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May
16

If You're a Homeowner, You Have Incredible Leverage When You Sell Today

If You're a Homeowner, You Have Incredible Leverage When You Sell Today | MyKCM

In today's housing market, homeowners have a great opportunity to sell their house and receive the best terms for their personal situation. That's because there's a limited number of homes for sale, which is creating competition among buyers. Right now, homebuyers want three things:

These buyer needs give you an amazing advantage – also known as leverage – when you sell.

What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?

You might already realize this enables you to sell at a good price, but you're also in a great position to get the best terms to suit your needs.

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home sold is receiving 4.8 offers. That's why there's a good chance you'll get offers from multiple buyers who are willing to compete for your house. When you do, you should look closely at the terms of each offer to find out which one has the best options for you.

And if you have questions at any point in the process, remember your trusted real estate advisor can help. They're experts who understand the fine print, know how to compare the terms of various offers, and will help you select the best one for your situation.

Bottom Line

If you're thinking of selling your home, know buyer demand in today's market gives you a great opportunity to get the best terms and price when you sell your house. Let's connect today to discuss how much leverage you have as a seller in today's market.

April
27

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort | MyKCM

If you're in the market to buy a home this season, stick with it. Homebuyers face challenges in any market, and today's is no exception. But if you persevere, your decision to purchase a home will be worth the effort in the end. In fact, a recent survey from Bankrate shows homeownership is so powerful that:

"Nearly three in four homeowners say they would still buy their current home if they had it to do [sic] all over again."

That means the results – owning a home and the benefits that come with it – outweigh the effort needed to achieve their goal. If you're a homebuyer, let that provide you with the confidence to know the work you're putting in today will pay off for years to come. Here are a few reasons to stick with your search and focus on the outcome.

Homeownership Contributes Significantly to Your Financial Well-Being

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) lists several motivations to consider if you're thinking about buying a home. One of the top financial reasons is the equity you build. As NAR says:

"Money paid for rent is money that you'll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity . . . Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan."

Your equity is a powerful tool you can leverage in a number of ways. And with recent home price appreciation, homeowners are seeing record levels of equity today. That may be one reason why so many people view owning a home as a great investment and a top indicator of financial well-being. As the survey from Bankrate mentioned above shows:

". . . Americans place a higher value on homeownership than on any other indicator of economic stability, . . ."

Owning a home ranks above other major accomplishments like retirement, having a successful career, and getting a college degree. That indicates just how impactful the financial benefits of homeownership truly are.

The Emotional Benefits of Owning a Home Are Powerful

Of course, homeownership is more than an investment. In their list of top reasons to buy a home, NAR also highlights some of the powerful, non-financial aspects of homeownership. Among them is the opportunity to customize your home to reflect your personality and needs. As they say:

"The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle."

Another benefit homeowners enjoy is the stability it provides. Homeowners typically stay put longer than renters. According to NAR, when you remain in one place longer than a few years, you can grow closer to your community. And that can enhance your sense of pride and lead to better relationships.

What Does That Mean for You?

The benefits of homeownership are powerful, as Leslie Rouda Smith, President of NAR, says:

"From building personal wealth and fostering communities, to strengthening social stability and driving the national economy, the value of homeownership is indisputable."

Even if you face challenges in today's market, the payoff when you succeed and purchase a home will be worth it.

Bottom Line

If you're planning to buy a home this year, there are incredible benefits waiting for you at the end of your journey. Let's connect to discuss everything homeownership has to offer.

April
14

On the Fence of Whether or Not To Move This Spring? Consider This.

Beautiful House in Savannah Georgia

If you're thinking of selling your house, it may be because you've heard prices are rising, listings are going fast, and sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes. But why are conditions so good for sellers today? And what can you expect when you move? To help answer both of those questions, let's turn to the data.

Today, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Here are the maps of the latest buyer and seller traffic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help paint the picture of what this looks like:

Buyer Traffic & Seller Traffic Map

Notice how much darker the blues are on the left. This shows buyer traffic is strong today. In contrast, the much lighter blues on the right indicate weak or very weak seller traffic. In a nutshell, the demand for homes is significantly greater than what's available to purchase.

What That Means for You

You have an incredible advantage when you sell your house under these conditions. Since buyer demand is so high at a time when seller traffic is so low, there's a good chance buyers will be competing for your house.

According to NAR, in February, the average home sold got 4.8 offersWhen buyers have to compete with one another like this, they'll do everything they can to make their offer stand out. This could play to your favor and mean you'll see things like waived contingencies, offers over asking price, earnest money deposits, and more. Selling when demand is high and supply is low sets you up for a big win.

If you're also looking to buy a house, you may be tempted to focus more on just the seller traffic map and wonder if it means you'll have trouble finding your next home. But remember this: perspective is key. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comsays:

"The limited number of homes for sale is a lesson in perspective. This same stat that frustrates would-be homebuyers also means that today's home sellers enjoy more limited competition than last year's home sellers."

If you look at the big picture, the opportunity you have as a seller today is unprecedented. Last year was a hot sellers' market. This year, inventory is even lower, and that means an even bigger opportunity for you. Even though finding your next home in a market with low inventory can be challenging, is that concern worth passing on some of the best conditions sellers have ever seen?

As added peace of mind, remember real estate professionals have been juggling this imbalance of supply and demand for nearly two years, and they know how to help both buyers and sellers find success when they move. A skilled agent can help you capitalize on the great opportunity you have as a seller today and guide you through the buying process until you find the perfect place to call your next home.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to move, you have an incredible opportunity in front of you today. Trust the experts. Let's connect so you have expertise on your side that can help you win when you sell and when you buy.

March
28

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership | MyKCM

The link between financial security and homeownership is especially important today as inflation rises.  But many people may not realize just how much owning a home contributes to your overall net worth. As Leslie Rouda Smith, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

"Homeownership is rewarding in so many ways and can serve as a vital component in achieving financial stability."

Here are just a few reasons why, if you're looking to increase your financial stability, homeownership is a worthwhile goal.

Owning a Home Is a Building Block for Financial Success

A recent NAR report details several homeownership trends and statistics, including the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters. It finds:

". . . the net worth of a homeowner was about $300,000 while that of a renter's was $8,000 in 2021."

To put that into perspective, the average homeowner's net worth is roughly 40 times that of a renter (see visual below):

A Key To Building Wealth Is Homeownership | MyKCM

The results from this report show that owning a home is a key piece to the puzzle when building your overall net worth.

Equity Gains Can Substantially Boost a Homeowner's Net Worth

The net worth gap between owners and renters exists in large part because homeowners build equity. As a homeowner, your equity grows as your home appreciates in value and you make your mortgage payments each month.

In other words, when you own your home, you have the benefit of your mortgage payment acting as a contribution to a forced savings account. And when you sell, any equity you've built up comes back to you. As a renter, you'll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

To sum it up, NAR says it simply:

"Homeownership has always been an important way to build wealth."

Bottom Line

The gap between a homeowner's net worth and a renter's shows how truly foundational homeownership is to wealth-building. If you're ready to start on your journey to homeownership, let's connect today.

March
16

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home?

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home? | MyKCM

Every year, many renters ask themselves the same question: Should I continue renting, or is it time to buy a home? If you're a renter, chances are you've asked yourself that question at least once, and it's likely because you've faced an increase in your monthly housing costs over time. After all, according to Census data, rents have risen consistently for decades.

To make an informed and powerful decision, the first step is understanding what's happening in today's housing market so you can determine which option is the better long-term financial decision for you.

Rents Are Going Up Again This Year

Rents are skyrocketing right now. Data from realtor.com shows just how much rental prices are surging throughout the country. The graph below highlights rental unit price increases over the past year:

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home? | MyKCM

If you're a renter and plan on signing a new lease, your monthly costs are likely to go up when you do. Those rising costs can have a big impact on your financial goals, including any plans you're making to save for a home purchase.

Homeownership Offers Stable Monthly Costs

Of course, one of the key benefits of owning your home is that you're able to lock in and stabilize your payments for the duration of your loan. That's not the case when you rent.

