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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
10

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

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

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

What's Happening with Home Prices? 

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

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

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

Where Do Experts Say Prices Will Go from Here?

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

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

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

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

What Does That Mean for You?

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
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
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
18

Is It Time To Buy a Smaller Home?

Is It Time To Buy a Smaller Home? | MyKCM

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

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

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

You Can Find the Right Home for Your Needs

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

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

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

Your Equity Can Make a Big Impact When You Downsize

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
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
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
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
1

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

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
24

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market | MyKCM

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

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

1. Mortgage Rates Will Climb

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

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

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

2. Housing Inventory Will Increase

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

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

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

3. Home Prices Will Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You Can Expect from the Spring Housing Market | MyKCM

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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

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

March
23

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

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

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

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

Supply Chain Issues

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

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

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

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

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

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees:

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

Skilled Labor Shortage

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

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

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

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

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

How This Impacts You

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
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
18

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market?

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

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

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

However, buying demand is still outpacing housing supply.

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

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

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

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

This prompted ShowingTime to say:

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

What does that mean for you?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
16

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

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

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

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

Rents Are Going Up Again This Year

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

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

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

Homeownership Offers Stable Monthly Costs

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
14

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

2. Your Equity Is Growing in Record Amounts

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

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

3. Mortgage Rates Are Increasing

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

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

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

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

4. Home Prices Are Climbing Too

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
13

Which Season Is The Best For Selling?

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

Selling In The Spring

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

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

Selling In The Summer

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

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

Selling In The Fall

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

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

Selling In The Winter

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

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

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

March
11

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Know Your Numbers​

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

2. Be Ready To Move Fast​

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

3. Make a Strong but Fair Offer​

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

Bottom Line

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

March
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
3

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise?

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | MyKCM

Many analysts projected home price appreciation would slow dramatically in the fall of 2021 and then continue to soften throughout 2022. So far, that hasn't happened. The major price indices are all revealing ongoing double-digit price appreciation. Here's a look at their reports on year-over-year price appreciation for December:

To show that they're not seeing signs of softening, here's a graph that gives the progression of all three indices for each month of 2021.

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | MyKCM

As the graph above reveals, last year, home price appreciation accelerated dramatically from January to July according to all three indices. Then, it began to decelerate in August when prices appreciated at a slower pace, but it didn't decline. Many thought that would be the beginning of a rapid slowdown in the level of home price appreciation, but as the data shows, that wasn't the case. Instead, prices began to level off for a few months before two of the three indices saw appreciation re-accelerate again in December.

To clarify, deceleration is not the same as depreciation. Acceleration means prices rise at a greater year-over-year pace than the previous month. Deceleration means home values continue to rise but at a slower pace of year-over-year appreciation. Depreciation means prices drop below current values. No one is forecasting that to happen.

In fact, the FHFA revealed that price appreciation accelerated in December in six of the nine regions it tracks. Case Shiller showed that appreciation accelerated in 15 of the 20 metros they report on. As Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains:

"After some signs of slowing home price growth . . . monthly price growth re-accelerated again, indicating home buyers have not yet thrown in the towel."

What Does This Mean for You?

Whether you're a first-time purchaser or someone looking to sell your current house and buy a home that better fits your needs, waiting to decide what to do will cost you in two ways:

  1. Mortgage rates are forecast to rise this year.
  2. Home prices should continue to appreciate at double-digit levels for some time.

If you wait, rising mortgage rates and high home price appreciation will have a dramatic impact on your monthly mortgage payment.

Bottom Line

Maybe the best thing to do is listen to the advice of Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

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

March
1

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're deciding whether to rent or buy, consider the many financial benefits that come with owning a home.
  • As a renter, you build your landlord's wealth and face rising costs. As a homeowner, you build your own net worth and can lock in your monthly payments for the length of your loan.
  • If you're weighing your options, remember that owning a home is a decision that has considerable financial perks. If you want to learn more, let's connect to talk about the perks of homeownership.
February
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
17

3 Things New Homeowners Don't Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
16

The Biggest Myths Of Selling A Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
15

Rent-Back Agreements Explained

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

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

What Is A Rent-Back Agreement?

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

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

Rent-Back Agreements Can Have Many Benefits

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

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

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

Disadvantages Of Rent-Back Agreements

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

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

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

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

February
10

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

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

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

1. Demand Is Very Strong This Winter

A recent article in Inman News explains:

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

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

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

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

2. Housing Supply Is Extremely Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
9

Don't Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
6

Replacing Light Fixtures Can Help You Sell Your Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
4

How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

January
31

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
30

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Buying a home and wondering if your inspection is necessary? While some buyers may decide to waive their inspection, it's risky decision.
  • Your home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. It assesses the condition of the home you plan to purchase, so you can avoid costly surprises down the road.
  • Let's connect so you have expert advice and a trusted professional who will keep your interests top of mind.
January
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
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
29

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market | MyKCM

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

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

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

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

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

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

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

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

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

Bottom Line

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

November
24

How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates

How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

Last week, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac inched up to 3.1%, and experts project rates will continue rising through 2022:

"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.9% in the third quarter of 2021. We forecast mortgage rates to increase slightly through the remainder of the year and reach 3.0%, rising to 3.5% for full year 2022."

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.

