All posts by Kassi Simonsen

How to Update Your Master Closet on a Budget

We recently bought a new home and after personally designing our previous two closets and seeing how life changing efficient shelving can be, I decided my first home project here would be to reconfigure the closet. We didn’t take out or add any walls, new flooring or anything crazy, just simply painted the walls and installed new shelving. When I say it’s made a world of a difference for us, it really has!

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If you have ever looked into a closet system you know how incredibly expensive they can get. Having a closet company come to your home and professionally design the space for you can be in the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. We were not looking to spend much but wanted to better utilize our space and make it aesthetically more appealing too. Our closet has a wall in the middle spanning across about 80% of the width, separating the “his” and the “hers” side; you’ll see the “hers” side in these transformation photos.

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When we first moved in the closet had wire shelving in place and the closet paint color was inconsistent as shown above. I decided to paint all of the walls white to have a consistent slate to start with before installing new shelving.

I also took a moment to change out the closet light switch plate. The rest of the covers throughout our home had already been changed to white but this one must have been forgotten and I wanted a consistent look throughout the house. Plus a white light switch cover looked much better with the white painted walls!

I purchased two of these shoe organizers as well as this closet tower kit. I like how the tower kit includes adjustable shelving; I use these shelves to keep my jewelry, purses and sunglasses organized. 

We have been very happy with the transformation and the install was simple. A drill and tape measure (plus a step stool!) was all I needed. All of the hardware needed to secure the tower to the wall is included in the kit. I think the closet looks much nicer after the changes and it definitely keep clothing, shoes and accessories much more organized. The cost for the shelving and shoe organizers came to about $200 and the paint was another $20. I would love to eventually add a large white shelf above the top of the rods, spanning the entire width of the closet, for additional storage space.

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What do you think? Could your closet use an update? Have you tried something similar that has worked well for you? I’d love to hear about it!

Follow us on Instagram @blankersrealestate and Facebook Jerry Blankers-Muljat Group North

Post compiled by Haley Parker // haleyparkerstyle.com @haleyparkerstyle

Experts Agree: Homeownership Provides a Path to Long-Term Wealth

Experts Agree: Homeownership Provides a Path to Long-Term Wealth | MyKCM

A recent survey from LendingTree.com found there are multiple reasons why Americans would choose to purchase a home instead of renting. Some of the most popular non-financial reasons given include:

  • The flexibility to make the space your own
  • The pride homeownership offers
  • The sense of stability

In the same survey, 41% of respondents say they’d rather own a home than rent because of the unique way homeownership builds wealth over time.

And experts agree – the home you own is an important tool for building your net worth. Here’s what many of those experts have to say about building long-term financial stability through homeownership.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Homeowners who purchased a typical single-family existing-home 30 years ago at the median sales price of $103,333 with a 10% down payment loan and who sold the property at the median sales price of $357,700 in 2021 Q2 accumulated housing wealth of $349,258, . . .

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, points out that a home is truly a one-of-a-kind asset. It’s the only asset that’s both an investment and a place for you to call your own.

“The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation. . . . We won’t always have 17% house price appreciation, but we have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you’re owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset.

Homeowners can leverage the wealth they generate in several ways throughout their life. Tapping into accumulated equity has long been used to pay for the cost of an education, to start a business, or to fund various other expenses. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard points out:

“. . . by paying down mortgage principal each month and participating in the long-term appreciation of home values, a family can build wealth that can be used for retirement or other needs, including helping the next generation.

Bottom Line

With home prices expected to continue to appreciate in coming years, homebuyers have an opportunity to start the long-term wealth-building process right now. Let’s connect today if you’re ready to begin your journey on the path to becoming a homeowner.

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market?

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | MyKCM

There’s a well-known economic theory – the law of supply and demand – that explains what’s happening with prices in the current real estate market. Put simply, when demand for an item is high, prices rise. When the supply of the item increases, prices fall. Of course, when demand is very high and supply is very low, prices can rise significantly.

