3 Tips for Making Your Dream Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Realtor.com shared their “5 Habits to Start Now If You Hope to Buy a Home.”
  • Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking a lot about it.
  • Living within a budget will not only help you save money for down payments but will help you pay down other debts that might be holding you back.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Are you ready to buy? Visit our website to get started today!

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Home Prices Up 7% from Last Year

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Indexnational home prices have appreciated by 7.0% from October 2016 to October 2017. This marks the second month in a row with a 7.0% year-over-year increase.

A lack of supply of homes for sale has led to upward pressure on home prices across the country, especially in areas where both existing and new home inventory have not kept up with buyer demand.

CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft elaborated on the significance of such a large year-over-year gain, 

“Single-family residential sales and prices continued to heat up in October. On a year-over-year basis, home prices grew in excess of 6 percent for four consecutive months ending in October, the longest such streak since June 2014.

This escalation in home prices reflects both the acute lack of supply and the strengthening economy.”

This is great news for homeowners who have gained over $13,000 in equity in their home over the last year! Those homeowners who had been on the fence as to whether or not to sell will be pleasantly surprised to find out that they now have an even larger profit to help cover a down payment on their dream home.

CoreLogic’s President & CEO Frank Martell had this to say,

“The acceleration in home prices is good news for both homeowners and the economy because it leads to higher home equity balances that support consumer spending and is a cushion against mortgage risk. However, for entry-level renters and first-time homebuyers, it leads to tougher affordability challenges.”

Any time the price of a home goes up there will likely be concern about the affordability of that home, but there is good news. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, allowing buyers to enter the housing market and lock in a low monthly housing cost.

Rents Are Also Rising

The report went on to mention that over the same 12-month period, median rental prices for a single-family home have also risen by 4.2%.

With rents and home prices rising at the same time, first-time buyers may find the task of saving for a down payment a little daunting. Low down payment programs are available and have been a very popular option for first-time buyers. The median down payment for first-time buyers in 2017 was only 5%! 

Bottom Line

If you are looking to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to go over exactly what’s going on in our neighborhood and discuss your options!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

No Second Chances: Our 7-Step Plan to Making a Dazzling First Impression on Buyers

hikesterson/iStock; realtor.com

Studies show that we make up our minds about people within seconds of meeting them. So it stands to reason that prospective buyers are doing the very same thing with your house, especially in a red-hot real estate market. More buyers these days are sizing up your space and making lightning-quick decisions about whether it’s worth investigating further—or whether they should hop back in the car and move on to the next house.

So if you want to be sure buyers don’t scurry out the door moments after they arrive, you have to create a fantastic first impression.

Not sure where to begin? It all starts with looking at your home with fresh eyes. Luckily, we’ve broken down seven simple steps you can follow to put your home’s best face forward.

1. ‘Break up’ with your house

If you want to sell your property, you’ll need to distance yourself from it first, says Ronique Gibson, an associate architect and lifestyle expert at Stagetecture.com in Jacksonville, FL. Cut the cord!

“Once you put your home on the market, it’s time to let a professional come in and market it,” Gibson says. “If you stay emotionally attached, the process will be harder and longer.”

2. Focus on curb appeal

You wouldn’t wear soiled sweatpants on a first date—you’d go out of your way to look presentable. So why would you approach the process of selling your home any differently?

Your home’s first impression starts with the exterior, so take a good look at what you’re presenting to the world: What’s the first thing you notice? If it’s peeling paint, dirty windows, and dead plants, you have work to do, says Michael Rosenblum, a broker with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago.

“Ask yourself: ‘If I was buying this home now, what would my expectations be?'” he says.

Remove debris such as fallen tree limbs and leaves. Keep grass and shrubs trimmed, freshen up the mulch in your flowerbeds, and clear away lawn clutter such as yard ornaments, garden tools, and that circa 2007 Big Wheel.

“Putting out some flowers in front of the house or by the front door always makes people smile; it creates the warmth before they even get inside,” says Rosenblum.

Invest in a new doormat, and consider replacing old address numbers and your mailbox if it’s worn or rusty. Patch cracks in the driveway and, while you’re at, give the front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Ditch as much of your stuff as possible

So now that you’ve addressed the outside, you have to work on your home’s inner beauty. Decluttering is your first priority. So start clearing out the junk and depersonalizing the space—toss or hide mementos, kids’ drawings, and most knickknacks.

“If the seller has all their personal photos out, then the buyer usually gets distracted,” Rosenblum says.

The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your crap is everywhere they look. “All signs of you should be gone,” Gibson says.

