September Home Checklist

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Rent or Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage!

There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

With home prices rising, many renters are concerned about their house-buying power. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americanexplained:

Over the last three years, renter house-buying power has increased fast enough to keep pace with house price appreciation, so the share of homes that a renter can afford to buy has remained the same since 2015.

Although mortgage rates are expected to rise, they are still low by historic standards, and real household incomes are the highest they have ever been. Assuming this trend continues, our measure of affordability, which takes into account income, interest rates, and house prices, indicates thathomeownership is still within reach for renters.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.51% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

8 Delectable Backyards Designed for Outdoor Dining and Entertaining

realtor.com

We’ve spoken at length about the joys of having a functional outdoor living space for your home. For those who enjoy entertaining, a backyard that accommodates guests for a dinner party is nonnegotiable.

Some backyards are ideal for hosting and toasting, but what features are mouthwatering must-haves for dining al fresco? Plenty of space, warm lighting, and a gorgeous view are all big assets for making a backyard a delicious destination. But the most important feature? A large table where guests can gather and enjoy each others’ company.

To savor these fleeting days of summer, we rounded up eight luxury backyards tailor-made to entertain dinner guests. The following assortment of properties offer the crème de la crème of outdoor dining—all slightly out of our price range, but inspirational nonetheless. We promise you’ll eat them right up.

319/322 North Atlantic Drive, Lantana, FL

Price: $19,900,000
Tasty tidbit: The Florida coast is full of luxe estates boasting beautiful backyards, but this one caught our eye because of the open outdoor kitchen and dining area, with a front-row seat for the sunsets. The massive 18,000-square-foot property is located on the decadent-sounding Hypoluxo Island.

This private estate on Hypoluxo Island gives you front-row seats for the sunset. l realtor.com

2460 Sage Canyon Rd, Saint Helena, CA

Price: $7,999,000
Tasty tidbit: This Napa Valley estate belongs to Pat Kuleto, one of the world’s most innovative restaurant designers. He’s had a hand in shaping more than 150 restaurants, so this backyard could possibly be the most ideal setting for hosting a dinner party.

If this estate meets the standards of the designer and restaurateur Pat Kuleto, you know it’s going to be great for entertaining. l realtor.com

421 Broome St Penthouse, New York, NY

Price: $65,000,000
Tasty tidbit: New York City and outdoor space don’t always go hand in hand, but this terrific terrace proves you can have it all. In total, the four-story penthouse in the heart of SoHo has 3,700 square feet of private exterior, along with skyline views that will (hopefully) justify that astronomical price tag.

A SoHo loft with a view of the NYC skyline l realtor.com

250 Enchanted Way, Sedona, AZ

Price: $12,500,000
Tasty tidbit: This 10-acre desert estate—called Vista Rossa—boasts jaw-dropping views of the Red Rock mountains. Built right next to the Coconino National Forest, it would be perfect for hosting guests year-round, thanks to Arizona’s arid climate.

Vista Rossa is cradled in the Red Rock mountains of Sedona. l realtor.com

8170 Laurel View Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Price: $11,950,000
Tasty tidbit: This backyard is one of the most charming we spotted—thanks to the sheltering greenery and the twinkly string lights that form a whimsical canopy above the dining area. This home in the Hollywood hills is quite large, with a 7,000-square-foot interior and nearly half an acre of outdoor space. Props for the extra bench seating for less formal dinner affairs.

The ultimate private backyard dining experience in the c l realtor.com

403 Doyle Dr, Lafayette, LA

Price: $1,875,000
Tasty tidbit: This rustic, French-style outdoor living space gives off vibes of Provence, but it’s actually part of a (relatively) modestly priced Louisiana home. The rest of the house is beautiful, but the spacious dining area is clearly the star of this home.

