Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 26, 2021

Will Low Mortgage Rates Continue through 2021?

Will Low Mortgage Rates Continue through 2021? | MyKCM

With mortgage interest rates hitting record lows so many times recently, some are wondering if we’ll see low rates continue throughout 2021, or if they’ll start to rise. Recently, Freddie Mac released their quarterly forecast, noting:

“The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low over a dozen times in 2020 and the low interest rate environment is projected to continue through this year. We expect interest rates to average below 3% through the end of 2021. While this is a modest rise from 2020 averages, the recent vote by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates anchored near zero should keep rates low.”

As shown in the graph below, Freddie Mac is projecting low rates going forward with a modest rise that’s expected to continue through 2022.Will Low Mortgage Rates Continue through 2021? | MyKCMFreddie Mac isn’t the only authority forecasting low rates with a slight rise. Fannie Mae, The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) also anticipate low rates with a small increase as 2021 continues on. Here’s the quarterly breakdown of their projections and how they’re expected to play out over the next year:Will Low Mortgage Rates Continue through 2021? | MyKCMIt’s important to note that, while a small change in interest rates can have a substantial impact on monthly mortgage payments, these rates are still incredibly low compared to where they were just a couple of years ago.

What does this mean for buyers?

Low mortgage rates are creating an outstanding opportunity for current homebuyers to get more for their money while staying within their budget. As the economy gets stronger and we recover from the challenges of 2020, it’s natural for rates to potentially rise in response to a healthier economy. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americanreminds us:

Rising interest rates reduce house-buying power and affordability, but are often a sign of a strong economy, which increases home buyer demand. By any historic standard, today’s mortgage rates remain historically low and will continue to boost house-buying power and keep purchase demand robust.”

With low rates fueling activity among hopeful buyers, there are a lot of people who are highly motivated and looking for homes to purchase right now. In this environment, it can be challenging to find a home to buy, so a local real estate agent will be key to your success if you’re thinking of buying too. Working with a trusted real estate professional to navigate the process while rates are in your favor might be the best move you can make.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to buy a home, it may be wise to make your move before mortgage rates begin to rise. Let’s connect to discuss how today’s low rates can create more opportunities for you this year.

Posted in Market News
Feb. 25, 2021

A Painting Primer

Pablo Picasso once said, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” Granted, the famed artist was talking about putting paint on canvas, but this perspective can also be applied to your home.

When you think about it, painting a room is just another way of expressing yourself. Changing up a wall color reflects your mood, mindset, and influences at that very moment—a visual sort of a diary that speaks volumes to others when they enter the room.

Knowing how to do the job properly is of utmost importance. And, just as Picasso turned to fellow artist Paul Cézanne to learn proper techniques, you should absorb all you can from the way pro painters go about their craft. When you do, you will be prepared to turn your vision into a reality.

PREPPING

As any seasoned painter will tell you, getting ready for the project is key to making sure it is a success. Here are some ideas to help you prep like a pro.

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  • PAY UP
    One simple rule trumps all others: buy the best tools and paints you can afford. If you purchase cheap rollers, for example, your paint will likely be uneven, the rollers won’t last long, and you’ll probably need to put in extra work to correct it. Instead, use the following:

  • ROLLERS How do you like your nap? That is, the amount of fuzziness on your roller cover. Most are ⅜ inch or ½ inch; the latter holds more paint but can cause uneven rolling. Most packaging describes what jobs the rollers are ideal for, but in general, synthetic is better for latex paint and natural-fiber for oil-based paint.
  • BRUSHES Determine the sizes and number that you need, such as a smaller one (½ inch to one-inch wide) for tight spaces and a larger one (two- to three-inch) for more open ones.
  • PAINT AND PRIMER Consider how durable you want your paint to be, and then choose accordingly on a scale from matte (great coverage but not long-lasting) to more heavy-duty high-gloss. In addition, people often think that primer is an unnecessary luxury, but it’s worth it for the evenness it provides.
  • FILLER AND SANDPAPER You’ll want to fill in every single indentation, usually with spackle or painter’s putty, and smooth out any imperfections before you paint. Fine sandpaper is preferable over coarse unless you have some serious patchwork. If you do multiple coats of paint, prepare to sand between coats as well.
  • AN EXTENSION POLE Nicole Gibbons, the owner of online paint store Clare, says that this is her go-to tool, and most pros agree that it saves on time and straining—especially with ceilings—for both sanding and painting.
  • LIGHTEN UP
    You’d be amazed at how many factors—such as the time of day or the color of your paint—can completely mask holes, indentations, and other imperfections that you won’t see until the new coat of paint has dried. Use a good portable light source before and during painting to find them before they cause trouble.

