Don’t Believe Everything Your Read: The Headlines Skimp on Truth and Context

Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCM

There are a lot of questions right now regarding the real estate market as we head into 2022. The forbearance program is coming to an end and mortgage rates are beginning to rise.

With all of this uncertainty, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we’ll continue to see a rash of troublesome headlines over the next few months. To make sure you aren’t paralyzed by a headline, turn to reliable resources for a look at what to expect from the housing market next year.

There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two recent topics you may have seen in the news.

1. Foreclosures Are Spiking Today

There are a number of headlines circulating that call out the rising foreclosures in today’s real estate market. Those stories focus on an overly narrow view on that topic: the current volume of foreclosures compared to 2020. They emphasize that we’re seeing far more foreclosures this year compared to last.

That seems rather daunting. However, though it’s true foreclosures have been up over the 2020 numbers, it’s important to realize that there were virtually no foreclosures last year because of the forbearance plan. If we compare this September to September of 2019 (the last normal year), foreclosures were down 70% according to ATTOM.

Even Rick Sharga, an Executive Vice President of the firm that issued the report referenced in the above article, says:

“As expected, now that the moratorium has been over for three months, foreclosure activity continues to increase. But it’s increasing at a slower rate, and it appears that most of the activity is primarily on vacant and abandoned properties, or loans in foreclosure prior to the pandemic.”

Homeowners who have been impacted by the pandemic are not generally the ones being burdened right now. That’s because the forbearance program has worked. Ali Haralson, President of Auction.comexplains that the program has done a remarkable job:

“The tsunami of foreclosures many feared in the early days of the pandemic has not materialized thanks in large part to the swift and decisive foreclosure protections put in place by government policymakers and the mortgage servicing industry.”

And the government is still making sure homeowners have every opportunity to stay in their homes. Rohit Chopra, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), issued this statement just last week:

“Failures by mortgage servicers and regulators worsened the impact of the economic crisis a decade ago. Regulators have learned their lesson, and we will be scrutinizing servicers to ensure they are doing all they can to help homeowners and follow the law.”

2. Rising Mortgage Rates Will Slow the Housing Market

Another topic that’s generating frequent headlines is the rise in mortgage rates. Some people are expressing concern that rising rates will negatively impact the housing market by causing home sales to dramatically decline. The resulting headlines are raising unneeded alarm bells. To counteract those headlines, we need to take a look at what history tells us. Looking at data over the last 20 years, there’s no evidence that an increase in rates dramatically forces sales to come to a halt. Nor does home price appreciation come to a screeching stop. Let’s look at home sales first:Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCMThe last three times rates increased (shown in the graph above in red), sales (depicted in blue in the graph) remained rather consistent. It’s true that sales fell rather dramatically from 2007 through 2010, but mortgage rates were also falling at the time. The next two instances showed no meaningful drop in sales.

Now, let’s take a look at home price appreciation (see graph below):Don't Believe Everything You Read: The Truth Many Headlines Overlook | MyKCMAgain, we see that a rise in rates didn’t cause prices to depreciate. Outside of the years following the crash, prices continued to appreciate, just at a slower rate.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. If you want the best advice on what’s happening in the current housing market, let’s connect.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset about 3% Mortgage Rates

Two Graphs That Show Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset About 3% Mortgage Rates

Two Graphs That Show Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset About 3% Mortgage Rates | MyKCM

With the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac climbing above 3%, rising rates are one of the topics dominating the discussion in the housing market today. And since experts project rates will rise further in the coming months, that conversation isn’t going away any time soon.

But as a homebuyer, what do rates above 3% really mean?

Today’s Average Mortgage Rate Still Presents Buyers with a Great Opportunity

Buyers don’t want mortgage rates to rise, as any upward movement increases your monthly mortgage payment. But it’s important to put today’s average mortgage rate into perspective. The graph below shows today’s rate in comparison to average rates over the last five years:Two Graphs That Show Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset About 3% Mortgage Rates | MyKCMAs the graph shows, even though today’s rate is above 3%, it’s still incredibly competitive.

But today’s rate isn’t just low when compared to the most recent years. To truly put today into perspective, let’s look at the last 50 years (see graph below):Two Graphs That Show Why You Shouldn’t Be Upset About 3% Mortgage Rates | MyKCMWhen we look back even further, we can see that today’s rate is truly outstanding by comparison.

What Does That Mean for You?

