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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
5

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

In another article, Bankrate also says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

May
4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

April
23

4 Spring Home Problems (and How to Avoid Them)

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

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

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

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

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

April
15

Put a Little Spring in Your Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April
14

On the Fence of Whether or Not To Move This Spring? Consider This.

Beautiful House in Savannah Georgia

If you're thinking of selling your house, it may be because you've heard prices are rising, listings are going fast, and sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes. But why are conditions so good for sellers today? And what can you expect when you move? To help answer both of those questions, let's turn to the data.

Today, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Here are the maps of the latest buyer and seller traffic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help paint the picture of what this looks like:

Buyer Traffic & Seller Traffic Map

Notice how much darker the blues are on the left. This shows buyer traffic is strong today. In contrast, the much lighter blues on the right indicate weak or very weak seller traffic. In a nutshell, the demand for homes is significantly greater than what's available to purchase.

What That Means for You

You have an incredible advantage when you sell your house under these conditions. Since buyer demand is so high at a time when seller traffic is so low, there's a good chance buyers will be competing for your house.

According to NAR, in February, the average home sold got 4.8 offersWhen buyers have to compete with one another like this, they'll do everything they can to make their offer stand out. This could play to your favor and mean you'll see things like waived contingencies, offers over asking price, earnest money deposits, and more. Selling when demand is high and supply is low sets you up for a big win.

If you're also looking to buy a house, you may be tempted to focus more on just the seller traffic map and wonder if it means you'll have trouble finding your next home. But remember this: perspective is key. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comsays:

"The limited number of homes for sale is a lesson in perspective. This same stat that frustrates would-be homebuyers also means that today's home sellers enjoy more limited competition than last year's home sellers."

If you look at the big picture, the opportunity you have as a seller today is unprecedented. Last year was a hot sellers' market. This year, inventory is even lower, and that means an even bigger opportunity for you. Even though finding your next home in a market with low inventory can be challenging, is that concern worth passing on some of the best conditions sellers have ever seen?

As added peace of mind, remember real estate professionals have been juggling this imbalance of supply and demand for nearly two years, and they know how to help both buyers and sellers find success when they move. A skilled agent can help you capitalize on the great opportunity you have as a seller today and guide you through the buying process until you find the perfect place to call your next home.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to move, you have an incredible opportunity in front of you today. Trust the experts. Let's connect so you have expertise on your side that can help you win when you sell and when you buy.

April
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
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!

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
3

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise?

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | MyKCM

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

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

Are Home Prices Continuing To Rise? | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

What Does This Mean for You?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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

March
1

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Difference Between Renting and Owning [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

3 Things New Homeowners Don't Know

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
16

The Biggest Myths Of Selling A Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February
15

Rent-Back Agreements Explained

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

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

What Is A Rent-Back Agreement?

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

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

Rent-Back Agreements Can Have Many Benefits

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

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

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

Disadvantages Of Rent-Back Agreements

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

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

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

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

February
10

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

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

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

1. Demand Is Very Strong This Winter

A recent article in Inman News explains:

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

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

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

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

2. Housing Supply Is Extremely Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
9

Don't Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

February
3

Millions of Americans Have Discovered the Benefits of Multigenerational Households

Millions of Americans Have Discovered the Benefits of Multigenerational Households | MyKCM

If your needs are changing, you may be thinking about sharing a home with additional loved ones, such as grandparents, adult children, or other extended family members. Whether it's for financial or health-related circumstances, or simply because you've reached a new phase of life, you might be wondering if living with multiple generations under the same roof is a good move for you. Many people have found themselves in a similar situation and they've already made the choice to live in a multigenerational home.

What Is a Multigenerational Home?

The Pew Research Center defines a multigenerational household as a home with two or more adult generations. They include households with grandparents and grandchildren under the age of 25. As you weigh your options and decide if multigenerational living is right for you, here's some helpful information highlighted by other homeowners living with additional loved ones.

The Benefits of Multigenerational Living

A recent report from Generations United surveyed individuals living in a multigenerational setting and asked them about the key benefits of this housing arrangement. It says:

"Nearly all Americans who live in a multigenerational household (98%) feel their household functions successfully, citing various aspects of home design, family relationships and interactions, and supports and services influencing their success."

