The Howell Realty Group Real Estate News and Information

 

July 31, 2020

Where Is the Housing Market Headed for the Rest of 2020? [INFOGRAPHIC]

 

Where Is the Housing Market Headed in 2020? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • The housing market is forecasted to finish the year with growing strength.
  • Historically low mortgage rates are creating great potential for homebuyers, and home sales are on the rise.
  • If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home this year, let’s connect to maximize your opportunity today.
Posted in Infographics
July 30, 2020

Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020

Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCM

So far, it’s been quite a ride this year, and our nation has truly seen its fair share of hurdles. From COVID-19 to record unemployment and then the resulting recession, just to name a few, the second quarter of 2020 has had more than a few challenges. Amidst the many roadblocks, however, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling great strength in the recovery of the housing market and an indication that even in a time of crisis, Americans still feel confident about buying a home.

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced:

“The homeownership rate of 67.9 percent was 3.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent) and 2.6 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2020 (65.3 percent).”

Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCMThe increase is also represented by race and ethnicity of the householder:Homeownership Rate Continues to Rise in 2020 | MyKCMThere are many reasons why the homeownership rate in this country is rising, and one of the key factors is historically-low mortgage rates. Rates hovering at all-time lows are helping to drive affordability and enabling more potential homeowners to enter the market today. According to Ralph McLaughlinChief Economist for Haus:

“Mortgage rates are the icing on the cake for households that were thinking about buying…They found an unexpected opportunity during the worst economic downturn America has seen since the Great Depression.”

In addition, many potential homebuyers have been using their time this year to search for homes that offer more space than their current rental apartments. Many of these homebuyers are younger and, as noted by Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, are the buyers driving the homeownership rate in an upward direction:

“Big jump in the homeownership rate today, mostly driven by younger households. We saw a spike in the number of owners, and a decline in the number of renters. This is the highest rate of homeownership since 2008.”

This growth is outstanding news for the housing market and for those who have recently found their new homes. If homeownership is on your shortlist this year, maybe now is a great time to meet with a real estate professional to evaluate your current situation. Perhaps historically low mortgage rates can help you to become a homeowner too.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, let’s connect today to take your dream one step closer to reality.

July 28, 2020

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCM

In June, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCM

Why the rise in first-time homebuying?

NAR continues to say:

“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”

Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):

“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”

There are, however, challenges for first-time buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:

“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home | MyKCMIf you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.

Bottom Line

If you’re interested in purchasing a home and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way.

July 27, 2020

Keeping Pets Safe During a Move

Moving day, just imagine it: The sun is shining, the weather is just perfect, and you’re about to close one chapter and open a brand new one. There’s so much possibility ahead! Although it may be exciting and full of promise for you, moving can be a terrifying event for your pets, even if you’re just moving down the street. Fortunately, you can take a lot of steps to protect your furry, feathery and scaly pals in these high stress times.

 

Your Moving Day Checklist: Pet Edition

Whether you’ve got a dog that you love, a cat that’s a handful or a flock of chickens, moving with animals takes patience and attention to detail in order to help them get through the process with the least amount of stress possible. Remember that your pet doesn’t understand what’s happening and that the noise, strangers and general chaos can be terrifying for them.

Before you so much as begin to pack, it’s important to consider what’s going to happen with your pets during your move. Here are some things you can do to keep them safer and happier during the whirlwind that’s to come:

 

  • Start practicing now. It’s likely your pet will need to be confined to a crate, bathroom or other safe space so that the door can be left open to move things out. Before the move starts, you can begin to get them used to the idea of being confined. Start by staying in or near the space with them and rewarding them when they relax (this could take some time at first, so be patient). As they get better at being confined with you, go farther and farther away, and for longer periods, rewarding them as they adjust to the situation.

Getting your pets used to being confined like this can help prevent injuries to them should they frantically scramble to escape, and can help you better see what kinds of things in those spaces may be potentially dangerous when they’re left unattended on moving day.

