Welcome to Christopher Garguilo’s Blog.

Welcome to my new blog.  I always wanted to have a professional looking blog, and have given this a lot of thought.  The template is called the “Hemingway Rewritten”, and I figured I always wanted to write and have lots of characteristics of this great American writer like a round belly and white beard.  But seriously, the header photo has a beautiful country image, a site that I enjoy seeing now living in Virginia.  But my roots are from Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in a land of concrete front lawns and the smell of asphalt on a hot summer morning.  And on that hot summer day, you cooled down by not going to a beach a few minutes from your house (I am right by Buckroe Beach), but by opening up a fire hydrant, (aka Johnny pump) and using a seared open tin soda can to jettison the water on your friends and oncoming cars.

I will always love Brooklyn, and do miss it (I spent 49 years there), but Hampton is now my home.  I’ve grown accustomed to say hello to strangers I pass on the street, enjoy having the beach 3 minutes away, enjoy a bit slower pace (but really not that much slower) and love not having to spend 45 minutes looking for a parking space.

After teaching for over 21 years in Brooklyn, my main profession now is Real Estate, (however, I was also a Real Estate Agent there as well) and my blog will be focused mostly on those matters. Sure I will talk about new listings, mortgage rates and new construction. But real estate is much more than that.  It is about what concerts, shows, and exhibits that are happening in the area as well as sporting events.  It is about new stores and restaurants and the local economy.  And that is what I am going to accomplish in my new blog.

But those who know me as friends, clients, students and social media friends, you know that I love comedy as well, so you will see some funny posts as well.

On my sidebar, I have listed centers of music, arts, plays, performers, etc.  The list will increase as I add more to my blog.  For me, the area to which you reside has to be fun, and entertaining.  I hope you agree.

I hope you enjoy, I hope you come back, often!

Number of Homes for Sale Up from Last Year, but Below Pre-Pandemic Years

Number of Homes for Sale Up from Last Year, but Below Pre-Pandemic Years | MyKCM

The biggest challenge in the housing market right now, and likely for years to come, is how few homes there are for sale compared to the number of people who want to buy. That’s why, if you’re thinking about selling your house, this is a great time to do so. Your house would be welcome in a market that has fewer homes for sale than it did in the years leading up to the pandemic.

According to the latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report from realtor.com:

“There were 65.5% more homes for sale in January compared to the same time in 2022. This means that there were 248,000 more homes available to buy this past month compared to one year ago. While the number of homes for sale is increasing, it is still 43.2% lower than it was before the pandemic in 2017 to 2019. This means that there are still fewer homes available to buy on a typical day than there were a few years ago.”

The graph below shows how today’s inventory of homes for sale compares to recent years:

What Does This Mean for You?

Fewer homes for sale means buyers have fewer choices than they did prior to the pandemic—and that frustration is leading some to give up on the homebuying process altogether. But with mortgage rates sitting lower than they were at the peak last fall, more buyers are willing to come back into the process—they just need to find homes to buy. This is welcome activity for the spring market, especially if you’re thinking of selling your house.

With a renewed interest in buying a home for many, the New York Times (NYT) reports:

“Home buyers are edging back into the market after being sidelined last year . . .”

So, if you want to take advantage of a sweet spot in the market, this spring could be your shot.

Bottom Line

The housing market needs more homes for sale to meet the demand of today’s buyers. If you’ve thought about selling, now’s the time for us to connect and get ready for you to make a move this spring.

How Experts Can Help Close the Gap in Today’s Homeownership Rate

How Experts Can Help Close the Gap in Today’s Homeownership Rate | MyKCM

As we celebrate Black History Month, we reflect on the past and present experiences of Black Americans. This includes the path toward investing in a home of their own. And while equitable access to housing has come a long way, homeownership can be a steeper climb for households of color. It’s an important experience to talk about, along with how it can make all the difference for diverse homebuyers to work with the right real estate experts.

We know it’s more challenging for some to buy a home because there’s still a measurable gap between the overall average U.S. homeownership rate and that of non-white groups. Today, the lowest homeownership rate persists in the Black community (see graph below):

Homeownership is an essential piece for building household wealth that can be passed down to future generations. However, there are obstacles in the homebuying process that can negatively impact certain groups. This can delay or prevent many from achieving homeownership, challenging their ability to benefit from everything owning a home offers. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“. . . not all [households] have the same opportunities to homeownership, with many of them facing more constraints in their effort to achieve the American Dream. . . . Given that homeownership contributes to wealth accumulation and the homeownership rate is lower in minority groups, data shows that the net worth for these groups is also lower.”