While rents are already on the rise, there's a good chance many people will see their rental costs increase even more this year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:

"With rents already at a high and expected to keep going up, rental affordability will increasingly challenge many Americans in 2022. For those thinking about making the transition from renting to buying their first home, rising rents will remain a motivating factor. . . ."

So, if you're ready to become a homeowner, waiting any longer may not make financial sense. Instead, escape the cycle of rising rents and enjoy the many benefits that come with homeownership today.

Bottom Line

Starting your journey towards homeownership can pay off significantly this year. If you're financially ready today, let's connect so we can discuss your options.

March
15

Don't Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs

Don't Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs | MyKCM

As a homebuyer, it's important to plan and budget for the expenses you'll encounter when you purchase a home. While most people understand the need to save for a down payment, a recent survey found 41% of homebuyers were surprised by their closing costs. Here's some information to help you get started so you're not caught off guard when it's time to close on your home.

What Are Closing Costs?

One possible reason some people are surprised by closing costs may be because they don't know what they are or what they cover. According to U.S. News and World Report:

"Closing costs encompass a variety of expenses above your property's purchase price. They include things like lender fees, title insurance, government processing fees, upfront tax payments and homeowners insurance."

In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments made to a variety of individuals and organizations who are involved with your transaction. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Will You Need To Budget for Closing Costs?

Understanding what closing costs include is important, but knowing what you'll need to budget to cover them is critical to achieving your homebuying goals. According to the Freddie Mac article mentioned above, the costs to close are typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here's how you can get an idea of what you'll need to cover your closing costs.

Let's say you find a home you want to purchase for the median price of $350,300. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,000 and $17,500.

Keep in mind, if you're in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

What's the Best Way To Make Sure You're Prepared At Closing Time?

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

"As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs."

The best way to understand what you'll need at the closing table is to work with a team of trusted real estate professionals. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together they can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

Bottom Line

In today's real estate market, it's more important than ever to make sure your budget includes any fees and payments due at closing. Let's connect so you have the knowledge you need to be confident going into the homebuying process.

March
14

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity | MyKCM

If you're thinking of selling your house this year, timing is crucial. After all, you'll want to balance getting the most out of the sale of your current home and making the best investment when you buy your next one.

If that's the case, you should know – you may be able to get the best of both worlds today. Here are four reasons why this spring may be your golden window of opportunity.

1. The Number of Homes on the Market Is Still Low

Today's limited supply of houses for sale is putting sellers in the driver's seat. There are far more buyers in the market today than there are homes available. That means purchasers are eagerly waiting for your house.

Listing your house now makes it the center of attention. And if you work with a real estate professional to price your house correctly, you can expect it to sell quickly and likely get multiple strong offers this season.

2. Your Equity Is Growing in Record Amounts

According to the most recent Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic, homeowners are sitting on record amounts of equity thanks to recent home price appreciation. The report finds that the average homeowner has gained $55,300 in equity over the past year.

That much equity can open doors for you to make a move. If you've been holding off on selling because you're worried about how rising prices will impact your next home search, rest assured your equity can help fuel your move. It may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next home.

3. Mortgage Rates Are Increasing

While it's true mortgage rates have already been climbing this year, current mortgage rates are still below what they've been in recent decades. In the 2000s, the average mortgage rate was 6.27%. In the 1990s, the average rate was 8.12%.

For context, the current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate, according to Freddie Mac, is 3.85%. And while recent global uncertainty caused rates to dip slightly in the near-term, experts project rates will rise in the months ahead. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Maesays:

"For homebuyers, we believe that borrowing costs will likely rise with the increase in mortgage rates...."

When that happens, it'll cost you more to purchase your next home. That's why it's important to act now if you're ready to sell. Work with a trusted advisor to kickstart the process so you can take key steps to making your next purchase before rates climb further.

4. Home Prices Are Climbing Too

Home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years because of the imbalance of supply and demand. And as long as that imbalance continues, so will the rise in home values.

What does that mean for you? If you're selling so you can move into the home of your dreams or downsize into something that better suits your current needs, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by leveraging your growing equity and purchasing your next home before prices climb higher.

And, once you make your purchase, you can find peace of mind in knowing ongoing home price appreciation is growing the value of your new investment.

Bottom Line

If you want to win when you sell and when you buy, this spring could be your golden opportunity. Let's connect so you have the insights you need to take advantage of today's incredible sellers' market.

March
13

Which Season Is The Best For Selling?

It's a well-known fact that the real estate market cools off in the fall and winter and picks up in the spring, but what is really the best season to sell your property? The answer ultimately depends on your situation and location. The reality is each season comes with its own unique advantages and challenges. To help you determine the best season for selling, we'll break down the top advantage and challenge of each season below:

Selling In The Spring

Many people believe spring is the best time to sell your home, but that really depends on where you live. While spring is often the most popular time to shop, some southern states experience intense weather in late spring. Competition is also at its peak. Here are some of the benefits

  • Advantages: Warmer weather in most areas and tax refund checks mean more buyers are hitting the market.
  • Disadvantages: More buyers also means more sellers, so the competition begins to really pick up. Kids are also still in school, so moving is more difficult.

Selling In The Summer

Statistics show that late June has the highest number of closings, indicating summer is an ideal time to sell. It's also the most popular time to move, especially because school is out. However, extreme heat in some areas of the country coupled with vacation times can drag out the closing process.

  • Advantages: Longer days and warm weather means more buyers are hunting. Many buyers are also motivated to find a home before school starts.
  • Disadvantages: Weather, vacations, and busy schedules may delay closings. Plus, competition is likely still very high.

Selling In The Fall

Once school starts, there is a noticeable decline in real estate activity, but that doesn't mean fall is a bad time to sell. There are still many buyers on the market that couldn't secure a home in the spring or summer. Selling in late September / or early October has both pros and cons:

  • Advantages: Fewer listings mean less competition, and many buyers are extra motivated to close before winter. It's also easier to find home repair professionals.
  • Disadvantages: Cooler weather might keep buyers away. Those who are shopping may be more demanding due to less competition. Curb appeal also generally declines in the fall as landscaping begins to deteriorate. 

Selling In The Winter

December is often considered to be the slowest month for real estate closings. Cold weather means fewer shoppers in most of the country, but competition is probably at its lowest point of the year. If you live in Florida, Arizona, or Southern California, winter is likely a great time to sell.

  • Advantages: There is less competition, and buyers are likely highly motivated. 
  • Disadvantage: There are fewer shoppers, especially around the holidays. Depending on location, it can be a difficult time to make renovations. Many buyers are looking for a deal.

It's certainly possible to sell your home any time of the year, and so often the right season depends on your property, location, and situation. Your real estate agent is a great resource to help you assess the market and determine the best time to list your home. When you are ready to list your home, let's connect!

March
8

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

If you're thinking about buying or selling a home, you'll want to keep a pulse on what's happening with mortgage rates. Rates have been climbing in recent months, especially since January of this year. And just a few weeks ago, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac approached 4% for the first time since May of 2019. But that climb has dropped slightly over the past few weeks (see graph below):

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

The recent decline in mortgage rates is primarily due to growing uncertainty around geopolitical tensions surrounding Russia and Ukraine. But experts say it's to be expected.

Here's a look at how industry leaders are explaining the impact global uncertainty has on mortgage rates:

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, says:

"While mortgage rates trended upward in 2022, one unintended side effect of global uncertainty is that it often results in downward pressure on mortgage rates."

In another interview, Kushi adds:

"Geopolitical events play an important role in impacting the long end of the yield curve and mortgage rates. For example, in the weeks following the 'Brexit' vote in 2016, the U.S. Treasury bond yield declined and led to a corresponding decline in mortgage rates."

Kushi's insights are a reminder that, historically, economic uncertainty can impact the 10-year treasury yield – which has a long-standing relationship with mortgage rates and is often considered a leading indicator of where rates are headed. Basically, events overseas can have an impact on mortgage rates here, and that's what we're seeing today.

Will Mortgage Rates Stay Down?