Understanding the impact both supply and demand have can provide the answers to a few popular questions about today’s housing market:

  • Why are prices rising?
  • Where are prices headed?
  • What does this mean for homebuyers?

Why Are Prices Rising?

According to the latest Home Price Insights report from CoreLogic, home prices have risen 18.1% since this time last year. But what’s driving the increase?

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | MyKCM

Recent buyer and seller activity data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) helps answer that question. When we take NAR’s buyer activity data and compare it to the seller traffic during the same timeframe, we can see buyer demand continues to outpace seller activity by a wide margin. In other words, the demand for homes is significantly greater than the current supply that’s available to buy (see maps below):This combination of low supply and high demand is what’s driving home prices up. Bill McBride, author of the Calculated Risk blog, puts it best, saying:

“By some measures, house prices seem high, but the recent price increases make sense from a supply and demand perspective.

Where Are Prices Headed?

The supply of homes for sale will greatly affect where prices head over the coming months. Many experts forecast prices will continue to increase, but they’ll likely appreciate at a slower rate.

Buyers hoping to purchase the home of their dreams may see this as welcome news. In this case, perspective is important: a slight moderation of home prices does not mean prices will depreciate or fall. Price increases may occur at a slower pace, but experts still expect them to rise.

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | MyKCM

Five major entities that closely follow the real estate market forecast home prices will continue appreciating through 2022 (see graph below):

What Does This Mean for Homebuyers?

If you’re waiting to enter the market because you’re expecting prices to drop, you may end up paying more in the long run. Even if price increases occur at a slower rate next year, prices are still projected to rise. That means the home of your dreams will likely cost even more in 2022.

Bottom Line

The truth is, high demand and low supply are what’s driving up home prices in today’s housing market. And while prices may increase at a slower pace in the coming months, experts still expect them to rise. If you’re a potential homebuyer, let’s connect today to discuss what that could mean for you if you wait even longer to buy.

Tips to Transition Your Home from Summer to Fall

Whether you’re team summer sunshine or team pumpkin spice, one thing is for certain: fall has arrived. The cooler air, earlier sunsets and the busyness of back to school oftentimes have us spending more time indoors at home making it even more important to be comfortable and prepared in your space. There are so many things to think of I thought it would be handy to compile a list of items to check at your home to ensure you are ready for the changing of the seasons! Check Home for Outdoor Maintenance and Repairs Before winter weather arrives, it’s time to check on any areas that may need maintenance or repairs done. Remove dead limbs off of trees and leaves from gutters, fix broken fences and damaged walkways. If you have a trampoline, consider tying it down if heavy winds could be an issue this season.  Prepare for Weather Hazards Check that you have everything you need for the colder weather such as a snow shovel and driveway salt. Make sure you know where your flashlights are (check/change the batteries) and if you have a generator be sure to test it, have gas/propane on hand for it, etc. Picture Replace Your Air Filter(s) It is recommended to change the air filter in your home every 60-90 days and I know how easy it is to forget and let it go longer, especially during the craziness of summer fun. A good rule of thumb is to at least change it seasonally. This is even more important to do frequently if you have pets and/or suffer from allergies. Set reminders in your phone or get yourself on a schedule to change seasonally at the least.  Consider switching out your bedding. Typically fall is the beginning of the cooler season. You may want to consider switching to a thicker sheet, possibly flannel, adding an additional blanket to your bed, or swapping for a thicker comforter set during the cooler months. I personally tend to use the same sheets and comforter but add/switch the blankets I layer over the comforter to a thicker, warmer one in fall colors. In addition to adding in the rich fall colors like burgundy, mustard and orange, adding texture like a chunky knit blanket or faux fur are popular for fall and winter months. Picture Swap throw pillows. This goes for bedroom pillows, living room, outdoor and more! Regardless of the weather where you are located, it’s time to tuck away the items that scream summer and embrace the beauty of fall! Picture Add fall decor to your tables. This can be anything from faux (or real!) pumpkins to displays of candy corn. A little can go a long way. I love placing neutral colored seasonal decor throughout my home tying into each season. Traditionally autumn colors in general are warm and deep; as are Thanksgiving colors but lately neutrals have been increasingly popular as well. If you enjoy decorating for Halloween the most common colors for that are of course orange and black as well as white, purple and bright green. Picture Picture Decorate your front door for fall. Now is the time to take down your summer wreath and replace it with something for fall. Wreaths full of leaves in various fall colors or faux pumpkin wreaths are a lovely choice as are eucalyptus wreaths if you prefer something green. Trending fall front porch decorations include corn stalks, pumpkins and gourds, a fall inspired sign and even fall themed door mats have been a common decor option the last few years. Picture Switch out scented candles. I personally love a good fall scented candle. Spiced pumpkin, warm apple pie, apple cinnamon, farm fresh peach, salted caramel…all fabulous scent choices! Picture Go Through Clothes Depending on where you live, it may be time to pack away the shorts and sundresses (or at least move them away from the front of your closet) and replace them with warmer, thicker clothes. Taking the time to reorganize the closets in your home can go a long way. I’ve noticed in my household at least that it makes our mornings in particular much more relaxed and easier when we can quickly find the pieces we wear frequently this season.