The study identifies some of the top benefits of this lifestyle as an improved financial situation, better mental and physical health, strengthened bonds with loved ones, and more (see chart below):

Millions of Americans Have Discovered the Benefits of Multigenerational Households | MyKCM

Those are just some of the reasons why most people who decide to live in this situation find it worthwhile. As Donna Butts, Executive Director at Generations United, says:

"Families may come together from need, but they are staying together by choice. Indeed, more than 7 in 10 (72 percent) of those currently living in a multigenerational household plan to continue doing so long-term."

With More Adults Living Under One Roof, You May Need More Space

If you decide to look for a multigenerational home, it's important to understand what everyone will need to make the arrangement work to its fullest. Something that often makes the top of the list for homeowners living with multiple generations is additional space for privacy. This could mean more bedrooms and bathrooms or features like an in-law suite or a basement.

If you're realizing your current house doesn't provide the room you need for multigenerational living, an expert real estate advisor can help you navigate the process to find the right home that works for you and your loved ones.

Bottom Line

Living in a multigenerational household has real and impactful benefits. If you're interested in learning more about these options in our local area, let's connect so you can find a home that fits your changing needs.

January
26

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change?

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change? | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

January
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
12

9 Home Items to Get Rid of for the New Year

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

- In Your Living Spaces:

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

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

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

- In the Kitchen:

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

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

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

- In Kids' Rooms or Play Spaces:

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

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

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

January
11

Hook Buyers With A Home Office Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January
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.
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
24

4 Quick and Easy DIY Holiday Centerpieces

With the holidays right around the corner, many people are diving into their basements, attics and garages, pulling out their holiday decor. And though you may resume your tree ornaments, lights and wall hangings, changing up some of your decor can truly get you—and your guests—into the holiday spirit. Centerpieces make great DIY projects, bringing joy and creativity to your dinner table. Here are four simple DIY holiday centerpiece ideas you can try this season!

Pine Cones in Vases
Whether you buy them from a store or simply take a walk into your own backyard, pine cones are a great addition to holiday decor. For your new centerpiece, bring the outdoors inside. Spray paint some pinecones silver, white or gold—or add sparkles for an added touch of glamour—and place them in a wide-mouth vase. You can even use vases of different heights to create some visual interest. Dress up the base of the vases with some holiday colored ribbon or twine, and voila! 

Stacks of Mini Presents
Get yourself a package of mini boxes, or make them yourself from old cardboard boxes. Leave them plain white or wrap them in your favorite holiday wrapping paper. Then, simply stack them on top of a cake stand for a festive centerpiece. Add ribbon to each box, creating a look of gifts under the tree, or even add numbers to each box and use them as a countdown. Each day, a box can be opened, filled with surprises leading up to the ultimate gift-giving day!

Upcycled Candle Lanterns
Do you have an old candle lantern that you've been meaning to get rid of? Before you donate it, use it for this year's holiday centerpiece! If you plan to put a candle inside, create a decorative scene on the outside or around it to highlight the candlelight. Use pine cones, greenery, berries and even fake snow around the base and on the edges and top of the lantern. Or, ditch the candle and fill it with these same items, or holiday-themed knick-knacks to showcase on your table. 

Ornaments Galore
If you have extra ornaments left over after decorating your tree, there are many ways you can still use them! For example, set up a long tray in the center of your table, place three to five candles on the tray (depending on the size of the tray) and place your ornaments around the candles on the tray. Or, whip out that old cupcake stand and place an ornament in each cupcake slot to create a truly eye-catching piece of decor. You can even glue together ornaments to create a wreath, but instead of hanging it on your front door, place it on the table with a few candles in the center!

No matter what your style or crafty abilities, you can create a simple and quick DIY holiday centerpiece in no time. Look through the decorations you already have, or take a trip to the dollar store! With a little bit of creativity and a dash of holiday spirit, you can dress up your table with a centerpiece in no time, and no or low cost!

