Maryland and DC Real Estate and Community News

Sept. 2, 2021

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership | MyKCM

As rent prices continue to soar, many renters want to know what they can do to get ready to buy their first home. According to recent data from ApartmentList.com:

The first half of 2021 has seen the fastest growth in rent prices since the start of our estimates in 2017. Our national rent index has increased by 11.4 percent since January . . . .”

Those rising rental costs may make it seem impossible to prepare for homeownership if you’re a renter. But the truth is, there are ways you can – and should – prepare to purchase your first home. Here’s some expert advice on what to do if you’re ready to learn more about how to escape rising rents.

Start Saving – Even Small Amounts – Now

Experts agree, setting aside what you can – even smaller amounts of money – into a dedicated savings account is a great starting point when it comes to saving for a down payment. As Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, Founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLCsays:

“I recommend saving for a home in a ‘sinking fund’ . . . . This is a savings account separate from your emergency fund that you use to save for a short or mid-term expense.

Zuniga-Sanchez adds saving in smaller increments can help make a large goal – such as saving for a down payment –achievable:

“Breaking up your goals into smaller bite-sized pieces by saving incrementally can make a large daunting number more manageable.”

Assess Your Finances and Work on Your Credit

Another tip experts recommend: take a look at your overall finances and credit score and find ways to reduce your debt. According to the HUD, the average credit score of first-time homebuyers is 716. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, there are numerous online tools that can help you check. If your score is below that average, don’t fret. Remember that an average means there are homeowners with credit scores both above and below that threshold.

If you find out your score is below the average, there are several ways to improve your credit before you apply for a loan. HUD recommends reducing your debt as much as you can, paying your bills on time, and using your credit card responsibly.

Start the Conversation with Your Advisor Today

Finally, it’s important to talk to someone who understands the market and what it takes to become a first-time homebuyer. That’s where we come in. A trusted advisor can help you navigate your specific market and talk you through all the available options. Having the right network of real estate and lending professionals in your corner can help you plan for the homebuying process as well as determine what you can afford and how you can get pre-approved when you’re ready.

Most importantly, we can help you understand how homeownership is achievable. As Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Advisor with Self Financial, says:

“Don’t write home ownership off just because you have a low income . . . . With the right tools, resources and assistance, you could still achieve your dream.”

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to be a homeowner one day, the best thing you can do is start preparing now. Even if you don’t think you’ll purchase for a few years, let’s connect today to discuss the process and to set you up for success on your journey to homeownership.

Posted in Market Updates
Sept. 2, 2021

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | MyKCM

It’s economy 101 – when supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally rise. That’s what’s happening in today’s housing market. Home prices are appreciating at near-historic rates, and that’s creating some challenges when it comes to home appraisals.

In recent months, it’s become increasingly common for an appraisal to come in below the contract price on the house. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic, explains it like this:

Recently, we observed buyers paying prices above listing price and higher than the market data available to appraisers can support. This difference is known as ‘the appraisal gap . . . .’”

Why does an appraisal gap happen?

Basically, with the heightened buyer demand, purchasers are often willing to pay over asking to secure the home of their dreams. If you’ve ever toured a house you’ve fallen in love with, you understand. Once you start to picture yourself and your furniture in the rooms, you want to do everything you can to land the property, including putting in a high offer to try to beat out other would-be buyers.

When the appraiser comes in, they look at things a bit more objectively. Their job is to assess the inherent value of the home, so they’re going to study the facts. Dustin Harris, Appraiser Coach, drives this point home:

It’s important for everyone to understand that the appraiser’s job in the end is to remain that unbiased third party, to truly tell the client what that home is worth in the current market, regardless of what decisions have been made on the price side of things.”

In simple terms, while homebuyers may be willing to pay more, appraisers are there to assess the market value of the home. Their goal is to make sure the lender isn’t loaning more money than the home is worth. It’s objective, rather than emotional.

In a highly competitive market like today’s, having a discrepancy between the two numbers isn’t unusual. Here’s a look at the increasing rate of appraisal gaps, according to data from  CoreLogic (see graph below):What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | MyKCM

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, knowledge is power. The best thing you can do is understand appraisal gaps may impact your transaction if you’re buying or selling. If you do encounter an appraisal below your contract price, know that in today’s sellers’ market, the most common approach is for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference in price. Buyers, be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Above all else, lean on your real estate agent. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, your trusted advisor is your ally if you come up against an appraisal gap. We’ll help you understand your options and handle any additional negotiations that need to happen.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s important to stay informed on the latest trends. Let’s connect so you have an ally to help you navigate an appraisal gap to get the best possible outcome.