While no one has a crystal ball to predict exactly what will happen with rates in the future, experts agree this slight decline is temporary. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, echoes Kushi's sentiment, but adds that the decline in rates won't last:

"Geopolitical tensions caused U.S. Treasury yields to recede this week . . . leading to a drop in mortgage rates. While inflationary pressures remain, the cascading impacts of the war in Ukraine have created market uncertainty. Consequently, rates are expected to stay low in the short-term but will likely increase in the coming months." 

Rates will likely fluctuate in the short-term based on what's happening globally. But before long, experts project rates will renew their climb. If you're in the market to buy a home, doing so before rates start to rise again may be your most affordable option.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are an important piece of the puzzle because they help determine how much you'll owe on your monthly mortgage payment in your next home. Let's connect so you have up-to-date information on rates and trusted advice on how to time your next move.

March
1

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're deciding whether to rent or buy, consider the many financial benefits that come with owning a home.
  • As a renter, you build your landlord's wealth and face rising costs. As a homeowner, you build your own net worth and can lock in your monthly payments for the length of your loan.
  • If you're weighing your options, remember that owning a home is a decision that has considerable financial perks. If you want to learn more, let's connect to talk about the perks of homeownership.
February
22

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home | MyKCM

Many things have changed over the past couple of years, and real estate is no exception. One impact is an increased desire to own more than one home. According to the recent Luxury Market Report from Luxury Home Marketing:

"As trends such as remote working and flexi-hours took hold in 2021, so too did the flexibility of relocating as well as the growth of second homeownership."

This may be because the pandemic has altered how we think about our homes. Where we live has become, more than ever, our safe space and our getaway. And with the rise in remote work, more people are reconsidering where they want to live and buying second homes to give them greater flexibility. If you fall in that category, here are just a few of the perks you'll enjoy, and how owning a second home may be a great decision for your lifestyle and your future.

Enjoy a Change in Scenery (or Weather)

When you have two homes, you can alternate between them as the weather changes or as you crave different scenery. Do you want to live in an area with a particular season? Would alternating between a resort and a suburban setting be ideal? With two homes, you have those options. Being able to move between homes based on which location best suits you at the time gives you added flexibility and variety that can help increase your happiness.

Build Your Wealth Faster

You may have heard that home equity is skyrocketing, thanks to ongoing home price appreciation. CoreLogic reports that the average homeowner gained $56,700 in equity over the last year. With home prices projected to continue rising, if you purchase a second home, you could benefit from rising equity on both properties to build your wealth (and your net worth) even faster.

Be Closer to Loved Ones

The pandemic has also reignited the importance of being near our loved ones. One option worth exploring is whether you want your second home to be near the people who matter most in your life. This makes it easier to see your loved ones but still gives you your own dedicated, private space so you can be nearby for major life events or longer visits.

Lock in Your Expenses

Buying a second home today and locking in your mortgage rate may be a good option if you're looking to stabilize your housing costs for the long haul. If you're approaching retirement or are looking to use your second home as your permanent residence in the future, buying that house now with today's rate and price may be a good financial decision. That way, no matter what happens with rates and prices in years ahead, your monthly payment is locked in for the next 15-30 years.

Bottom Line

Having multiple homes has considerable benefits. If owning a second home is something you're interested in, let's connect to explore your options, discuss the benefits, and take the next step to start your home search.

February
18

What's Driving Today's High Buyer Demand? [INFOGRAPHIC]

What's Driving Today's High Buyer Demand? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • There's an influx of buyers looking for homes today, and that means your house is in high demand. Here are a few reasons why so many people are looking to buy a home.
  • Buyers are motivated to beat rising mortgage rates, and many want to escape rising rents. There's also additional demand from millennials who are reaching peak homebuying age.
  • If you're thinking about selling your house, today's demand is great news. Let's connect to begin the process of listing your house while buyers are ready to purchase.
February
16

The Biggest Myths Of Selling A Home

Selling a home is a relatively rare life event for most people, so it's normal not to know what to expect. When seeking advice from neighbors, friends, or family, it might seem like everyone thinks they're an expert on real estate transactions. It's also common to hear myths and tall tales about the market or the selling process. 

As a first-time seller, don't believe everything you hear. Getting caught up in real estate myths can lead to bad decisions that ultimately cost you money in the long run. If you're planning on selling your home soon, be cognizant of these five myths of selling a home:

  • Renovations And Staging Aren't Important
    One of the biggest myths we hear in a hot seller's market is that staging and renovations aren't necessary because buyers are so eager to make an offer. This is simply untrue. Even though the market is incredibly competitive, a home in bad shape is still going to be unattractive to buyers.  Making renovations and staging your home is still your best bet for generating the best return. Just because the market isn't hot doesn't mean sellers should be lazy or skip the important parts.

  • You Can Save Money By Selling Your Home Yourself
    While it's certainly possible to sell a home on your own, you'll likely need to have experience, skills, and a lot of time on your hands in order to pull it off. While it may save you from paying an agent commission, there is also a good chance you'll leave money on the table.

    Real estate agents perform a number of tasks that provide tremendous value by helping you achieve a higher sale price. Staging, marketing, and negotiating are all important pieces. Without an expert in your corner, you might not get the best return.

  • Setting A High Price Leaves Room For Negotiation
    Many sellers think setting the bar high will leave more room for negotiation, but the truth is, many buyers won't even consider a home priced well above its value. By setting a high asking price, you're ultimately putting yourself in a position where you'll likely have to reduce the price after a few weeks, which may lead to buyer suspicions about potential problems.

  • Open Houses Don't Sell Homes
    Open houses have been a home selling tactic for decades, and they didn't disappear during the pandemic. While many people assume real estate agents hold open houses to drum up new business, they can actually be a very effective sales tactic. Open houses are likely to generate quick exposure to the market and can attract a higher number of interested buyers in a short period of time.

  • The Market Will Continue To Rise
    With the exception of two recent economic downturns, home values have consistently been on the rise for many years.  However, these recent recessions have proven that real estate is not a risk-free investment. The myth that home values will continue to rise year after year may influence a seller's decision to list their home. However, the truth is home values can and do fall, and they will fall again.

Selling a home isn't always easy, so arming yourself with the most accurate information is the best way to make decisions that lead to a good return. Of course, experienced real estate agents are often the best source of reliable information about the market. Let's connect when you are ready to learn more about today's market!

February
14

How to Fall in Love With a New Neighborhood

Falling in love with a neighborhood can be equally as important as the house when you're home searching. Whether you're looking to socialize with neighbors or you prefer to keep to yourself, selecting a neighborhood you love is essential to your overall contentment. Read on to determine the factors to consider as you search for a new home in a new neighborhood.

Commute Time
Suppose you regularly commute to your place of employment—this distance and time matters. Whether you drive or take the train, knowing the average daily commute time is an essential factor to consider. If you drive, calculate how long the drive will take, and if you take the train, make sure that the local train stop offers express trains.

Recreational Activities
Whether it's a country club, golf club, fitness center or pool, living near the amenities you use regularly is essential. It will result in less commuting time, less stress and afford you more time to engage in the recreational activities you love.

School Ratings
Regardless of if you have school-aged children or not, living near a highly-rated school should be an essential part of the home searching process. In addition to how the schools are rated on sites such as greatschools.org, you can review the school's state test scores, school programming options such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes, extracurricular activities, athletic programs and the Parent Teacher Association.

Access to Nature
If having access to nature is important to you, research the nearby parks, walking trails and hiking areas that are close to the neighborhood. If you enjoy taking long walks closer to home, ensuring the area has sidewalks or walking trails may be necessary.

Quantity and Age of the Trees
Tree-lined streets are an important part of a neighborhood to many home buyers. They signify a more established area and offer a certain charm that newer communities lack. They also provide health benefits, as they clean the air.

Neighborhood Amenities and HOA
Depending on your stance on homeowner's associations (HOA's), they may entice or deter you. For example, if you're looking for a neighborhood with a community feel and amenities such as a pool, clubhouse and other shared spaces, it likely means the neighborhood will have an HOA. On the other hand, an HOA's regulations may be too restrictive. Review the neighborhood's HOA bylaws before making an offer to ensure you're comfortable with the requirements that are in place.