That said, take care to find a balance; you don’t want the home to feel sterile—and you’ll want to make sure that none of your rooms are completely empty, a tactic that tends to make a space actually look smaller.

4. Fix the broken stuff—all of it

This should be obvious, but perhaps even you’ve forgotten about that faulty light switch in the upstairs hallway. The thing is, buyers will notice it almost immediately.

So here’s a mini to-do list to tackle those minor issues fast:

  • Check for leaks throughout the house. A drip may not seem important, but it suggests lousy maintenance elsewhere.
  • Check and repair loose door handles and cabinet hinges.
  • Caulk around tubs and sinks.
  • Replace lightbulbs that don’t work. Yes, every single one.

Bottom line: Meet and exceed a buyer’s expectations by paying extra attention to the fine details.

5. Plan a small makeover that packs a punch

You might not want (or be able) to do major renovations before putting your property on the market. But if you focus your attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, you can boost a tired home’s overall appearance without completely busting your budget.

“Homeowners can easily change out countertops and appliances, or paint cabinetry,” Rosenblum says. You may want to restain the floors or repaint the walls.

Keeping your carpets? Make sure to splurge on getting them professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas—it’ll immediately brighten a room.

6. Appeal to all the senses

Once your home is clean and decluttered, think about how you can engage potential buyers through other senses, Gibson suggests.

Play soft music during showings, or have a nice water feature outside if you live in a noisy neighborhood,” she says. “Soft throws and textured fabrics will warm up a space. Brewing fresh coffee and baking cookies makes your house smell great.”

Remember not to clean your house the day of a showing; harsh chemicals can be overpowering, and may turn off potential buyers.

7. Keep up appearances—indefinitely

Unless you’re in a red-hot market, your home might not sell immediately after it’s listed. Remember that every week, you might have potential buyers traipsing through—sometimes without much notice from your agent.

That means keeping up all these changes you’ve implemented—and not dragging out the massive toy bins, dog beds, and other daily life items you actually use.

While it might not be easy keeping your house in tiptop shape for days on end, try to remember that the effort you put in now will pay off later—when that one buyer is so wowed by her first impression that she makes an offer you won’t want to refuse.

 

Posted by Wendy Helfenbaum on realtor.com

Ready to sell? Visit our website to get started with an agent today!

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter!

Here are five reasons listing your home for sale this winter makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy a home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market. This is good news for homeowners who have gained equity as their home values have increased. However, additional inventory could be coming to the market soon.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in their home was six, but has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until this other inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and much simpler as buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 44 days, after seeing a 12-month high of 48 days in January.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has forced these markets into a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, your home will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.7% over the next year according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Ready to sell? Click HERE to see how much your home is worth!

6 Ho-Ho-Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle in December

Maudib/iStock; realtor.com

So you’ve finished the last of those turkey leftovers and just about thrown in the towel on your workout regimen until some undefined time after the first of the year. (We get it— the holiday party circuit is rough.) It’s high time for relaxing and merriment! Certainly your house can wait for a little TLC until 2018, right?

Alas, we don’t have the answer you want to hear. The truth is, if you squeeze in a smidgen of time to do some routine maintenance chores this month, you’ll save yourself a load of potential trouble—and repair costs—down the road.

So down a big glass of eggnog, and take a swing through this short, painless checklist of tasks to tackle in December. We promise they’re so simple, you might just be done before you can sing the chorus to “Jingle Bells.”

1. Protect your pipes

When temps dip below freezing, unprotected pipes can burst from exposure. The risk of frozen pipes is actually highest in southern climes, where colder temps are less common and pipes are less likely to have the insulation needed to protect them from bursting. (Temperatures of 20 degrees Fahrenheit pose the greatest threat to pipes in unheated areas.)

You can guard against burst pipes by wrapping them in foam insulation, closing foundation vents, and opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to flow around supply lines. You should also keep your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher overnight. And make sure you’ve drained all your exterior hoses—if you’re following our monthly maintenance checklists, you did this back in October. Nicely done!

In the event of an emergency, you should know where your main water shut-off is located; it’s usually in the crawlspace or basement, where your water supply enters your house, or inside a water meter box outside your home.

DIY:  If your pipes have indeed frozen, leave the affected faucets on and turn off your water supply, says Jenny Popis, a Lowe’s Home Improvement spokeswoman. Then locate the freeze point; if none of the faucets work, the culprit is probably the main supply line.

Check all areas where supply lines enter your home, and feel the length of frozen pipes to determine which area is coldest. You can attempt to thaw it using a hand-held hair dryer. Another option: Wrap the frozen section in washcloths soaked in hot water—then thaw until you have full water pressure.

