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May
14

Downsizing Isn't So Bad: Why Less Can Be More

Downsizing frees you from the time, energy, and effort required from living in a larger home.

People have become obsessed with the idea that bigger is better. You see it everywhere: bigger burgers, bigger cars, and bigger houses. It's time to set the record straight — selling your house and downsizing your home might actually be a better lifestyle choice for you.  

Choosing to buy a smaller home often has to do with the desire to live a more simple life. If you're trying to decide whether downsizing is the right move for you, here are some benefits to consider before taking the plunge. 

  1. Increased Cash Flow.
    Smaller homes are less expensive to buy and less expensive to maintain. If your monthly mortgage and utility payments are lower, chances are you'll have more money every month to invest, travel or pay down your mortgage sooner than expected.

  2. More Time.
    The larger the home, the more you have to maintain. A smaller home reduces the time spent on household tasks giving you more hours in the day to do something else more enjoyable.

  3. Reduced Consumption.
    Buying smaller forces you to pare down your belongings and regularly keep what's important and used. If there is no room for it, you probably won't buy it.

  4. Reduced Carbon Footprint.
    A smaller home requires fewer resources because it uses less electricity, heating, and cooling. Building a smaller home also requires the use of less lumber and other wood products.

  5. Less Stress.
    Downsizing definitely has its perks. Less work, more money, and greater flexibility — all these add up to reduced stress. Homeowners who have downsized their homes seem happier when they're no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.

Downsizing your home is about doing more with less. Rather than spending your time and energy maintaining a larger home, you may enjoy your life more by living in a smaller one.

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
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.

April
23

4 Spring Home Problems (and How to Avoid Them)

Spring brings beautiful blooms and long-awaited sunshine, but for your home, spring can bring unexpected problems if you are not prepared. This season, don't let home issues ruin your fun. Some simple preparation can ensure that your home is ready for all that spring has to offer. Be sure to avoid these four spring home problems.

Unexpected Pests
Spring's weather brings bugs and small critters out of hibernation. While the flurry of scurrying animals may be cute to witness on your next hike, you don't want uninvited guests in your home. Avoid critters coming indoors by sealing any holes or potential entrances. Caulk and seal small access points to keep insects outside. Finally, ensure that you are keeping your home crumb-free to ensure that sugar-seeking ants don't make themselves at home in your kitchen or pantry.

Spring Flooding
Flooding can occur during any season, but certain areas are more prone to spring flooding. Since water damage can easily go undetected, even minimal flooding can wreak havoc on your home. Be prepared for a flood if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water–even a stream. Avoid issues caused by spring floods by waterproofing your basements, clearing debris away from your gutters and downspouts to divert water from your home's foundation, and installing a water alarm to alert you to accumulating dampness in less-trafficked areas.

Strain on Your HVAC
The shifting of seasons can cause undue strain on your HVAC system if you aren't properly prepared. Change your filters and have your system inspected to ensure that as the spring rays turn your home hotter, that you are not facing a damaged system when you need the cool air.

Lack of Curb Appeal
Spring is the perfect season to tackle your home's lack of curb appeal. Winter storms can cause dirt to accumulate on your home's exterior, sidewalks and driveway. Winds and rain can cause debris like leaves and twigs to clutter up your lawn and garden. A good power wash can do wonders for your outdoor surfaces, and a simple clean-up can ensure that your yard looks fresh. Once you have solved the problem of grunge and disarray, focus on the final touches by adding new foliage and blooms that spring can 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
20

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer | MyKCM

In the last few weeks, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac inched up to 5%. While that news may have you questioning the timing of your home search, the truth is, timing has never been more important. Even though you may be tempted to put your plans on hold in hopes that rates will fall, waiting will only cost you more. Mortgage rates are forecast to continue rising in the year ahead.

If you're thinking of buying a home, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can succeed even as mortgage rates rise.

How Rising Mortgage Rates Impact You

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, they impact how much you'll pay in your monthly mortgage payment, which directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. Here's an example of how even a quarter-point increase can have a big impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer | MyKCM

With mortgage rates on the rise, you've likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of delaying your plans, today's rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more. Use that motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly.

The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate advisor now. An agent can connect you with a trusted lender, help you adjust your search based on your budget, and make sure you're ready to act quickly when it's time to make an offer.

