The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

Oct. 19, 2020

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | MyKCM

Many industries have been devastated by the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 virus. Real estate is not one of them.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, just reported:

“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

Buyer demand is still strong heading into the fall. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, just announced that buyer showings are up 61.9% compared to the same time last year. They went on to say:

“Normally, real estate activity begins to slow down in the late summer, but this year it peaked in July, August and into September.”

There Is One Big Challenge

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Just last week, realtor.com reported:

“Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March, nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed compared to last year, leaving a gaping hole in the U.S. housing inventory.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is dropping dramatically. Below is a graph of existing inventory (September numbers are not yet available):The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | MyKCMHomebuilders are increasing construction, but they cannot keep up with the high demand. Bill McBride, founder of the Calculated Risk blog, in discussing inventory of newly constructed houses, notes:

“The months of supply decreased to 3.3 months…This is the all-time record low months of supply.”

What does this mean for sellers?

Anyone thinking of putting their home on the market should not wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is limited. That’s exactly the situation in the real estate market today.

Next year, when the pandemic is hopefully behind us, there will be many more properties coming to the market. Don’t wait for that increase in competition in your neighborhood. Now is the time to sell.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect today to get your house on the market at this optimal time to sell.

Oct. 16, 2020

Pros and Cons of Buying Repossessed Properties

 

Buying a house can be incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time, especially if it’s your first or second home. For a lot of buyers today, the idea of getting a killer deal is the ultimate goal, one that you may have heard is possible with a bank-repossessed property (also known as a “real estate owned” property or simply “REO”). Real estate prices are only going up, after all, so what’s the scoop on these REOs?

 

Can You Get a Deal on Repossessed Properties?

It’s a tricky question with a lot of caveats. In some markets, it will almost certainly be easier to take advantage of REOs to find lower entry price points. Other markets may not offer a lot of financial benefit to the buyer. When market inventory is low in the property type and area you’re shopping for, prices will tend to trend higher, even for repossessed properties.

On the other hand, if you’re pretty flexible and aren’t overly concerned about neighborhoods, an area with a lot more inventory can be a difficult place for a seller, creating a super local buyer’s market. Even banks are sensitive to these pressures, and since they can be more flexible about their pricing, may discount REOs more sharply in order to unload them.

What Should You Know Before Making an Offer on Repos?

If you manage to find a steeply discounted property that you’re interested in, there’s still a lot to consider before making an offer. The caveats with repos are many, but they can still work for buyers who go into the transaction with their eyes wide open.

Be aware that:

  • REOs are almost exclusively sold “as is”. Yes, that means you get what you get, and since there’s unlikely to be a good history, it may be a lot worse than you imagine. You could get lucky and totally win the REO lottery, but remember that many repossessed properties have been sitting vacant for extended periods with little to no maintenance or human interaction, which can encourage insect and animal infestations on top of problems you’ve been made aware of.
  • Always get a home inspection with an REO. In most areas you can still back out of the transaction if the condition of the home is worse than you imagined, though be aware that these inspections are limited in scope, and surprises may still be hiding. Sold “as is” means just that, though. Banks aren’t generally interested in fixing anything, so if your inspector says the A/C is bad and the roof is leaking, you’ll need to figure that into your overall cost equation.
  • REOs can be very competitive. Investors often really like buying REOs, which means you’re going to be competing against other buyers who have a lot of cash on hand. Cash deals close faster and there’s less risk they’ll fail to close because of lending issues, which makes them pretty nice for a seller. A good REO is likely to be a competitive buy, so be fully prepared, fully qualified for your loan, and ready to make your highest and best offer out of the gate. You may only get one shot.
  • REOs can be difficult to finance. Some REOs and lending programs are meant to go to future homeowners, but most are not especially friendly to non-investor buyers. You’ll need a substantial down payment, high credit score, solid debt to income ratio, and reliable employment for a bank to take that level of risk on a home that may become a money pit. It can absolutely be done, but this is far from a basic first time homebuyer sort of process. Loans like the FHA 203(k) can sometimes be used, as well as conventional loans, depending on the condition of the property.
  • REOs can be difficult to close. If you have to borrow to buy an REO, expect the process to take months. Even if you don’t have to borrow, there are layers of red tape to cut through, because you’re dealing with a corporate owner rather than an individual. Allow plenty of time to get through all the steps of the process and be prepared to have to pivot into a different loan program if things get dicey.
  • Should I Buy a Repossessed Home?