December
7

6 Popular Home Wellness Trends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
1

Unique Kitchen Island Configurations

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

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

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

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

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

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

October
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
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
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
22

Celebrate Fall With Family Fun Activities

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

  • Check Out the Foliage In most areas of the country, you are no more than a couple hours drive away from some vibrant fall foliage. If you need ideas, get online to find out where you can best view the best of fall's amazing colors. Pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon of splashing about the falling leaves.
  • Pick Pumpkins …but not from the local market. Look for a fall festival or farmer's market where you can get your fill of fun activities and head home with the best of autumn's harvest, including the perfect pumpkins.
  • Go Apple Picking Apple picking season usually starts in August and peaks through September, but there's still time to squeeze in a trip to a nearby apple orchard during the first half of October. You can take photos, pick apples, eat cider doughnuts and stock up on homemade apple cider.
  • Enjoy Oktoberfest Somewhere in your area, you can probably find a commercial or sponsored Oktoberfest celebration, featuring authentic German foods, a beer and/or cider garden, guides in German folk dress and a variety of games and shopping opportunities the whole family can enjoy.
  • Take a Haunted Road Trip For a good, friendly scare, find a haunted house to explore during the month of October. If all else fails, tour a cemetery at night and make up your own ghost tales.
  • Make Costumes Forget the commercially-made costumes at the store and brainstorm some ideas of your own. Find the fabrics and accessories you need and spend some happy family hours making your costume wishes come true.
  • Get Cooking Spend some time in the kitchen together making pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin pies or even some pumpkin-based soup. You'll be making memories your kids will remember all while enjoying the fruits of your labor.
October
20

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you're a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you'll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners' equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCMOdeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

"Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high."

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you'll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you'll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you'll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you're one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you're one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you're ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you'll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home. If you decide making a move is right for you, let's connect!

October
18

Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You

Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCM

Today's housing market is truly one for the record books. Over the past year, we've seen the lowest mortgage rates in history. And while those rates seemed to bottom out in January of this year, the golden window of opportunity for buyers isn't over just yet. If you're one of the buyers who worry they've missed out, rest assured today's mortgage rates are still worth taking advantage of.

Even today, our mortgage rates are below what they've been in recent decades. So, while you may not be able to lock in the rate your friend got recently, you're still in a great position to secure a rate well below what your parents and even grandparents got in years past. The key will be acting sooner rather than later.

In late September, mortgage rates ticked above 3% for the first time in months. And according to experts throughout the industry, mortgage rates are projected to continue rising in the months ahead. Here's where experts say rates are headed:Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMWhile a projected half percentage point increase may not seem substantial, it does have an impact when you're buying a home. When rates rise even slightly, it affects how much you'll pay month-to-month on your home loan. The chart below shows how it works:Don't Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMIn this example, if rates rise to 3.55%, you'll pay an extra $100 each month on your monthly mortgage payment if you purchase a home around this time next year. That extra money can really add up over the life of a 15 or 30-year loan.

Clearly, today's mortgage rates are worth taking advantage of before they climb further. The rates we're seeing right now give you a unique opportunity to afford more home for your money while keeping your monthly payment down.

Bottom Line

Waiting for a lower mortgage rate could cost you. Experts project rates will continue to rise in the months ahead. Let's connect so you can seize this opportunity before they increase further.

October
15

Fall Paint Color Guide

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

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

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

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

→ Where to Use It: A library or study

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

→ Where to Use It: A dining room

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

→ Where to Use It: A powder bathroom

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

→ Where to Use It: A stairway

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

→ Where to Use It: Interior of a fireplace

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

→ Where to Use It: A bedroom or great room

October
14

Very Superstitious: Home Traditions That Are Still Alive Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October
13

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

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

Some Highlights

October
6

4 Tips To Prep for Your Home Sale This Fall

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

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

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

1. Price It Right

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

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

2. Keep It Clean

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

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

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

3. Make It Easy To Visit

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

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

4. Help Buyers Feel at Home

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

October
2

4 Tips to Gradually Minimize Clutter

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

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

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

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

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

September
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
20

Is It Time To Move on to a New Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
18

Housekeeping Tips From the Pros

September
16

The Truth About Today's Buyer Demand

The Truth About Today's Buyer Demand | MyKCM

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

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

Michael Lane, President at ShowingTime:

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

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American:

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

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic:

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

What It Means for You

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

Bottom Line

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

September
15

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer | MyKCM

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

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

1. Know Your Budget

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

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

Showing sellers you're serious can give you a competitive edge. It enables you to act quickly when you've found your perfect home.

