Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) July 1, 2022

If You’re Selling Your House This Summer, Hiring a Pro Is Critical

It can be tempting, especially with how hot the housing market has been over the past two years, to consider selling your home on your own. But today’s market is at a turning point, making it more essential than ever to work with a real estate professional.

Not only will a trusted real estate advisor keep you updated and help you make the best decisions based on current market trends, but they’re also experts in managing the many aspects of selling your house.

Here are five key reasons why working with a real estate professional makes sense today.

1. A Professional Follows the Latest Market Trends

With higher mortgage rates, rising home prices, and a growing number of homes for sale, today’s housing market is showing signs of a shift back toward more pre-pandemic levels. When conditions change, following the trends and staying on top of new information is crucial when you sell.

That makes working with an expert real estate advisor critical today. They know your local area and follow national trends too. More importantly, they’ll know what this data means for you, and as the market shifts, they’ll be able to help you navigate it and make your best decision.

2. A Professional Helps Maximize Your Pool of Buyers

Your agent’s role in bringing in buyers is important. Real estate professionals have a large variety of tools at their disposal, such as social media followers, agency resources, and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. Investopedia explains why it’s risky to sell on your own without the network an agent provides:

“You don’t have relationships with clients, other agents, or a real estate agency to bring the largest pool of potential buyers to your home. A smaller pool of potential buyers means less demand for your property, which can translate into waiting longer to sell your home and possibly not getting as much money as your house is worth.”

3. A Professional Understands 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. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains it best, saying:

“Selling a home typically requires a variety of forms, reports, disclosures, and other legal and financial documents. . . . Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved in a real estate transaction; you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.”

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. A Professional Is a Trained Negotiator

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. A Professional Knows 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. NAR explains it like this:

“A great real estate agent will look at your home with an unbiased eye, providing you with the information you need to enhance marketability and maximize price.”

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 home. These steps are key to making sure it’s set to move quickly while still getting you the highest possible final sale price.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s following local and national trends and guiding you through a shifting market or pricing your house right, a real estate agent has essential insights you’ll want to rely on throughout the transaction. Don’t go at it alone. If you plan to sell, let’s connect so you have an expert on your side.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) May 31, 2022

What Does the Rest of the Year Hold for the Housing Market?

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a house, you’re at an exciting decision point. And anytime you make a big decision like that, one thing you should always consider is timing. So, what does the rest of the year hold for the housing market? Here’s what experts have to say.

The Number of Homes Available for Sale Is Likely To Grow

There are early signs housing inventory is starting to grow and experts say that should continue in the months ahead. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com:

“The gap between this year’s homes for sale and last year’s is one-fifth the size that it was at the beginning of the year. The catch up is likely to continue, . . . This growth will mean more options for shoppers than they’ve had in a while, even though inventory continues to lag pre-pandemic normal.”

·         As a buyer, having more options is welcome news. Just remember, housing supply is still low, so be ready to act fast and put in your best offer up front.

·         As a seller, your house may soon face more competition when other sellers list their homes. But the good news is, if you’re also buying your next home, having more options to choose from should make that move-up process easier.

Mortgage Rates Will Likely Continue To Respond to Inflationary Pressures

Experts also agree inflation should continue to drive up mortgage rates, albeit more moderately. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americansays:

“… ongoing inflationary pressure remains likely to push mortgage rates even higher in the months to come.”  

·         As a buyer, work with trusted real estate professionals, including your lender, so you can learn how rising mortgage rate environments impact your purchasing power. It may make sense to buy now before it costs more to do so, if you’re ready.

·         As a seller, rising mortgage rates are motivating some homeowners to make a move up sooner rather than later. If you’re planning to buy your next home, talk to a trusted real estate advisor to decide how to time your move.

Home Prices Are Projected To Continue To Climb

Home prices are forecast to keep appreciating because there are still fewer homes for sale than there are buyers in the market. That said, experts agree the pace of that appreciation should moderate – but home prices won’t fall. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Prices throughout the country have surged for the better part of two years, including in the first quarter of 2022. . . Given the extremely low inventory, we’re unlikely to see price declines, but appreciation should slow in the coming months.” 

·         As a buyer, continued home price appreciation means it’ll cost you more to buy the longer you wait. But it also gives you peace of mind that, once you do buy a home, it will likely grow in value. That makes it historically a good investment and a strong hedge against inflation.

·         As a seller, price appreciation is great news for the value of your home. Again, lean on a professional to strike the right balance of the best conditions possible for both selling your house and buying your next one.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a homebuyer or seller, you need to know what’s happening in the housing market, so you can make the most informed decision possible. Let’s connect to discuss your goals and what lies ahead, so you can pick your best time to make a move.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) May 16, 2022

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

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 27, 2022

The Dream of Homeownership Is Worth the Effort

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

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

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

Homeownership Contributes Significantly to Your Financial Well-Being 

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

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

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

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

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

The Emotional Benefits of Owning a Home Are Powerful

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

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

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

What Does That Mean for You?

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 19, 2022

Why Pre-Approval Is an Important Step for Today’s Homebuyers

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home this season. That’s why pre-approval is so important today. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Peter Warden, Editor of The Mortgage Reports, explains:

“The lender will check out your personal finances and issue you a letter confirming the amount you’re eligible to borrow. This not only gives you a firm budget for house hunting, but also lets sellers know you’re qualified to make an offer.”

Why does that matter so much today? There are many more buyers looking for homes today than there are homes available for sale, and that’s creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is getting 4.8 offers per sale. As a result, bidding wars are still common.

Your pre-approval gives you a leg up in these situations. That’s because you know exactly what you’re approved to borrow before you write your offer, and it lets the seller know you’re qualified to buy their home. This helps both you and the seller feel confident in what you’re bringing to the table. And that puts you in a better position to potentially win a bidding war.

As Warden puts it:

“There’s another important reason to get preapproved, too. And that’s because there are way more buyers than homes in today’s market — which means you need to be ultra-prepared if you want to win a bidding war. Most sellers are getting multiple offers right now. And most won’t even entertain an offer without a preapproval letter included.”

Every advantage you can gain as a buyer is crucial in a market that’s constantly changing. Mortgage rates are rising, home prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals, such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate advisor, on your side. They’ll help make sure you’re ready to put your best foot forward.

Bottom Line

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage helps you better understand what you can afford and signals to sellers you’re serious about purchasing their home. Let’s connect so you have the tools you need to succeed as a homebuyer in today’s market.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 18, 2022

Is It Time To Buy a Smaller Home?

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

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

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

You Can Find the Right Home for Your Needs

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

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

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

Your Equity Can Make a Big Impact When You Downsize

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 6, 2022

Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 5, 2022

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home

When it comes to buying a home, it can feel a bit intimidating to know how much you need to save and where to find that information. But you should know, you’re not expected to have all the answers yourself. There are many trusted professionals who can help you understand your finances and what you’ll need to budget for throughout the process.

To get you started, here are a few things experts say you should plan for along the way.

1. Down Payment

As you set your savings goal for your purchase, your down payment is likely already top of mind. And, like many other people, you may believe you need to set aside 20% of the home’s purchase price for that down payment – but that’s not always the case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership. Having this knowledge is critical to know what to save . . .”

The good news is, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down in some situations. To understand your options, partner with a trusted professional who can go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Earnest Money Deposit

Another item you may want to plan for is an earnest money deposit. While it isn’t required, it’s common in today’s highly competitive market because it can help your offer stand out in a bidding war.