Posted in Market Updates
Sept. 2, 2021

The Difference In Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening

The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening

The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCM

Becoming financially secure is an important goal for many people today, but some don’t realize just how much homeownership can help them achieve that dream. A recent report, The Journey Toward Financial Freedom, surveys Americans about their perspective on financial wellness and their goals. It shows there may be a significant misconception about the role owning a home plays in building wealth:

“Home ownership is one of the indicators Americans say is least connected to financial health."

Two major personal wealth goals – homeownership and net worth – work hand-in-hand. Below are just a few reasons why, if you’re looking for financial security, homeownership should be a top priority.

Homeownership Is an Important Cornerstone of Building Wealth

Every three years, the Federal Reserve releases the Survey of Consumer Finances which highlights the difference in wealth between homeowners and renters. The graph below shows the findings across the previous surveys including the latest data (2019), and the results are staggering:The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCMAs the graph illustrates, the gap between homeowners and renters continues to widen. That’s because homeownership contributes massively to an individual’s overall net worth. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americanhighlights this idea:

“. . . between 2016 and 2019, housing wealth was the single biggest contributor to the increase in net worth across all income groups . . . .”

When we look even closer at the most recent data from 2019, the average homeowner’s net worth is more than 40 times greater than that of the average renter (see graph below):The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCMThe gap exists in large part because homeowners build equity as their home appreciates in value and they pay off a portion of their mortgage each month. When you own your home, your monthly mortgage payment is, in essence, forced savings that come back to you when you sell your home or refinance. As a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

If you’re ready to start building your net worth, the current real estate market offers several opportunities you should consider. For example, with today’s low mortgage rates, your purchasing power may be higher now than it has been in some time. That means there may be no better time than now to start working towards your homeownership goals – especially since rates are anticipated to rise in the coming months.

Bottom Line

Owning a home provides one of the strongest foundations for building individual wealth and lasting financial security. If you’re ready to start your path towards homeownership, let’s connect today.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 2, 2021

Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too?

Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too?

Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too? | MyKCM

Over the past year, many homeowners realized what they need in a home is changing, especially with the rise in remote work. If you’re longing for a dedicated home office or a change in scenery, now may be the time to find the home that addresses your evolving needs.

Working from Home Isn’t a Passing Fad

Before the pandemic, only 21% of individuals worked from home. However, if you’ve recently discovered remote work is your new normal, you’re not alone.

survey of hiring managers conducted by Statista and Upwork projects 37.5% of U.S. workers will work remotely in some capacity over the next 5 years (see chart below):Remote Work Has Changed Our Home Needs. Is It Time for Your Home To Change, Too? | MyKCM

Working from Home Gives You More Flexibility and More Options

If you fall in that category, working from home may provide you with opportunities you didn’t realize you had. The ongoing rise in remote work means a portion of the workforce no longer needs to be tied to a specific area for their job. Instead, it gives those workers more flexibility when it comes to where they can live.

If you’re one of the nearly 23% of workers who will remain 100% remote, you have the option to move to a lower cost-of-living area or to the location of your dreams. If you search for a home in a more affordable area, you’ll be able to get more house for your money, freeing up more options for your dedicated office space and more breathing room. You could also move to an area you’ve always dreamed of vacationing in – somewhere near the beach, the mountains, or simply an area that features better weather and community amenities. Without your job tying you to a specific location, you’re bound to find your ideal spot.

If you’re one of the almost 15% of individuals who will have a partially remote or hybrid schedule, relocating within your local area to a home that’s further away from your office could be a great choice. Since you won’t be going into work every day, a slightly longer commute from a more suburban or rural area could be a worthy trade-off for a home with more features, space, or comforts. After all, if you’ll still be at home part-time, why not find a home that better suits your needs?

According to the latest Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate from The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), many homebuyers are already taking advantage of their newfound flexibility:

“. . . after years of apparent but variant trends towards urbanization, the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve found what you’re looking for in a home has changed due to remote work, it may be time to make a move. Let’s connect today to start prioritizing your home needs.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 2, 2021

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Experts Agree: Options Are Improving for Buyers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Buyers hoping for more homes to choose from may be in luck as housing inventory begins to rise. Many experts agree – new sellers listing their homes is great news for buyers and the overall market.
  • Although the supply increases are modest, more homes means more options for buyers. A rise in inventory may also help slow the price gains we’ve seen recently and could be a sign of good things to come.
  • If you’re searching for a home, rising inventory is welcome news. Let’s connect today to discuss new listings in our area.
Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 2, 2021

Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You?

Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You?

Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You? | MyKCM

An important factor in today’s market is the number of homes for sale. While inventory levels continue to sit near historic lows, there are indications we may have hit the lowest point we’ll see. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently said of our supply challenges:

It looks like inventory may have hit a bottom (we’ve seen this in the higher frequency data as well). Unsold inventory in May was at 2.5 months supply, up from 2.4.

To put it into perspective, the graph below shows levels of inventory rising since the beginning of the year:Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You? | MyKCMWe’re still not close to a balanced market, which would be a 6 months’ supply of homes for sale. However, we are seeing a slow but steady increase in homes coming up for sale. And that leaves many buyers and sellers wondering the same thing: what does that mean for me?

Buyers: More Options Are Arriving, so It’s Time To Act

If you’re a buyer, more inventory coming to market is a welcome sight. More supply means more options and less competition, which could mean fewer bidding wars.

According to the latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report, supply levels are continuing to increase, which is different from the typical summer market:

“In June, newly listed homes grew by 5.5% on a year-over-year basis, and by 10.9% on a month-over-month basis. Typically, fewer newly listed homes appear on the market in the month of June compared to May. This year, growth in new listings is continuing later into the summer season, a welcome sign for a tight housing market.

If you’re having trouble finding your next home, this news should give you the hope and motivation to keep your buying process moving forward. Experts project mortgage rates will begin increasing, which will make purchasing a home less affordable as time passes. You can still capitalize on today’s low interest rates, so stick with your search as more homes come to market.

Sellers: Our Supply Challenges Aren’t Over Yet, so Now Is the Time To Sell

If you’ve been putting off selling your house, you shouldn’t wait much longer. The year’s month-over-month gains in homes for sale have helped buyers, but we’re still very much in a sellers’ market.

As the graph below shows, even with the number of homes for sale rising, we’re still well below the supply levels we’ve seen historically:Housing Supply Is Rising. What Does That Mean for You? | MyKCMOf course, more homes are coming to market now, and more are expected in the coming months. Selling your house this summer gives you the chance to get ahead of the competition and maximize your sales potential before more homes are put up for sale in your neighborhood.

Bottom Line

More homes for sale means more options for buyers and more competition for sellers. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, let’s connect today to discuss your options and why it’s still a good time to make your move.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 2, 2021

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer | MyKCM

While the housing market forecast for the second half of the year remains positive, there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Here are four things to consider if you’re trying to decide if now’s the right time to make a move.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly. The report notes homes are selling in an average of just 17 days.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer competition, and homes selling quickly is a great sign for sellers. It’s one of several factors that indicate buyers are motivated to do what it takes to purchase the home of their dreams.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling fast, homes are receiving multiple offers. NAR reports sellers are seeing an average of 5 offers, and these offers are competitive ones. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogicsaid in a recent interview:

The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.

This confirms buyers are ready and willing to enter bidding wars for your home. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale, which while improving, remains at near-record lows. As NAR details:

“Total housing inventory at the end of May amounted to 1.23 million units, up 7.0% from April's inventory and down 20.6% from one year ago (1.55 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.5-month supply at the present sales pace, marginally up from April's 2.4-month supply but down from 4.6-months in May 2020.”

There are signs, however, that more homes are coming to market. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americannotes:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.

If you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

Over the past 12 months, homeowners have gained a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. In that same period, homeowners have also spent a considerable amount of time in their homes, and many have decided their house doesn’t meet their needs.

If you’re not happy with your current home, you can leverage that equity to power your move now. Your equity, plus current low mortgage rates, can help you maximize your purchasing power.

But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever. Experts forecast interest rates will increase in the coming months. Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at NARsays:

“Nevertheless, as the economic outlook for the United States looks brighter for the rest of the year, mortgage rates are expected to rise in the following months.”

As interest rates rise, even modestly, it could influence buyer demand and your purchasing power. If you’ve been waiting for the best time to sell to fuel your move up, you likely won’t find more favorable conditions than those we’re seeing today.

Bottom Line

With supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers, sellers are well-positioned to take advantage of current market conditions right now. If you’re thinking about selling, let’s connect today to discuss why it makes sense to list your home sooner rather than later.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 2, 2021

3 Charts That Show This Isn't a Housing Bubble

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

With home prices continuing to deliver double-digit increases, some are concerned we’re in a housing bubble like the one in 2006. However, a closer look at the market data indicates this is nothing like 2006 for three major reasons.

