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There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring

There’s a lot of talk lately about how challenging it can be to find a home to buy. While housing inventory is still low, there are a few important things to understand about the supply of homes for sale as we move into the end of the year.

The Number of Homes for Sale Usually Peaks in the Fall

In the residential real estate market, trends generally follow a predictable and seasonal pattern. Typically, the number of homes available for sale (or active monthly listings) peaks in the fall. But in a chapter where so little feels normal, the question becomes: should we expect a fall peak this year?

If we look at the active monthly listings for 2021 (shown in the chart below), we’ll see that the number of homes on the market has increased fairly steadily since spring this year. The realtor.com data shows we’re still seeing an increase in active inventory month-over-month. While that gain is a bit smaller month-to-month (see August to September in the chart), September numbers are still up from the month prior.There Are More Homes Available Now than There Were This Spring | MyKCM.The important takeaway here is the latest monthly numbers show growth. At the end of September, buyers had more options to pick from than they did this spring. That’s encouraging for buyers who may have paused their search months ago because they had trouble finding a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, sums this up nicely:

“Put simply, this September buyers had more options than they’ve had all year and while that’s typical of early fall, that’s not what happened in 2020. Still, it’s important to remember that while buyers may have an easier time this fall than they did in the spring, the market remains more competitive than it has been historically at this time of year.”

As Hale says, a fall peak in inventory is in line with typical seasonal trends. While it’s impossible to say for certain what the future holds for housing inventory, we do know both buyers and sellers have opportunities this season based on the latest data.

What Does That Mean for You?

If you’re thinking of buying a home, rest assured you do have more options now than you did earlier this year – and that’s a welcome relief. That said, today’s market is still highly competitive. This isn’t the time to slow your search. It’s actually the season when the number of homes available for sale tends to peak. Focus on the additional options with renewed energy this season and be prepared for ongoing competition from other buyers.

If you’re considering selling your house, realize that while growing, inventory is still low. Selling now means you’ll be in a great position to negotiate with buyers – and competition among buyers is good news for your bottom line. Eager buyers will likely be motivated to act before the holidays, giving you the benefit of a fast sale.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying or selling, there’s still a chance to make your goals a reality this season. Let’s connect so we can discuss what’s going on with the local market and current trends and what they mean for you.

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As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

Tree growing on coins, money growing, business success concept.

Homeownership is still a crucial part of the American dream. For those people who own a home (and those looking to buy one), it’s clear that being a homeowner has considerable benefits both emotionally and financially. In addition to long-term stability, buying a home is one of the best ways to increase your net worth. This boost to your wealth comes in the form of equity.

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

The best thing about equity is that it often grows without you even realizing it, especially in a sellers’ market like we’re in now. In today’s real estate market, the combination of low housing supply and high buyer demand is driving home values up. This is giving homeowners a significant equity boost.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, the amount of equity homeowners have has continued to grow as home values appreciate. Here are some key takeaways from the Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

  • The average homeowner gained $51,500 in equity over the past year
  • There was a 29.3% increase in national homeowner equity year over year

To give you an idea of what that looks like in your area, the map below shows the average equity gains by state.As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | MyKCM

What does all of that mean for you?

If you’re already a homeowner, you likely have more equity in your house than you realize. The numbers in the map above reflect year-over-year growth. If you’ve been in your home for longer than a year, you’ll likely have even more equity than that. That equity can take you places. You can use the equity you’ve gained to fuel your next move, achieve other life goals, and more.

On the other hand, if you haven’t purchased a home yet, understanding equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. Homeowners across the nation gained an average of over $50,000 in equity this year. Don’t miss out on this chance to grow your net worth.

Bottom Line

If you want to learn more, let’s connect. A trusted advisor can help you understand where home prices are today, how they contribute to a homeowner’s net worth, and the impact equity can have when you own a home.

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Don’t Forget to Budget for Closing Costs

What are closing costs? According to Trulia, “When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For example, for someone buying a $300,000 home, they could potentially have between $6,000 and $15,000 in closing fees. If you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your closing costs could be greater. As mentioned above, closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.

