Karen R. Brown
Karen R. Brown
RE/MAX Innovative Properties
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What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates?

What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates? | MyKCM

Mortgage rates are hovering near record lows, and that’s good news for today’s homebuyers. The graph below shows mortgage rates dating back to 2016 and where today falls by comparison.What Do Experts Say About Today’s Mortgage Rates? | MyKCMGenerally speaking, when rates are low, you can afford more home for your money. That’s why experts across the industry agree – today’s low rates present buyers with an incredible opportunity. Here’s what they have to say:

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macpoints out the historic nature of today’s rates:

“As the economy works to get back to its pre-pandemic self, and the fight against COVID-19 variants unfolds, owners and buyers continue to benefit from some of the lowest mortgage rates of all-time.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americantalks about how rates impact a buyer’s bottom line:

“Mortgage rates are generally the same across the country, so a decline in mortgage rates boosts affordability equally in each market.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, also notes the significance of today’s low rates and urges buyers to carefully consider their timing:

Those who haven’t yet taken advantage of low rates to buy a home or refinance still have the opportunity to do so this summer.”

Hale goes on to say that buyers who don’t act soon could see higher rates in the coming months, negatively impacting their purchasing power:

“We expect mortgage rates to fluctuate near historic lows through the summer before beginning to climb this fall.”

And while mortgage rates are still low today, the data from Freddie Mac indicates rates are fluctuating ever so slightly right now, as they moved up one week before inching slightly back down in their latest release. It’s important to keep in mind the influence rates have on your monthly mortgage payment.

Even small increases can have a big impact on what you pay each month. Trust the experts. Today’s rates give you opportunity and flexibility in what you can afford. Don’t wait on the sidelines and hope for a better rate to come along; the rates we’re seeing today are worth capitalizing on.

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates hover near record lows today, but experts forecast they’ll rise in the coming months. Waiting could prove costly when that happens. Let’s connect today to discuss today’s rates and determine if now’s the time for you to buy.

 

The Best Use of Time (and Money) When It Comes to Renovations

The Best Use of Time (and Money) When It Comes to Renovations | MyKCM

In the current sellers’ market, many homeowners wonder what, if anything, needs to be remodeled before they list their house. That’s where a trusted real estate professional comes in. They can help you think through today’s market conditions and how they impact what you should – and shouldn’t – renovate before selling.

Here are some considerations a professional will guide you through:

1. With current supply challenges, buyers may be willing to take on projects of their own.

A more balanced market typically sees a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Above that, and we’re in a buyers’ market. Below that, and we’re in a sellers’ market. According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), our current supply of homes for sale, while rising, still remains solidly in sellers’ market territory:

Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, modestly up from May’s 2.5-month supply but down from 3.9 months in June 2020.”

So, what’s that mean for you? If you’re a seller trying to decide whether or not to renovate, this is especially important because it’s indicative of buyer behavior. When there aren’t enough homes for sale, buyers may be more willing to purchase a home that doesn’t meet all their needs and renovate it themselves later.

2. Not all renovation projects are equal.

You don’t want to spend time and money on a project that isn’t worth the cost or is too niche design-wise for some homebuyers. According to an article by Renofi.com, basing home updates on what’s trendy right now can be a costly mistake:

The last thing you as a homeowner want to do is center your home design around a passing fad – even worse, one thats design quality won’t last a good while.”

Before making any decisions, talk to your real estate advisor. They have insight into what other sellers are doing before listing their homes and how buyers are reacting to those upgrades. Don’t spend the time and money to be trendy – if your buyer wants to upgrade to the newest fad later, they can.

3. If you’ve already made upgrades this past year, your agent can help spotlight them.

If you have already completed some renovations on your house, you’re not alone. The pandemic kept people at home last year, and during that time, many homeowners completed some home improvement projects. HomeAdvisor’s 2021 State of Home Spending Report found:

“35% of households that completed an improvement project undertook some type of interior painting, while 31% completed a bathroom remodel and 26% installed new flooring.”

