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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.

May
13

The Home Seller's Survival Guide

There's no doubt that you're going to be busy while you work to sell your home, but focusing your energy in the right places will make your life much easier. Better yet, a bit of focused prep can make your home more appealing to potential buyers and ultimately makes it easier to find the right match as quickly as possible. Use this "survival guide" for selling your home to get started.

  1. Your Real Estate Agent – Working with a real estate agent that you trust really does make a huge difference when selling a house. Ask for referrals, potential interview choices, and choose the agent that best matches your needs.

  2. Consider Cost – Choosing the right price is one area where your real estate agent can be a big help because they have done the market research to understand trends in local real estate prices. Setting a fair price goes a long way toward enticing curious shoppers to take that first look and enticing interested buyers to make a real offer.

  3. Keep It Clean – Showings (and open houses) are simply part of the home-selling process, and you'll need to keep a clean, neat home if you want to make a positive impression. Make sure that floors, walls, corners, kitchen surfaces, appliances, and everything else look its absolute best. It also helps to put together a cleaning prep checklist for days when you'll be showing your home.

  4. Clutter-Free – This is huge, and it's an easy step to miss if you'll be living in the home until you sell it. The less clutter – furniture included – the better. You want shoppers to be able to envision their own lives in your home. Consider renting a storage unit to safely store non-essential items until you are ready to move into your next home.

  5. Maintenance and Repairs – DIY repairs are a great way to save some money if you have the experience necessary to do the job. For bigger maintenance tasks, it simply makes more sense to hire a contractor. Putting off repairs now just means more headaches and costs later when it's time for inspection.

  6. Landscaping – The outside of your house is where shoppers form their first impression, so be sure that your landscaping is looking its best. Keep up with outdoor maintenance, including cutting the lawn, for as long as you'll be showing your home. You might even consider adding some new landscaping features for increased curb appeal.

  7. A Welcoming Gesture – On days when you'll be showing, it's a good idea to make or buy some light refreshments for your visitors. Some fresh cookies, fruit, and coffee/tea will make shoppers feel right at home. Your real estate agent will help get the word out about your open house and can walk you through the process so you'll be ready to go.

Your real estate agent will help make sure that people show up, so the most important thing you can do when selling a house is to make sure that your home is always ready to show. That part becomes significantly easier to maintain after you get the initial work out of the way, as long as you keep up with it consistently. With a little teamwork, you'll find the right buyer in no time.

May
11

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market?

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), one of the top challenges buyers face in today's housing market is finding a home that meets their needs. That's largely because the inventory of homes for sale is so low today.

If you're looking to buy a home, you may have noticed this yourself. But there is good news. Recent data shows more sellers are listing their houses this season, which may give you more options for your home search.

Early Signs Inventory May Be Growing

The latest data from realtor.com shows the number of listings coming onto the market, known in the industry as "new listings," has increased since the start of the year (see graph below):

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

This indicates more sellers are listing their homes for sale each month this year. And according to realtor.com, this growth is expected to continue. Their research finds the majority of potential sellers plan to list their homes over the next six months. Realtor.com says:

". . . markets may see a noticeable bump in the number of homes for sale as we move through spring and into summer. A majority of homeowners planning to sell this year indicated that they aim to list in the next six months, with almost 10% having already placed their properties on the market."

Homes Are Still Selling Quickly

But while new listings are increasing, it's important to know they're also selling quickly. The latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR shows the median days on market for recently sold homes since the beginning of the year (see chart below). The time on market has decreased month-over-month. That means homes are selling even faster than they did the previous month.

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

What That Means for You

While a low-inventory market is difficult to navigate as a buyer, there is hope. The growing number of new listings and the expectation more sellers will list their homes in the coming months is great news if you've had a hard time finding a home that fits your needs. Just remember, those new listings are going fast. That means you'll want to keep your foot on the gas and be ready to act if you find a home you love this season.

Your agent can help you stay on top of the latest listings in your area so you can find the home that's right for you and submit your strongest offer as quickly as possible.

Bottom Line

If you've been having a hard time finding your dream home, stick with your search. More options are coming to market and your ideal home could be one of them. Let's connect so you can stay up to date on the latest listings in our market, so you can be ready to move fast when you find the one that's right for you.

May
10

Will Home Prices Fall This Year? Here's What Experts Say.

Will Home Prices Fall This Year? Here's What Experts Say | MyKCM

Many people are wondering: will home prices fall this year? Whether you're a potential homebuyerseller, or both, the answer to this question matters for you. Let's break down what's happening with home prices, where experts say they're headed, and how this impacts your homeownership goals.

What's Happening with Home Prices? 

Home prices have seen 121 consecutive months of year-over-year increases. CoreLogic says:

"Price appreciation averaged 15% for the full year of 2021, up from the 2020 full year average of 6%."

So why are prices climbing so much? It's because there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. This imbalance is expected to maintain that upward pressure on home prices because homes for sale are a hot commodity in today's low-inventory housing market.

Where Do Experts Say Prices Will Go from Here?

Experts say the housing market isn't set up for a price decline due to that ongoing imbalance between supply and demand. In the latest home price forecasts for 2022, they're calling for ongoing appreciation throughout the year (see graph below):

Will Home Prices Fall This Year? Here's What Experts Say | MyKCM

While the experts are forecasting more moderate price appreciation, the 2022 projections show price gains will remain strong throughout this year. First American explains it like this:

"While house price growth is expected to moderate from the rapid pace of 2021, strong home buyer demand against a backdrop of historically tight inventory of homes for sale will likely keep appreciation positive in the coming year."

What Does That Mean for You?

The biggest takeaway is that none of the experts are projecting depreciation. If you're a homeowner thinking about selling, the higher price appreciation over the last two years has been great for your home's value, but it's also something you should factor in when planning your next steps. If you'll also be buying a home after selling your current house, you shouldn't wait for prices to fall. Waiting will only cost you more in the long run because climbing mortgage rates and rising home prices will have an impact on your next home purchase. Freddie Mac says:

"If you're thinking about waiting until next year and that maybe rates are higher, but you'll get a deal on prices – well that's risky. It may be more advantageous to purchase this year relative to waiting until 2023 at this time."

Bottom Line

If you're thinking of selling to move up, you shouldn't wait for prices to fall. Experts say prices will continue to appreciate this year. That means, if you're ready, buying your next home before prices climb further may make the most financial sense. Let's connect to begin the process of selling your current home and looking for your next one before prices rise higher.

May
9

How Today's Mortgage Rates Impact Your Home Purchase

How Today's Mortgage Rates Impact Your Home Purchase | MyKCM

If you're planning to buy a home, it's critical to understand the relationship between mortgage rates and your purchasing power. Purchasing power is the amount of home you can afford to buy that's within your financial reach. Mortgage rates directly impact the monthly payment you'll have on the home you purchase. So, when rates rise, so does the monthly payment you're able to lock in on your home loan. In a rising-rate environment like we're in today, that could limit your future purchasing power.

Today, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is above 5%, and in the near term, experts say that'll likely go up in the months ahead. You have the opportunity to get ahead of that increase if you buy now before that impacts your purchasing power.

Mortgage Rates Play a Large Role in Your Home Search

The chart below can help you understand the general relationship between mortgage rates and a typical monthly mortgage payment within a range of loan amounts. Let's say your budget allows for a monthly mortgage payment in the $2,100-$2,200 range. The green in the chart indicates a payment within that range, while the red is a payment that exceeds it (see chart below):

How Today's Mortgage Rates Impact Your Home Purchase | MyKCM

As the chart shows, you're more likely to exceed your target payment range as mortgage rates increase unless you pursue a lower home loan amount. If you're ready to buy a home, use this as your motivation to purchase now so you can get ahead of rising rates before you have to make the decision to decrease what you borrow in order to stay comfortably within your budget.

Work with Trusted Advisors To Know Your Budget and Make a Plan

It's critical to keep your budget top of mind as you're searching for a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, puts it best, advising that buyers should:

"Get preapproved with where rates are today, but also consider what would happen if rates were to go up, say another quarter of a point, . . . Know what that would do to your monthly costs and how comfortable you are with that, so that if rates do move higher, you already know how you need to adjust in response."

No matter what, the best strategy is to work with your real estate advisor and a trusted lender to create a plan that takes rising mortgage rates into consideration. Together, you can look at your budget based on where rates are today and craft a strategy so you're ready to adjust as rates change.

Bottom Line

Even small increases in mortgage rates can impact your purchasing power. If you're in the process of buying a home, it's more important than ever to have a strong plan. Let's connect so you have a trusted real estate advisor and a lender on your side who can help you strategize to achieve your dream of homeownership this season.

May
6

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

May
5

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

Buying your first home is a major decision and an exciting milestone. Even though it can feel daunting at times, it has the power to change your life for the better. If you're looking to purchase your first home, you may be wondering what's happening in the housing market today, how much you need to save, and where to start.

Here are three things that can help give you the information you need to confidently pursue your dream of homeownership.

1. Consider All Options When the Number of Homes for Sale Is Low

Today, there are far more buyers in the market than there are homes available for sale. When that happens, it's a good idea to do what you can to increase your pool of options. That could mean expanding your search to include additional housing types. For first-time buyers, considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes can be an excellent way to increase your choices. According to Bankrate:

"Townhomes often cost less than single-family homes of a similar size in the same location."

In another article, Bankrate also says:

"Buying a condo can be a great way to dive into homeownership without worrying about the upkeep that comes with single-family homes and townhouses."

Condos and townhomes are both great entryways into homeownership. When you buy either one, you can start building equity which increases your net worth and can fuel a future move.

2. Know Your Down Payment Could Be More Within Reach Than You Think

Saving for a down payment can feel like one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn't have to be the case. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

"One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership."

Data from NAR shows the median down payment hasn't been over 20% since 2005. The graph below breaks down the median down payment by age group for recent homebuyers according to the 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR (see graph below):

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

Based on the data above, the median down payment for all homebuyers is only 13%. That's well below the common misconception of 20%, and it's even lower for younger buyers. This could mean you may not need to save as much for a down payment as you initially thought.

There are also down payment assistance programs available for many buyers. Not to mention, some loan options require as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down for buyers who qualify. While there are advantages to putting 20% down, especially in today's competitive market, know that you have options.  To get more information on how much you may need to save and the help that's available, talk with a professional.

3. Work with a Trusted Real Estate Advisor Throughout the Process

Finally, no matter where you're at in your homeownership journey, the best way to make sure you're set up for success is to work with a real estate professional.

If you're just starting out, they can help you with the initial steps, like educating you on the process and connecting you with a trusted lender to get pre-approved. Once you're ready to begin your search, a real estate professional can help you understand your local market and search for available homes. And when it's time to make an offer, they'll be an expert advisor and negotiator to help your offer stand out above the rest.

Bottom Line

Knowledge is key to succeeding on your homebuying journey. Knowing market trends, what you need for a down payment, and what options you have as a buyer today can give you the confidence you need to buy a home. Let's connect so you have an expert on your side who can help you navigate the homebuying process.

May
4

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think | MyKCM

One of the biggest concerns for a homeowner looking to sell is the time they'll have to put in before listing their house. If that's the case for you, you should know – your home might be closer to list-ready than you think in today's housing market. A survey of recent sellers from realtor.com finds that many were able to get their house ready in less than a month. It says:

"With many homeowners expecting a quick sale, and in many cases a lack of contingencies, the preparation process took less than a month for over 50% of home sellers this past year, with 20% completing it in less than two weeks."

Those sellers expecting to sell quickly are following recent buyer trends. With mortgage rates and home prices rising, buyers in today's market are serious about finding a home quickly. But with the limited number of homes for sale, there are very few options for those buyers to choose from. That means many may be willing to take on projects after they purchase.

Because of this, you may be able to focus on less time-consuming tasks before putting your house on the market. According to the survey mentioned above, some of the top things recent sellers completed before listing over the past year include landscaping, making minor cosmetic updates, and touching-up paint (see image below):

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think | MyKCM

A Real Estate Advisor Will Help Streamline the Process and Keep You Focused

Of course, each situation is different, and knowing what repairs or updates your house needs to stand out in your local area is critical. That's where a trusted real estate professional comes in. In a recent article, NextAdvisor explains:

". . . Real estate can be hyper-local, and demand can vary from one neighborhood to the next. It's a good idea to work with a local real estate professional to determine an ideal listing price and if any improvements or repairs need to be completed before putting your home on the market."

Your trusted real estate advisor knows the ins and outs of the market in your specific area. They'll help you identify the places where you should and shouldn't spend your time and money – and that can enable you to list quickly.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to take advantage of the incredible conditions for sellers in today's real estate market but are worried about the time it'll take to get your home ready, you might be closer than you think. Let's connect so you can see what you need to do before listing your house today.

May
3

Things That Could Help You Win a Bidding War on a Home

Things That Could Help You Win a Bidding War on a Home | MyKCM

With a limited number of homes for sale today and so many buyers looking to make a purchase before mortgage rates rise further, bidding wars are common. According to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nationwide, homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale. Here's a look at how that breaks down state-by-state (see map below):

Things That Could Help You Win a Bidding War on a Home | MyKCM

The same report from NAR shows the average buyer made two offers before getting their third offer accepted. In this type of competitive housing market, it's important to know what levers you can pull to help you beat the competition. While a real estate professional is your ultimate guide to presenting a strong offer, here are a few things you could consider.

Offering over Asking Price

When you think of sweetening the deal for sellers, the first thought you likely have is around the price of the home. In today's housing market, it's true more homes are selling for over asking price because there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. You just want to make sure your offer is still within your budget and realistic for the market value in your area – that's where a local real estate professional can help you through the process. Bankrate says:

"Simply put, being willing to pay more money than other buyers is one of the best ways to get your offer accepted. You may not have to increase it by a lot — it'll depend on the area and other factors — so look to your real estate agent for guidance."

Putting Down a Bigger Earnest Money Deposit

You could also consider putting down a larger deposit up front. An earnest money deposit is a check you write to go along with your offer. If your offer is accepted, this deposit is credited toward your home purchase. NerdWallet explains how it works:

"A typical earnest money deposit is 1% to 2% of the home's purchase price, but the amount varies by location. A higher earnest money deposit may catch a seller's attention in a hot housing market."