    If you’ve thoroughly prepared yourself for owning a home with a poorly documented history and a higher than normal risk of unexpected problems, as well as the stressful buying process that can go with it all, then absolutely buy the REO if it’s right for you. Sometimes REOs are the only way to get into the right neighborhoods or even find a home in your budget, so there are definitely reasons to pull that trigger.

    Once you’ve closed, though, you’ll probably need a lot of expert help. Don’t forget to lean into your HomeKeepr community. Not only can you access all the best home pros in your area, they’re right at your fingertips, day or night. It’s the perfect place to be if you want to buy a project home!

Oct. 13, 2020

Top Lighting Options for Your Kitchen

 

Good lighting is important in many places in the home. When you’re working in the kitchen, though, having sufficient lighting to see what you’re doing is vital. Poor lighting in your kitchen can make cooking and other tasks a pain, especially if the lighting leaves shadows in areas that you use a lot. Fortunately, there are a number of options available when it comes to adding new lighting to your kitchen. Here are some of the best for you to consider.

 

Recessed Lighting

One popular lighting option for kitchens is recessed lighting. This is especially useful if you have relatively low ceilings, as you can have multiple light sources in the kitchen without having large fixtures hanging down. Recessed lighting can also be used to accent other lighting solutions as well, giving you more light where you need it while only taking up a small amount of space on the ceiling.

Under-Cabinet Lights

Cabinet space is a must-have in the kitchen, but if you have a lot of cabinets then they can actually block some light from reaching your countertops and stove. A great way to take care of this problem is to install under-cabinet lighting that can provide some extra light right where it’s needed. Similar lighting can also be placed under stove hoods or other overhead spaces to ensure that you have the light that you need in the parts of your kitchen that you use the most often.

Track Lighting

If your lighting needs change depending on what you’re doing in the kitchen, track lighting might be a good option for you to consider. As these lights are mounted on tracks and can be moved and turned as needed, they let you adjust the lighting to meet your current needs. While the concept of track lighting often brings to mind clunky light units that seem more like theater spotlights than a kitchen lighting solution, modern track lights for the kitchen can provide the light and adaptability you need while also creating some tasteful accents that match your personal style.

Oversized Light Fixtures

Sometimes you want more than just ensuring sufficient lighting in the kitchen. If you want to light things up while also contributing to the overall decorative look of your home, you might consider some oversized light fixtures to get the job done. These fixtures are designed to stand out and draw the eyes so that they become as much a part of your decorating style as a source of light for your kitchen area.

Pendant Lighting

Lighting can play a big part in your home’s look and feel, which is why there are so many different types of lighting fixtures available. If you have higher ceilings in your kitchen, you might consider installing pendant lighting to give you the light that you need while also adding a touch of elegance to your kitchen area. These fixtures are suspended from the ceiling by cables or pipes, bringing the light closer to where you’ll be working without the need for stronger bulbs or harsher light. There are a number of styles of pendant lights available to help you illuminate your kitchen while also customizing the overall look of your home.

Tube Lighting

A lot of people think that tube lighting is ugly and out of place in the home, but modern tube lights have come a long way from the fluorescent lights of old. Many of these lights have switched to LED lighting, providing more consistent lighting at a fraction of the energy cost. The tubes and enclosures themselves have also evolved, offering stylish accents that illuminate while still adding to the overall look of your home.

 

Oct. 12, 2020

The Howell Team OCTOBER 2020 Homeward Bound Newsletter

YOUR HOME SALES & REFERRALS HELP THE KIDS! We are on a mission to raise $10,000 for the Children Miracle Network. We donate a portion of our income from homes we sell to the

Children Miracle Network. As you know, Children’s Miracle

Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids

across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care.

Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $5 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity's

Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the non-profit's mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Please call me Billy Howell at 561-327-1930.

 

 

Posted in Newsletter
Oct. 9, 2020

Putting Your Vegetables to Bed This Fall

 

Growing and tending a garden through the spring and summer can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding of human experiences. The harvest in the early fall is simply sublime. But cleaning all that mess up? It’s much less poetry-worthy. Even so, there’s a certain art to putting the vegetable garden to bed, one that can increase your yields year after year once you’ve mastered it.

 

Compost, Mulch, and Cover Crops

The end of the gardening season is never pretty. Dried up plants, often broken or bent, are scattered across a once-fertile landscape in an almost post-apocalyptic scenario. It’s dark, it’s brown, it’s all kinds of heart-wrenching to know you’ve reached the end of the life cycle of your garden. But take heart! What you’re seeing is just another part of the cycle, the beginning of another stage of your garden’s life.

In the fall and winter, all the nutrients those vegetable plants used up to produce lovely vegetables and fruits have to be returned to the soil. Some of that comes in the form of spent vegetation breaking down, and some will come in the form of additives to the soil. Both work together to ensure that next year’s is a bumper crop.

There are three basic elements that can be used to bulk up an end season garden for the next year:

  • Compost. Even if you grew your plants in containers this year, compost can play an important part of next year’s success in those same containers. Be sure to knock the vegetation back, and as long as it’s not diseased, fold it into the soil. That way you can recapture the nutrients left behind.

Go one step further and add the equivalent of one quarter of the depth of your container or garden spot in compost. Doing this in the fall gives your compost plenty of time to break down, releasing even more nutrients to the soil, while improving both moisture retention and drainage. To figure out how much compost you need, dig down to the bottom of your prepared garden spot or pot and stick a tape measure in. Divide that figure in inches by four and apply that many inches of soil across the top, then mix it into the garden thoroughly.

  • Mulch. Much like with compost, a good mulch can help the garden retain moisture. It also helps to both protect crops you want to keep, like asparagus, and smother those you don’t want, like stray grasses and weeds. Going into the winter, you can apply up to about four inches of any plant-based mulch to the top of the soil to protect crops. Just make sure to check the crowns of those plants as spring starts so you can uncover them when they’re ready to peek back up above ground.
  • Cover Crops. Some people prefer to use cover crops instead of, or along with, mulches and composts to enhance their gardens. Legumes especially help improve your nitrogen levels. If you plow them back into the ground before they flower, you can repeat this process a few times before spring planting and really bulk up the soil. There’s such a thing as too much nitrogen, but it’s difficult to reach that point with cover crops and composts alone.

In addition to these many options, gardeners also sometimes cover their gardens with clear plastic to help encourage sun solarization, a method that helps destroy pests like nematodes within the top few inches of soil. Your garden can only be solarized if it’s bare, however, so you’ll have to opt out of cover crops during the solarization period.

Need a Little Help Putting Things Away?

If you’re not sure how to get started putting your garden to bed this year, don’t worry! Your HomeKeepr community has your back. Just ask for a recommendation for the best landscaper or other horticultural expert in your area, and your garden spot will be on track to rest and develop through the cold of the year in no time.

Oct. 8, 2020

Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later?

 

Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later? | MyKCM

Every day in the U.S., roughly 10,000 people turn 65. Prior to the health crisis that swept the nation in 2020, most people had to wait until they retired to make a move to the beach, the golf course, or the senior living community they were looking to settle into for their later years in life. This year, however, the game changed.

Many of today’s workers who are nearing the end of their professional careers, but maybe aren’t quite ready to retire, have a new choice to make: should I move before I retire? If the sand and sun are calling your name and you have the opportunity to work remotely for the foreseeable future, now may be a great time to purchase that beach bungalow you’ve always dreamed of or the single-story home in the sprawling countryside that might be a little further out of town. Whether it’s a second home or a future retirement home, spending the next few years in a place that truly makes you smile every day might be the best way to round out a long and meaningful career.