Taking Time Off Can Be Costly

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, your monthly mortgage payment increases if you're buying a home, directly affecting how much you can afford. And even the smallest increase can have a large impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):How Smart Buyers Are Approaching Rising Mortgage Rates | MyKCMWith mortgage rates on the rise, you've likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of waiting and hoping rates will fall, today's rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more.

Smart Buyers Can Succeed by Planning Ahead

You can use your newfound motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly so you're prepared to act no matter what happens with mortgage rates. One way to do that: take rising rates into consideration as part of your budget.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, puts it best, saying:

"Smart buyers should consider calculating a monthly payment not only at today's rates, but also at rates that are a bit higher so that they won't be derailed by a sudden upward move. . . ."

You should also be ready to act when you find the home that meets your needs. That means getting pre-approved with a lender so there won't be any delays when the time arrives.

The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate advisor now. An agent can connect you with a lender, help you adjust your search based on your budget, and be 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.

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
1

Unique Kitchen Island Configurations

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

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

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

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

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

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

October
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
23

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The best advice carries across multiple areas of life. When it comes to homebuying, a few simple tips can help you stay on track.
  • Because of increased demand, you'll need to be patient and embrace compromises during your search. Then, once you've fallen in love, commit by putting your best offer forward.
  • If you're looking to buy a home this year, let's connect so you have a dedicated partner and teammate to help you find the one.
October
21

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home.

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | MyKCM

While today's supply of homes for sale is still low, the number of newly built homes is increasing. If you're ready to sell but have held off because you weren't sure you'd be able to find a home to move into, newly built homes and those under construction can provide the options you've been waiting for.

The latest Census data shows the inventory of new homes is increasing this year (see graph below):Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | MyKCMWith more new homes coming to the market, this means you'll have more options to choose from if you're ready to buy. Of course, if you do consider a newly built home, you'll want to keep timing in mind. The supply shown in the graph above includes homes at various stages of the construction process – some are near completion while others may be months away.

According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior VP for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

"28% of new home inventory consists of homes that have not started construction, compared to 21% a year ago."

Buying a home near completion is great if you're ready to move. Alternatively, a home that has yet to break ground might benefit you if you're ready to sell and you aren't on a strict timeline. You'll have an even greater opportunity to design your future home to suit your needs. No matter what, your trusted real estate advisor can help you find a home that works for you.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of today's sellers' market, but you're not sure if you'll be able to find a home to move into, consider a newly built home. Let's connect today so you have a trusted real estate advisor to guide you through the sale of your house and discuss your homebuying options.

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
8

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today's Housing Market?

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today's Housing Market? | MyKCM

There's a well-known economic theory – the law of supply and demand – that explains what's happening with prices in the current real estate market. Put simply, when demand for an item is high, prices rise. When the supply of the item increases, prices fall. Of course, when demand is very high and supply is very low, prices can rise significantly.

Understanding the impact both supply and demand have can provide the answers to a few popular questions about today's housing market:

  • Why are prices rising?
  • Where are prices headed?
  • What does this mean for homebuyers?

Why Are Prices Rising?

According to the latest Home Price Insights report from CoreLogic, home prices have risen 18.1% since this time last year. But what's driving the increase?

Recent buyer and seller activity data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) helps answer that question. When we take NAR's buyer activity data and compare it to the seller traffic during the same timeframe, we can see buyer demand continues to outpace seller activity by a wide margin. In other words, the demand for homes is significantly greater than the current supply that's available to buy (see maps below):What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today's Housing Market? | MyKCMThis combination of low supply and high demand is what's driving home prices up. Bill McBride, author of the Calculated Risk blog, puts it best, saying:

"By some measures, house prices seem high, but the recent price increases make sense from a supply and demand perspective."

Where Are Prices Headed?

The supply of homes for sale will greatly affect where prices head over the coming months. Many experts forecast prices will continue to increase, but they'll likely appreciate at a slower rate.

Buyers hoping to purchase the home of their dreams may see this as welcome news. In this case, perspective is important: a slight moderation of home prices does not mean prices will depreciate or fall. Price increases may occur at a slower pace, but experts still expect them to rise.

Five major entities that closely follow the real estate market forecast home prices will continue appreciating through 2022 (see graph below):What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today's Housing Market? | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for Homebuyers?

If you're waiting to enter the market because you're expecting prices to drop, you may end up paying more in the long run. Even if price increases occur at a slower rate next year, prices are still projected to rise. That means the home of your dreams will likely cost even more in 2022.

Bottom Line

The truth is, high demand and low supply are what's driving up home prices in today's housing market. And while prices may increase at a slower pace in the coming months, experts still expect them to rise. If you're a potential homebuyer, let's connect today to discuss what that could mean for you if you wait even longer to buy.

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
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
25

A Guide to Choosing the Right Luxury Kitchen Sink

A kitchen sink can be an overlooked part of the kitchen design process, but being strategic in your selection is essential from both a function and aesthetic standpoint. While typically considered utilitarian, selecting a unique kitchen sink material can make it a focal point and add the drama the space needs. Read on to find out the different types of high-end kitchen sinks to determine which one may be best for your home.