Trulia gives more great advice, explaining: “There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

As home prices are rising and more buyers are finding themselves competing in bidding wars, it’s more important than ever to make sure your plan includes budgeting for closing costs. Work with your lender and a local real estate professional to be sure you have everything you need to land your dream home.

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How Smart Is It to Buy a Home Today?

How Smart Is It to Buy a Home Today? | MyKCM

Whether you’re buying your first home or selling your current house, if your needs are changing and you think you need to move, the decision can be complicated. You may have to take personal or professional considerations into account, and only you can judge what impact those factors should have on your desire to move.

However, there’s one category that provides a simple answer. When deciding to buy now or wait until next year, the financial aspect of the purchase is easy to evaluate. You just need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do I think home values will be higher a year from now?
  2. Do I think mortgage rates will be higher a year from now?

From a purely financial standpoint, if the answer is ‘yes’ to either question, you should strongly consider buying now. If the answer to both questions is ‘yes,’ you should definitely buy now.

Nobody can guarantee what home values or mortgage rates will be by the end of this year. The experts, however, seem certain the answer to both questions above is a resounding ‘yes.’ Mortgage rates are expected to rise and home values are expected to appreciate rather nicely.

What does this mean to you?

Let’s look at how waiting would impact your financial situation. Here are the assumptions made for this example:

  • The experts are right – mortgage rates will be 3.18% at the end of the year
  • The experts are right – home values will appreciate by 5.9%
  • You want to buy a home valued at $350,000 today
  • You decide on a 10% down payment

How Smart Is It to Buy a Home Today? | MyKCMHere’s the financial impact of waiting:

  • You pay an extra $20,650 for the house
  • You need an additional $2,065 for a down payment
  • You pay an extra $116/month in your mortgage payment ($1,392 additional per year)
  • You don’t gain the $20,650 increase in wealth through equity build-up

Bottom Line

There are many things to consider when buying a home. However, from a purely financial aspect, if you find a home that meets your needs, buying now makes much more sense than buying next year.

We can help, call today: 719.822.1444

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Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year.

Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year.

Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCM

Every year, households across the country make the decision to rent for another year or take the leap into homeownership. They look at their earnings and savings and then decide what makes the most financial sense. That equation will most likely take into consideration monthly housing costs, tax advantages, and other incremental expenses. Using these measurements, recent studies show that it’s still more affordable to own than rent in most of the country.

There is, however, another financial advantage to owning a home that’s often forgotten in the analysis – the wealth built through equity when you own a home.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, discusses this point in a recent blog post. She explains:

“Once you include the equity benefit of price appreciation, owning made more financial sense than renting in 48 out of the 50 top markets, with the only exceptions being San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.”

What has this equity piece meant to homeowners in the past?

ATTOM Data Solutions, the curator of one of the nation’s premier property databases, just analyzed the typical home-price gain owners nationwide enjoyed when they sold their homes. Here’s a breakdown of their findings:Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCMThe typical gain in the sale of the home (equity) has increased significantly over the last five years.

CoreLogic, another property data curator, also weighed in on the subject. According to their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity in just the last year alone.

What does the future look like for homeowners when it comes to equity?

Here are the seven major home price appreciation forecasts for 2021:Want to Build Wealth? Buy a Home This Year. | MyKCMThe National Association of Realtors (NAR) just reported that today, the median-priced home in the country sells for $309,800. If homes appreciate by 5% this year (the average of the forecasts), the homeowner will increase their wealth by $15,490 in 2021 through increased equity.

Bottom Line

As you make your plans for the coming year, be sure to consider the equity benefits of home price appreciation as you weigh the financial advantages of buying over renting. When you do, you may find this is the perfect time to jump into homeownership.

Let us at The Wheaton/Wass Real Estate Team help you in your search.

Call today: 719.822.1444

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How the CARES Act Can Help You Buy Your First Home

cares act helps buy home

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought incredible economic hardship to businesses and individuals. At the same time, it has brought unique opportunities to people who are in the market to buy their first home. Read on to learn how you may be able to leverage the CARES Act to help finance a mortgage.

