Is aging in place right for you?

Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense?

Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense? | MyKCM

A desire among many seniors is to “age in place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, the term means,

“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”

There is no doubt about it – there’s a comfort in staying in a home you’ve lived in for many years instead of moving to a totally new or unfamiliar environment. There is, however, new information that suggests this might not be the best option for everyone. The familiarity of your current home is the pro of aging in place, but the potential financial drawbacks to remodeling or renovating might actually be more costly than the long-term benefits.

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults explained,

“Given their high homeownership rates, most older adults live in single-family homes. Of the 24 million homeowners age 65 and over, fully 80 percent lived in detached single-family units…The majority of these homes are now at least 40 years old and therefore may present maintenance challenges for their owners.”

If you’re in this spot, 40 years ago you may have had a growing family. For that reason, you probably purchased a 4-bedroom Colonial on a large piece of property in a child-friendly neighborhood. It was a great choice for your family, and you still love that home.

Today, your kids are likely grown and moved out, so you don’t need all of those bedrooms. Yard upkeep is probably very time consuming, too. You might be thinking about taking some equity out of your house and converting one of your bedrooms into a massive master bathroom, and maybe another room into an open-space reading nook. You might also be thinking about cutting back on lawn maintenance by installing a pool surrounded by beautiful paving stones.

It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? For the short term, you may really enjoy the new upgrades, but you’ll still have to climb those stairs, pay to heat and cool a home that’s larger than what you need, and continue fixing all the things that start to go wrong with a 40-year-old home.

Last month, in their Retirement ReportKiplinger addressed the point,

“Renovations are just a part of what you need to make aging in place work for you. While it’s typically less expensive to remain in your home than to pay for assisted living, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk to stay put. You’ll still have a long to-do list. Just one example: You need to plan ahead for how you will manage maintenance and care—for your home, and for yourself.”

So, at some point, the time may come when you decide to sell this house anyway. That can pose a big challenge if you’ve already taken cash value out of your home and used it to do the type of remodeling we mentioned above. Realistically, you may have inadvertently lowered the value of your home by doing things like reducing the number of bedrooms. The family moving into your neighborhood is probably similar to what your family was 40 years ago. They probably have young children, need the extra bedrooms, and may be nervous about the pool.

Bottom Line

Before you spend the money to remodel or renovate your current house so you can age in place, let’s get together to determine if it is truly your best option. Making a move to a smaller home in the neighborhood might make the most sense.

Why do I need to get pre-approved before I start looking for a home?

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey | MyKCM

When the number of buyers in the housing market outnumbers the number of homes for sale, it’s called a “seller’s market.” The advantage tips toward the seller as low inventory heats up the competition among those searching for a place to call their own. This can create multiple offer scenarios and bidding wars, making it tough for buyers to land their dream homes – unless they stand out from the crowd. Here are three reasons why pre-approval should be your first step in the homebuying process.

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Low inventory, like we have today, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong impression and close the deal. One of the best ways to get one step ahead of other buyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer. For one, it shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed up the homebuying process, so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. In a competitive arena like we have today, being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

3. Know What You Can Borrow and Afford

Here’s the other thing: if you’re pre-approved, you also have a better sense of your budget, what you can afford, and ultimately how much you’re eligible to borrow for your mortgage. This way, you’re less apt to fall in love with a home that may be out of your reach.

Freddie Mac sets 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.”

Local real estate professionals also have relationships with lenders who can help you through this process, so partnering with a trusted advisor will be key for that introduction. Once you select a lender, you’ll 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 also describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll 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

While there are still many additional steps you’ll need to take in the homebuying process, it’s clear why pre-approval is always the best place to begin. It’s your chance to gain the competitive edge you may need if you’re serious about owning a home.

Bottom Line

Getting started with pre-approval is a great way to begin the homebuying journey. Let’s get together today to make sure you’re on the fastest path to homeownership.

Homebuying Checklist

2020 Homebuying Checklist

2020 Homebuying Checklist | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home, plan ahead and stay on the right track, starting with pre-approval.
  • Being proactive about the homebuying process will help set you up for success in each step.
  • Make sure to work with a trusted real estate professional along the way, to help guide you through the homebuying steps specific to your area.

Building wealth

Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth

Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | MyKCM

According to an Urban Institute study, homeowners who purchase a house before age 35 are better prepared for retirement at age 60.

The good news is, our younger generations are strong believers in homeownership.

