Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections | MyKCM

Buyers in today’s market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That’s because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.

But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it’s critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is a critical step for securing a mortgage on your home. As Home Light explains:

“. . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments.”

Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer’s contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today’s market, it’s common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Home Inspection

Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:

“Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.”

If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.

Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.

Bottom Line

Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home’s value and condition. Let’s connect so you have an expert guiding you throughout the entire process.

Your Home Equity Is Growing

Your Home Equity Is Growing [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you’re a homeowner, today’s rising equity is great news. On average, homeowners have gained $51,500 in equity since this time last year.
  • Whether it’s funding an education, fueling your next move, or starting a business, your home equity is a great tool you can use to power your dreams.
  • Ready to sell? Let’s connect to talk about how you can take advantage of your rising equity to reach your goals.

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home.

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | MyKCM

While today’s supply of homes for sale is still low, the number of newly built homes is increasing. If you’re ready to sell but have held off because you weren’t sure you’d be able to find a home to move into, newly built homes and those under construction can provide the options you’ve been waiting for.

Looking To Move? It Could Be Time To Build Your Dream Home. | MyKCM

The latest Census data shows the inventory of new homes is increasing this year (see graph below):With more new homes coming to the market, this means you’ll have more options to choose from if you’re ready to buy. Of course, if you do consider a newly built home, you’ll want to keep timing in mind. The supply shown in the graph above includes homes at various stages of the construction process – some are near completion while others may be months away.

According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior VP for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

28% of new home inventory consists of homes that have not started construction, compared to 21% a year ago.”

Buying a home near completion is great if you’re ready to move. Alternatively, a home that has yet to break ground might benefit you if you’re ready to sell and you aren’t on a strict timeline. You’ll have an even greater opportunity to design your future home to suit your needs. No matter what, your trusted real estate advisor can help you find a home that works for you.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market, but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to find a home to move into, consider a newly built home. Let’s connect today so you have a trusted real estate advisor to guide you through the sale of your house and discuss your homebuying options.

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable | MyKCM

It’s impossible to research the subject of buying a home without coming across a headline declaring that the fall in home affordability is a crisis. However, when we add context to the most recent affordability statistics, we soon realize that, though homes are less affordable than they have been over the last few years, they are more affordable than they historically have been.

Black Knight, a premier provider of data and analytics for the mortgage industry, just released their latest Monthly Mortgage Monitor which includes a new analysis of the affordability situation. Here’s what the report reveals:

“The monthly payment required to purchase the average priced home with a 20% down 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by nearly 20% (+$210) over the first nine months of 2021, . . . It now requires 21.6% of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase, the least affordable housing has been since 30-year rates rose to nearly 5% back in late 2018.”

Important Distinction: Homes Are Less Affordable, Not Unaffordable | MyKCM

Basically, the report shows that homes are less affordable today than at any other time in the last three years. However, in a previous report earlier this year, Black Knight calculated that the percentage of the median household income to make the monthly mortgage payment on the average home purchase over the last 25 years was 23.6% (see graph below):Today’s payment-to-income ratio is more affordable than the average over the last 25 years. Given that context, we can see that American households still have the same ability to be homeowners as their parents did 20 years ago.

This confirms the recent analysis of ATTOM Data resources where Todd Teta, Chief Product and Technology Officer, explains:

“The typical median-priced home around the U.S. remains affordable to workers earning an average wage, despite prices that keep going through the roof. Super-low interests and rising pay continue to be the main reasons why.”

Bottom Line

It’s true that it’s less affordable to buy a home today than it has been the last few years. However, it’s more affordable to buy today than the average over the last 25 years. In other words, homes are less affordable, but they’re not unaffordable. That’s an important distinction.

Harvard: 5 Financial Reasons to Buy a Home

Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. This year he released a new paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:

1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for many social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

FSBOs Must Be Ready to Negotiate

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In a Booming market, some sellers might be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional. The real estate agent is a trained and experienced negotiator. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize the ability to negotiate will determine whether they get the best deal for themselves and their family.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices?

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices? | MyKCM

If you’re looking to buy or sell a house, chances are you’ve heard talk about today’s rising home prices. And while this increase in home values is great news for sellers, you may be wondering what the future holds. Will prices continue to rise with time, or should you expect them to fall?

To answer that question, let’s first understand a few terms you may be hearing right now.

It’s important to note home prices have increased, or appreciated, for 114 straight months. To find out if that trend may continue, look to the experts. Pulsenomics surveyed over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts asking for their five-year projections. In terms of what lies ahead, experts say the market may see some slight deceleration, but not depreciation.

What Does the Future Hold for Home Prices? | MyKCM

Here’s the forecast for the next few years:As the graph above shows, prices are expected to continue to rise, just not at the same pace we’ve seen over the last year. Over 100 experts agree, there is no expectation for price depreciation. As the arrows indicate, each number is an increase, which means prices will rise each year.

Bill McBride, author of the blog Calculated Risk, also expects deceleration, but not depreciation:

“My sense is the Case-Shiller National annual growth rate of 19.7% is probably close to a peak, and that year-over-year price increases will slow later this year.”

Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates agrees, saying:

“. . . home price appreciation is on the cusp of flipping to a decelerating trend.”

recent article from realtor.com indicates you should expect:

“. . . annual price increases will slow to a more normal level, . . .”

What Does This Deceleration Mean for You?