 

  • Ask your vet. Your vet has all kinds of things in their dispensary for these one-time highly stressful events. They can make a specific recommendation based on your pet’s history and particular panic buttons, and also give you more behavioral tools to your own toolbox to help your pet cope. Absolutely ask your vet for help before you even book a mover or a moving truck.
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  • Take frequent breaks. If you can, stretch your move out over a few days or a week so that your pets can have a breather from their safety spot. Depending on just how much there is to move, it’ll be easier on you, too. For example, you might move a lot of boxes on Monday, take the small appliances over on a Wednesday and then move the furniture on Friday. Giving your pet some time to shake off the stress will make the move a lot easier for them.
  • Consider a pet sitter. Longer moves may require you to be away for a while, which turns an already stressful situation into a potential for real trouble. A pet sitter will help fill your shoes while you’re moving, or while you’re taking care of getting the new place cleaned up and ready to go if your pet is very prone to stress in new situations. Just make sure to introduce the pet to the sitter ahead of time so they can get to know one another.
July 24, 2020

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCM

With a worldwide health crisis that drove a pause in the economy this year, the housing market was greatly impacted. Many have been eagerly awaiting some bright signs of a recovery. Based on the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), June hit a much-anticipated record-setting rebound to ignite that spark.

According to NARhome sales jumped 20.7% from May to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million in June: 

“Existing-home sales rebounded at a record pace in June, showing strong signs of a market turnaround after three straight months of sales declines caused by the ongoing pandemic…Each of the four major regions achieved month-over-month growth.”

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCMThis significant rebound is a major boost for the housing market and the U.S. economy. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, the momentum has the potential to continue on, too:

“The sales recovery is strong, as buyers were eager to purchase homes and properties that they had been eyeing during the shutdown…This revitalization looks to be sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue.”

With mortgage rates hitting an all-time low, dropping below 3% for the first time last week, potential homebuyers are poised to continue taking advantage of this historic opportunity to buy. This fierce competition among buyers is contributing to home price increases as well, as more buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars in this environment. The report also notes:

“The median existing-home price for all housing types in June was $295,300, up 3.5% from June 2019 ($285,400), as prices rose in every region. June’s national price increase marks 100 straight months of year-over-year gains.”

The graph below shows home price increases by region, powered by low interest rates, pent-up demand, and a decline in inventory on the market:Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound | MyKCMYun also indicates:

“Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply.”

Bottom Line

Buyers returning to the market is a great sign for the economy, as housing is still leading the way toward a recovery. If you’re ready to buy a home this year, let’s connect to make sure you have the best possible guide with you each step of the way.

July 23, 2020

Stayin’ Cool With Ductless Mini-Split Systems

There’s nothing like a glass of cool lemonade on a hot summer day, unless of course the reason it’s so hot is that your air conditioner needs to be replaced. In that case, a new air conditioning system is pretty much the best thing ever. Maybe yours has lived a long and full life and is ready to be replaced, or perhaps you’ve added on to your home and need a solution for cooling that EZ Bake Oven you’ve created. In either case, installing a new ducted air conditioning system or plopping a window unit into the nearest window aren’t your only choices. You could go with Door Number Three: the ductless mini-split system.

 

What is a Ductless Mini-Split System?

Ductless mini-splits are air conditioning systems that are made to cool (and sometimes heat) smaller spaces. They can work together to improve climate control in entire homes and can even replace a traditional ducted system. Much like a central air conditioning system, there are two parts: the condenser, which is installed outside, and the inside air handler.

The main difference from traditional systems is that they don’t use ductwork, so they eliminate a ton of temperature loss that would normally occur in your crawlspace or attic. And unlike a window unit, a ductless mini-split system can be hung out of the way of windows, since it only requires a three-inch hole to run the refrigerant lines and electrical controls.

 

Advantages of a Ductless Mini-Split System

There are a lot of reasons to love a ductless mini-split, but energy efficiency has to be up there among the top. These systems can have SEER ratings of around 28, which is substantially more efficient than a ducted system’s 13 SEER national minimum requirement. Of course, a ducted system’s rating will vary by unit, but generally speaking, the higher the SEER rating, the higher the price tag.