Stone Kitchen Sinks
A stone sink, such as granite, quartz or marble, brings the wow to the workhorse area of the kitchen. A stone sink can add value to your home and has a long lifespan. Since it is a material found in nature, every sink is unique because of its slight variations. However, stone sinks do require sealing maintenance.

Copper Kitchen Sinks
A copper sink is a showstopper and an unexpected element in a kitchen. A copper sink in an apron, also known as farmhouse style, will showcase its unique design; however, it can also be installed as an undermount sink. Copper sinks can come in either a smooth or hammered finish, and the level of patina can vary. The thicker the copper, the more noise it absorbs and will better resist denting. Copper also has antimicrobial properties, which is a significant asset for an area of the house that is a breeding ground for germs.

Cast Iron Kitchen Sinks
Cast iron sinks are one of the oldest types of sinks around, for a good reason. Cast iron sinks are iron and topped with a glossy enamel finish, resisting stains, dings and scratches. A cast iron sink installation can be complicated because it's so heavy. Cast iron sinks also require additional support once installed. However, a cast iron sink can quickly become a focal point of the kitchen since you can select your preferred style and color.

Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
A fireclay kitchen sink is made of ceramic clay, and once dry, is covered with porcelain enamel. The enamel is susceptible to chips, due to regular wear and tear, and the clay can risk cracking. Fireclay sinks are typically installed in an apron sink style, although they can be installed in various ways.

Concrete Kitchen Sinks
A concrete kitchen sink is a completely custom option. This of-the-moment sink material is poured on-site, creating its custom shape, size and look. If you use your sink infrequently, a concrete sink may be for you because the material is prone to staining.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks
While a stainless steel sink is typically a more builder-grade option, there are ways to select an elevated stainless steel sink. Choosing stainless steel with a lower gauge means the sink is thicker, which means higher quality. A stainless steel sink in a satin finish is less likely to show water spots.

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.
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
14

Why It's Still Safe To Sell Your Home

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

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

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

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

New and Existing Technology Are Impacting the Process

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
10

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to the current housing market, there are multiple misconceptions – from what the current supply of available homes looks like to how much houses are selling for.
  • It takes professionals who study expert opinions and data to truly understand the real estate market and separate fact from fiction.
  • Trust the pros. If you want to understand why it's still a good time to buy, let's connect today.
September
9

When Should You Hire a Surveyor?

A surveyor is a professional who determines the exact location of a property line. Many homeowners don't know the boundaries of their yards and operate under erroneous assumptions. That can lead to disputes between neighbors that are stressful, costly and preventable. 

You Need to Know the Location of the Property Line Before You Build
If you're thinking about building an addition or constructing a fence, you need to know exactly where the property line is so that you don't accidentally encroach on your neighbor's land. If you don't have your property surveyed and you inadvertently build in your neighbor's yard, you can find yourself in legal and financial trouble. You may be required to move a fence or have an addition torn down, or you may have to purchase a piece of land from your neighbor to rectify the situation and avoid a lawsuit.

Local zoning laws typically require that additions and other structures be located a minimum distance from a property line. You'll need to know precisely where that line lies before you begin building, or even designing, an addition. You don't want to spend time and money to develop a plan, then learn that you don't have the legal right to follow through with it.

You Need to Know Who Owns a Tree
Trees are often located on or near property lines. The location of the property line is important because it determines who is responsible for maintaining a tree. It can also impact liability if a tree falls in a storm. If the tree is located in your yard and it falls on your neighbor's property because you failed to have dead branches trimmed, you may be held liable for repair costs.

You Need to Know If There Are Additional Factors That Affect Land Ownership
Sometimes a property owner is granted an easement that gives that party permission to use a portion of someone else's land for a particular purpose. If an easement exists, you may not be aware of it, but it can affect your rights to build in your yard. A surveyor can research the issue and note any easements in a report.

You Need to Know Where Utilities Are Located
Pipes, gas lines and cables are often placed underground. It's critical to know what's beneath your property and where it's located before you or a contractor begins digging for any type of project. A surveyor can find and mark the locations of underground utilities to help you avoid an accident.

Get Accurate Information So You Can Make Informed Decisions and Prevent Disputes
When neighbors get into disagreements about property lines, things can get heated. Often, a dispute stems from a misunderstanding. If you want to build on your property or if you think your neighbor may be violating your rights, hiring a surveyor is a good first step. Once you have accurate, unbiased information, you'll be able to decide how to proceed. 

September
7

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCM

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

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

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

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

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

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

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMBuyers today know bidding wars are a likely outcome, and they're coming prepared with their best offer in hand. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

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

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale. Though it's improving, it remains at near-record lows. The chart below shows how today's low inventory stacks up against recent years. The lighter the blue is in the chart, the lower the housing supply.

Reasons You Should Consider Selling This Fall | MyKCMIf you're looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
2

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

August
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
29

6 Ways to Transition Decor From Summer to Fall

If your home is full of breezy linens, light colors and fresh scents, it's time to make a few tweaks and replace these items with their autumn-inspired accessories. Fall interiors are all about rich fabrics, deep colors and bringing natural elements indoors. However, you don't need to do a complete design overhaul to have a fall-friendly space. Instead, find out the tweaks you can make to transition your summer decor to an autumn scheme seamlessly.

