All posts by Kassi Simonsen

Three Reasons Buyers are Ready to Purchase this Year

Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCM

Here are the top three reason buyers may be ready to purchase a home in the next year:

Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCM

A recent survey by Lending Tree tapped into behaviors of over 1,000 prospective buyers. The results indicated 53% of all homebuyers are more likely to buy a home in the next year, even amid the current health crisis. The survey further revealed why, naming several reasons buyers are more likely to move this year (see graph below):Let’s break down why these are a few of the key factors motivating buyers to actively engage in the home search process, and the corresponding wins for sellers as well.

1. Low Mortgage Rates

Three Reasons Homebuyers Are Ready to Purchase This Year | MyKCM

The biggest reason potential homebuyers indicated they’re eager to purchase this year is due to current mortgage rates, which are hovering near all-time lows. Today’s low rates are making it more affordable than ever to buy a home, which is a huge incentive for purchasers. In fact, 67% of respondents in the Lending Tree survey want to take advantage of low mortgage rates. This is no surprise when comparing historic mortgage rates by decade (see below):Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac recently said:

“As the economy is slowly rebounding, all signs continue to point to a solid recovery in home sales activity heading into the summer as prospective buyers jump back into the market. Low mortgage rates are a key factor in this recovery.”

2. Reduced Spending

Some people have also been able to save a little extra money over the past few months while sheltering in place. One of the upsides of staying home recently is that many have been able to work remotely and minimize extra spending on things like commuting expenses, social events, and more. For those who fall into this category, they may have a bit more saved up for down payments and closing costs, making purchasing a home more feasible today.

3. Re-Evaluating Their Space

Spending time at home has also given buyers a chance to really evaluate their living space, whether renting or as a current homeowner. With time available to craft a wish list of what they really need in their next home, from more square footage to a more spacious neighborhood, they’re ready to make it happen.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

With these three factors in play, the demand for housing will keep growing this year, especially over the summer as more communities continue their phased approach to reopening. Buyers can take advantage of additional savings and low mortgage rates. And if you’re thinking of selling, know that your home may be in high demand as buyer interest grows and the number of homes for sale continues to dwindle. This may be your moment to list your house and make a move into a new space as well.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to buy or sell – or maybe both – let’s connect to put your plans in motion. With low mortgage rates leading the way, it’s a great time to take advantage of your position in today’s market.

Benefits of Homeownership May Reach Further Than You Think

The Benefits of Homeownership May Reach Further Than You Think | MyKCM

More than ever, our homes have become an integral part of our lives. Today they are much more than the houses we live in. They’re evolving into our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe havens that provide shelter, stability, and protection for our families through the evolving health crisis. Today, 65.3% of Americans are able to call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to reflect on the benefits of owning your own home. Below are some highlights and quotes recently shared by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From non-financial to financial, and even including how owning a home benefits your local economy, these items may give you reason to think homeownership stretches well beyond a sound dollars and cents investment alone.

Non-Financial Benefits

Owning a home brings families 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.”
  • Property Maintenance and Improvement: Your home is your stake in the community, and a way to give back by driving value into your neighborhood.
  • 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.

Financial Benefits

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

  • Net Worth: Homeownership builds your family’s net worth. “The median family net worth for all homeowners ($231,400) increased by nearly 15% since 2013, while net worth ($5,000) actually declined by approximately 9% since 2013 for renter families.”
  • Financial Security: Equity, appreciation, and predictable monthly housing expenses are huge financial benefits of homeownership. Homeownership is truly the best way to improve your long-term net worth.

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.
  • GDP Growth: Homeownership also helps drive GDP growth as the country aims to make an economic rebound. “Every 10% increase in total housing market wealth would translate to approximately $147 billion in additional consumer spending, or 0.8% of GDP, as well as billions of dollars in new federal tax revenue.”
  • Entrepreneurship: Homeownership is even a form of forced savings that provides entrepreneurial opportunities as well. “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 are vast and go well beyond the surface level. Homeownership is truly a way to build financial freedom, find greater satisfaction and happiness, and make a substantial impact on your local economy. If owning a home is part of your dream, let’s connect today so you can begin the homebuying process.