Walkability
If you're someone who enjoys an early morning walk to get your coffee, making sure the local coffee shop is a quick walk away is one of the minor aspects that add up to your overall quality of life. Likewise, suppose you want the ability to walk into town to grab lunch, go shopping or for your hair appointment. In that case, ensuring your neighborhood is close to the town's central business district is an essential factor to add to your list.

Ultimately, the elements of a great neighborhood are the most important factors to you. Whether it's having a short commute time, highly rated schools or tree-lined streets, your requirements are all part of your unique home buying process.

February
9

Don't Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams

Don't Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams | MyKCM

If you're looking to buy a home, you may be wondering how your student loan debt could impact those plans. Do you have to wait until you've paid off your student loans before you can buy your first home? Or could you qualify for a home loan with that debt?

To give you the answers you're searching for, let's take a look at what recent data shows. That way, you know what to expect and what to do next to achieve your dream of becoming a homeowner. While everyone's situation is unique, your goal may be more within your reach than you realize.

Do you have to delay your plans because of student loans?

If you're worried your student loans mean you have to put your homeownership goals on hold, you're not alone. In fact, many first-time buyers believe they have to delay their plans. According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"When asked specifically about purchasing a home, half of nonhomeowners say student loan debt is delaying them from purchasing a home (51%)."

When asked why their student loans are putting their plans on the back burner, three key themes emerged:

  • 47% say their student loans make it harder to save for a down payment
  • 45% say they think they can't qualify for a home loan because of existing debt
  • 43% say they believe the delay is necessary even though they've never applied for a mortgage

No matter which reason resonates most with you, you should know a delay may not be necessary. Here's why.

Can you qualify for a home loan if you have student loans?

In the same NAR report, data shows many current homeowners have student loan debt themselves:

"Nearly one-quarter of all home buyers, and 37% of first-time buyers, had student debt, with a typical amount of $30,000."

That means other people in a similar situation were able to qualify for and buy a home even though they also had student loan debt. You may be able to do the same, especially if you have a steady source of income. Apartment Therapy drives this point home:

". . . buying a home with student loans is possible, experts say. The proof is in the numbers, too: Some 40 percent of first-time homebuyers have student loan debt, according to the NAR study."

The key takeaway is, for many people, homeownership is achievable even with student loans. 

The best way to make a decision about your goals and next steps is to talk to the professionals. A real estate advisor can walk you through your specific situation, your options, and what has worked for other buyers like you. They can also connect you with other professionals in the industry who can help. You don't have to figure this out on your own – lean on the experts so you have the information you need to make an informed, confident decision.

Bottom Line

Many other buyers with student loan debt are already achieving their homeownership dreams. Maybe it's time to take the next step toward making yours a reality. Let's connect to discuss your options and find out how close you are to achieving your goal.

February
7

Consumers Agree: It's a Good Time To Sell

Consumers Agree: It's a Good Time To Sell | MyKCM

In today's sellers' market, many homeowners are weighing their options and trying to decide if they should sell their house. If you're in that group, you may be balancing things like the ongoing health crisis, rising mortgage rates, and your own changing needs to determine your best time to make a move.

However, recent data shows that time may already be here. According to the latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) by Fannie Mae76% of consumers believe now is a good time to sell.

Looking back over the past few years, its clear consumers are incredibly optimistic today. The graph below shows the percent of survey respondents who say it's a good time to sell a house, and their positive outlook is on the rise. The big dip near the middle of the chart indicates how consumer sentiment about selling dropped at the beginning of the pandemic as uncertainty about the health crisis and its impact grew. The good news is, the trend today shows a continued, drastic improvement, and people are feeling more and more confident with time about selling a home.

In fact, survey respondents think it's an even better time to sell a house today than they did in the lead-up to the health crisis. The latest survey results indicate we're at one of the strongest peaks in seller sentiment since March of 2019, hitting highs when 77% of people thought it was a good time to sell only twice before in June and October of 2021.

Consumers Agree: It's a Good Time To Sell | MyKCM

Why Are Consumers So Optimistic About Today's Housing Market?

From record-high equity gains to record-low housing supply and significant buyer demand, homeowners have more motivation than ever to sell. There are more buyers in today's market than there are homes for sale, and that's driving home prices up, making it a great time to sell your house.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the current supply of homes for sale today is at a 1.8-month supply, which is an all-time low. When the supply of homes for sale is low, sellers will likely see more offers, which is exactly what's happening right now. As NAR notes:

"The average home for sale is receiving 3.8 offers today, up from 3.3 offers just one year ago."

Bottom Line

With the inventory of houses for sale so low today pushing home prices in an upward direction, it's no wonder consumers think it's a good time to sell. If you're ready to take advantage of today's favorable sellers' market, let's connect today.

February
4

How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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
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.
December
31

5 Money Moves to Make Before the End of the Year

As we close in on the end of the year, it's natural to be thinking about the holiday season and all the travel, parties and family fun that comes with it. But it's also the time to take stock of your finances, decide what's working and what is not, and what you can do to get 2022 off to a good financial start. Here are five strategic money moves you should be making now.

Review and Update Your Goals – What's gone well financially in the past year? What has gone less well than you'd hoped? How have your life and priorities changed, and what money decisions need to change with them? If setting sound financial strategies is new to you—or even they aren't—start reading and learning now.

Maximize Your Opportunities – Saving for retirement and for financial independence is critical. If you have a 401(k), you have until Dec. 31 to contribute to the maximum allowed. If you have an IRA, you have until April 15 of next year to make your maximum contribution—but you should plan now to revisit your decision about whether a traditional or a Roth IRA will work best for you next year. Review your health savings account (HSA) or consider starting one, and if you are self-employed and don't have one, look into opening a retirement account through your business.

Optimize Employee Benefits – The end of the year is open enrollment season. Carefully review the packet of information sent to you by your employer so you can make the most of financial opportunities regarding savings and insurance, as well as legal services and other perks that may be available.

Use Any Remaining FSA Funds – Most FSA funds assert that any money still in your account at the end of the year is no longer available to you. Use the last weeks of 2021 to get those new glasses or visit the dentist before those funds run out.

Make a Holiday Plan – The holidays can be a huge money drain. To help you stay on top of your financial goals, budget now for holiday travel, gift-giving and entertainment, and resolve to stick with your plan.

December
10

Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You

Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You | MyKCM

If you're a homeowner who's decided your current house no longer fits your needs, or a renter with a strong desire to become a homeowner, you may be hoping that waiting until next year could mean better market conditions to purchase a home.

To determine whether you should buy now or wait another year, you can ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. Where will home prices be a year from now?
  2. Where will mortgage rates be a year from now?

Let's shed some light on the answers to both of these questions.

Where Will Home Prices Be a Year from Now?

Three major housing industry entities are projecting ongoing home price appreciation in 2022. Here are their forecasts:

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of a home today is $353,900. Using an average of the three price projections above (6.5%), a home that sold for $353,900 today would be valued at $376,904 at the end of next year. As a prospective buyer, you would therefore pay an additional $23,004 by waiting.

Where Will Mortgage Rates Be a Year from Now?

Today, Freddie Mac announced their 30-year fixed mortgage rate was at 3.1%. However, most experts believe mortgage rates will rise as the economy recovers. Here are the forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2022 by the three major entities mentioned above:

That averages out to 3.7% if you include all three forecasts. Any increase in mortgage rates will increase your costs.

What Does It Mean for You if Home Values and Mortgage Rates Increase?

If both variables increase, you'll pay a lot more in mortgage payments each month. Let's assume you purchase a $353,900 home today with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.1% (the current rate from Freddie Mac) after making a 10% down payment. According to mortgagecalculator.net, your monthly mortgage payment would be approximately $1,360 (this does not include insurance, taxes, and other fees because those vary by location).

That same home one year from now could cost $376,904, and the mortgage rate could be 3.7% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). Your monthly mortgage payment after putting down 10%, would be approximately $1,561.Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You | MyKCMThe difference in your monthly mortgage payment would be $201. That's $2,412 more per year and $72,360 over the life of the loan.