That's because it shows the seller you're seriously interested in their house and have already set aside money that you're ready to put toward the purchase. Talk to a professional to see if this is something you can do in your area. 

Making a Higher Down Payment 

Another option is increasing how much of a down payment you're going to make. The benefit of a higher down payment is you won't have to finance as much. This helps the seller feel like there's less risk of the deal or the financing falling through. And if other buyers put less down, it could be what helps your offer stand out from the crowd.

Non-Financial Options To Make a Strong Offer

Realtor.com points out that while increasing these financial portions of the deal can help, they're not your only options:

". . . Price is not the only factor sellers weigh when they look at offers. The buyer's terms and contingencies are also taken into account, as well as pre-approval letters, appraisal requirements, and the closing time the buyer is asking for."

When it's time to make an offer, partner with a trusted professional. They have insight into what sellers are looking for in your local market and can give you expert advice on what levers you may or may not want to pull when it's time to write an offer.

From a non-financial perspective, this can include things like flexible move-in dates or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). For example, you could make an offer that's not contingent on the sale of your current home. Just remember, there are certain contingencies you don't want to forego, like your home inspection. Ultimately, the options you have can vary state-to-state, so it's best to lean on an expert real estate professional for guidance.

Bottom Line

In today's hot housing market, you need a partner who can serve as your guide, especially when it comes to making a strong offer. Let's connect so you have a trusted resource and coach on how to make the strongest offer possible for your specific situation.

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
21

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

Homeownership has become a major element in achieving the American Dream. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) finds that over 86% of buyers agree homeownership is still the American Dream.

Prior to the 1950s, less than half of the country owned their own home. However, after World War II, many returning veterans used the benefits afforded by the GI Bill to purchase a home. Since then, the percentage of homeowners throughout the country has increased to the current rate of 65.5%. That strong desire for homeownership has kept home values appreciating ever since. The graph below tracks home price appreciation since the end of World War II:

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

The graph shows the only time home values dropped significantly was during the housing boom and bust of 2006-2008. If you look at how prices spiked prior to 2006, it looks a bit like the current spike in prices over the past two years. That may lead some people to be concerned we're about to see a similar fall in home values as we did when the bubble burst. To help alleviate those worries, let's look at what happened last time and what's happening today.

What Caused the Housing Crash 15 Years Ago?

Back in 2006, foreclosures flooded the market. That drove down home values dramatically. The two main reasons for the flood of foreclosures were:

1. Many purchasers were not truly qualified for the mortgage they obtained, which led to more homes turning into foreclosures.
2. A number of homeowners cashed in the equity on their homes. When prices dropped, they found themselves in an underwater situation (where the home was worth less than the mortgage on the house). Many of these homeowners walked away from their homes, leading to more foreclosures. This lowered neighboring home values even more.

This cycle continued for years.

Why Today's Real Estate Market Is Different

Here are two reasons today's market is nothing like the one we experienced 15 years ago.

1. Today, Demand for Homeownership Is Real (Not Artificially Generated)

Running up to 2006, banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance their current home. Today, purchasers and those refinancing a home face much higher standards from mortgage companies.

Data from the Urban Institute shows the amount of risk banks were willing to take on then as compared to now.

Why This Housing Market Is Not a Bubble Ready To Pop | MyKCM

There's always risk when a bank loans money. However, leading up to the housing crash 15 years ago, lending institutions took on much greater risks in both the person and the mortgage product offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices.

Today, the demand for homeownership is real. It's generated by a re-evaluation of the importance of home due to a worldwide pandemic. Additionally, lending standards are much stricter in the current lending environment. Purchasers can afford the mortgage they're taking on, so there's little concern about possible defaults.

And if you're worried about the number of people still in forbearance, you should know there's no risk of that causing an upheaval in the housing market today. There won't be a flood of foreclosures.

2. People Are Not Using Their Homes as ATMs Like They Did in the Early 2000s

As mentioned above, when prices were rapidly escalating in the early 2000s, many thought it would never end. They started to borrow against the equity in their homes to finance new cars, boats, and vacations. When prices started to fall, many of these homeowners were underwater, leading some to abandon their homes. This increased the number of foreclosures.

Homeowners didn't forget the lessons of the crash as prices skyrocketed over the last few years. Black Knight reports that tappable equity (the amount of equity available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% loan-to-value ratio, or LTV) has more than doubled compared to 2006 ($4.6 trillion to $9.9 trillion).

The latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic reveals that the average homeowner gained $55,300 in home equity over the past year alone. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, reports:

"Homeowners in Q4 2021 had an average of $307,000 in equity - a historic high."

ATTOM Data Services also reveals that 41.9% of all mortgaged homes have at least 50% equity. These homeowners will not face an underwater situation even if prices dip slightly. Today, homeowners are much more cautious.

Bottom Line

The major reason for the housing crash 15 years ago was a tsunami of foreclosures. With much stricter mortgage standards and a historic level of homeowner equity, the fear of massive foreclosures impacting today's market is not realistic.

April
18

Is It Time To Buy a Smaller Home?

Is It Time To Buy a Smaller Home? | MyKCM

Life events can have a major impact on what you need from your home, and retirement is one of the biggest changes many of us face. This period of your life can mean doing more of the things you enjoy, like traveling, visiting with loved ones, or taking on new hobbies. But what does that mean for your home?

If you're looking for ways to focus more on the important things in your life, the answer could be downsizing. A recent article from The Balance talks about why it could be a great option, saying:

"There are many reasons to buy a smaller home—or to downsize from your present home—but sometimes, the idea that "less is more" is what propels homeowners to buy a smaller home."

You Can Find the Right Home for Your Needs

The 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) provides more information on why people of retirement age choose to move. It shows the need for a smaller home, the desire to be closer to loved ones, and retirement itself as three of the top reasons homebuyers over the age of 55 make a move.

If you're in this group, changing priorities may be top of mind for you today, and that could be driving your decision to downsize. After all, as your lifestyle changes, what you need in your home likely changes, too.

Plus, as The Balance notes, moving into a smaller home can open your schedule up even more. When you downsize, you can spend less time maintaining your home and more time with the people you love or exploring newfound hobbies. That's a recipe that can lead to less stress and increased happiness.

Your Equity Can Make a Big Impact When You Downsize

Home equity plays a big role when you sell your existing house and move. It could be a great tool to use to help you downsize. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained about $55,300 in equity over the past 12 months. Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains how important price appreciation and equity gains are for existing homeowners:

"Home prices rose 18% during 2021 in the CoreLogic Home Price Index, the largest annual gain recorded in its 45-year history, generating a big increase in home equity wealth, . . . For low- and moderate-income homeowners, home equity has historically been a major source of wealth."

As home prices rise, your equity does, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize because of the record levels of home price appreciation over the past year. Those equity gains could allow you to make a larger down payment on your next home. And putting more money down can lead to a smaller monthly mortgage payment, which can give you greater financial freedom. It can also be a significant help in navigating today's competitive housing market, since offering more money up front could help your offer stand out.

Whatever your homeownership goals are, a trusted real estate advisor can help you to find the best option for your situation. They'll help you sell your current home and guide you as you buy your next one and enter this new phase of life.

Bottom Line

If you've recently retired or plan to soon, your needs are likely changing. That means now may be the perfect time to downsize. Let's connect so we can work together to find a home that matches your situation.

April
15

Put a Little Spring in Your Step

Many states across the U.S. deal with long, cold winters, after which most people are counting down the days to spring. Sunshine and warm temperatures bring to mind parks, picnics, baseball—and buying a new home.

Spring is the busiest time of the year for home sales, and after a busy holiday season and a cold winter, prospective buyers are anxious to discover their options. Home sellers can take advantage of spring fever by getting in the spirit of the season with these tips.

Complete your spring cleaning. Obviously, a home that's for sale needs to always be clean, but spring is a time to take things up a notch.

Windows are always the focal point of a room, and even more so during the spring. Be sure to clean your windows, not just the glass, but also the blinds and window sills. Take a good look at your curtains to see if they should be washed. Then, open your curtains to let the sunshine in and let natural light shine through your room. That light will also emphasize details such as the condition of your floors and dusty tables, walls and ceilings, so clean rooms thoroughly.

Let the air in. Opening windows during the springtime is the perfect way to let fresh air into your home. It can help set a comfortable temperature and also make the house smell nice. Be sure that screens are installed in windows and doors, and that they are clean. And keep track of the day; spring days can lead to cool nights, so close the doors if your house starts to get chilly.

Decorate for spring. There are a lot of touches that can bring the springtime feeling indoors. One is to decorate with flowers: lilies and tulips are springtime classics. Other decorative and pleasant-smelling flowers for spring are lilacs, crocus, daffodils and daisies. Be sure to freshen flowers as needed.

Other decorations can add that spring feeling, as well. Vases decorated with flowers, along with wreaths, centerpieces and even colorful books to place on a coffee table, can liven things up. Consider new pillows and pastel Easter decorations, such as decorative eggs. Place a spring-like cloth on the kitchen or dining room table.

Impact the senses. If you have candles in your house, switch from fall and winter scents, like pumpkin spice and pine, to citrus and fresh linen scents. And refreshments are always a nice touch; prepare iced tea or lemonade and pair it with a colorful cake or flower-shaped cookies.

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.

April
12

Why a Real Estate Professional Is Key When Selling Your House

Working with a Real Estate Agent

With today's real estate market moving as fast as it is, working with a real estate professional is more essential than ever. They have the skills, experience, and expertise it takes to navigate the highly detailed and involved process of selling a home. That may be why the percentage of people who list their houses on their own, known as a FSBO or For Sale By Owner, has reached its lowest point since 1985 (see graph below):

FSBO Homes at Record Low

Here are five reasons why selling with a real estate professional makes more sense, even in today's hot market:

1. They Know What Buyers Want To See

Before you decide which projects and repairs to take on, connect with a real estate professional. They have first-hand experience with today's buyers, what they expect, and what you need to do to make sure your house shows well.

If you don't lean on their expertise, you may spend your time and money on something that isn't essential. That's because, in today's low-inventory market, buyers are willing to take on more of the renovation work themselves. A survey from Freddie Mac finds that:

". . . nearly two-in-five potential homebuyers would consider purchasing a home requiring renovations." 

A professional can help you decide what you need to tackle. It's not canned advice you could find online – it's recommendations specific to your house and your area.

2. They Help Maximize Your Buyer Pool

Today, the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and that competition is pushing prices up. While that's promising for you as a seller, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.

Real estate professionals have an assortment of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the MLS to ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. According to realtor.com:

"Only licensed real estate agents can list homes on the MLS, which is a one-stop online shop of sorts for getting a house seen by thousands of agents and home buyers. . . . This is certainly one of many good reasons why the majority of home sellers decide to employ the services of a listing agent rather than going it alone."

Without access to these tools, your buyer pool is limited. And you want more buyers to view your house since buyer competition can drive your final sales price higher.

3. They Understand the Fine Print

Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory when selling a house. That means the number of legal documents you'll need to juggle is growing. That's why Investopedia says:

"One of the biggest risks of FSBO is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all of the legal and regulatory requirements that come with selling a home."

A real estate professional knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and how to work through it efficiently. They'll help you review the documents and avoid any costly missteps that could occur if you try to handle them on your own.

4. They're Trained Negotiators

If you sell without a professional, you'll also be solely responsible for all the negotiations. That means you'll have to coordinate with:

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

Instead of going toe-to-toe with all these parties alone, lean on an expert. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address everyone's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion.

5. They Know How To Set the Right Price for Your House

If you sell your house on your own, you may over or undershoot your asking price. That could mean you'll leave money on the table because you priced it too low or your house will sit on the market because you priced it too high. Pricing a house requires expertise. Investopedia explains it like this:

". . . There is no easy or universal way to determine market value for real estate."

Real estate professionals know the ins and outs of how to price your house accurately and competitively. To do so, they compare your house to recently sold homes in your area and factor in the current condition of your house. These factors are key to making sure it's priced to move quickly while still getting you the highest possible final sale price.

Bottom Line

There's a lot that goes into selling your house. Instead of tackling it alone, let's connect so you have an expert on your side throughout the entire process.

April
11

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year

Using Your Tax Refund Towards Homeownership Goals

If you're buying or selling a home this year, you're likely saving up for a variety of expenses. For buyers, that might include things like your down payment and closing costs. And for sellers, you're probably working on a bit of spring cleaning and maintenance to spruce up your house before you list it.

Either way, any money you get back from your taxes can help you achieve your goals. Using a tax refund is a common tactic for buyers and sellers. SmartAsset estimates the average American will receive a $2,897 tax refund this year. The map below provides a more detailed estimate by state:

Average 2021 Tax Refund by State

If you're getting a refund this year, here are a few tips to help with your home purchase or sale this season.

How Buyers Can Use Their Tax Refund

According to American Financing, there are multiple ways your refund check can help you as a homebuyer. A few include:

  • Growing your down payment fund – If you haven't started saving for your down payment, let your tax refund kick off the process. And if you have a fund already, the money you get back could put you closer to your goal.
  • Paying for your home inspection – Your home inspection can save you a lot of headaches down the road by helping you determine the condition of the house. As a buyer, you'll typically be responsible for paying for your inspection, and it's definitely worth the investment.
  • Saving for closing costs  Closing costs are additional expenses you'll need to pay once it's time to close. They average anywhere between 2-5% of the purchase price of your home.

This list is a great start, but it isn't exhaustive of all the costs you may encounter as you set out on your homebuying journey. The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate professional to make sure you understand what's to come in the process.

How Sellers Can Use Their Tax Refund

If you own a home and are planning to sell this spring, your tax refund can help you make sure your home is ready to list. Here are a few ways current homeowners can put their tax refund to good use:

  • Making small upgrades  NerdWallet provides a list of great ways to use your tax refund, including tackling small projects or boosting your curb appeal to help your home stand out.
  • Making repairs – If there's anything in your house that needs to be fixed, American Financing notes that completing repairs is another great use of that money.
  • Buying your next home – Whether you're selling to move up or downsize, you can use your tax refund to help pay for any costs on the purchase of your next home.