A French Provençal-style garden lends itself well to owners who love to cook and entertain. l realtor.com

8415 SW Soper Road, Vashon, WA

Price: $14,995,000
Tasty tidbit: Situated on the largest island in Puget Sound, this seaside chateau is just a short ferry ride away from Seattle. Judging by the home’s close proximity to the water and its breathtaking views, it was clearly designed with outdoor entertaining in mind.

On Vashon Island, you can have a waterfront dining experience right in your own backyard. l realtor.com

1301 Bella Oaks Ln, Rutherford, CA 94558

Price: $6,950,000
Tasty tidbit: Imagine enjoying a superlative meal—with world-class wine—right in the middle of a vineyard. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a luxury home in Napa Valley! You can see the picturesque backyard dining area under the vine-covered pergola on the right in the photo below.

Could there be anything more “Napa Valley” than enjoying a meal surrounded by vineyards? l realtor.com

 

Posted by Natalie Way on realtor.com

Buying a House? 6 Questions You’d Never Think to Ask, but Should

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When buying a house is high on your priority list and you spot The One—the house that has everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more—it can be tempting to put pedal to the metal and close the deal as quickly as possible. But slow down!

No home is perfect beneath the surface, and few know this better than your real estate agent. And that means it’s time to sit down with this professional and pepper him with questions about the place you’re hoping to make your own.

And while certain questions seem rather obvious—should you offer full price, how soon can you close—there are many others you may not think to ask an agent at this pivotal juncture. But you should!

Here are six questions to ask a real estate agent to flush out what he’s truly thinking, that could help you figure out if this place is really right for you.

1. ‘Would you buy this house?’

This question may be the ultimate litmus test of whether you should purchase a home. If your agent would have reservations about buying the house for himself, that’s a waving red flag. So if you get the sense your agent isn’t as enthusiastic about the home as you are, ask why. His answer might give you pause, too.

2. ‘What is the sales history of this house, and how would it affect my offer?’

Before making an offer on a house, ask your agent for the property’s sales history, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.

Was it previously an expired listing? Was it leased? Was it ever a bank-owned property or other type of distressed home? These factors could suggest a home has been a struggle to sell—which could mean you could snap up this home at a bargain-basement price.

3. ‘What contingencies do you think are worth getting—and skipping?’

“When buyers and sellers get cold feet about the purchase or sale of a home, they sometimes think they can just back out,” says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI. But when a seller accepts a buyer’s offer, both parties sign a legal and binding contract—an official document that requires the buyer and seller to execute the transaction.

So how binding that contract is depends on the details. Some contracts have contingencies built in that enable the buyer or seller to walk away from the deal without penalty. And contingencies are often included for a home inspection and an appraisal.

But note that having too many contingencies tends to turn off sellers, so make sure to strike the right balance by asking your real estate agent for guidance. For instance, you might be OK waiving a home inspection contingency if the home is newly constructed, whereas it’s more essential with an older home that might need extensive repairs.

4. ‘Are there any upcoming condo or homeowners association assessments?’

When you purchase a condominium or a home within a homeowners association, you’ll receive the HOA’s financial documents, which outline important information such as reserve funds and CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions).

These condo docs and disclosures can be hundreds of pages long—which could overwhelm home buyers, who could forget to check if there are any upcoming assessments. Assessments are periodic one-time payments made to the HOA above and beyond the monthly fee, usually to cover capital improvements or repairs. Since they will affect your monthly housing expenses, you’ll want to know whether they could go up anytime soon—and your agent is adept at navigating these documents to pinpoint the answer.

5. ‘What’s happening in this neighborhood, and how will that affect home prices?’

Good real estate agents hear everything about what’s happening in the communities where they do business. And although federal fair housing laws prohibit real estate agents from commenting on a neighborhood’s demographics, your agent can still give you advice on whether you’re making a solid investment based on local housing market trends and economic factors that affect home values.

So go ahead and ask: Are the neighborhood’s home prices rising or falling? Are there new amenities (e.g., parks, shopping, public transportation, Whole Foods) being built in the area?

These are all important things to consider before buying a house, and a real estate agent can help you cut through the noise and really tell you what’s up.