According to a Freddie Mac survey,

“The dream of homeownership is alive and well within “Generation Z,” the demographic cohort following Millennials.

Our survey…finds that Gen Z views homeownership as an important goal. They estimate that they will attain this goal by the time they turn 30 years old, three years younger than the current median homebuying age (33).”

Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | MyKCMIf these aspiring homeowners purchase at an early age, the Urban Institute study shows the impact it can have.

Based on this data, those who purchased their first homes when they were younger than 25 had an average of $10,000 left on their mortgage at age 60. The 50% of buyers who purchased in their mid-20s and early-30s had close to $50,000 left, but traditionally purchased more expensive homes.Buying a Home Early Can Significantly Increase Future Wealth | MyKCMAlthough the vast majority of Gen Zers want to own a home and are somewhat confident in their future, “In terms of financial awareness, 65% of Gen Z respondents report that they are not confident in their knowledge of the mortgage process.”

Bottom Line

As the numbers show, you’re not alone. If you want to buy this year but you’re not sure where to start the process, let’s get together to help you understand the best steps to take from here.

Smaller is popular


Big Demand for Small Homes

Big Demand for Small Homes | MyKCM

Movies, tv shows, and celebrities often have us dreaming of owning large homes, but the reality for most people is quite different.

Since 2015, the square footage of newly built houses has been shrinking, according to Yahoo Finances. This is not projected to change as we continue into the beginning of the year.

“We expect this downsizing trend to continue in 2020, driven by a confluence of economic and demographic trends.”

Why are smaller homes trending now?

As noted in the article, there are a few main reasons for this demand:

  • “Many of today’s younger, millennial home buyers have expressed a preference for denser, more urban homes that are more walkable to shared amenities.”
  • “Today’s older homeowners are expressing a desire for smaller, less maintenance-heavy and more accessible (read: less stairs) homes as they age and move into newer homes.”

With these two demographic groups surging through the market, the demand for this type of home is rising. If you’re a homeowner with a smaller-scale house, now may be a great time to sell, as the demand for this end of the market is surely on the rise.

Bottom Line

The demand for smaller houses will continue to rise throughout 2020. Let’s get together to discuss what the housing inventory looks like in your neighborhood. It might be time for you to take advantage of this trend!

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCM

This will be an interesting year for residential real estate. With a presidential election taking place this fall and talk of a possible recession occurring before the end of the year, predicting what will happen in the 2020 U.S. housing market can be challenging. As a result, taking a look at the combined projections from the most trusted entities in the industry when it comes to mortgage rateshome sales, and home prices is incredibly valuable – and they may surprise you.

Mortgage Rates

Projections from the experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all forecast mortgage rates remaining stable throughout 2020:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMSince rates have remained under 5% for the last decade, we may not fully realize the opportunity we have right now.

Here are the average mortgage interest rates over the last several decades:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.70%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%

Home Sales

Three of the four expert groups noted above also predict an increase in home sales in 2020, and the fourth sees the transaction number remaining stable:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMWith mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, demand should not be a challenge. The lack of available inventory, however, may moderate the increase in sales.

Home Prices

Below are the projections from six different expert entities that look closely at home values: CoreLogicFannie Mae, Ivy Zelman’s “Z Report”, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | MyKCMEach group has home values continuing to improve through 2020, with four of them seeing price appreciation increasing at a greater pace than it did in 2019.

Is a Recession Possible?

In early 2019, a large percentage of economists began predicting a recession may occur in 2020. In addition, a recent survey of potential home purchasers showed that over 50% agreed it would occur this year. The economy, however, remained strong in the fourth quarter, and that has caused many to rethink the possibility.

For example, Goldman Sachs, in their 2020 U.S. Outlook, explained:

“Markets sounded the recession alarm this year, and the average forecaster now sees a 33% chance of recession over the next year. In contrast, our new recession model suggests just a 20% probability. Despite the record age of the expansion, the usual late-cycle problems—inflationary overheating and financial imbalances—do not look threatening.”

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are projected to remain under 4%, causing sales to increase in 2020. With growing demand and a limited supply of inventory, prices will continue to appreciate, while the threat of an impending recession seems to be softening. It looks like 2020 may be a solid year for the real estate market.

