbs
    As more and more companies adopt a remote work model, employees are no longer tied to a physical location. Consequently, more and more young consumers are migrating to suburbs, rural areas, and even popular vacation destinations. Since remote work is here to stay, we should expect to see this migration continue well into the new year.

How Sellers Can Prepare for 2022
The hot seller's market of 2021 is likely to cool off in 2022. Despite increases in inventory and higher interest rates, we're still likely to see a seller's market next year. As home prices continue to appreciate, it's likely still a great time to list your home. Let's connect when you are ready to list your home!

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