2. Be Prepared To Move Fast

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

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

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

3. A Real Estate Professional Can Lead You to Victory

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

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

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

4. Craft a Strong, Fair Offer

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

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

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

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

When crafting an offer, you'll want to keep both your best interest and the interest of the seller in mind. Your trusted real estate advisor will help you consider which levers you could pull, including contract contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Of course, there are certain contingencies you don't want to give up, like the home inspection.

Freddie Mac explains:

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

Bottom Line

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

September
14

Why It's Still Safe To Sell Your Home

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

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

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

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

New and Existing Technology Are Impacting the Process

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
10

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Fact or Fiction: Homebuyer Edition [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

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

When Should You Hire a Surveyor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September
8

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure

Understand Your Options To Avoid Foreclosure | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

Understand Your Options: Sell Your House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

September
2

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

August
31

Your Checklist To Get Ready To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC]

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

Some Highlights

  • When it comes to selling your house, you want it to look its best inside and out.
  • It's important to focus on tasks that can make it inviting, show it's cared for, and boost your curb appeal for prospective buyers.
  • Let's connect to make sure your house shows well and catches a buyer's eye.
August
29

6 Ways to Transition Decor From Summer to Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
28

5 High-End Front Porch Ideas

Whether it's a wraparound, screened-in, a loggia or a veranda, porch designs are endless. A porch can be a place to make a first impression on guests, a location for your morning coffee, a destination for sunset cocktails or even a place to enjoy an evening fire. Read on to learn how to create a well-designed front porch that will be sure to wow guests and become your own luxurious oasis.

Fireplace Focal Point
Incorporating a stone fireplace into your front porch design creates both a stunning visual focal point and is a destination to warm up and unwind. Both practical and beautiful, it can be used year-round and will impress anyone who visits your home. Accentuating the space with ambient lighting, comfortable seating and a cozy rug underneath will make this the most used area of the house.

Indoor-Outdoor Inspired Living
A porch isn't solely a place for guests to enter your home, but it can be an additional living space. Creating an outdoor living room on your porch means bringing in a beautiful rug, sofa and chairs, and filling the area with abundant blooming flowers and lush greenery. Spend your evenings lounging with a crisp beverage while watching the sunset or welcome passing neighbors for an impromptu chat.

Private Sitting Space
Since a porch is typically in the front of the house, it doesn't offer the same level of privacy a backyard does. However, you can create a private sitting area with a wall of wall-placed shrubs to create a natural privacy screen without interrupting the existing porch design.

Front Door Technology
Equipping your front porch with the latest home technology trends will give you insight into who's coming and going, even when you're not around. A video doorbell gives you the luxury of seeing who is at your front door, detects motion and provides two-way audio—all from the convenience of your smartphone. Having a keyless entry keypad on your front door gives you the option of distributing the code for anyone who may need easy access, whether it's a dog walker, cleaning service, etc.

Delivery Drop-Off Station
In a world where nearly everything is available with a few taps on a smartphone, having packages pile up on the front steps can be unsightly. A valet closet, a closet designed to drop off packages, dry cleaning, food delivery, groceries or any other items delivered by delivery personnel, can keep parcels secure until you're able to retrieve them. In addition, installing a keyless entry code on the door will allow delivery personnel to safely leave your items if you're unavailable to receive them directly.

Whether you're building a space to rest or adding additional levels of convenience, your front porch is responsible for your home's first impression.

