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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.

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.

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
21

5 Tips for Frugal Urban Living

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

  • Know the 3 Ns: Necessities, Nest Egg and Non-Essentials – Necessities, like rent, food, clothing and transportation, should take no more than 50% of your income. Aim for a nest egg—savings in an interest-bearing account that includes cash enough for three month's expenses or emergencies, plus a chunk of your monthly income going into a retirement account—and designate no more than 20% of your income for discretionary items such as entertainment, dining out, vacations and other non-essentials.
  • Know the 4 Rs: Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle – Before you buy something, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Can I buy it second-hand or trade for it? Can I recycle or repurpose something I already have? Can I find it on the cheap? Get acquainted with local websites devoted to buying and trading used merchandise.
  • Stick to a List – Resist impulsive buying. Whether it's groceries, clothing, household goods or non-essentials, make a list of what you need and do your best to stick to it when you shop. And a good piece of advice…never do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Try Not to Pay Full Price – Clip coupons, download apps and sign up for loyalty programs. Check the internet for books and tips on purchasing almost anything you need at a discount. Facebook Marketplace is a good place to start looking for preowned items at affordable prices.
  • Put People Over Things – Money can't buy relationships. Even casual conversations can lead to friendships, and friends can be your greatest asset. Apart from the emotional support that friends provide, you can live more frugally by cooking together instead of eating out, playing games at home instead of spending on expensive entertainment, and keeping each other on the straight and narrow when it comes to spending wisely.
May
6

Hurricane Preparedness Week 

In the Lowcountry, we are less than a month away from the beginning of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared. We have recently had two seasons with close calls and you can read what  we learned about preparing here 

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is an upcoming event in the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. The season will officially begin on June 1, 2019, and end on November 30, 2019. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. 

While predictions right now favor average activity for hurricanes in the Atlantic, it is still important to be ready. Don't wait until the last minute to make preparations. One of the most important things you should do, and do immediately, is to check your homeowner's insurance. Most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Check your flood zone at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources DFIRM Flood Map. Then, make sure to have adequate flood insurance for your home. Flood insurance coverage usually takes 30 days to go into effect.

Make sure that you are aware of your community's  evacuation plan and evacuation route. A great way to be prepared for a hurricane and to stay informed during a hurricane is to sign up to receive local alerts and warnings.

Pay attention to local weather forecasts. Storm paths change quickly and without much warning, so listen out for local weather alerts. Also listen to local officials for warnings and instructions, such as evacuation orders. Follow the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, or CEMA, on Twitter and Facebook and check in often for updates.

The FEMA mobile app is also a great resource for hurricane preparation, and includes checklists for hurricane preparation. The FEMA mobile app also provides weather alerts from the National Weather Service and maps of open hurricane shelters and recovery centers. 

Create and review your family's emergency communication plan and make sure that your family is all aware of the contents and location of your emergency supplies. Another important way to be prepared is financially. Strengthen your financial preparedness in the event of a hurricane by collecting and securing important financial, insurance, medical, and other personal records. 

Protect Your Investment

If you have an investment and/or rental property, do not neglect it, even if it is vacant. Instead, make sure to conduct a full hurricane preparedness check on the property every year. This ensures that your property is ready to withstand the high winds and heavy rainfall that is common during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. The staff at Cora Bett Thomas Property Management are available to conduct a Full Weather check on your property, which includes:

  • Complete Roof Inspection
  • Siding and Entry Inspection
  • Window inspection
  • Comprehensive Plumbing and HVAC Check

Once the check has been completed, you can approve any work or repairs that need to be done to ensure that your property is ready to withstand the forces of Mother Nature. The peace of mind that comes from having your property ready will be worth the effort and expense.

These are just a few tools and resources that can help you and your family get prepared, and offer some peace of mind as we approach the 2019 Hurricane Season. 

March
5

Azaleas Mean Spring in the Lowcountry. 

Azaleas

The South is known for its variety of flora, and few flowers say "Savannah" quite like azaleas. This evergreen shrub thrives in areas with partial sun making it common underneath trees. It is an ideal inhabitant of the squares in Historic Downtown Savannah. Azalea bushes can be pruned to smaller sizes, or can be larger, covering areas of quite a few feet. Smaller azalea bushes can be spotted along Savannah sidewalks, while larger versions inhabit the squares of the Downtown area.  

Botanically, azaleas are members of the Ericaceae (Heath) family. The Heath family includes blueberries and mountain laurel. Several species of azaleas are native to Georgia and the Southeast. Their flower color ranges from white to pink, yellow, orange, scarlet or crimson, with several shades in between. Plant size is also variable, ranging from 3 feet to more than 20 feet. Although native azaleas are considered more adaptable and more hardy than introduced species, it is important to approximate their native growing environment if they are to be grown successfully.