Being upset that you missed out on sub-3% mortgage rates is understandable. But it’s important to realize, buying now still makes sense as experts project rates will continue to rise. And as rates rise, it will cost more to purchase a home.

As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americanexplains:

“Rising mortgage rates, all else equal, will diminish house-buying power, meaning it will cost more per month for a borrower to buy ‘their same home.’”

In other words, the longer you wait, the more it will cost you.

Bottom Line

While it’s true today’s average mortgage rate is higher than just a few months ago, 3% mortgage rates shouldn’t deter you from your homebuying goals. Historically, today’s rate is still low. And since rates are expected to continue rising, buying now could save you money in the long run. Let’s connect so you can lock in a great rate now.

Sellers Have Incredible Leverage in Today’s Market

Sellers Have Incredible Leverage in Today’s Market | MyKCM

With mortgage rates climbing above 3% for the first time in months, serious buyers are more motivated than ever to find a home before the end of the year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), puts it best, saying:

“Housing demand remains strong as buyers likely want to secure a home before mortgage rates increase even further next year.”

But the sense of urgency they feel is complicated by the lack of homes for sale in today’s market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from NAR:

“From one year ago, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 13%. . . .”

What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?

With buyers eager to purchase but so few homes available, sellers who list their houses this fall have a tremendous advantage – also known as leverage – when negotiating with buyers. That’s because, in today’s market, buyers want three things:

  • To be the winning bid on their dream home.
  • To buy before rates rise
  • To buy before prices go even higher.

Your Leverage Can Help You Negotiate Your Best Terms

These three buyer needs give homeowners a leg up when selling their house. You might already realize this leverage enables you to sell at a good price, but it also means you can negotiate the best terms to suit your needs.

And since buyer demand is still high, there’s a good chance you’ll get offers from multiple buyers who are willing to compete for your house. When you do, look closely at the terms of each offer to find out which one has the best perks for you.

If you have questions about what’s best for your situation, your trusted real estate advisor can help. They have the expertise and are skilled negotiators in all stages of the sales process.

Bottom Line

Today’s buyers are motivated to purchase a home this year, and that’s great news if you’re thinking of selling. Let’s connect today to discuss how much leverage you have as a seller in today’s market.

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The equity in your current home can help with either option.

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you’re a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you’ll need access to capital: the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners’ equity. The graph below uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years:The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCMOdeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, quantifies the amount of equity homeowners gained recently:

“Remember U.S. households own nearly $35 trillion in owner-occupied real estate, just over $11 trillion in debt, and the remaining ~$24 trillion in equity. In inflation adjusted terms, homeowners in Q2 had an average of $280,000 in equity- a historic high.”

As a homeowner, the money you need to purchase the perfect home or renovate your current house may be right at your fingertips. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you’ll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you’ll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you’ll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you’re one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you’re one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

First Step: Determine the Amount of Equity in Your Home

If you’re ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can probably find the mortgage balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you can pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or you can contact a local real estate professional who will be able to present to you, at no charge, a professional equity assessment report.

Bottom Line

If the past 18 months have refocused your thoughts on what you want from your house, now may be the time to either renovate or make a move to the perfect home.

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers

Early October is the Sweet Spot for Buyers | MyKCM

Are you looking to buy a home? If so, we’ve got good news for you.

While there’s no denying the housing market is having a great year, many of the headlines are focused on the perks for sellers. But what about buyers today? As a buyer, you’re likely braving bidding wars and weighing low mortgage rates versus price appreciation as you search for your dream home. If you find yourself a bit discouraged, hear this: there are clear signs buyers may have more opportunities this fall.

According to realtor.comthe sweet spot for buyers is just around the corner. In a recent study, experts analyzed housing market trends by looking at data from the past several years. When applied to the current market, experts determined the ideal week to buy a home this year. The research says:

Nationally, the best time to buy in 2021 is the week of October 3-9. This week historically has shown the best balance of market conditions that favor buyers.”

So, what’s that mean for you? If you’re looking to buy a home, there’s a golden window of opportunity coming. Here’s what you can expect from that week.

Increased Housing Supply

The number of homes available for sale should increase. According to realtor.com, you can expect to see more new listings come to market the week of October 3. The findings estimate we’ll see roughly 17.6% more homes available than we saw at the start of the year.

This means you’ll have more options to choose from which should be a welcome relief in a market with tight housing supply.