Add to that the approximately $23,004 a house with a similar value would build in home equity this year due to home price appreciation, and the total net worth increase you could gain by buying this year is over $95,364 (the $72,360 mortgage savings plus the $23,004 potential gain in equity if you buy now).

Bottom Line

When asking if you should buy a home, you may think of the non-financial benefits of homeownership. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year. Let's connect!

December
3

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | MyKCM

There's no denying the financial benefits of homeownership, but what's often overlooked are the feelings of gratitude, security, pride, and comfort we get from owning a home. This year, those emotions are stronger than ever. We've lived through a time that has truly changed our needs and who we are, and as a result, homeownership has a whole new meaning for many of us.

According to the 2021 State of the American Homeowner report by Unison:

"Last year, staying home became a necessity and that caused many homeowners to have renewed gratitude for the roof over their head."

As a nation, we continue to work through the challenges of a pandemic that's pushed us all to new limits. Over the past year and a half, we've spent more time than ever at home: working, eating, schooling, exercising, and more. The world around us changed almost overnight, and our homes were redefined. Our needs shifted, and our shelters became a place that protected us on a whole new level. The same study from Unison notes:

  • 91% of homeowners say they feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 64% of American homeowners say living through a pandemic has made their home more important to them than ever
  • 83% of homeowners say their home has kept them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

It's no surprise this study also reveals that homeowners are now more emotionally attached to their homes as well:Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | MyKCMAs we've learned throughout this health crisis, homeownership can provide the safety and security we crave in a time of uncertainty. That sense of connection and emotional stability genuinely reaches beyond just the financial aspect of owning a home. As JD Esajian, President of CT Homes, LLC, says:

"Aside from the financial factors, there are several social benefits of homeownership and stable housing to consider. It has long been thought that buying a home contributes to a sense of accomplishment. Still, most individuals fail to realize that homeownership can benefit your mental health and the community around you."

Whether you're thinking of buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing to something that better fits your changing lifestyle, take a moment to reflect on what Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:

"Buying a home is not just a financial decision. It's also a lifestyle decision."

Bottom Line

If you're considering buying a home, it's not entirely about the dollars and cents. Let's connect so I can help you when it comes to weighing the non-financial benefits that may truly change your life when you need them most. 

November
15

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCM

As a renter, you're constantly faced with the same dilemma: keep renting for another year or purchase a home? Your answer depends on your current situation and future plans, but there are a number of benefits to homeownership every renter needs to consider.

Here are a few things you should think about before you settle on renting for another year.

1. Rents Are Rising Quickly

Rent increasing each year isn't new. Looking back at Census data confirms rental prices have gone up consistently for decades (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMIf you're a renter, you're faced with payments that continue to climb each year. Realtor.com recently shared the September Rental Report, and it shows price increases accelerating from August to September (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMAs the graph shows, rents are still on the rise. It's important to keep this in mind when the time comes for you to sign a new lease, as your monthly rental payment may increase substantially when you do.

2. Renters Miss Out on Equity Gains

One of the most significant advantages of buying a home is the wealth you build through equity. This year alone, homeowners gained a substantial amount of equity, which, in turn, grew their net worth. As a renter, you miss out on this wealth-building tool that can be used to fund your retirement, buy a bigger home, downsize, or even achieve personal goals like paying for an education or starting a new business.

3. Homeowners Can Customize to Their Heart's Content

This is a big decision-making point if you want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, your property owner determines these selections and prefers you don't alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

4. Owning a Home May Provide Greater Mobility than You Think

You may choose to rent because you feel it provides greater flexibility if you need to move for any reason. While it's true that selling a home may take more time than finding a new rental, it's important to note how quickly houses are selling in today's market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is only on the market for 17 days. That means you may have more flexibility than you think if you need to relocate as a homeowner.

Bottom Line

Deciding if it's the right time for you to buy is a personal decision, and the timing is different for everyone. However, if you'd like to learn more about the benefits of homeownership, let's connect so you can make a confident, informed decision and have a trusted advisor along the way.

November
9

How Sellers Win When Housing Inventory Is Low

How Sellers Win When Housing Inventory Is Low | MyKCM

In today's housing market, the number of homes for sale is much lower than the strong buyer demand. As a result, homeowners ready to sell have a significant advantage. Here are three ways today's low inventory will set you up for a win when you sell this season.

1. Higher Prices

With so many more buyers in the market than homes available for sale, homebuyers are frequently getting into bidding wars for the houses they want to purchase. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 3.7 offers in today's market. This buyer competition drives home prices up. As a seller, this certainly works to your advantage, potentially netting you more for your house when you close the deal.

2. Greater Return on Your Investment

Rising prices mean homes are also gaining value, which increases the equity you have in your home. In the latest Homeowner Equity Insights ReportCoreLogic explains:

"In the second quarter of 2021, the average homeowner gained approximately $51,500 in equity during the past year."

This year-over-year growth in equity gives you the ability to sell your house and then put that money toward a down payment on your next home, or to keep it as extra savings.

3. Better Terms

In a sellers' market like we have today, you're in the driver's seat if you make a move. You have the power to sell on your terms, and buyers are more likely to work with you if it means they can finally land their dream home.

So, is low housing inventory a big deal?

Yes, especially if you want to sell on your terms. Moving now while inventory is so low is key to maximizing your opportunities.

Bottom Line

If you're interested in taking advantage of the current sellers' market, let's connect today to determine your best move.

October
27

7 Critical Steps to Safeguard your Business and Help Avoid Potentially Devastating Financial Loss From Occurring to Clients

Heightened Discipline for Wire Fraud - North Carolina Bar Association

About two years ago, a respected industry attorney and cybercrime expert released a video, giving real estate professionals the one "100% surefire way" to protect your computer against cybercrime:

  • Close all programs.
  • Power off and unplug said computer.
  • Carry said computer to your backyard, dig a hole and pitch computer into the hole.
  • Follow by pouring gasoline on the computer and setting it on fire.

"This," the lawyer quipped, "is how you secure your computer 100% from cybercrime."

Of course there is no 100% surefire way to eliminate the risk of cybercrime.

In fact, 2020 was a record year for cybercrime with nearly $4.2 billion in reported losses, up from 2019's $3.5 billion, according to the FBI's 2020 Internet Crime Report.

The pandemic has certainly played into the hands of the cybercriminals with more people working from home and systems going remote. One-third of all cybercrime over the last five years occurred in 2020, including $213 million in real estate-related crime losses.

Why Hackers Love Targeting Real Estate Professionals

Real estate fraud is particularly pervasive for a number of reasons: Cybercriminals love targeting small- to mid-sized companies, such as brokerages. Real estate agents handle large sums of money; work off multiple devices; deal with sensitive financial data; and interact with multiple players during the transaction, including buyers, sellers, agents, escrow agents, lawyers, mortgage brokers and banks — all of which makes them the perfect target.

The nature of our industry's remote work makes agents and transaction coordinators particularly vulnerable.

Moreover, the average real estate customer doesn't experience a real estate transaction frequently and, therefore, can be more susceptible to fraud.

So what can real estate professionals do to protect themselves and their customers? They can help to prevent cybercrime before it occurs and results in devastating consequences. Here's how.

How Real Estate Agents Can Help Prevent Wire Fraud

In 2020, NAR data revealed that 13,638 people fell prey to real estate wire fraud, representing a 17% increase over 2019.

Even more alarming, title insurance professionals reported cybercriminals attempted to trick employees into wiring funds to a fraudulent account in one-third of all real estate and mortgage transactions, according to ALTA's 2021 Wire Fraud and Cyber Crime Survey. Fortunately, the thieves were only successful in a little over 8% of these attempts, thanks to proper training and education.

Typically, a cybercriminal targeting a real estate transaction will assume the identity of the title, real estate agent or closing attorney. Just before the deal closes, they will forge an email, which is then sent to the unwitting buyer with new wire instructions. Before anyone has detected what happened, the cybercriminal diverts the buyer's funds into their bank account.