 

Ductless mini-splits systems also boast these advantages over a traditional central HVAC system:

 

  • More precise control of room temperatures. 
  • Mechanically, one of the most important differences between ductless mini-split systems and traditional systems is that mini-splits are controlled by an inverter system that allows your heat or air to come out of the air handler at the temperature you set. This is different from a ducted air conditioner that only blows air at one temperature, constantly switching on and off to maintain room temperatures.
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  • Ability to set room temperatures independently of one another. 
  • Although zoning is possible with ducted systems, it can be costly to install and is not a reasonable solution for many rooms that need different temperatures. This is especially a concern in multi-generational households or those where the home heats or cools irregularly throughout the day. With a ductless mini-split system, you can set the living room to stay a constant 72 degrees despite the heat baking your picture window, without your office having to become an ice cave. Everybody wins!
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  • No more dirty air cycling endlessly. 
  • Ducts are filthy, there’s no question about it. This is just an inevitable side effect of their design, especially in an older house that’s had decades or generations to collect substantial amounts of dirt in the home’s ductwork. Ductless mini-splits are just that: ductless. Each unit has its own filtration system, and there are no ducts for dirt to settle in, keeping room air significantly cleaner all the time.
  •  

When Not to Split?

Not every house is going to be a great candidate for a ductless mini-split system, no matter how awesome they seem. Newer homes with highly efficient central HVAC systems that are in great shape or those that don’t generally have a lot of temperature differential across the structure likely won’t recapture the cost required to install these systems.

However, if you’re not sure if your home can benefit from a ductless mini-split system, you can always consult an HVAC expert for more specific recommendations. Sign up for your free HomeKeepr account to find the professionals you need.

July 20, 2020

Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time

 

Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time | MyKCM

Inventory is arguably the biggest challenge for buyers in today’s housing market. There are simply more buyers actively looking for homes to purchase than there are sellers selling them, so the scale is tipped in favor of the sellers.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory is down 18.8% from one year ago. Inventory is well below what was available last year, and the houses that do come to the market are selling very quickly.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac notes:

“Simply put, new housing supply is not keeping up with rising demand. We estimate that the housing market is undersupplied by 3.3 million units, and the shortage is rising by about 300,000 units a year. More than half of all states have a housing shortage.”

Why is inventory so low?

There are many reasons why it’s hard to find a home to buy today, stemming from an undersupply of newly constructed homes to sellers pressing pause on their moving plans due to the current health pandemic. One of the key factors making it even more challenging, however, is the amount of time current homeowners are staying in their homes. There has truly been a fundamental shift in the market that started about 10 years ago: people are staying put longer, and it’s contributing to the shortage of houses for sale.

In the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR explained:

“In 2019, the median tenure for sellers was 10 years…After 2008, the median tenure in the home began to increase by one year each year. By 2011, the median tenure reached nine years, where it remained for three consecutive years, and jumped up again in 2014 to 10 years.”

As shown in the graph below, historical data indicates that staying in a home for 5-7 years used to be the norm, until the housing bubble burst. Since 2010, that length of time has trended upward, toward 9-10 years, largely due to homeowners aiming to recoup their equity:Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time | MyKCMThankfully, with the strength the market has gained over the last 10 years, today’s homeowners are in a much better equity position. Now is a fantastic time for homeowners who are ready to make a move to break the 10-year trend and sell their houses, especially while buyer demand is so high and inventory is so low. It’s a prime time to sell.

In addition, with today’s historically low interest rates, there’s an opportunity for sellers to maintain a low monthly payment while getting more house for their money. Think: move-up opportunity, more square footage, or finding the features they’re really looking for rather than doing costly renovations. With more new homes poised to enter the market this year, homeowners ready to make a move may have a golden opportunity to do so right now.

Bottom Line

There are simply not enough houses for sale today. If you’re ready to leverage your equity and sell your house, let’s connect today. It’s a great time to move while demand for homes to buy is extremely high.

 

July 16, 2020

July 2020 Homeward Bound Newsletter

 

 

 

Posted in For Buyers
July 16, 2020

Buyers: Are You Ready for a Bidding War?

Buyers: Are You Ready for a Bidding War? | MyKCM

With businesses reopening throughout the country and some experts indicating early signs of a much-anticipated economic recovery, more homebuyers are actively entering the housing market this summer. Today, housing is truly driving the U.S. economy forward. With so many buyers looking for homes to purchase and so few houses for sale right now, there’s a disconnect between supply and demand. This imbalance is pushing home prices upward while driving more bidding wars and multiple-offer scenarios. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com explains:

“People are surprised that prices are rising, not falling, because in the last recession home prices fell, the difference this time is the severe shortage of homes for sale…We are seeing bigger price increases with [a limited] number of homes…That is likely to lead to more competition and potentially multiple offers and bidding wars.”

According to the recent Realtors Confidence Index (RCI) survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this trend is growing:

“On average, there were about three offers on a home that closed in May, up from just about two in April 2020 and in May 2019 (2.3 offers).”

