Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance

Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance | MyKCM

To sell your home this spring, it may need more preparation than it would have a year or two ago. Today’s housing market has a different feel. There are more homes for sale than there were at this time last year, but inventory is still historically low. So, if a house has been sitting on the market for a while, that’s a sign it may not be hitting the mark for potential buyers. But here’s the thing. Right now, homes that are updated and priced at market value are still selling fast.

Today, homes with curb appeal that are presented well are still selling quickly, and sometimes over asking price. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com:

“In a market where costs are still high and buyers can be a little choosier, it makes sense they’re going to really zero in on the homes that are the most appealing.”

With the spring buying season just around the corner, now’s the time to start getting your house ready to sell. And the best way to determine where to spend your time and money is to work with a trusted real estate agent who can help you understand which improvements are most valuable in your local market.

Curb Appeal Wins

One way to prioritize updates that could bring a good return on your investment is to find smaller projects you can do yourself. Little updates that boost your curb appeal usually work well. Investopedia puts it this way:

“Curb-appeal projects make the property look good as soon as prospective buyers arrive. While these projects may not add a considerable amount of monetary value, they will help your home sell faster—and you can do a lot of the work yourself to save money and time.”

Small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior of your home, create a great first impression for buyers and help it stand out. Work with a real estate professional to find the low-cost projects you can tackle around your house that will appeal to buyers in your area.

Not All Updates Are Created Equal

When deciding what you need to do to your house before selling it, remember you’re making these repairs and updates for someone else. Prioritize projects that will help you sell faster or for more money over things that appeal to you as a homeowner.

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) highlights popular home improvements and what sort of return they bring for the investment (see graph below):

Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance | MyKCM

Remember to lean on your trusted real estate advisor for the best advice on the updates you should invest in. They’ll know what local buyers are looking for and have the latest insights of what your house needs to sell quickly this spring.

Bottom Line

As we approach the spring season, now’s the time to get your house ready to sell. Let’s connect today so you can find out which updates make the most sense.

The Spring Housing Market Could Be a Sweet Spot for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Spring Housing Market Could Be a Sweet Spot for Sellers [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The biggest challenge in the housing market is how few houses there are for sale compared to the number of people who want to buy.
  • The number of homes for sale is up from last year but below pre-pandemic numbers, and that means we’re still in a sellers’ market.
  • The housing market needs more homes for sale to meet the demand of today’s buyers. If you’ve thought about selling, let’s connect today.

Wondering What’s Going on with Home Prices?

Wondering What’s Going on with Home Prices? | MyKCM

The recent changes in home prices are top of mind for many as the housing market begins gearing up for spring. It can be hard to navigate misleading headlines and confusing data, so here’s what you should know about today’s home prices.

Local price trends still vary by market. But looking at national data, Nataliya Polkovnichenko, Ph.D., Supervisory Economist at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), explains:

U.S. house prices were largely unchanged in the last four months and remained near the peak levels reached over the summer of 2022. While higher mortgage rates have suppressed demand, low inventories of homes for sale have helped maintain relatively flat house prices.”

Month-over-month home price changes can be seen in the chart below. The data also shows that price depreciation peaked around August. Since then, any depreciation has been even milder. In other words, today’s home prices aren’t in a freefall.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you currently own your house, you may be concerned about even the smallest decline in prices. But keep in mind how much home values grew over the last few years. Compared to that growth, any declines we’re seeing nationally are likely to be minimal. Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogicshares:

“. . . while prices continued to fall from November, the rate of decline was lower than that seen in the summer and still adds up to only a 3% cumulative drop in prices since last spring’s peak.”

It’s also important to remember that every local market is different. That’s why it’s essential to lean on an expert for the latest information on the home prices in your area if you’re planning to make a move this spring.

Bottom Line

To understand what’s going on with home prices in our market and how they could impact your goals, let’s connect today.

Should You Consider Buying a Newly Built Home?

Should You Consider Buying a Newly Built Home? | MyKCM

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you might be focusing on previously owned ones. But with so few houses for sale today, it makes sense to consider all your options, and that includes a home that’s newly built.

The Number of Newly Built Homes Is on the Rise

While there are more houses for sale right now than there were at this time last year, there’s still a historically low number of homes available on the market. One reason for that is years of underbuilding—meaning there haven’t been enough new homes built to keep up with demand.

The graph above shows how low the production of newly constructed homes has been over the past 14 years. But it also shows another important trend: the number of new homes being built each year is on the rise. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americanshares, that’s good news for buyers:

“While existing-home inventory remains limited, the silver lining for home buyers is that new-home inventory is on the rise, and a new home at the right price is a pretty good substitute.”

Builder Incentives Can Provide a Boost

While there a growing number of new homes for sale, builders are slowing that pace until they sell more of their current inventory. According to Logan Mohtashami, Lead Analyst at HousingWire:

“The builders have to work off the backlog of homes, but instead of 3%-4% mortgage rates, they’re dealing with 6% plus mortgage rates, which means they have to provide many incentives to make sure those homes sell.”

Many builders are now offering incentives to help buyers purchase these homes. Fleming also explains:

“The National Association of Home Builders reported that nearly two-thirds of builders were offering incentives, including mortgage rate buydowns, paying points for buyers and price reductions, which could entice potential home buyers.”