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

“The pandemic was unexpected, working from home was unexpected, but nonetheless many companies realized that workers can be just as productive working from home…We may begin to see a boost in people buying retirement homes before their retirement.”

According to the 20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, 3 out of 4 retirees (75%) own their homes, and only 23% have mortgage debt (including any equity loans or lines of credit). Since entering retirement, almost 4 in 10 retirees (38%) have moved into a new home. They’re making a profit by selling their current homes in today’s low inventory market and using their equity to purchase their future retirement homes. It’s a win-win.

Why These Homeowners Are Making Moves Now

The health crisis this year made us all more aware of the importance of our family and friends, and many of us have not seen our extended families since the pandemic started. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see in the same report that 32% of those surveyed cited the top reason they’re making a move is that they want to be closer to family and friends (See graph below):Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later? | MyKCMThe survey also revealed that 73% percent of retirees currently live in single-family homes. With the overall number of homes for sale today hitting a historic low, and with the buyer demand for single-family homes skyrocketing, there’s never been a more ideal time to sell a single-family home and make a move toward retirement. Today’s market has the perfect combination of driving forces to make selling optimal, especially while buyers are looking to take advantage of low interest rates.

If you’re one of the 73% of retirees with a single-family home and want to move closer to your family, now is the time to put your house on the market. With the pace homes are selling today, you could essentially wrap up your move – start to finish – before the holidays.

Bottom Line 

Whether you’re looking to fully retire or to buy a second home with the intent to use it as your retirement home in the future, the 2020 fall housing market may very well work in your favor. Let’s connect today to discuss your options in our local market.

Oct. 5, 2020

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Essential

 

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Essential | MyKCM

In today’s real estate market, setting the right price for your house is one of the most valuable things you can do.

According to the U.S. Economic Outlook by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home prices nationwide are forecasted to increase 4.7% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2021. This means experts anticipate home values will continue climbing into next year. Today, low inventory is largely keeping prices from depreciating. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comnotes:

“Looking at the sheer number of buyers, low mortgage rates, and limited sellers, the strength of home prices–which are now growing at the highest pace since January 2018–makes sense.”

When it comes to pricing your home, the goal is to increase visibility and drive more buyers your way. Instead of trying to win the negotiation with one buyer, you should price your house so that demand is maximized and more buyers want to take a look.

How to Price Your Home

As a seller, you might be thinking about pricing your house on the high end while so many of today’s buyers are searching harder than ever just to find a home to purchase. You’re thinking, higher price, greater profit, right? But here’s the thing – a high price tag does not mean you’re going to cash in big on the sale. It’s actually more likely to deter buyers and have them looking at the houses your neighbors are selling instead.

Even today, when the advantage tips toward sellers because there are so few houses for sale, your house is more likely to sit on the market longer or require a price drop that can send buyers running in the other direction if it isn’t priced just right.Why Pricing Your House Right Is Essential | MyKCM

A Trusted Real Estate Professional Will Help

It’s important to make sure your house is priced correctly by working in partnership with a trusted real estate professional. When you price it competitively, you won’t be negotiating with one buyer over the price. Instead, you’ll have multiple buyers competing for the home, and that’s what ultimately increases the final sale price.

The key is making sure your house is priced to sell immediately. That way, it will be seen by the most buyers. More than one of them may be interested, and your house will be more likely to sell at a competitive price.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about listing your house this fall, let’s discuss how to price it right so you can maximize your exposure and your return.

Oct. 2, 2020

Rising Home Equity Can Power Your Next Move [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Rising Home Equity Can Power Your Next Move [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • According to CoreLogic, homeowners across the country are gaining significant equity.
  • Over the past year, the average homeowner gained $9,800 in equity, growing their overall net worth.
  • If you’re ready to sell your house and begin looking for your dream home, let’s connect to plan how your equity can make that possible.
  •  
Posted in Infographics
Sept. 30, 2020

Why Selling this Fall May Be Your Best Move

Why Selling this Fall May Be Your Best Move | MyKCM

If you’re thinking about moving, selling your house this fall might be the way to go. Here are four highlights in the housing market that may make your decision to sell this fall an easy one.