Of course, it's important to talk with your trusted real estate advisor before taking on any projects. They'll make sure you can focus on areas that'll help you receive the best possible price when you sell.

Bottom Line

Funding your home purchase or sale can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Your tax refund can help you reach your goals. Let's connect to discuss how you can start on your journey.

April
10

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Do You Know How Much Equity You Have in Your Home?

Some Highlights

April
8

Questions Sellers Are Afraid To Ask Agents

Thinking About Questions to Ask When Selling Your Home

Selling a home is filled with complexities that can be difficult to navigate, especially when going through the process for the first time. As a seller, you should always remember no question is stupid. Asking as many questions as possible can help you avoid costly mistakes, and your real estate agent is there to help educate you about the process.

To help put clients at ease, here is a quick list of common real estate questions sellers are often too afraid to ask:

  • How Are Real Estate Agents Paid?
    Your real estate agent will do a lot of work upfront to help you sell your home and maximize your sale price. However, real estate agents are not paid upfront or hourly. They also do not receive a salary. A real estate agent is only paid when your home sells, and they receive a percentage of the home sale as a commission.

    Typically, the buyer's agent and the seller's agent both receive 3% of the sale price, and that commission is usually paid by the seller. Many times, real estate agents then split a portion of their commission with their broker as well.

  • Do I Have To Relocate My Pets While My Home Is On The Market?
    Pets come with so much joy, but they can occasionally make the selling process a bit inconvenient. While many people love cats and dogs, some people do not. While relocating your pets may not be feasible, you should make every attempt to eliminate pet odors and put away toys or accessories. You don't want visitors tripping over dog bowls when touring your listing!

  • Do I Need Listing Photos?
    Staging your home and taking listing photos can be a bit inconvenient at times for sellers. It can be difficult to live in a staged home, and keeping things pristine at all times can be a lot of work. However, listing photos are essential for attracting buyers to your property. Most home shoppers browse listings online, so listing photos have never been more important. The manner in which you stage your home combined with your listing photos can have a major impact on your sale price.

  • Can I Leave Something Out Of The Sale?
    While buyers typically don't expect sellers to leave furniture, they do expect buyers to leave most appliances. As a seller, it's your right to exclude anything you'd like from the home sale, but you must disclose what's not included upfront. Your real estate agent will usually add notes to the MLS listing. Just keep in mind excluding major appliances, lighting fixtures, or anything else can negatively impact your listing and sale price.

  • Can I Decorate For The Holidays?
    While agents usually advise clients to keep decorations to a minimum, decorating for the holidays is perfectly acceptable. Just do so tastefully and don't go overboard. Too many lights or decorations can be distracting.

Selling your home can be a fast-paced, complicated process, and you're sure to have tons of questions along the way. Even if something might seem obvious, don't hesitate to double-check with your agent. Your agent's job is to make your home sale as smooth as possible. If you're looking to sell a home, let's connect!

April
7

The Future of Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for You

Increasing Home Price Appreciation

Many consumers are wondering what will happen with home values over the next few years. Some are concerned that the recent run-up in home prices will lead to a situation similar to the housing crash 15 years ago.

However, experts say the market is totally different today. For example, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, tweeted just last week on this issue:

". . . We do need price appreciation to slow today (it's not sustainable over the long run) but high price growth today is supported by fundamentals- short supply, lower rates & demographic demand. And we are in a much different & safer space: better credit quality, low DTI [Debt-To-Income] & tons of equity. Hence, a crash in prices is very unlikely."

Price appreciation will slow from the double-digit levels the market has seen over the last two years. However, experts believe home values will not depreciate (where a home would lose value).

To this point, Pulsenomics just released the latest Home Price Expectation Survey – a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. It forecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation based on the average of all 100+ projections:

  • 2022: 9%
  • 2023: 4.74%
  • 2024: 3.67%
  • 2025: 3.41%
  • 2026: 3.57%

Those responding to the survey believe home price appreciation will still be relatively high this year (though half of what it was last year), and then return to more normal levels over the next four years.

What Does This Mean for You as a Buyer?

With a limited supply of homes available for sale and both prices and mortgage rates increasing, it can be a challenging market to navigate as a buyer. But buying a home sooner rather than later does have its benefits. If you wait to buy, you'll pay more in the future. However, if you buy now, you'll actually be in the position to make future price increases work for you. Once you buy, those rising home prices will help you build your home's value, and by extension, your own household wealth through home equity.

As an example, let's assume you purchased a $360,000 home in January of this year (the median price according to the National Association of Realtors rounded up to the nearest $10K). If you factor in the forecast for appreciation from the Home Price Expectation Survey, you could accumulate over $96,000 in household wealth over the next five years (see graph below):

Potential Growth in Household Wealth

Bottom Line

If you're trying to decide whether to buy now or wait, the key is knowing what's expected to happen with home prices. Experts say prices will continue to climb in the years ahead, just at a slower pace. So, if you're ready to buy, doing so now may be your best bet for your wallet. It'll also give you the chance to use the future home price appreciation to build your own net worth through rising equity. If you want to get started, let's connect today.

April
6

Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers

Working Remotely

Today's low inventory can be challenging for homebuyers, especially if you're looking to purchase your first home. But if you're one of many people who work remotely, you may have a great opportunity to use the flexibility you have at work to achieve your homebuying goals this year.

In a recent report, Arch Capital Services explains how the ongoing trend of remote work can open up more options for homebuyers:

". . . This will enable those who are able to work from home on a part-time or hybrid basis to move slightly farther away from job centers. . . . For workers who secure full-time remote jobs, their place of residence will be determined by affordability and personal preferences."

Basically, working from home is great news if you're a first-time buyer trying to find a home that meets your needs and budget. Here's a deeper look at how it could benefit you.

Extra Flexibility in Your Career Means Extra Flexibility in Your Home Search

If your job is 100% remote, you don't have to be tied to a specific location or office. So, if you've been having a hard time finding what you want in your local area, it may be time to expand your search.

One option you could consider is moving to a place where you've always wanted to live, like the mountains, beach, or closer to loved ones. When you broaden your search radius to include those locations, it'll give you additional homes to consider.

It could also allow you to search for a more affordable location where you have more options in your price range. This can help you achieve two goals – saving money and finding additional features that meet your needs. To truly highlight this benefit, a recent First American article discusses the great ways remote work can really help you with your homebuying goals. Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First American, says:

"For potential first-time home buyers, leveraging their house-buying power in more affordable markets can also help them buy more attractive homes – more square footage and rooms, more options for different home styles and neighborhood amenities – increasing the opportunity to find a home that suits their preferences."

That means you can use your work flexibility to search for homes with the amenities you need at a lower price point.

Bottom Line

Remote work doesn't just give you expanded flexibility for your career. If you're no longer tied to a location because of your office, you have a great opportunity to expand your housing search. Let's connect to explore how this can open up your options.

April
5

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home

Home Buyers with Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home, it can feel a bit intimidating to know how much you need to save and where to find that information. But you should know, you're not expected to have all the answers yourself. There are many trusted professionals who can help you understand your finances and what you'll need to budget for throughout the process.

To get you started, here are a few things experts say you should plan for along the way.

1. Down Payment

As you set your savings goal for your purchase, your down payment is likely already top of mind. And, like many other people, you may believe you need to set aside 20% of the home's purchase price for that down payment – but that's not always the case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

"One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership. Having this knowledge is critical to know what to save . . ."

The good news is, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down in some situations. To understand your options, partner with a trusted professional who can go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Earnest Money Deposit

Another item you may want to plan for is an earnest money deposit. While it isn't required, it's common in today's highly competitive market because it can help your offer stand out in a bidding war.

So, what is it? It's money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. This deposit works like a credit. You're using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you're committed and serious about their house. It's not an added expense, it's just paying some of that up front. First American explains what it is and how it works:

"The deposit made from the buyer to the seller when submitting an offer. This deposit is typically held in trust by a third party and is intended to show the seller you are serious about purchasing their home. Upon closing the money will generally be applied to your down payment or closing costs."

In other words, an earnest money deposit could be the very first check you'll write toward your purchase. The amount varies by state and situation. Realtor.com elaborates:

"The amount you'll deposit as earnest money will depend on factors such as policies and limitations in your state, the current market, what your real estate agent recommends, and what the seller requires. On average, however, you can expect to hand over 1% to 2% of the total home purchase price."

Work with a real estate advisor to understand any requirements in your local area and what they've recommended for other buyers in your market. They'll help you determine if it's something that could be a useful option for you.

3. Closing Costs

The next thing to plan for is your closing costs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines closing costs as:

"The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. …generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney's fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance."

Basically, your closing costs cover the fees for various people and services involved in your transaction. NAR has this to say about how much to budget for:

"A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home's purchase price—are a major added expense…Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing."

The key takeaway is savvy buyers plan ahead for these expenses so they can come into the process prepared. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

"If you're in the market to buy a home, your down payment is probably top of mind. And rightly so - it's likely the biggest cost of homebuying. However, it is not the only cost and it's critical you understand all your expenses before diving in. The more prepared you are for your down payment, closing and other costs, the smoother your homebuying journey will be."

Bottom Line

Knowing what to budget for in the homebuying process is essential. To make sure you understand these and any other expenses that may come up, let's connect so you have reliable expertise on what to expect when you buy a home.

April
4

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today

Beautiful Home

Since the number of homes for sale is low today, it can feel challenging to find one that checks all your boxes. But if you know which features are absolutely essential in your next home and which ones are just nice bonuses, you can land a home that fits your needs.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, explains it like this:

"Focus on the goal you set out for yourself, like your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and your budget, . . . Stick to that. Be persistent."

So how do you go about creating your list of desired features? The first step is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand your budget, and that plays an important role in how you'll craft your list. After all, you don't want to fall in love with a home that's too far out of reach.

Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list all the features of a home you would like. Here's a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn't have these features, it won't work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you'd love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren't dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it's a contender (examples: a second home office, garage, etc.).
  • Dream State– This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren't features you'll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it's a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you've created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, discuss it with your real estate advisor. They'll be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home in your area that meets your needs.

Bottom Line

Crafting your home search checklist may seem like a small task, but it can save you time and money. It's also one of the keys to being successful in today's competitive market. Let's connect so we can work together to find a home that fits your wants and needs.

April
2

Seller Regrets: Are You Making These Mistakes?

Home Seller Mistakes to Avoid

Hindsight is 20/20, especially when it comes to selling your home. There is a lot of pressure involved in a home sale, and it's very common for sellers to look back and wish they did things a bit differently. Every stage of the selling process plays a large role in determining your final sale price, and simple mistakes can ultimately cost you thousands in the end. 

The good news is most real estate agents have extensive experience working through the challenges of a home sale and can help you avoid costly errors. If you're planning to sell your home this year and want to get the best return, be careful to avoid these mistakes:

  • Not Preparing The Property
    In the months and weeks leading up to listing your home, taking the time to prepare your property for the upcoming sale makes all the difference. Small repairs, painting, and decluttering are all important pieces. You'll also need to work closely with your real estate agent in order to effectively stage the property. Remember, the most you can make buyers fall in love with your property, the more likely you are to achieve a good sale price.

  • Pricing Too High
    In a hot market, it can be especially tempting to set the bar high as a starting point. However, even if sellers are desperate many will be reluctant to pay far more than the appraised value. Starting out at a high selling point may ultimately put you in a position where you need to lower your asking price, which may lead buyers to wonder if there is a problem with the property.

  • Making Things Perfect
    Small repairs, painting, and cleaning are all important, but it's important not to spend all of your energy making things absolutely perfect. Things just need to be good enough to impress the buyer. While investing in upgrades and new appliances can help boost your sale price, it is possible to reach a point of diminishing returns. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you through the appropriate improvements.

  • Taking Poor Listing Photos
    Your property's online listing is the key to garnering buyer attention. Almost every buyer starts the shopping process online, so your listing photos are your best shot at making a good first impression. Work with your agent to take attractive listing photos after your home has been properly staged. The better your photos, the more foot traffic your listing is likely to see.

  • Not Using An Agent
    Most seller's agents make around 3% of the overall sale price in commission, so some sellers think they can save a great deal by selling their homes independently. While it is possible to do, it's not recommended unless you have a great deal of experience. Real estate agents perform numerous tasks that help to attract buyers and to generate the highest possible sale price. While you may save on commission, there's a good chance you won't maximize your sale price without an agent's help.

It's easy to make mistakes when selling a house, but by doing your homework ahead of time, you can avoid these common pitfalls.

March
30

What's Happening with Mortgage Rates, and Where Will They Go from Here?

Mortgage Rates

Based on the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has increased by 1.2% (3.22% to 4.42%) since January of this year. The rate jumped by more than a quarter of a point from just a week ago. Here's a visual to show how mortgage rate movement throughout 2021 was steady compared to the rapid increase in mortgage rates this year:

Freddie Mac 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Average

Just a few months ago, Freddie Mac projected mortgage rates would average 3.6% in 2022. Earlier this month, Fannie Mae forecast mortgage rates would average 3.8% in 2022. As the chart above shows, rates have already surpassed those projections.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explained in a press release last week:

"This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased by more than a quarter of a percent as mortgage rates across all loan types continued to move up. Rising inflation, escalating geopolitical uncertainty and the Federal Reserve's actions are driving rates higher and weakening consumers' purchasing power."

Where Are Mortgage Rates Going from Here?

In a recent article by Bankrate, several industry experts weighed in on where rates might be headed going forward. Here are some of their forecasts:

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst, Bankrate:

"With inflation figures continuing to surprise to the upside, mortgage rates will remain above 4.0% on the 30-year fixed."

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

"While higher short-term interest rates will push up mortgage rates, I expect some of this impact to be mitigated eventually through lower inflation. Thus, I expect the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to continue to rise, although we aren't likely to see the big jumps that occurred over the past few weeks."

Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:

"Mortgage rates are likely to continue to move higher throughout the balance of 2022, although the pace of rate increases is likely to moderate."

In a recent realtor.com article, another expert adds to the conversation:

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

". . . As markets digest the Fed's updated economic projections, I anticipate a continued increase in mortgage rates over the next several months. . . ."

What Does This Mean for You if You're Looking To Buy a Home?