Bottom Line

Serious buyers should approach rising rates as a motivating factor to buy sooner, not a reason to wait. Waiting will cost you more in the long run. Let's connect today so you can better understand your budget and be prepared to buy your home even before rates climb higher.

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
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.

April
1

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

March
31

Pros and Cons of Buying a House With Cash

Buying a House with Cash

Most people who purchase a house take out a mortgage, but some can pay the entire cost upfront and buy a property outright. If you have the funds available to pay cash for a new home, that can give you some distinct advantages, but it's also important to consider the risks.

Benefits of Paying Cash for a House
If you can afford to pay cash, you can avoid all of the hassles and costs associated with getting a mortgage. You won't have to shop around for the best rates, submit applications or wait for approval. You won't have to pay fees associated with a mortgage at the time of closing, and you can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest. 

Being able to pay in cash can make your offer more appealing to a seller. Sometimes two parties agree on a purchase price, but the deal falls through because the buyer can't get financing. If a seller gets multiple offers, you can pay in cash and others can't, the seller will be more likely to accept your bid. Even if another buyer offers more money, the seller may accept a lower price from you if you can pay in cash and the other buyer can't. 

Owning a house outright can give you peace of mind. You won't have to worry about the monthly cost of a mortgage and will have room in your budget to focus on other priorities.

Downsides of Buying a House With Cash
You may have additional financial goals, such as investing for retirement and your kids' college education. If you pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for a house, you won't be able to put those funds toward your other long-term priorities. 

If you itemize your tax deductions and you have a mortgage, you will be able to deduct interest. That may significantly reduce your tax liability. That won't be an option if you pay cash for a house and don't take out a mortgage.  

Buying a house with cash can leave you with little money in savings. If you lose your job, the house needs major repairs or you face some other type of financial emergency, you may struggle to make ends meet. 

If you buy a house with cash, a large sum of money will be tied up in a single investment. If you fall on hard times and need to sell your home, you may not be able to find a buyer quickly or you may have to accept less than you paid for the property. 

Weigh the Pros and Cons
Everyone's situation is different. Think about how much money you have to work with, how much you have already saved for retirement and other long-term goals, and how comfortable you would be having a large sum of money tied up in a house. If you need additional advice, consult a financial professional.

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
25

How an Energy Efficient Home Can Be a Bright Idea [INFOGRAPHIC]

How an Energy Efficient Home Can Be a Bright Idea [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • With inflation driving up the cost of everyday items, seeking out an energy-efficient home can be a great way to decrease the expenses you can control.
  • Energy efficiency can help lower your utility bills and possibly even save you money on your taxesOptions to look for include efficient appliances, windows, and solar panels.
  • If you're planning to buy a home this year, consider energy efficiency in your search. Let's connect so you can better understand features that can save you money for years to come.
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
22

The Many Benefits of Homeownership

The Many Benefits of Homeownership | MyKCM

The past two years have taught us the true value of homeownership, especially the stability and the feeling of accomplishment it can provide. But homeownership has so much more to offer. Here's a look at a few of the non-financial and financial benefits of owning a home. If you're looking to buy a home today, think about all the ways homeownership can impact your life.

Homeownership Has Impactful Personal and Emotional Benefits

Owning your home gives you a significant sense of pride because it's a space that is truly yours. And as a homeowner, you can customize your home to your heart's desire. Having a space you've put your stamp on enhances the pride and sense of ownership you may feel.

And that sense of ownership can extend beyond your shelter to help create social, community, and civic benefits as well. That's because the average homeowner stays in their home for longer than just a few years. That means you'll naturally feel a stronger connection to the community around you the longer you live there. This can help you experience a greater sense of belonging and a greater stake in your community as a whole. As the National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

"Living in one place for a longer amount of time creates an obvious sense of community pride, which may lead to more investment in said community."

Owning a Home Is a Significant Step Toward Financial Stability

In a financial sense, homeowners benefit from home price appreciation, equity gains, and having a shield against some of the effects of inflation. These benefits can have a big impact on your life. As you gain equity through home price appreciation and paying down your mortgage, you build your net worth. And in times of inflation, your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage can help you stabilize one of your largest monthly expenses for the duration of your loan.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explains how you can start to see these lasting effects of homeownership as soon as you make your purchase:

"Owning a home continues to be a proven method for building long-term wealth. . . . Home values generally grow over time, so homeowners begin the wealth-building process as soon as they make a down payment and move to pay down their mortgage."