However, with the right support and resources, there are solutions if you’re part of this community and planning to buy a home. Jacob Channel, Senior Economist at LendingTreeshares:

“The problem does exist. We have data that back that up. But there are solutions, and Black homebuyers shouldn’t lose faith that they’ll never be able to become homeowners.”

That’s why it’s so important for members of diverse groups to have the right team of experts on their sides throughout the homebuying process. These professionals aren’t only experienced advisors who understand the local market and give the best advice. They’re also compassionate allies who will advocate for your best interests every step of the way.

Bottom Line

Access to housing improves every day, but there are still equity challenges that some buyers face. Let’s connect to make sure you have an advocate on your side as you walk the path to homeownership.

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House | MyKCM

Many of today’s homeowners bought or refinanced their homes during the pandemic when mortgage rates were at history-making lows. Since rates doubled in 2022, some of those homeowners put their plans to move on hold, not wanting to lose the low mortgage rate they have on their current house. And while today’s rates have started coming down from last year’s peak, they’re still higher than they were a couple of years ago.

Today, 93% of outstanding mortgages have a rate at or below 6%. That means a strong majority of homeowners with mortgages have a rate below what they’d get if they moved right now. But if you’re a homeowner in that position, remember that mortgage rates aren’t the only thing to consider when making a move. Your mortgage rate is important, but there are plenty of reasons you may still need or want to move. RealTrends explains:

“Sellers who don’t have to move won’t be moving. The most common sellers will be: Homeowners downsizing . . . people moving to get more space, [households] looking for better schools…etc.

So, if you’re on the fence about selling your house, consider the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) breaks down why homeowners have decided to sell over the past year:

The Top Reasons for Selling Your House | MyKCM

As the visual shows, the most commonly cited reasons for selling were the desire to move closer to loved ones, followed by moving due to retirement, and their neighborhood becoming less desirable. Additionally, the need for more space factored in, as did a change in household structure.

If you also find yourself wanting a change in location or needing space your current house just can’t provide, it may be time to sell.

What you want and need in a home can be reason enough to move. To find out what’s right for you, work with a trusted real estate professional who will offer advice and expert guidance throughout the process. They’ll be able to lay out all your options – giving you what you need to make a confident decision.

Bottom Line

When deciding whether or not to move, you have a lot to consider. There are plenty of non-financial reasons to factor in. Let’s connect today to weigh the benefits of selling your house.

You May Not Need as Much as You Think for Your Down Payment [INFOGRAPHIC]

You May Not Need as Much as You Think for Your Down Payment [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Many people believe you need to put down 20% of the purchase price when you buy a home. But recent homebuyers actually put down far less on their purchase.
  • And with programs like FHA loansVA loans, and USDA loans, some qualified buyers are able to put down as little as 0-3.5%.
  • Let’s connect to make sure you have a trusted lender and can find out if you’re ready to buy a home sooner rather than later.

Experts Forecast a Turnaround in the Housing Market in 2023

Experts Forecast a Turnaround in the Housing Market in 2023 | MyKCM

The housing market has gone through a lot of change recently, and much of that was a result of how quickly mortgage rates rose last year.

Now, as we move through 2023, there are signs things are finally going to turn around. Home price appreciation is slowing from the recent frenzy, mortgage rates are coming down, inflation is easing, and overall market activity is starting to pick up. All of that’s great news for the housing market this year. Here’s what experts are saying.

Cristian deRitis, Deputy Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics:

“The current state of the housing market is that it is certainly in transition.”

Susan Wachter, Professor of Real Estate and Finance, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School:

“Housing is going to ease up. I think 2023 will be a turnaround year.”

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

“Mortgage rates have fallen in the recent past weeks, so I’m very hopeful that the worst in home sales is probably coming to an end.”

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“. . . it appears a turning point for housing lies ahead. In the coming quarters, single-family home building will rise off of cycle lows as mortgage rates are expected to trend lower and boost housing affordability.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about making a move this year, a turnaround in the housing market could be exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Let’s connect to talk about the latest trends in our area.