With both mortgage rates and home values expected to increase throughout the year, it would be better to buy sooner rather than later if you're able. That's because it'll cost you more the longer you wait. But, there is a possible silver lining to buying a home right now. While you'll be paying a higher price and a higher mortgage rate than you would have last year, rising prices do have a long-term benefit once you buy.

If you purchase a home today valued at $400,000 and put 10% down, you would be taking out a $360,000 mortgage. According to mortgagecalculator.net, at a 4.42% fixed mortgage rate, your mortgage payment would be $1,807 a month (this does not include insurance, taxes, and other fees because those vary by location).

Now, let's put that mortgage payment into a new perspective based on the substantial growth in equity that comes with the escalation in home prices. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts about their expectations for future home prices in the United States. Last week, Pulsenomics released their latest Home Price Expectation Survey. The survey reveals that the average of the experts' forecasts calls for a 9% increase in home values in 2022.

Based on those projections, a $400,000 house you buy today could be valued at $436,000 by this time next year. If you break that down, that means the equity in your home would increase by $3,000 a month over that period. That's greater than the estimated monthly payment above. Granted, the increase in your net worth is tied to the home, but it is one way to put the home price appreciation to use in a way that benefits you.

Bottom Line

Paying a higher price for a home and a higher mortgage rate can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, waiting will just cost you more. If you're ready, willing, and able to buy a home, now will be a better time than a year, or even six months from now. Let's connect to begin the process today.

March
29

The Best Week To List Your House Is Just Around the Corner

The Best Week To List Your House

Are you thinking about selling your house? If so, you may want to make it a priority to start the process soon. According to realtor.com, the sweet spot for sellers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years (excluding 2020, since it was an atypical year). When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to list a house this year. The research says:

"Home sellers on the fence waiting for that perfect moment to sell should start preparations, because the best time to list a home in 2022 is approaching quickly. The week of April 10-16 is expected to have the ideal balance of housing market conditions that favor home sellers, more so than any other week in the year."

If you've been putting your move on the back burner waiting for the ideal time to sell, you should know your golden window of opportunity is coming up. If you're able to get your house ready quickly, here's what you can expect from that week.

You Should See More Buyer Activity

The article expects higher buyer demand based on what's happened in previous years. This could result in increased competition among buyers and ultimately a bidding war over your house. And since mortgage rates recently ticked up over 4%, chances are good that analysis is right. When rates rise, experts say buyers often hurry to make their purchase before rates climb higher. As Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

". . . Buyers are rushing to lock in lower rates as the outlook is for even higher mortgage rates in the following months."

Your House Is Expected To Sell Quickly

Additionally, the realtor.com analysis shows houses sell even faster during this week of the year, likely due to the heightened buyer demand. If you work with a trusted real estate professional to price your house right, it should sell quickly. And when homes are already selling in just 18 days according to NAR, that could set you up for a big win.

Your House Will Be in the Spotlight

Since the beginning of the year, the number of homes available for sale has been at or near record lows. According to the realtor.com study, the typical trend for this week of the year is that there will be even fewer sellers on the market. If you list when inventory is low, your house will be the center of attention for eager buyers craving options.

If you're ready to move fast, you may want to shoot for April 10th-16th as your target goal. Just remember, even if you're not ready to list within the next couple of weeks, rest assured this is still a hot sellers' market. If you list later in April, you'll still be in the driver's seat.

Bottom Line

Ready to get the ball rolling? Let's connect and schedule a time to go over your next steps. In the meantime, make a checklist of things you need to tackle to get your house ready. When we talk, we can prioritize your to-do list and get you on the road to selling your house.

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
26

Sellers: Prioritize These Kitchen Improvements

A bigger and brighter kitchen is always on the list of top home features buyers are willing to move for. For those who love to cook and entertain guests, a nice kitchen is a must-have. As a seller, this means investing a little time and effort into sprucing up your kitchen can be well worth the time and energy.

Because the kitchen is such an important selling feature, we often recommend our clients invest in some upgrades and repairs before listing. While a full remodel may not make sense financially, here are some upgrades you might want to consider this year:

  • Enhance Your Lighting
    Everybody wants a bright kitchen, so if you're lighting fixtures aren't getting the job done, it might be time for an upgrade. Consider adding new fixtures over your kitchen table, island, or sink. We also love the look of dimmable under cabinet lighting. You can also line your backsplash with string lights to create a nice look.

  • Update Your Countertops
    If your countertops are in poor condition or have an unflattering color, upgrading them can be well worth the investment. While traditional granite countertops have been popular for decades, buyers prefer quartz these days. Not only are quartz countertops nice and sturdy, but they come in a wide range of colors and designs.

  • Upgrade Your Appliances
    New appliances can be a big investment, but you can see a nice ROI. Buyers are immediately drawn to brand new stainless steel appliances. If your refrigerator or dishwasher are dated or in bad shape, an upgrade can do you good and wow your buyers at the same time.

  • Add Or Replace Your Backsplash
    It doesn't take long for kitchen backsplashes to become dirty and dated, and don't underestimate the power of a makeover. The great thing about backsplashes is you can install a wide range of colors or patterns. Of course, classic white subway tile always works well too.

  • Refresh Your Cabinets
    Brand new cabinets can come with a hefty price tag, so if you're not feeling this upgrade, there are easier and less expensive ways to refresh your cabinets. Adding a new coat of paint is the easiest and fastest way to give them a fresh look. You can also replace any doorknobs or drawer pulls.

  • Stage The Room
    Once you've completed your kitchen upgrades, take some time to stage the room. You can really make your kitchen appear larger by putting away countertop appliances and getting rid of clutter. Open up your blinds or window treatments to maximize natural light and remove any personal items (including photos and magnets from the refrigerator). Sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to stage a room.

The kitchen is often considered one of the most important rooms of the house when it comes to selling a home. It serves as a gathering place where food is prepared and guests are entertained. Looking at your kitchen through the eyes of a potential buyer will definitely help your home sale.

March
24

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market | MyKCM

As the spring housing market kicks off, you likely want to know what you can expect this season when it comes to buying or selling a house. While there are multiple factors causing some uncertainty, including the conflict overseas, rising inflation, and the first rate increase from the Federal Reserve in over three years — the housing market seems to be relatively immune.

Here's a look at what experts say you can expect this spring.

1. Mortgage Rates Will Climb

Freddie Mac reports the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has increased by more than a full point in the past six months. And despite some mild fluctuation in recent weeks, experts believe rates will continue to edge up over the next 90 days. As Freddie Mac says:

"The Federal Reserve raising short-term rates and signaling further increases means mortgage rates should continue to rise over the course of the year."

If you're a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving to a home that better fits your needs, realize that waiting will likely mean you'll pay a higher mortgage rate on your purchase. And that higher rate drives up your monthly payment and can really add up over the life of your loan.

2. Housing Inventory Will Increase

There may be some relief coming for buyers searching for a home to purchase. Realtor.com recently reported that the number of newly listed homes has grown for each of the last two months. Also, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) just announced the months' supply of inventory increased for the first time in eight months. The inventory of existing homes usually grows every spring, and it seems, based on recent activity, the next 90 days could bring more listings to the market.

If you're a buyer who has been frustrated with the limited supply of homes available for sale, it looks like you could find some relief this spring. However, be prepared to act quickly if you find the right home.

If you're a seller, listing now instead of waiting for this additional competition to hit the market makes sense. Your leverage in any negotiation during the sale will be impacted as additional homes come to market.

3. Home Prices Will Rise

Prices are always determined by supply and demand. Though the number of homes entering the market is increasing, buyer demand remains very strong. As realtor.com explains in their most recent Housing Report:

"During the final two weeks of the month, more new sellers entered the market than during the same time last year. . . . However, with 5.8 million new homes missing from the market and millions of millennials at first-time buying ages, housing supply faces a long road to catching up with demand."

What does that mean for you? With the demand for housing still outpacing supply, home prices will continue to appreciate. Many experts believe the level of appreciation will decelerate from the high double-digit levels we've seen over the last two years. That means prices will continue to climb, just at a more moderate pace. Most experts are predicting home prices will not depreciate.

Won't Increasing Mortgage Rates Cause Home Prices To Fall?

While some people may believe a 1% increase in mortgage rates will impact demand so dramatically that home prices will have to fall, experts say otherwise. Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, says:

"What I will caution against is making the inference that interest rates have a direct impact on house prices. That is not true."

Freddie Mac studied the impact that mortgage rates increasing by at least 1% has had on home prices in the past. Here are the results of that study:

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market | MyKCM

As the chart shows, mortgage rates jumped by at least 1% six times in the last thirty years. In each case, home values increased.

So again, if you're a first-time buyer or a repeat buyer, waiting to buy likely means you'll pay more for a home later in the year (as compared to its current value).

Bottom Line

There are three things that seem certain going into the spring housing market:

  1. Mortgage rates will continue to rise
  2. The selection of homes available for sale will modestly improve
  3. Home prices will continue to appreciate, just at a slightly slower pace

If you're thinking of buying, act now before mortgage rates and home prices increase further. If you're thinking of selling, your best bet may be to sell soon so you can beat the increase in competition that's about to come to market. Let's connect!

March
23

What You Need To Know if You're Thinking About Building a Home

What You Need To Know if You're Thinking About Building a Home | MyKCM

If you're ready to move up, you may be trying to decide whether you want to buy a home that's already on the market or build a new one. And since the supply of homes available for sale today is low, you're willing to consider either avenue. While home builders are doing everything they can to construct more houses and help narrow the supply shortage, they're also facing delays due to factors outside of their control.

Here's the latest on some of the key challenges homebuilders are experiencing today and how they could impact your plans to move up. When you know what's happening in the industry, you can make an informed decision on whether to look for a newly built or an existing home in your home search.

Supply Chain Issues

The first hurdle builders are dealing with is the lack of supply of various building materials. According to a recent article from HousingWire:

". . . Nearly everything needed in the homebuilding process is facing some sort of delay and subsequent price increase."

The supply issue isn't just with lumber, even though that's what's covered most in the news. The article explains many other supplies are impacted too, including roofing materials, windows, garage doors, siding, and gypsum (which is used in drywall).

The difficulty in getting these items is dragging out timelines for new homes as builders wait on what they need to finish construction. And since materials are in short supply, even when they do get the product, the principle of supply and demand is driving prices up for those goods. HousingWire explains it like this:

"When supplies are low, charges inevitably go up, . . . Meanwhile, a lack of availability is causing huge delays, meaning builders are struggling to stay on schedule."

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees:

"Builders are grappling with supply-chain issues that are extending construction times and increasing costs."

Skilled Labor Shortage

But that's not the only challenge with new home construction today. Builders are also having a hard time finding skilled labor, which means they're short-handed, further dragging out their timelines. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, says this is an ongoing challenge for the industry:

"The skilled labor shortage in the construction industry is not new – it's been an issue for more than a decade now."

But there is good news. The February jobs report shows employment gains in the construction industry. Kushi puts this encouraging news into perspective in the article mentioned above:

"Overall this was a good report, . . . The supply of workers continues to fall short of demand, but the underlying momentum of the labor market recovery is strong, and falling COVID case counts provide further forward momentum."

That means, while finding workers continues to be a challenge for builders, there are signs of positive momentum moving forward.

How This Impacts You

HousingWire explains how these things can impact move-up buyers today:

"The residential construction industry is facing a crisis as builders manage the critical shortage of building materials and labor. Explosive supply and labor costs are forcing long delays. . . ." 

So, when you weigh your options and try to decide between building a home or buying an existing one, factor the potential delay in new home construction into your decision. While it doesn't mean you should cross newly built homes off your list, it does mean you should consider your timeline and if you're willing to wait while your home is being constructed.

Bottom Line

When planning your next move, understanding the latest market conditions is key to making the best decision possible. To make sure you have all the information you need, let's connect. Together we can make sure you know what's happening in our local market so you can confidently decide what's right for you, your priorities, and your timeline.

March
19

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're thinking about selling your house this spring, here are some things you'll want to tackle before you list.
  • Spend your time on tasks that make it feel inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal.
  • To determine the full list of things you'll want to tackle for your home, you need the opinion of a trusted expert. Let's connect to help make sure your house shows well this season.
March
18

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market?

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | MyKCM

For the first time in a long time, the number of newly listed homes is beginning to rise. In their latest monthly releaserealtor.com reveals the number of existing homes entering the market has increased for two months in a row (this comes after six months of declines). Here's a graph showing the monthly new listings going back to January of last year. The green bars indicate the first gains since June.

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | MyKCM

However, buying demand is still outpacing housing supply.

Though the increase in homes coming to the market is great news for prospective homebuyers, the number of buyers is still outpacing the number of homes available for sale. As realtor.com explains in their latest report:

"During the final two weeks of the month, more new sellers entered the market than during the same time last year. . . . However, with 5.8 million new homes missing from the market and millions of millennials at first-time buying ages, housing supply faces a long road to catching up with demand."

In fact, according to the latest ShowingTime Showing Indexwhich tracks the average number of appointments received on active listings during the month, buyer demand was greater this January than any other January in the last five years (see graph below):

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | MyKCM

This prompted ShowingTime to say:

"The latest data from ShowingTime . . . shows a surge in home buyer demand in January. . . . This enormous activity occurred in a month when buyer activity typically slows and followed a historic 2021, where buyer demand across the country was extraordinarily strong."

What does that mean for you?

Basically, as homes come to the market, they are quickly being purchased by eagerly awaiting buyers. So even though the number of newly listed homes is increasing, the number of active listings is still shrinking every month because buyers are purchasing homes almost as soon as they come up for sale. That means listings are coming on and off the market so fast that they don't carry over to be counted in the active listing numbers the following month. Here's a graph showing the number of active listings each month since last January using data released by realtor.com:

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market? | MyKCM

This graph shows that the number of active listings has decreased for each of the last five months even though the number of newly listed homes has increased over the last two months.

Bottom Line

Whether you're looking to upgrade to a home that will better suit your lifestyle or looking to purchase your first house, let's connect so you can stay updated on what's happening in your area. And be prepared to move immediately if a home fitting your needs hits the market. Your dream home may be one of those new listings that just became available, but if you don't act quickly, it could be gone tomorrow.