So, what is it? It’s money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. This deposit works like a credit. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. It’s not an added expense, it’s just paying some of that up front. First American explains what it is and how it works:

The deposit made from the buyer to the seller when submitting an offer. This deposit is typically held in trust by a third party and is intended to show the seller you are serious about purchasing their home. Upon closing the money will generally be applied to your down payment or closing costs.”

In other words, an earnest money deposit could be the very first check you’ll write toward your purchase. The amount varies by state and situation. Realtor.com elaborates:

The amount you’ll deposit as earnest money will depend on factors such as policies and limitations in your state, the current market, what your real estate agent recommends, and what the seller requires. On average, however, you can expect to hand over 1% to 2% of the total home purchase price.”

Work with a real estate advisor to understand any requirements in your local area and what they’ve recommended for other buyers in your market. They’ll help you determine if it’s something that could be a useful option for you.

3. Closing Costs 

The next thing to plan for is your closing costs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines closing costs as:

The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. …generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney’s fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance.”

Basically, your closing costs cover the fees for various people and services involved in your transaction. NAR has this to say about how much to budget for:

“A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price—are a major added expense…Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing.”

The key takeaway is savvy buyers plan ahead for these expenses so they can come into the process prepared. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

“If you’re in the market to buy a home, your down payment is probably top of mind. And rightly so – it’s likely the biggest cost of homebuying. However, it is not the only cost and it’s critical you understand all your expenses before diving in. The more prepared you are for your down payment, closing and other costs, the smoother your homebuying journey will be.”

Bottom Line

Knowing what to budget for in the homebuying process is essential. To make sure you understand these and any other expenses that may come up, let’s connect so you have reliable expertise on what to expect when you buy a home.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) April 4, 2022

Balancing Your Wants and Needs as a Homebuyer Today

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

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

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

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

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

·         Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).

·         Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, garage, etc.).

·         Dream State– This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) March 31, 2022

There Are Several Great Reasons To Consider Buying a Condo Today

If you’re a first-time buyer looking to break into the housing market but struggling to find a home to buy, condominiums (or condos) could be a great alternative for you.

Here are a few reasons condos may be something you’ll want to consider.

Exploring Condos Could Add Options That Fit Your Budget 

Supply challenges are a reality across the board in today’s housing market. Broadening your home search to include condos could increase your overall pool of options. Just keep in mind, condos generally differ from single-family homes in average space and floorplans.

In a recent article, Bankrate covers some of these differences:

“Condos are generally more affordable because they come with less space — you likely won’t have your own backyard, for example, and the interior tends to be smaller than the square footage of a single-family home.”

But if the size of a condominium meets your needs, they could match your budget as well. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the difference in the median price for both housing types. For single-family homes, the median price is $363,800. And for condominiums, the median price is lower at $305,400.

So, if budget is top of mind for you, a condominium could be a great fit within your target price range.

Not to mention, buying a condo is a great way to break into the market and start building equity that can help power a future move up. The condo you purchase today may not be your forever home, but it can be a great stairstep that can help you buy your dream home later on.

Find Out if Condo Living Is Right for You  

In addition, owning and living in a condo is also a lifestyle choice. While it’s true they may be smaller than single-family homes, the amenities condos provide could be a draw for many buyers. Less space in your home might mean minimal upkeep, lower maintenance, and more time for you to spend doing the things you enjoy.

To understand if condo life is for you, Bankrate recommends asking yourself a few simple questions:

“Hate to mow the lawn and trim the hedges? What about pressure washing your driveway? Are your finances such that having to lay out $5,000 or more for a new roof will be a burden? . . . Condos tend to work best for those comfortable with most of the aspects of apartment living, minus the built-in maintenance.

Ultimately, talking with an expert real estate advisor is the best first step to determining if condo living might work for you.

Bottom Line

Condominiums are a great option for many buyers, especially those looking to buy their first home. If you’re willing to consider condos in your search, you could find something that’s in line with your target numbers and your needs. To learn more, let’s connect so you have an expert in the condo-buying process on your side.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) March 30, 2022

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

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 houseright, 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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) March 23, 2022

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

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

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

Supply Chain Issues 

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

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

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

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

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

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees:

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

Skilled Labor Shortage

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

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

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

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

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

How This Impacts You

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) March 15, 2022

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) March 14, 2022

This Spring Presents Sellers with a Golden Opportunity

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 Mae, says:

“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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) February 28, 2022

Millennials: Do You Need a Home with More Space?

If you’re a millennial, homebuying might be top of mind for you. Your generation is the largest group of homebuyers in the market today and has been since 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And while other millennials are looking to buy for the first time, you may be one of the many who are now discovering you’ve outgrown your home.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. The past two years brought about significant changes for many people, and today, homeowners are reevaluating what they truly need in a home. As a recent report from the Wall Street Journal states:

“They say the pandemic and the emergence of remote work accelerated millennial home-buying trends already under way. . . . Millennials who already owned homes traded up for more space.”

So, if you’re working remotely now or simply have a growing need for additional space, it may be time to move. And even if you purchased your current home sometime over the last few years, you can still move into a different one that has the space and features you’re looking for. That’s because there’s a good chance you have more equity than you realize. As Diana Olick, Real Estate Correspondent for CNBC, notes:

The stunning jump in home values over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic has given U.S. homeowners record amounts of housing wealth. . . . Even homeowners who weren’t listing their properties for sale were gaining equity. About 42% of homeowners were considered equity-rich at the end of last year, meaning their mortgages were half or less than half the value of their home.”

Growing equity can be the key you need to fuel your next move, especially if you’re looking to purchase a larger home. When you sell your current house, the equity that comes back to you in the sale can be used toward the down payment on your next home.

In other words, your purchasing power may be greater than you realize, making a move to a larger home a realistic option. That, plus your changing needs, might make moving now more desirable than ever.

Bottom Line

If you’re a millennial thinking about moving this year, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today to discuss the equity you have in your current home and the opportunities it can create.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) February 22, 2022

The Perks of Owning More Than One Home

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

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

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

Enjoy a Change in Scenery (or Weather)

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

Build Your Wealth Faster 

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

Be Closer to Loved Ones 

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

Lock in Your Expenses

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) February 8, 2022

Don’t Let Student Loans Delay Your Homeownership Dreams

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) February 1, 2022

Why a Move Could Bring You More Happiness This Year

Over the past two years, we’ve lived through one of the most stressful periods in recent history. Because of the health crisis, many of us have spent more time at home and that’s led us to re-evaluate both what we need in a house and how much we appreciate having a safe space. If you’ve found your current home isn’t filling all your needs, you may be wondering if it’s time to find a new one.

There’s reason to believe a change of scenery could boost your happiness. Catherine Hartley, an Assistant Professor at New York University’s Department of Psychology and co-author of a study on how new experiences impact happiness, says:

Our results suggest that people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines—when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences.”

A move could be exactly the new experience you’ve been looking for. If that’s something you’re considering to better your lifestyle, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Approach Your Decision Thoughtfully and Explore Your Options

Buying and selling a home is a major life change, and it’s not a decision you should enter lightly. But, if you’re questioning whether or not a move would bring you more happiness, it’s important to explore if it’s the right choice for you.

To find out more and discuss your options, reach out to a local real estate professional. They’ll explain the process – including how to list your existing house and search for a new one – in clear and simple terms.