Should You Rent Your House or Sell It?

Should You Rent Your House or Sell It? | MyKCM

If you’re a homeowner ready to make a move, you may be thinking about using your current house as a short-term rental property instead of selling it. A short-term rental (STR) is typically offered as an alternative to a hotel, and they’re an investment that’s gained popularity in recent years. According to a Harris Poll survey, 28% of homeowners have considered using a rental service to temporarily rent out their home for additional income.

Owning a short-term rental can be a tempting idea, but you may find the reality of being responsible for one difficult to take on. Here are some of the challenges you could face if you rent out your house instead of selling it.

A Short-Term Rental Comes with Responsibilities

Successfully owning and renting a house takes work. Think through your ability to make that commitment, especially if you plan to use a platform that advertises your rental listing. Most of them have specific requirements hosts have to meet, and it takes a lot of work. A recent article from Bankrate explains:

Managing a rental property can be time-consuming and challenging. Are you handy and able to make some repairs yourself? If not, do you have a network of affordable contractors you can reach out to in a pinch? Consider whether you want to take on the added responsibility of being a landlord, which means screening tenants and fielding issues, among other responsibilities, or paying for a third party to take care of things instead.”

Not only is there the upfront time and cost of owning a short-term rental, but there are also risks that could come up for you down the road. Investopedia warns:

“Risks of hosting include renting your place to rude guests, theft or damaged property, complaints from neighbors, and potential regulatory violations depending on your location.”

There’s a lot to consider before taking the leap and converting your house into a short-term rental. If you aren’t ready for the work it takes, it could be wiser to sell instead.

Your House May Not Be Ideal for Your Rental Goals

Not every house ends up being a profitable short-term rental either. One of the biggest factors is where your home is located. The less likely your neighborhood is to be a travel destination, the fewer requests you should expect from potential renters—and that impacts your bottom line. An article from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) advises:

“When it comes to the viability of profitable STRs . . . consider factors like location, amenities, and whether the property is appealing. Most people seek STRs in locations where they vacation, so proximity to attractions is important. Likewise, the property should cater to a variety of travelers.”

It’s smart to do your homework and learn how much rentals in your area go for, how much business they get throughout the year, and how this compares to your goals.

Bottom Line

Converting your home into a short-term rental isn’t a decision you should make without doing your research. To decide if selling your house is a better alternative, let’s connect today.

Lower Mortgage Rates Are Bringing Buyers Back to the Market

Lower Mortgage Rates Are Bringing Buyers Back to the Market | MyKCM

As mortgage rates rose last year, activity in the housing market slowed down. And as a result, homes started seeing fewer offers and stayed on the market longer. That meant some homeowners decided to press pause on selling.

Now, however, rates are beginning to come down—and buyers are starting to reenter the market. In fact, the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows mortgage applications increased last week by 7% compared to the week before.

So, if you’ve been planning to sell your house but you’re unsure if there will be anyone to buy it, this shift in the market could be your chance. Here’s what experts are saying about buyers returning to the market as we approach spring.

Mike Fratantoni, SVP and Chief Economist, MBA:

Mortgage rates are now at their lowest level since September 2022, and about a percentage point below the peak mortgage rate last fall. As we enter the beginning of the spring buying season, lower mortgage rates and more homes on the market will help affordability for first-time homebuyers.”

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

The upcoming months should see a return of buyers, as mortgage rates appear to have already peaked and have been coming down since mid-November.”

Thomas LaSalvia, Senior Economist, Moody’s Analytics:

“We expect the labor market to remain robust, wages to continue to rise—maybe not at the pace that they did during the pandemic, but that will open up some opportunity for folks to enter homeownership as interest rates stabilize a bit.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:

“Homebuyers are waiting for rates to decrease more significantly, and when they do, a strong job market and a large demographic tailwind of Millennial renters will provide support to the purchase market.”

Bottom Line

If you’ve been thinking about making a move, now’s the time to get your house ready to sell. Let’s connect so you can learn about buyer demand in our area the best time to put your house on the market.

Where Will You Go If You Sell? You Have Options.

Where Will You Go If You Sell? You Have Options. | MyKCM

There are plenty of good reasons you might be ready to move. No matter your motivations, before you list your current house, you need to consider where you’ll go next.