Most people associate blooming azaleas with spring, but several varieties bloom in summer and fall. This means by selecting certain varieties, it's possible to have azaleas blooming all year long. Azaleas can be grouped by whether they bloom early, mid-season or late. Early flowering types generally bloom from mid-February through March, mid-season types bloom in late April and May, and late-flowering types bloom from June through October. 

Looking for tips on growing and caring for azaleas?

Here's a great article on Southern Living

The larger azalea bushes can be found in the medians of Liberty and Oglethorpe Streets in Historic Downtown Savannah. Azaleas of all sizes and colors can also be found in many of the squares, including Columbia Square and Monterey Square. But, azaleas are not exclusive to the downtown area. Their vivid displays of color can be appreciated in Forsyth Park and in Bonaventure Cemetery

Looking to Buy or Sell a Home This Spring?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

September
25

Cost of NOT Paying PMI

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer as median incomes, rents, and home prices all vary depending on where you live.

There is a common misconception among homebuyers that a 20% down payment is required, and it is this limiting belief that often adds months, and sometimes even years, to the home-buying process.

So, if you can purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment… why aren't more people doing just that?

One Possible Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

"An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It's a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you've built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment."

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. The monthly cost of your PMI depends on the home's value, the amount of your down payment, and your credit score.

Below is a table showing the difference in monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 home with a 3% down payment and PMI vs. a 20% down payment without PMI:

Cost of NOT Paying PMI

The first thing you see when looking at the table above is no doubt the added $320 a month that you would be spending on your monthly mortgage cost. The second thing that should stand out is that a 20% down payment is $50,000!

If you are buying your first home, $50,000 is a large sum of money that takes discipline and sacrifice to save. Many first-time buyers save for 5-10 years before buying their homes.

To save $50,000 in 10 years, you would need to save about $420 a month. On the other hand, if you save that same $420 a month, you could afford a 3% down payment in less than a year and a half.

In a recent article by My Mortgage Insider, they explain what could happen in the market while you are waiting to save for a higher down payment:

"The time it takes to save a (larger) down payment could mean higher home prices and tougher qualifying down the road. For many buyers, it could prove much cheaper and quicker to opt for the 3% down mortgage immediately."

The article went on to say,

"Since renters typically devote a higher percentage of their income to housing than homeowners, providing flexible down payment options can help renters with solid earnings purchase a home – and gain a fixed-rate mortgage with principal and interest payments that will not increase over the life of the loan."

If the prospect of having to pay PMI is holding you back from buying a home today, Freddie Mac has this advice,

"It's no doubt an added cost, but it's enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment."

Based on results of the most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a homeowner who purchased a $250,000 home in January would gain $50,000 in equity over the next five years based on home price appreciation alone (shown below).

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you've saved a larger down payment, let's get together to discuss our market's conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM

July
3

Starland

The Starland District of Savannah has been growing for some time now, but in the last few years this beloved neighborhood has truly started coming into its own. With a reputation for the eclectic and a nod to the concept of responsible consumerism, Starland is gaining popularity with visitors and is beloved by local Savannahians. 

Starland embraces quirkiness and eschews conventional labels. This attitude extends to the location of this neighborhood. There are no established boundaries for the Starland District, although it is commonly considered to be comprised of the blocks centered around Bull Street and north of Victory Drive. These blocks, numbering about 35, are those bordered by Barnard, Drayton, and 37th streets. However, there are many who consider the streets beyond these boundaries to be included in the Starland District, as they embrace the free-spirited attitude that is prevalent in this neighborhood. 

The Starland District's origins can be traced back to over a 100 years ago, with the founding of The Starland Dairy. The boom and bust of this milk processing factory had a significant impact on the neighborhood, which saw a decline with the closing of the dairy in the 1980s. Restoration of the dairy began in 2000, and is still in progress. 

Starland

Some of Starland's popular places include Bull Street Taco, Back in the Day Bakery, Atlantic, El Coyote, and Two Tides Brewing. Starland also hosts a First Friday Art March — a celebration of culture, art, food and music that is accessible by trolley. First Friday Art March emphasizes the importance that art has in Starland. This movement, coupled with the support that Savannahians continue to give to businesses in the Starland District, show that the Starland District will continue to grow and develop as a vital part of the city of Savannah. 

Are You Looking for Homes in Starland?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

June
26

Jefe Has Good Taste in Tacos

Bull Street Taco is one of the newest restaurants to open in the Starland District of Savannah. This addition has become one of our favorite places, because, no, you cannot have too many places to grab tacos in Savannah. Better still, Bull Street Taco has a large outdoor patio and is dog-friendly. They even have an Instagram account devoted entirely to their canine customer. The restaurant shares space with a couple other businesses in a renovated warehouse, and has indoor table seating, a bar, and a stand-up taco bar. The atmosphere has a cozy and funky neighborhood feel that is very Savannah with West Coast style. 