Knowing you've made a good investment soon after your purchase is powerful. And that may give you confidence in your decision to buy a home.

Bottom Line

The benefits of owning a home are foundational. As a homeowner, you can feel proud of the space you call home and know you've made a sound financial investment. To learn how homeownership can help you, let's connect to start the conversation today.

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
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
7

Why It's Critical To Price Your House Right

Why It's Critical To Price Your House Right | MyKCM

When you make a move, you want to sell your house for the highest price possible. That might be why many homeowners are eager to list in today's sellers' market. After all, with record-low inventory and high buyer demand, many homes are selling for more than asking price. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows 46% of homes are selling above list price today.

But even in a market like we have now, working with an agent to set the right asking price is critical, as pricing it too high or too low could have a negative impact on your final sale. Here's why.

Pricing Your House Right Is Crucial Even in a Sellers' Market

The price you set for your house sends a message to potential buyers. Price it too low and you might raise questions about your home's condition or lead buyers to assume something is wrong with the property. Not to mention, you could leave money on the table, which decreases your future buying power if you undervalue your house.

On the other hand, price it too high and you run the risk of deterring buyers. When that happens, you may have to do a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house when it sits on the market for a while. But be aware that a price drop can be seen as a red flag for some buyers who will wonder why the price was reduced and what that means about the home.

In other words, think of pricing your home as a target. Your goal is to aim directly for the center – not too high, not too low, but right at market value. Pricing your house fairly based on market conditions increases the chance you'll have more buyers who are interested in purchasing it. That makes it more likely you'll see a bidding war, too. And when a bidding war happens, you'll likely get an even higher final sale price. Plus, when homes are priced right, they tend to sell quickly.

To get a look into the potential downsides of over or underpricing your house and the perks that come with pricing it at market value, see the chart below:

Why It's Critical To Price Your House Right | MyKCM

Lean on a Professional's Expertise To Price Your House Right

There are several factors that go into pricing your house and balancing them is the key. That's why it's important to lean on an expert real estate advisor when you're ready to move. A local real estate advisor is knowledgeable about:

  • The value of homes in your neighborhood
  • The current demand for houses in today's market
  • The condition of your house and how it affects the value

A real estate professional will balance these factors to make sure the price of your house makes the best first impression and gives you the greatest return on your investment in the end.

Bottom Line

Even in a sellers' market, pricing your house right is critical. Don't rely on guesswork. Let's connect to make sure your house is perfectly priced.

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
28

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today | MyKCM

Almost every industry is currently struggling with supply chain disruptions. This also applies to the current U.S. housing market, where buyer demand far exceeds housing supply.

Purchaser demand is very strong right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their latest Existing Home Sales Report which reveals that sales surged in January. Existing home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.5 million – an increase of 6.7% from the prior month, with sales up in all regions. However, there's one big challenge.

Inventory Is at an All-Time Low

Because purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. The above-mentioned report states that the current months' supply of inventory of homes for sale has fallen to 1.6 months. This prompts Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, to say:

"The inventory of homes on the market remains woefully depleted, and in fact is currently at an all-time low."

Earlier this month, realtor.com released their inventory data for January. It helps confirm this point. Here's a graph comparing inventory levels for January over the last six years:

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today | MyKCM

As the graph shows, new listings coming on the market have decreased over the last four years (shown in blue in the graph). The graph also reveals that carry-over inventory has plummeted in recent years. This is because listings are now sold so quickly, they don't stay on the market long enough to carry over month-to-month (shown in green in the graph). In other words, homes are not staying on the market for months as they had prior to the pandemic. In the report mentioned above, NAR reveals that:

"Seventy-nine percent of homes sold in January 2022 were on the market for less than a month."

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains it like this:

"A higher velocity of sales (lower [Days on Market]) helps to explain a housing market characterized by both higher sales & lower inventory. Many resale transactions are happening so quickly that they 'flow' in & then out of the 'stock' between the fixed monthly measurement of inventory."

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Anyone thinking of putting their home on the market shouldn't wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is limited. That's exactly the situation in the real estate market today.

Later this year, inventory (and by extension, your competition) will increase as many homeowners are waiting to put their homes on the market in the spring and early summer.

In addition, Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:

"Housing starts start off 2022 strong, just edging out 2021 for most in January since 2006."