You should also think about your lifestyle and what you’re hoping to get out of your move. What needs aren’t being met in your current home? What features would bring you more joy and make your life easier? For example, are you now working remotely and need a home office? Do you crave more fresh air and open outdoor space to unwind in? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you get started and position your real estate advisor to work with you so you can find just the right home.

Consider a Location with Weather That Will Boost Your Mood

Home features aren’t the only thing to consider. You should also weigh your options when it comes to location. Is the weather something that’s important to you? Does it have a tendency to impact your mood? If it does, you may want to factor it into your next move. The World Population Review shares:

“What states have the best weather? When evaluating each state for temperature, rain, and sun, some states stand out. . . . Climate and weather preferences are personal and subjective. . . . “

Better weather can mean different things to different people. Some prefer the heat, others cooler temperatures, and some want to experience all four seasons. Think about what makes you feel happiest and prioritize that in your home search. If you’re moving to a whole new location, your agent is a great resource with a strong network to support you along the way.

Bottom Line

Moving could provide you with a fresh beginning and the chance to find happiness in your new home. Let’s connect today to talk about your goals and options in the current market.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 26, 2022

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change?

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 CoreLogicsays:

“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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 25, 2022

The Next Generation of Homebuyers Is Here

Many members of Generation Z (Gen Z) are aging into adulthood and deciding whether to rent or buy a home. If you find yourself in this group, it’s important to understand you’re never too young to start thinking about homeownership. The sooner you start planning, the sooner you can move on from renting.

As you set off on your journey and plan your next move, here are a few reasons to think about homebuying this year.

The Reasons Gen Z Want To Become Homeowners

While the majority of Gen Z haven’t entered the housing market yet, a large portion plan to according to a realtor.com report. The report found that 72% of Gen Z would rather purchase a home than rent long-term. As George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research for realtor.com, says:

“With nearly three-quarters of those surveyed preferring to buy versus renting long-term, the housing industry should be prepared for millions of Gen Z buyers to bring a new wave of demand along a similar stage-of-life timeline as the millennial generation before them.”

But why do so many members of Gen Z value homeownership? According to the latest Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), young homebuyers – more than any other age group – want to become homeowners because they want to have a place of their very own.

That may be because one of the biggest benefits of homeownership is having a place that you can truly make your own by customizing it to your style and personality. Whether that’s the décor, painting, or renovations, when you own your home, you don’t have to limit yourself to what your lease and landlord will allow.

Not to mention, owning a home provides much greater long-term stability and security than renting. When you own a home, there’s also protection from steadily rising rental costs because your monthly mortgage payment is locked in for the length of your loan (typically 15 to 30 years).

Work with a Real Estate Professional To Achieve Your Goals

Whether you’re just getting started on your homebuying journey, you want to learn more about the process, or you’re fully committed to buying your first home this year, it’s especially important to connect with a trusted real estate advisor soon, as you won’t be the only first-time buyer in the market. According to a recent survey from realtor.coma majority of first-time buyers surveyed are looking to purchase a home in 2022. As the survey notes:

“First-time home buyers retain their optimism despite a challenging housing market in the past year. Hoping to achieve their goal of homeownership and provide a comfortable space for their families, young buyers are setting out to learn what they can about the market and setting their list of priorities for their home purchase.”

That means you’ll likely face strong competition from other first-time buyers. One way to get a leg-up on that competition is to work with a real estate professional to make sure you have the support you need to make an informed and confident decision.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning your next move, you’re not alone. Just know it’s never too early to consider the benefits of homeownership over renting. To learn more, let’s connect today so you have a trusted professional on your side to help you explore your options.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 24, 2022

Why Pre-Approval Is Key for Homebuyers in 2022

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

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

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

Freddie Mac explains:

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 18, 2022

Sellers: Don’t Wait Until Spring To Make Your Move

As you plan out your goals for the year, moving up to your dream home may top the list. But, how do you know when to make your move? You want to time it just right so you can get the most out of the sale of your current house. You also want to know you’re making a good investment when you buy your new home. What you may not realize is, that opportunity to get the best of both worlds is already here.

You don’t want to wait until spring to spring into action. The current market conditions make this winter an ideal time to move. Here’s why.

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 than there are homes available, and that means buyers are eagerly waiting for your house. Listing your house now makes it the center of attention. As a seller, that means when it’s priced correctly, you can expect it to sell quickly and get multiple strong offers this season. Just remember, experts project more inventory will come to market as we move through the winter months. The realtor.com 2022 forecast says this:

“After years of declining, the inventory of homes for sale is finally expected to rebound from all-time lows.”

Selling now may help you maximize the return on your investment before your house has to face more competition from other sellers.

2. Your Equity Is Growing in Record Amounts

Current homeowners are sitting on record amounts of equity thanks to today’s home price appreciation. According to the latest report from CoreLogicthe average homeowner gained $56,700 in equity over the past 12 months.

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 own home search, rest assured your equity can help fuel your next move. It may be just what you need to cover a large portion – if not all – of the down payment on your next purchase.

3. While Rising, Mortgage Rates Are Still Historically Low

In January of last year, mortgage rates hit the lowest point ever recorded. Today, rates are starting to rise, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on locking in a low rate. Current mortgage rates are still far 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%

Even with mortgage rates rising above 3%, they’re still worth taking advantage of. You just want to do so sooner rather than later. Experts are projecting rates will continue to rise throughout this year, and when they do, it’ll cost you more to purchase your next home.

4. Home Prices Are Going To Keep Rising with Time

According to industry leaders, home prices will also continue appreciating this year. While experts are forecasting more moderate home price growth than last year, it’s important to note prices will still be moving in an upward direction throughout 2022.

What does that mean for you? If you’re selling so you can move into a bigger home or downsize to the home of your dreams, you want to consider moving now before rates and prices rise further. If you’re ready, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by purchasing your next home before rates and prices climb higher.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering selling to move up or downsize, this may be your moment, especially with today’s low mortgage rates and limited inventory. Let’s connect today to get set up for homebuying success this year.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 17, 2022

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 12, 2022

Two Ways Homebuyers Can Win in Today’s Market

If your goal is to purchase a home this year, you might be looking for any advantage you can get in today’s sellers’ market. While competition is still fierce for homebuyers, there are ways you can win and secure the home of your dreams, even in a hot market.

Act Early and Save

The earlier you act this year, the more affordable your purchase will be. That’s because experts project mortgage rates will rise as we move deeper into 2022. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to be 3.5% by year’s end. Experts forecast home prices will rise as well.

That means the longer you wait, the more it will cost you to buy a home. Instead, act early and purchase your home before rates and prices rise further. Not to mention, the sooner you buy, the sooner you can experience the benefits of continued home price appreciation yourself. Once you have your home, you’ll be able to watch its value rise, giving you confidence that your investment is a sound one.

Buy Now, Move Later

Keep in mind, with high buyer demand like we’re seeing today, you’ll be competing against other potential homebuyers, which means you need to find a way to stand out. One way to accomplish this is to negotiate with sellers and present terms that meet their ideal needs. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.comexplains one lever flexible buyers can pull to entice sellers:

“For buyers with more flexible timelines – such as those making a move from a big city – offering a couple extra months on the closing date could sweeten the deal for sellers who also need to buy their next home.”

