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March
13

Buy a House in Ashland Ohio

Buying a new home is always a big deal, but buying your first home is an extra special occasion. It can, however, be also be filled with missteps if you go into it blindly and without the right information. If you're starting to feel overwhelmed by all the dos and don'ts of the home-buying process, our REALTORS® can make it easier with our five-step plan for buying a home in Ashland. 

Click Here to Read More...

March
6

Buy a Home with New Job

Even if you're new to a job, you can still fulfill your dream of owning a home. When you search for Mansfield homes for sale, you're destined to find the perfect residence in a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle. While your new job may present financing challenges, some mortgage companies will find ways to work around the obstacles.

Our REALTORS® believe that the path to homeownership is easier when you know what to expect. That's why we created a "First-Time Buyers Guide: Buying a Home With a New Job" with information to help you through your home-buying process.

Click Here to Read More...

January
11

Home Buying Tips for Millennials
As the economy grows, Millennials are taking a second look at the housing market. Let's review ten tips that will smooth the path to your first house, no matter what your goals are. 

  1. Think About a Starter Home
    You don't have to go straight into a lavish home. If you start with a smaller home or fixer-upper, you'll often be able to get even better mortgage terms in the future-thanks to your established history with your first property.

  2. Click Here to Read More...

January
2

Tips to Get Your Home Ready for an Ohio Winter

Ohio Winter Home Preparedness

Winter has only just begun here in Northeast Ohio, and already we've had to deal with our fair share of ice and snow. The next time winter weather threatens, our REALTORS® want to make sure your home is ready for it. Here's how to make sure you and your home are ready for the next big snow storm.

Click Here to Read More...

December
26

Home buying questions to ask
One of the first challenges when buying a house is that there's simply so much information to sort through as you make your decision. Whether you're building a budget, searching for the right neighborhood, or thinking about how to make an appealing offer, asking the right questions will ultimately help you reach informed decisions. And you don't have to do it alone! Our REALTORS® are here to help, with a guide to the five key questions to ask when buying a house.

Click Here to Read More...

June
19

It's All About Location, Location, Location 

Find the Right Mansfield Neighborhood

Right neighborhood or right house ... Which is more important? When you're searching for homes in Mansfield, the answer to that question can become "complicated."  Our real estate agents have created this list of things to consider when your searching the perfect Mansfield property for you and your family.

Click Here to Read More...

May
22

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist
Summer is around the corner, and that means DIY season is about to be in full swing for homeowners everywhere. The summer is the perfect season to address landscaping maintenance tasks, improve the energy efficiency of your home, and make sure that your HVAC system is ready to keep you cool no matter how hot it gets outside. Our real estate agents are here to help you prepare, with our ultimate summer home maintenance checklist.

Click Here to Read More...

November
8

 

It's Not Always Marriage Before Mortgage | MyKCM

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they are married and have a family. Others may think they are too young. And still, others might think their current income would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting statistics on the first-time buyer:

It's Not Always Marriage Before Mortgage | MyKCM

Unmarried couples jumped up to the third spot, right after their married counterparts and single women. Many couples are buying a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding.

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first home. Let's get together to determine if your dream home is within your grasp.

October
18

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.47%. Rates have remained at or below 3.5% each of the last 16 weeks, marking a historic low.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments at or about $1,100 a month.

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $6,250). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 4% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard earned money.

September
27

US Housing Market Moving Further into 'Buy Territory' | MyKCM

According to the latest Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, the U.S. housing market has continued to move deeper into buy territory, supporting the belief that housing markets across the country remain a sound investment.

The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:

In today's housing market, is it better to rent or buy a home?

The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major cities for comparison. The researchers "measure the relationship between purchasing property and building wealth through a buildup in equity versus renting a comparable property and investing in a portfolio of stocks and bonds." 

Ken Johnson, Ph.D., Real Estate Economist & Professor at Florida Atlantic University, and one of the index's authors explains that:

"Housing prices, in general, continue to slow and when considered in light of the recent trends in the Buy vs. Rent Index signal that ownership remains an excellent investment for the majority of Americans."

While 15 of the 23 metropolitan markets examined moved further into buy territory since last quarter, Dallas, Denver, and Houston are three of the major cities that are currently deep into rent territory. In these three markets, it is estimated that renting will top homeownership 7 out of 10 times.

Eli Beracha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the T&S Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU, believes that, in these three markets, the "strong odds in favor of renting to create more wealth should begin to have an impact on the demand for home ownership and from that, impact property prices in these areas."

Simply put, home prices in these areas will begin to return to more normal levels once residents realize that renting may be a better choice, therefore bringing home affordability back as well.

Bottom Line

The majority of the country is strongly in buy territory. Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. Rents are predicted to increase substantially in the next year. Protect yourself from rising rents by locking in your housing cost with a mortgage payment now.

August
31

 

 

Home Values: DEFINITELY NOT in Bubble Range!! | MyKCM

There are some industry pundits claiming that residential home values have risen too quickly and that current levels are on the verge of another housing bubble. It is easy to see how this thinking has taken form if we look at a graph of home prices from 2000 to today.

Home Values: DEFINITELY NOT in Bubble Range!! | MyKCM

The graph definitely looks like a rollercoaster ride. And, as prices begin to reach 2006 levels again, it "seems logical" that the next part of the ride would be downhill. However, this graph includes the anomaly of the price bubble and the correction (the housing crash).

