Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.”

Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.” | MyKCM

There seems to be some concern that the 2020 economic downturn will lead to another foreclosure crisis like the one we experienced after the housing crash a little over a decade ago. However, there’s one major difference this time: a robust forbearance program.

During the housing crash of 2006-2008, many felt homeowners should be forced to pay their mortgages despite the economic hardships they were experiencing. There was no empathy for the challenges those households were facing. In a 2009 Wall Street Journal article titled Is Walking Away From Your Mortgage Immoral?, John Courson, Chief Executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, was asked to comment on those not paying their mortgage. He famously said:

“What about the message they will send to their family and their kids?”

Courson suggested that people unable to pay their mortgage were bad parents.

What resulted from that lack of empathy? Foreclosures mounted.

This time is different. There was an immediate understanding that homeowners were faced with a challenge not of their own making. The government quickly jumped in with a mortgage forbearance program that relieved the financial burden placed on many households. The program allowed many borrowers to suspend their monthly mortgage payments until their economic condition improved. It was the right thing to do.

What happens when forbearance programs expire?

Some analysts are concerned many homeowners will not be able to make up the back payments once their forbearance plans expire. They’re concerned the situation will lead to an onslaught of foreclosures.

The banks and the government learned from the challenges the country experienced during the housing crash. They don’t want a surge of foreclosures again. For that reason, they’ve put in place alternative ways homeowners can pay back the money owed over an extended period of time.

Another major difference is that, unlike 2006-2008, today’s homeowners are sitting on a record amount of equity. That equity will enable them to sell their houses and walk away with cash instead of going through foreclosure.

Bottom Line

The differences mentioned above will be the reason we’ll avert a surge of foreclosures. As Ivy Zelman, a highly respected thought leader for housing and CEO of Zelman & Associates, said:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

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Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing

Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing | MyKCM

Through all the challenges of 2020, the real estate market has done very well, and purchasers are continuing to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Realtor Magazine just explained:

“While winter may be typically a slow season in real estate, economists predict it isn’t likely to happen this year…Low inventories combined with high demand due to record-low mortgage rates is sending buyers to the market in a flurry.”

However, one challenge for the housing industry heading into this winter is the dwindling number of homes available for sale. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), recently said:

“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”

In addition, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, notes:

“Fewer new sellers coming to market while a greater than usual number of buyers continue to search for a home causes inventory to continue to evaporate.”

One major indicator the industry uses to measure housing supply is the months’ supply of inventory. According to NAR:

“Months’ supply refers to the number of months it would take for the current inventory of homes on the market to sell given the current sales pace.”

Homes for Sale Are Rapidly Disappearing | MyKCM

Historically, six months of supply is considered a normal real estate market. Going into the pandemic, inventory was already well below this mark. As the year progressed, the supply has was reduced even further. Here is a graph showing this measurement over the last year:

What does this mean if you’re a buyer?

Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be prepared to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand how the shortage in inventory has led to more bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home if you truly love it.

What does this mean if you’re a seller?

Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there’s a shortage of an item at the same time there’s a strong demand for it, the seller is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it’s the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to ask for more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Do not be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout the winter and heading into the spring. Know what that means for you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.

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Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | MyKCM

For years, real estate has been considered the best investment you can make. A major reason for this is due to the net worth a household gains through homeownership. In fact, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance Data from the Federal Reserve, for the average homeowner:

“…a primary home accounts for 90% of the total wealth of a family in the U.S.”

How do homeowners gain wealth?

Most large purchases, like cars and appliances, depreciate in value as they age, so it’s understandable to question how owning a home can increase wealth over time. In a simple equation, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how the combination of paying your mortgage and home price appreciation grow overall wealth:

Principal Payments + Price Appreciation Gains = Housing Wealth Gain

As home values increase and you make payments toward your home loan, you’ll gain wealth through equity. The same article from NAR also addresses how wealth gains tend to play out over time:

“Housing wealth accumulation takes time and is built up by paying off the mortgage debt and by price appreciation. And while home prices can fall, home prices tend to recover and go up over the longer term. As of September 2020, the median sales price of existing home sales was $311,800, a 35% gain since July 2006 when prices peaked at $230,000.”

Taking a look at how equity has grown for the typical homeowner, it’s clear to see how real estate is a sound long-term investment. NAR notes:

“Nationally, a person who purchased a typical home 30 years ago would have typically gained about $283,000 as of the second quarter of 2020.” (See graph below):

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a current homeowner planning to put your equity toward a new home or have hopes of buying your first home soon, homeownership will always be a great opportunity to build your net worth and overall wealth. Owning a home is truly an investment in your financial future.

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VA Home Loans: Helping Heroes Find a Home

VA Home Loans: Important Housing Benefits for Veterans | MyKCM

Today, on Veterans Day, we honor those who have served our country and thank them for their continued dedication to our nation. In the United States, there are many valuable benefits available to Veterans, including VA home loans. For over 75 years, VA home loans have provided millions of Veterans and their families the opportunity to purchase their own homes.

As we consider the full impact of VA home loans, it’s important to both understand these great options for Veterans and to share them with those we know who may be able to benefit most. For a variety of different reasons, many Veterans don’t use their VA home loan options, so being knowledgeable about what’s available and how they work may be a game-changer for many.

Facts about 2019 VA Home Loans (most current data):

624,546 home loans were guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.

306,879 VA home loans were made without a down payment.

2,055 grants totaling $118 million were provided to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs.

VA Home Loans Often Offer:

No down payment options as long as the sales price isn’t higher than the home’s appraised value.

Better terms and interest rates than loans from other lenders.

Fewer closing costs, which may be paid by the seller.

Bottom Line

The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can potentially benefit from these loan options. Let’s connect today to discuss your questions about VA home loan benefits. Thank you for your service.