In other words, if you’re eager to purchase a home now before it becomes more costly and you don’t have to move right away, you could extend the date of your closing and provide the seller with the time they need to find their next home. That’s a deal that could benefit both parties and help you stand out from the crowd.

Of course, it’s important to work with a real estate professional for expert advice on how to make your best offer. Your trusted advisor knows what’s working in your market and what may appeal to sellers.

Bottom Line

Experts project home prices and rates will increase in 2022. That means buyers who are ready should act soon and find ways to strengthen their offer to meet sellers’ needs. Let’s connect today to learn how you can win in today’s market.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 11, 2022

Why Inflation Shouldn’t Stop You from Buying a Home in 2022

If you’re following along with the news today, you’re probably hearing a lot about record-breaking home prices, rising consumer costs, supply chain constraints, and more. And if you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, all of these inflationary concerns are likely making you wonder if you should wait to buy. Investopedia explains that during a period of high inflation, prices rise across the board. And while home prices aren’t immune from this increase, here’s why inflation shouldn’t stop you from buying a home in 2022.

Homeownership Offers Stability and Security

Home prices have been increasing for quite some time, and experts say they’re going to continue to climb throughout 2022. So, as a buyer, how can you protect yourself from rising costs for things like food, shelter, entertainment, and other goods and services? The answer lies in housing.

Buying a home allows you to lock in your monthly mortgage payment for the foreseeable future. That means as other prices rise, your monthly payment will be consistent thanks to your fixed-rate mortgage. This gives you the peace of mind that the bulk of your housing costs is shielded from inflation.

James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, says:

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

If you rent, you don’t have that same benefit and you won’t be protected from rising housing costs. As an added incentive to buy, consider that today’s mortgage interest rates are lower than they have been in decades. While inflation decreases what your dollars can buy, low mortgage rates help counteract it by boosting your purchasing power so you can get more home for your money. They also help keep your monthly payments down. This is especially important during an inflationary period because you’ll want to protect yourself from the impact of inflation as much as possible.

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zondaexplains:

“If you have cash and are expecting inflation, you want to think through where you can put your money so it does not lose value. Housing is commonly looked at as a good inflation hedge, especially with interest rates so low.”

Bottom Line

The best hedge against inflation is a fixed housing cost. That’s why you shouldn’t let it stop you from buying a home this year. Not sure where to start? Let’s connect so you have expert advice and help throughout every step of the homebuying process.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 10, 2022

Real Estate Professionals Are Experts at Keeping You Safe When You Sell

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you want to sell your house this year, there’s good news. For nearly two years, real estate professionals have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of buyers and sellers during the pandemic.

Today, they’re seasoned experts, not just in the art of buying and selling homes, but also in how to keep you safe throughout the process. Real estate professionals have learned new technologies plus safety and sanitation measures. As new variants emerge, those lessons continue to be key ways agents add value.

Real Estate Advisors Stay Current on Guidance for In-Person Showings

Agents don’t leave your health up to chance. They follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to ensure in-person showings are safe. NAR maintains industry-specific resources to ensure agents are informed on the latest recommendations and best practices.

Guidance from the CDC also equips real estate professionals with the know-how to employ sanitization and disinfectant measures during the health crisis, so they’re safe for you and your potential buyers.

Digital Tools Can Enhance Your Home Sale

In addition, agents are also well versed in using technology and digital tools to sell your home efficiently. In their guidance for realtors, NAR says:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting members in unprecedented ways, and raises numerous unique and novel issues for the real estate industry.”

Real estate advisors have responded by reimagining the tech and tools they use. For instance, serving clients at a distance and limiting exposure to others is more important now than ever. That’s because restricting the number of people you need to interact with during the sales process is one of the best ways to keep everyone safe.

To accomplish this, agents now use a variety of methods to serve their clients, including:

·         Virtual Open Houses, Tours, and Listing Appointments

·         High-Quality Photos for Websites and Social Media

·         eSignature

·         Video Conferencing

Bottom Line

The health challenges we face today have fundamentally changed the way real estate professionals conduct business for the better. Let’s connect today so you have the latest tools on your side to feel safe and confident when you sell your house this year.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) January 6, 2022

There Won’t Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market

When mortgage forbearance plans were first announced and the pandemic surged through the country in early 2020, many homeowners were allowed to pause their mortgage payments. Some analysts were concerned that once the forbearance program ended, the housing market would experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago.

Here’s a look at why that isn’t the case.

1. There Are Fewer Homeowners in Trouble This Time

After the last housing crash, over nine million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they gave it back to the bank. Many believed millions of homeowners would face the same fate again this time.

However, today’s data shows that most homeowners exited their forbearance plan either fully caught up on payments or with a plan from the bank that restructured their loan in a way that allowed them to start making payments again. The latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) studies how people exited the forbearance program from June 2020 to November 2021.

Here are those findings:

38.6% left the program paid in full

·        19.9% made their monthly payments during the forbearance period

·        11.8% made up all past-due payments

·        6.9% paid off the loan in full

44% negotiated work-out repayment plans

·        29.1% received a loan deferral

·        14.1% received a loan modification

·        0.8% arranged a different repayment plan

0.6% sold as a short sale or did a deed-in-lieu
16.8% left the program still in trouble and without a loss mitigation plan in place

2. Those Left in the Program Can Still Negotiate a Repayment Plan

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at 890,000. Those who remain in forbearance still have the chance to work out a suitable plan with the servicing company that represents their lender. And the servicing companies are under pressure to do just that by both federal and state agencies.

Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President at RealtyTrac, says in a recent tweet:

“The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] and state [Attorneys General] look like they’re adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to mortgage servicing enforcement. Likely that this will limit #foreclosure activity for a good part of 2022, while servicers explore all possible loss [mitigation] options.”

For more information, read the warning issued by the Attorney General of New York State.

3. Most Homeowners Have More Than Enough Equity To Sell Their Homes

For those who can’t negotiate a solution and the 16.8% who left the forbearance program without a work-out, many will have enough equity to sell their homes and leave the closing with cash instead of facing foreclosures.

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, the average homeowner has gained record amounts of equity in their home. As Frank Martell, President & CEO of CoreLogic, explains:

“Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they’ve also enabled many to continue building their wealth.”

4. There Have Been Far Fewer Foreclosures Over the Last Two Years

One of the seldom-reported benefits of the forbearance program was that it allowed households experiencing financial difficulties prior to the pandemic to enter the program. It gave those homeowners an extra two years to get their finances in order and work out a plan with their lender. That prevented over 400,000 foreclosures that normally would have come to the market had the new forbearance program not been available. Otherwise, the real estate market would have had to absorb those foreclosures. Here’s a graph depicting this data:

There Won’t Be a Wave of Foreclosures in the Housing Market | MyKCM

5. The Current Market Can Easily Absorb Over a Million New Listings

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, they added to the oversupply of houses that were already for sale. That resulted in over a nine-month supply of listings, and anything over a six-month supply can cause prices to depreciate.

It’s exactly the opposite today. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reveals:

“Total housing inventory at the end of November amounted to 1.11 million units, down 9.8% from October and down 13.3% from one year ago (1.28 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, a decline from both the prior month and from one year ago.”

A balanced market would have approximately a six-month supply of inventory. At 2.1 months, the market is severely understocked. Even if one million homes enter the market, there still won’t be enough inventory to meet the current demand.

Bottom Line

The end of the forbearance plan will not cause any upheaval in the housing market. Sharga puts it best:

“The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure’ narrative was incorrect. . . .”