Layer With Texture and Pattern
As you pack away breezy summer fabrics make room for fall's rich counterparts. Updating your throw blankets and pillows is an easy way to make a space feel ready for the chillier months ahead. Throws and pillows in heavy, textured fabrics, like wool, cashmere, velvet, faux fur or plaid will invite you to stay for a while. Casually drape a throw blanket across the sofa or pile them in a basket within reach. 

Incorporate Rich Hues
Rich, warm tones and jewel-hued colors are a perfect autumn color palette. Whether it's olive green, burgundy or indigo, incorporating these deeper colors as accents can lend a fall vibe. Alternatively, you can consider a neutral color palette of warm cream, gray and taupe to create a calm, cozy space.

Bring in Natural Elements
If you spend most of your summer outdoors, the idea of being inside for the months ahead can feel stifling. Ease the transition by bringing natural elements indoors. Incorporate in-season flower bouquets, such as hydrangeas, spray roses, mums; extra greenery, like seeded eucalyptus, which has a more organic look and feel; or branches to fill centerpiece vases.

Update the Lighting
As you plan to spend more time inside, take inventory of your existing lighting. With more evenings indoors, you may need additional task lighting, such as floor and table lamps. You can also update the lampshades on your scones and table lamps in fall-inspired prints and colors, such as plaid, animal print or in richer hues.

Upgrade Your Bedding
As the temperatures dip, upgrade your sheets to a set of Egyptian cotton, silk or percale, and add an extra woven blanket layer. Take advantage of the crisp cool nights by cracking open a window, knowing you will have an extra layer of bedding to keep you cozy.

Remember the Details
As you prepare to spend more time inside your home, pay attention to the details that give your home an extra special touch. Infusing your home with fall scents, updating your coffee table books, refreshing your picture frames with summer memories and replacing the bathroom hand soaps will go a long way to creating a cozy fall atmosphere.

As the autumn season approaches, a few decor tweaks will help create an inviting and cozy fall atmosphere that will make you and your guests feel right at home. 

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
25

Should You Ever Buy a House Sight Unseen?

A buyer who is interested in a property typically visits it in person to inspect its layout, features and condition. It's also possible to buy a house without seeing it in person. A buyer can make a decision based on photos and videos, and possibly also the observations and opinions of a real estate agent or another person who visits the property on the buyer's behalf.

When Might It Make Sense to Buy a Property Without Seeing It in Person?

If you're planning to move a long distance, it may not be possible for you to travel to another state to see a house yourself. In that case, you may decide to purchase a home sight unseen, especially if you need to move soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people buy and sell homes. Strong demand has caused properties to be snapped up quickly. In addition, concerns about the spread of the coronavirus have made buyers more willing to purchase a property without first seeing it in person.

With properties currently receiving multiple offers in a matter of hours, interested buyers have to act quickly. If you find a property that appeals to you, you may decide to place an offer without seeing the house in person so you can avoid a bidding war. 

How Can You Protect Yourself When Buying a Property Sight Unseen?

Pictures and videos can provide valuable information about a home, but they can't tell the whole story. The listing photos and videos may not cover the entire house. Defects may not be apparent in the images that are provided. Other negative features, such as an unpleasant odor, will only be detectable during an in-person visit.

Even if you can't go to a house yourself before you place an offer, another individual can act on your behalf to help you make an informed decision. Your real estate agent or a family member or friend who lives in the area can visit a property that you're interested in buying and give you information on any issues of concern. If you have questions, let's connect!

Before buying any house, you should have it inspected so you know if it has major problems, such as a cracked foundation or a leaky roof. A home inspection is even more critical when buying a property sight unseen. 

Include an inspection contingency in your offer. That will allow you to have the house inspected and will give you the right to request repairs or a price reduction, or to back out of the deal if the home inspector finds serious problems. 

August
18

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand | MyKCM

One of the major questions real estate experts are asking today is whether prospective homebuyers still believe purchasing a home makes sense. Some claim rapidly rising home prices are impacting demand and, by extension, leading to the recent slowdown in sales activity.

However, demand isn't the real issue. Instead, it's the lack of supply (homes available for sale). An article from the Wall Street Journal shows this is true for new home construction:

"Home builders have sold more homes than they can build. Now they are limiting their sales in an effort to catch up."

The article quotes David Auld, CEO of D.R. Horton Inc. (the largest homebuilder by volume in the United States since 2002), explaining how they don't have enough homes for the number of buyers coming into their models:

"Through our history, to have somebody walk into our models and to tell them, 'We don't have a house for you to buy today', is something that is foreign to us."

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, also explains that, in the existing home sale market, the slowdown in sales was a supply challenge, not a lack of demand. Responding to a recent uptick in listings coming to market, she notes:

". . . if these changing inventory dynamics continue, we could see a wave of real estate activity heading into the latter part of the year."

Again, the buyers are there. We just need houses to sell to them.

If the slowdown in sales was the result of demand waning, we would start to see home prices beginning to moderate – but this isn't the case. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, explains:

"There's a lot of conversation around rising prices and falling quantity in the housing market, and there's this concept, or this idea, that it's a demand-side problem . . . . But, if demand were falling dramatically, we would actually see less price pressure, less home price growth."