Let your real estate professional know if you fall in this category. They can highlight any recent upgrades you’ve made in your house’s listing.

Bottom Line

When it comes to renovations, your return-on-investment should be top of mind. Let’s connect today to talk through any upgrades you’ve already made and to find out what you should prioritize before you sell to maximize your house’s potential.

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCM

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s real estate market is the shortage of available homesSimply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you’ve likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that’s something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can’t take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let’s take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It’s not just today’s high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | MyKCMThe same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

. . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years.” 

“Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . .”

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it’ll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today’s supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today’s ultimate sellers’ market is here to stay?

We’re already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can’t bridge the supply gap we’re facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

“…Although part of the answer to the nation’s housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today’s strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market.

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NARechoes that sentiment:

“As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner.”

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn’t mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It’s not too late to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It’s still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it’s still hovering near historic lows. Let’s connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

4 Major Incentives To Sell This Summer

While the housing market forecast for the second half of the year remains positive, there may not be a better time to sell than right now. Here are four things to consider if you’re trying to decide if now’s the right time to make a move.

1. Your House Will Likely Sell Quickly

According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes continue to sell quickly. The report notes homes are selling in an average of just 17 days.

Average days on market is a strong indicator of buyer competition, and homes selling quickly is a great sign for sellers. It’s one of several factors that indicate buyers are motivated to do what it takes to purchase the home of their dreams.

2. Buyers Are Willing To Compete for Your House

In addition to selling fast, homes are receiving multiple offers. NAR reports sellers are seeing an average of 5 offers, and these offers are competitive ones. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser at CoreLogicsaid in a recent interview:

The frequency of buyers being willing to pay more than the market data supports is increasing.

This confirms buyers are ready and willing to enter bidding wars for your home. Receiving several offers on your house means you can select the one that makes the most sense for your situation and financial well-being.

3. When Supply Is Low, Your House Is in the Spotlight

One of the most significant challenges for motivated buyers is the current inventory of homes for sale, which while improving, remains at near-record lows. As NAR details:

“Total housing inventory at the end of May amounted to 1.23 million units, up 7.0% from April’s inventory and down 20.6% from one year ago (1.55 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.5-month supply at the present sales pace, marginally up from April’s 2.4-month supply but down from 4.6-months in May 2020.”

There are signs, however, that more homes are coming to market. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americannotes:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.

If you’re looking to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house, selling now before more listings come to the market might be your best option.

4. If You’re Thinking of Moving Up, Now May Be the Time

Over the past 12 months, homeowners have gained a significant amount of wealth through growing equity. In that same period, homeowners have also spent a considerable amount of time in their homes, and many have decided their house doesn’t meet their needs.

If you’re not happy with your current home, you can leverage that equity to power your move now. Your equity, plus current low mortgage rates, can help you maximize your purchasing power.

But these near-historic low rates won’t last forever. Experts forecast interest rates will increase in the coming months. Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting at NARsays:

“Nevertheless, as the economic outlook for the United States looks brighter for the rest of the year, mortgage rates are expected to rise in the following months.”

As interest rates rise, even modestly, it could influence buyer demand and your purchasing power. If you’ve been waiting for the best time to sell to fuel your move up, you likely won’t find more favorable conditions than those we’re seeing today.

Bottom Line

With supply challenges, low mortgage rates, and extremely motivated buyers, sellers are well-positioned to take advantage of current market conditions right now. If you’re thinking about selling, let’s connect today to discuss why it makes sense to list your home sooner rather than later.

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.

Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.

Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMAs the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.

Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMComparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.

The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.

Is there relief around the corner?

The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.

Map #3 – State-by-state changes in inventory levels month-over-month reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMAs the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.

We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.

Bottom Line

Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply. Going forward, if the number of homes for sale better aligns with demand, price appreciation will moderate to more historical levels.