1. Buyers Are Actively in the Market

ShowingTime, a leading real estate showing software and market stat service provider, just reported that buyer traffic jumped 60.7% compared to this time last year. That’s a huge increase.

It’s clear that buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase – and they’re in the market right now. In many regions of the country, multiple buyers are entering bidding wars to compete for the home they want. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market so you can sell your house in the most favorable terms.

2. There Are Not Enough Homes for Sale

In the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced that there were only 1.49 million units available for sale. That number was down 18.6% from one year ago. This means in the majority of the country, there aren’t enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Due to the health crisis, many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes earlier this year. That will change as the economy continues to recover. The choices buyers have will increase going into the new year. Don’t wait until additional sellers come to market before you decide to make a move.

3. The Process Is Going Quickly

Today’s ultra-competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to the latest Origination Insights Report from Ellie Mae, the time needed to close a loan is just 49 days.

4. There May Never Be a More Important Time to Move

You’ve likely spent much of the last six months in your current home. Perhaps you now realize how small it is, and you need more space. If you’re working from home, your children are doing virtual school, or you just need more space, your current floor plan may not work for your family’s changing needs.

Homebuilders are beginning to build houses again, so you can choose the exact floor plan to match what your family needs, and you can make sure the outdoor space is what you want too.

Sept. 29, 2020

Dealing With Foundation Erosion

Sep 28, 2020

Billy Howell

 

 

Erosion can be a big problem for homeowners, even if you don’t live in an area that sees frequent flooding or other causes of large-scale erosion. As soil erodes from around your foundation, it reduces the stability of the foundation and opens up the foundation materials themselves to damage from the elements. This is why it’s important to know not only how to recognize the signs of erosion, but also how to deal with it and repair any damage that’s already been done.

Foundation Erosion Problems

In most cases, when foundation erosion occurs it comes in the form of water or other elements washing away some of the soil around your home’s foundation. This can lead to underground portions of the foundation being exposed and may also kill grass that would otherwise help to hold the soil in place (which can in turn make erosion problems worse). As more soil erodes from around the foundation, you may start to see cracks and leaks forming in the foundation wall. Over time, the same elemental forces that are eroding the soil can start to wear away at the foundation materials themselves.

Foundation Instability

In addition to the direct damage caused by erosion, you may also start to notice foundation instability as your erosion problems get worse. This can take the form of leaning foundation walls, shifts in the foundation, or even bucking of walls or tilts to your flooring. This happens because the stability of your home’s foundation depends on the soil around it; the pressure of the soil pressing against the foundation adds extra strength to the foundation as it supports the weight of your home. As that soil washes away, the foundation cannot support the home as well and becomes unstable as a result.

Identifying Erosion

The first step in dealing with foundation erosion is identifying areas that are either eroding or in danger of erosion. At least once or twice a year, take the time to walk around your home and check the quality of the soil where it meets your home. Take special note of any areas where there is missing grass, where dips appear, or where portions of the foundation are visible. Standing water next to the foundation can also be a warning sign of erosion issues, as can sunken areas nearby. If you notice parts of the foundation or lower wall areas that seem to have unusual wear, these may be signs of erosion as well.

Repairing Damaged Foundations

Once you identify signs of erosion, take action before the problem can get worse. Any cracks or visible damage to the foundation itself will need to be repaired. Depending on how severe the problem is, this could be as simple as patching cracks and voids with concrete, or as complex as using jacks to level the house and filling eroded areas under your foundation slab with polyurethane foam. Any eroded soil needs to be replaced, with soil stabilizers added if needed to help the soil compact more solidly and prevent future erosion.

Preventing Erosion

One of the most important things that you can do to help take care of your foundation is to prevent erosion from happening in the first place. Ensure that your gutters and downspouts are working and in a good state of repair, installing new gutters as necessary to direct water from your roof away from your foundation. Establish flower beds or plant new grasses next to the foundation to prevent soil erosion or consider decorative gravel beds as an alternative. For larger problems you might also consider regrading your yard to prevent runoff from reaching your foundation or installing French drains or other runoff barriers that will redirect water to where you want it to go.