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May
16

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

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

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

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

What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May
13

The Home Seller's Survival Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May
12

What You Need To Know About Selling in a Sellers' Market

What You Need To Know About Selling in a Sellers' Market | MyKCM

Even if you haven't been following real estate news, you've likely heard about the current sellers' market. That's because there's a lot of talk about how strong market conditions are for people who want to sell their houses. But if you're thinking about listing your house, you probably want to know: what does being in a sellers' market really mean?

What Is a Sellers' Market?

The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows housing supply is still very low. There's a 2-month supply of homes at the current sales pace.

Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a normal or neutral market where there are enough homes available for active buyers. That puts today deep in sellers' market territory (see graph below):

What You Need To Know About Selling in a Sellers' Market | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for You When You Sell?

When the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it's much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which can lead to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they're going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer upfront. This could drive the final price of your house up.

And because mortgage rates and home prices are climbing, serious buyers are motivated to make their purchase soon, before those two things rise further. That means, if you put your house on the market while supply is still low, it will likely get a lot of attention from competitive buyers.

Bottom Line

The current real estate market has incredible opportunities for homeowners looking to make a move. Listing your house this season means you'll be in front of serious buyers who are ready to buy. Let's connect so you can jumpstart the selling process.

May
11

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market?

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

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

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

Early Signs Inventory May Be Growing

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

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

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

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

Homes Are Still Selling Quickly

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

Are There More Homes Coming to the Market? | MyKCM

What That Means for You

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
10

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

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

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

What's Happening with Home Prices? 

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

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

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

Where Do Experts Say Prices Will Go from Here?

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

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

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

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

What Does That Mean for You?

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
9

How Today's Mortgage Rates Impact Your Home Purchase

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

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

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

Mortgage Rates Play a Large Role in Your Home Search

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
6

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

May
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
27

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort | MyKCM

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

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

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

Homeownership Contributes Significantly to Your Financial Well-Being

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

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

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

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

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

The Emotional Benefits of Owning a Home Are Powerful

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

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

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

What Does That Mean for You?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
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
13

Where Are Mortgage Rates Headed?

Mortgage Rates

There's never been a truer statement regarding forecasting mortgage rates than the one offered last year by Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

"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."

Coming into this year, most experts projected mortgage rates would gradually increase and end 2022 in the high three-percent range. It's only April, and rates have already blown past those numbers. Freddie Mac announced last week that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is already at 4.72%.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, tweeted on March 31:

"Continuing on the recent trajectory, would have mortgage rates hitting 5% within a matter of weeks. . . ."

Just five days later, on April 5, the Mortgage News Daily quoted a rate of 5.02%.

No one knows how swiftly mortgage rates will rise moving forward. However, at least to this point, they haven't significantly impacted purchaser demand. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zondaexplains:

"Mortgage rates jumped much quicker and much higher than even the most aggressive forecasts called for at the end of last year, and yet housing demand appears to be holding steady."

Through February, home prices, the number of showings, and the number of homes receiving multiple offers all saw a substantial increase. However, much of the spike in mortgage rates occurred in March. We will not know the true impact of the increase in mortgage rates until the March housing numbers become available in early May.

Rick Sharga, EVP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM Datarecently put rising rates into context:

"Historically low mortgage rates and higher wages helped offset rising home prices over the past few years, but as home prices continue to soar and interest rates approach five percent on a 30-year fixed rate loan, more consumers are going to struggle to find a property they can comfortably afford."

While no one knows exactly where rates are headed, experts do think they'll continue to rise in the months ahead. In the meantime, if you're looking to buy a home, know that rising rates do have an impact. As rates rise, it'll cost you more when you purchase a house. If you're ready to buy, it may make sense to do so sooner rather than later.

Bottom Line

Mark Fleming got it right. Forecasting mortgage rates is an impossible task. However, it's probably safe to assume the days of attaining a 3% mortgage rate are over. The question is whether that will soon be true for 4% rates as well.

April
12

Why a Real Estate Professional Is Key When Selling Your House

Working with a Real Estate Agent

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

FSBO Homes at Record Low

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

1. They Know What Buyers Want To See

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

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

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

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

2. They Help Maximize Your Buyer Pool

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

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

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

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

3. They Understand the Fine Print

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

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

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

4. They're Trained Negotiators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
11

Using Your Tax Refund To Achieve Your Homeownership Goals This Year

Using Your Tax Refund Towards Homeownership Goals

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

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

Average 2021 Tax Refund by State

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

How Buyers Can Use Their Tax Refund

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

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

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

How Sellers Can Use Their Tax Refund

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
10

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

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

Some Highlights

April
8

Questions Sellers Are Afraid To Ask Agents

Thinking About Questions to Ask When Selling Your Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April
6

Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers

Working Remotely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
4

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today

Beautiful Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
2

Seller Regrets: Are You Making These Mistakes?