These emails can look quite convincing and indeed appear identical to those sent from one of the trusted players in the transaction. However, real estate agents can take action to help prevent this type of wire fraud from occurring:

STEP 1 - Send Earnest Money Digitally

Emailing sensitive data like banking accounts and social security numbers can leave clients vulnerable to identity theft and loss of large sums of money. However, there's an easier, more convenient alternative to mailing checks and wire transfers, both of which can result in fraud.

Earnnest provides another option to buyers who opt to pay their deposit directly to the escrow holder via a digital transfer using dotloop's safe, secure Earnnest integration. Unlike the manual means of depositing a paper check or a wire transfer, Earnnest processes the funds using a bank-level encrypted transfer, the same high-level security implemented by banks.

Here are the three key steps to how an Earnnest digital transfer works:

1. SELECT ESCROW HOLDER

The real estate agent selects their escrow holder with Earnnest. If the escrow holder is not in Earnnest's network, the agent can invite them to enroll.

2. REQUEST EARNEST MONEY

When it's time for the buyer to pay their earnest money, the agent sends the client a request for earnest money via dotloop, which auto-completes the buyer information to kick off the process.

3. COMPLETE THE DIGITAL TRANSFER

The buyer receives the request, pays the earnest deposit through Earnnest digitally, and the agent and buyer receive a payment receipt email when it's complete.

Unlike wire transfers, digital transfers through Earnnest allow agents and buyers to request and pay earnest deposits from anywhere while protecting their sensitive information. The system automates receipts, provides payment tracking and verifies funds, ensuring a swift delivery and speedy transaction process.

Earnnest takes several steps to ensure the security of all parties. First, the portal fully verifies the identification of the buyer and verifies funds. Also, Earnnest never stores banking information, so the buyer's sensitive data is never visible to anyone other than the bank and the escrow office where it's sent.

The entire process occurs within a matter of seconds, and it's free to real estate agents, costing the buyer only $15.

STEP 2 - Confirm by Phone

Most agents know this, but it bears repeating: Always advise clients to confirm wire instructions by phone using the contact information shared verbally, not via email. Hackers can spoof signature blocks in emails so convincingly, there have been some cases in which clients have called fictitious numbers to verify the wiring instructions only to unwittingly surrender their sensitive bank data to the hackers on the other line.

The best approach is to give the client the phone number of the escrow or title officer at the beginning of the transaction and verbally communicate any changes to the points of contact before any funds are transferred.

Agents should warn all parties involved in a transaction to remain suspicious and vigilant regarding any information exchanged via email, and clearly post these warnings in listing agreements and other visible means of communication.

STEP 3 - Use Secure Wi-Fi

Always use a secure Wi-Fi connection — not a public, unsecured Wi-Fi connection that hackers can easily breach. While it can be tempting to do business over a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop, Wi-Fi connections in public places are favorite targets of hackers.

STEP 4 - Don't Overshare on Social Media

Cybercriminals are notorious for gleaning key information from agents' social media accounts that they, in turn, use to forge a convincing email or identify their next potential victim.

As Chris DeRosa, NAR's member information and eCommerce product lead, points out, "Realtors® are very public people and social media makes it easy for hackers to learn about you. With the right logos and branding, information on listings and clients, photos and domain names that are very close [to your real one], someone could easily convince the target user that the communication and request is legitimate."

Be conscious of what you post on your social media channels and ask yourself, "Is this information a hacker could use to forge an email in my name?"

STEP 5 - Practice Safe Email Habits

Agents and clients can further protect their emails by enabling two factor authentication and, if using Gmail, clicking on the Details link at the bottom of the page in the inbox to show any recent activity, such as from a foreign country. If your email provider offers alerts of any unusual activity, make sure to set these notifications to "on."

As a general rule, always think before clicking on a link. Agents should particularly pay attention to referral emails, which might look like they're from a colleague or a client in another state.

Avoid sending personal information in emails or texts, such as social security numbers and bank account numbers, and regularly purge unwanted email.

Most importantly, avoid and caution clients to avoid clicking on any embedded links and attachments within emails if not from a verbally confirmed, valid source. Hackers often use an infected link or attachment to install malware that can devastate personal finances or wipe out a business's entire operation.

STEP 6 - Update Computer Security Often

It's important to ensure your computer is protected with the latest security updates. On Macs, updates can be installed using the Mac App Store or by choosing System Preferences and then Software Update from the Apple menu. On Windows 10, updates can be found in Settings. Select Update & Security and then Check for Updates.

You'll also want to install and frequently update virus protection as well as make sure your system firewall is enabled.

STEP 7 - Practice Good Password Hygiene

Keeping up with passwords can be a royal pain with the number of apps and devices the average user interacts with daily. However, it's critical that real estate professionals make sure they're not using passwords that can be easily hacked. Avoid using obvious password phrases and the same password for all your systems. Some experts recommend using long phrases of 20 characters or more. Also, consider using an encrypted password vault that stores and encrypts your passwords.

If You Suspect Fraud, Take the Following Steps:

  • Notify the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/. There's a critical 72 hour window after a breach, in which victims need to notify the authorities to optimize their chances of recovering diverted funds.
  • Notify all parties involved in the transaction to stop any further spread of fraudulent activity.
  • Change all usernames and passwords.
  • Review your insurance policy and contact your insurance company immediately.

Blog post sourced from dotloop.

October
23

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The best advice carries across multiple areas of life. When it comes to homebuying, a few simple tips can help you stay on track.
  • Because of increased demand, you'll need to be patient and embrace compromises during your search. Then, once you've fallen in love, commit by putting your best offer forward.
  • If you're looking to buy a home this year, let's connect so you have a dedicated partner and teammate to help you find the one.
October
20

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you're a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you'll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners' equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCMOdeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

"Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high."

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you'll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you'll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you'll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you're one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you're one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you're ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you'll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home. If you decide making a move is right for you, let's connect!

October
18

Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You

Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCM

Today's housing market is truly one for the record books. Over the past year, we've seen the lowest mortgage rates in history. And while those rates seemed to bottom out in January of this year, the golden window of opportunity for buyers isn't over just yet. If you're one of the buyers who worry they've missed out, rest assured today's mortgage rates are still worth taking advantage of.

Even today, our mortgage rates are below what they've been in recent decades. So, while you may not be able to lock in the rate your friend got recently, you're still in a great position to secure a rate well below what your parents and even grandparents got in years past. The key will be acting sooner rather than later.

In late September, mortgage rates ticked above 3% for the first time in months. And according to experts throughout the industry, mortgage rates are projected to continue rising in the months ahead. Here's where experts say rates are headed:Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMWhile a projected half percentage point increase may not seem substantial, it does have an impact when you're buying a home. When rates rise even slightly, it affects how much you'll pay month-to-month on your home loan. The chart below shows how it works:Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMIn this example, if rates rise to 3.55%, you'll pay an extra $100 each month on your monthly mortgage payment if you purchase a home around this time next year. That extra money can really add up over the life of a 15 or 30-year loan.

Clearly, today's mortgage rates are worth taking advantage of before they climb further. The rates we're seeing right now give you a unique opportunity to afford more home for your money while keeping your monthly payment down.

Bottom Line

Waiting for a lower mortgage rate could cost you. Experts project rates will continue to rise in the months ahead. Let's connect so you can seize this opportunity before they increase further.

October
2

4 Tips to Gradually Minimize Clutter

We all know that minimizing clutter can make your home more manageable and more welcoming. A clutter-free home can also help with your mental health. Thankfully, keeping your home clutter-free doesn't require extensive decluttering sessions all the time. These four tips can help you minimize clutter gradually without a lot of effort.

One in, One Out Rule
Your home has a finite amount of space. Use this rule to help yourself remember that. Every time you purchase an item, a like item needs to be tossed, recycled or donated to ensure that you don't clutter your home. This can help you evaluate items based on need and it can even help you spend less money. That new dish towel is a great purchase since it can easily replace the worn and stained one you want to discard, but do you really want a new dress enough to donate one you currently own?