1. The housing market isn’t driven by risky mortgage loans.

Back in 2006, nearly everyone could qualify for a loan. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association is an indicator of the availability of mortgage money. The higher the index, the easier it is to obtain a mortgage. The MCAI more than doubled from 2004 (378) to 2006 (869). Today, the index stands at 130. As an example of the difference between today and 2006, let’s look at the volume of mortgages that originated when a buyer had less than a 620 credit score.3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCMDr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, reiterates this point:

“There are marked differences in today’s run up in prices compared to 2005, which was a bubble fueled by risky loans and lenient underwriting. Today, loans with high-risk features are absent and mortgage underwriting is prudent.”

2. Homeowners aren’t using their homes as ATMs this time.

During the housing bubble, as prices skyrocketed, people were refinancing their homes and pulling out large sums of cash. As prices began to fall, that caused many to spiral into a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of the house).

Today, homeowners are letting their equity build. Tappable equity is the amount available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% combined loan-to-value ratio (thus still leaving them with at least 20% equity). In 2006, that number was $4.6 billion. Today, that number stands at over $8 billion.

Yet, the percentage of cash-out refinances (where the homeowner takes out at least 5% more than their original mortgage amount) is half of what it was in 2006.3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

3. This time, it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.

FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) dominated the housing market leading up to the 2006 housing bubble and drove up buyer demand. Back then, housing supply more than kept up as many homeowners put their houses on the market, as evidenced by the over seven months’ supply of existing housing inventory available for sale in 2006. Today, that number is barely two months.

Builders also overbuilt during the bubble but pulled back significantly over the next decade. Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist, Economic & Housing Research at Freddie Macexplains that pullback is the major factor in the lack of available inventory today:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Here’s a chart that quantifies Khater’s remarks:3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCMToday, there are simply not enough homes to keep up with current demand.

Bottom Line

This market is nothing like the run-up to 2006. Bill McBride, the author of the prestigious Calculated Risk blog, predicted the last housing bubble and crash. This is what he has to say about today’s housing market:

“It’s not clear at all to me that things are going to slow down significantly in the near future. In 2005, I had a strong sense that the hot market would turn and that, when it turned, things would get very ugly. Today, I don’t have that sense at all, because all of the fundamentals are there. Demand will be high for a while because Millennials need houses. Prices will keep rising for a while because inventory is so low.”

Posted in Market Updates
July 13, 2021

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right.

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right.

Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right. | MyKCM

There’s no denying we’re in a sellers’ market. With low inventory and high buyer demand, homes today are selling above the asking price at a record rate. According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

  • Homes typically sell within 17 days (compared to 26 days one year ago).
  • The average home sold has five offers to pick from.
  • 54% of offers are over the asking price.

Because so many buyers are competing for so few homes, bidding wars are driving up home prices. According to an average of leading expert projections, existing home prices are expected to increase by 8.9% this year.

Yet even in today’s red-hot sellers’ market, it’s important to price your house right. While it may be tempting to price your house on the high side to capitalize on this trend, doing so could limit your house’s potential.

Why Pricing Your House Right Matters

Here’s the thing – a high price tag doesn’t mean you’re going to cash in big on the sale. While you may be trying to maximize your return, the tradeoff may be steep. A high list price is more likely to deter buyers, sit on the market longer, or require a price drop that can raise questions among prospective buyers.

Instead, focus on setting a price that’s fair. Real estate professionals know the value of your home. By pricing your house based on its current condition and similar homes that have recently sold in your area, your agent can help you set a price that’s realistic and obtainable – and that’s good news for you and for buyers.Selling Your House? Make Sure You Price It Right. | MyKCMWhen you price your house right, you increase your home’s visibility, which drives more buyers to your front door. The more buyers that tour your home, the more likely you’ll have a multi-offer scenario to create a bidding war. When multiple buyers compete for your house, that sets you up for a bigger win.

Bottom Line

When it comes to pricing your house, working with a local real estate professional is essential. Let’s connect so we can optimize your exposure, your timeline, and the return on your investment, too.

Posted in Market Updates
July 13, 2021

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • “1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more”
  • “1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more”
  • “47% don’t know what a good interest rate is”

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they’ve decided homebuying isn’t for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you’re interested in buying but aren’t sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As Freddie Mac says:

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

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don’t feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they’ll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

“Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years...”

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year.”

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying powerIf you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, there’s no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you’ll need to start your search, and what to expect.

Posted in Market Updates