What Is it?

Also known as the CARES Act, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in response to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Among other things, the legislation includes direct economic relief for businesses and individuals in the form of checks, grants and low-interest loans. It also included waivers that allowed people to tap their 401(k)s early without incurring penalties.

Overcoming the Dreaded Down Payment Obstacle

One of the greatest obstacles facing first-time homebuyers is coming up with a sizable down payment. The CARES Act provides an opportunity for prospective buyers to fund their down payments by accessing their 401(k)s.

The ability to tap into retirement funds was a measure put in place to help combat emergencies. That said, the CARES Act does not forbid anyone from tapping into their retirement savings to help fund a down payment for a new home.

Usually, the purchase of a first home wouldn’t qualify as an exception for early withdrawal or distribution from a 401(k) plan; however, the CARES Act allows certain qualified individuals to borrow up to 100% of their 401(k)’s vested balance. It also waives any early withdrawal penalties for distributions up to $100,000 even if you’re under the age of 59½. That said, distributions must occur in response to financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

To qualify, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You, a spouse or dependent received a positive COVID-19 test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • You experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of being furloughed, quarantined or laid off due to COVID-19
  • You experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of being unable to work due to lack of child care due to COVID-19
  • You are a business owner that experienced adverse financial consequences due to having to shutter or reduce hours due to COVID-19

Maximum Loan Amount

The maximum loan amount you can borrow is usually a $50,000 maximum or 50% of the vested account balance. The vested balance is the amount of money in the 401(k) you “own”. Contributions by employees are always 100% vested, but contributions by an employer may require acares act home loan few years of service by the employee to be considered vested. This depends on the details in your retirement plan documents.

An exception to this set limit is if 50% of the vested balance falls under $10,000. In this case, you can borrow up to $10,000.

Why it’s a Good Idea

If you are eligible, there are a lot of good reasons to look into leveraging the CARES Act distribution from your retirement plan to help buy a home. For one, there’s no obligation to pay back the loan. That said, if you do repay your COVID-19-related distribution within three years, it will be treated as a non-taxable “direct trustee-to-trustee transfer.” If you don’t pay it back, on the other hand, you will be taxed at a rate of 20%.

Bear in mind that most (but not all employers) have agreed to participate in this CARES Act provision, so you will have to confirm that your employer is participating. You will also face the prospect of lost compounding interest on your retirement investment.

If you’re not sure whether tapping your 401(k) to help buy a home is a good choice, talk to your financial advisor. You should also talk to a reputable real estate agent to determine if now is a good time to buy a home, since home values and market conditions will work to determine whether you are making a wise investment.

With more than six decades of collective real estate experience, The Wheaton Team provides comprehensive guidance and expert advice for our clients. Specializing in residential real estate throughout Colorado Springs, our team can guide you through the complex buying and financing process. Contact our attentive, knowledgeable real estate professionals to learn more.

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What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values?

 

According to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Insights Report, nationwide home values increased by 8.2% over the last twelve months. The dramatic rise was brought about as the inventory of homes for sale reached historic lows at the same time buyer demand was buoyed by record-low mortgage rates. As CoreLogic explained:

“Home price growth remained consistently elevated throughout 2020. Home sales for the year are expected to register above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, the availability of for-sale homes has dwindled as demand increased and coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks continued across the country, which delayed some sellers from putting their homes on the market.

While the pandemic left many in positions of financial insecurity, those who maintained employment and income stability are also incentivized to buy given the record-low mortgage rates available; this is increasing buyer demand while for-sale inventory is in short supply.”

Where will home values go in 2021?

Home price appreciation in 2021 will continue to be determined by this imbalance of supply and demand. If supply remains low and demand is high, prices will continue to increase.

Housing Supply

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the current number of single-family homes for sale is 1,080,000. At the same time last year, that number stood at 1,450,000. We are entering 2021 with approximately 370,000 fewer homes for sale than there were one year ago.