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 30, 2021

Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential

Selling your house is no simple task. And when you sell on your own – known as a FSBO (or For Sale by Owner) – you’re responsible for handling some of the more difficult aspects of the process without the expert guidance you need.

The 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys homeowners who recently sold their house on their own and asks what difficulties they faced. Those sellers say some of the biggest headaches are prepping their house for sale, pricing it right, and handling the required paperwork.

Working with an agent is the best way to ensure you have an expert on your side to guide you at every turn. Agents have the skills and knowledge that are essential to navigating each step with ease, efficiency, and accuracy. Here are just a few things a real estate agent will do to make sure you get the most out of your sale.

1. Make the Best First Impression

Selling your house requires a significant amount of time and effort. Doing it right takes expertise and an understanding of today’s buyers. Your agent knows the answers to common questions, such as:

·         Do I need to take down my personal art?

·         How much landscaping does my house need?

·         What colors should I paint my walls?

Your time and money are important, and you don’t want to waste either one focusing on the wrong things. A real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more, allowing you to make the right investments to prep your house before you list.

2. Maximize Your Buyer Pool – and Your Sale

Today, the average home is getting 3.6 offers per sale according to recent data from NAR. That’s great news if you’re planning to sell, since the more offers you receive, the more likely you are to sell your house in a bidding war, and for a higher price.

Real estate agents have an assortment of tools at their disposal, like social media followers and agency resources, that will ensure your house is viewed by the most buyers. Without access to these tools and your agent’s marketing expertise, your buyer pool – and your home’s selling potential – is limited.

3. Understand the Documentation, Including the Fine Print

Today, when a house is sold, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents to juggle is growing. It’s hard to understand all the requirements and fine print (especially if you’re not an expert). That’s why your advisor is an invaluable guide.

Your agent knows exactly what needs to happen, what all the paperwork means, and can work through it efficiently. They’ll help you review the documentation and avoid any costly missteps that could happen if you tackle it on your own.

4. Act as Your Expert Negotiator

If you sell without an agent, you’ll also be solely responsible for all negotiations. That means you 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. Your agent relies on experience and training to make the right moves throughout the negotiation. They’ll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual concern, and when you may want to get a second opinion. When you sell your house yourself, you’ll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

5. Price It Right

Real estate professionals have the expertise 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 your house is priced to move quickly and get you the maximum return on your investment.

When you sell as a FSBO, you’re operating without this advantage. That could cost you in the long run if you price your house too high or too low.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot that goes into selling your house, and it takes time, effort, and expertise to truly maximize your sale. Instead of tackling it alone, let’s connect to make sure you have an expert on your side.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 29, 2021

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 28, 2021

5 Tips for Making Your Best Offer on a Home

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

1. Know Your Budget

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

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

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

2. Be Ready To Move Fast

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

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

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

3. Lean on a Real Estate Professional

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

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

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

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

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

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 27, 2021

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts.

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

5. Don’t Apply for New Credit.

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

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts.

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 23, 2021

When a House Becomes a Home

It’s clear that owning a home makes financial sense. But lately, the emotional side of what drives homeownership is becoming increasingly important.

No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a familiar scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes can be more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating

You’ve put in a lot of work to achieve the dream of homeownership, and whether it’s your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You’ve earned it.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and unwind after a long day. Sometimes that’s just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.

3. You can find more space to meet your needs

Whether you want more room for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, dedicated space for a hobby, or a personal gym) or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for entertaining, you can invest in a home that truly works for your evolving needs.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style

Looking to try one of those decorative wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to create an entire in-home yoga studio. You can do all of these things in your own home.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a repeat buyer who’s ready to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the non-financial factors that turn a house into a happy home.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 22, 2021

The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’re probably wondering what you need to save for your down payment. Is it 20% of the loan, or could you put down less? While there are lower down payment programs available that allow qualified buyers to put down as little as 3.5%, it’s important to understand the many perks that come with a 20% down payment.

Here are four reasons why putting 20% down may be a great option if it works within your budget.

1. Your Interest Rate May Be Lower

A 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender you’re more financially stable and not a large credit risk. The more confident your lender is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the mortgage interest rate they’ll likely be willing to give you.

2. You’ll End Up Paying Less for Your Home

The larger your down payment, the smaller your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you’re able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you’ll only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down 5%, the additional 15% will be added to your loan and will accrue interest over time. This will end up costing you more over the lifetime of your home loan.

3. Your Offer Will Stand Out in a Competitive Market

In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers often like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence as the lender in this scenario. You are seen as a stronger buyer with financing that’s more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through.

4. You Won’t Have To Pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

What is PMI? According to Freddie Mac:

“For homeowners who put less than 20% down, Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is an added insurance policy for homeowners that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage.

It is not the same thing as homeowner’s insurance. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that’s required if you make a down payment less than 20%. . . . Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your monthly payment.”

As mentioned earlier, if you put down less than 20% when buying a home, your lender will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you’re unable to pay your loan. This insurance isn’t required if you’re able to put down 20% or more.

Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put 20% down on their next home. With the equity homeowners have today, it creates a great opportunity to put those savings toward a larger down payment on a new home.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, consider the benefits of 20% down versus a smaller down payment option. Let’s connect so you have expert advice to help make your homeownership goals a reality.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 16, 2021

Homebuyers Are Going on a Shopping Spree This Winter

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, which means some shoppers have wrapped up their holiday buying. But there’s still a group of buyers that are very active this holiday season – homebuyers.

Experts anticipate the real estate market will see a flurry of activity this winter, and that’s great news for today’s sellers. If you’re planning on listing your home, there’s no need to wait until the spring for better conditions – today’s real estate market is already heating up.

Buyers Have Warmed Up to the Idea of Purchasing This Winter

The past 18 months brought about significant lifestyle changes for many of us, including the rise in remote work, job changes, and even early retirement for some. For many people, it’s prompting a search for their next home now rather than waiting for warmer months.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), points out how this winter may see a significant number of sales:

“Compared to other past winter seasons, this winter season’s sales activity will be stronger. . . . This winter, there will be more sales compared to pre-pandemic winters going back all the way to 2006.”

You might be wondering: what does strong sales activity mean for you? It means there are likely to be more buyers active in the market this winter – far more than more normal, pre-pandemic years.

In the same article, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, puts it in these simple terms:

Sellers can expect to see plenty of buyers.”

The more buyers there are in the market, the more likely it is your home will get noticed. That can lead to a multiple-offer scenario or a potential bidding war. Receiving multiple offers on your home means you can select the right offer and terms for your situation – so you can truly win as a seller when you list your house this winter.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you don’t need to wait until the spring. Buyers are ready now. Let’s connect to discuss why selling this holiday season could be the gift that keeps on giving.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 13, 2021

If You Think the Housing Market Will Slow This Winter, Think Again

From the opportunity to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates to changing homeowner needs, Americans have more motivation than ever to buy a home. According to the experts, buyers are making moves right now, creating an unseasonably strong housing market for this time of year.

As we wrap up the fall season and move into the winter months, here’s a look at what several industry leaders have to say about the continued momentum in the current market, and what it means as we head into the early part of next year.

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

“This solid buying is a testament to demand still being relatively high, as it is occurring during a time when inventory is still markedly low. The notable gain in October assures that total existing-home sales in 2021 will exceed 6 million, which will shape up to be the best performance in 15 years.” 