Fewer Bidding Wars

With more homes available, you should also see a slight decline in the number of bidding wars. Having more options means buyers may not be competing as intensely for the homes on the market because there are more choices to go around.

This means when you write an offer, you may have less competition and a better chance of being the top bid. Just remember, it’s still important to come in with a strong offer.

Adjusted Homes Prices

As we move into the end of the year, the findings from realtor.com note this week may also be one of the peak weeks for price reductions in 2021. Historically the data shows an average of 7.0% of homes have a price reduction that week. Why? When housing supply ticks up, sellers need to look for other ways to make their house stand out.

This means, while home prices are still appreciating overall, you may see some homes with price adjustments from eager sellers. The process of closing a house takes time. To close before end of year, sellers may be more motivated this October.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market for a home, don’t lose steam now. Data shows early October may give you the long-awaited opportunity to find the home of your dreams. Let’s connect so you have a trusted ally and advisor to help keep you motivated so you can find the perfect home for you.

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary to Purchase a Home?

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | MyKCM

There’s a common misconception that, as a homebuyer, you need to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. In fact, a recent survey by Lending Tree asks what is keeping consumers from purchasing a home. For over half of those surveyed, the ability to afford a down payment is the biggest hurdle.

That may be because those individuals assume a 20% down payment is necessary. While putting more money down if you’re able can benefit buyers, putting 20% down is not mandatory. As Freddie Mac puts it:

The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds overwhelming, you might be ready to give up on the dream of homeownership before you even begin – but you don’t have to. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today’s average down payment is only 12%. That number is even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose average down payment is only 7%.

Based on the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR, the graph below shows an even closer look at the down payment percentage various age groups pay:Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary To Purchase a Home? | MyKCMAs the graph shows, the only groups who put 20% or more down on average are older homebuyers who likely can use the sale of an existing home to fuel a larger down payment on their next home.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to know you don’t have to put the full 20% down. And while saving for any down payment amount may feel like a challenge, keep in mind there are programs for qualified buyers that allow them to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you do need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the myth of the 20% down payment halt your homebuying process before it begins. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your options.

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing?

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

An important metric in today’s residential real estate market is the number of homes available for sale. The shortage of available housing inventory is the major reason for the double-digit price appreciation we’ve seen in each of the last two years. It’s the reason many would-be purchasers are frustrated with the bidding wars over the homes that are available. However, signs of relief are finally appearing.

According to data from realtor.com, active listings have increased over the last four months. They define active listings as:

The active listing count tracks the number of for sale properties on the market, excluding pending listings where a pending status is available. This is a snapshot measure of how many active listings can be expected on any given day of the specified month.”

What normally happens throughout the year?

Historically, housing inventory increases throughout the summer months, starts to tail off in the fall, and then drops significantly over the winter. The graph below shows this trend along with the month active listings peaked in 2017, 2018, and 2019.Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What happened last year?

Last year, the trend was different. Historical seasonality wasn’t repeated in 2020 since many homeowners held off on putting their houses up for sale because of the pandemic (see graph below). In 2020, active listings peaked in April, and then fell off dramatically for the remainder of the year.Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What’s happening this year?

Due to the decline of active listings in 2020, 2021 began with record-low housing inventory counts. However, we’ve been building inventory over the last several months as more listings come to the market (see graph below):Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCMThere are three main reasons we may see listings continue to increase throughout this fall and into the winter.

  1. Pent-up selling demand – Homeowners may be more comfortable putting their homes on the market as more and more Americans get vaccinated.
  2. New construction is starting to take off – Though new construction is not included in the realtor.com numbers, as more new homes are built, there will be more options for current homeowners to consider when they sell. The lack of options has slowed many potential sellers in the past.
  3. The end of forbearance will create some new listings – Most experts believe the end of the forbearance program will not lead to a wave of foreclosures for several reasons. The main reason is the level of equity homeowners currently have in their homes. Many homeowners will be able to sell their homes instead of going to foreclosure, which will lead to some additional listings on the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market to buy a home, stick with it. There are new listings becoming available every day. If you’re thinking of selling your house, you may want to list your home before this additional competition comes to 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.