As these newly built homes are completed, they will also become competition for your house. This gives you a tremendous opportunity right now. Don't wait for that increase in competition in your area. If you want to sell in 2022 and are ready to start the process, today is the day to list your house.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to sell, let's connect to get your house on the market while today's inventory situation is in your favor.

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
22

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home | MyKCM

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

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

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

Enjoy a Change in Scenery (or Weather)

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

Build Your Wealth Faster

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

Be Closer to Loved Ones

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

Lock in Your Expenses

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

Bottom Line

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

February
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
16

The Biggest Myths Of Selling A Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
14

How to Fall in Love With a New Neighborhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
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
7

Consumers Agree: It's a Good Time To Sell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
4

How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

January
31

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
30

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

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

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

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

Demand Is Very Strong

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

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

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

Supply Is Very Limited

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

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

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

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

Right Now, Sellers Have Maximum Leverage

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
26

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change?

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change? | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
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
18

2022 Home Design Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
17

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership | MyKCM

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

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

1. Where Do I Start?

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

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

According to Freddie Mac:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. How Can I Reach My Financial Goals?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
14

When Is the Right Time To Sell? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • If you're trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market.
  • The latest data indicates home showings are rising. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you'll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won't be on the market long.
  • Today's market favors sellers. If you're ready to move, let's meet to discuss the benefits you can expect when you sell this season.
January
12

9 Home Items to Get Rid of for the New Year

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

- In Your Living Spaces:

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

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

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

- In the Kitchen:

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

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

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

- In Kids' Rooms or Play Spaces:

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

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

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

January
11

Hook Buyers With A Home Office Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
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
31

5 Money Moves to Make Before the End of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

December
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
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
27

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

Once you've found your dream home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. It's exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who's qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Here's a list of things you shouldn't do after applying for a mortgage. They're all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don't Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender.

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn't easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don't Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your Home.

New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, qualified borrowers may end up no longer qualifying for their mortgage.

3. Don't Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.

When you co-sign, you're obligated. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won't be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don't Change Bank Accounts.

Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there's consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. Don't Apply for New Credit.

It doesn't matter whether it's a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don't Close Any Credit Accounts.

Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn't true. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants of your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

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
14

Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers

Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers | MyKCM

The sense of pride you'll feel when you purchase a home can't be overstated. For first-generation homebuyers, that feeling of accomplishment is even greater. That's because the pride of homeownership for first-generation buyers extends far beyond the homebuyer. AJ Barkley, Head of Neighborhood and Community Lending for Bank of America, says:

"Achieving this goal can create a sense of pride and accomplishment that resonates both for the buyer and those closest to them, including their parents and future generations."

In other words, your dream of homeownership has far-reaching impacts. If you're about to be the first person in your family to buy a home, let that motivate you throughout the process. As you begin your journey, here are three helpful tips to make that dream come true.

1. Reach Out to a Real Estate Professional

It's important to reach out to a trusted advisor early in your homebuying process. Not only can an agent help you find the right home, but they'll serve as your expert advisor and answer any questions you might have along the way.

The latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveyed first-time homebuyers to see how their agent helped them with their home purchase (see chart below):Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers | MyKCM

As the graph shows, your agent is a great source of information throughout the process. They'll help you understand what's happening, assess a home's condition, and negotiate a contract that has the best possible terms for you. These are just some of the reasons having an expert in your corner is critical as you navigate one of the most significant purchases of your life.

2. Do Your Research and Know What You Can Afford

The second piece of advice for first-generation homebuyers is practical: do your research so you know what you can afford. That means getting your finances in order, reviewing your budget, and getting pre-approved through a lender. It also means learning the ins and outs of what it takes to pay for your home, including what you'll need for a down payment.

Many homebuyers believe the common misconception that you can't purchase a home without coming up with a 20% for a down payment. As Freddie Mac says:

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

The chart below shows what recent homebuyers have actually put down on their purchases:Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers | MyKCM

On average, first-time buyers only put 7% down on their home purchase. That's far less than the 20% many people believe is necessary. That means your down payment, and your home purchase, may be in closer reach than you realize. Keep that in mind as you work with a real estate professional to better understand what you'll need for your purchase.