Gift Activities as Presents
A great gift comes from the heart, and time spent together can be far more valuable than a toy that will soon be forgotten. To keep clutter at bay, consider gifting activities instead of physical presents. This is especially great for children who can get overwhelmed with too many toys. Gift a trip to the zoo, movie theater or a theme park instead. For adults, gift a cooking class, tickets to an art museum or go on a trip together.

Read the Room
They say the best defense is a great offense. Instead of trying to declutter constantly, read your room and fully evaluate if you have a spot for an item you want. That souvenir figurine may look beautiful on the shelf at the gift shop, but if you can't think of exactly where you would happily display it at home, it may become cluttered quickly.

Keep an Outbox
Keep an outbox at all times so you can be constantly decluttering items that no longer serve your needs. Did you try on a shirt that you don't like anymore? Toss it in the outbox. Did you find a duplicate kitchen utensil hiding in the drawer? Into the outbox it goes. Keeping an outbox on hand ensures you don't forget about items when it is time to donate them.

October
1

Don't Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own – an Agent Can Help

Don't Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own - an Agent Can Help | MyKCM

If you're looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers' market like today's, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.

Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.

1. First impressions are everything – and an agent knows how to make a great one.

Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:

  • Should you take down any personal art or pictures?
  • How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house's curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don't invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn't waste either.

2. Agents have tools to maximize the number of views your home gets.

Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that's promising for the sale of your home, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.

Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent's expertise may help boost your sale price as well.

3. An agent won't miss anything in the fine print.

Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.

Because there's so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That's where an expert advisor can truly shine. They've been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.

4. Expert advisors know the market and how to price your home.

Another way your agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it's priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you've completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.

When you FSBO, you're operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that's inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they're even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it's time for the appraisal.

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:

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

An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you'll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

Bottom Line

Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don't go at it alone. Let's connect to make sure you have an expert on your side to make the most of your sale

September
27

If You're a Buyer, Is Offering Asking Price Enough?

If You're a Buyer, Is Offering Asking Price Enough? | MyKCM

In today's real estate market, buyers shouldn't shop for a home with the expectation they'll be able to negotiate a lower sales price. In a typical housing market, buyers try to determine how much less than the asking price they can offer and still get the home. From there, the buyer and seller typically negotiate and agree on a revised price somewhere in the middle.

Things Are Different Today

Today's housing market is anything but normal. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are:

  • Receiving an average of  3.8 offers
  • Selling in just 17 days

Homes selling quickly and receiving multiple offers highlights how competitive the housing market is right now. This is due, in large part, to the low supply of homes for sale. Low supply and high demand mean homes often sell for more than the asking price. In some cases, they sell for a lot more. Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains how these stats can impact buyers:

"The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months. Now, almost 6 in 10 homes listed are selling over the asking price."

You May Need To Rethink How You Look at a Home's Asking Price

What does that mean for you? If you've found your dream home, you need to be realistic about today's housing market and how that impacts the offer you'll make. Offering below or even at a home's asking price may not cut it. In today's market, the highest bidder often wins the home, much like at an auction.

Currently, the asking price is often the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. If you really love a home, it may ultimately sell for more than the sellers are asking. That's important to keep in mind as you work with your agent to craft an offer.

Understand An Appraisal Gap Can Happen

Because of today's home price appreciation and the auction-like atmosphere in the selling process, appraisal gaps – the gap between the price of your contract and the appraisal for the house – are more frequent.

According to data from CoreLogic:

"Beginning in January 2020, nationally, 7% of purchase transactions had a contract price above the appraisal, but by May 2021, the frequency had increased to 19% of purchase transactions."

When this happens, your lender won't loan you more than the home's appraised value, and the seller may ask you to make up the difference out of pocket. Buyers in today's market need to be prepared for this possibility. Know your budget, know what you can afford, and work with a trusted advisor who can offer expert advice along the way.

Bottom Line

Bidding wars and today's auction-like atmosphere mean buyers need to rethink how they look at the asking price of a home. Let's connect so you have a trusted real estate professional who can advise you on the current market and help determine what the market value is on your dream home.

September
22

Little-Known Secrets to Buying a Luxury Home

Buying a home is an involved process, regardless of your price point. However, the luxury market comes with a different set of conditions. From working with a specialized real estate broker, less available inventory and a more discerning list of requirements, investing in a luxury property can be more involved than purchasing a mid-level home. Here are some of the little-known secrets of the luxury home buying process.

Work With a Luxury Broker
Working with a well-versed broker in the luxury market is key to ensuring a smooth home searching and buying process. A luxury broker will be familiar with the areas in which you're looking, will be up to speed on the latest trends, will be able to identify potential issues in properties you view and will know if a property is worth its listing price. Additionally, a luxury broker will have access to homes that might not be listed publicly or on the MLS. Many luxury listings are private to protect the seller's privacy, so only luxury brokers within the inner circle are privy to these listings.

Have a Knowledgeable Team in Place
In addition to working with a broker who specializes in the luxury market, making sure your financial advisor is involved in your purchase decision will ensure you're making an intelligent investment. Taking it a step further and arranging a meeting between your broker and financial advisor will safeguard your purchase.

Exercise Patience
Patience is the name of the game when buying luxury real estate. Because of limited inventory, the time it takes to conduct research and a discerning list of must-have features, it can take longer to find the property that is a perfect match for your specifications.

Know the Neighborhood
Familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood and its future plans is an important part of the luxury home buying process. From the school district to the area's downtown amenities to recreational opportunities, the neighborhood can be just as important as the home. Additionally, suppose you are buying a property for its views. In that case, it's important to understand any plans for the area and any possibilities of new construction that could impact any waterfront, golf course or sunset views.

Don't Discount Properties Based on Photos
Based on the photos, if you don't fall in love with a property, it's still worth an in-person visit to see the home. For example, a house may require interior updates but have one in a million waterfront views. If you discount the house based on the listing photos, you will miss out on your opportunity to own a property with those views.

Have Proof of Funds
Being able to prove you have the funds to purchase a luxury property can be more involved than if you're buying a mid-level home. Therefore, it's important you have the documentation to prove you have the funds before making an offer. You may even need this documentation before you view the property. If you're interested in buying or selling, let's connect!

September
20

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | MyKCM

If you've been in your home for longer than five years, you're not alone. According to recent data from First American, homeowners are staying put much longer than historical averages (see graph below):Is It Time To Move on to a New Home? | MyKCMAs the graph shows, before 2008, homeowners sold their houses after an average of just five years. Today, that number has more than doubled to over 10 years. The housing industry refers to this as your tenure.

To really explore tenure, it's important to understand what drives people to make a move. An article from The Balance explores some of the primary reasons individuals choose to sell their houses. It says:

"People who move for home-related reasons might need a larger home or a house that better fits their needs, . . . Financial reasons for moving include wanting a nicer home, moving to a newer home to avoid making repairs on the old one, or cashing in on existing equity."

If you've been in your home for longer than the norm, chances are you're putting off addressing one, if not several, of the reasons other individuals choose to move. If this sounds like you, here are a few things to consider:

If your needs have changed, it may be time to re-evaluate your home.

As the past year has shown, our needs can change rapidly. That means the longer you've been in your home, the more likely it is your needs have evolved. The Balance notes several personal factors that could lead to your home no longer meeting your needs, including relationship and job changes.

For example, many workers recently found out they'll be working remotely indefinitely. If that's the case for you, you may need more space for a dedicated home office. Other homeowners choose to sell because the number of people living under their roof changes. Now more than ever, we're spending more and more time at home. As you do, consider if your home really delivers on what you need moving forward.

It's often financially beneficial to sell your house and move.

One of the biggest benefits of homeownership is the equity your home builds over time. If you've been in your house for several years, you may not realize how much equity you have. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $33,400 in equity over the past year.

That equity, plus today's low mortgage rates, can fuel a major upgrade when you sell your home and purchase a new one. Or, if you're looking to downsize, your equity can help provide a larger down payment and lower your monthly payments over the life of your next loan. No matter what, there are significant financial benefits to selling in today's market.