In today’s market, it makes sense to explore all your options. That includes both homes that have been lived in before as well as newly built ones. To help you decide which is right for you, let’s compare the benefits of each. Regardless of which option you choose to explore, working with a trusted real estate professional throughout the process is essential.

The Benefits of Newly Built Homes

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

1. Build your dream home

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

“Building means customizing. . . . instead of wishing your home had a certain kind of flooring, a sunroom or some other special amenity, you’ll be able to tailor the property to your exact needs. You also won’t be limited to a specific location or neighborhood.”

2. Take advantage of builder concessions

In today’s market, a lot of home builders are working hard to sell their current inventory before they add more to their mix. That means many of them are offering concessions and are more willing to negotiate with buyers. That could work to your advantage in the process.

3. Minimize home repairs

Many builders offer a warranty, so you’ll have peace of mind on unlikely repairs. Plus, you won’t have as many little improvement projects to tackle. As realtor.com says:

“. . . if something goes wrong with your new home, not only are there likely some manufacturer warranties in place, but many builders also include additional home warranties . . .”

4. Take advantage of energy efficiency

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

The Benefits of Existing Homes

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

1. Explore a wider variety of home styles and floorplans

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

2. Appreciate that lived-in charm

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

3. Join an established neighborhood

Existing homes give you the option to get to know the neighborhood, community, or traffic patterns before you commit. Plus, they have more developed landscaping and trees, which can give you additional privacy and curb appeal.

4. Move in faster

If you have a short timeframe to move or you just don’t want the process to take several months while your home is under construction, buying an existing home might make sense for you. U.S. News explains:

“When you’re choosing a home, existing or new, you should also consider how long it might take to move into that home. Just because you have a contract doesn’t mean that your new home will be completed (or even started) at the time you agree to the purchase. It can be a struggle waiting for the walls to go up as you wonder what your home will become.”

When thinking about where you’ll go after you sell your house, remember your options. As you start your search, think about what’s most important to you. By working with a trusted real estate agent, you can be confident you’re making the most educated, informed decision.

Bottom Line

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

Homeownership Builds Your Wealth over Time [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homeownership Builds Your Wealth over Time [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, be sure to factor in the long-term benefits of homeownership.
  • On average, nationwide, home prices appreciated by 288.7% over the last 32 years. That means homeowners grow their net worth significantly in the long term.
  • Homeownership wins over time. Let’s connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

Why It Makes Sense To Move Before Spring

Why It Makes Sense To Move Before Spring | MyKCM

Spring is usually the busiest season in the housing market. Many buyers wait until then to make their move, believing it’s the best time to find a home. However, that isn’t always the case when you factor in the competition you could face with other buyers at that time of year. If you’re ready to buy a home, here’s why it makes sense to move before the spring market picks up.

Spring Should Bring a Wave of Buyers to the Market

In most years, the housing market goes through predictable seasonal trends in activity. Winter is typically a quiet point in the year, while spring sees a surge of buyers begin their search. And experts project that this year will be no exception.

Right now, buyer demand is low due to a combination of normal seasonal trends and a reaction to last year’s rise in mortgage rates. But rates have started to come down since last November, which has more and more potential buyers planning to jump into the market. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy, before more buyers reappear. Affordability is beginning to improve, but demand is still low — for now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), shares:

“. . . expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”

If you’re ready to buy a home, right now is the best time to do so before your competition grows and more buyers enter the market.

Today’s Sellers Are Motivated

Low demand from buyers often means sellers are more motivated to work with you, and that can set you up to buy a home on your terms. In fact, sellers have been more willing to negotiate this winter because there are fewer buyers in the market. According to a recent article from Forbes:

“. . . sellers gave concessions to buyers in 41.9% of home sales in the fourth quarter of last year.”

But keep in mind, the advantages buyers have this winter won’t last forever. The competition you face could be greater if you wait until spring to make a move, and increased buyer demand means sellers will have less motivation to negotiate with you. Be sure to work with a trusted real estate professional to learn what you can expect in your local market right now.

Bottom Line

If you’re in a good position to make a move, it may make sense to move before spring. Working with your team of expert real estate advisors is the best way to learn about the current market and what it means for you. Let’s connect today to determine the best plan to achieve your homebuying goals.