Call in a pro: If you can’t locate the freeze point or your pipes have burst, call in a licensed plumber, which will run between $150 and $600 on average (depending on the severity of the leak).

2. Give your oven some lovin’

Improperly sealed ovens can result in a loss of more than 20% of the machine’s heat, leading to longer cooking times, lost energy, and (most importantly) delayed gingerbread cookie gratification.

DIY: Check the seal around the oven door for breaks or cracks, and replace the seal for optimal oven performance. If you choose to tackle this yourself, be sure you disconnect power to the oven before digging in, and consult your manufacturer’s instructions to find the correct replacement part.

Call in a pro: Not the DIY type?  A typical oven fix takes less than an hour and will cost between $50 and $100.

3. Check your insulation

Let it snow…BanksPhotos/iStock

Improve the efficiency of your pad by checking your attic’s insulation—and save up to $600 a year in energy costs.

DIY: Examine the insulation in your attic to see whether it’s flattened or sagging.

“If the insulation is level with the attic floor joists, you should be in pretty good shape,” says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of ASecureLife.com. “But if it’s below the joists, you’ll need to add more to make sure you keep the warm air in and the cold air out.”

Call in a pro: If your insulation is lacking, you’ll need a pro to get it up to snuff, at an average cost of around $1,350.

4. Suss out—and prevent—potential fire hazards

“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, you giant box of tinder.”  

It turns out that the gorgeous Douglas fir you’ve so painstakingly decorated could pose a huge fire risk. In fact, Christmas trees account for more than $13 million in property damage per year, according to the American Christmas Tree Association (yes, that’s a thing). Throw in Hanukkah candles, unswept chimneys, ancient space heaters, and faulty strings of lights, and you’ve got a recipe for holiday disaster.

DIY: If you can’t live without a live tree, be sure to keep it well-watered (seriously, do this every day). Keep it at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, turn your tree lights off at night, and toss damaged lights. (Extra credit: To save energy, use LED lights for your holiday decor. They use 80% to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours—as opposed to 3,000.)

Similar rules apply for space heaters: Keep them away from drapes or furniture, which could catch fire from direct contact and radiant heat; plug them into their own outlets (without extension cords); and never leave one running overnight.

Of course, other common sense precautions apply: Blow out all of those candy cane–scented candles before bed (or just use battery-operated ones), never use paper or flammable liquid to start a fire, and use a screen to keep embers where they belong.

Call in a pro: We’ve said this before, but rule numero uno of fireplace safety is having it professionally cleaned at least once a year. Expect to spend between $125 and $250.

5. Prevent ice damming

Ice what-ing, you ask? It turns out, an ice dam—a ridge of frozen water that forms at the edge of your roof—is even more fearsome than the average run-of-the-mill icicle. Left untreated, ice dams can prevent water from running off your roof, resulting in leaks and damage to walls, ceilings, and insulation.

DIY: Ice dams will begin to form if snow (and ice, obviously) builds up on your roof. So the easiest way to prevent a problem is to clear your roof of that white slush—pick up a snow rake, grab a ladder, and get to work. While you’re up there, trim any branches hanging over your roof: Under the weight of snow or during a windstorm, these can break and cause damage to your shingles. Finally, keep gutters clear of leaves and other debris so melting snow can flow freely.

Call in a pro: Installing heating cables along the edge of your roof can keep snow runoff from freezing. Expect to spend between $600 and $900.

6. Get secure

The holidays are prime time for burglaries and break-ins (those daily Amazon Prime deliveries are just too tempting for package thieves). That’s why you should be extra-vigilant, especially as the days get shorter—and you head out of town or dance off to holiday parties.

DIY: Illuminate the area around your house, lock doors and windows, and trim bushes to deter intruders. You might also look into installing security cameras around your door.

“The six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are prime for packages being delivered to your home for the holidays,” says Emily Longof SafeWise.com. “That means burglars are more likely to swipe your packages if they are left outside.”

A security camera you can monitor with your smartphone allows you to have eyes on your home anytime, from anywhere.

Call in a pro: Professionally monitored security systems will sound ear-piercing alarms and call the police if an intruder enters your space. Options abound here, so do your research before committing to a system (and a monthly service fee).

 

Posted by Holly Amaya on realtor.com

These Real Estate Trends Will Be Game-Changers in 2018

We’re almost there: the long-awaited home stretch of 2017. And quite a year it’s been! Already, we can’t help imagining what developments next year might bring to the wild world of U.S. real estate. So we asked our realtor.com® data team to give us the inside scoop. The team sifted through historical real-estate data and other major economic indicators to come up with a realistic forecast of just what might be in store next year.

