Maryland and DC Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 3, 2022

The Ireland Group - Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential

Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential

Why Selling Your House with a Real Estate Professional Is Essential | MyKCM

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.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 3, 2022

The Ireland Group - Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2022 Housing Market | MyKCM

As we move into 2022, both buyers and sellers are wondering, what’s next? Will there be more homes available to buy? Will prices keep climbing? How high will mortgage rates go? For the answer to those questions and more, we turn to the experts. Here’s a look at what they say we can expect in 2022.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

“Consensus forecasts put rates at about 3.7% by the end of next year. So, that's still historically low, but certainly higher than they are today.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

Affordability will increasingly be a challenge as interest rates and prices rise, but remote work may expand search areas and enable younger buyers to find their first homes sooner than they might have otherwise. And with more than 45 million millennials within the prime first-time buying ages of 26-35 heading into 2022, we expect the market to remain competitive.”

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

“With more housing inventory to hit the market, the intense multiple offers will start to ease. Home prices will continue to rise but at a slower pace.”

George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research, realtor.com:

“We also expect a growing number of homeowners to bring properties to market, taking some pressure off high prices and offering buyers more options.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

Strong demographic demand will continue to act as the wind in the housing market’s sails.”

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

Hope is on the horizon for 2022. You should see your options grow as more homes are listed and some of the peak intensity of buyer competition starts to ease. Just remember, rising rates and prices are a great motivator for you to find the home of your dreams sooner rather than later so you can buy while today’s affordability is still in your favor.

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Make no mistake – this sellers’ market will remain in 2022 as home prices are projected to continue climbing, just at a more moderate pace. Selling your house while buyer demand is so high will truly put you in the driver’s seat. But don’t wait too long. With more listings projected to become available, your ideal window of opportunity to stand out from the crowd won’t last forever. Work with an agent who knows your local market and current inventory conditions to ensure you have the support you need to make an educated and informed decision about selling in the coming year.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, 2022 may be your year. Let’s connect to discuss your goals and the unique opportunities you have in today’s housing market.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 3, 2022

The Ireland Group - The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home

The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home

The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home | MyKCM

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 purchase price, 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.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 19, 2021

The Ireland Group - Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You

Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You

Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You | MyKCM

If you’re a homeowner who’s decided your current house no longer fits your needs, or a renter with a strong desire to become a homeowner, you may be hoping that waiting until next year could mean better market conditions to purchase a home.

To determine whether you should buy now or wait another year, you can ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. Where will home prices be a year from now?
  2. Where will mortgage rates be a year from now?

Let’s shed some light on the answers to both of these questions.

Where Will Home Prices Be a Year from Now?

Three major housing industry entities are projecting ongoing home price appreciation in 2022. Here are their forecasts:

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of a home today is $353,900. Using an average of the three price projections above (6.5%), a home that sold for $353,900 today would be valued at $376,904 at the end of next year. As a prospective buyer, you would therefore pay an additional $23,004 by waiting.

Where Will Mortgage Rates Be a Year from Now?

Today, Freddie Mac announced their 30-year fixed mortgage rate was at 3.1%. However, most experts believe mortgage rates will rise as the economy recovers. Here are the forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2022 by the three major entities mentioned above:

That averages out to 3.7% if you include all three forecasts. Any increase in mortgage rates will increase your costs.

What Does It Mean for You if Home Values and Mortgage Rates Increase?

If both variables increase, you’ll pay a lot more in mortgage payments each month. Let’s assume you purchase a $353,900 home today with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.1% (the current rate from Freddie Mac) after making a 10% down payment. According to mortgagecalculator.net, your monthly mortgage payment would be approximately $1,360 (this does not include insurance, taxes, and other fees because those vary by location).

That same home one year from now could cost $376,904, and the mortgage rate could be 3.7% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). Your monthly mortgage payment after putting down 10%, would be approximately $1,561.Two Reasons Why Waiting To Buy a Home Will Cost You | MyKCMThe difference in your monthly mortgage payment would be $201. That’s $2,412 more per year and $72,360 over the life of the loan.