The Biggest Issue Facing Housing Next Year

The Biggest Issue Facing Housing Next Year

The Biggest Issue Facing Housing Next Year | MyKCM

This coming year the housing market will be defined by 3 things- inventoryinterest rates, and appreciation.  But the biggest issue the housing market will face in 2020 is an inventory shortage.  There aren’t enough homes on the market for buyers, especially on the lower end of the market. This is a topic that has come up frequently within the past several months.

Based on what is forecasted, we know that interest rates are projected to remain low and that appreciation is expected to continue as we move into 2020.  Additionally, the upcoming election will provoke many unique perspectives on the health of the US housing market. The challenge will be understanding what is actually happening and how you can best position yourself if you are thinking of buying or selling your home.

Here are several perspectives to consider on the inventory issue facing housing next year:

According to realtor.com:

“Despite increases in new construction, next year will once again fail to bring a solution to the inventory shortage that has plagued the housing market since 2015. Inventory could reach a historic low as a steady flow of demand, especially for entry level homes, and declining seller sentiment combine to keep a lid on sales transactions.”

Diana Olick at CNBC:

“Inventory has been falling annually for five straight months, after it recovered slightly toward the end of last year, due to a spike in mortgage rates. Rates began falling again by spring of this year. Homebuilders have been increasing production slowly, but it’s not enough to meet the increasingly strong demand.”

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com

“As millennials — the largest cohort of buyers in U.S. history — embrace homeownership and take advantage of this year’s unexpectedly low mortgage rates, demand is outstripping supply, causing inventory to vanish. The housing shortage is felt acutely at the entry-level of the market, where most millennials are looking to break into the market for their first home.”

Bottom Line

The most important thing you can do is understand what is happening in your local market. You may not be able to avoid some of the issues brought on by low inventory, but you can be educated and prepared. Let’s connect and discuss the options that make the most sense for you and your family.

Are you afraid of the Mortgage Process

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process | MyKCM

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from the real estate market because they’re uncertain about the buying process – particularly when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be! 

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and a good credit history.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history and credit score– Even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® for all closed loans in September was 737, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation– This includes income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional– Your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender– He or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval– A pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you’re serious about buying.

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure you’re ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Time to sell?

Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part.

Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | MyKCM

Tom Petty famously penned the words, “the waiting is the hardest part” in his early 80’s hit song The Waiting, and his thought process can surprisingly also be applied to individuals considering selling their homes today. Traditional thinking would suggest it may be best to wait until the spring to sell when there is a flood of buyers in the market, but right now may in fact be an even better time to list your home.

We can see the overall economy is good: wages are rising, there are near record-low unemployment rates, and mortgage interest rates are still very low too. Over the past 10+ years the housing market has stabilized, so what (if anything) is the biggest challenge in the housing market today?

The answer is simple: it’s inventory.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report by the National Association of Realtors,

“Total housing inventory at the end of September sat at 1.83 million, approximately equal to the amount of existing-homes available for sale in August, but a 2.7% decrease from 1.88 million one year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.0 months in August and down from the 4.4-month figure recorded in September 2018.”

What does this mean?

While homes are coming to the market, they aren’t coming fast enough! Right now, across the country there is less than 6 months of overall inventory of homes for sale, putting us in a seller’s market. The challenge is that there are not enough homes for sale to increase the supply needed for the number of people who want to buy, especially in the starter and middle-level markets.

To be in a balanced market (meaning we have enough inventory for the number of buyers in the market), we need to have 6 months of inventory available. Today we are nowhere near that number, and as a matter of fact, the last time we reached that height was August 2012 (as shown in the graph below):Thinking of Selling Your Home? The Waiting Is The Hardest Part. | MyKCMWhen we look at the inventory challenge today, we can see that now is a great time to sell your house. Truthfully, waiting may end up being the hardest part in the long run. This landscape is a great place for sellers who own homes in the starter and middle-level markets to take the opportunity to sell in a sellers’ market, before inventory catches up with demand. Serious buyers are actively in the market and ready to make a move at this time of year. When inventory is limited at the lower end, like it is today, selling before more homes are listed could mean a significant seller’s advantage to those who are ready to move up. The upper level of the market has much more inventory available to move into, so it’s a win across the board.

Bottom  Line

If you’re considering selling your home, don’t wait – now is the time to make your move! Take advantage of the high housing demand and the low inventory of homes for sale at the lower end of the market and use your purchasing power while mortgage rates are low to go after the move-up home of your dreams. Let’s get together to decide if now is the right time for you.

Improve Energy Costs

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill | MyKCM

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Let’s get together to discuss what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in our area.