BuyerSeller December 21, 2021

The Average Homeowner Gained $56,700 in Equity over the Past Year

When you think of homeownership, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Chances are you might focus on the non-financial benefits, like the security or stability a home provides. But what about equity? While it can be overlooked, a homeowner’s equity helps build long-term wealth over time. Here’s a look at what equity is and why it matters.

For a homeowner, your equity is the current value of your home minus what you owe on the loan. So, as home values climb, your equity does too. That’s exactly what’s happening today. There aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand, so bidding wars and multiple offers are driving prices up. That’s because people are willing to pay more to buy a home. Right now, this low supply and high demand are giving current homeowners a significant equity boost.

Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, explains it like this:

Home price growth is the principal driver of home equity creation. The CoreLogic Home Price Index reported home prices were up 17.7% for the past 12 months ending September, spurring the record gains in home equity wealth.

To find out just how much rising home values have impacted equity, we turn to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic. According to that report, the average homeowner’s equity has grown by $56,700 over the last 12 months.

Curious how your state stacks up? Check out the map below to find out the average equity gain for your area.The Average Homeowner Gained over $56,700 in Equity over the Past Year | MyKCM

How Rising Equity Impacts You

If you’re already a homeowner, equity not only builds your wealth, it also opens doors for you to achieve your goals. It works like this: when you sell your house, the equity you built up comes back to you in the sale. You can use those proceeds to fuel your next move, especially if you’ve decided your needs have changed and you’re looking for something new.

If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, understanding the importance of equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. It builds your wealth and gives you peace of mind that your investment is a wise one, not just from a lifestyle perspective, but from a financial one too.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a current homeowner or you’re ready to become one, it’s important to know how equity works and why it matters. If this inspires you to make a move, let’s connect to explore your options and find out what steps you need to take next.

Buyer December 1, 2021

How To Think Strategically as a Buyer in Today’s Market

The game of chess can provide incredible lessons to apply to all aspects of life, including the homebuying process. Chess requires you to plan and think about your strategy from the very beginning of the game.

The homebuying process, like chess, requires strategy and planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your plan is as strong as possible when you begin your home search.

Pre-Approval: the Best Opening Play To Make as a Homebuyer

It’s important to have a great opening play when you’re buying a home. And the best move you can make when you begin your home search is getting pre-approved by a lender. You’ve probably already heard this is an important step, but what exactly is pre-approval and what benefits does it provide you?

As Freddie Mac puts it:

“The pre-approval letter from your lender tells you the maximum amount you are qualified to borrow. Getting a pre-approval letter is not a loan guarantee, it simply states how much your lender is willing to lend you. . . .”

And while determining how much you can afford at the start of your search is critical, the pre-approval letter also serves another important purpose. Freddie Mac also notes:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.”

In the game of chess, a strong opening move signals to your opponent that you’re a serious competitor. As a homebuyer, your pre-approval letter signals to the seller that you’re a serious, interested buyer.

Homebuying: It’s a Team Game, Not a Single-Player Experience

Every step you take to create your strategy as a buyer is important in today’s market. Why? Mortgage rates are still low, but increasing. Prices are going up. There’s a limited supply of homes for sale. These are just a few key variables in today’s market you need to be prepared for.

That means leaning on expert guidance as you plan every move is more important than ever. Have a team of professionals – like your trusted real estate agent and a loan officer – every step of the way to make sure you make the right moves.

Bottom Line

Getting a pre-approval letter isn’t just good strategy, it can be game-changing. It allows you to get a full understanding of what you can afford, and it signals to sellers that you’re serious. Let’s connect today to ensure you’re playing chess and being strategic during the home buying process.

Housing MarketSeller November 29, 2021

Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House

As we near the end of the year, more homeowners are realizing the benefits of today’s sellers’ market. Record-breaking home price appreciation, growing equity, low inventory, and competitive mortgage rates are motivating homeowners to make a move that addresses their changing lifestyles.