However, there is some speculation that the inventory crush will ease somewhat as we move through the new year for two reasons:

1. As the health crisis eases, more homeowners will be comfortable putting their houses on the market.

2. Some households impacted financially by the pandemic will be forced to sell.

Housing Demand

Low mortgage rates have driven buyer demand over the last twelve months. According to Freddie Mac, rates stood at 3.72% at the beginning of 2020. Today, we’re starting 2021 with rates one full percentage point lower than that. Low rates create a great opportunity for homebuyers, which is one reason why demand is expected to remain high throughout the new year.

Taking into consideration these projections on housing supply and demand, real estate analysts forecast homes will continue to appreciate in 2021, but that appreciation may be at a steadier pace than last year. Here are their forecasts:What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

There’s still a very limited number of homes for sale for the great number of purchasers looking to buy them. As a result, the concept of “supply and demand” mandates that home values in the country will continue to appreciate.

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The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year | MyKCM

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:

“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:

  • The Northeast increased by 65.5%
  • The West increased by 64.7%
  • The Midwest increased by 55.7%
  • The South increased by 54.7%

Why is the traffic so active?

The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.

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Common Issues That Home Inspectors Typically Look For

top things home inspectors look for

Homebuyers almost always hire professional home inspectors to find any problems with a property before closing. If you’re planning to sell a home, it’s important to address key issues before this important process begins. Read on to learn which hot spots inspectors focus on when they’re assessing the condition of a home.

Roofs and Chimneys

Because it’s the first line of defense against the weather, roofs get a lot of attention from inspectors. Deteriorating shingles and other flaws are one of the very first things they will notice. Rotted or moist elements beneath the shingles will typically draw requests for repairs. The inspection will also include a long look at the attic. Any sign of water stains or mold will lead to a negative report.

Sellers should also make sure the flashing around the chimney is watertight. The bricks and mortar should be in good condition, and the fireplace needs to function properly and be free of creosote buildup which can increase the risk of uncontrolled fires and, in rare instances, explosions.

Plumbing

home inspector plumbingDuring an inspection, you should expect every part of your home’s plumbing system to get a thorough once-over. Repair leaks long before the inspector sets foot on your property. It’s always important to address pumping problems quickly because they can lead to extensive, unseen water damage that can reduce a home’s value.

Inspectors also check water pressure by flushing toilets, turning on multiple faucets, and simultaneously running the dishwasher. They also assess the health of a home’s septic system.

Basements and Crawl Spaces

Home inspectors pay special attention to signs of mold in basements and crawl spaces. Any sort of mildew stain and foul odor can torpedo a home sale, especially if there is evidence of black mold. Even if the mold in your home isn’t dangerous, you need to treat it and address the source of the problem to prevent a recurrence.

Even slight mildew odors are signs of excessive moisture. Home inspectors look closely at the floors and walls for signs of dampness and patches of mildew. Inspectors often use meters to determine how much moisture is present because moisture eventually attracts insects and deteriorates building materials.

You can cover exposed earth in crawl spaces and basements with plastic sheeting to help lower moisture levels. Most foundation leaks are caused by poor drainage that forces water toward the foundation. This can cause the underlying soil to expand and shrink as the water evaporates.

If your home has foundation problems, and you can’t afford repairs, you may have to lower your asking price upfront with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. You could also give the prospective buyers an allowance to make repairs after closing.

Electrical Systems

Inspectors also assess electrical systems with a critical eye. Your circuit breaker and electrical panel configuration must be adequate for the requirements of your house. Depending on the code, these systems can change over time, especially with older properties. It’s best to review current codes before you put your home on the market to see if there are any issues.

In bathrooms and kitchens, inspectors will look for receptacles equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI). These contain mini-circuit breakers that shut off during a power overload or short circuit. bear in mind that good inspectors check receptacles to make sure they aren’t dummies that aren’t wired correctly.

Other Considerations

Home inspections generally look at every part of a home. Although roofs, basements, wiring and plumbing are always primary areas, they aren’t the only places worthy of your attention.