While going through closets, it’s a great time to make sure everyone has what they need for the season. This is especially important if you have kids; we all know they grow so fast and there is a good chance that last year’s fall pieces may not fit this year! Try on rain boots, warm boots, snow boots, rain jackets and coats and make sure you know where items like beanies, gloves and scarves are located. What do you do to prepare for a new season and the changing weather that goes with it? Let us know in the comments if there’s anything we should add!

Follow us on Instagram @blankersrealestate and Facebook Jerry Blankers-Muljat Group North

Post compiled by Haley Parker // haleyparkerstyle.com@haleyparkerstyle

It’s Still a Sellers’ Market

It’s Still a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This?

Have You Ever Seen a Housing Market Like This? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Whether you’re buying or selling – today’s housing market has plenty of good news to go around.
  • Buyers can take advantage of today’s mortgage rates to escape rising rents and keep monthly payments affordable. Sellers can reap the benefits of multiple offers and a fast sale.
  • If this sounds like good news to you, let’s connect today so you can capitalize on the unique opportunity you have in today’s market.

5 Reasons Today’s Housing Market is Anything but Normal

5 Reasons Today's Housing Market Is Anything but Normal | MyKCM

There are many headlines out there that claim we’re reverting to a more normal real estate market. That would indicate the housing market is returning to the pre-pandemic numbers we saw from 2015-2019. But that’s not happening. The market is still extremely vibrant as demand is still strong even while housing supply is slowly returning.

Here’s the definition of normal from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern: characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine.

Using this definition, here are five housing industry metrics that prove we’re nowhere near normal.

1. Mortgage Rates

If we look at the 30-year mortgage rate chronicled by Freddie Mac, we can see the average rates by decade:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.7%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%
  • 2010s: 4.09%

Today, the average mortgage rate stands at 2.87%, which is very close to the historic low.

Currently, mortgage rates are anything but usual, typical, or routine.

2. Home Price Appreciation

According to Black Knight, a housing data and analytics company, the average annual appreciation on residential real estate prices since 1995 has been 4.14%.

According to the latest forecast from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), home price appreciation will hit 14.1% this year, which will be greater than any year since Black Knight began collecting this data.

Currently, home price appreciation is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

3. Months’ Supply of Inventory (Homes for Sale)

According to NAR:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace. Historically, six months of supply is associated with moderate price appreciation, and a lower level of months’ supply tends to push prices up more rapidly.”

As of the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from NAR, the current months’ supply of inventory stands at 2.6. That’s less than half of a normal supply.