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs | MyKCM

When buying a home, it’s important to have a budget and make sure you plan ahead for certain homebuying expenses. Saving for a down payment is the main cost that comes to mind for many, but budgeting for the closing costs required to get a mortgage is just as important.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia:

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. 

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining:

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Let’s connect to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.

Experts Say Home Prices Will Continue to Appreciate

Experts Say Home Prices Will Continue to Appreciate | MyKCM

It’s clear that consumers are concerned about how quickly home values are rising. Many people fear the speed of appreciation may lead to a crash in prices later this year. In fact, Google reports that the search for “When is the housing market going to crash?” has actually spiked 2450% over the past month.

In addition, Jim Dalrymple II of Inman News notes:

“One of the most noteworthy things that came up in Inman’s conversations with agents was that every single one said they’ve had conversations with clients about whether or not the market is heading into a bubble.”

To alleviate some of these concerns, let’s look at what several financial analysts are saying about the current residential real estate market. Within the last thirty days, four of the major financial services giants came to the same conclusion: the housing market is strong, and price appreciation will continue. Here are their statements on the issue:

Goldman Sachs’ Research Note on Housing:

“Strong demand for housing looks sustainable. Even before the pandemic, demographic tailwinds and historically-low mortgage rates had pushed demand to high levels. … consumer surveys indicate that household buying intentions are now the highest in 20 years. … As a result, the model projects double-digit price gains both this year and next.”

Joe Seydl, Senior Markets EconomistJ.P.Morgan:

“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”

Morgan Stanley, Thoughts on the Market Podcast:

“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today’s home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”

Merrill Lynch’s Capital Market Outlook:

“There are reasons to believe that this is likely to be an unusually long and strong housing expansion. Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle. Coronavirus-related preference changes have also sharply boosted home buying demand. At the same time, supply is unusually tight, with available homes for sale at record-low levels. Double-digit price gains are rationing the supply.”

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned about making the decision to buy or sell right now, let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our local market.

Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year

Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year | MyKCM

The question many homebuyers are facing this year is, “Why is it so hard to find a house?” We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising. Why? It’s because there are so few houses for sale.

Low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, but it’s becoming more challenging to navigate. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

The housing market is still relatively under supplied, and buyers can’t buy what’s not for sale. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. Despite this week’s gain from a year ago, we’re 19 percent below the new seller activity that we saw in the same week in 2019.

While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn’t the main cause of today’s huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:

The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, ’starter homes.’”

When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):Patience Is the Key to Buying a Home This Year | MyKCMThe number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend.”

To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent (±1.7 percent) above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 . . . Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,739,000. This is 19.4 percent (±13.7 percent) above the revised February estimate of 1,457,000. . . .”

What does this mean? Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, clarifies:

The March figure of 1.74 million housing starts is the highest in 14 years. Both single-family units and multifamily units ramped up. After 13 straight years of underproduction – the chief cause for today’s inventory shortage – this construction boom needs to last for at least three years to make up for the part shortfall. As trade-up buyers purchase newly constructed homes, their prior homes will show up in MLSs, and hence, more choices for consumers. Housing starts to housing completion could be 4 to 8 months, so be patient with the improvement to inventory. In the meantime, construction workers deserve cheers.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today’s low inventory environment. Let’s connect today to talk more about what’s happening in our area.

Some Buyers Prefer Smaller Homes

Some Buyers Prefer Smaller Homes | MyKCM

Over the past year, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to reflect on what we consider most important in our lives. The place we call home is one of the biggest things many of us are reevaluating. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, shares:

“The very nature of the pandemic, through the health implications, social distancing, and need to isolate, has really brought a central focus on the importance of home for most Americans…In a sense, it has elevated real estate markets as a centerpiece of our lives.”