Instead, we're seeing price appreciation accelerate throughout this year, as evidenced by the year-over-year percentage increases reported by CoreLogic:

  • January: 10%
  • February: 10.4%
  • March: 11.3%
  • April: 13%
  • May: 15.4%
  • June: 17.2%

(July numbers are not yet available)

There's a shortage of listings, not buyers, and there are three very good reasons for purchasers to still be interested in buying a home this year.

1. Affordability isn't the challenge some are claiming it to be.

Though home prices have risen dramatically over the last 18 months, mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Because of these near-record rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for most buyers.

While homes are less affordable than they were last year, when we adjust for inflation, we can see they're also more affordable than they were in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s.

2. Owning is a better long-term decision than renting.

A recent study shows renting a home takes up a higher percentage of a household's income than owning one. According to the analysis, here's the percentage of income homebuyers and renters should expect to pay now versus at the end of the year.

Real Estate: It's Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand | MyKCM

While the principal and interest of a monthly mortgage payment remain the same over the lifetime of the loan, rents increase almost every year.

3. Owners build their wealth. Renters build their landlord's wealth.

Whether you're a homeowner or an investor, real estate builds wealth through growing equity year-over-year. If you own, your household is gaining the benefit of that wealth accumulation. Fleming says:

"The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation . . . . We have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you're owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset."

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, elaborates in a recent article:

". . . once the home is purchased, appreciation helps build equity in the home, and becomes a benefit rather than a cost. When accounting for the appreciation benefit in our rent versus own analysis, it was cheaper to own in every one of the top 50 markets, including the two most expensive rental markets, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif."

Today, that equity buildup is substantial. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:

"The median sales price of single-family existing homes rose in 99% of measured metro areas in the second quarter of 2021 compared to one year ago, with double-digit price gains in 94% of markets."

In 94% of markets, there was a greater than 10% increase in median price. That means if you bought a $400,000 home in one of those markets, your net worth increased by at least $40,000. If you rented, the landlord was the recipient of the wealth increase.

Bottom Line

For many reasons, housing demand is still extremely strong. What we need is more supply (house listings) to meet that demand.

August
10

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy?

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCM

According to recent data from realtor.com, median rental prices have reached their highest point ever recorded in many areas across the country. The report found rents rose by 8.1% from the same time last year. As it notes:

"Beyond simply recovering to pre-pandemic levels, rents across the country are surging. Typically, rents fluctuate less than 1% from month to month. In May and June, rents increased by 3.0% and 3.2% from each month to the next."

If you're a renter concerned about rising prices, now may be the time to consider purchasing a home.

Monthly Rents Are Higher Than Monthly Mortgage Payments

When you weigh your options of whether to buy a home or continue renting, how much you'll pay each month is likely top of mind. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), monthly mortgage payments are rising, but they're still significantly lower than the typical rental payment. NAR indicates the latest data on homes closed shows the median monthly mortgage payment is $1,204.

By contrast, the median national rent is $1,575 according to the most current data provided by realtor.com. In other words, buyers who recently purchased a home locked in a monthly payment that is, on average, $371 lower than what renters pay today (see graph below):

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCM

Rents Are Rising Sharply, and They Continue To Increase

The difference in monthly housing costs when comparing renting and homebuying today is significant, but many would-be homebuyers wonder about the future of rental prices. If we look to historical Census data as a reference, the median asking rent has risen consistently since 1988 (see graph below):

With Rents on the Rise – Is Now the Time To Buy? | MyKCMThe rise in rent over time clearly shows one of the major advantages homeownership has over renting: stable housing costs. Renters face increasing costs every year. When you purchase your home, your mortgage rate is locked in for 30 years, meaning your monthly payment stays the same over time. That gives you welcome peace of mind and predictability for many years ahead.

Bottom Line

With rents continuing to rise across the country, renters should consider if now is the right time to buy. There are multiple benefits to buying sooner rather than later. Let's discuss your options so you can make your most powerful decision.

August
4

Kitchen Trends That Are Going Out of Fashion

Most of us spend a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing meals and cleaning up. In many cases, we spend so much time in our familiar kitchen space that we don't pay much attention to what it looks like.

But the trends, they are a-changin'. Today's kitchens are sleek and practical. Design experts list seven kitchen looks that are quickly going out of style:

Short backsplashes. Backsplashes that reach up to six to eight inches above the countertop are sorely outdated. If you're up for a remodel, take the backsplash all the way up to the upper cabinets to make your kitchen feel bigger and cleaner. 

Distressed wood cabinets. Once the darling of country-style kitchens, the clunky distressed wood of yesteryear is giving way to natural wood or white finishes.

Over the stove microwaves. When microwaves came into fashion, homeowners put them over the stove to save counter space. But today's families want necessities accessible for the entire family. Some are redesigning cabinets to move the microwave into an under-counter nook where smaller family members can reach it. 

Top-of-cabinet décor. Gone are the days of filling the space between the tops of your cabinets and the ceiling with dusty accessories like artificial flowers or greenery. Removing them from above the cabinets gives the room a more open feel.

Hanging pots and pans. Once, every kitchen shown in a magazine had a big, beautiful, hanging rack filled with copper or stainless-steel pots and pans. Kitchen designers today are making room for them in drawers or cabinet, trading in that outdated country look for cleaner, minimalist lines. 

Anything but stainless steel. Over the years, kitchen appliances have gone from white to copper to avocado green and back again. But the desired look today is the cool, sleek look of stainless steel.