What experts are projecting for the years ahead is more in line with the historical norm for appreciation. According to data from Black Knight, the average annual appreciation from 1995-2020 is 4.1%. As you can see from the chart above, the expert forecasts are closer to that pace, which means you should see appreciation at a level that’s aligned with a more normal year.

If you’re a buyer, don’t expect a sudden or drastic drop in home prices – experts say it won’t happen. Instead, think about your homeownership goals and consider purchasing a home before prices rise further.

If you’re a seller, the continued home price appreciation is good news for the value of your house. Work with an agent to list your house for the right price based on market conditions.

Bottom Line

Experts expect price deceleration, not price depreciation over the coming years. Let’s connect to talk through what’s happening in the housing market today, where things are headed, and what it means for you.

Sellers: Your House Could Be an Oasis for Buyers Seeking More Options

Sellers: Your House Could Be an Oasis for Buyers Seeking More Options | MyKCM

Sellers have a great opportunity this season as buyer demand still heavily outweighs the current supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at only a 2.6-month supply. To put that into perspective, a neutral market typically features a 6-month supply. That places today’s market firmly in the sellers’ market category.

Sellers: Your House Could Be an Oasis for Buyers Seeking More Options | MyKCM

That same NAR data also shows today’s inventory of single-family homes is trailing behind the level we saw last year (see graph below):Because of the ongoing supply challenges, buyers can feel like they’re wandering across a vast, empty desert when searching for their next home. That means your house could provide an oasis for buyers thirsty for options – and it could increase the chances of buyers entering a bidding war for your home.

The latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from NAR shows houses are receiving an average of 3.8 offers. A multiple-offer scenario lets you select the best offer and gives you incredible leverage when you sell this fall.

Bottom Line

Buyers today are looking for relief as they wander today’s inventory desert. Listing your house this fall – before more options appear – gives your house the best chance to be noticed by multiple buyers. Let’s connect today so your house can stand out as the oasis it truly is.

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The best advice carries across multiple areas of life. When it comes to homebuying, a few simple tips can help you stay on track.
  • Because of increased demand, you’ll need to be patient and embrace compromises during your search. Then, once you’ve fallen in love, commit by putting your best offer forward.
  • If you’re looking to buy a home this year, let’s connect so you have a dedicated partner and teammate to help you find the one.

At Last, the Secret to Rental Property Investing Is Revealed!

Image: Pexel

Even though real estate investing is risky, it’s still a smart way to invest if you do it right. Plus, you can get many long-term returns if you opt to invest in property rentals. Now, the rub lies in finding the balance of selecting a property that fits your finances, will provide you a return on your investment, and getting reliable tenants. Ready to learn more? Teaching Real Estate 101 shares the following insight.

Selecting a Property

There’s no such thing as too much research or too many questions when evaluating a property. Consider these features:

  • Type of area: Do you prefer urban, suburban, or rural?
  • Amenities: Are shopping, schools, and the hospital close by?
  • Occupancy rates: If the area has a high vacancy rate, it may be challenging to find reliable tenants.
  • The neighborhood itself: Is it safe, stable, or growing? What is the demographic of most of the residents? The neighborhood lifestyle impacts your renters, whether you’re looking to attract university students, young families, or retirees. 

Making Improvements

One of the biggest challenges and costs involved with rental property, besides your initial investment, are the repairs and upgrades. Now, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to do maintenance, including replacing things like the furnace, air conditioner, appliances, windows, or roofing. 

But, at first, especially with the excitement of a new property, it’s tempting to spend thousands on refreshing the property. Typically, the better the place looks inside and out, the more rent you can charge. Take caution though, you may be spending more money than you need to. 

Real estate investor, Rick Nayar, began with his first rental property at 27 and had 25 by the time he was 30 years old. He recommends: “Don’t over-improve the property. To keep your cash flow at optimal levels, don’t spend too much on upgrades for a rental property that will likely need maintenance and repairs during turnovers anyway.”

Start with a list of possible repairs and determine what repairs are you comfortable with. Painting, some additional landscaping, and outdoor enhancements like treating or removing an ailing tree could boost your tenant search without breaking the bank. DKRenalts.net advises providing gardening space to give your renters the freedom to plant some flowers or grow a small garden if they want. “There have been countless landlords disappointed to find that the beautiful new grass they installed a year ago was dug up by an enthusiastic gardener. Provide a few raised beds or a small garden plot.”

Before hiring a landscaper or local tree removal services, ask for recommendations and check for online reviews. Note that depending on the scope of work or the size of the tree, you’re looking at spending anywhere between $50 and $1,600! You’re already investing hundreds of thousands in the property — you want to make every dollar count. 

Remember, though, some repairs and replacements are a must. Leap Property Management reminds us that “Major appliances keep your house comfortable and need to be replaced quickly when they malfunction. So be prepared for a quick replacement when the time comes.” Things like replacing the water heater, furnace, and appliances are all essential but costly. So before investing in a rental property, be sure you’re prepared for sudden repair or replacement costs. 

Evaluating your financial situation, how comfortable you are with repairs and replacement costs, plus the connections you have for reliable contractors will make a difference in your future as a landlord. If you can find a balance you can work with, then you’ve got a great chance to invest in a rental property and reap the rewards. 
For more advice related to real estate, buying and selling, be sure to subscribe to the Teaching Real Estate 101 blog.