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Let’s look at the bright side!

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM
Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):In essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

Need to sell your home right now? Here’s our advice!

What If I Need to Sell My Home Now? What Can I Do? | MyKCM

What if I need to sell my home now? What can I do?

Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn’t stop during the current pandemic. If you’ve had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn’t on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that’s finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there’s a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don’t forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

Here’s the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

There Is Less Competition Right Now

The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer’s search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We’re using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We’re making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

Bottom Line

Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in our local market, let’s work together to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

A Voice of Reason in Uncertain Times

We understand that you might be feeling unsure and wary of the stability of the economy during this health crisis and we want to be a voice of reason to you during this time. One of the most pressing questions we are getting right now is how will the housing market be affected by the surge in unemployment?

Over the last couple weeks, ten million Americans lost their jobs. The next announced unemployment rate on May 8th is expected to be in the double digets. Because this health crisis brought the economy to a screeching halt, many are feeling a personal financial crisis and the government is trying to find ways to assist those who have lost their jobs along with companies being forced to close. Keep in mind that this was a planned and organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy and that the overall goal is to keep households and businesses whole.

How badly will the U.S. economy be damaged if people can’t buy homes?

An understandable concern is that with such a high number of unemployed Americans, how will the residential real estate market stay afloat? Since the housing industry is a major piece of the overall economy, this could put a greater strain on the economy leading to even more job losses.

Chris Herbert, the Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, addresses the toll this crisis will have on our nation by explaining:

“Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy.”

How has the unemployment rate in the past affected home sales?

What we found is that unemployment rates and home sales DO NOT have a direct relationship. Yes, there will be an impact, but history has shown that the impact of the unemployment rate on home sales doesn’t seem to be as strong as we may have thought. Take a look at the table below to see what we mean:

  1. The unemployment rate was rising between 1992-1993, yet home sales increased.
  2. The unemployment rate was rising between 2001-2003, and home sales increased.
  3. The unemployment rate was rising between 2007-2010, and home sales significantly decreased.
  4. The unemployment rate was falling continuously between 2015-2019, and home sales remained relatively flat.

Is this time different?

Yes, there is no doubt that the country hasn’t seen job losses this quickly in almost 100 years. How bad could it get? Goldman Sachs projects the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% by the fourth quarter of 2021. This is not ideal for the housing industry, but it is manageable.

How does this compare to the other financial crises?

Some believe this is going to be reminiscent of The Great Depression. From the standpoint of unemployment rates alone (the one thing we are addressing in this blog post), it does not compare. See below the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the projected rates moving forward:

There’s a difference between having a spike and dealing with it and having a continuous bleed. Understand that this is a one time event that causes a one time challenge, versus a continuous situation that lasts years.

We hope that was understandable and helped to ease any stress you might be having! This is based on the information we have at the present moment, and we will be sure to continue to post updated content answering the most pressing questions we’re hearing.

Wishing you and your family health and safety during this time!

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance My Home?

Is Now a Good Time to Refinance My Home? | MyKCM

Is now a good time to refinance? It may be!

With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.

2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.

3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:

As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity

“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”

Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it?

To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.

If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.

Bottom Line

Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.

Why today’s real estate market is nothing like 2008

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

5 Simple Reasons This is NOT Like Last Time

With all of the volatility in the stock market and uncertainty about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), some are concerned we may be headed for another housing crash like the one we experienced from 2006-2008. The feeling is understandable. Ali Wolf, Director of Economic Research at the real estate consulting firm Meyers Research, addressed this point in a recent interview:

“With people having PTSD from the last time, they’re still afraid of buying at the wrong time.”

There are many reasons, however, indicating this real estate market is nothing like 2008. Here are five visuals to show the dramatic differences.

1. Mortgage standards are nothing like they were back then.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

During the housing bubble, it was difficult NOT to get a mortgage. Today, it is tough to qualify. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases a Mortgage Credit Availability Index which is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.” The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. As shown below, during the housing bubble, the index skyrocketed. Currently, the index shows how getting a mortgage is even more difficult than it was before the bubble.