3. Don't Lose Sight of What Home Means to You

Finally, it's important keep in mind why you're searching for a home to begin with. Overwhelmingly, first-generation homeowners recognize the financial and non-financial benefits of owning a home. In fact, in a recent survey:

  • 73% of first-generation homeowners say the safety and security homeownership provides is increasing in importance.
  • Nearly two-thirds of first-generation homeowners say the importance of building equity in a home is growing more important as well.

As AJ Barkley explains:

"For many first-generation homeowners and their families, homeownership has a unique importance, given the collective efforts to overcome financial challenges that can often span generations…"

Bottom Line

If you're a first-generation homebuyer, being prepared and working with a trusted expert is key to achieving your dream. Let's connect today so you can get started on your path to homeownership.

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
19

Seller Regrets: Are You Making These Mistakes?

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. If you are ready to sell your home, let's connect to ensure you don't make these common mistakes!

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. 

October
31

The Mortgage Process Doesn't Have To Be Scary [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Mortgage Process Doesn't Have To Be Scary [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Applying for a mortgage is a big step towards homeownership, but it doesn't need to be one you fear. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
  • Know your credit score and work to build strong credit. When you're ready, lean on your agent to connect you with a lender so you can get pre-approved and begin your home search.
  • Any major life change can be scary, and buying a home is no different. Let's connect so you have an advisor by your side to take the fear out of the equation.
October
30

Housing Challenge or Housing Opportunity? It Depends.

Housing Challenge or Housing Opportunity? It Depends. | MyKCM

The biggest challenge in real estate today is the lack of available homes for sale. The low housing supply has caused homes throughout the country to appreciate at a much faster rate than what we've experienced historically.

There are many reasons for the limited number of homes on the market, but as you can see in the graph below, we're well below where we've been for most of the past 10 years. Today, across the country, there is only a 2.4-month supply of homes available for sale.Housing Challenge or Housing Opportunity? It Depends. | MyKCM

The Opportunity 

This lack of homes for sale is creating a challenge for many buyers who are growing frustrated in their search. On the other hand, this is a huge opportunity for sellers as low supply is driving up home values. According to CoreLogic, the average home has appreciated by more than $50,000 over the past year. And for many homeowners, that's opening new doors as they re-think their needs and use their equity to move up or downsize.

According to Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

"The average homeowner with a mortgage has more than $200,000 in home equity as of mid-2021."

Today, many sellers are taking advantage of low interest rates and the equity they have in their homes to make a move.

Bottom Line

The biggest challenge in real estate is the lack of homes for sale, but this challenge is also an opportunity for sellers. If you're thinking about selling your house, let's connect to start the process.

October
29

Does Your House Have What Buyers Want?

Does Your House Have What Buyers Want? | MyKCM

The rise in remote work is changing what many Americans want in their homes. Many companies are choosing to delay reopening or go remote full-time, and today's buyers are looking for homes with more space to support their work needs.

As a seller, if you no longer need the extra room you have in your home, rest assured there are buyers who do.

Remote Work Is Here To Stay

Remote work remains a reality for many Americans. A recent poll from Garter, Inc. shows many organizations have not yet returned their offices:

". . . 66% of organizations are delaying reopening their offices due to new COVID-19 variants."

And it's not just companies that are choosing to remain remote for the time being – workers are seeking more flexibility. According to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly one-fifth of employees want to be fully remote in the future. The study also finds that many people are leaving jobs to seek out remote work opportunities:

"Among employees looking for new jobs, almost one in ten say it's because they moved away from the office while working remotely and don't want to go back on-site."

More Remote Work Means a Greater Need for Home Offices

That's leading today's buyers to prioritize finding homes with more space so they can comfortably work from home. The 2021 Home Design Trends Survey from the American Institute of Architects finds that 69% of surveyed individuals still want at least one office at home. However, it also shows that more people are looking for multiple spaces in their home for remote work and virtual meetings (see graph below):Does Your House Have What Buyers Want? | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for You?

If your house has extra space that you no longer need, buyers are interested, and now may be the perfect time to sell.

Your trusted real estate advisor can help you highlight many of the most sought-after features in your listing, including home offices. On the other hand, if you have extra room without a purpose, consider staging it as an area where remote work can happen. Your agent can help you with this as well by evaluating and preparing your space for potential buyers. They'll make recommendations for how to stage the room, where to draw the eye, and what other sellers are doing to make their houses stand out.