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American

“So far in November, purchase applications point to another strong month in sales. Still low rates and demographic demand support this strength, even as affordability and inventory headwinds remain.”

The M Report

“The demand for housing in the United States has reached a fever pitch, a trend that opposes the norm of this time of the year when the market cools as the winter months set in.”

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 the winter housing market?

Buyers are actively in the market, and they’re competing for homes to purchase. With the momentum coming out of this fall, all signs point to the winter housing market picking up steam, making it much busier than in a more typical year. And as we’ve seen in so many ways, 2020 and 2021 were anything but typical in real estate. It looks like 2022 may be joining that list before we know it.

Bottom Line

If you think the housing market will slow down this winter, think again. Whether you’re thinking of buying a home, selling your house, or both – let’s connect to determine if this winter is your best time to make a move too.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 8, 2021

Struggling To Find a Home To Buy? New Construction May Be an Option

There’s no question that the financial benefits of selling a house are outstanding today. Now is truly a great time to list if you’re ready to make a change. But if you do sell your house right now, you may be wondering where you’ll go when you move.

With so few homes available to buy right now, you might be considering building a new home as one of your options. But you may be unsure if that’s the way to go. Let’s compare the benefits of a newly built home versus moving into an existing one, and why working with a real estate agent throughout the process is mission-critical to your success no matter what you decide.

The Pros of Newly Built Homes

First, let’s look at the benefits of purchasing a newly constructed home. With a brand-new home, you’ll be able to:

1. Create your perfect home.

If you build a home from the ground up, you’ll have the option to select the custom features you want, including appliances, finishes, landscaping, layout, and more.

2. Cash-in on energy efficiency.

When building a home, you can choose energy-efficient options to help lower your utility costs, protect the environment, and reduce your carbon footprint.

3. Minimize the need for repairs.

Many builders offer a warranty, so you’ll have peace of mind on unlikely repairs. Plus, you won’t have as many little projects to tackle. QuickenLoans puts it like this: 

“Buying a new construction vs. existing home typically means you’ll have fewer repairs to do. It can be a huge relief to know that it’s unlikely you’ll have to repair the roof or replace the furnace.”

4. Have brand new everything.

Another perk of a new home is that nothing in the house is used. It’s all brand new and uniquely yours from day one.

The Pros of Existing Homes

Now, let’s compare that to the perks that come with buying an existing home. With a pre-existing home, you can:

1. Explore a wider variety of home styles and floorplans.

With decades of homes to choose from, you’ll have a broader range of floorplans and designs available.

2. Join an established neighborhood.

Existing homes give you the option to get to know the neighborhood, community, or traffic patterns before you commit.

3. Enjoy mature trees and landscaping.

Established neighborhoods also have more developed landscaping and trees, which can give you additional privacy and curb appeal. As Investopedia says, if you buy an existing home:

“Odds are, too, that the home will have mature landscaping, so you won’t have to worry about starting a lawn, planting shrubs, and waiting for trees to grow.”

4. Appreciate that lived-in charm.

The character of older homes is hard to reproduce. If you value timeless craftsmanship or design elements, you may prefer an existing home. According to Houseopedia:

Charm is priceless. Existing homes, especially those built in the 1950’s or before, often offer architectural elements, historic charm and a quality of craftsmanship not available in new homes.”

The choice is yours. When you start your search for the perfect home, remember that you can go either route – you just need to decide which features and benefits are most important to you. Working with the guidance of your trusted real estate advisor will help you make the most informed and educated decision, so you can move into the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

If you have questions about the options in your area, let’s discuss what’s available and what’s right for you, so you’re ready to make your next move with confidence.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 7, 2021

Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy a Home

Since the pandemic began, Americans have reevaluated the meaning of the word home. That’s led some renters to realize the many benefits of homeownership, including the feelings of security and stability and the financial benefits that come with rising home equity. At the same time, many current homeowners have decided their house no longer meets their needs, so they moved into homes with more space inside and out, including a home office for remote work.

However, not every purchaser has been able to fulfill their desire for a new home. Here are two obstacles some homebuyers are facing:

·         The ability to save for a down payment

·         The ability to qualify for a mortgage at the current lending standards

This past week, both of those challenges have been mitigated to some degree for many purchasers. The FHFA (which handles mortgages by Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Federal Housing Administration) is raising its loan limit for prospective purchasers in 2022. The term used to describe the maximum loan amount they will entertain is the Conforming Loan Limit.

What Is the Difference Between a Conforming Loan and a Non-Conforming Loan?

Investopedia explains the difference in a recent post:

“Conforming loans are the only loans that meet the requirements to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Jumbo loans, which exceed the conforming limit, are the most common type of nonconforming loan.”

What Difference Does It Make to Me as a Home Buyer?

Forbes article earlier this year explains the benefits of a conforming loan and why they exist:

“Since lenders can’t sell non-conforming loans to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to free up their cash, they’re a bit riskier for the lender. This is especially true for jumbo loans, which aren’t backed by any government guarantees. If you default on a jumbo loan, it’s a huge blow to the lender.

Thus, lenders generally charge higher interest rates to compensate, and they can have even more requirements. For example, lenders who give out jumbo loans often require that you make a down payment of at least 20% and show that you have at least six months’ worth of cash in reserve, if not more.”

What Happened Last Week?

The FHFA has significantly increased its Conforming Loan Limits for 2022. Sandra L. Thompson, FHFA Acting Director, explains in the press release that:

“Compared to previous years, the 2022 Conforming Loan Limits represent a significant increase due to the historic house price appreciation over the last year. While 95 percent of U.S. countie​s will be subject to the new baseline limit of $647,200, approximately 100 counties will have conforming loan limits approaching $1 million.”

This means that more homes now qualify for a conforming loan with lower down payment requirements and easier lending standards – the two challenges holding many buyers back over the last year.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) also increased its Conforming Loan Limits for 2022. That could also mean an easier path to homeownership for many prospective buyers. As the Forbes article explains:

“FHA loans can be very beneficial if you don’t have as much savings, or if your credit score could use some work.”

Bottom Line

Buying your first or your next home may have just gotten much easier (less stringent qualifying standards) and less expensive (possibly lower mortgage rate). Let’s connect to discuss how these changes may impact you.

Resources:

1.      To get more information on the new FHFA Conforming Loan Limits, click here.

2.      To get more information on the new FHA Conforming Loan Limits, click here.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 2, 2021

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

If you’re living on your own and looking to buy a home, know that you can make your dream a reality with thoughtful planning and the right team of experts. Research from Freddie Mac shows 28% of all households (36.1 million) are sole-person, and that number is growing. Over the past 40 years, the number of sole-person households has nearly doubled, and that’s a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Freddie Mac:

Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households, . . .”

If you fall into this category, here are three tips to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

1. Know Your Credit Score

When you buy a home on your own, you have to qualify for your loan based solely on your own finances and credit history. Investopedia says:

“. . . lenders will be looking at just one credit profile: yours. Needless to say, it has to be in great shape. It is always a good idea to review your credit report beforehand, and this is especially true of solo buyers.”

It’s important to find out your score so you know where it falls. If you’re not sure if it’s strong enough or where to focus your energy to improve it, meet with a professional for expert advice on your individual situation.

2. Explore Down Payment Options

Next, look into down payment programs so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resourceexplains:

“Buyers should discuss their program options with their loan officer and real estate agent to make sure they choose the program best suited to their personal needs.”