A builder who’s willing to pay to reduce your mortgage rate could be a game changer. Ksenia Potapov, Economist at First Americanputs it this way:

“A one percentage-point decline in mortgage rates has the same impact on affordability as an 11 percent decline in house prices.”

Should You Buy a Brand-New Home?

The best way to decide what type of home to buy is to work with a trusted real estate professional who can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option. They know which homes are available in your local market, and which builders might be offering incentives that make sense for you.

Bottom Line

Even though there aren’t a lot of homes for sale today, new home inventory is on the rise, and many builders are offering incentives. Let’s connect so I can help you weigh the pros and cons of shopping for a new home versus an existing one.

Why It’s Easy To Fall in Love with Homeownership

Why It’s Easy To Fall in Love with Homeownership | MyKCM

No matter how the housing market changes, there are some things about owning a home that never change—like the personal benefits it can provide. When you own your home, you likely feel a sense of attachment because of the comfort it gives and also because it’s a space that’s truly yours.

Over the last few years, we’ve fully embraced the meaning of our homes as we spent more time than ever in them. As a result, the emotional benefits our homes provide have become even more important to us.

As the most recent State of the American Homeowner from Unison puts it:

“. . . one thing has stayed the same: the home continues to be of the utmost importance and a place of security and comfort.

The same study from Unison notes:

  • 91% of homeowners say they feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 64% of American homeowners say living through a pandemic has made their home more important to them than ever

It’s no surprise this study also reveals that homeowners now love their homes even more as our attachments to them have grown:

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also explains:

“In addition to tangible financial benefits, homeownership brings substantial social benefits for [households], communities, and the country as a whole.

In other words, not only does owning a home build your net worth over time, but it also gives you and your loved ones a place to thrive. And by living near people with shared experiences, homeownership helps you connect with your community and contribute meaningfully.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking of buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing to something that better fits your changing lifestyle, let me be the key to unlocking a home you can truly fall in love with.

What You Should Know About Closing Costs

What You Should Know About Closing Costs | MyKCM

Before you buy a home, it’s important to plan ahead. While most buyers consider how much they need to save for a down payment, many are surprised by the closing costs they have to pay. To ensure you aren’t caught off guard when it’s time to close on your home, you need to understand what closing costs are and how much you should budget for.

What Are Closing Costs?

People are sometimes surprised by closing costs because they don’t know what they are. According to Bankrate:

“Closing costs are the fees and expenses you must pay before becoming the legal owner of a house, condo or townhome . . . Closing costs vary depending on the purchase price of the home and how it’s being financed . . .”

In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments involved with your transaction. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Will You Need To Budget for Closing Costs?

Understanding what closing costs include is important, but knowing what you’ll need to budget to cover them is critical, too. According to the Freddie Mac article mentioned above, the costs to close are typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to cover your closing costs.

Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase for the median price of $366,900. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,500 and $18,500.

Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

What’s the Best Way To Make Sure You’re Prepared at Closing Time?

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”

Work with a team of trusted real estate professionals to understand exactly how much you’ll need to budget for closing costs. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together your expert team can answer any questions you might have.

Bottom Line

It’s important to plan for the fees and payments you’ll be responsible for at closing. Let’s connect so I can help you feel confident throughout the process.

Why Today’s Housing Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash

Why Today’s Housing Market Isn’t Headed for a Crash | MyKCM

67% of Americans say a housing market crash is imminent in the next three years. With all the talk in the media lately about shifts in the housing market, it makes sense why so many people feel this way. But there’s good news. Current data shows today’s market is nothing like it was before the housing crash in 2008.

Back Then, Mortgage Standards Were Less Strict

During the lead-up to the housing crisis, it was much easier to get a home loan than it is today. Banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one.

As a result, lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices. Today, things are different, and purchasers face much higher standards from mortgage companies.

The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to help tell this story. In this index, the higher the number, the easier it is to get a mortgage. The lower the number, the harder it is.

This graph also shows just how different things are today compared to the spike in credit availability leading up to the crash. Tighter lending standards have helped prevent a situation that could lead to a wave of foreclosures like the last time.

Foreclosure Volume Has Declined a Lot Since the Crash

Another difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure when the housing bubble burst. Foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash, largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. The graph below uses data from ATTOM to show the difference between last time and now:

So even as foreclosures tick up, the total number is still very low. And on top of that, most experts don’t expect foreclosures to go up drastically like they did following the crash in 2008. Bill McBride, Founder of Calculated Riskexplains the impact a large increase in foreclosures had on home prices back then – and how that’s unlikely this time.

“The bottom line is there will be an increase in foreclosures over the next year (from record level lows), but there will not be a huge wave of distressed sales as happened following the housing bubble. The distressed sales during the housing bust led to cascading price declines, and that will not happen this time.”

The Supply of Homes for Sale Today Is More Limited

For historical context, there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Supply has increased since the start of this year, but there’s still a shortage of inventory available overall, primarily due to years of underbuilding homes.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just 2.7-months’ supply at the current sales pace, which is significantly lower than the last time. There just isn’t enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did last time, even though some overheated markets may experience slight declines.

Bottom Line

If recent headlines have you worried we’re headed for another housing crash, the data above should help ease those fears. Expert insights and the most current data clearly show that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.

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.