Inspectors will check cooling and heating systems to make sure they work and note their efficiency. They will take a close look at the foundation and structure, along with any appliances that remain with the house. This includes carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, so make sure all of these are in good working order.

While most buyers are mainly concerned with the condition and safety of a home, some hope to find minor issues, so they can lower their offers. In the end, the fewer issues they find, the less opportunity buyers will have to haggle overpricing.

Thinking of selling your home? The Wheaton Team makes it easy. With decades of residential real estate experience in Colorado Springs and the Tri-Lakes area, our skilled professionals are ready to guide you through every step of the complex selling process. Contact our team to learn more.

To learn more about home inspections, read: 5 Tips on Finding the Right Home Inspector.

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Buyer’s Market vs. Seller’s Market

buyers market

Most people have heard the real estate terms “buyer’s market” and “seller’s market.” But what do these mean, and how do they affect your ability to sell or buy a home? Read on to learn how supply and demand influence home prices.

What is a Buyer’s Market?

With a buyer’s market, the supply of available homes for sale outnumbers the amount of motivated buyers who are interested in purchasing a home. Because they have so many options, buyers can afford to be pickier. This forces sellers to be more reasonable with their pricing.

If you’re searching for a new home, a buyer’s market is the best time to make a move. In many instances, you will be able to get a home for a lower cost than you would if you were shopping during a seller’s market.

On the other hand, if you are hoping to sell a home, you will have a harder time during a buyer’s market. Not only will you have to price your home to compete with other available inventory; your home may take longer to sell. If your home stays on the market for a while, you may also have to lower your asking price or make certain concessions to secure a buyer.

What is a Seller’s Market?

With a seller’s market, the supply of available homes for sale is less than the number of motivated buyers who are interested in purchasing a home. Because they have fewer options and increased competition, buyers cannot afford to be as picky. This allows sellers to raise their asking prices.

sellers marketWhenever demand exceeds supply, multiple buyers often become interested in a single home, resulting in bidding wars. If you’re planning to sell your home, a seller’s market is the best time to make a move. In most instances, you will be able to secure your asking price; you may also be able to get a higher offer if there are multiple interested buyers.

If you’re trying to buy a home in a seller’s market, the seller will have the advantage. If there are other buyers interested in the same home you’re making an offer on, you will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to haggle for a better price. In fact, you might even lose the opportunity to buy the property if a competing buyer swoops in with a higher offer.

Seller’s markets are also commonly referred to as “renter’s markets” because potential buyers often need to keep renting until they can either accumulate a higher down payment to help compete with other buyers or wait for market conditions to change.

How Do You Determine the State of the Market?

There are a number of different factors that determine real estate market conditions, both nationally and locally. If an area has a booming economy with a lot of great employment opportunities, more people are going to want to live there, and limited housing opportunities will create a seller’s market. The same works in reverse.

Shifting mortgage rates can also drive buyer demand since they help determine loan affordability. At the same time, the supply of local housing is constantly in a state of flux. Home inventory can increase when people move elsewhere, whether they’re downsizing or moving into a larger home for an expanding family. Similarly, inventory can increase with new home construction.

On the other hand, housing inventory can decrease due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods. Limited land availability can also lead to plot shortages that limit new home construction and make existing properties more valuable.

The real estate market can also go up and down based on the season. There are typically more homes for sale in the summer. This means you could have a seller’s market during the winter and a buyer’s market when the weather warms up.

With all this in mind, it can be difficult for ordinary buyers and sellers to assess current market conditions. One way to determine if it’s a seller’s or buyer’s market is to analyze available inventory. If inventory is low, it is most likely (though not always) a seller’s market. If inventory is high, it is most likely (though not always) a buyer’s market.

With so much to consider, however, it’s generally best to seek counsel from a reputable real estate agent to help you get a clear understanding of existing market conditions.

With 60-plus years of combined experience, The Wheaton Team specializes in residential real estate throughout Colorado Springs and all of El Paso County. Let us guide you through each step of the buying and selling process, so you can achieve your real estate goals. Contact us today to get started.