Bottom Line

With the continued rise in remote work, more buyers are looking for homes that can support multiple home offices. If you have extra room you're no longer using, consider selling. Let's connect today to discuss the unique features in your house and how you can capitalize on any extra space to appeal to today's buyers.

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
25

Your Home Equity Is Growing [INFOGRAPHIC]

Your Home Equity Is Growing [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're a homeowner, today's rising equity is great news. On average, homeowners have gained $51,500 in equity since this time last year.
  • Whether it's funding an education, fueling your next move, or starting a business, your home equity is a great tool you can use to power your dreams.
  • Ready to sell? Let's connect to talk about how you can take advantage of your rising equity to reach your goals.
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
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!

October
6

4 Tips To Prep for Your Home Sale This Fall

4 Tips To Prep for Your Home Sale This Fall | MyKCM

Even in a hot sellers' market like today's in which homes are selling so quickly, it's still important to make a good first impression on potential buyers. Taking the time upfront to prep your house appropriately can bring in the greatest return on your investment.

Here are four simple tips to make sure you maximize the sale of your house this fall.

1. Price It Right

One of the first things buyers will notice is the price of your house. That's why it's important to price it right. Your goal in pricing your house is to draw attention from competing buyers and let bidding wars push the final sales price up. Pricing your house too high to begin with could put you at a disadvantage by discouraging buyers from making an offer.

Your trusted real estate advisor can help you find the price for your home that reflects the current market value. Lean on your agent to help you with this crucial first step.

2. Keep It Clean

It may sound simple, but keeping your house clean is key to making sure it gets the attention it deserves. As realtor.com says in the Home Selling Checklist:

"When selling your home, it's important to keep everything tidy for buyers. . . . Remember to take special care with the bathroom, making sure the tile, counters, shower, and floors shine."

Before each buyer visits, assess your space and determine what needs your attention. Wash the dishes, make the beds, and put away any toys. Doing these simple things can reduce any potential distractions for buyers.

3. Make It Easy To Visit

Giving buyers the opportunity to see your house on their schedule can be a true game-changer. Buyers are less likely to make an offer if it's difficult to plan a tour or they can't easily fit it into their schedule. Making your house available as often as possible helps create opportunities for more buyers to fall in love with your house.

Rest assured your trusted real estate advisor will keep your health and safety top of mind when buyers tour your home. Agents use the latest guidance to stay up to date on any protocols and sanitization recommendations.

4. Help Buyers Feel at Home

Finally, it's important for buyers to see all the possible ways they can make your house their next home. As the realtor.com article puts it:

"The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there, and loving it."

An easy first step to create this blank canvas is removing personal items – pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings – from your space. If you're unsure what should be packed away and what can stay, consult your trusted real estate advisor. Spending the time on this step can pay off in the long run, as the 2021 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of Realtors notes:

"Eighteen percent of sellers' agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%."

Bottom Line

To make the most of today's sellers' market, avoid the temptation to skip over the essential preparation steps. Let's connect today to discuss all the ways you can maximize your home sale.

October
2

4 Tips to Gradually Minimize Clutter

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

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

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

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

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

September
22

Little-Known Secrets to Buying a Luxury Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September
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
15

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer | MyKCM

In today's sellers' market, standing out as a buyer is critical. Multi-offer scenarios and bidding wars are the norm due to the low supply of houses for sale and high buyer demand. If you're buying this fall, you'll want every advantage, especially when you've found the home of your dreams.

Below are five things to keep in mind when it's time to make an offer.

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. It enables you to act quickly when you've found your perfect home.

2. Be Prepared To Move Fast

Speed and the pace of sales are contributing factors to today's competitive housing market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is on the market for just 17 days. As the report notes:

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

When homes are selling fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. After you've worked with your agent to find the home that suits your needs, they'll help you put together and submit your best offer as soon as possible.

3. A Real Estate Professional Can Lead You to Victory

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

"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 may need can help your offer stand out.

4. Craft a Strong, Fair Offer

In the past, offering at or near the asking price was enough to make your offer appealing to sellers. In today's market, that's often not the case. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 50% of offers are above the list price.

In such a competitive market, emotions and prices can run high. Having an agent to help craft a strong, fair offer is critical in these situations. Your agent can help you understand:

  • The market value of the home
  • Recent sales trends in the area
  • Current buyer demand

5. Understand the Seller's Needs, but Resist Waiving Certain Contingencies

When crafting an offer, you'll want to keep both your best interest and the interest of the seller in mind. Your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you could 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, like the home inspection.