2. Prices are not soaring out of control.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

Below is a graph showing annual house appreciation over the past six years, compared to the six years leading up to the height of the housing bubble. Though price appreciation has been quite strong recently, it is nowhere near the rise in prices that preceded the crash.There’s a stark difference between these two periods of time. Normal appreciation is 3.6%, so while current appreciation is higher than the historic norm, it’s certainly not accelerating beyond control as it did in the early 2000s.

3. We don’t have a surplus of homes on the market. We have a shortage.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The months’ supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale in 2007, and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory which is causing an acceleration in home values.

4. Houses became too expensive to buy.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, the wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Fourteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased and the mortgage rate is about 3.5%. That means the average family pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then. Here’s a graph showing that difference:

5. People are equity rich, not tapped out.

5 Simple Graphs Proving This Is NOT Like the Last Time | MyKCM

In the run-up to the housing bubble, homeowners were using their homes as a personal ATM machine. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up, and they learned their lesson in the process. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over fifty percent of homes in the country having greater than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time. Here is a table comparing the equity withdrawal over the last three years compared to 2005, 2006, and 2007. Homeowners have cashed out over $500 billion dollars less than before:During the crash, home values began to fall, and sellers found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the amount of the mortgage they owned was greater than the value of their home). Some decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area. That can’t happen today.

Bottom Line

If you’re concerned we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, take a look at the charts and graphs above to help alleviate your fears.

Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Housing Market

Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Housing Market | MyKCM

How is the Coronavirus affecting the U.S. Housing Market?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused massive global uncertainty, including a U.S. stock market correction no one could have seen coming. While much of the news has been about the effect on various markets, let’s also acknowledge the true impact it continues to have on lives and families around the world.

With all this uncertainty, how do you make powerful and confident decisions in regard to your real estate plans?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) anticipates:

“At the very least, the coronavirus could cause some people to put home sales on hold.”

While this is an understandable approach, it is important to balance that with how it may end up costing you in the long run. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, it is key to educate yourself so that you can take thoughtful and intentional next steps for your future.

For example, when there’s fear in the world, we see lower mortgage interest rates as investors flee stocks for the safety of U.S. bonds. This connection should be considered when making real estate decisions.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The Fed’s action was expected but perhaps not to this degree and timing. And the policy change was consistent with recent declines for interest rates in the bond market. These declines should push mortgage interest rates closer to a low 3% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

This is exactly what we’re experiencing right now as mortgage interest rates hover at the lowest levels in the history of the housing market.

Bottom Line

The full impact of the Coronavirus is still not yet known. It is in times like these that working with an informed and educated real estate professional can make all the difference in the world.

Highest Homeownership Rate Reported Since 2014

Thinking of Selling? Now May Be the Time!

Thinking of Selling? Now May Be the Time. | MyKCM

The housing market has started off much stronger this year than it did last year. Lower mortgage interest rates have been a driving factor in that change. The average 30-year rate in 2019, according to Freddie Mac, was 3.94%. Today that rate is closer to 3.5%.

The Census Bureau also just reported the highest homeownership rate since 2014 for people under 35. This is evidence that owning their own home is becoming more important to Millennials as they reach the age where marriage and children are part of their lives.

Thinking of Selling? Now May Be the Time. | MyKCM

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer demand across the country is strong. That’s not the case, however, with seller demand, which remains weak throughout most of the nation. Here’s a breakdown by state:Demand for housing is high, but supply is extremely low. NAR also just reported that the actual number of homes currently for sale stands at 1.42 million, which is one of the lowest totals in almost three decades. Additionally, the ratio of homes for sale to the number purchased currently stands at 3.1 months of inventory. In a normal market, that number would be nearly double that at 6.0 months of inventory.

What does this mean for buyers and sellers?

Buyers need to remain patient in the search process. At the same time, buyers must be ready to act immediately once they find the right home.

Sellers may not want to wait until spring to put their houses on the market. With demand so high and supply so low, now is the perfect time to sell your house for the greatest dollar value and the least hassle.

Bottom Line

The real estate market is entering the year like a lion. There’s no indication it will lose that roar, assuming inventory continues to come to market.