In fact, recent data from realtor.com shows a larger share of homeowners are planning to list their houses this winter. So, that means more homes are about to hit the market, which will lead to more choices for buyers too.

According to George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research at realtor.com:

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.

If you’re thinking of waiting until the spring to sell your house, know that your neighbors may be one step ahead of you by selling this winter. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this holiday season is the best time to make sure your house is available for buyers. Here’s why.

Sellers Are Still Firmly in the Driver’s Seat

Historically, a 6-month supply of homes for sale is needed for a normal or neutral market. That level ensures there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):Why Now Is a Great Time To Sell Your House | MyKCMThe latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the inventory of houses for sale sits at a 2.4-month supply. This is well below a neutral market.

What Does That Mean for You?

When the supply of homes for sale is as low as it is today, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. This drives up competition among buyers, who then submit increasingly competitive offers to win out against others in the home search process. As this happens, prices rise and your leverage as a seller rises too, putting you in the best position to negotiate a contract that meets your ideal terms.

And while the low housing supply we’re facing won’t be solved overnight, sellers this season should move quickly to maximize their potential. As the data shows, with more prospective sellers planning to list their homes this winter, selling sooner rather than later helps your house rise to the top of a holiday buyer’s wish list so you can close the best possible deal.

Bottom Line

Listing your home over the next few weeks gives you the best chance to be in front of buyers competing for homes this holiday season. Let’s connect today to discuss how you can benefit from today’s sellers’ market.

EconomyHousing Market November 24, 2021

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

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.

Buyer November 17, 2021

4 Things Every Renter Needs To Consider

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.

Seller November 16, 2021

Sellers: You’ll Likely Get Multiple Strong Offers This Season

Are you thinking about selling your house right now, but you’re not sure you’ll have the time to do so as the holidays draw near? If so, consider this: even as the holiday season approaches, there are plenty of buyers out there, and they really want your house. Here’s why selling this winter is a win for you.

Today’s buyers are still dealing with a limited number of homes for sale. Thanks to continued low inventory, those buyers are competing with one another for their dream home. And when that happens, if your house is one of the few on the market, it will rise to the top of the pool – and it will be worth it.

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average seller received 3.7 offers on their house in September. For a view into what’s happening at the state level, take a look at the map below:Sellers: You’ll Likely Get Multiple Strong Offers This Season | MyKCMNationwide, the average seller today is getting nearly four offers. That number is significant because it means you’ll likely have multiple offers to pick from if you sell your house this season. To put things into perspective, no matter where your state falls, remember that you really only need one good offer to close the deal.

Any offer you receive will likely be from a highly motivated buyer who’s doing everything they can to beat the competition. The stakes for buyers are high. They’ve been looking for a house and they want to lock in their dream home before prices and mortgage rates rise further next year. Chances are, they’ll get creative with the terms of their offer, which could include waiving contingencies and offering over the asking price – both of which are great news for you.

If you’re on the fence about when to sell, remember your house is a hot commodity this season. As other sellers take a break for the holidays with plans to re-list their homes in the new year, you can put your house in front of motivated buyers by making your move today. That means your house will be the center of attention, and likely the center of a bidding war too.

Bottom Line

Selling now gives you even more opportunity to win big as buyers compete for your house in today’s market.

BuyerEconomy November 4, 2021

Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way

With forbearance plans coming to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures similar to what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are a few reasons why that won’t happen.

There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the fear was the pandemic would impact the housing industry in a similar way. Many projected up to 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. In reality, only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 2.2%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,221,000. That’s far fewer than the 9.3 million households that lost their homes just over a decade ago.

Most of the mortgages in forbearance have enough equity to sell their homes

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, of the 1.22 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 93% have at least 10% equity in their homes. This 10% equity is important because it enables homeowners to sell their homes and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 7% might not have the option to sell, but if the entire 7% of those 1.22 million homes went into foreclosure, that would total about 85,400 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers for the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures that impacted the housing crash 15 years ago. It’s actually less than one-third of any of the three years prior to the pandemic.