August
26

How to Make Stairs Safer for Seniors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
25

Should You Ever Buy a House Sight Unseen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
22

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

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

  • Map Out Your Long-Term Plan – Do you plan to move? Travel? Stay where you are? Rein in your spending or keep it level? How much money will it take to accomplish your plan? If you haven't done so already, this is the time to meet with a financial expert who can help you calculate how much money you will need to meet your goals over the long term.
  • Increase Your Savings – Even if you think you are on track, this is the time to bulk up your savings. Increase the automated amounts you've been saving out of every paycheck, socking away as much as you can into retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, savings. Remember, you can never have too much to fall back on.
  • Check Your Portfolio – Make sure it's diversified and aligns with your retirement time expectation. If your risk tolerance is decreasing as you are aging, talk with your financial advisor about making changes.
  • Think About Health Insurance – If it expires when you retire, it can be a huge expense, especially if you will be retiring before age 65, the eligibility age for Medicare. Be sure you have a plan for managing health-related expenses.
  • Explore Your Non-Financial Choices – Unless you plan to become a dedicated couch potato, you should investigate your lifestyle choices now. Do you want to work part-time? Start a business? Move to a new city? Pick up a sport or a new hobby? Now is the time to explore the possibilities and requirements, so when the day comes to turn in your keys, you can embark on retirement with confidence.
August
19

More Young People Are Buying Homes

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCM

There's a common misconception that younger generations aren't interested in homeownership. Many people point to the fact that millennials put off purchasing their first home as a reason for this belief.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, explains why millennials have put off certain milestones linked to homeownership. Those delays led to their homeownership rates trailing slightly behind older generations:

"Historically, millennials have delayed the critical lifestyle choices often linked to buying a first home, including getting married and having children, in order to further their education. This is clear in cross-generational comparisons of homeownership rates which show millennials lagging their generational predecessors."

So, it's partially true that some millennials have waited on homeownership to focus on other things in their lives – and that's impacting certain housing market trends.

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates the average age of a first-time homebuyer is higher today than it's been over the past 40 years. As the graph below shows, homebuyers today are purchasing their first home an average of 4 years later than people in the 1980s and early 1990s:

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCMBut just because millennials are hitting certain milestones later in life doesn't mean they're not interested in becoming homeowners. The recent U.S. Census reveals a significant increase in homeownership rates for millennials and other young homebuyers.

More Young People Are Buying Homes | MyKCM

As the graph above shows, millennials are entering the market in full force, and their share of the market is growing. Based on the data, the belief that younger generations don't want to buy homes is a misconception. In fact, the recent Capital Market Outlook report from Merrill-Lynch further drives home this point, as it specifically mentions the effect millennials are having on demand:

"Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle."

Kushi is following the trend of millennial homeownership and puts it more simply, saying:

". . . it's clear that younger households (millennials!) are driving homeownership growth."

As the largest generation, millennials' impact on the market is growing as more and more people from that generation reach homebuying age – and Generation Z isn't far behind, either. That means younger generations will likely continue to drive demand in the housing market for years to come.

Bottom Line

If you're a member of a younger generation and interested in purchasing a home, you're not alone. Many of your peers are on their path to homeownership, too. Let's connect today and discuss what you can do to accomplish your homebuying goals.

August
18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(July numbers are not yet available)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

August
4

Kitchen Trends That Are Going Out of Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
3

Protecting Yourself from Alarm System Scammers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
2

Is Granite on its Way Out?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, granite countertops are in less demand today, while the use of quartz is on the rise.

Why? For one thing, man-made quartz countertops are offered in a far greater range of looks and feels. Reason number two: it's a bit easier to maintain over the long haul, and it's deemed a better environmental choice because it emits lower levels of radon—a potentially cancer-causing agent. To be fair, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the radioactive materials in granite countertops are far too minuscule to pose a health threat.

So what, exactly, is a quartz countertop? It's made of engineered stone, composed of at least 90% ground-up quartz mixed with a binder (like resin) then molded into a slab. Because pigment is added during the manufacturing process, the sky's the limit when it comes to color. And quartz is non-porous and fairly resistant to stains, mold and bacteria.

Unlike granite countertops, which require periodic resealing to maintain their beauty, quartz is low-maintenance, needing only regular cleanings with soap and water or a mild detergent.

Quartz can be more impervious than granite to cracking or chipping under average conditions, although it is not quite as heat-proof. Most manufacturers recommend using a trivet when placing scalding hot pots or pans on a quartz countertop.

