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Top 5 Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Top 5 Benefits of Hiring a Real Estate Agent | Keeping Current Matters

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers in which they surveyed recent home buyers and sellers about their experiences. An entire section of the profile is dedicated to buyers’ experiences with their real estate agents.

If you are looking to buy in 2018, here are the top 5 benefits of using a real estate agent when buying your dream home as cited by recent buyers:

1. Helped the buyer understand the process – 60%

If you are new to the home buying process, an experienced real estate professional can explain exactly what to expect during the entire transaction so you aren’t caught off guard.

2. Pointed out unnoticed features/faults with the property – 56%

Whether it’s pointing out possible uses for an extra bedroom/office, or using their trained eye to see potentially disastrous hazards that may be hiding out of site, your agent is there to protect your interests and make sure your home buying experience is a good one.

3. Negotiated better sales contract terms – 47%

When it comes to negotiating the complex terms of your contract and coming to an agreement with the seller, it never hurts to have someone who has been there before on your side. If earlier in your search you found a couple of less than desirable features on the home you are going to purchase, your agent can make sure that contingencies are in place for you to pay the best price. Their analysis of comparable properties in the area will also help to make sure that your dream home is priced properly for the market.

4. Provided a better list of service providers – 46%

Real estate agents are titans of networking. Many have a list of preferred providers who they have worked with in the past and who they trust to work as a part of your team to make your dream come true. This can include mortgage professionals (listed as the #8 reason to use an agent at 22%), home inspectors, plumbers, contractors, painters, landscapers, home stagers, and so many more!

5. Improved the buyer’s knowledge of search areas – 44%

Local real estate professionals are often members of community organizations and are usually well versed in their area’s history. Their ties to the community make them a great resource whether you plan to relocate to a new area or across town.

Bottom Line

If your plans for 2018 include purchasing your dream home, start your search for a local real estate partner who can help you make the most powerful and confident decisions for you and your family.

Rents Are on the Rise: Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

Rents Are on the Rise: Don't Get Caught in the Rental Trap! | Keeping Current Matters

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents, by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped

A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating:

“Rents are up 2.7% year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 2.1% rate from this time last year and the 3.4% growth rate from October 2015.”

The article continues explaining that:

“Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 Largest cities.”

Additionally, the Urban Institute revealed that,

Over a quarter of renters, or 11.1 million households, are severely cost burdened, spending at least half their income on rental housing.”

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 6.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 57% less expensive in Detroit (MI) and 37.4% nationwide!

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible for a mortgage.

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Winter!

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Winter! | Keeping Current Matters

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 7.0% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.7% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have hovered around 4%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, you are Paying a Mortgage

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

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

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Should Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling?

Should Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling? | MyKCMIn a recent CNBC article, it was reported that many baby boomers are selling their current homes and moving into rentals, rather than purchasing another home.

“Between 2009 and 2015, the number of renters aged 55 or above rose 28 percent, while those aged 34 or younger only increased 3 percent…

Meanwhile, more than 5 million baby boomers across the nation are expected to rent their next home by 2020, according to a 2016 analysis from Freddie Mac.”

This makes sense in the short term for many reasons. If you are moving to a different part of town or a new region of the country, you may decide to rent until you pick the perfect home in an area you love. However, is renting a good long-term strategy?

A mortgage payment remains fixed. Rents, however…

The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 third quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

Should Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling? | MyKCM

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether you should rent or buy your next home, you should take this into consideration.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home instead of renting. Let’s get together so we can help you decide what the best step is for you and your family!

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy?

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? | MyKCMWe recently shared that over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success! | Keeping Current Matters

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step | Keeping Current Matters

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

3 Tips for Making Your Dream Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC]

3 Tips for Making Your Dream Home a Reality [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Realtor.com shared their “5 Habits to Start Now If You Hope to Buy a Home.”
  • Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check is one of the best ways to save without thinking a lot about it.
  • Living within a budget will not only help you save money for down payments but will help you pay down other debts that might be holding you back.

The #1 Reason to List Your House Today!

The #1 Reason to List Your House Today! | MyKCMMany people believe that selling their house during “the spring buyers’ market” is the best thing to do. Their reasoning is that there will be more buyers than there are during the winter months and, therefore, their house will sell quicker and for a higher price.

Historically, this made sense. However, today’s real estate market is not following the rules of the past.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) measures buyer “foot traffic” each month. It receives data on the number of properties shown to a prospective purchaser by a Realtor® (based on the number of lockboxes used). The data reveals the number of buyers out actively looking for a home, not just window shopping on the internet. NAR explains:

“Foot traffic has a strong correlation with future contracts and home sales, so it can be viewed as a peek ahead at sales trends two to three months into the future.”

According to the latest Foot Traffic Report, buyer traffic is greater now than it was during this year’s spring market and there are more buyers out now than at any other time in the last five years (March of 2012).

The chart below shows that buyer activity over the last three months (blue bars) was greater than it was during this past spring market (green bars).

The #1 Reason to List Your House Today! | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you are waiting for next spring to list your home because you think that’s when the buyers will be out in force, perhaps you should reconsider. Buyers are out right now!


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