Buyer’s Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | MyKCM

We previously reported how a shortage of inventory in the starter and trade-up home markets is driving prices up and causing bidding wars, creating a true seller’s market. At the same time, in the premium home market, an over-abundance of inventory has started to see prices come down and put buyers in the driver’s seat, creating the beginning of a buyer’s market.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors released their Existing Home Sales Report which shed some additional light on the impact of inventory levels on sales in each price range.

The chart below shows the year-over-year difference in sales at each price range.

Buyer's Market Helps Premium Home Sales Soar | MyKCM

The under $100K range has shown declines in recent years due to the shortage of distressed homes available for sale (just 5% of sales this past month, compared to 35% in January 2012). Sales in the next two price ranges are no doubt being hindered by low inventory as buyers compete for the same home.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, explained:

“Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher.”

The biggest surprise? This is the first time in years where the $1M and up price range had the highest jump in sales when compared to last year and to all other price ranges (29.1%)! The two price ranges right underneath the $1M range were a close second and third. As the price went up, so did the sales!

With additional inventory available in the higher price ranges, and the economy improving, many luxury buyers are finding it easier to find their dream homes. Yun commented,

“The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is looking to sell your starter or trade up home and move up to a luxury home, now is the time!

THREE GREAT REASONS TO CONSIDER A CASH-OUT REFINANCE

Interest rates on home loans are near their best levels of the year, while home values in many parts of the country have increased.  In this environment, many homeowners are considering a “cash-out” refinance.  This is where you pay off your old mortgage by getting a new mortgage with a higher balance.  The difference between the old loan and the higher-balance new loan is called “cash-out.”  That’s because you’re walking away from the new closing with cash.  Here are three reasons why you may want to consider a cash-out refinance:

  • Pay off other debt that may carry a higher after-tax interest rate. For example, the interest on up to $100,000 of cash-out proceeds may be tax deductible if you itemize your deductions and if you’re not subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  Please reference IRS publication 936 and see a CPA or tax advisor for more details.
  • Make home improvements – keep in mind that there are some home improvements that may add to the value of the home or at least help you maintain its value. These may include an addition to the house, a new kitchen, and upgraded landscaping.
  • Prepare for a large upcoming expense – increasing your mortgage balance could be a budgeting strategy if you have a large upcoming expense that would otherwise cause you to go into credit card debt. These expenses can include unexpected medical bills, new furniture or major appliances.

The great thing about today’s low-interest rate environment is that your monthly payment on the new mortgage may end up being very close to what you’re paying right now.  Please contact me for more information or to run the numbers for your specific scenario!

WHAT IS A “NON-CONTINGENT” OFFER?

Many homebuyers today are competing with multiple offers due to the low inventory of homes for sale in their price range.  In this environment, many homebuyers consider placing a “non-contingent” purchase offer on the new home because it could potentially help them win a bidding war. A non-contingent purchase offer means that your offer to buy a house is not contingent (or conditioned upon) any of the common contingencies such as your ability to obtain financing, your ability to sell your current home or an independent appraisal of your new home. Here are three of the common risks associated with making a non-contingent offer:

1 – What if Your Home Doesn’t Sell?
If you waive the contingency of selling your home first, it means that you’re still obligated to purchase the new home even if your old home doesn’t sell.  This only works for homebuyers who don’t currently have a mortgage, or homebuyers who can afford (and get approved for) two mortgage payments – one on the old home, and one on the new home.2 – What if Your Financing Approval Falls Through?
Even if your financing approval is a “done deal”, it’s never really done until you get the money.  For example, what if you lose your job between the time of the financing approval and the time you purchase your new home?

3 – What if the New House Doesn’t Appraise at or Above the Purchase Price?
In this case, you would likely need to come to closing with the difference in the two values.  That’s because mortgage lenders only lend you money based on the LOWER OF the purchase price or appraised value.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything you should know about waiving contingencies!  That’s why it’s important for you to check with a real estate attorney before making this type of decision.

Contact me for more information about your mortgage options.

Selling Your Home? Is Your Listing ‘Pet-Friendly’?

Selling Your Home? Is Your Listing ‘Pet-Friendly’? | MyKCM

One of the many benefits of owning your own home is the freedom to find your ‘furever’ friend. By pointing out the aspects of your home that make it ‘pet-friendly’ in your listing, you’ll attract these buyers rather than alienate the 61% of American households that have a pet!

If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream homes?

Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals.

A recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by American’s love for their pets.

This should come as no surprise as $66.75 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2016, with $70 billion projected for 2017. NAR’s President William E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search,

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership.  

REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home

  • 89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction
  • 81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation
  • 31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals
  • 19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet
  • 12% percent have moved for their pet

New home builders have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck away neatly inside door jams as a highly requested feature in new homes to attract pet-parents, according to Builder.com.

So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:

  • Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)
  • Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)
  • Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)

Bottom Line

Americans love their pets and will look for pet-friendly features in the home they wish to buy, so take advantage of this knowledge by pointing out your home’s ability to meet their needs.

Slaying Home Buying Myths

Slaying Home Buying Myths [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

Measuring Your Ability to Achieve the American Dream

Measuring Your Ability to Achieve the American Dream | MyKCM

Forbes.com recently released the results of their new American Dream Index, in which they measure “the prosperity of the middle class, and…examine which states best support the American Dream.”

The monthly index measures several different economic factors, including goods-producing employment, personal and commercial bankruptcies, building permits, startup activity, unemployment insurance claims, labor force participation, and layoffs.

The national index score was rounded out to 100 in January and saw a modest jump to 100.5 in February.

Alaska represented the lowest score on the index at 80.7, due mostly to the recent collapse in oil prices. Nevada came in with the highest score at 108.8, boosted by big gains in goods-producing jobs and new construction activity. The full results can be seen in the map below.

Measuring Your Ability to Achieve the American Dream | MyKCM

Forbes Senior Editor Kurt Badenhausen explained why many states saw a boost in the index last month:

“[B]usinesses are hiring in part in anticipation of tax cuts and less regulation… Many areas of the country have experienced strong upticks in employment and construction, as well as declines in unemployment claims since the start of the year.”

Bottom Line

The American Dream, for many, includes being able to own a home of his or her own. With the economy improving in many areas of the country, that dream can finally become a reality.

Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs

Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

According to a recent survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage.

After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.

“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”

Bankrate.com recently gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. to be able to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment.

Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range. your costs could be significantly more. According to Freddie Mac,

“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Bottom Line

Speak with us and your agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.  We recommend that ou take advantage of our Home Express Mortgage Plan – so that before you take your time and spend you money in this process – you know what the costs are.  Having the right expectations upfront is such an advantage to making the right decision.