Rents are Rising–Start Preparing for Home Ownership Now

What You Can Do Right Now To Prepare for Homeownership | MyKCM

As rent prices continue to soar, many renters want to know what they can do to get ready to buy their first home. According to recent data from ApartmentList.com:

The first half of 2021 has seen the fastest growth in rent prices since the start of our estimates in 2017. Our national rent index has increased by 11.4 percent since January . . . .”

Those rising rental costs may make it seem impossible to prepare for homeownership if you’re a renter. But the truth is, there are ways you can – and should – prepare to purchase your first home. Here’s some expert advice on what to do if you’re ready to learn more about how to escape rising rents.

Start Saving – Even Small Amounts – Now

Experts agree, setting aside what you can – even smaller amounts of money – into a dedicated savings account is a great starting point when it comes to saving for a down payment. As Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, Founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLCsays:

“I recommend saving for a home in a ‘sinking fund’ . . . . This is a savings account separate from your emergency fund that you use to save for a short or mid-term expense.

Zuniga-Sanchez adds saving in smaller increments can help make a large goal – such as saving for a down payment –achievable:

“Breaking up your goals into smaller bite-sized pieces by saving incrementally can make a large daunting number more manageable.”

Assess Your Finances and Work on Your Credit

Another tip experts recommend: take a look at your overall finances and credit score and find ways to reduce your debt. According to the HUD, the average credit score of first-time homebuyers is 716. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, there are numerous online tools that can help you check. If your score is below that average, don’t fret. Remember that an average means there are homeowners with credit scores both above and below that threshold.

If you find out your score is below the average, there are several ways to improve your credit before you apply for a loan. HUD recommends reducing your debt as much as you can, paying your bills on time, and using your credit card responsibly.

Start the Conversation with Your Advisor Today

Finally, it’s important to talk to someone who understands the market and what it takes to become a first-time homebuyer. That’s where we come in. A trusted advisor can help you navigate your specific market and talk you through all the available options. Having the right network of real estate and lending professionals in your corner can help you plan for the homebuying process as well as determine what you can afford and how you can get pre-approved when you’re ready.

Most importantly, we can help you understand how homeownership is achievable. As Lauren Bringle, Accredited Financial Advisor with Self Financial, says:

“Don’t write home ownership off just because you have a low income . . . . With the right tools, resources and assistance, you could still achieve your dream.”

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to be a homeowner one day, the best thing you can do is start preparing now. Even if you don’t think you’ll purchase for a few years, let’s connect today to discuss the process and to set you up for success on your journey to homeownership.

The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters is Widening

The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCM

Becoming financially secure is an important goal for many people today, but some don’t realize just how much homeownership can help them achieve that dream. A recent report, The Journey Toward Financial Freedom, surveys Americans about their perspective on financial wellness and their goals. It shows there may be a significant misconception about the role owning a home plays in building wealth:

“Home ownership is one of the indicators Americans say is least connected to financial health.”

Two major personal wealth goals – homeownership and net worth – work hand-in-hand. Below are just a few reasons why, if you’re looking for financial security, homeownership should be a top priority.

Homeownership Is an Important Cornerstone of Building Wealth

Every three years, the Federal Reserve releases the Survey of Consumer Finances which highlights the difference in wealth between homeowners and renters. The graph below shows the findings across the previous surveys including the latest data (2019), and the results are staggering:The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCMAs the graph illustrates, the gap between homeowners and renters continues to widen. That’s because homeownership contributes massively to an individual’s overall net worth. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americanhighlights this idea:

“. . . between 2016 and 2019, housing wealth was the single biggest contributor to the increase in net worth across all income groups . . . .”

When we look even closer at the most recent data from 2019, the average homeowner’s net worth is more than 40 times greater than that of the average renter (see graph below):The Difference in Net Worth Between Homeowners and Renters Is Widening | MyKCMThe gap exists in large part because homeowners build equity as their home appreciates in value and they pay off a portion of their mortgage each month. When you own your home, your monthly mortgage payment is, in essence, forced savings that come back to you when you sell your home or refinance. As a renter, you’ll never see a return on the money you pay out in rent every month.

If you’re ready to start building your net worth, the current real estate market offers several opportunities you should consider. For example, with today’s low mortgage rates, your purchasing power may be higher now than it has been in some time. That means there may be no better time than now to start working towards your homeownership goals – especially since rates are anticipated to rise in the coming months.

Bottom Line

Owning a home provides one of the strongest foundations for building individual wealth and lasting financial security. If you’re ready to start your path towards homeownership, let’s connect today.