Kitchen desks. At one point in time, every upscale kitchen featured desk space—a little nook where you could scan the mail, pay bills, etc. But those mess-collectors are now yesterday's news. Moving desk chores to another room can give your kitchen extra space and alternative storage options.

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!

July
27

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCM

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today's real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you've likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that's something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can't take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let's take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It's not just today's high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

"The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes."

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCMThe same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

". . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years." 

"Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . ."

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it'll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today's supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today's ultimate sellers' market is here to stay?

We're already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can't bridge the supply gap we're facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation's Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

"…Although part of the answer to the nation's housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today's strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market."

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

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

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:

"As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner."

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn't mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It's not too late to take advantage of today's sellers' market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It's still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it's still hovering near historic lows. Let's connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

July
25

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong

Demand for Vacation Homes Is Still Strong | MyKCM

The pandemic created a tremendous interest in vacation homes across the country. Throughout the last year, many people purchased second homes as a safe getaway from the challenges of the health crisis. With many professionals working from home and many students taking classes remotely, it made sense to see a migration away from cities and into counties with more vacation destinations.

The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this increase in vacation home sales continues in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where "vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock" and compares that data to the overall residential market.

Their findings show:

  • Vacation home sales rose by 16.4% to 310,600 in 2020, outpacing the 5.6% growth in total existing-home sales.
  • Vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year during January-April 2021 compared to the 20% year-over-year change in total existing-home sales.
  • Home prices rose more in vacation home counties – the median existing price rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.

This coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.

As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.

Bottom Line

If you're one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you're likely wondering what this means for you. If you're considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options. There are still plenty of buyers in the market. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your second home, enjoy it! Current market conditions show that it's a good ongoing investment.

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
9

Understanding What Flood Insurance Does and Doesn't Cover

Flooding can happen anywhere—and even an inch of water can cause major damage to your home. If you're looking to take out a mortgage on a house in a high-risk flood zone, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. Before you buy a policy, though, it's important to understand what flood insurance does and doesn't cover.

National Flood Insurance Program 
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers two types of policies. One covers the cost to rebuild a house or its actual cash value, whichever is less, with a maximum coverage amount of $250,000. The second type of policy covers the actual cash value of personal property, up to a maximum of $100,000. You have the option to purchase one or both policies. Be aware that these policies have separate deductibles.

A flood insurance policy will only cover losses that are a direct result of flooding. "Flooding" means that water must cover at least two acres or must have damaged your home and at least one other property.

Federal flood insurance will cover the plumbing and electrical system, furnace, fuel tank and fuel, water heater, heat pump and air conditioner. It will often cover a refrigerator, stove and built-in appliances, such as a dishwasher, as well as permanently installed carpeting, curtains, blinds, damaged cabinets, foundation walls and staircases. These policies can also cover a detached garage and personal property, as well as mudflow, groundwater seepage and a sewer backup.

NFIP limits coverage for a basement, crawlspace or living space with a floor below ground level and will not cover damage caused by mold, mildew or moisture unrelated to flooding or that the homeowner could have prevented. These policies will not pay for damage caused by the movement of the earth, even if the movement was a result of flooding. They will also not cover loss of use, additional living expenses, financial losses due to business interruption, most vehicles or property located outside of an insured building.

Thousands of agents across the country sell NFIP policies, even to homeowners who don't live in a flood plain. Coverage takes effect 30 days after a policy is purchased, meaning if a hurricane is in the forecast, you can't purchase flood insurance at the last minute and expect to be covered. Be sure to be proactive to protect yourself and your home, especially in a high-risk area.

Private Flood Insurance
Some private insurance companies also offer flood insurance policies that can provide supplemental coverage above the federal limits or serve as a primary flood insurance policy. In some cases, private flood insurance may be less expensive than an NFIP policy and it may cover additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable. 

Do You Have the Right Flood Insurance Coverage?
Many homeowners don't think they are at risk of flooding or assume their homeowners insurance policy covers it. A flood insurance policy can cover many of the costs associated with flood damage and is worth the cost if you live in an area where flooding is more common. If you don't have flood insurance coverage, you can discuss your options with your insurance agent, or your Real Estate Agent can offer smart suggestions based on your neighborhood and risk.

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.
June
20

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCM

The major challenge in today's housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can't keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it's a buyers' market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we're in a sellers' market. Today's inventory level sits far below the norm.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March's inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March's 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows."

Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we're still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here's why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today's low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they're coming to market.

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCMThis inventory shortage doesn't just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they're also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:

"The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate."

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today's Housing Shortage | MyKCMSam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:

"In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.

While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand."

Despite today's low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.

Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com, explains:

"In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year

In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes."

As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what's ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:

"Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers."

Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.

Bottom Line

Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today's market, there is hope on the horizon. Let's connect to talk about your home search so we can find your dream home this summer.

May
3

Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year

Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year | MyKCM

The question many homebuyers are facing this year is, "Why is it so hard to find a house?" We're in the ultimate sellers' market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising. Why? It's because there are so few houses for sale.

Low inventory in the housing market isn't new, but it's becoming more challenging to navigate. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

"The housing market is still relatively under supplied, and buyers can't buy what's not for sale. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. Despite this week's gain from a year ago, we're 19 percent below the new seller activity that we saw in the same week in 2019."