Apart from durability and maintenance, quartz comes in an infinite variety of designs, ranging in look and feel from sleek solid colors to organic-looking variations that resemble real substances found in nature, like veined marble. It can have a smooth and shiny finish or a softer, brushed feel (almost suede-looking). Choose wisely because the design can make a huge difference in the look and feel of a room.

Quartz counters may be a bit more expensive, up to 10 percent higher in cost than their granite counterparts, but shopping around and resealing over the years can mitigate any cost differences.

So, what side are you on? Natural stone mined from the earth or a man-made variation?

July
8

Laundry Tips for After Your Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

August
5

Selling Your Home Faster: It's all in the Power of Good Listing Photos

 

You know the saying "a picture paints a thousand words?"  Well in real estate, this saying rings true, and those pictures can help sell your home. First impressions are everything in real estate.

With the increased use of the internet, potential home buyers research homes of interest online, before taking the time to see them in person. According to research done by the National Association of REALTORS®, 87% of homebuyers who searched for a home on the internet found photos to be the most useful feature.

Photos with the toilet seat up, dark shots, cluttered rooms, or poor-quality photos will lose the attention of the potential buyer instantly. Sharp, professional, high-quality photos show off the space and its potential, perfectly. The average digital audience only has an attention span of 7 seconds. So, think like a buyer, take a look at your online listing, and ask yourself what impression you're leaving within that time frame.

Once you've kept the audience for more than 7 seconds, what do they see? Make sure they're getting a glimpse of both the interior and exterior of the home. Show off the property's curb appeal, the backyard, the garage space, the dock, and, of course, the view. Then when it comes to the interior, are you showing them the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living space? The potential buyer wants to imagine themselves living in the space, and photography is an opportunity for them to do that.  

In order to help them imagine themselves in the space, it often helps to stage your home. Declutter, depersonalize, and think big picture. Photography of an empty room isn't quite as appealing as a room that's set up for someone to live there. Take the opportunity to add a plant to the corner, stools around the kitchen counter, and cut the grass. Make the photos pop, by highlighting the best features of your home. 

 If you're not sold on professional photography yet, studies have shown that they help your home sell faster (and who doesn't want that?). Homes with high-quality photography sell 32 percent faster than those without professional photos. They tend to make the space look bigger. The photographer is able to capture the images with a wide-angle lens, instead of an iPhone. In addition to the fancy equipment, photographers also know the best angle to capture each photo.

Not only do they sell faster, but, according to a 2013 Redfin study, professionally photographed homes priced in the $400,000 range sold three weeks faster and for more than $10,000 relative to their list price, than their counterparts with amateur photos.

 Good listing photos are so important to Cora Bett Thomas Realty, that the agents make it a part of their marketing plan to cover that cost for each of the homes it is selling. These photos attract more buyers, give you a competitive edge, sell your home more efficiently, and truly bring a space to life.

 If you've never invested in professional photography before, try it on your next listing and see the difference it makes in the sale.  Homebuyers want to imagine themselves in your beautiful space, not in a home that has poor lighting and looks unwelcoming.

June
28

South Carolina Fourth of July Events

July 4th fun abounds in the Lowcountry, and not just in Savannah. From Beaufort to Hilton Head Island, there are plenty of Lowcountry fireworks and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

If you're on Hilton Head Island, Check out Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina for the biggest 4th of July fireworks show. Besides a variety of shopping and dining options in the Harbour Town area, you can enjoy the Harbourfest July 4th Festivities. Start the day off with a parade. Decorate your bicycle, wagon, dog or kids in red, white and blue and join the parade. Meet in the parking lot by the lighthouse at 8:30 a.m. to register and pick up decorating supplies — limited to the first 100 participants. The parade will start at 9:30 a.m. You won't want to miss Shannon Tanner's special patriotic family show at 6:30 & 8pm. There's also plenty for the kids to do, including bouncy houses and train rides. 

For a truly patriotic experience, head over towards Beaufort and enjoy Independence Day at Parris Island. Free and open to the public, this family-friendly event will feature a kid's fun zone and The Parris Island Band. And, of course,  an incredible fireworks celebration. Food and beverages will be available. Patriotic glow sticks, bracelets and headbands also will be available for purchase. Gates open at 5 p.m. The Parris Island Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks will start at dark, or around 9:20 p.m.