What if the bubble & bust didn't occur?

Let's assume that instead of the rise and fall in home prices that we saw last decade, we just had normal historic appreciation from 2000 to today. According to the 100+ experts that are surveyed for the Home Price Expectation Survey, normal annual appreciation for residential single family homes from 1987 to 1999 was 3.6%.

Starting with the median home price in 2000, we added 3.6% to it each year since then. Here is that graph intermixed with the above graph.

Home Values: DEFINITELY NOT in Bubble Range!! | MyKCM

What this shows us is that, had the bubble and crash not occurred and instead we just had normal annual appreciation over this period, prices would actually be greater than they are today.

Bottom Line

There is no reason for alarm as prices seem to be right in line with where they should be.

August
30

 

 

Why Is There So Much Paperwork to Sign to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

We are often asked why there is so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today's buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage.

During the run-up in the housing market, many people 'qualified' for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can't happen again.

2. The banks don't want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don't want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allows you to get a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.43%, the latest reported rate from Freddie Mac.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990's and 6.29% in the 2000's). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of less than 4%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let's be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

August
29

 

Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap! | MyKCM

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don't Become Trapped

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, reported on what he calls a "Rental Affordability Crisis." He warns that,

"Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they'll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead."

In the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University's 2015 Report on Rental Housing, they reported that 49% of rental households are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.

It's Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

In Smoke's article, he went on to say,

"Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home."

 "While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it's perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren't those unhappy renters choosing to buy?"

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:

"It's not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren't qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.

 It's that they think they're not qualified or they think that they don't have a big enough down payment." (emphasis added)

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don't get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let's get together to determine if you could qualify for a mortgage now!

August
19

'Old Millennials' Are Diving Head-First into Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • 'Old Millennials' are defined as 25-36 year olds according to the US Census Bureau.
  • According to NAR's latest Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the median age of all first-time home buyers is 31 years old.
  • More and more 'Old Millennials' are realizing that homeownership is within their reach now!
August
4

 

Thinking of Selling Your House? Pick the Right Agent! | MyKCM

Today, more and more sellers are stepping back, taking a look at the advice real estate professionals give them, and asking themselves whether they can trust that advice. And that is exactly what they should do.

The most important question you can ask when you are choosing a real estate agent is whether you feel you can trust them. You must know that they're giving you great advice, and that they're going to be able to help you accomplish your family's goals. You must trust your listing agent enough to allow them to:

  • Handle the liquidation of possibly the largest asset your family has
  • Help set the market value of that asset (get the price right)
  • Set the timetable for the liquidation of that asset
  • Set a fair fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

All four of these require a tremendous amount of trust. They're going to sell your prized possession, set its value, set a time schedule as to when your family will be able to move, and determine the fee that you're going to pay to get those three things accomplished.

You have to trust your agent enough to allow them to help you and your family reach your dreams.

Whether you're a grandfather up North looking to move to Florida to spend your later years with your grandkids, or a young person who wants to take that job in San Francisco but first has to get your house sold in Chicago, you need an agent you can trust to help you move on with what's important.

 

August
1

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying A Home! | MyKCM

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to go it on their own. In today's market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines. You need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and ready for you to move in to can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your "dream home."

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today's market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family's head; the salary that puts food on their family's table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

July
19

A Homeowner's Net Worth is 45x Greater Than a Renter's!

A Homeowner's Net Worth is 45x Greater Than a Renter's! | MyKCM

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner's net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article, the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun predicts that in 2016 the net worth gap will widen even further to 45 times greater.

The graph below demonstrates the results of the last two Federal Reserve studies and Yun's prediction:

A Homeowner's Net Worth is 45x Greater Than a Renter's! | MyKCM

Put Your Housing Cost to Work for You

Simply put, homeownership is a form of 'forced savings.' Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth. Every time you pay your rent, you are contributing to your landlord's net worth.

The latest National Housing Pulse Survey from NAR reveals that 85% of consumers believe that purchasing a home is a good financial decision. Yun comments:

"Though there will always be discussion about whether to buy or rent, or whether the stock market offers a bigger return than real estate, the reality is that homeowners steadily build wealth. The simplest math shouldn't be overlooked."

Bottom Line

If you are interested in finding out if you could put your housing cost to work for you by purchasing a home, let's get together to discuss your next steps.

July
5

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer!

4 Reasons to Buy This Summer! | MyKCM

Summer is here! The temperature isn't the only thing heating up right now, so too is the housing market in many areas of the country! Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic's latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.2% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.3% over the next year. The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects home values to appreciate by more than 3.2% a year for the next 5 years.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home. 

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

"Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That's yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting."

4. It's Time to Move On with Your Life

The 'cost' of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren't? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

July
1

 

Sales at Highest Pace in 9 Years!

Sales at Highest Pace in 9 Years [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Sales of existing homes reached the highest annual pace in over 9 years at 5.29 million.
  • Inventory remains below the 6-month norm and prices are still on the rise.
  • Interest rates are at a historic low of 3.48%.
April
5

 

Rent or Buy: Either Way You're Paying A Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

There are some renters that have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage - either your mortgage or your landlord's.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

"Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That's yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting."

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

"With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you'll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades."

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of 'forced savings' that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:

Rent or Buy: Either Way You're Paying A Mortgage | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.


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