Add to that the approximately $23,004 a house with a similar value would build in home equity this year due to home price appreciation, and the total net worth increase you could gain by buying this year is over $95,364 (the $72,360 mortgage savings plus the $23,004 potential gain in equity if you buy now).

Bottom Line

When asking if you should buy a home, you may think of the non-financial benefits of homeownership. When asking when to buy, the financial benefits make it clear that doing so now is much more advantageous than waiting until next year.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 19, 2021

The Ireland Group - Win When You Sell

Win When You Sell (And When You Move)

Win When You Sell (And When You Move) | MyKCM

If you’re trying to decide when to sell your house, there may not be a better time than this winter. Selling this season means you can take advantage of today’s strong sellers’ market when you make a move.

Win When You Sell

Right now, conditions are very favorable for current homeowners looking for a change. If you sell now, here’s what you can expect:

  • Your House Will Stand Out – While recent data shows there are more sellers getting ready to list their homes this winter, there are still more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale. If you sell your house now before more houses are listed, it will get more attention from serious buyers who are eager to find a home.
  • Your House Will Likely Get Multiple Offers – When supply is low and demand is high, buyers have to compete with each other for a limited number of homes. The latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows sellers are getting an average of 3.6 offers in today’s market.
  • Your House Should Sell Quickly – According to the same report from NAR, homes are selling in an average of just 18 days. As a seller, that's great news for you if you’re looking for a quick process.

Win When You Move

In addition to these great perks, you’ll also win big on your next move if you sell now. CoreLogic reports homeowners gained an average of $51,500 in equity over the past year. This wealth boost is the result of buyer competition driving home prices up. You can leverage that equity to fuel a move, before mortgage rates and home prices climb higher. To get a feel for how rates are projected to rise, see the chart below.Win When You Sell (And When You Move) | MyKCMThe longer you wait to make your move, the more it will cost you down the road. As mortgage rates rise, even modestly, it will impact your monthly payment when you purchase your next home. Waiting just a few months to make that change could mean a long-term financial impact.

The good news is today’s rates are still hovering in a historically low range. According to Doug Duncan, Senior VP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae:

“Right now, we forecast mortgage rates to average 3.3 percent in 2022, which, though slightly higher than 2020 and 2021, by historical standards remains extremely low . . .

Selling before rates climb higher means you can make your move and lock in a low rate on the mortgage for your next home. This helps you get more home for your money and keeps your payments down too.

Bottom Line

As a homeowner, you have a great opportunity to get the best of both worlds this season. You can truly win when you sell and when you buy. If you’re thinking about making a move, let's connect so you have the information you need to get the process started.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 19, 2021

The Ireland Group - Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy A Home

Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy a Home

Why It Just Became Much Easier To Buy a Home | MyKCM

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.
Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 1, 2021

Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook

Don’t Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook

Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCM

There are a lot of questions right now regarding the real estate market as we head into 2022. The forbearance program is coming to an end and mortgage rates are beginning to rise.

With all of this uncertainty, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we’ll continue to see a rash of troublesome headlines over the next few months. To make sure you aren’t paralyzed by a headline, turn to reliable resources for a look at what to expect from the housing market next year.

There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two recent topics you may have seen in the news.

1. Foreclosures Are Spiking Today

There are a number of headlines circulating that call out the rising foreclosures in today’s real estate market. Those stories focus on an overly narrow view on that topic: the current volume of foreclosures compared to 2020. They emphasize that we’re seeing far more foreclosures this year compared to last.

That seems rather daunting. However, though it’s true foreclosures have been up over the 2020 numbers, it’s important to realize that there were virtually no foreclosures last year because of the forbearance plan. If we compare this September to September of 2019 (the last normal year), foreclosures were down 70% according to ATTOM.

Even Rick Sharga, an Executive Vice President of the firm that issued the report referenced in the above article, says:

“As expected, now that the moratorium has been over for three months, foreclosure activity continues to increase. But it's increasing at a slower rate, and it appears that most of the activity is primarily on vacant and abandoned properties, or loans in foreclosure prior to the pandemic.”