HousingWire also indicates:

“42% of homeowners who made a purchase during the January to May time period ended up in a bidding war, demonstrating the strong demand for homes amid low inventory.”

With more people returning to work we’ll continue to see the number of interested buyers increase. So, if you’re among the many people looking for a home to buy this summer, it’s important to ensure you have the right guidance from the start. This way, you make sure your offer stands out from the crowd when it really counts. Here are two tips to follow.

1. Hire a Trusted Local Expert

A trusted local real estate professional matters more than ever right now, as noted in a recent survey shared by NAR. In fact, according to respondents, 54% of buyers and 62% of sellers indicated that “Particularly during the pandemic, a real estate agent’s guidance is especially valued.”

We’re not in a normal market. We are in one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers must take to purchase a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need a true expert on your side.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

When there are more buyers than sellers on the market, the process to find a home becomes much more challenging. One way to show you’re serious about buying a home is to work with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. With a pre-approval letter, sellers will see your true desire to buy this year, potentially helping your offer rise to the top.

Bottom Line

If this is the year you’re ready to buy, let’s connect to get the process started so you can make sure your offer is a strong one when the competition heats up.

July 14, 2020

The Fire and the Flood: Home Restoration Basics

 

 

When disaster strikes, recovering from it can be a big job. Whether you experience a home fire, live in an area impacted by a flood or have some other disaster strike, restoring your home can be a big undertaking. The prospect can seem overwhelming, but things may not be as bad as they appear at first glance. Whether you’re facing this sort of disaster now or just trying to prepare in case the worst someday comes to pass, here are some things you should know about home restoration after a disaster.

 

BE PREPARED FOR A SHOCK

When you first go back into your home after a fire, flood or some other disaster, the scene can be very emotional. Even if the actual damage is minimal, furniture, furnishings and keepsakes may be scattered or damaged. There may also be smells that you’re not used to, which can seem very strong when you first enter the building. Don’t try to force yourself to get to work right away; give yourself the time necessary to accept what you’re seeing and calm down after that initial rush of emotion.

 

Talk to Your Insurance Company

Before you start trying to clear out your home or begin repairs, talk to your insurance company and find out what they need to process your claim. Take pictures of the damage, even though they may need to send someone out to take additional photos as well. Don’t move things around unless absolutely necessary, so that the photos showcase the condition that your home is in. Not only will talking to your insurance company get your claim started, but it will also help you in figuring out what limitations your coverage has. This may aid you in deciding exactly how to approach the restoration moving forward.

 

DEAL WITH THE WATER

Whether it’s from a flood or fire hoses, water in your house can be bad news. Not only can the water warp or otherwise damage wood and other materials in the home, but it also provides growth opportunities for bacteria, mildew and mold. Pumps may be needed to remove standing water, especially in your basement, and dehumidifiers will almost certainly be a requirement in rooms that had a lot of water exposure. If ceilings or walls have notable water damage, support structures may be needed to keep ceilings from collapsing or walls from buckling. To avoid possible electric shock, shut off the main breaker in the home until the water is gone and an electrician can confirm that the wiring wasn’t damaged in the disaster.

 

Repair and Replace

If the damage is largely contained to a single area, you may be able to get away with some basic repairs and no major restoration construction. If there’s heavy water damage or a large number of rooms that were affected, however, you will almost certainly have to replace some water-damaged wood or other support structures. If the damage is substantial enough, this may even require major construction to completely redo some rooms. Don’t skimp here; though things might not seem so bad, wood and other materials that are affected by mildew, mold or rot can fail in the future and require even more costly repairs then.

 

CHECK THE OUTSIDE TOO

A lot of focus goes into internal repairs when it comes to restoration, but there may be external damage as well which will set you up for problems down the road. Damage to your roof, leaks in your siding and even damaged brick or faux stone can set you up for ongoing leaks and water damage that will undermine the structure of your home over time. A thorough inspection of the exterior of your home should reveal potential issues before they can become major problems.

 

CALL THE RESTORATION PROS

There can be a lot of work required in a restoration project after a disaster, and for many people it’s more than they can DIY. Don’t be afraid to call in professionals who specialize in restorations, since they’ll know exactly what to look for and how to get your repairs done quickly. When you’re looking for restoration pros, HomeKeepr can help you find exactly who you need. Sign up for a free account to find the professionals you need.