Bottom Line

If you've been in your home for 5-10 years or more, now might be the time to explore your options. Today's low rates and your built-up equity could provide you with the opportunity to address your evolving needs. If you feel it's time to sell, let's connect.

September
10

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to the current housing market, there are multiple misconceptions – from what the current supply of available homes looks like to how much houses are selling for.
  • It takes professionals who study expert opinions and data to truly understand the real estate market and separate fact from fiction.
  • Trust the pros. If you want to understand why it's still a good time to buy, let's connect today.
September
2

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends | MyKCM

As summer comes to a close, is it time to think about selling your vacation home? Based on recent data and expert opinions, it's something you may want to consider. According to research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year for January-April 2021.

If you've taken your last vacation this summer, here are reasons you should consider selling your vacation home this year.

1. Remote work continues to drive demand for vacation homes.

As the report from NAR says, based on continuously evolving work needs, there could be more interest in your second home than you think:

"In 2020, across all nine divisions, the fraction of the workforce that work from home is typically higher in the vacation home counties than in the non-vacation home counties The opportunity to work from home could further raise the demand for vacation homes in future years.

Recent data shows we'll likely see a sustained increase in the rate of remote work over the next five years. That means your vacation home could be highly sought after by certain buyers. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, puts it best, saying:

"Vacation homes are a hot commodity at the moment . . . . With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely to workers, vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers."

2. Selling could allow you to upgrade your vacation spot – or even your day-to-day scenery.

When demand is high, so is buyer competition. When competition is strong, buyers will do everything they can to make their offer on your vacation home as appealing as possible. This can include things like all-cash offers and more. If you sell now, you'll be able to benefit from high buyer competition and pick the offer with the best possible terms for you. That offer could give you the opportunity to purchase the primary residence of your dreams.

Or, if you find that you'll continue working from home, you could consider taking up more permanent residence in your vacation home and selling your primary residence instead. While this isn't a choice everyone can consider, it could be a great option.

No matter what the situation, you don't have to make the decision on your own. Your trusted real estate advisor can help you determine your best option when you're ready to sell.

Bottom Line

Buyers remain interested in vacation homes this year for a number of reasons. Now that summer is winding down, it's time to think about taking advantage of today's demand for vacation homes. Let's connect today if you're ready to give your second home its day in the sun.

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
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
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!

July
30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

July
26

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now | MyKCM

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

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

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

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

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

Remote Work and Mobility

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

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

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

Housing Supply and Affordability

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

July
12

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer | MyKCM

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

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

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

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

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

July
7

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
1

Where Have All the Houses Gone?

Where Have All the Houses Gone? | MyKCM

In today's housing market, it seems harder than ever to find a home to buy. Before the health crisis hit us a year ago, there was already a shortage of homes for sale. When many homeowners delayed their plans to sell at the same time that more buyers aimed to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and purchase a home, housing inventory dropped even further. Experts consider this to be the biggest challenge facing an otherwise hot market while buyers continue to compete for homes. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

"With buyers active in the market and seller participation lagging, homes are selling quickly and the total number available for sale at any point in time continues to drop lower. In January as a whole, the number of for sale homes dropped below 600,000."

Every month, realtor.com releases new data showing the year-over-year change in inventory of existing homes for sale. As you can see in the map below, nationwide, inventory is 42.6% lower than it was at this time last year:Where Have All the Houses Gone? | MyKCM

Does this mean houses aren't being put on the market for sale?

Not exactly. While there are fewer existing homes being listed right now, many homes are simply selling faster than they're being counted as current inventory. The market is that competitive! It's like when everyone was trying to find toilet paper to buy last spring and it was flying off the shelves faster than it could be stocked in the stores. That's what's happening in the housing market: homes are being listed for sale, but not at a rate that can keep up with heavy demand from competitive buyers.

In the same realtor.com report, Hale explains:

"Time on the market was 10 days faster than last year meaning that buyers still have to make decisions quickly in order to be successful. Today's buyers have many tools to help them do that, including the ability to be notified as soon as homes meeting their search criteria hit the market. By tailoring search and notifications to the homes that are a solid match, buyers can act quickly and compete successfully in this faster-paced housing market."

The Good News for Homeowners

The health crisis has been a major reason why potential sellers have held off this long, but as vaccines become more widely available, homeowners will start making their moves. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, confirms:

"Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed."

With more homeowners getting ready to sell later this year, putting your house on the market sooner rather than later is the best way to make sure your listing shines brighter than the rest.

When you're ready to sell your house, you'll likely want it to sell as quickly as possible, for the best price, and with little to no hassle. If you're looking for these selling conditions, you'll find them in today's market. When demand is high and inventory is low, sellers have the ability to create optimal terms and timelines for the sale, making now an exceptional time to move.

Bottom Line

Today's housing market is a big win for sellers, but these conditions won't last forever. If you're in a position to sell your house now, you may not want to wait for your neighbors to do the same. Let's connect to discuss how to sell your house safely so you're able to benefit from today's high demand and low inventory.

February
1

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

Marjory Mitchell.jpg

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

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

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

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

January
9

Kelly Durbin

Cora Bett Thomas Realty recently added of Kelly Durbin to our team. Kelly will be responsible for buying and selling homes in Richmond Hill and the surrounding communities. In this role, she will create targeted marketing strategies, be an expert at negotiating contracts for clients, and have a comprehensive understanding of the market.

Kelly is a strong negotiator and has a passion for real estate. She recently moved to the area from North Canton, Ohio where she served as a realtor for 5 years. While there she received several awards for her dedication to real estate, including the Ohio Association of Realtors President's Sales Club Award of Achievement from 2016-2018.

Kelly received her Real Estate Certificate from Hondros College and also attended Walsh College in North Canton, Ohio. Prior to real estate, she worked for several years as a Medical Coding and Billing Representative.

The beautiful history, proximity to the coast, and unbeatable landscapes, are just a few reasons Kelly  is excited to call Richmond Hill home. She's thrilled to explore everything our area has to offer and looks forward to sharing her love of real estate with so many new clients.

For more information about Cora Bett Thomas Realty and Associates, visit www.CoraBettThomas.com

December
16

Kelly Foley

Cora Bett Thomas Realty has hired real estate agent, Kelly Foley. As Sales Associate, she will guide buyers or sellers through the negotiations, contractual aspects, and lengthy real estate processes.

Foley has an extensive background in customer service, equipping her with strong negotiation skills for home buying. She spent five years in the U.S. Air Force. Following that, she spent over 20 years in the aerospace industry, traveling the world with airline executives and partnered with the Department of Defense, as Director of Operations.

Foley is happy to be back to her roots in the Southeast, where she spent most of her early life. She now lives with her family in Rincon, where she enjoys spending time with husband, Vincent, and son, Liam. Foley also volunteers her time with PACK, a local organization collecting food donations for underprivileged children, helping ensure have meals over the weekend.

Foley's leadership skills, business acumen, and project management experience provide her with skills to assist buyers and sellers through their real estate transactions.

November
14

John Jewell Joins Our Commercial Team

Cora Bett Thomas Realty recently announced the addition of John Jewell to the commercial real estate team. As a commercial broker, he will act as the mediator between buyers and sellers, facilitating transactions in properties such as: large scale multi-family, land for development, multi-tenant strip centers, multi-tenant office buildings, and restaurants.

With over 15 years of experience in commercial real estate, Jewell has completed transactions across both Georgia and Tennessee. In that time, he has worked with some of the largest property owners, completed transactions with national retailers, and secured large government leases. Most recently, he opened and ran his own real estate business in Tennessee. Prior to that he worked as Managing Director for a national commercial office, and before that, began his career with a regional commercial firm.

Jewell received his Bachelor's Degree in Business and Economics from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His father, Ken Jewell, sparked his passion for real estate, having practiced commercial real estate in South Carolina for years. Jewell is married to real estate power house Amanda Jewell, together they have 2 children. He and his family enjoy boating or traveling whenever possible.

Jewell has been a multi-million dollar producer every year since 2003. He has a passion for both landlord and tenant representation, and looks forward to new opportunities here in Savannah.

Contact John

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