6. ‘Can you recommend a home inspector/handyman/real estate attorney in the area?’

Local expertise matters not only with the real estate agent you hire, but also the other professionals you could meet while negotiating this real estate deal. So if you need recommendations for a home inspector, handyman, real estate attorney, or anyone else on your home-buying journey, make sure to ask your agent for recommendations to boost the odds of smooth sailing.

 

Posted by Daniel Bortz on realtor.com

Are you ready to buy your next home? Click HERE to get started!

The Net Worth of a Homeowner is 44x Greater Than A Renter!

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was recently released.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.

That is why, for the fifth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

Greater equity in your home gives you options

If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your home to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, let’s get together to discuss the process.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Ready to find your next home? Click HERE to get started!

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
  • The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
  • Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Back to School? These 7 Converted Schoolhouses Are at the Top of the Class

realtor.com

The summer party is (almost) over—another slog through the school year is soon to begin. For students, it’s an anxiety-producing time. For parents, it’s a time of celebration! But for some homeowners, back-to-school day happens each and every day.

Folks who reside in converted schoolhouses can relish the trappings and history of a place of learning without all the pesky teachers, tests, or homework. Many of the converted schoolhouses up for sale right now blend the best aspects of the property’s past with today’s modern conveniences.

If you’d like to experience life in a former schoolhouse, we’ve found seven converted homes on the market ready for your approval. We think all are deserving of A’s—and we don’t grade on a curve.

Check ’em out before some teacher’s pet snaps them up…

14095 Proctor Valley Rd, Jamul, CA

Price: $725,000
Passing grade: This place is worthy of advanced placement. The Old Jamul Schoolhouse was built in 1890, but it’s no dusty old textbook. Modern updates sit side by side with the schoolhouse’s original hardwood floors. There’s even a nod to the home’s past with a chalkboard mounted over the fireplace. Sweet! (Erasers not included.)

Jamul, CA realtor.com

735 King Pen Rd, Kirkwood, PA

Price: $289,900
Passing grade: Charming and compact, the White Rock schoolhouse sits on a 3-acre parcel. Built in 1890, the adorable brick building will require a buyer to earn extra credit by updating the kitchen, carpets, and linoleum floors.

Kirkwood, PA realtor.com

333 Summer St, East Bridgewater, MA

Price: $475,000
Passing grade: The Beaver Schoolhouse dates to 1884, and many of its original elements have been well-preserved. Gleaming hardwood floors, stained-glass windows, and cathedral ceilings are just a few of the holdovers from this home’s school days.

East Bridgewater, MA realtor.com

99 Salisbury Turnpike, Rhinebeck, NY

Price: $595,000
Passing grade: Located a couple of hours north of NYC, this weekend getaway has been fully updated inside while maintaining its quaint country charm on the outside.

Rhinebeck, NY realtor.com

7801 Route 120, Woodstock, IL

Price: $198,000
Passing grade: Not quite a little, red schoolhouse, this former academic institution has more of a magenta hue. Built in 1900, the one-room Ostend Country Schoolhouse has since been converted into a lovely three-bedroom home.

Woodstock, IL realtor.com

305 Route 199, Red Hook, NY

Price: $323,000
Passing grade: This two-bedroom home is a perfect antidote to city life. The Red Hook schoolhouse sits right alongside Saw Kill Creek, making it an ideal spot to kick back on the stone patio and listen to the sounds of the water rushing by. Before diving in the creek’s swimming hole, let your mind drift back to 1840—when the school was built.

Red Hook, NY realtor.com

Undisclosed address, Fairhaven, MA

Price: $269,000
Passing grade: This tiny conversion takes its cues from Scandinavian style. The owner used his architectural background to convert the one-room schoolhouse from 1840 into a “unique and functional space.” We’re ready to present him with an apple for his gorgeous work!

Fairhaven, MA realtor.com

 

Posted by Erik Gunther on realtor.com