The current market can absorb listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market back in 2008, there was an oversupply of houses for sale. It’s exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was over a nine-month supply of listings on the market. Today, that number is less than a three-month supply. Here’s a graph showing the difference between the two markets.Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The data indicates why Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman and Associates, was on point when she stated:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

BuyerEconomyHousing MarketSeller November 3, 2021

Experts Project Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Rise in 2022

Mortgage rates are one of several factors that impact how much you can afford if you’re buying a home. When rates are low, they help you get more house for your money. Within the last year, mortgage rates have hit the lowest point ever recorded, and they’ve hovered in the historic-low territory. But even over the past few weeks, rates have started to rise. This past week, the average 30-year fixed rate was 3.14%.

What does this mean if you’re thinking about making a move? Waiting until next year will cost you more in the long run. Here’s a look at what several experts project for mortgage rates going into 2022.

Freddie Mac:

“The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) is expected to be 3.0 percent in 2021 and 3.5 percent in 2022.”

Doug Duncan, Senior VP & Chief Economist, 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 and supportive of mortgage demand and affordability.” 

First American:

“Consensus forecasts predict that mortgage rates will hit 3.2 percent by the end of the year, and 3.7 percent by the end of 2022.”

If rates rise even a half-point percentage over the next year, it will impact what you pay each month over the life of your loan – and that can really add up. So, the reality is, as prices and mortgage rates rise, it will cost more to purchase a home.

As you can see from the quotes above, industry experts project rates will rise in the months ahead. Here’s a table that compares other expert views and gives an average of those projections:Experts Project Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Rise in 2022 | MyKCMWhether you’re thinking about buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing because your needs have changed, purchasing before mortgage rates rise even higher will help you take advantage of today’s homebuying affordability. That could be just the game-changer you need to achieve your homeownership goals.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling over the next year, it may be wise to make your move sooner rather than later – before mortgage rates climb higher.

Seller October 13, 2021

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you’re a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you’ll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners’ equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCMOdeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

“Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high.”

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you’ll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you’ll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you’ll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you’re one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you’re one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you’re ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home.

BuyerHousing Market October 12, 2021

Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You

Today’s housing market is truly one for the record books. Over the past year, we’ve seen the lowest mortgage rates in history. And while those rates seemed to bottom out in January of this year, the golden window of opportunity for buyers isn’t over just yet. If you’re one of the buyers who worry they’ve missed out, rest assured today’s mortgage rates are still worth taking advantage of.

Even today, our mortgage rates are below what they’ve been in recent decades. So, while you may not be able to lock in the rate your friend got recently, you’re still in a great position to secure a rate well below what your parents and even grandparents got in years past. The key will be acting sooner rather than later.

In late September, mortgage rates ticked above 3% for the first time in months. And according to experts throughout the industry, mortgage rates are projected to continue rising in the months ahead. Here’s where experts say rates are headed:Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMWhile a projected half percentage point increase may not seem substantial, it does have an impact when you’re buying a home. When rates rise even slightly, it affects how much you’ll pay month-to-month on your home loan. The chart below shows how it works:Don’t Wait for a Lower Mortgage Rate – It Could Cost You | MyKCMIn this example, if rates rise to 3.55%, you’ll pay an extra $100 each month on your monthly mortgage payment if you purchase a home around this time next year. That extra money can really add up over the life of a 15 or 30-year loan.

Clearly, today’s mortgage rates are worth taking advantage of before they climb further. The rates we’re seeing right now give you a unique opportunity to afford more home for your money while keeping your monthly payment down.

Bottom Line

Waiting for a lower mortgage rate could cost you. Experts project rates will continue to rise in the months ahead. Let’s connect so you can seize this opportunity before they increase further.