And it looks like a sea change is brewing.

From housing inventory to price appreciation to generational and regional shifts, these are the top trends that will shape, and reshape, real estate markets in 2018. Buckle up! It’s going to be quite a ride.

Ravitaliy/iStock

Game-changer no. 1: Supply finally catching up with demand

After three years of a crushing shortage of homes for sale, the realtor.com economics team is predicting that the shortfall will finally ease up in the second half of 2018.

“The majority of the year should be challenging for most buyers, but we do expect growth in inventory starting in the fall,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.

That’s a potentially transformative development for many would-be buyers who’ve been frustrated in their search for a home that meets their needs—and their budget.

“Once we start to see inventory turn around, there is plenty of demand in the market,” Hale says.

Although for-sale housing inventory is expected to stay tight in the first quarter of the year,  reaching a 4% year-over-year decline in March, if it increases as predicted by fall, that will be the first net inventory gain since 2015. Markets such as BostonDetroit, and Nashville—all of which recently made it onto our monthly list of the nation’s hottest real estate markets—may see inventory recover first.

Bullish construction is the engine that’s turning this ship around, bringing new homes to the market and creating opportunity for people to trade up into new homes.

“It’s adding inventory instead of just shuffling people around in existing homes,” Hale says.

But those itching to buy a starter home may have to be patient for a while longer.

“We expect the relief to start in the upper tiers, and it will make its way down to the lower tiers,” Hale says. Specifically, most of the initial inventory growth will be in the mid- and upper-tier price ranges, $350,000 and up.

As the market eases, home prices are expected to slow to 3.2% growth year over year nationally. But again, it’s the higher-priced homes that will be appreciating less. And even slower appreciation still means that prices will continue to rise.

“Overall, prices are expected to increase, and we’re expecting to see more of that in lower-priced homes,” Hale says. “It will get a bit worse before it gets better for buyers of starter and midprice homes.”

Game-changer no. 2: Millennials starting to come into their own

The housing market in 2018 will continue to present challenges for millennials—sorry, all of that student loan debt isn’t just going to disappear—but there are some bright spots on the horizon for these millions of Americans.

Millennials seem to be having more success at taking out mortgages on homes at varying prices, and not just starter homes, Hale says.

“They’re at that point where they’re seeing their incomes grow, and that will help them take on bigger mortgages,” she says. That’s because of both the overall strong economy and their own career development.

And as the largest generation in U.S. history reaches that sweet spot in their 20s to 30s when they’re settling down and starting families, they’re particularly motivated to buy. Millennials could make up 43% of home buyers taking out a mortgage by the end of 2018, up from an estimated 40% in 2017, based on mortgage originations. That 3% uptick could translate into hundreds of thousands of additional new homes. As inventory starts to rebound in late 2018 and in years to come, first-time home buyers will likely make up an even larger share of the market.

They probably shouldn’t wait too long to buy, either—mortgage rates are expected to reach 5% by the end of 2018 due to stronger economic growth, inflationary pressure, and monetary policy normalization.

Game-changer no. 3: Southern homes selling like crazy

When it comes to home sales growth, bet on Southern cities to beat the national average in 2018. We’re especially looking at you, Tulsa, OKLittle Rock, ARDallas; and Charlotte, NC. Those markets are expected to see 6% growth or more, compared with 2.5% nationally.

The South has been luring corporations and individuals to its balmy cities with its low costs of real estate, and living in general. The resulting strong economic growth and strong household growth, combined with an accommodating attitude toward builders, is setting the stage for an accelerating boom in homeownership, Hale says.

As soon as there are more homes to sell, these places will be selling strong.

Game-changer no. 4: Tax reform (maybe)

The Republican Party’s proposed changes to the tax system could change everything—but with both the House and Senate versions in limbo, the jury is still out on this one.

If a version of tax reform does pass with the current provisions affecting real estate, Hale says she would expect to see fewer home sales and declining home prices. However, it would be the upper price tiers that would likely be affected the most, in areas with expensive homes and high taxes, such as coastal cities, especially in California.

 

Posted by Cicely Wedgeworth on realtor.com

5 Holiday Looks on the Nice List

Festive ideas for decking your halls this season, straight from the source.

If Santa’s decor has been on the top of your wishlist ever since he claimed his home on Zillow, now you can make it happen. We highlighted five ways you can easily incorporate his holiday style into your home.

 

 

Posted by Renee Meininger on Zillow