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  • COVER IT UP
    You’ve just spent an ample amount of money on supplies, so don’t make yourself shell out even more because you didn’t take the proper precautions to protect the contents of the room. Move furniture and other items into the center of the room, and cover them completely. Better yet, remove anything you can from the room, especially light fixtures, light switch covers, and socket covers.

    In addition, the floor will inevitably get splattered with paint and covered in sanding dust, so lay drop cloths throughout. Again, it’s worth paying a little extra for cloth or canvas ones—plastic ones tend to rip and let paint through and can be tripping hazards.

    Before you begin painting a wall, add painter’s tape to the edge of the trim, since it’s specifically made for the job. Use a putty knife to make a smooth bond on the edge, or leave the tape tapered out to catch more paint splatter.

  • MIX IT UP
    Have you ever bought multiple cans of the same paint color, only to find that they look slightly different when you apply them? As it turns out, pro painters usually use a method called “boxing,” which means they combine all the paint being used into one large container—thus ensuring consistency throughout the job.

Painting

Now the fun begins! Painting a room—or something within the room—can be transformative for both the overall look of your home and your happiness. But you’ll only get the results you want if you follow a few simple principles.

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  • BE INTENTIONAL
    Without knowing it, people usually paint backward, going from wall to trim to ceiling. But seasoned painters often take a different route—starting with the ceiling and working their way down, doing the walls or the trim last. Also, focus on one wall at a time, painting around any trim edges with your smaller brush before filling in the bulk of the paint with a roller.

  • BE CAREFUL
    Use a deft, light touch when painting. For example, only dip the first inch and a half or so of your brush into the paint, and then tap it on the sides of the can to distribute it evenly onto the brush. There’s also a tendency to smash rollers against the wall, but that’s an unnecessary and inefficient method. Instead, let the roller and extension rod do the work for you.

  • BE CREATIVE
    When it comes to interior paint jobs, it’s usually all about solid colors on walls and ceilings. But don’t limit yourself—you can also liven up other areas of your home. Repainting cabinets is a relatively common choice, and you can even add a splash of color to furniture and rugs. And don’t forget the bathrooms; you can paint virtually any fixture you have in them.

    A painting project doesn’t need to be painful. In fact, it can be a relaxing and fulfilling task when done correctly. If you prepare and paint properly and take your time, you can transform the canvas that is your home into a true masterpiece.

Posted in Home Staging Tips
Feb. 24, 2021

PRIORITY TASKS FOR YOUR MOVE IN

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

Change the locks

Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam clean the carpets

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.

Call an exterminator

Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.


 


Clean out the kitchen

If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.


Posted in Home Keppr
Feb. 23, 2021

Millennials: Is It Time to Buy a Bigger Home?

Millennials: Is It Time to Buy a Bigger Home? | MyKCM

In today’s housing market, all eyes are on millennials. Not only are millennials the largest generation, but they’re also currently between 25 and 40 years old. These are often considered prime homebuying years when many people begin to form their own households and invest in real estate. If you’re like many millennials who are spending much more time at home these days, you may have a growing need for more space or upgraded features, making moving more desirable than ever.

For those millennials who already own a home, there’s a great opportunity to move up in 2021. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“Older millennials will be trade-up buyers with many having owned their first homes long enough to see substantial equity gains.”

Even if you bought a home sometime in the last few years, you may have more equity than you realize, and that’s a big factor to consider when you’re thinking about moving. According to the Homeowner Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic:

“In the third quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $17,000 in equity during the past year. This marks the largest average equity gain since the first quarter of 2014.”

Growing equity can be the driver you’re looking for to fund your next move, especially if what you need in a home is changing right now. As equity builds over time, it can be put toward the down payment on your next home.

In addition to equity gains, today’s housing market affordability is powered by record-low mortgage rates, so moving at a time when you can get more for your money may be more realistic than you think.

Bottom Line

If you’re a millennial thinking about moving this year, you’re not alone. Let’s connect to shed light on the equity you have in your current home and the opportunities it can create.

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 22, 2021

Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved? What’s the Difference?