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
11

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Knowing key housing terms and how they relate to today's market is important. For example, when mortgage rates and home prices rise, it impacts how much home you can afford.
  • Terms like appraisal (what lenders rely on to validate a home's value) and the inspection contingency (which gives buyers essential information on a home's condition) directly impact the transaction.
  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you're not familiar with the terms used throughout the process. Let's connect so you have an expert guide and advice for any questions that may come up.
March
10

How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal

How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal | MyKCM

If you're thinking of buying a home today, you already know that the number of homes available for sale is low. But what does that really mean for you? As a buyer, low housing supply coupled with high buyer demand means you should be prepared to navigate a highly competitive market where homes sell fast and get multiple offers. Realtor.com has this to say:

"Homes also flew off the market at record pace as buyers put offers in the moment properties came up for sale…."

In a bidding war situation like this, doing everything you can to get ahead of the competition is a wise move. That's because when you find a house and submit an offer, it'll likely be up against strong offers from other buyers. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are receiving an average of 3.9 offers. That's the most offers we've seen in January for the last 5 years (see graph below):

How To Navigate a Market Where Multiple Offers Is the New Normal | MyKCM

To help you navigate bidding wars with multiple offers, an expert real estate advisor is key. They know what's worked for other buyers, what sellers are looking for, and how to help you prepare when it comes time to make an offer. Here are three tips to keep in mind that will help you make the best offer possible.

1. Know Your Numbers​

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. Pre-approval shows sellers you're serious, which can give you a competitive edge. You should also know making an offer at the home's asking price may not be enough. Homes today often sell for more than their listing price. An agent can help you understand the market value of the home and what other homes are selling for in your area.

2. Be Ready To Move Fast​

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today's competitive housing market. When homes are selling fast, it's important to stay on top of the market and be ready to move quickly. Your agent will help you stay up to date on the latest listings and help you put together your best offer as soon as you find the home you want to buy.​

3. Make a Strong but Fair Offer​

​When you're up against other offers, putting your best offer forward from the start is key. Lean on your agent to write a strong offer and use their expertise on which levers you can pull to make your offer as enticing as possible. One option is to wave some of your contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Just remember there are certain contingencies you don't want to give up, like the home inspection.

Bottom Line

No matter what, your agent is your best resource for making an offer that stands out in a competitive market. Let's connect to talk through what you can expect as a buyer and how to kick off a successful home search.

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
2

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership | MyKCM

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today's market. That's why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it's one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

"For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process."

If you're finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here's some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.com, there are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it's not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

"You don't have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years."

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

"The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination."

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don't qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what's available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let's connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

February
23

How Supply and Demand Can Impact Your Buying and Selling Goals

How Supply and Demand Can Impact Your Buying and Selling Goals | MyKCM

In today's housing market, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Based on the concept of supply and demand, this means home prices will naturally rise. Why is that? When there are more people trying to buy an item than there are making that item available for sale, that drives prices up. And that's exactly the case in today's housing market. So, knowing what's happening with the inventory of homes for sale and the demand for housing is crucial for today's buyers and sellers.

Nationally, Demand Is High and Supply Is Very Low

The latest buyer and seller activity data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates buyer traffic heavily outweighs seller traffic today, as shown in the maps below. There are far darker blues (strong buyer activity) on the left and much lighter blues (weak seller activity) on the right. In other words, this shows how the demand for homes is significantly greater than what's available to purchase.

How Supply and Demand Can Impact Your Buying and Selling Goals | MyKCM

What Does This Mean if You're a Seller?

Supply is struggling to keep pace with demand. In fact, the inventory of homes for sale recently hit an all-time low. That gives you an incredible advantage when you sell your house. With so few listings, it's likely more potential buyers will view your house – especially if you work with an agent to price it right. That means there's a high chance you'll receive multiple offers or buyers will enter a bidding war for your house. And that dynamic can drive the sale price of your home up.

What Does This Mean if You're a Buyer?

As a buyer with fewer options available, you're likely to see more competition, so you need to be strategic to win. First, make sure you have a trusted professional on your side. Your real estate agent will help you understand your local market and work with you to act quickly when the time is right. Even when it's challenging to find a home, you can still succeed as a buyer today if you have a trusted advisor on your side every step of the way.

Bottom Line

Whether you're a homebuyer, seller, or both, knowledge truly is power. Let's connect today so you can better understand what's happening in our local market and achieve your homebuying and selling goals this year.

February
21

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCM

In an annual Gallup poll, Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment. And it's not the first time it's topped the list, either. Real estate has been on a winning streak for the past eight years, consistently gaining traction as the best long-term investment (see graph below):

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCMIf you're thinking about purchasing a home this year, this poll should reassure you. Even when inflation is rising like it is today, Americans agree an investment like real estate truly shines.

Why Is Real Estate a Great Investment During Times of High Inflation?

With inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years, it's more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board. That includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. But when you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increasing housing payments. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, explains it like this:

"A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same."

If you're a renter, you don't have that same benefit, and you aren't protected from increases in your housing costs, especially rising rents.

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

As a homeowner, your house is an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That's because, as prices rise, the value of your home does, too. And that makes buying a home a great hedge during periods of high inflation. Natalie Campisi, Advisor Staff for Forbes, notes:

"Tangible assets like real estate get more valuable over time, which makes buying a home a good way to spend your money during inflationary times."

Bottom Line

Housing truly is a strong investment, especially when inflation is high. When you lock in a mortgage payment, you're shielded from housing cost increases, and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, let's connect today.

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
17

3 Things New Homeowners Don't Know

Becoming a new homeowner is an exciting milestone. It can also be an overwhelming process full of decision-making, seemingly endless paperwork and new responsibilities. When the dust settles and you officially sign for your new home, your work doesn't end there. Many new homeowners don't realize these important things. Don't be caught unaware, be sure you understand these important tips.

Your Insurance Needs to Be Updated
Your home loan likely will require you to have adequate insurance on your house itself. This guarantees that in the event of an unpredictable situation, your lender will be protected. After all, if your house burns in a fire and is uninsured, the owner is unlikely to pay off the loan. 

However, this is not all you need. If you and a partner purchased the home together, you will need to look into an updated life insurance policy. In the event of a death, the other person must be able to continue house payments, and the correct life insurance policy can help make that possible. Consult a financial advisor to see how you can best prepare for the unexpected.

You Should Hone Your Handyman Skills
Between maintenance tasks, small updates, and routine fixes, you will likely spend a lot of cash if you don't learn how to DIY a few projects as a homeowner. Be sure you know your way around basic tools, and make certain you understand what annual maintenance needs to be completed to keep your home in its top form.

Shadow a friend or family member as they complete odd jobs around their home. Be willing to help them and you may learn some skills and get a worker the next time you need assistance. If this isn't an option, or you have a specific task you need to learn, consider signing up for a class at your local hardware store.

You Should Keep Your Renovation Receipts
While general repairs do not count, update and renovation costs to increase your home's basis. This means if you keep the receipts for any improvements to your home, you could find yourself saving some funds when you go to sell your home. This is because money spent on capital improvements can help lower your tax bill when you sell your home. Consult a tax professional to navigate this process. A higher cost basis reduces your total profit (or capital gain) and will result in paying fewer taxes at the time the seller purchases. For this reason, you will want to be sure to keep those receipts and save!

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
15

Rent-Back Agreements Explained

Buying and selling a home at the same time can be an intimidating experience. Lining up a buyer and a new home within a short timeframe requires tons of planning and a bit of luck. However, selling your home before closing on a new one doesn't mean you have to be left without a place to live. Sellers usually have a few different options to explore, including a rent-back agreement.

A rent-back agreement is a good way to buy yourself some extra time after a home sale. However, like most real estate negotiations, they come with benefits and risks. Below we'll explain everything you need to know about how these agreements work and why you might consider one:

What Is A Rent-Back Agreement?

A rent-back agreement is an arrangement that allows the seller to continue to live at a property as a tenant after the closing date. During this period, the buyer assumes the responsibility of a landlord. The purpose of a rent-back agreement is to give the seller extra time to find a place to live following the home sale.

The details of a rent-back agreement can be negotiated during the closing process. You'll need to work with the buyer to determine monthly payment, security deposit, agreement length, and utility responsibilities. The buyer's home insurance should cover the rent-back period. It's important to always consult with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney when negotiating the terms.

Rent-Back Agreements Can Have Many Benefits

Depending on the terms and situation, sellers can benefit from a rent-back agreement in a number of ways. For one, it can give you the flexibility to accept a strong offer before having a new home lined up. It can also give you more time to find your dream home as opposed to simply settling for a property out of necessity. 

Rent-back agreements can also be helpful if you have kids in school and would like them to finish out the school year before moving or changing districts. 

Rent-back agreements have obvious benefits for buyers too — as they can provide supplemental income that can help offset a small bit of the cost of the new home.

Disadvantages Of Rent-Back Agreements

Rent-back agreements are generally short, as most lenders only allow a rent-back period of 60 days. While the added time can be a huge benefit, it's not a long-term solution. During the rent-back period, sellers will need to abide by the lease terms set forth by the buyer.

The buyer will also need to assume the responsibility of the landlord. The arrangement may also be less appealing to buyers who are eager to move in quickly after closing.

The major risk of a rent-back agreement comes in the form of determining liability. Determining who has liability for damage or unforeseen circumstances is often part of the negotiation. Usually, the buyer's homeowners policy should cover the rent-back period; however, the seller may want to explore a short-term rental insurance policy to cover personal property.

Rent-back agreements are a common way for sellers to buy more time, but the true benefits will ultimately depend on your unique situation. Not all buyers will offer them, but sellers often have the leverage to ask for them in a hot market.

February
10

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now's the Time To List It.

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now's the Time To List It. | MyKCM

When you're selling any item, you usually want to sell it for the greatest profit possible. That happens when there's a strong demand and a limited supply for that item. In the real estate market, that time is right now. If you're thinking of selling your house this year, here are two reasons why now's the time to list.

1. Demand Is Very Strong This Winter

A recent article in Inman News explains:

"Spring, the hottest time of year for homebuyers and sellers, has started early, according to economists. . . . 'Home shopping season appears to already be in full swing!'"

And they aren't the only ones saying buyers are already out in full force. That claim is backed up with data released last week by ShowingTime. The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the average number of monthly buyer showings on active residential properties, which is a highly reliable leading indicator of current and future trends for buyer demand. The latest index reveals this December was the most active December in five years (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now's the Time To List It. | MyKCM

As the data indicates, buyers are very active this winter. Last December saw even more showings than December of 2020, which was already a stronger-than-usual winter. And remember – you want to sell something when there's a strong demand for that item. That time is now.

2. Housing Supply Is Extremely Low

Each month, realtor.com releases data on the number of active residential real estate listings (listings currently for sale). Their most recent report reveals the latest monthly number is the lowest we've seen in any January since 2017 (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now's the Time To List It. | MyKCM

And don't forget, the best time to sell an item is when there's a limited supply of it available. This graph clearly shows how extremely low housing supply is today.

Even Though Supply Is at a Historic Low, Home Sales Are at a 15-Year High

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing-home sales totaled 6.12 million in 2021 – the highest annual level since 2006. This means the market is hot and homeowners are in a great place to sell now while sales are so strong.

NAR also reports available listings by calculating the current months' supply of inventory. They explain:

"Months' supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace."

The current 1.8-months' supply is the lowest ever reported. Here are the December numbers over the last five years (see graph below):

Want Top Dollar for Your House? Now's the Time To List It. | MyKCM

The ratio of buyers to sellers favors homeowners right now to a greater degree than at any other time in history. Buyer demand is high, and supply is low. That gives sellers like you an incredible opportunity.

Bottom Line

If you agree the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and supply is low, let's connect to begin discussing the process of listing your house today.

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
6

Replacing Light Fixtures Can Help You Sell Your Home

When you're planning to put your home on the market, you have to look at it through the eyes of potential buyers. Things that don't bother you, or things that used to bother you, but you got used to, can be immediate turn offs for buyers. Replacing light fixtures can make your house more appealing.

Replace Fixtures That are Broken or Outdated
Buyers will notice light fixtures that don't work and may come away with a negative impression of your house as a whole. A broken light fixture can be more than an inconvenience; in some cases, it can be a symptom of a serious electrical problem. Buyers may wonder if the house has other maintenance issues that were overlooked.

Sometimes light fixtures work fine, but they're relics of a bygone era. Lighting that was stylish when it was installed may now make your house look dated. If that's the case, replacing those fixtures with more modern or timeless ones can make your home more attractive to prospective buyers. 

Think About Energy Efficiency
Buyers aren't just interested in a house's purchase price. They're also thinking about how much utilities and other expenses will cost them each month. If your house has light fixtures that aren't energy efficient, replace them with new, more efficient lighting that will save the future owners money on their electricity bills. 

Consider Increasing the Amount of Interior Lighting
Go through each room in your house, see how bright it is when all of the lights are on, and look for any areas that need additional lighting. It may be a good idea to add lighting in areas where you prepare food in the kitchen, in the bathroom above the sink, in closets or in places where people read, work and play. 

Evaluate the Exterior Lighting
When it comes to outdoor lighting, preventing accidents should be a top priority. Medical bills can be expensive. If a guest gets injured on the property, the homeowner may have to file an insurance claim and pay a deductible, as well as higher premiums later on. 

The walkway leading to the front door should be well lit so that family members and visitors don't trip and fall. Other outdoor areas, such as the driveway and patio, should have adequate lighting.

Look at your current outdoor lighting with security in mind. There should be enough lighting to deter burglars. If you don't already have motion-activated lights, consider installing some so that the future owner will know if anyone approaches the house at night. 

Ask Your Real Estate Agent for Advice
You may not be sure if you should replace specific light fixtures or add more lighting to a particular area. Your real estate agent understands what buyers are looking for and has seen many other houses in your area that are currently on the market. Your agent can advise you on whether you should install new light fixtures and may recommend specific styles or features.  