While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn't the main cause of today's huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:

"The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, 'starter homes.'"

When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year | MyKCMThe number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:

"Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend."

To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:

"Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent (±1.7 percent) above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 . . . Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,739,000. This is 19.4 percent (±13.7 percent) above the revised February estimate of 1,457,000. . . ."

What does this mean? Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, clarifies:

"The March figure of 1.74 million housing starts is the highest in 14 years. Both single-family units and multifamily units ramped up. After 13 straight years of underproduction – the chief cause for today's inventory shortage – this construction boom needs to last for at least three years to make up for the part shortfall. As trade-up buyers purchase newly constructed homes, their prior homes will show up in MLSs, and hence, more choices for consumers. Housing starts to housing completion could be 4 to 8 months, so be patient with the improvement to inventory. In the meantime, construction workers deserve cheers."

Bottom Line

If you're planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today's low inventory environment. Let's connect today to talk more about what's happening in our area.

April
29

Why This Is a Great Year to Sell Your Vacation Home

Why This Is a Great Year to Sell Your Vacation Home | MyKCM

As vaccines are administered and travel resumes, many of us are beginning to plan for those long-awaited vacations we missed out on over the past year. Some households are focusing their efforts on buying a vacation home rather than staying in a hotel, too. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports:

"Second homes (i.e., homes sold to buyers who are not going to occupy the home year-round, but use it as a vacation home, investment property, etc.) account for 15 percent of new single-family home sales."

It's not surprising that there's an increase in demand for vacation homes. The majority of Americans are realizing they prefer to be around small groups, as shown in a recent survey from The Harris Poll:

"Social distancing taught consumers new things about how they like to socialize; (75%) said, 'during COVID social distancing I realized I preferred smaller social gatherings at home or at friends' place.'"

Not only are vacation homes seen as a potentially more pandemic-friendly way to travel and socialize, but they can also serve as an extended home-away-from-home. With more Americans being given the option to continue working remotely or retire earlier than expected, vacation homes can be used year-round. The NAHB explains:

"Remote work arrangements have made it possible for some wealthier Americans to move to alternate locations that are not just small, suburban shifts from within their current metro area.  More fundamentally, second home demand may also be benefitting by an acceleration of retirement plans, as well as stock market gains."

Bottom Line

The demand for vacation homes has increased and will continue to rise as we head into summer. If you own a house in a destination area and have thought about selling, now is a great time to take advantage of today's high buyer interest. Let's connect to discuss your opportunities in our local market.

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."

February
24

The Importance of Cleaning Your Kitchen Appliances

Maintaining Your Kitchen Appliances

Being a homeowner can be costly, but some expenses can be trimmed with regular maintenance. Since so many appliances run in the kitchen, it's one of the best places to start.

Here are some of the best ways to keep your kitchen appliances running well so that they last through their normal lifetime, and hopefully beyond:

Refrigerator
Refrigerators have a life expectancy of 13 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Mold should be the main thing to try to prevent the spread of in a refrigerator. This requires regularly removing all food from it and cleaning every corner. Check each week if expiration dates on food have passed, and toss out anything that's old.

On the exterior, clean dust and any debris from the condenser coils on the back, and check and maintain the seals on the fridge.

Stove or Oven
Gas ranges should last 15 years, which includes the stovetop and oven. Clean both on a monthly basis with an oven cleaner or basic cleaner for the surface.

Even after a self-cleaning cycle, an oven can need some extra scrubbing by hand to remove old food drippings that have turned to ash. Be sure to wear a mask and gloves. For a gas stovetop, you may need to take apart the components to clean them well.

Garbage Disposal
At six years, a garbage disposal may have one of the shortest life spans in a kitchen. A lot of it depends on what you put down there.

Putting big chunks of food, or thick items such as carrots can break a disposal. You're better off throwing those in a trash can or composter.

To keep your garbage disposal smelling clean, fill the sink with soap and water and then let it flush and drain. Cut a lemon in quarters and run them in the disposal until they're gone.

Microwave
Expect nine years of good service from a microwave oven. Spilled food can cause stains inside, and fingerprints, splatters and other things can make the outside dirty.

To clean the inside, heat a cup of water inside the microwave for 2 – 3 minutes. Let it evaporate until steam appears on the glass window, then open it and wipe the inside with a sponge. Scrub the glass plate separately, and use soapy water to clean the inside.

For the exterior, an all-purpose cleaner with a sponge or cloth should work well. Don't spray the cleaner directly on the appliance because it could enter the ventilation holes.

February
21

Savannah Vacation Properties Investments Are a Win-Win

by HEATHER BOOTH

Picturesque, charming, historic, inviting, far from ordinary, the list goes on and visitors agree … there's nothing quite like Savannah. Tourism is nothing new to Georgia's "first city," for the past several years tourism records have continued to soar. This year seems to be no exception, as Savannah made the list for Travel + Leisure's top places to visit in 2019.

The living is easy in Savannah. Most visitors want to come and live like a local. They want to feel that sense of home. Because of that, many choose to stay in a vacation property within the landmark historic district, instead of a hotel. They are smart travelers, many are millennials, who understand and trust the concept of Airbnb.