Currently, the supply of homes for sale is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

4. Days It Takes To Sell a Home

The days-on-market metric gives an indication of how hot a market is and how quickly homes are selling. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the average days on market stood at 35, according to NAR. Today, that number is cut in half and is now at 17 days.

Currently, the days-on-market metric is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

5. Number of Offers per Listing

According to NAR, the number of offers per listing stood at 2.2 in 2019. Today, that number is double at 4.5.

Currently, the number of offers per listing is anything but usual, typical, or routine.

Bottom Line

When…

  1. Mortgage rates are near historic lows
  2. Price appreciation is at historic highs
  3. Housing inventory is less than half of the normal amount
  4. The time it takes to sell a home is cut in half, and
  5. There are twice as many offers on each house

…it’s hard to say we’re in a normal market.

So, I Sold My Home… Now What?!

So, you made the decision to put your home for sale. You’ve worked with an agent, had photos taken and a listing published, had showings and finally accepted an offer. Now what?

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To be quite honest, this is just the beginning! After coming to a mutually accepted offer with buyers there is still much more to be done before the sale is complete. No need to worry though, you will have some time to get it all straightened out. A typical home sale takes 30-45 days to close and you will have until then to complete the tasks and move out of your home. We have sold three homes in the last six years so you could say we have a good amount of experience with it! I’ve laid out the basics for you to reference here.

Purge

Now is the time to get rid of or sell items that you did not remove prior to listing. This can be done through a garage sale, listing for sale on Facebook, donating to charity, etc or a mix of the methods. 

Deep Clean

Once you have packed up everything you will be taking with you upon moving and sold or donated everything else, it’s important to deep clean for the new owners. I have personally done all of it myself one time and hired a professional cleaner to help the last two times. Depending on your abilities, availability and stage of life, determine what is best for you. I find it to be much less stressful to hire help if you can. You will be so busy packing and organizing that it is a huge relief having someone help you. I usually do the basic cleaning such as vacuum bedrooms myself to minimize the cost a bit but bring in the professionals to deep clean bathrooms and kitchen especially. The refrigerator and range can be incredibly time consuming and the professionals know how to get them looking their best.

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Switch Utilities

Removing your name from the utilities is one of the last tasks to complete but it is an important step. Be sure to call the companies that provide you water, sewer, electric, gas, cable, internet, and garbage, etc so that they stop charging you for the services one you have signed the home over to the new owners. Request that you make the home sale closing date your final day for charges and provide them with your forwarding address if requested. Oftentimes the billing system runs behind usage so don’t be surprised if you see one last bill a few weeks or a month later.

Set Up Mail Forwarding

Setting up mail forwarding is quick and easy. If you are living in the US, simply go to your local Post Office to request the form or go online to the USPS website here and provide them with your information. It will cost $1.05 to verify your identity with the online submission (as of August 2021).

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Closing Day: Sign at the Title Company

Typically sellers will sign closing documents at the title company on the same day that they will be required to be completely out of the house but this can change on a case by case basis. The closing documents finalize the sale with a notary present. You will need your Drivers License or other government issued ID with you to verify your identity. This generally takes 30 minutes to a hour and a half but is typically quicker for sellers and longer for the buyers.

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Cancel Homeowners Insurance

Once your home is officially sold and out of your name you will want to be sure to contact your agent to stop your homeowners insurance. This way you will stop getting charged for the insurance costs going forward. Usually a quick email or phone call will do the trick.

Keep Settlement Documents

These documents will be needed at tax time so be sure to hang on to them!

So I just BOUGHT a home…now what?!

Very similar steps apply for those buying a home. You will still want to keep settlement documents from the title company, switch over your mail, utilities and homeowners insurance. Depending on how the seller left the home you may not have to do a deep clean as most will have already had that done for you though another round of cleaning never hurts, especially if weeks have passed since the seller moved out. You’d be surprised how quickly dust and bugs can show up.