 

There’s a lot to learn when you’re starting out on your home buying journey. From concepts like earnest money to closing costs, it’s a lot to take in during a very short period. But of all the things to know, understanding the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved for your mortgage is one of the most important.

Why Your Mortgage Application Status Matters

It’s always been a good idea to bring a strong offer to the negotiating table when it comes to real estate, but it’s even more vital when the market is short on inventory and long on buyers. If you’re in a multiple offer situation (and sometimes, even if you’re not), the sellers are going to weigh the various offers they receive to decide if they think your offer is enough to bring in what they need to sell their home, as well as considering how strong an offer it is.

A strong offer is one that has a lot of the obstacles already removed. For example, if you need to sell your house before you can close on the one you’re making an offer on, this might be considered a weak offer for some sellers. A weak offer doesn’t mean a bad offer, necessarily; it’s simply an offer that looks like it could be tricky to actually get to the closing table. The risk versus reward is too high. This is why having the right kind of mortgage application status plays in your favor when it comes to negotiation.

Mortgage Pre-Qualification Versus Mortgage Pre-Approval

When you meet with a lender for the first time, they generally ask some probing questions about your income and assets, as well as your expenses and credit file. They’re not just being nosy; that lender is trying to help figure out just how much home you can qualify for and what programs might be best for your financial picture. Sometimes, these lenders will send you elsewhere because their banks or partner lending institutions simply can’t help you, but in a lot of cases they’ll produce something called a pre-qualification letter.

Pre-qualification goes largely by your word about your income and expenses, and is not a promise to lend. It’s simply a hypothetical among a list of hypotheticals. If you do in fact make this much money, your credit is as assumed, the house you choose lines up with these guidelines, and rates don’t change dramatically, you should be able to buy this much house. You can see how that would be a bit dodgy for a seller to hang all their hopes on.

A pre-approval, on the other hand, shows that you’ve gone through the additional steps to reach the highest level of mortgage approval you can get without actually having a house secured (the house you choose also figures into the final approval, but just how it figures depends on the loan program). For a pre-approval, you’ll need to provide income documents, permission for the lender to pull a full credit report, and details on any assets or liabilities you hold that aren’t included in your credit file.

A pre-approval isn’t instant; it requires more review, and you’ll need to choose a lending program to be approved for. However, doing all this extra work shows potential sellers that you’re already putting in a lot of effort to ensure you can actually close when the day comes and that you’re eager to move the process along as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of buyer a seller wants to see!

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 19, 2021

Watch for These Signs of Unwelcome Visitors

 

 

Having a pest infestation is no fun, but it’s not an uncommon problem for a homeowner to experience, especially in transition times like from fall to winter or from winter into spring. Many pests come indoors seeking warmth from bitter temperatures in the late fall, stow away all winter, and then become active again as spring sets in. Others come indoors and remain active throughout their occupancy. In older homes, especially, it can be tricky to decide if you’ve got a pest problem or just a creaky old house and an active imagination, but it’s easier when you know some of the most common signs of pests.

 

Common Signs of Household Pests

Because there are armloads of different sorts of pests that can occupy a house at any given time, it’s impossible to list all the signs and symptoms you might notice, but this list should get you started with the most common pest animals in homes.

Staining
Staining on ceilings or walls can be a strong sign that you’ve got an insect colony setting up shop. Often bees, wasps, or even ladybugs will take up residence in voids in wall or attic spaces. If you hear buzzing, do not attempt to exorcise your insect pests without the help of a professional. Mammals and birds can also leave staining, depending on where they’ve built nests.

Scratching Sounds
Rodents love to get into the voids in walls, under cabinets, and in all those dark places in your home. They use these openings like little highways to get safely from their nests to food sources and back. While they’re at it, you may hear them in the walls, scratching, scraping, even gnawing.

Unusual Smells
A lot of pests give off distinctive odors that aren’t normally associated with homes. If you’re shopping for a house and notice a smell that’s “off,” don’t automatically assume it’s full of mold. There may simply be a pest infestation that can be far more easily remedied. The same goes for your own house; if someone mentions a smell you’ve not noticed because you live there all the time, ask for more details to help figure out what’s bugging you.

Holes or Gnaw Marks
Holes and gnaw marks can come from any sort of creature that would nest in your home. You don’t always get staining, depending on where the nest is; sometimes you only get a good view of the front door. Wood-consuming beetles like powderpost beetles, for example, will drill tiny holes in hardwood flooring and other wooden trim pieces. Mice, of course, will also chew through wood and other materials to better facilitate their successful lives in your home.