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 housing market makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let's connect to make sure your offer rises to the top.

September
8

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCM

Even though experts agree there's no chance of a large-scale foreclosure crisis, there are a number of homeowners who may be coming face-to-face with foreclosure as a possibility. And while the overall percentage of homeowners at risk is decreasing with time (see graph below), that's little comfort to those individuals who are facing challenges today.Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCMIf you haven't taken advantage of the forbearance period, it may be time to research and understand your options. It starts with knowing what foreclosure is. Investopedia defines it like this:

"Foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender attempts to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property. Typically, default is triggered when a borrower misses a specific number of monthly payments . . ." 

The good news is, there are alternatives available to help you avoid having to go through the foreclosure process, including:

  • Reinstatement
  • Loan modification
  • Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • Short sale

But before you go down any of those paths, it's worth seeing if you have enough equity in your home to sell it and protect your investment.

Understand Your Options: Sell Your House

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

In today's real estate market, many homeowners have far more equity in their homes than they realize. Over the last year, buyer demand has been high, but housing supply has been low. That's led to a substantial increase in home values. When prices rise, so does the amount of equity you have in your house.

According to CoreLogic, on average, homeowners gained $33,400 in equity over the last 12 months, and the average equity on mortgaged homes is now $216,000 (see map below):Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCMSo, what does that mean for you? Over the past year, chances are your home's value and therefore your equity has risen dramatically. If you've been in your home for a while, the mortgage payments you've made over time chipped away at the balance of your loan. If your home's current value is higher than what you still owe on your loan, you may be able to use that increase to your advantage.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, elaborates on how equity can help:

"Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic. These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market."

Don't Go at It Alone – Lean on Experts for Advice

To find out what your house is worth in today's market, work with a local real estate professional. We'll be able to give you an estimate of what your house could sell for based on recent sales of similar homes in your area. Since home prices are still appreciating, you may be able to sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

If you find out that you have to pursue other options, your agent can help with that too. We'll be able to connect you with other professionals in the industry, like housing counselors who can look into your unique situation and offer advice on next steps if selling isn't the best alternative.

Bottom Line

If you're a homeowner facing hardship, let's connect to explore your options and see if you can sell your house to avoid foreclosure.

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
31

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to selling your house, you want it to look its best inside and out.
  • It's important to focus on tasks that can make it inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal for prospective buyers.
  • Let's connect to make sure your house shows well and catches a buyer's eye.
August
26

How to Make Stairs Safer for Seniors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
22

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

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

  • Map Out Your Long-Term Plan – Do you plan to move? Travel? Stay where you are? Rein in your spending or keep it level? How much money will it take to accomplish your plan? If you haven't done so already, this is the time to meet with a financial expert who can help you calculate how much money you will need to meet your goals over the long term.
  • Increase Your Savings – Even if you think you are on track, this is the time to bulk up your savings. Increase the automated amounts you've been saving out of every paycheck, socking away as much as you can into retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, savings. Remember, you can never have too much to fall back on.
  • Check Your Portfolio – Make sure it's diversified and aligns with your retirement time expectation. If your risk tolerance is decreasing as you are aging, talk with your financial advisor about making changes.
  • Think About Health Insurance – If it expires when you retire, it can be a huge expense, especially if you will be retiring before age 65, the eligibility age for Medicare. Be sure you have a plan for managing health-related expenses.
  • Explore Your Non-Financial Choices – Unless you plan to become a dedicated couch potato, you should investigate your lifestyle choices now. Do you want to work part-time? Start a business? Move to a new city? Pick up a sport or a new hobby? Now is the time to explore the possibilities and requirements, so when the day comes to turn in your keys, you can embark on retirement with confidence.
August
3

Protecting Yourself from Alarm System Scammers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
1

A Beginner's Guide to Painlessly Going Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July
11

How to Stage Your Home When You Have Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July
8

Laundry Tips for After Your Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

July
7

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

June
29

7 Energy-Saving Tips for Staying Cool at Home This Summer

As summer temperatures soar, it's tempting to turn on the air conditioning full blast—assuming you have such a system. But whether you do or not, electric air conditioning isn't cheap to run, nor is it eco-friendly.

Given that Americans use more than double the electricity than many other nations do, sustainability experts suggest energy-efficient ways to stay cool in your home this summer, no matter how hot it gets outside.

