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February
8

Buyers Are Searching For Your House | MyKCM

The most recent Pending Homes Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors revealed a slight bump in contracts with an increase of 1.6% in December. This news comes as existing home sales are also forecasted to be on pace for 5.54 million in 2017, a 1.7% increase over 2016, which was the best year for sales in a decade.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.

According to NAR's Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun,

"Pending sales bounded last month as enough buyers fended off rising mortgage rates and alarmingly low inventory levels to sign a contract."

So, what's the problem?

Buyers are searching for existing homes, but supply is not keeping up with their demand!

Yun went on to explain,

"The main storyline in the early months of 2017 will be if supply can meaningfully increase to keep price growth at a moderate enough level for households to absorb higher borrowing cost. Sales will struggle to build on last year's strong pace if inventory conditions don't improve." (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

Buyers are out in force right now! If you are considering selling your home this year, the early months of 2017 will be your best option. Let's get together to discuss how you can capitalize on current market conditions.

February
2

No Matter What the Groundhog Says, Here are 5 Reasons to Sell Before Spring! | MyKCM

Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which groundhog you listen to today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season.

Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their homes on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.

Here are five reasons to sell now.

1. Demand is Strong 

Foot traffic refers to the number of people who are out, physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that the number of buyers out looking for their dream homes in December reached the highest mark since February 2016.

These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the strong buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now 

Housing inventory just dropped to a 3.6-month supply, which is well under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices; however, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last four years. Many of these homes will be coming to market soon.

Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home, while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference).

The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don't wait for this other inventory to come to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend to a smoother transaction.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 4% right now. Rates are projected to rise by half a percentage point by the end of 2017.

5. It's Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

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.

October
17

 

Don't Disqualify Yourself… Over Half of All Loans Approved Have a FICO Score Under 750 | MyKCM

The results of countless studies have shown that potential home buyers, and even current homeowners, have an inflated view of what is really required to qualify for a mortgage in today's market.

One such study by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, revealed that many Millennials have not yet considered purchasing a home, simply because they don't believe they can qualify for a mortgage.

The article quoted Jessica Lautz, the National Association of RealtorsManaging Director of Survey Research, as saying that there is a significant population that does not think they will be approved for a mortgage and doesn't even try. The article also quoted Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos: 

"I do think that there's a sense out there in the marketplace among borrowers that credit may not be available, especially for people with lower credit scores."

Ellie Mae's Vice President, Jonas Moe recently encouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they do not qualify for a mortgage:

"Many potential home buyers are 'disqualifying' themselves. You don't need a 750 FICO Score and a 20% down payment to buy."

So what credit score is necessary?

Below is a breakdown of the FICO Score Distribution of all closed (approved) loans in August from Ellie Mae's latest Origination Report.

Don't Disqualify Yourself… Over Half of All Loans Approved Have a FICO Score Under 750 | MyKCM

Over 50% of all approved loans had a FICO Score under 750. Many potential home buyers believe that they need a score over 780 to qualify.

Bottom Line

If owning a home of your own has always been a dream of yours and you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to! Let's get together to determine if your dreams can become a reality sooner than you thought!

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!

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.

April
21

April
7

        From the Desk of Peter Haring, Broker

Making an Offer in a Competitive Market

If you're shopping for a home today, you've probably come to understand that the real estate market has become more competitive due to limited inventory, especially in certain neighborhoods. At the time you decide to purchase your new home, it is important that the offer is both beneficial to you and the seller. One must keep in mind that they could be facing multiple offers, therefore along with a fair market price in which you and your Realtor® have determined, terms of the contract could be the deciding key factors.

Most importantly get a pre-approval letter. Proof of buying power gives the seller the confidence that you will follow through with your purchase. Most likely if the sellers accept your offer, they risk losing potential future offers by telling other buyers that their home is now off the market. Consequently, if they don't feel comfortable that you are a qualified buyer, they might not be as negotiable or as anxious to accept the offer.

Depending on the entire situation, your Realtor® will likely suggest one or more of these strategies to give your offer a competitive edge. The seller, in some cases, may be willing to accept a slightly lower price if the terms are good and they feel comfortable that you are a qualified buyer.

First, they may suggest that your offer includes a significant amount of earnest money. Essentially, a larger deposit will show the seller that you are capable as well as serious about purchasing their home. At the closing, the earnest money will be applied to the purchase price, therefore you are not investing additional funds but making a significant deposit towards the purchase.

Secondly, your Realtor® will make an effort to understand the seller's situation. Since some sellers may need some additional time to vacate the home, making an offer with either an extended closing date or giving the seller additional time to move may make the offer more attractive. Other buyers may not be so flexible and therefore your willingness to be accommodating could be significant in reaching an agreement.

One final idea is to agree to complete any inspection of the home in about one week. If your offer includes "an inspection period" that lasts 10 days or longer, it may not be as appealing to the seller because they will once again have taken their home off the market for that period of time.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful. If you're looking to buy a home soon, please call one of our professional sales associates. They will be glad to help you find that home as well as give good advice on preparing the offer. If the terms of the offer are good, the advice may even save you some money.

 

January
26

Real Estate Market Overview

Peter Haring, Broker

Millennials are those people born between 1992 and 2004. This millennial generation is expected to have a huge impact on both the local and national housing market in 2015. There are three reasons for this: a greatly improved economy driving household formations, low interest rates, and a stable housing market.

Last year, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, first time home buyers only accounted for 33% of all home sales. That is near a 30 year low. In a typical year, first time homebuyers generally account for around 40% of sales. This rate will likely go much higher during the next year or so. One survey of buyers, shows that number going as high as 46%. That's a big rebound. As the economy has improved, these buyers, many of whom have been living in parents basements are expected to form their own households and move into the market in a big way in 2015. Household formations are already the highest they've been since 2005.

Further, some economists are expecting interest rates to grow this year by as much as 1%, from around 4% up to nearly 5%. That would be nearly a 20% increase. The average increase is expected to be around 6/10 of a percent. Either way, that change is creating a lot of motivation for home buyers to purchase this spring rather than wait until laterin 2015. Many realize now is the time to take advantage of these low rates and lock in a fixed payment. Let's compare that to the alternative of renting. Ruth Mantel, economics reporter at Market Watch says, "Landlords have ramped up rents by the fastest pace in six years with national vacancy rates the lowest in two decades." As households are formed, millennials are increasingly seeing the wisdom of having a fixed mortgage payment rather than being subject to increasing rents.

This year will finally bring us closer to a stable rate of home price appreciation ranging from 3.7%-4% according to a recent Home Price AppreciationSurvey. For 2016, the same survey shows expected appreciation rates to be in a range from 3-3.5%. Those growth rates are reflective of historical norms in this country. These rates can give buyers confidence. According to the 2014 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 79 percent of recent buyers said their home is a good investment, and 40 percent believe it's better than stocks.

All together, it looks like we should have a very active real estate market in 2015. 

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