Nests
If you find an actual nest or nest material, this is a great sign you’ve got an issue and one you can’t ignore. Rodents tend to chew up paper or other thin materials like plastic bags to create their nests, but waxy secretions might be the sort of nest material you’d find for bees, or leaves, mud, and grasses for birds that often nest in chimneys and attics. Whatever the nesting material, make sure to collect some for further evaluation.

Posted in Home Maintenance
Feb. 18, 2021

The Luxury Market Is Attracting Buyers in 2021

The Luxury Market Is Attracting Buyers in 2021 | MyKCM

As more people continue to identify their changing needs this year, some are turning to the upscale housing sector for more space or finer features. In their most recent Luxury Market Report, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM) shares:

“In a snapshot of 2020, despite the devasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the luxury real estate market has seen one of its strongest years since 2008. In comparison to experts’ predictions in early 2020, it is remarkable how significant demands for property type, location, and amenity preferences have changed amid the pandemic.”

With more opportunities to work from home and a growing interest in having extra space for things like virtual school, working out, and cooking more meals, the desire to own a home that can meet these needs continues to increase. Additionally, record-low mortgage rates are creating opportunities for homebuyers to stretch their legs into higher price points or even expand their real estate portfolios. The ILHM report continues to say:

Experts believe that the demand for exclusive residential properties outside the metropolitan areas will continue well into 2021; even with the introduction of vaccines, the pandemic is far from over.

For those who have moved to the suburbs and beyond, moving back to the city full time is unlikely while the work from home trend remains. Many of these affluent homeowners are now making their secondary properties their primary residences for the foreseeable future.”

If you’re interested in buying a home this year, it appears that some higher-priced markets may have more homes to choose from than those at lower price points. Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.comnotes:

“Interestingly, markets, where new supply is improving the fastest, tend to be higher priced than those that have yet to see improvement, suggesting sellers are more active in the more expensive markets.”

Bottom Line

If you’re hoping to buy the home of your dreams, this could be the year to achieve that goal. Let’s connect today to explore your possibilities.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 17, 2021

6 Foundational Benefits of Homeownership Today

6 Foundational Benefits of Homeownership Today | MyKCM

Over the past year, our homes have become an integral part of our lives more than ever. They’re much more than the houses we live in. They’re our workplaces, virtual schools, and safe havens that provide shelter, stability, and protection through the evolving health crisis. Today, 65.8% of Americans are fortunate enough to call their homes their own.

As we continue to think about the future, our goals for the year, and what we want to achieve well beyond 2021, it’s a great time to look at the benefits of owning a home. Below are some highlights and quotes on the benefits of homeownership shared by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From feel-good motivations to economic and social impacts on the local community, these items may give you reason to believe homeownership stretches well beyond your financial investment.

Non-Financial Benefits

Owning a home brings a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and pride.

  • Pride of Ownership: It feels good to have a place that’s truly your own, especially since you can customize it to your liking. “The personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment achieved through homeownership can enhance psychological health, happiness and well-being for homeowners and those around them.”
  • Civic Participation: Homeownership creates stability, a sense of community, and increases civic engagement. It’s a way to add to the strength of your local area and drive value into your neighborhood.

Financial Benefits

Buying a home is also an investment in your financial future.

  • Net Worth: Homeownership builds your net worth. Today, the median household net worth of all homeowners is $254,900, while the median net worth of renters is only $6,270.
  • Financial Security: Equity, appreciation, and more predictable monthly housing expenses are huge financial benefits of owning a home. Homeownership is truly the best way to improve your long-term financial position.

Economic Benefits

Homeownership is even a local economic driver.

  • Housing-Related Spending: An economic force throughout our nation, housing-related expenses accounted for more than one-sixth of the country’s economic activity over the past three decades.
  • Entrepreneurship: Homeownership is also a form of forced savings that can provide entrepreneurial opportunities. “Owning a home enables new entrepreneurs to obtain access to credit to start or expand a business and generate new jobs by using their home as collateral for small business loans.”

Bottom Line

The benefits of homeownership go well beyond the basics. Homeownership is truly a way to build financial freedom, find greater satisfaction and happiness, and make a substantial impact in your community. If owning a home is part of your dream this year, let’s connect so you can begin the homebuying process today.