Hopefully you thought ahead when packing because now it is time to unpack. I like to start with the clothes, shoes and toiletries that are used often, if not daily. Be sure to know where medications and first aid equipment, flashlights, phone chargers, etc are the first day. Basic kitchen items such as plates, silverware, and drinking glasses should be a priority as well. It can be easy with all of the excitement of finally being in your new home to get carried away and focus on decorating but it will be far less stressful for you getting the basics out of the way first.

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Be prepared to get rid of more items too. No matter how much you got rid of prior to moving there is a good chance you will feel differently about a number of items after unpacking them, especially if they have been stored for a while. Once you are done unpacking, take the boxes to your local recycling center or post on Facebook or Craigslist to see if someone else can use them. The last thing you need is a pile of cardboard boxes in your way for weeks.

Have you moved recently or have any tips to add? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

This post was written in partnership with The Jerry Blankers Team and is published at www.jerryblankers.com/blog. All opinions are my own. If you are in need of a realtor in Whatcom County, WA, we used them for our most recent land purchase and home sale and I highly recommend them! You can give them a call at 360-410-1297 or email jerry@jerryblankers.com or Kassi@muljatgroupnorth.com. Instagram: @blankersrealestate

A Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners

Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes | MyKCM

In April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) posted an article, Home Buyers’ Preferences Shift Towards New Construction, which reported:

60% of people who were looking to buy a home in 2020 said they’d prefer new construction to an existing home.

However, it seems buyers are now shifting their preferences back to existing homes.

The latest Consumer Confidence Survey reveals the percentage of Americans planning to buy a home in the next six months is virtually the same as it was back in March. However, the percentage that plan to buy a newly constructed home is lower for that same period.

Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes | MyKCM

NAHB confirms this sentiment in their latest Housing Trends Report. The organization explains that existing homes are now the top preference among today’s buyers. Here’s a breakdown of those findings:

Why the shift?

There are several reasons why buyer preference is shifting. Here are two that impact purchasers looking to move in now:

  • The process may move faster. Builders may not be able to guarantee when the house will be complete and ready for move-in due to supply chain challenges with materials like lumber and appliances. If you buy an existing home, not only is it ready, it also likely has a refrigerator, range, and other necessary home appliances already.
  • There are no unexpected costs during the buying process. With the price of land, labor, and lumber being so volatile, many builders are including an escalation clause in the price negotiation to cover rising expenses. With an existing home, the final price you will pay is negotiated upfront.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, your house is more attractive to a greater number of buyers as compared to earlier in the year. This might be the time for us to connect to discuss the possibility.

Sellers: Make Today’s Home Price Appreciation Work for You

Sellers: Make Today’s Home Price Appreciation Work for You | MyKCM

Home prices continue to rise as we move through the summer, and that’s good news for sellers who are looking to maximize their home’s potential. If you’re on the fence about whether to list your house now or later, the question you should really ask is: will this price appreciation last?

Here’s what three leading industry experts have to say about what lies ahead:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“At a broad level, home prices are in no danger of a decline due to tight inventory conditions, but I do expect prices to appreciate at a slower pace by the end of the year.”

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist, CoreLogic:

“The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months . . . . Nevertheless, with more new listings and new home construction, home price acceleration that has built momentum, and continues to reach new highs, will likely slow later this summer but remain in double digits.”

George Ratiu, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

Many sellers are going to take advantage of higher prices. This summer is going to signal the move to the next chapter, and this will very much be the year they’re going to put their home on the market.”

What It Means for You:

The experts agree that the summer months give sellers a great opportunity to capitalize on today’s home prices. And while prices aren’t expected to depreciate, the rise in prices is forecast to moderate over the next few years. That means selling your house today could set you up for a bigger win.

Bottom Line

Listen to the experts. If you’re ready to make a move, let’s connect to discuss selling your house sooner rather than later so you can take advantage of today’s home price appreciation before it moderates.