  1. Use Fans – Standing or table-top, circulating fans are quiet, effective, and economical for cooling small areas. Keep one in each of the rooms you regularly use and chill out in comfort for less
  2. Mist Your Bed – At bedtime, mist your bed with cold water from the fridge, then turn a fan nearby. This will create an evaporative cooling effect, allowing you to sleep more comfortably even on very hot nights.
  3. Turn Down the Lights – Lights generate heat, so turn them down or off whenever you can do without them. 
  4. Use Light Blocking Curtains – In sunny rooms, light-blocking drapes or curtains can help keep a room from building up heat.
  5. Be Mindful of Oven Use – Oven heat lingers, and nobody wants too much hot food when it's sweltering out. Eat colorful, protein-based salads for optimal nutrition and if you must turn on the oven, do so mainly in the early morning.
  6. Don't Linger at the Fridge – Refrigerators work harder in hot weather. Standing by an open fridge door while you debate what to eat lets out the cool air and makes the fridge work even harder and use more energy.
  7. Take Shorter, Cooler Showers – A short, cool shower is a great way to cool your skin and help you feel fresh. You can also cool down (along with the kids) under a refreshing garden hose sprinkle.
April
22

The Pros and Cons of Heated Flooring

While you might be considering adding heated flooring to your new home, there are a lot of questions to ask before you put your money into this luxury feature. If you're looking for another level of comfort in your home, it's a great option—but it does come with a hefty price tag. Here's what you need to know:

Pros 

  • Durable and reliable. This method of heating lasts longer than a regular home furnace—with proper care it can last up to 35 years.
  • Comfortable. There's no better feeling than a warm floor on a cold day, especially when you first get out of the shower. No one enjoys stepping on cold tile, so bathrooms are particularly popular options for heated flooring.
  • Saves you money in the long term. Since radiant floor heating warms from the floor up, you'll be able to set your thermostat at a lower temperature to feel just as warm.
  • Quiet. Because it does not require a blower, there is no extra noise produced when running it.
  • Distributes heat evenly and consistently throughout each room.
  • Better for allergy sufferers, since traditional central air heating pushes dust, dirt and pollen through the vents and around your home.
  • Customizable. Electric floor heating allows for the option of only having heated flooring in certain rooms—so you can customize where you want it.
  • Hidden, so your home has more space and less unattractive radiators.
  • Versatile. Can be installed under any flooring.
  • Profitable. Increases the value of your home.

Cons

  • Costly. Installation will cost more than replacing a furnace, and hydronic systems are more expensive than electric.
  • Not ideal for older homes as you will have to tear out existing flooring in order to install them. Wait until it's time for a remodel before considering it.
  • Repairs are costly. Because the system is under the floor, this also means repairs to the system are more costly as well. Since heating elements are out of sight, it can be hard to find the problem area.
  • Slower to warm up the house than traditional heating. Especially true for water heating, which can take a few hours to circulate enough hot water to warm the home (but since they retain heat well, this allows for use in off peak hours, saving your utility bills).
April
15

Daily Habits to Keep Your Home Clean

Cleaning doesn't have to be a hassle if you keep on top of it. Here are some small daily steps you can take to keep your home clean.

Post-shower swipe. To keep mold at bay, store a washcloth in your shower that you use for wiping down surfaces after you turn the water off. Just make sure everyone in the family knows the purpose of the rag so it doesn't end up on anyone's face! Swap the rag out once a week.

Early morning clutter sweep. As you wait for the coffee to brew or the dog to finish his breakfast before your walk, run through the lower level of your home and take care of any clutter piles: junk mail in need of opening, shoes or jackets dumped by the door or blankets on the couches that may need folding.

Nightly surface wipe. Every night before you head to bed (or the TV room), grab a rag and wipe down your counters, kitchen or dining table, and any other surface that collects food particles, dirt or dust.

Closet self-control. It can be tempting to strip off your clothes after a long day and dump them in a pile on the floor or toss them on a chair. But properly putting your clothes away—either in the hamper, back in the closet or in a pile for dry cleaning—will help stop weekly clutter.

Clean as you cook. Does your soup have fifteen minutes left to simmer? Start on the dishes, sop up splatter on the counter or floor, or tackle the trash. Waiting until the end of the meal can make it all too easy to say, "I'll clean up in the morning."

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