Home Seller Mistakes to Avoid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April
1

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

March
31

Pros and Cons of Buying a House With Cash

Buying a House with Cash

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March
30

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

Mortgage Rates

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

Freddie Mac 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Average

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

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

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

Where Are Mortgage Rates Going from Here?

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

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst, Bankrate:

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

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

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

Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:

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

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

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
29

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

The Best Week To List Your House

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

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

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

You Should See More Buyer Activity

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

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

Your House Is Expected To Sell Quickly

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

Your House Will Be in the Spotlight

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
26

Sellers: Prioritize These Kitchen Improvements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March
25

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

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

Some Highlights

  • With inflation driving up the cost of everyday items, seeking out an energy-efficient home can be a great way to decrease the expenses you can control.
  • Energy efficiency can help lower your utility bills and possibly even save you money on your taxesOptions to look for include efficient appliances, windows, and solar panels.
  • If you're planning to buy a home this year, consider energy efficiency in your search. Let's connect so you can better understand features that can save you money for years to come.
March
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
19

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

Did Your Dream Home Just Come on the Market?

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

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

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

However, buying demand is still outpacing housing supply.

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

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

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

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

This prompted ShowingTime to say:

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

What does that mean for you?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
16

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

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

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

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

Rents Are Going Up Again This Year

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

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

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

Homeownership Offers Stable Monthly Costs

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
15

Don't Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs

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

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

What Are Closing Costs?

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

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

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

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

How Much Will You Need To Budget for Closing Costs?

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

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

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

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

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
14

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

2. Your Equity Is Growing in Record Amounts

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

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

3. Mortgage Rates Are Increasing

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

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

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

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

4. Home Prices Are Climbing Too

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
13

Which Season Is The Best For Selling?

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

Selling In The Spring

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

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

Selling In The Summer

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

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

Selling In The Fall

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

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

Selling In The Winter

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

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

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

March
11

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Key Terms for Homebuyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Know Your Numbers​

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

2. Be Ready To Move Fast​

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

3. Make a Strong but Fair Offer​

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

Bottom Line

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

March
8

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

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

How Global Uncertainty Is Impacting Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

In another interview, Kushi adds:

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

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

Will Mortgage Rates Stay Down?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

March
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
2

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership | MyKCM

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

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

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

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

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

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

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

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

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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
28

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today | MyKCM

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

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

Inventory Is at an All-Time Low

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

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

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

The #1 Reason To Sell Your House Today | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
23

How Supply and Demand Can Impact Your Buying and Selling Goals

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

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

Nationally, Demand Is High and Supply Is Very Low

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

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

What Does This Mean if You're a Seller?

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

What Does This Mean if You're a Buyer?

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

Bottom Line

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

February
22

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home | MyKCM

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

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

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

Enjoy a Change in Scenery (or Weather)

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

Build Your Wealth Faster

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

Be Closer to Loved Ones

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

Lock in Your Expenses

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

Bottom Line

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

February
21

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
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
7

Consumers Agree: It's a Good Time To Sell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
6

Replacing Light Fixtures Can Help You Sell Your Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
31

Little Things That Can Have A Big Impact On Your Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
30

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Your Home Inspection Matters [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

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

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

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

Demand Is Very Strong

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

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

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

Supply Is Very Limited

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

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

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

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

Right Now, Sellers Have Maximum Leverage

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
24

Why Pre-Approval Is Key for Homebuyers in 2022

Why Pre-Approval Is Key for Homebuyers in 2022 | MyKCM

You may have heard that it's important to get pre-approved for a mortgage at the beginning of the homebuying process, but what does that really mean, and why is it so important? Especially in today's market, with rising home prices and high buyer competition, it's crucial to have a pre-approval letter prior to making an offer. Here's why.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home this year. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Just as important, being able to present a pre-approval letter shows sellers you're a qualified buyer, something that can really help you land your dream home in an ultra-competitive market.

With limited housing inventory, there are many more buyers active in the market than there are sellers, and that's creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are receiving an average of 3.8 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are still common. Pre-approval gives you an advantage if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it's likely you will. When a seller knows you're qualified to buy the home, you're in a better position to potentially win the bidding war.

