Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success | MyKCM

So you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered 4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ really should take place before you start your home search process.

As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 4.7-month supply. This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream home.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.” 

Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.  

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.”

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s get together and see if we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

What to Expect When Home Inspecting

What to Expect When Home Inspecting | MyKCM

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Often membership in one of these organizations means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Why We Need More Newly Constructed Homes

Why We Need More Newly Constructed Homes | MyKCM

The number of new home sales is far off historic norms. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just reported that the percentage of all house sales that were newly constructed homes has fallen to the lowest numbers in forty years. Here is a graph showing the percentages:

Why We Need More Newly Constructed Homes | MyKCM

This should come as no surprise as the number of new housing starts has fallen dramatically over the last several years:
Why We Need More Newly Constructed Homes | MyKCM

Bottom Line

We need more new construction for two reasons:

  1. It will relieve some of the pent-up buying demand that is causing price appreciation to continue to increase well above historic norms.
  2. It will give better opportunities to many current homeowners who want to sell but can’t find an adequate home to move in to.

Have You Put Aside Enough for Closing Costs?

Have You Put Aside Enough for Closing Costs? | MyKCM

There are many potential homebuyers, and even sellers, who believe that you need at least a 20% down payment in order to buy a home, or move on to their next home. Time after time, we have dispelled this myth by showing that there are many loan programs that allow you to put down as little as 3% (or 0% with a VA loan).

If you have saved up your down payment and are ready to start your home search, one other piece of the puzzle is to make sure that you have saved enough for your closing costs.

Freddie Mac defines closing costs as:

“Closing costs, also called settlement fees, will need to be paid when you obtain a mortgage.  These are fees charged by people representing your purchase, including your lender, real estate agent, and other third parties involved in the transaction. Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

We’ve recently heard from many first-time homebuyers that they wished that someone had let them know that closing costs could be so high. If you think about it, with a low down payment program, your closing costs could equal the amount that you saved for your down payment.

Here is a list of just some of the fees/costs that may be included in your closing costs, depending on where the home you wish to purchase is located:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services (insurance, search fees)
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting fees

Is there any way to avoid paying closing costs?

Work with your lender and real estate agent to see if there are any ways to decrease or defer your closing costs. There are no-closing mortgages available, but they end up costing you more in the end with a higher interest rate, or by wrapping the closing costs into the total cost of the mortgage (meaning you’ll end up paying interest on your closing costs).

Home buyers can also negotiate with the seller over who pays these fees. Sometimes the seller will agree to assume the buyer’s closing fees in order to get the deal finalized.

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.

5 Reasons Why Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment

5 Reasons Why Homeownership Is a Good Financial Investment | MyKCM

According to a recent report by Trulia, “buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro areas by an average of 37.7%.” That may have some thinking about buying a home instead of signing another lease extension, but does that make sense from a financial perspective?

In the report, Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s Chief Economist explains:

“Owning a home is one of the most common ways households build long-term wealth, as it acts like a forced savings account. Instead of paying your landlord, you can pay yourself in the long run through paying down a mortgage on a house.”

The report listed five reasons why owning a home makes financial sense:

  1. Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  2. Equity in your home can be a financial resource later.
  3. You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
  4. A mortgage can act as a forced savings account.
  5. Overall, homeowners can enjoy greater wealth growth than renters.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, let’s get together and discuss all your options.

Home Sales Expected to Increase Nicely in 2017

The National Association of Realtors, The Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are all projecting that home sales will increase in 2017. Here is a chart showing what each entity is projecting in sales for this year and the next.

Home Sales Expected to Increase Nicely in 2017 | MyKCM

As we can see, each is projecting sizable increases in home sales next year. If you have considered selling your house recently, now may be the time to put it on the market.

Think All Millennials Live in Their Parent’s Basement? Think Again!

Think All Millennials Live in Their Parent's Basement? Think Again! | MyKCM

According to the Census Bureau, millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation in U.S. History. Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982-2000, now represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population, totaling 83.1 million.

There has been a lot of talk about how, as a generation, millennials have ‘failed to launch’ into adulthood and have delayed moving out of their family’s home. Some experts have even questioned whether or not millennials want to move out.

The great news is that not only do millennials want to move out… they are moving out! The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers in which they revealed that 61% of all first-time homebuyers were millennials in 2015!  

The median age of all first-time buyers in 2015 was 31 years old. 

Here is chart showing the breakdown by age:

Think All Millennials Live in Their Parent's Basement? Think Again! | MyKCM

Many social factors have contributed to millennials waiting to buy their first home. The latest Censusresults show that the median age of Americans at the time of their first marriage has increased significantly over the last 60 years, from 23 for men & 20 for women in 1955, to 29 & 27, respectively, in 2015.

Those who went to college and took out student loans are finally paying them off, as the terms on traditional student loans are 10 years. This means that a large portion of the generation is making its last loan payments and is working toward saving for a first home.

As a whole, the first-time homebuyer share increased to 35% of all buyers, up from 32% in 2014. Not all millennials are first-time buyers, they also made up 12% of all repeat buyers!

Bottom Line

Millennials will continue to drive the housing market next year, as well as in the years to come. As more and more realize that owning a home is within their grasp, they will flock to own their piece of the American Dream. Are you ready to buy your first or even second home?

Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process

Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process | MyKCM

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (the average down payment on all loans was 11% last month, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of which perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Start 2017 Off Right… List Your House for Sale

Start 2017 Off Right… List Your House for Sale | MyKCM

As we are about to bring in the New Year, families across the country will be deciding if this is the year that they will sell their current house and move into their dream home. Many will decide that it is smarter to wait until the spring “buyer’s market” to list their house. In the past, that might have made sense. However, this winter is not like recent years.

The recent jump in mortgage rates has forced buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

Start 2017 Off Right… List Your House for Sale | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the time.

How Long Do Families Stay in a Home?

How Long Do Families Stay in a Home? | MyKCM

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historic data on many aspects of homeownership. One of the data points that has changed dramatically is the median tenure of a family in a home. As the graph below shows, for over twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2008, that average is almost nine years – an increase of almost 50%.

How Long Do Families Stay in a Home? | MyKCM

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful. The top two reasons are:

  1. The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property).
  2. The uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

However, with home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, over 90% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situation with 70% of them having at least 20% equity.

And, with the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstances. They could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple planning to start a family that currently lives in a one-bedroom condo.

These homeowners are ready to make a move. Since the lack of housing inventory is a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.