February
4

How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

January
31

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
30

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Buying a home and wondering if your inspection is necessary? While some buyers may decide to waive their inspection, it's risky decision.
  • Your home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. It assesses the condition of the home you plan to purchase, so you can avoid costly surprises down the road.
  • Let's connect so you have expert advice and a trusted professional who will keep your interests top of mind.
January
23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
21

Two Ways Homebuyers Can Win in Today's Market

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

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

Act Early and Save

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

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

Buy Now, Move Later

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
12

9 Home Items to Get Rid of for the New Year

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

- In Your Living Spaces:

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

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

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

- In the Kitchen:

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

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

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

- In Kids' Rooms or Play Spaces:

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

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

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

January
10

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • If you're looking to buy a home, you may want to put these items on your to-do list to ensure you hit your goals.
  • It's important to start working on your credit and saving for a down payment early. When you're ready to begin your search, work with a real estate professional and get pre-approved so you know how much you can borrow.
  • Let's connect so you have the guidance you need to achieve your homebuying goals this year.
January
3

Selling In 2022: What You Can Expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December
30

Your Blueprint for Celebrating a Relaxing New Year's Eve at Home

The holidays are magical, festive, and exhausting. After a season of year-end deadlines, holiday parties, school events and extended time with the in-laws, celebrating New Year's Eve in anything other than a cashmere jumpsuit on the Cloud Sofa can feel daunting. So, whether you spend the evening in solitude, with your significant other, or with an intimate group of friends, here are a few ways to make the evening feel extra special yet cozy.

Dress the Part
The best part about spending a cozy NYE at home is being able to dress comfortably. So, whether you wear head-to-toe cashmere or you step it up by pairing your faux leather leggings with an oversized button-down, keep comfort top-of-mind. And, let the high heels sit out this NYE in exchange for a pair of faux-fur lined Birdies.

Create the Ambiance
Whether it's relaxing, soft and cozy, or energetic and lively, decide the vibe you want your NYE to have, considering the following ambient elements:

  • Create a playlist that reflects this vibe (or find an already curated list on Spotify).
  • Select a scent, whether it's an energizing citrus blend, or a relaxing lavender aroma.
  • Layer the lighting, dim the recessed lighting and let the layers of task lighting and candlelight illuminate the room.
  • Display seasonal florals and greenery, such as evergreens, amaryllis and camellias.

Set the Bar
Create an entirely self-serve beverage station. Consider serving a signature cocktail to reduce the number of open bottles, uncork the wine and have all barware and garnishes available for easy self-service. Don't forget a mocktail option if you're looking to start New Year's resolutions early.

Indulge in the Best
Whether you're serving home-cooked surf and turf, or you're ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurant, an evening spent celebrating the past year and welcoming in the new one is the perfect occasion to bring out the lovely china. Serve the wine family style, so you can sit and enjoy a leisurely meal.

Layer the Textiles
After an indulgent meal, gathering around the fire to watch a movie, play a game or enjoy conversation and laughs can feel like a true luxury. Wool carpet or rugs underfoot, a stack of cashmere blankets, oversized faux fur throw pillows and sheepskin throws can provide unparalleled comfort during an evening spent at home.

Take in the Fresh Air
Ring in the new year under the stars, whether you live in a warm climate or you fire up the outdoor heaters. Brew up a batch of hot toddies, light up the outdoor fireplace, pile on the fur blankets and countdown to the new year in the fresh air.

Plan for the Year Ahead
If planning is your key for relaxation, get ahead of your new year's resolutions by setting your intentions for the year ahead and thinking about your upcoming goals and ambitions. Then, when you wake up on the first of the year, you will already feel like you have a jump start on a fresh start.

December
29

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market | MyKCM

As we move into 2022, both buyers and sellers are wondering, what's next? Will there be more homes available to buy? Will prices keep climbing? How high will mortgage rates go? For the answer to those questions and more, we turn to the experts. Here's a look at what they say we can expect in 2022.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

"Consensus forecasts put rates at about 3.7% by the end of next year. So, that's still historically low, but certainly higher than they are today."

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

"Affordability will increasingly be a challenge as interest rates and prices rise, but remote work may expand search areas and enable younger buyers to find their first homes sooner than they might have otherwise. And with more than 45 million millennials within the prime first-time buying ages of 26-35 heading into 2022, we expect the market to remain competitive."

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"With more housing inventory to hit the market, the intense multiple offers will start to ease. Home prices will continue to rise but at a slower pace."

George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research, realtor.com:

"We also expect a growing number of homeowners to bring properties to market, taking some pressure off high prices and offering buyers more options."

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

"Strong demographic demand will continue to act as the wind in the housing market's sails."

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

Hope is on the horizon for 2022. You should see your options grow as more homes are listed and some of the peak intensity of buyer competition starts to ease. Just remember, rising rates and prices are a great motivator for you to find the home of your dreams sooner rather than later so you can buy while today's affordability is still in your favor.

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Make no mistake – this sellers' market will remain in 2022 as home prices are projected to continue climbing, just at a more moderate pace. Selling your house while buyer demand is so high will truly put you in the driver's seat. But don't wait too long. With more listings projected to become available, your ideal window of opportunity to stand out from the crowd won't last forever. Work with an agent who knows your local market and current inventory conditions to ensure you have the support you need to make an educated and informed decision about selling in the coming year.

Bottom Line

If you're thinking of buying or selling, 2022 may be your year. Let's connect to discuss your goals and the unique opportunities you have in today's housing market.

December
28

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home | MyKCM

As a buyer in a sellers' market, sometimes it can feel like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. When you're ready to make an offer on a home, remember these five easy tips to help you rise above the competition.

1. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a lender so you can get pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it:

"This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer."

Showing sellers you're serious can give you a competitive edge, and it helps you act quickly when you've found your perfect home.

2. Be Ready To Move Fast

Homes are selling quickly in today's competitive housing market. According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"Eighty-three percent of homes sold in November 2021 were on the market for less than a month."

When houses are selling this fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. Your agent can help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as you find the home you want to buy.

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac also notes:

"The success of your homebuying journey largely depends on the company you keep. . . . Be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who will help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls."

Agents are experts in the local real estate market. They have insight into what's worked for other buyers in your area and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller needs can help your offer stand out.

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 40% of offers today are above the list price. In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help you submit a strong, yet fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand the market value of the home and recent sales trends in the area.

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

When putting together an offer, your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you can pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don't want to give up. Freddie Mac explains:

"Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold 'as-is', which means the seller won't pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can't afford to fix."

Bottom Line

Today's competitive landscape makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let's connect to make sure you rise to the top along the way.

December
23

When a House Becomes a Home

When a House Becomes a Home | MyKCM

It's clear that owning a home makes financial sense. But lately, the emotional side of what drives homeownership is becoming increasingly important.

No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it's a familiar scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes can be more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating

You've put in a lot of work to achieve the dream of homeownership, and whether it's your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You've earned it.

2. There's no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and unwind after a long day. Sometimes that's just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.

3. You can find more space to meet your needs

Whether you want more room for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, dedicated space for a hobby, or a personal gym) or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for entertaining, you can invest in a home that truly works for your evolving needs.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style

Looking to try one of those decorative wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to create an entire in-home yoga studio. You can do all of these things in your own home.

Bottom Line

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a repeat buyer who's ready to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the non-financial factors that turn a house into a happy home. Let's connect!

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
7

6 Popular Home Wellness Trends

Incorporating wellness features into the home design process is not only becoming more mainstream, it's becoming more expected in homes, especially in the luxury market. The foundation of health and wellness begins at home, so it's no wonder that these features are becoming more conventional. Below are the home wellness design trends expected to become increasingly more prevalent in the coming year.

Home Air Purifiers
As the country continues to return to a more normal way of living, having proper ventilation and pure indoor air quality is more important than over. An indoor air purifier can lessen air contaminants, bacteria and viruses. Air purification systems can be installed into HVAC systems and take the form of stand-alone units.

Indoor Gardening
Bringing the outdoors in can offer a host of health benefits, from physical to mental. Greenery can be visually calming, air purifying and can contribute to an immunity-boosting diet. Building an indoor garden can deliver all these benefits. Whether you create a stand-alone greenhouse or a more undersized garden stand, you can have fresh fruit and vegetables readily available and the live plants can aid in purifying your air.

Touchless Appliances
Touchless appliances can help curb the spread of germs throughout your home. From motion-activated toilets, kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, light switches, locks or garage door openers, simply waving your hand to activate these high-touch surfaces can help stop germs from spreading.

At-Home Fitness 
Creating a fitness space beyond the Peloton and treadmill makes a well-rounded fitness and wellness routine at home. A heated yoga studio or meditation room facilitates a mind-body wellness routine from the comfort and safety of home. For additional wellness benefits, adding a massage studio lets your masseuse come to you.

Embracing Minimalism
A clutter-free home creates a stress-free oasis that is so important for mental clarity and health. Devising a decluttering system that works for you can be therapeutic and result in long-term psychological and physical health benefits. Aspects of this system may include a more sophisticated custom storage system or hiring a professional organizer. In addition, a lighter physical space can often create a lighter headspace.

Enhanced Outdoor Living
Outdoor living and entertaining increased over the pandemic and don't show any signs of slowing down. From full outdoor kitchens to enhanced lounging areas to additional protection from the elements, equipping your home with the features to host and live comfortably outdoors is essential.

By prioritizing health at home, you're more likely to integrate it into every aspect of your life.

December
6

A Checklist for Selling Your House This Winter [INFOGRAPHIC]

A Checklist for Selling Your House This Winter [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're planning to sell your house this winter, you'll want it to look its best inside and out.
  • Take the time and focus on tasks that make it inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal.
  • Let's connect so you have an expert opinion on what to focus on, so it shows well and catches a buyer's eye.
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
23

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity | MyKCM

Your equity is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals as a homeowner. And chances are, your equity grew substantially over the past year. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, homeowners gained an average of $51,500 in equity over the past year.

If you're looking for the best ways to use your growing equity, here are four options:

1. Use Your Equity To Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If you're finding you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or, it's possible you have too much space and would like something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle. Moving into a larger home can provide extra space for remote work or loved ones. Downsizing, on the other hand, may mean saving time and money by caring for a smaller home.

2. Move to the Location of Your Dreams

If the size of your home isn't a challenge but your current location is, it could be time to relocate to a new area. Maybe you enjoy vacationing in the mountains, at the beach, or another area, and you're dreaming of living there year-round. Or perhaps the distance between you and your loved ones is greater than you'd like, and you want to close the gap. No matter what, your home equity can fuel your move to the location where you really want to live.

3. Start a New Business

If you're not ready to move into a new home, you can use your equity to invest in a new business venture. As the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy says:

"There is an estimate of 31.7 million small business owners in the United States, many of them started their business with the equity they had in their home."

While it's not recommended that homeowners use their equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging your equity to start a business that you're passionate about can potentially grow your nest egg further.

4. Fund an Education

Whether you have a loved one preparing to head off to college or you're planning to go back to school yourself, the thought of paying for higher education can be daunting. In either situation, using a portion of your growing equity can help with those costs, so you can make an investment in someone's future.

Bottom Line

Your equity can help you achieve your goals. If you're unsure how much equity you have in your home, let's connect today so you can start planning your next move.

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
12

Tips and Tricks Every Homeowner Should Know

Becoming a homeowner doesn't equip you with the basics of household know-how, although time and experience will likely teach you how to tighten up a leaky faucet. But technicians say that up to 30 percent of their service calls require nothing more than the flip of a switch or the push of a button to 'repair' the stated problem.

To save you from such an embarrassing experience—not to mention the cost of a service call—Readers Digest offers tips to help every homeowner recognize and 'fix' common issues:

  • The fridge is warm. Check to see that nobody messed with the temperature dial. Turn it up if need be, and be sure no food containers are blocking the fridge and freezer compartment vents, which supply the flow of cold air.
  • The bathroom lights don't work. Sometimes all the bathroom outlets or several exterior lights are powered through a single GFCI (the red button in the middle of some outlets located in one bathroom). If there's an outage, push the reset button on the GFCI, and you could be back in business.
  • A kitchen appliance won't turn on. When a light goes out in one room or a switch doesn't turn on the coffeepot, check the main electrical panel for a tripped circuit breaker. Look for a switch that's not in line with the others. Flip it fully to the off position, and then back on.
  • The toilet is running. The most common cause is a worn flapper that no longer seals properly. The flapper is easy to replace without calling a plumber. Your nearest home store can sell you the part and tell you what you need to know.
  • The paint needs a touchup. Mimic the texture a paint roller leaves on the wall without calling the painter. Dip an old washcloth in the paint, dab it on the spot, and toss it away.
  • The garage is stuffed. Before you call a carpenter to add more shelving, mount a section of wire shelving to the undersides of the beams to give you a row of neat storage nooks. Unlike solid shelving, wire lets you see what's up there. Then pick up a pack of S-hooks at a home center, and turn a length of wire shelving into a rack for holding garden and/or cleaning gear.
November
11

10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Attract homebuyers during the holidays with these tips.

When most people think about the holidays, they think about family gatherings, turkey dinners, and gift-giving.  Selling their home during the holidays isn't something they usually imagine.  No one sells their home during this time of the year ... Right?  Wrong!

In fact, selling your home during the holidays has its advantages. Since fewer homes are on the market, there is less competition.  And home buyers are usually more serious and ready to buy.

How do you make the most of this selling season?  Here are ten tips to get you started.