In this step, lean on the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s right for you.

3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs

You should also spend time thinking about what you want. What type of home do you picture yourself in? To answer that question, Quicken Loans shares this advice:

Think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your home and your needs. Is being close to work important? Do you need a lot of yard space? Do you want an extra bedroom that you can transform into a home office? Condo or detached home? Lots of space for entertaining? It’s all up to you (and your budget).”

Again, a professional can help you balance what you want and how much you should spend on your monthly housing costs to determine what type of home is right for you.

While buying a home solo can feel like a big challenge, it doesn’t have to be. If you lean on the professionals, they can help you navigate these waters and make sure you’re able to take advantage of the great opportunities in today’s housing market (like low mortgage rates) to buy your dream home.

Bottom Line

The share of sole-person households is growing. If you’re looking to buy a home on your own, be confident that the dream is achievable. When you’re ready to begin your search, let’s connect so you have expert advice each step of the way.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) December 1, 2021

How To Think Strategically as a Buyer in Today’s Market

The game of chess can provide incredible lessons to apply to all aspects of life, including the homebuying process. Chess requires you to plan and think about your strategy from the very beginning of the game.

The homebuying process, like chess, requires strategy and planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your plan is as strong as possible when you begin your home search.

Pre-Approval: the Best Opening Play To Make as a Homebuyer

It’s important to have a great opening play when you’re buying a home. And the best move you can make when you begin your home search is getting pre-approved by a lender. You’ve probably already heard this is an important step, but what exactly is pre-approval and what benefits does it provide you?

As Freddie Mac puts it:

“The pre-approval letter from your lender tells you the maximum amount you are qualified to borrow. Getting a pre-approval letter is not a loan guarantee, it simply states how much your lender is willing to lend you. . . .”

And while determining how much you can afford at the start of your search is critical, the pre-approval letter also serves another important purpose. Freddie Mac also notes:

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

In the game of chess, a strong opening move signals to your opponent that you’re a serious competitor. As a homebuyer, your pre-approval letter signals to the seller that you’re a serious, interested buyer.

Homebuying: It’s a Team Game, Not a Single-Player Experience

Every step you take to create your strategy as a buyer is important in today’s market. Why? Mortgage rates are still low, but increasing. Prices are going up. There’s a limited supply of homes for sale. These are just a few key variables in today’s market you need to be prepared for.

That means leaning on expert guidance as you plan every move is more important than ever. Have a team of professionals – like your trusted real estate agent and a loan officer – every step of the way to make sure you make the right moves.

Bottom Line

Getting a pre-approval letter isn’t just good strategy, it can be game-changing. It allows you to get a full understanding of what you can afford, and it signals to sellers that you’re serious. Let’s connect today to ensure you’re playing chess and being strategic during the home buying process.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) November 22, 2021

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

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

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

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

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

2. Move to the Location of Your Dreams

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

3. Start a New Business

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

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

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

4. Fund an Education

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) November 17, 2021

Retirement May Be Changing What You Need in a Home

The past year and a half brought about significant life changes for many of us. For some, it meant entering retirement earlier than expected. Recent data shows more people retired this year than anticipated. According to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, 2021 saw a retirement boom:

“At least 1.7 million more older workers than expected retired due to the pandemic recession.”

If you’ve recently retired, your home may not fit your new lifestyle. The good news is, you’ve likely built-up significant equity that can fuel your next move. According to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogichomeowners gained more than $50,000 in equity over the past 12 months alone. That, plus today’s sellers’ market, presents a great opportunity to sell your house and address your evolving needs.

You Can Move Closer to the Ones You Love

The 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) provides a look at the reasons people buy homes. For those reaching retirement age, the number one reason to buy is the opportunity to be closer to loved ones, friends, or relatives.

If you find yourself farther from your loved ones than you’d like to be, retirement and the equity you’ve built in your home may enable you to move closer to the people in your life who matter most.

You Can Find the Right Home for Your Needs

Not only can your equity power a move to a new location, but it can also help you purchase the right size home. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, says many homebuyers 55 and older choose to downsize – or buy a smaller home – when they make a purchase:

“Clearly from the age patterns, young people want to upsize, and the older generation is looking to downsize. . . .”

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

Bottom Line

If you’ve recently retired and your needs are changing, you’re not alone. Let’s connect so you can get a better sense of how to find a home that will match your situation.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) November 11, 2021

VA Loans: Helping Veterans Achieve Their Homeownership Dreams

The purpose of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans is to provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have sacrificed so much by serving our nation. As the Veterans Administration says of the program:

“The objective of the VA Home Loan Guaranty program is to help eligible Veterans, active-duty personnel, surviving spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard purchase, retain, and adapt homes in recognition of their service. . . .”

For over 75 years, VA home loans have provided millions of veterans and their families the opportunity to purchase their own homes.

2020 Data on VA Home Loans

·         1,246,817 home loans are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration

·         The average VA loan amount totals $301,044

·         178,171 of those using a VA Loan are first-time homebuyers

Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program

As we reflect on their sacrifice and honor our nation’s veterans, it’s important to ensure all veterans know the full extent of benefits VA home loans offer. As Jeff London, Director of the VA Home Loan Programsays:

“VA loans offer an extraordinary opportunity for veterans because of lower interest rates, lower monthly payments, no or low-down payments, and no private mortgage insurance.”

Those who qualify for a VA home loan are eligible for the following:

·         Borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment. In 2020, 350,094 individuals using a VA Loan were able to purchase their homes without putting money down.

·         Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.

·         Finally, VA-Backed Loans often offer the most competitive terms and interest rates.

Bottom Line

One way we can honor and thank our veterans this year is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service to our nation and deserve to achieve their homeownership goals. Thank you for your service.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) November 9, 2021

How Sellers Win When Housing Inventory Is Low

In today’s housing market, the number of homes for sale is much lower than the strong buyer demand. As a result, homeowners ready to sell have a significant advantage. Here are three ways today’s low inventory will set you up for a win when you sell this season.

1. Higher Prices

With so many more buyers in the market than homes available for sale, homebuyers are frequently getting into bidding wars for the houses they want to purchase. According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 3.7 offers in today’s market. This buyer competition drives home prices up. As a seller, this certainly works to your advantage, potentially netting you more for your house when you close the deal.

2. Greater Return on Your Investment

Rising prices mean homes are also gaining value, which increases the equity you have in your home. In the latest Homeowner Equity Insights ReportCoreLogic explains:

“In the second quarter of 2021, the average homeowner gained approximately $51,500 in equity during the past year.”

This year-over-year growth in equity gives you the ability to sell your house and then put that money toward a down payment on your next home, or to keep it as extra savings.

3. Better Terms

In a sellers’ market like we have today, you’re in the driver’s seat if you make a move. You have the power to sell on your terms, and buyers are more likely to work with you if it means they can finally land their dream home.

So, is low housing inventory a big deal?

Yes, especially if you want to sell on your terms. Moving now while inventory is so low is key to maximizing your opportunities.

Bottom Line

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the current sellers’ market, let’s connect today to determine your best move.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) November 2, 2021

Sellers Have Incredible Leverage in Today’s Market

With mortgage rates climbing above 3% for the first time in months, serious buyers are more motivated than ever to find a home before the end of the year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), puts it best, saying:

“Housing demand remains strong as buyers likely want to secure a home before mortgage rates increase even further next year.”