Of course, the best thing about Bull Street Taco is the food. The tacos are served on organic masa and flour tortillas made from scratch. The crew uses traditional ingredients and methods to make their food, incorporating their own flair and quirks here and there making for unique and extremely crave-able flavor combinations. Taco varieties include classics such as Carnitas, house-made Chorizo, and Chicken, as well as non-meat options like Roasted Mushroom and one of our favorites, the Red Chile Tempura Roasted Cauliflower. The tempura cauliflower is topped with roasted poblano peppers, chile de arbol salsa, basil crema and sesame seed. The tuna poke tostada has onion, cabbage, lime zest, jalapeño and sesame ginger dressing and is not to be missed. If you're feeling like sharing — or you are simply very hungry — go for the "Taco Party," which features 10 tacos of "Jefe's Choice." Trust us, Jefe has good taste in tacos. 

tacos

If you're feeling like something other than tacos, there is a wide selection of equally delicious non-taco options such as salads, tortas, quesadillas and rice bowls. So far, on several visits, a salad along with a cold drink on the patio has been a wonderful lunch time escape. Classic appetizers of chips and salsa, queso fundido, and street corn do not disappoint. 

If you're feeling thirsty, Bull Street Taco has a variety of beers, as well a selection of craft tequilas and mezcals. If you're feeling especially classic, try one of the specialty cocktails or margaritas, such as the Smoke and Fire Margarita or the Basil Paloma. Spanish wines are also available by the glass and bottle.

Whatever you're looking for, a casual dinner, a snack, or a happy hour drink (or 2 or 3), Bull Street Taco is definitely worth checking out. Your wallet, stomach, and taste buds will all thank you. 

Bull Street Taco

Located at 1608 Bull St.

Bull Street Taco is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Photo Credit www.BullStreetTaco.com

 

April
23

Savannah's New Tex-Mex Spot

Many people may recognize the location of El Coyote as the former home of The Florence, which was a place that Savannah either loved or barely regarded. These 2 restaurants have shared a building, and that is where the similarities end.

El coyote savanna

El Coyote is brought to you by the team that has been providing delicious food with a view at the Wyld Dock Bar the past several years. El Coyote's interior is nicer than that of your typical Savannah Mexican restaurant, but not so nice that you feel underdressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Think large, open dining room with the over-popular exposed-filament-edison bulbs, dark and distressed wood and stone. This along with Tex-Mex curated knickknacks and a retro, 70s-style multicolored graphic  visually tie it all together. Nothing terribly original, but it works well, giving the space a livelier feel than the previous inhabitant. And to be honest, I prefer a restaurant with less emphasis on style and more on the delicious food rather than vice versa.

An extensive list of tequilas and mezcals dominate half of the drink menu. The Mezcal Old Fashioned is not be missed. Those looking for something milder can indulge in a glass of Spanish wine or choose from a nice selection of Mexican beers. Margaritas and craft cocktails are of course, also available. I will say that the $8 I paid for the best paloma I've recently had the pleasure of drinking, was well worth it. 

El coyote savanna

Many of the appetizers are in the $3-$10 range and feature classics such as corn elote (aka street corn) and queso fundido. Another must-have appetizer are the Sappelo Bay Clams. For $15, you are served a heaping mound of clams in a michelada broth flavored with chorizo and sofrito. Also not to be missed is the Philli Relleno, El Coyote's cheeky take on a chile relleno and consists of a local blistered poblano pepper stuffed with cheesesteak and topped with mushroom mole.

The street tacos are $4 each and are served a la carte, mostly because there is no need for these tacos to be accompanied by a heap of gluey beans or dry rice. For those with larger appetites, traditional and seasonal sides such rice and black beans — or charred spring onions — are available and they are neither gluey nor dry. A tasty and unexpected side dish is Pam's Hot Pickled Mexican Carrots — for $2, you get a spicy condiment that tastes great with anything else on the menu.

The fajitas, a classic Tex-Mex dish, was hands down better than anywhere in the city. The steak version was an actual grilled steak, cooked medium rare and then cut and served on a hot cast iron plate. Accompanied by roasted poblanos, onions, portabella mushrooms, blistered tomatoes and house made tortillas, this was a welcome return to steak fajitas' roots.

We see El Coyote becoming a local favorite and a new staple for many in Midtown and Downtown Savannah. The cost of grabbing a delicious taco and a cold beer at El Coyote may not be the cheapest taco and beer you've ever seen, but it is without a doubt among the tastiest in Savannah.

El Coyote

1 W Victory Drive

Savannah, GA 31405

www.elcoyotesav.com

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