Freddie Mac explains:

"By having a pre-approval letter from your lender, you're telling the seller that you're a serious buyer, and you've been pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender for a specific dollar amount. In a true bidding war, your offer will likely get dropped if you don't already have one."

Every step you can take to gain an advantage as a buyer is crucial when today's market is constantly changing. Interest rates are rising, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You're going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it's important to have a team of professionals such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate advisor making sure you take the right steps and can show your qualifications as a buyer when you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. Not only does being pre-approved bring clarity to your homebuying budget, but it shows sellers how serious you are about purchasing a home.

January
23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
20

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low?

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low? | MyKCM

One key question that's top of mind for homebuyers this year is: why is it so hard to find a house to buy? The truth is, we're in the ultimate sellers' market, so real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The number of buyers searching for a home greatly outweighs how many homes are available for sale.

While low inventory in the housing market isn't new, it's a challenge that continues to grow over time. Here's a look at two reasons why today's housing supply is low and what that means for you.

1. New Home Construction Fell Behind for Several Years

The graph below shows new home construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed. Builders exceeded that average during the housing bubble (shown in red on the graph). The result was an oversupply of homes on the market, so home values declined. That was one of the factors that led to the housing crash back in 2008.

Since then, the level of new home construction has fallen off. For the last 13 straight years, builders haven't been able to construct enough homes to meet the historical average (as illustrated in green on the graph). That underbuilding left us with a multi-year inventory deficit going into the pandemic.

Buyers Want To Know: Why Is Housing Supply Still So Low? | MyKCM

2. The Pandemic's Impact on the Housing Market

Then, when the pandemic hit, it fueled a renewed appreciation and focus on the meaning of home. Having a safe space to live, work, school, and exercise became even more important for Americans throughout the country. So, as mortgage rates dropped to at or below 3%, buyers eagerly entered the market looking to capitalize on those low rates to secure a home that would fulfill their changing needs. At the same time, sellers hesitated to put their houses on the market as concerns about the pandemic mounted.

The result? The number of homes available for sale dropped even further. A recent article from realtor.com explains:

"Last month, the number of home listings dropped 26.8% compared with the same time a year earlier. This meant there were about 177,000 fewer homes listed in what's already typically a slower month due to the holidays and colder weather. . . ."

What Does All of This Mean for You?

For a buyer, low inventory can be a challenge. You want to find the home of your dreams, and you don't want to settle. But what if there just aren't that many homes to choose from?

There is some good news. Experts are projecting more homes will soon become available thanks to sellers re-entering the market. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, shares this hope, but offers perspective:

"We expect that we'll start to see a turnaround and inventory will stabilize and start to go up a little bit in 2022. . . . But that means we're looking at inventory levels of roughly half of what we saw before the pandemic. For buyers, the market is likely to continue to move fast. If you see a home you like, you want to jump on it right away."

Basically, inventory is still low, even though more homes are coming. But you shouldn't put your plans on hold because you're waiting for those additional houses to hit the market.  Instead, stick with your search and persevere through today's low inventory. You can find your next home if you're patient and focused.

Remember your goals and why finding a home is so important. Those things should be the driving force behind your search. Share them with your agent and be clear about your priorities. Your trusted advisor is your greatest support as you navigate today's low housing supply to find the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line 

If you're planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience given today's low inventory. Let's connect to discuss what's happening in our area, what homes are available, and why it's still worthwhile to prioritize your home search today.

January
17

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership | MyKCM

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

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

1. Where Do I Start?

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

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

According to Freddie Mac:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. How Can I Reach My Financial Goals?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
14

When Is the Right Time To Sell? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • If you're trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market.
  • The latest data indicates home showings are rising. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you'll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won't be on the market long.
  • Today's market favors sellers. If you're ready to move, let's meet to discuss the benefits you can expect when you sell this season.
January
11

Hook Buyers With A Home Office Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
10

How To Hit Your Homebuying Goals This Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

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

December
28

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home

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

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

1. Know Your Budget

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

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

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

2. Be Ready To Move Fast

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

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

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

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

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

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

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

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

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

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

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

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

Bottom Line

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

December
14

Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers

Advice for First-Generation Homebuyers | MyKCM

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

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

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

1. Reach Out to a Real Estate Professional

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

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

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

2. Do Your Research and Know What You Can Afford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As AJ Barkley explains:

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

Bottom Line

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

December
10

Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You

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

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

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

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

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

Where Will Home Prices Be a Year from Now?