But the sense of urgency they feel is complicated by the lack of homes for sale in today’s market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from NAR:

“From one year ago, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 13%. . . .”

What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?

With buyers eager to purchase but so few homes available, sellers who list their houses this fall have a tremendous advantage – also known as leverage – when negotiating with buyers. That’s because, in today’s market, buyers want three things:

·        To be the winning bid on their dream home.

·        To buy before rates rise

·        To buy before prices go even higher.

Your Leverage Can Help You Negotiate Your Best Terms

These three buyer needs give homeowners a leg up when selling their house. You might already realize this leverage enables you to sell at a good price, but it also means you can negotiate the best terms to suit your needs.

And since buyer demand is still high, there’s a good chance you’ll get offers from multiple buyers who are willing to compete for your house. When you do, look closely at the terms of each offer to find out which one has the best perks for you.

If you have questions about what’s best for your situation, your trusted real estate advisor can help. They have the expertise and are skilled negotiators in all stages of the sales process.

Bottom Line

Today’s buyers are motivated to purchase a home this year, and that’s great news if you’re thinking of selling. Let’s connect today to discuss how much leverage you have as a seller in today’s market.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) October 25, 2021

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections

Buyers in today’s market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That’s because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.

But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it’s critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is a critical step for securing a mortgage on your home. As Home Light explains:

“. . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments.”

Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer’s contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today’s market, it’s common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Home Inspection

Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:

“Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.”

If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.

Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.

Bottom Line

Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home’s value and condition. Let’s connect so you have an expert guiding you throughout the entire process.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) October 11, 2021

Experts Agree: Homeownership Provides a Path to Long-Term Wealth

A recent survey from LendingTree.com found there are multiple reasons why Americans would choose to purchase a home instead of renting. Some of the most popular non-financial reasons given include:

·        The flexibility to make the space your own

·        The pride homeownership offers

·        The sense of stability

In the same survey, 41% of respondents say they’d rather own a home than rent because of the unique way homeownership builds wealth over time.

And experts agree – the home you own is an important tool for building your net worth. Here’s what many of those experts have to say about building long-term financial stability through homeownership.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

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

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, points out that a home is truly a one-of-a-kind asset. It’s the only asset that’s both an investment and a place for you to call your own.

“The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation. . . . We won’t always have 17% house price appreciation, but we have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you’re owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset.

Homeowners can leverage the wealth they generate in several ways throughout their life. Tapping into accumulated equity has long been used to pay for the cost of an education, to start a business, or to fund various other expenses. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard points out:

“. . . by paying down mortgage principal each month and participating in the long-term appreciation of home values, a family can build wealth that can be used for retirement or other needs, including helping the next generation.

Bottom Line

With home prices expected to continue to appreciate in coming years, homebuyers have an opportunity to start the long-term wealth-building process right now. Let’s connect today if you’re ready to begin your journey on the path to becoming a homeowner.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) October 4, 2021

4 Tips To Prep for Your Home Sale This Fall

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.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) September 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

·        Should you take down any personal art or pictures?

·        How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house’s curb appeal?

·        What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

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

·        The buyer, who wants the best deal possible.

·        The buyer’s agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.

·        The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.

·        The appraiser, who assesses the property’s value to protect the lender.

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

Bottom Line

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

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) September 28, 2021

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers

Are you looking to buy a home? If so, we’ve got good news for you.

While there’s no denying the housing market is having a great year, many of the headlines are focused on the perks for sellers. But what about buyers today? As a buyer, you’re likely braving bidding wars and weighing low mortgage rates versus price appreciation as you search for your dream home. If you find yourself a bit discouraged, hear this: there are clear signs buyers may have more opportunities this fall.

According to realtor.comthe sweet spot for buyers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years. When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to buy a home this year. The research says:

Nationally, the best time to buy in 2021 is the week of October 3-9. This week historically has shown the best balance of market conditions that favor buyers.”

So, what’s that mean for you? If you’re looking to buy a home, there’s a golden window of opportunity coming. Here’s what you can expect from that week.

Increased Housing Supply

The number of homes available for sale should increase. According to realtor.com, you can expect to see more new listings come to market the week of October 3. The findings estimate we’ll see roughly 17.6% more homes available than we saw at the start of the year.

This means you’ll have more options to choose from which should be a welcome relief in a market with tight housing supply.

Fewer Bidding Wars

With more homes available, you should also see a slight decline in the number of bidding wars. Having more options means buyers may not be competing as intensely for the homes on the market because there are more choices to go around.

This means when you write an offer, you may have less competition and a better chance of being the top bid. Just remember, it’s still important to come in with a strong offer.

Adjusted Homes Prices

As we move into the end of the year, the findings from realtor.com note this week may also be one of the peak weeks for price reductions in 2021. Historically the data shows an average of 7.0% of homes have a price reduction that week. Why? When housing supply ticks up, sellers need to look for other ways to make their house stand out.

This means, while home prices are still appreciating overall, you may see some homes with price adjustments from eager sellers. The process of closing a house takes time. To close before end of year, sellers may be more motivated this October.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a home, don’t lose steam now. Data shows early October may give you the long-awaited opportunity to find the home of your dreams. Let’s connect so you have a trusted ally and advisor to help keep you motivated so you can find the perfect home for you.

Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) September 27, 2021

If You’re a Buyer, Is Offering Asking Price Enough?

In today’s real estate market, buyers shouldn’t shop for a home with the expectation they’ll be able to negotiate a lower sales price. In a typical housing market, buyers try to determine how much less than the asking price they can offer and still get the home. From there, the buyer and seller typically negotiate and agree on a revised price somewhere in the middle.

Things Are Different Today

Today’s housing market is anything but normal. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes today are:

·         Receiving an average of  3.8 offers

·         Selling in just 17 days

Homes selling quickly and receiving multiple offers highlights how competitive the housing market is right now. This is due, in large part, to the low supply of homes for sale. Low supply and high demand mean homes often sell for more than the asking price. In some cases, they sell for a lot more. Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogicexplains how these stats can impact buyers:

“The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months. Now, almost 6 in 10 homes listed are selling over the asking price.”

You May Need To Rethink How You Look at a Home’s Asking Price

What does that mean for you? If you’ve found your dream home, you need to be realistic about today’s housing market and how that impacts the offer you’ll make. Offering below or even at a home’s asking price may not cut it. In today’s market, the highest bidder often wins the home, much like at an auction.

Currently, the asking price is often the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. If you really love a home, it may ultimately sell for more than the sellers are asking. That’s important to keep in mind as you work with your agent to craft an offer.

Understand An Appraisal Gap Can Happen

Because of today’s home price appreciation and the auction-like atmosphere in the selling process, appraisal gaps – the gap between the price of your contract and the appraisal for the house – are more frequent.

According to data from CoreLogic:

“Beginning in January 2020, nationally, 7% of purchase transactions had a contract price above the appraisal, but by May 2021, the frequency had increased to 19% of purchase transactions.”

When this happens, your lender won’t loan you more than the home’s appraised value, and the seller may ask you to make up the difference out of pocket. Buyers in today’s market need to be prepared for this possibility. Know your budget, know what you can afford, and work with a trusted advisor who can offer expert advice along the way.

Bottom Line

Bidding wars and today’s auction-like atmosphere mean buyers need to rethink how they look at the asking price of a home. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional who can advise you on the current market and help determine what the market value is on your dream home.