Homeowners who have been impacted by the pandemic are not generally the ones being burdened right now. That’s because the forbearance program has worked. Ali Haralson, President of Auction.comexplains that the program has done a remarkable job:

“The tsunami of foreclosures many feared in the early days of the pandemic has not materialized thanks in large part to the swift and decisive foreclosure protections put in place by government policymakers and the mortgage servicing industry.”

And the government is still making sure homeowners have every opportunity to stay in their homes. Rohit Chopra, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), issued this statement just last week:

“Failures by mortgage servicers and regulators worsened the impact of the economic crisis a decade ago. Regulators have learned their lesson, and we will be scrutinizing servicers to ensure they are doing all they can to help homeowners and follow the law.”

2. Rising Mortgage Rates Will Slow the Housing Market

Another topic that’s generating frequent headlines is the rise in mortgage rates. Some people are expressing concern that rising rates will negatively impact the housing market by causing home sales to dramatically decline. The resulting headlines are raising unneeded alarm bells. To counteract those headlines, we need to take a look at what history tells us. Looking at data over the last 20 years, there’s no evidence that an increase in rates dramatically forces sales to come to a halt. Nor does home price appreciation come to a screeching stop. Let’s look at home sales first:Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCMThe last three times rates increased (shown in the graph above in red), sales (depicted in blue in the graph) remained rather consistent. It’s true that sales fell rather dramatically from 2007 through 2010, but mortgage rates were also falling at the time. The next two instances showed no meaningful drop in sales.

Now, let’s take a look at home price appreciation (see graph below):Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCMAgain, we see that a rise in rates didn’t cause prices to depreciate. Outside of the years following the crash, prices continued to appreciate, just at a slower rate.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you want the best advice on what’s happening in the current housing market, let’s connect.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 1, 2021

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity

4 Ways Homeowners Can Use Their Equity | MyKCM

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.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 1, 2021

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCM

As a renter, you’re constantly faced with the same dilemma: keep renting for another year or purchase a home? Your answer depends on your current situation and future plans, but there are a number of benefits to homeownership every renter needs to consider.

Here are a few things you should think about before you settle on renting for another year.

1. Rents Are Rising Quickly

Rent increasing each year isn’t new. Looking back at Census data confirms rental prices have gone up consistently for decades (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMIf you’re a renter, you’re faced with payments that continue to climb each year. Realtor.com recently shared the September Rental Report, and it shows price increases accelerating from August to September (see graph below):4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider | MyKCMAs the graph shows, rents are still on the rise. It’s important to keep this in mind when the time comes for you to sign a new lease, as your monthly rental payment may increase substantially when you do.

2. Renters Miss Out on Equity Gains

One of the most significant advantages of buying a home is the wealth you build through equity. This year alone, homeowners gained a substantial amount of equity, which, in turn, grew their net worth. As a renter, you miss out on this wealth-building tool that can be used to fund your retirement, buy a bigger home, downsize, or even achieve personal goals like paying for an education or starting a new business.

3. Homeowners Can Customize to Their Heart’s Content

This is a big decision-making point if you want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, your property owner determines these selections and prefers you don’t alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

4. Owning a Home May Provide Greater Mobility than You Think

You may choose to rent because you feel it provides greater flexibility if you need to move for any reason. While it’s true that selling a home may take more time than finding a new rental, it’s important to note how quickly houses are selling in today’s market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average home is only on the market for 17 days. That means you may have more flexibility than you think if you need to relocate as a homeowner.

Bottom Line

Deciding if it’s the right time for you to buy is a personal decision, and the timing is different for everyone. However, if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of homeownership, let’s connect so you can make a confident, informed decision and have a trusted advisor along the way.

Posted in Market Updates
Nov. 15, 2021

Should I Update My House Before I Sell It?

Should I Update My House Before I Sell It? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Should I Update My House Before I Sell It? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you’re deciding whether you should make updates before you sell your house, lean on your agent to be your guide.
  • If the market is flooded with houses for sale, updates may be necessary for your house to stand out. In our current sellers’ market, the added expenses might not be worth it.
  • Let’s connect so you have expert advice on which updates are important in today’s market.
Posted in Market Updates