  1. Deck the Halls
    When selling your home during the holidays, you absolutely should deck the halls to help your home feel festive. However, avoid any religious decorations and be careful to not go overboard. A few classic pieces can go a long way towards bringing the holiday spirit to your home.
  2. Look for Motivated Buyers 
    If someone is trying to move during the holidays, it is very likely that they have a big reason for doing so. Look for buyers on a deadline, such as someone relocating for a job, as they will be more motivated to buy quickly.
  3. Host a Holiday Open House
    At the open house, bring a few holiday touches to the event. Serve freshly baked cookies alongside hot cider and cocoa. Play holiday ambient music to set the mood.
  4. Price to Sell
    Negotiations can take a lot of time. Instead of pricing your home high and gradually making small price reductions, during the holiday season it is better to price your home to sell.
  5. Prioritize Online Marketing
    When the weather outside is frightful, potential buyers rely on online home listings more than ever. Make sure your listings are filled with high-quality pictures and an online video tour to pique their interest.
  6. Clean Up the Exterior
    Bare tree branches give potential buyers a much clearer view of your home's exterior. Pay attention to every detail so the exterior looks perfect. Clean the leaves out of the yard and gutters. Touch up paint on the siding, doors, and trim. Keep the walkways clear of ice and snow.
  7. Keep Your Schedule Open
    You never know when an interested buyer might want to come to look at your home. While you should set aside time to spend with your family on Thanksgiving and Christmas, try to keep as many days clear on your calendar as possible to make scheduling showings easier.
  8. Tidy the Inside Again and Again
    Tracking in mud and snow can make a clean house look dirty in seconds. Vacuum, sweep, and mop regularly to keep the house looking spotless for any impromptu showings that may come up.
  9. Make Your Home Cozy
    When stepping inside from the frigid cold, you want potential buyers to immediately feel cozy and "at home". Turn up the heat to keep them warm. Turn on the lights to make the house bright and cheery.
  10. Hire a Dependable Real Estate Agent
    The right real estate agent to help you with selling your home is important at any time of the year. But during the holiday season, you really want someone who is dependable and will be present when you need them the most. When you are ready to sell, let's connect!

Although selling a house during the holiday season will definitely keep you busy, don't forget to take the time to enjoy the season too.

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.

November
3

Five Ways to Recharge at Home This Autumn

The change of seasons is a perfect time to take a moment to pause, reflect and recharge. In addition to updating your decor and bringing out cooler weather clothing, giving yourself a seasonal refresh is a perfect way to greet a new season. Prepare for the season ahead by taking some for yourself by recharging from the comfort of home. Consider the below activities, so you can head into autumn with a clearer head and lighter heart.

At-Home Spa Day
Bring the spa to you by hiring a team who can come to your home and treat you to a full spa menu. Whether you indulge in a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure or all of the above, a spa day in the comfort of your own home is a guaranteed way to unplug so you feel rejuvenated to face the more hectic pace of fall and the upcoming holiday season. In addition, keeping a massage table in your home gym will make it easier and more compelling to make this at-home service a regular indulgence.

At-Home Chef
Take the night off from cooking by bringing a home chef into your house for the evening. You can benefit from a home-cooked, gourmet meal while relaxing in your most comfortable loungewear. You can enjoy the experience of a night out without having to worry about making a reservation or selecting the perfect outfit.

Sumptuous Fabrics
Drape yourself and furniture in an indulgent fabric, such as cashmere. Make sure your sitting areas have ample amounts of cashmere blankets to wrap yourself in while you unwind on the sofa. Invest in a cashmere robe or loungewear so you can spend an evening feeling like you're enveloped in a hug while you settle in with a good book or show.

Unplug for the Weekend
Spend a technology-free weekend to recharge your mind. Whether you spend your time enjoying spa services, exercising, baking or gardening, aim to engage in activities that calm your mind, rather than mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds or incessantly checking your email. When Monday arrives, you will be able to kick off the week with a refreshing level of motivation.

At-Home Yoga Session
Bring a yoga instructor to your home to reap the mind and body benefits of yoga without commuting to a yoga studio. Whether you breathe in the fresh air in your private backyard or breathe deeply inside your home gym, an at-home yoga session should leave you with a clear head, a limber body and feeling rejuvenated.

The daily grind can take a toll on your headspace and body, so taking the time to check in with yourself and press the reset button is not only important to how you will feel in the moment but is also essential for long-term health benefits. 

November
1

Unique Kitchen Island Configurations

Whether you're hosting family and friends, or it's just your immediate family, the kitchen island is inevitably the place where people end up gathering. A kitchen island ends up being a communal spot to enjoy coffee, hors d'oeuvres, a glass of wine and tell stories. A traditional kitchen island layout will work in nearly any kitchen design. Expanding an island to offer more space for sitting, lounging and prepping food will bring additional comfort to your leisurely mornings or long nights gathered around the kitchen island. Here are some unique kitchen island configurations to choose from.

Built-In Table at the End of the Island
If you find your family spending many meals at the kitchen island instead of the dining table, consider building a kitchen table directly into the end of the island. Whether you build a round dining table at the end of the island or a square dining table, remember to account for ample seating. Don't shy away from going oversized to accommodate everyone comfortably and to make a design statement.

Double Island
A double island can be invaluable if you frequently host gatherings. One island can be for cooking and prep work, and the other can remain the hub for gathering around. Depending on your kitchen's layout and space, the two islands can be next to each other or back to back.

U-Shaped Island
A truly custom look, this layout is meant for kitchens with ample space. An oversized u-shaped kitchen island offers enough room in the middle for a built-in banquette and dining table. This layout can take the place of a breakfast nook. A u-shaped island invites friends and family to meet around the table for meals, snacks, cocktail hour and game nights while still being in the middle of the kitchen island action.

Built-In Banquette
Building a banquette directly into the island is both a functional game-changer and a conversation starter. For example, adding a long banquette to the length of the island can be paired with a dining table as a place to gather around for meals. Or, a shorter banquette added to the end of the island can be paired with a smaller table, such as a tulip or pedestal table, for a more intimate space to enjoy your morning coffee.

Two-Tiered Island
If you don't have the space for two kitchen islands, but you want to have a separate food prep area and food serving area, a two-tiered island will let you use the top tier for preparing food and the bottom level to set out hors-d'oeuvres and for guests to set down their drinks and plates. In addition, using different counter materials, such as marble on the top and wood on the bottom, will add visual interest.

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
26

There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring

There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring | MyKCM

There's a lot of talk lately about how challenging it can be to find a home to buy. While housing inventory is still low, there are a few important things to understand about the supply of homes for sale as we move into the end of the year.

The Number of Homes for Sale Usually Peaks in the Fall

In the residential real estate market, trends generally follow a predictable and seasonal pattern. Typically, the number of homes available for sale (or active monthly listings) peaks in the fall. But in a chapter where so little feels normal, the question becomes: should we expect a fall peak this year?

If we look at the active monthly listings for 2021 (shown in the chart below), we'll see that the number of homes on the market has increased fairly steadily since spring this year. The realtor.com data shows we're still seeing an increase in active inventory month-over-month. While that gain is a bit smaller month-to-month (see August to September in the chart), September numbers are still up from the month prior.There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring | MyKCMThe important takeaway here is the latest monthly numbers show growth. At the end of September, buyers had more options to pick from than they did this spring. That's encouraging for buyers who may have paused their search months ago because they had trouble finding a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, sums this up nicely:

"Put simply, this September buyers had more options than they've had all year and while that's typical of early fall, that's not what happened in 2020. Still, it's important to remember that while buyers may have an easier time this fall than they did in the spring, the market remains more competitive than it has been historically at this time of year." 

As Hale says, a fall peak in inventory is in line with typical seasonal trends. While it's impossible to say for certain what the future holds for housing inventory, we do know both buyers and sellers have opportunities this season based on the latest data.

What Does That Mean for You?

If you're thinking of buying a home, rest assured you do have more options now than you did earlier this year – and that's a welcome relief. That said, today's market is still highly competitive. This isn't the time to slow your search. It's actually the season when the number of homes available for sale tends to peak. Focus on the additional options with renewed energy this season and be prepared for ongoing competition from other buyers.

If you're considering selling your house, realize that while growing, inventory is still low. Selling now means you'll be in a great position to negotiate with buyers – and competition among buyers is good news for your bottom line. Eager buyers will likely be motivated to act before the holidays, giving you the benefit of a fast sale.

Bottom Line

Whether you're buying or selling, there's still a chance to make your goals a reality this season. Let's connect so we can discuss what's going on with the local market and current trends and what they mean for you.

October
22

Celebrate Fall With Family Fun Activities

Autumn is sometimes that overlooked period between the last of summer's outdoor activities and hectic preparations for the holidays. But fall offers its own opportunities for rewarding family fun. Check out these leisurely ways to make some happy autumn memories.  

  • Check Out the Foliage In most areas of the country, you are no more than a couple hours drive away from some vibrant fall foliage. If you need ideas, get online to find out where you can best view the best of fall's amazing colors. Pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon of splashing about the falling leaves.
  • Pick Pumpkins …but not from the local market. Look for a fall festival or farmer's market where you can get your fill of fun activities and head home with the best of autumn's harvest, including the perfect pumpkins.
  • Go Apple Picking Apple picking season usually starts in August and peaks through September, but there's still time to squeeze in a trip to a nearby apple orchard during the first half of October. You can take photos, pick apples, eat cider doughnuts and stock up on homemade apple cider.
  • Enjoy Oktoberfest Somewhere in your area, you can probably find a commercial or sponsored Oktoberfest celebration, featuring authentic German foods, a beer and/or cider garden, guides in German folk dress and a variety of games and shopping opportunities the whole family can enjoy.
  • Take a Haunted Road Trip For a good, friendly scare, find a haunted house to explore during the month of October. If all else fails, tour a cemetery at night and make up your own ghost tales.
  • Make Costumes Forget the commercially-made costumes at the store and brainstorm some ideas of your own. Find the fabrics and accessories you need and spend some happy family hours making your costume wishes come true.
  • Get Cooking Spend some time in the kitchen together making pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin pies or even some pumpkin-based soup. You'll be making memories your kids will remember all while enjoying the fruits of your labor.
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
15

Fall Paint Color Guide

A paint refresh is the easiest way to transform a space without committing to a complete design overhaul. If you're craving a deeper, more decadent atmosphere, adorning your room with fall hues will create a luxe, seasonal space. Whether you want a deep pecan hue, a rich, burgundy color, or the gleaming color of golden hour, a fresh application of paint can bring these hues into your home. The below paint colors are a curated selection to bring cozy fall tones into your own home—and can also make a statement all year round.

Benjamin Moore – Bear Creek 1470
A deep, gray-brown color, Bear Creek is a rich tone that is a beautiful contrast to creams and creamy whites. In addition, Bear Creek brings in tones of winter woods and adds a layer of coziness to your living areas. This deep tone pairs well with a warm white or cream color for the trim and ceiling or can be continued on the trim, but a different sheen, like semi-gloss, is recommended for trim.

→ Where to Use It: A living room or great room

Benjamin Moore – Sequoia 1245
This reddish-brown color is both a neutral tone and also brings drama. Sequoia is softer than a burgundy but is deep enough to create a moody space. In addition, Sequoia's dustiness is neutral enough to pair well with many complementary colors. For a trim pairing, Sequoia looks stunning with an off-white or warm white paint selection.

→ Where to Use It: A library or study

Benjamin Moore – Metallic Gold 2163-40
This shimmery, soft brown has pink undertones, which brings a glowing ambiance to any space. Earthy yet elegant, Metallic Gold makes a room look effortless and inviting.

→ Where to Use It: A dining room

Farrow & Ball – Hague Blue
This dramatic, intense blue is a timeless color with green undertones. In addition, Hague Blue's deep, pigmented hue makes a dark room feel intentionally cozy and moody.

→ Where to Use It: A powder bathroom

Farrow & Ball – Deep Reddish Brown
Both luxurious and soothing, Deep Reddish Brown, is a warm tone with chocolatey undertones. Deep, warm and welcoming, Deep Reddish Brown will add richness and drama to walls, doors and trim.

→ Where to Use It: A stairway

Farrow & Ball – Tanner's Brown
This dramatic hue is a strong dark brown that is almost black in low lighting. However, in a well-lit space, it reads as brown. A rich, warm hue, Tanner's Brown brings drama and warmth to a room.

→ Where to Use It: Interior of a fireplace

Sherwin Williams – Cotton
This warm white will make your space feel effortlessly layered and cozy. It's soothing neutral hue makes any room feel relaxed and inviting. It's the perfect backdrop to layer in neutral or colorful furniture and accessories and to begin your day on a crisp, calm note.

→ Where to Use It: A bedroom or great room

October
14

Very Superstitious: Home Traditions That Are Still Alive Today

Superstitions are often over the top. There's probably nothing magical about a rabbit's foot, and walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror won't lead to doom. But then again, trying to bring a little luck to your house can't hurt.

There are traditions that promise to bring good fortune to your new home. And even though these rituals are just old tales, following a few can give you a sense of peace and comfort. Here are a few:

Hang a horseshoe. There are a lot of theories as to why horseshoes bring good luck, with some sources claiming it dates back to ancient Egypt. There's even debate as to how a horseshoe should be placed on a wall. Some say the shoe should point upward, U-shaped, so that the luck doesn't drain from the shoe, while another theory says pointing it down allows the luck to pour down on people.

Buy a new broom. Legend says your old broom not only cleaned up dust and debris, but also collected your bad experiences, and you don't want to bring those into your new home. This could be a trick by the broom industry, but if you follow it, at least you'll have a nice, new broom.

Pick the right day. Did you know moving on a Friday or Saturday is said to be bad luck? It's an old superstition that may derive from the fact that those are common moving days when it's hard to find a mover. Moving on a rainy day is supposedly risky, while in Chinese culture, the No. 8 is believed to bring good fortune, so planning a move on the eighth might be a good idea. According to Indian culture, Thursday is the best day to relocate.

Bread and salt. These are traditionally given to new homeowners as a gift, with the bread representing all the wonderful food that will be enjoyed in the household while the salt ensures flavor, not just to meals but to life in general.

Ring the bells and shine a light. These are easy ones. First, after moving in, open all your home's windows and ring a bell in each room to ward off old, negative energy. Then complete the cleansing by lighting a candle at night.

Let's connect when you're ready to buy or sell!

October
13

What's Causing Today's Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC]

What's Causing Today's Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

October
11

111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year

111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year | MyKCM

The financial benefits of buying a home versus renting one are always up for debate. However, one element of the equation is often ignored – the ability to build wealth as a homeowner.

According to the latest research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"Homeownership is a key pathway to building wealth and narrowing the racial income and wealth inequality gap. Housing wealth (equity) accumulation takes time and is built up by price appreciation and paying off the mortgage."

An increase in equity builds the wealth of the individual that owns it. This wealth can be passed down to future generations. The Federal Reserve in an addendum to their Survey of Consumer Finances explains:

"There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift."

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

"In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children's educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children's ability to accumulate wealth."

Here's a look at how equity can build your wealth over time when you own a home.