Posted in Buying Tips
Feb. 16, 2021

You, Me, and Charcuterie

There were many trending topics from last year—some we’re all glad to see in our rearview mirror and others we’re happily still embracing today. One of the latter is the charcuterie board: a spread of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, jams, and crackers that’s as delicious as it is elegant. But building your own showstopping board can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know where to start. This comprehensive how-to is here to guide you.

THE BASICS

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First, if you don’t already have a serving piece for this appetizer, here are some great options depending on your personal taste and kitchen style. For a rustic look, West Elm’s Olive Wood Rustic Cutting Board is an ideal option, and for the modern homeowner, Anthropologie’s Agate Cheese Board offers a more contemporary appearance. CB2’s White Square Slate Cheese Board is another ideal choice for the minimalist or opt for the Crate and Barrel Hayes Marble Serving Board with Handles if you want a dramatic look. However, if you don’t want to buy something new, any flat, large cutting board, slab, or plate will work.

Other miscellaneous items to consider getting are a set of cheese knives—which usually come in a set of three or four—and appetizer forks and spoons; but, as with the board, you can use the utensils you already have. Just be sure to put out enough for slicing everything on the board, as well as enough for everyone to serve themselves. Small bowls are also needed for a variety of olives, dips, jams, and the like.

THE CHEESES

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The most essential part of any charcuterie board is the cheese selection. Whether you’re crafting the spread for just you and your significant other or for a small gathering, it’s important to purchase high-quality cheeses of varying hardness and softness. (You don’t need gourmet crackers, but you should go for gourmet cheeses.) Harder cheeses can be presliced, while those that are crumbly or spreadable should be put on the board as a block with their own knives.

  • Start with strong foundational cheeses that are established fan favorites, such as white cheddar, Gouda, and provolone.
  • Include softer, spreadable varieties like brie and burrata.
  • Don’t forget those under the crumbly category, including goat and blue cheeses.

THE MEATS

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Whether sliced thin and stacked, folded, or put out as a whole roll, cured meats are a charcuterie board staple (as cuit means “cooked” in French).

  • Salty options like prosciutto, capicola (both of Italian origin), or jamón (of Spanish origin)—all of which are cured, air-dried pork—will pair nicely with most cheeses.
  • Include options on the sweeter or spicier side, such as salami, sopressata (Italian salami), and pepperoni.
  • Put out a smoked meat for the adventurous eaters, too, like sausage or ham.

THE ACCENTS

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Arguably, the most fun part of shopping for your spread is picking out all of the “extras”—foods of different textures and flavors that complement meat and cheese well.

  • Include pickled accompaniments, such as actual pickles, as well as other pickled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and peperoncino (Italian chili peppers). Olives and capers, although not technically pickled, add a similar vinegary flavor to the board.
  • Most boards will be heavy on the saltiness, so it’s important to offer sweet accents, such as a variety of fruit. Incorporate apple and orange slices, berries, and grapes, as well as dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, cranberries, and cherries.
  • It’s nice to include an element that can be easily picked at, like nuts. Pistachios, almonds, and pecans are sound choices.
  • Play around with different types of jams, mustards, chutneys, preserves, and dips. You don’t want to overwhelm the board with too many options, so two to three will suffice. Consider a combination like a coarsely ground spicy mustard with a sweet apricot jam. Vegetarians would appreciate a hummus or bean dip option as well!

THE BREAD AND CRACKERS

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Now it’s time to put all of those delicacies on something. Since you want the items above to really shine, choose plain crackers and bread instead of flavored varieties. Artisan bread, toasted baguettes, and thin grain crackers will go best with your spread.

THE ASSEMBLY

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When you see an image of a charcuterie board, most look like they were put together by a professional food stylist, but assembling your own is actually easier than you think.

  1. Start by placing the large food items on the board. This will include some of the cheese and meat selections. It may also include the bread, depending on what kind you chose.
  2. Next, arrange your bowls of jam, dip, etc.
  3. Then, neatly add anything that’s sliced, rolled, or folded.
  4. After the bigger items are placed, finish your board by filling up any negative space with the accents, including the crackers. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Elements like grapes, nuts, and dried fruit could be in a bowl, but they could also be scattered about—how free-form you want the arrangement to look is up to you.
  5. Add sprigs of rosemary or other herbs for a final stylish touch.
Posted in Home Staging Tips
Feb. 15, 2021

Why It’s Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why It’s Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Posted in Buying Tips