For some, this has spurred an interest in making a move to a home that better suits our changing needs. In a recent study on today’s homebuyer preferences, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) states:

“When asked more specifically how the pandemic may have impacted their preference for home size21% or about 1 out of every 5 buyers, do want a larger home now as a direct result of the health crisis, while another segment – 12% – would prefer a smaller one instead.”

While you might expect more time at home to lead to a need for more space, it’s interesting that a significant portion of homeowners actually want less. For those who own larger homes right now and have a desire to move, today’s housing market is full of opportunities. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“In a real estate market that is tipped in the favor of sellers, boomers and older homeowners are really the ones holding the cards…Those who are selling homes can use the profits to help them buy new ones.”

As a homeowner today, you likely have equity that can be put toward the purchase of your next home. With the equity growth homes have seen over the past year, you may have more than you think, which can help significantly as you make a move into your next home. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Home sellers cited that they sold their homes for a median of $66,000 more than they purchased it. Sellers 22 to 30 years gained the least at $33,400 in equity compared to sellers 66 to 74 years gained $100,000 in equity as they likely had lived in their homes for a longer period of time.”

Despite the benefits of growing home equity, some homeowners are still hesitant to move and could be considering remodeling or making changes to their current space instead. However, if you’ve thought about aging in place rather than downsizing, you may want to reconsider. The U.S. Census Bureau points out:

Of the nation’s 115 million housing units, only 10% are ready to accommodate older populations.”

If your house is no longer the best fit for your evolving needs, it may be time to put your equity to work for you and downsize to the home you really want.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market favors homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move. If you’re thinking about downsizing this year, let’s connect to discuss your options in our local market.

How to Make a Winning Offer on a Home

How to Make a Winning Offer on a Home | MyKCM

Today’s homebuyers are faced with a strong sellers’ market, which means there are a lot of active buyers competing for a relatively low number of available homes. As a result, it’s essential to understand how to make a confident and competitive offer on your dream home. Here are five tips for success in this critical stage of the homebuying process.

1. Listen to Your Real Estate Advisor

An article from Freddie Mac gives direction on making an offer on a home. From the start, it emphasizes how trusted professionals can help you stay focused on the most important things, especially at times when this process can get emotional for buyers:

“Remember to let your homebuying team guide you on your journey, not your emotions. Their support and expertise will keep you from compromising on your must-haves and future financial stability.”

A real estate professional should be the expert guide you lean on for advice when you’re ready to make an offer.

2. Understand Your Finances

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. The best way to know this is to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. Only 44% of today’s prospective homebuyers are planning to apply for pre-approval, so be sure to take this step so you stand out from the crowd. Doing so make it clear to sellers you’re a serious and qualified buyer, and it can give you a competitive edge in a bidding war.

3. Be Prepared to Move Quickly

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average property sold today receives 3.7 offers and is on the market for just 21 days. These are both results of today’s competitive market, showing how important it is to stay agile and alert in your search. As soon as you find the right home for your needs, be prepared to submit an offer as quickly as possible.

4. Make a Fair Offer

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home. However, Freddie Mac also warns that submitting an offer that’s too low can lead sellers to doubt how serious you are as a buyer. Don’t make an offer that will be tossed out as soon as it’s received. The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive:

“Your agent will work with you to make an informed offer based on the market value of the home, the condition of the home and recent home sale prices in the area.”

5. Stay Flexible in Negotiations

After submitting an offer, the seller may accept it, reject it, or counter it with their own changes. In a competitive market, it’s important to stay nimble throughout the negotiation process. You can strengthen your position with an offer that includes flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). Freddie Mac explains that there are, however, certain contingencies you don’t want to forego:

Resist the temptation to waive the inspection contingency, especially in a hot market or if the home is being sold ‘as-is’, which means the seller won’t pay for repairs. Without an inspection contingency, you could be stuck with a contract on a house you can’t afford to fix.”

Bottom Line

Today’s competitive market makes it more important than ever to make a strong offer on a home. Let’s connect to make sure you rise to the top along the way.