Equity over the Last 30 Years

The NAR research reveals that the average gain for homeowners over the last five years was $139,134 and over the last 10 years was $218,505. Looking even further back in time, the article says:

"Homeowners who purchased a typical single-family existing-home 30 years ago at the median sales price of $103,333 with a 10% down payment loan and who sold the property at the median sales price of $357,700 in 2021 Q2 accumulated housing wealth of $349,258."

Homeownership builds household wealth which also enables households to more easily move to the home of their dreams. As Mark Fleming, the Chief Economist at First American, explains:

"As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity."

If you missed out on the equity gains over the last 30 years, don't fret. Experts are still calling for substantial growth in equity over the next five years.

Looking Forward at the Equity To Come

The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists, expects home values (and therefore equity) to increase as follows:

  • 2021: 11.74%
  • 2022: 5.82%
  • 2023: 3.94%
  • 2024: 3.56%
  • 2025: 3.55%

The survey estimates a 31.8% cumulative appreciation over the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser could earn, using a $350,000 home as an example:111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year | MyKCMThat's a potential increase in household wealth of $111,285 over five years.

Bottom Line

Owning a home is one of the best ways to grow your wealth over time. House wealth can impact generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a household has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, the financial options also increase. Let's connect when you're ready to own a home!

October
7

The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates

The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

Every Thursday, Freddie Mac releases the results of their Primary Mortgage Market Survey which reveals the most recent movement in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Last week, the rate was announced as 3.01%. It was the first time in three months that the mortgage rate surpassed 3%. In a press release accompanying the survey, Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:

"Mortgage rates rose across all loan types this week as the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield reached its highest point since June."

The reason Khater mentions the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is because there has been a very strong relationship between the yield and the 30-year mortgage rate over the last five decades. Here's a graph showing that relationship:The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | MyKCMThe relationship has also been consistent throughout 2021 as evidenced by this graph:The Main Key To Understanding the Rise in Mortgage Rates | MyKCMThe graph also reveals the most recent jump in mortgage rates was preceded by a jump in the 10-year Treasury rate (called out by the red circles).

So, What Impacts the Yield Rate?

According to Investopedia:

"There are a number of economic factors that impact Treasury yields, such as interest rates, inflation, and economic growth."

Since there are currently concerns about inflation and economic growth due to the pandemic, the Treasury yield spiked last week. That spike impacted mortgage rates.

What Does This Mean for You?

Khater, in the Freddie Mac release mentioned above, says:

"We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise modestly which will likely have an impact on home prices, causing them to moderate slightly after increasing over the last year."

Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also addresses the issue:

"Consumers shouldn't panic. Keep in mind that even though rates will increase in the following months, these rates will still be historically low. The National Association of REALTORS forecasts the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to reach 3.5% by mid-2022."

Bottom Line

Forecasting mortgage rates is very difficult. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, once quipped:

"You know, the fallacy of economic forecasting is don't ever try and forecast interest rates and or, more specifically, if you're a real estate economist mortgage rates, because you will always invariably be wrong."

That being said, if you're either a first-time homebuyer or a current homeowner thinking of moving into a home that better fits your current needs, keep abreast of what's happening with mortgage rates. It may very well impact your decision. Let's connect when you're ready to buy or sell!

September
29

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers | MyKCM

Are you looking to buy a home? If so, we've got good news for you.

While there's no denying the housing market is having a great year, many of the headlines are focused on the perks for sellers. But what about buyers today? As a buyer, you're likely braving bidding wars and weighing low mortgage rates versus price appreciation as you search for your dream home. If you find yourself a bit discouraged, hear this: there are clear signs buyers may have more opportunities this fall.

According to realtor.com, the sweet spot for buyers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years. When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to buy a home this year. The research says:

"Nationally, the best time to buy in 2021 is the week of October 3-9. This week historically has shown the best balance of market conditions that favor buyers."

So, what's that mean for you? If you're looking to buy a home, there's a golden window of opportunity coming. Here's what you can expect from that week.

Increased Housing Supply

The number of homes available for sale should increase. According to realtor.com, you can expect to see more new listings come to market the week of October 3. The findings estimate we'll see roughly 17.6% more homes available than we saw at the start of the year.

This means you'll have more options to choose from which should be a welcome relief in a market with tight housing supply.

Fewer Bidding Wars

With more homes available, you should also see a slight decline in the number of bidding wars. Having more options means buyers may not be competing as intensely for the homes on the market because there are more choices to go around.

This means when you write an offer, you may have less competition and a better chance of being the top bid. Just remember, it's still important to come in with a strong offer.

Adjusted Homes Prices

As we move into the end of the year, the findings from realtor.com note this week may also be one of the peak weeks for price reductions in 2021. Historically the data shows an average of 7.0% of homes have a price reduction that week. Why? When housing supply ticks up, sellers need to look for other ways to make their house stand out.

This means, while home prices are still appreciating overall, you may see some homes with price adjustments from eager sellers. The process of closing a house takes time. To close before end of year, sellers may be more motivated this October.

Bottom Line

If you're in the market for a home, don't lose steam now. Data shows early October may give you the long-awaited opportunity to find the home of your dreams. Let's connect so you have a trusted ally and advisor to help keep you motivated so you can find the perfect home for you.

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
24

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

September
21

5 Tips for Frugal Urban Living

Urban living is expensive—especially for recent college graduates who are living their dream of getting a good first job in the big city. But successful urban living, financial advisors say, is all about being thoughtful and learning to spend wisely and well.

  • Know the 3 Ns: Necessities, Nest Egg and Non-Essentials – Necessities, like rent, food, clothing and transportation, should take no more than 50% of your income. Aim for a nest egg—savings in an interest-bearing account that includes cash enough for three month's expenses or emergencies, plus a chunk of your monthly income going into a retirement account—and designate no more than 20% of your income for discretionary items such as entertainment, dining out, vacations and other non-essentials.
  • Know the 4 Rs: Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle – Before you buy something, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Can I buy it second-hand or trade for it? Can I recycle or repurpose something I already have? Can I find it on the cheap? Get acquainted with local websites devoted to buying and trading used merchandise.
  • Stick to a List – Resist impulsive buying. Whether it's groceries, clothing, household goods or non-essentials, make a list of what you need and do your best to stick to it when you shop. And a good piece of advice…never do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Try Not to Pay Full Price – Clip coupons, download apps and sign up for loyalty programs. Check the internet for books and tips on purchasing almost anything you need at a discount. Facebook Marketplace is a good place to start looking for preowned items at affordable prices.
  • Put People Over Things – Money can't buy relationships. Even casual conversations can lead to friendships, and friends can be your greatest asset. Apart from the emotional support that friends provide, you can live more frugally by cooking together instead of eating out, playing games at home instead of spending on expensive entertainment, and keeping each other on the straight and narrow when it comes to spending wisely.
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
18

Housekeeping Tips From the Pros

September
17

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing?

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

An important metric in today's residential real estate market is the number of homes available for sale. The shortage of available housing inventory is the major reason for the double-digit price appreciation we've seen in each of the last two years. It's the reason many would-be purchasers are frustrated with the bidding wars over the homes that are available. However, signs of relief are finally appearing.

According to data from realtor.com, active listings have increased over the last four months. They define active listings as:

"The active listing count tracks the number of for sale properties on the market, excluding pending listings where a pending status is available. This is a snapshot measure of how many active listings can be expected on any given day of the specified month."

What normally happens throughout the year?

Historically, housing inventory increases throughout the summer months, starts to tail off in the fall, and then drops significantly over the winter. The graph below shows this trend along with the month active listings peaked in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What happened last year?

Last year, the trend was different. Historical seasonality wasn't repeated in 2020 since many homeowners held off on putting their houses up for sale because of the pandemic (see graph below). In 2020, active listings peaked in April, and then fell off dramatically for the remainder of the year.Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What's happening this year?

Due to the decline of active listings in 2020, 2021 began with record-low housing inventory counts. However, we've been building inventory over the last several months as more listings come to the market (see graph below):Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCMThere are three main reasons we may see listings continue to increase throughout this fall and into the winter.

  1. Pent-up selling demand – Homeowners may be more comfortable putting their homes on the market as more and more Americans get vaccinated.
  2. New construction is starting to take off – Though new construction is not included in the realtor.com numbers, as more new homes are built, there will be more options for current homeowners to consider when they sell. The lack of options has slowed many potential sellers in the past.
  3. The end of forbearance will create some new listings – Most experts believe the end of the forbearance program will not lead to a wave of foreclosures for several reasons. The main reason is the level of equity homeowners currently have in their homes. Many homeowners will be able to sell their homes instead of going to foreclosure, which will lead to some additional listings on the market.

Bottom Line

If you're in the market to buy a home, stick with it. There are new listings becoming available every day. If you're thinking of selling your house, you may want to list your home before this additional competition comes to market. Let's connect when you are ready to buy or sell!

September
16

The Truth About Today's Buyer Demand

The Truth About Today's Buyer Demand | MyKCM

When it comes to the latest news in real estate, there are a lot of sensational headlines in the media. In times like this, when it can be hard to know what to believe, put your trust in the experts. Those of us in the housing market respect that buying or selling a home is a major life decision, and we offer advice based on what the data shows.

Despite what you may have read, the housing market is still undeniably strong. Here's a look at what leading experts have to say about buyer demand today and how it continues to shape the industry:

Michael Lane, President at ShowingTime:

"In general, there are definite signs of cooling demand. However, buyer traffic is still at historically high levels compared to pre-pandemic showings."

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American:

"Seasonally adjusted purchase applications tick up slightly to the highest level since July. Demand for homes remains strong and steady. Excluding 2020 (not a good benchmark) purchase applications are the strongest in a decade." 

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

"Home buyer demand pushed price growth to a new record high in June, with S&P CoreLogic national Case-Shiller Index clocking in an 18.6% year-over-year growth rate. The month-to-month index jumped 2.18%, making it another strong monthly growth, and the fastest May-to-June increase since the data series began."

What It Means for You

As a seller, buyer demand is an important factor that helps influence how fast your house will sell and how many buyers may be competing for it. When buyers have to compete against each other for a limited supply of available homes, bidding wars can drive prices up. While things have cooled slightly since the peak of the pandemic housing rush, buyer demand is still far surpassing historical norms. That's why we're still in a sellers' market.

Bottom Line

If you're torn on whether or not you want to sell your home this year, rest assured it's still a great time to make a move. Let's connect to discuss how you can sell now and do it on your best terms thanks to today's buyer demand.

September
14

Why It's Still Safe To Sell Your Home

Why It's Still Safe To Sell Your Home | MyKCM

If you're on the fence about whether or not you want to sell your house this year, there's good news. Real estate professionals are highly experienced in how to sell houses safely during the pandemic. Over the last year, agents have adopted new technologies and safety measures designed to keep you safe. And experts say these practices are here to stay. As Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), puts it:

"The pandemic has confirmed to all of us in the industry that technology will continue to transform real estate."

Below is a closer look at some of the new tools real estate professionals are using to better serve sellers.

New and Existing Technology Are Impacting the Process

In the 2021 Realtor Technology Survey, NAR asks real estate professionals their opinions on the most valuable pieces of technology for their business over the past 12 months. The graph below highlights the top five tools those agents said are true game-changers:Why It's Still Safe To Sell Your Home | MyKCMTools that allow agents to serve clients at a distance and limit exposure to others, including eSignature, lockboxes, and video conferencing, became increasingly important during the last year. Those same tools are just as essential today. Restricting the number of people a seller must interact with during the process is the best way to keep all parties involved in a sale safe.

Trusted Advisors Stay Up to Date on Guidelines for In-Person Showings

As things change in our day-to-day lives, the guidance on how to stay safe changes as well. NAR regularly updates the resources available to real estate professionals to ensure the latest recommendations and best practices are readily available. This includes suggestions on how to continue to conduct safe in-person showings.

Agents also follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to make sure homes are safe. The CDC's advice includes information on how to clean high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and countertops so they're disinfected for all.

This past year changed the way agents do things for the better. Real estate professionals use new technology, tools, cleaning procedures, and the latest guidance to meet your changing needs. The goal is to keep you safe and build your confidence throughout the sales process.

Bottom Line

It's important to know that your safety is still a top priority when it comes to selling this year. Let's connect today so you can have the best tools available to help you take advantage of today's sellers' market.

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
7

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCM

If you're trying to decide when to sell your house, there may not be a better time to list than right now. The ultimate sellers' market we're in today won't last forever. If you're thinking of making a move, here are four reasons to put your house up for sale sooner rather than later.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly – on average, they're selling in just 17 days. As a seller, that's great news for you.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer demand. And if homes are selling quickly, buyers have to be more decisive and act fast to submit their offer before other buyers swoop in.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling quickly, homes are receiving multiple offers. That same survey shows sellers are seeing an average of 4.5 offers, and they're competitive ones. The graph below shows how the average number of offers right now compares to previous years:

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMBuyers today know bidding wars are a likely outcome, and they're coming prepared with their best offer in hand. 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. Though it's improving, it remains at near-record lows. The chart below shows how today's low inventory stacks up against recent years. The lighter the blue is in the chart, the lower the housing supply.

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMIf 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

If your current home no longer meets your needs, it may be the perfect time to make a move. Today, homeowners are gaining a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. You can leverage that equity, plus current low mortgage rates, to power your move now. But these near-historic low rates won't last forever.

Experts forecast interest rates will rise. In their forecast, Freddie Mac says:

"While we forecast rates to increase gradually later in the year, we don't expect to see a rapid increase. At the end of the year, we forecast 30-year rates will be around 3.4%, rising to 3.8% by the fourth quarter of 2022."

When rates rise, even modestly, it'll impact your monthly payment and by extension your purchasing power.

Bottom Line

Don't delay. The combination of housing supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers gives sellers a unique opportunity this season. If you're thinking about making a move, Let's chat about why it makes sense to list your house now.

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
30

Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House

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

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

Why is sellers sentiment up year-over-year?

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

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we're still firmly in a sellers' market because housing supply is well below a balanced norm (shown in the graph below).Why 2021 Is Still the Year To Sell Your House | MyKCMClearly, the scales are tipped in a seller's favor today. But while housing supply is undeniably low, the right side of the gr