Lowcountry Fireworks

The 4th of July Celebration & Fireworks at The Sands of Port Royal begins at 5 p.m. Fireworks will begin around 9 p.m.  The Port Royal Independence Day celebration will include food booths, refreshments, vendors, entertainment, face painting, a water slide, bounce houses and more. This event is sponsored by The Port Royal Historic Foundation.

Fourth of July Flyover

Another way to truly embrace the pride in our country is to participate in the Salute from the Shore. Every year on July 4th, hundreds of thousands of people gather on the beaches of South Carolina in patriotic attire to wave the red, white and blue and to demonstrate their gratitude to America's finest for their bravery and commitment. The flyover of military aircraft will start at 1 p.m. in Myrtle Beach. Salute from the Shore encourages participants to share their stories about why they love America and those that protect it by posting their own video and images of the event on social networks to be seen by American Armed Forces deployed throughout the world. For a full schedule of flyover times in the Beaufort area, visit salutefromtheshore.org

Keep the Fun Going

And after the 4th, keep the fun going by visiting the May River Shrimp Festival Sunset Party. This event, held in beautiful Bluffton, South Carolina, features an arts and crafts village, as well as a craft beer garden and wine. The Bluffton Sunset Party is a great way to make the most of summertime fun. Come grab a delicious beverage and enjoy the sunset with friends and neighbors at this beloved community event. 

[caption id="attachment_2305" align="alignnone" width="640"]Bluffton Farmers Market Image Credit: Bluffton Farmers Market[/caption]

As long as you're in the Bluffton area, stop in and check out the Bluffton Farmers Market. The BFM is open every Thursday from 1pm to 6pm. The Bluffton Farmers Market is an ideal stop for grabbing fresh produce and wares from local vendors who are passionate about their goods and love sharing their stories. The BFM also features local entertainment. Stop in, grab some goodies and enjoy the company of friends, family and community at the Bluffton Farmers Market. 

The July fun continues in Beaufort as well with the 64th Annual Beaufort Water Festival. This 10-day event is one of the longest running events in the Lowcountry, and features arts and crafts, live music, air shows, and the Grand Parade. If you want to make the most of your summertime fun in South Carolina, then the Beaufort Water Festival should be on your to-do list. 

Harbourfest at Shelter Cove isn't limited to July 4th fun, either. This event runs throughout the summer until Labor Day. The events of Harbourfest will continue to feature live music, fireworks, and plenty of activities for the kiddos all summer long. Check out the schedule and find out more information at the Harbourfest website.

September
18

Fall Festival Fun in Savannah

As October approaches, locals flock to the Historic Downtown area of Savannah to revel in some of Savannah's most-beloved gatherings, such as  the Savannah Jazz Festival, Picnic in the Park, the Savannah Greek Festival, the Shalom, Y'all Jewish Food Festival and Tybee Island Pirate Fest. 

 

The 37th Annual Savannah Jazz Festival has already begun, as it runs from September 23rd to September 29th. The festival will include performances from both local and globally-renowned musicians at venues throughout the Historic District of Downtown Savannah. See the schedule here.

Picnic in the Park is the first Sunday in October and is held at Savannah's famous Forsyth Park. Live music performances are scheduled throughout the evening at the park's concert bandshell. Musical acts include those from local schools, the U.S. Army Band, 3rd ID, and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra.

 The Savannah Greek Festival is held over the weekend of October 11th to October 13th at the Hellenic Center in St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church. The festival, steeped in 68 years of tradition, is a celebration of Greek heritage, featuring homemade Greek food, Greek music, dancing, and tours of the church.  

The Shalom, Y'all Jewish Food Festival is held in Monterey Square (of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" fame) on October 28th, from 11am to 3pm. The festival features a variety of traditional Jewish dishes and is a great way to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Savannah and celebrate the spirit of community. 

Those looking for something a little closer to the ocean can enjoy the raucous good times offered by the Tybee Island Pirate Fest. This annual event is a good-natured celebration of the scoundrels of the seas, and includes a parade, live music, and arts and crafts vendors. This year Pirate Fest will be October 4th-7th. 

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