From the Savannah River to Gwinnett Street, and from East Broad to Martin Luther King Boulevard vacation rentals are in high demand and can be found on just about every block. Most of the homes in the area have about a 70-80% occupancy rate, and when you compare that to the hotels in the area, they're doing just as good — or even better!

In Savannah, purchasing a home to use as vacation property is a successful investment, but there are realities to note, before buying.  First of all, it's really important to work with a lender, preferably local, who understands the nuisances for lending.

Secondly, the City of Savannah issues a permit for each vacation rental in order to limit and maintain a balance of full time and rental properties across the area. This is a blessing and a curse because they look at each ward and designate no more than 20% to be used as a vacation rental.

High Demand For Savannah Vacation Properties

Vacation properties in the hostess city are so sought after that almost every ward is currently full, and there's a waiting list to receive new permits. Any home sold with a permit, is considered some of the most marketable property in the historic district. That's because, if you purchase from someone who's home is already permitted, you don't automatically get the vacation rental permit, but you can apply and almost be at the top of the list.

There are also a large number of people who want to use their garden home or carriage house as a rental, to allow them the opportunity to get into a neighborhood or a home that they might otherwise not have been able to afford. Those lucky homeowners are able to share their space with visitors without necessarily qualifying under the city's permit cap, as long as it's considered their full-time residence.

Annually,  Savannah sees 7 million tourists. Each tourist is attracted to Savannah for a different reason, whether it be the walkability of the city, the European feel, the to-go cocktail atmosphere, the southern hospitality, the delicious and eclectic fare, the perfectly manicured squares, the Spanish moss shaded streets, or the proximity to the waterways… But no matter the case, each one of these visitors needs a place to stay, hence the success of vacation rental properties.

Want to Learn More?

For more information on vacation rentals visit www.corabettvacationrentals.com and for additional details on vacation sales please contact Heather Booth directly at hbooth@corabettthomas.com or 912-401-9401.

June
6

save money on your summer power bill

It's that time of year in Savannah when the temperatures start to rise, and love it or hate it, it's hot outside, folks. While hot summer days certainly aren't exclusive to Savannah and the Lowcountry, the high temperatures combined with the high humidity are hard for anyone to ignore. And the solution for most everyone is simple: escape to a place with some air-conditioning. Trying to beat the heat during the summer months (May through September) without air-conditioning is nearly impossible and can even be dangerous. The biggest challenge that many face as during the dog days of summer is trying to stay as comfortable as possible without spending an arm and a leg on utility costs. But don't fret — there are some easy ways to beat the heat and save money on your summer power bill without sacrificing your comfortable cool air.

1. Change your air filter(s).

This should be a no-brainer, but I have seen some really disgusting air filters before, and I will admit that some of those have been in my own home. I absolutely understand and agree 100% that this is one of those tasks that you always think of at the most inopportune time, and never with regularity. My solution? Plan ahead. Determine when your filter will need to be changed next (you should change it monthly), and then set an alarm or a calendar reminder on your phone, computer, etc.; just make sure you will be reminded in a month in some way that you need to change your air filter.

2. Clean your air filter(s).

Again, a no-brainer, or either this is something you have thought of and dismissed it as too much work. Don't think that way. Halfway through the month, check your filter and if it need a few swipes with a dusting cloth or a vacuum attachment, go for it. You will be surprised at how much of a difference this can make to save money on your summer power bill. An air filter that is dirty will have to work twice as hard, and that means more energy that your HVAC unit is exerting.

3. Fans are your friends.

Both ceiling fans and upright (floor) fans help keep the air circulating and can make your home feel more comfortable without you having to keep your HVAC running at a low (colder) temperature. Also, using fans to keep the air circulating while you aren't home will mean that HVAC doesn't have to run twice as hard when you come home and turn it down. 

But Which Direction?

During the summer, you want the air blowing directly on you so you will feel cooler from the wind chill effect (which is how fans cool you off). Stand under the fan and turn on high speed. If you don't feel the air moving at you well, then turn the fan off and flick the reverse toggle switch. Turn it back on high speed. If you feel more air, you have it in the right position. Whichever position you feel the most air movement when standing directly under the fan is the correct position for summer. 

4. Give the thermostat space.

If you can, avoid having lamps and appliances near your thermostat--its heat sensor will pick up the heat that is put out by these items and will think that it needs to work harder to cool the house, which means a higher utility bill for you.

5. Turn it all off.

If you're leaving your house, make sure to turn off all of your lights and turn up the temperature on your thermostat. This way, your HVAC isn't working to cool an empty house but it won't have to work as hard when you return home and turn the temperature back down. Better still, invest in a smart system to save money on your summer power bill, such as a Nest, which we've mentioned before. This system can be controlled from the wall-mounted thermostat and through an app on your phone, so if you forget to turn the thermostat up before you leave, you're still covered — you can use your phone to adjust your thermostat. Better still, over the course of a few weeks, Nest will acclimate to your usual HVAC temperature settings and will begin to automatically adjust itself to those settings, saving both energy and money on utility bills.

These are just a few things that can be done to help save money on your summer power bill without sacrificing your comfort, but doing so not only guarantees that you will have a more comfortable and consistently cooled home, but you will be able to do without having to spend all of your summer fun money on your utility bills. 

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