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

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

Where Will Mortgage Rates Be a Year from Now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

December
6

A Checklist for Selling Your House This Winter [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • If you're planning to sell your house this winter, you'll want it to look its best inside and out.
  • Take the time and focus on tasks that make it inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal.
  • Let's connect so you have an expert opinion on what to focus on, so it shows well and catches a buyer's eye.
December
3

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

November
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
23

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

2. Move to the Location of Your Dreams

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

3. Start a New Business

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

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

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

4. Fund an Education

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

Bottom Line

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

November
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.

October
31

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

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

Some Highlights

  • Applying for a mortgage is a big step towards homeownership, but it doesn't need to be one you fear. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
  • Know your credit score and work to build strong credit. When you're ready, lean on your agent to connect you with a lender so you can get pre-approved and begin your home search.
  • Any major life change can be scary, and buying a home is no different. Let's connect so you have an advisor by your side to take the fear out of the equation.
October
29

Does Your House Have What Buyers Want?

Does Your House Have What Buyers Want? | MyKCM

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

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

Remote Work Is Here To Stay

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

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

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

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

More Remote Work Means a Greater Need for Home Offices

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

What Does This Mean for You?

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

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

Bottom Line

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

October
27

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

Heightened Discipline for Wire Fraud - North Carolina Bar Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Hackers Love Targeting Real Estate Professionals

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

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

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

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

How Real Estate Agents Can Help Prevent Wire Fraud

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

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

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

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

STEP 1 - Send Earnest Money Digitally

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

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

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

1. SELECT ESCROW HOLDER

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

2. REQUEST EARNEST MONEY

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

3. COMPLETE THE DIGITAL TRANSFER

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

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

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

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

STEP 2 - Confirm by Phone

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

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

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

STEP 3 - Use Secure Wi-Fi

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

STEP 4 - Don't Overshare on Social Media

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

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

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

STEP 5 - Practice Safe Email Habits

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

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

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

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

STEP 6 - Update Computer Security Often

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

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

STEP 7 - Practice Good Password Hygiene

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

If You Suspect Fraud, Take the Following Steps:

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

Blog post sourced from dotloop.

October
26

There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring

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

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

The Number of Homes for Sale Usually Peaks in the Fall

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

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

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

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

What Does That Mean for You?

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

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

Bottom Line

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

October
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
14

Very Superstitious: Home Traditions That Are Still Alive Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October
13

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

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

Some Highlights

October
11

111,285 Reasons You Should Buy a Home This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equity over the Last 30 Years

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Forward at the Equity To Come

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

October
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
6

4 Tips To Prep for Your Home Sale This Fall

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

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

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

1. Price It Right

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

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

2. Keep It Clean

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

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

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

3. Make It Easy To Visit

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

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

4. Help Buyers Feel at Home

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

October
1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
30

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | MyKCM

Homeownership is still a crucial part of the American dream. For those people who own a home (and those looking to buy one), it's clear that being a homeowner has considerable benefits both emotionally and financially. In addition to long-term stability, buying a home is one of the best ways to increase your net worth. This boost to your wealth comes in the form of equity.

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

The best thing about equity is that it often grows without you even realizing it, especially in a sellers' market like we're in now. In today's real estate market, the combination of low housing supply and high buyer demand is driving home values up. This is giving homeowners a significant equity boost.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, the amount of equity homeowners have has continued to grow as home values appreciate. Here are some key takeaways from the Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

  • The average homeowner gained $51,500 in equity over the past year
  • There was a 29.3% increase in national homeowner equity year over year

To give you an idea of what that looks like in your area, the map below shows the average equity gains by state.

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | MyKCM

What does all of that mean for you?

If you're already a homeowner, you likely have more equity in your house than you realize. The numbers in the map above reflect year-over-year growth. If you've been in your home for longer than a year, you'll likely have even more equity than that. That equity can take you places. You can use the equity you've gained to fuel your next move, achieve other life goals, and more.

On the other hand, if you haven't purchased a home yet, understanding equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. Homeowners across the nation gained an average of over $50,000 in equity this year. Don't miss out on this chance to grow your net worth.

Bottom Line

If you want to learn more, let's connect. A trusted advisor can help you understand where home prices are today, how they contribute to a homeowner's net worth, and the impact equity can have when you own a home.

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
24

It's Still a Sellers' Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

September
22

Little-Known Secrets to Buying a Luxury Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September
20

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
17

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing?

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

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

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

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

What normally happens throughout the year?

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

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

What happened last year?

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

What's happening this year?

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
16