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Winter Will Bring a Flurry of Activity to the Housing Market

Winter Will Bring a Flurry of Activity to the Housing Market | MyKCM

In the second half of this year, the housing market surged with activity. Today, real estate experts are looking ahead to the winter season and the forecast is anything but chilly. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:

“It will be one of the best winter sales years ever.”

The typical winter slowdown in the housing market is simply not on the radar. Here’s why.

While today’s historically low mortgage rates are expected to remain low, they won’t be this low for much longer. This could be the last chance for homebuyers to secure such low rates, and they’re ready to take action. In a recent articleBankrate explained:

“If you’re looking to buy a home…expect mortgage rates to remain low into 2021. However, the possibility of rates falling to 2.5 percent or lower has faded as the U.S. economy has rebounded.”

As long as we continue to see low interest rates, we’ll see hopeful buyers on the hunt for their dream homes. Yun confirmed:

“The demand for home buying remains super strong…And we’re still likely to end the year with more homes sold overall in 2020 than in 2019…With persistent low mortgage rates and some degree of a continuing jobs recovery, more contract signings are expected in the near future.”

The challenge, however, is the lack of homes available for sale. With that in mind, all eyes are on homeowners to see if they’ll sell this winter or wait until spring. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.comsays it’s best for sellers to capitalize on this moment sooner rather than later:

“We currently see buyers sticking around in the housing market much later than we usually do this fall. If that trend continues, we will see more buyers in the market this winter, too. So, this winter is likely to be a good time to sell.”

With buyers ready to stay active this winter, sellers who want to close a deal on the best possible terms shouldn’t wait until spring to put their homes on the market.

Bottom Line

Experts agree the winter housing market could potentially be bigger than ever. Whether you’re ready to buy or sell, let’s connect today so you can be in your dream home by the new year.

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Tips to Sell Your House Safely Right Now

Tips to Sell Your House Safely Right Now [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

Your agent now has over 6 months of experience selling houses during the pandemic and can make the process easier and safer for you today.

COVID-19 protocols and technology usage recommendations from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are making it possible to sell houses right now, while agents continue to abide first and foremost by state and local regulations.

Let’s connect to discuss how to sell your house safely in today’s housing market.

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Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move

Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move | MyKCM

If you’ve been working from home this year, chances are you’ve been at it a little longer than you initially expected. Businesses all over the country have figured out how to operate remotely to keep their employees healthy, safe, and productive. For many, it may be carrying into next year, and possibly beyond.

While the pandemic continues, Americans are re-evaluating their homes, floorplans, locations, needs, and more. Some need more space, while others need less. Whether you’re renting or own your home, if remote work is part of your future, you may be thinking about moving, especially while today’s mortgage rates are so low.

A recent study from Upwork notes:

“Anywhere from 14 to 23 million Americans are planning to move as a result of remote work.”

To put this into perspective, last year, 6 million homes were sold in the U.S. This means roughly 2 – 4X as many people are considering moving now, and there’s a direct connection to their ability to work from home.

Why Working from Home May Spark Your Next Move | MyKCM

The same study also notes while 45.3% of people are planning to stay within a 2-hour drive from their current location, 41.5% of the people who are citing working from home as their primary reason for making a move are willing to look for a home more than 4 hours away from where they live now (See graph below):In some cases, moving a little further away from your current location might mean you can get more home for your money. If you have the opportunity to work remotely, you may have more options available by expanding your search. Upwork also indicates, of those surveyed:

“People are seeking less expensive housing: Altogether, more than half (52.5%) are planning to move to a house that is significantly more affordable than their current home.”

Whether you can eliminate your daily commute to the office, or you simply need more space to work from home, your plans may be changing. If that’s the case, it’s time to connect with a local real estate professional to assess your evolving needs and determine your path together.

Bottom Line

This has been a year of change, and what you need in a home is no exception. Let’s connect today to make sure you have expert guidance on your side to help you find a home that fits your remote work needs.

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How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership

How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership | MyKCM

Many people are eager to buy a home right now while affordability continues to be a highlight of the current housing market. However, a recent survey by Sparks Research shows that 20% of first-time homebuyers cite a lack of financial education as a barrier to homeownership. This is definitely understandable. If you don’t feel comfortable with the financial process of buying a home, it’s hard to make a confident decision. In fact, four in five homebuyers say they need help to understand what they can even afford in the first place. This is why finding the right professionals to help you through the process is so important.

On top of that, the same survey reports over two-thirds of prospective homebuyers believe they’ll need assistance to save enough for a down payment. What they may not realize is that there are a lot of down payment assistance programs at the state and regional levels, and many of them have funds available for potential buyers. Down Payment Resources recently released its Q3 2020 Homeownership Program Index, which explains:

“The number of total programs is 2,340, and over 81 percent (81.1%) of programs currently have funds available for eligible homebuyers.”

Down Payment Assistance Programs Are Not Only for First-Time Homebuyers

Keep in mind, these programs aren’t just for first-time homebuyers, so it’s worth exploring your options no matter where you are in your homeownership journey. For example, if you’re working from home now, you may be thinking of relocating to a more affordable area where you can stretch your dollar further and have more space, inside and out. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Rural areas have mortgages (USDA loans) that don’t require down payments; and some workers who can work from home may want to consider outer suburbs or small towns where USDA home loans are available and where homes are very affordable.”

If affordability is on your mind and you’re expecting to be working from home long-term, the right home may be in an area you haven’t considered yet. In addition, the assistance program you need might be within reach too.

If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, additional information is available through Down Payment Resource. Your real estate advisor can help you decide which option is best for you personally.

Bottom Line

Thanks to a range of down payment assistance programs, affordable options are out there for today’s hopeful homebuyers. It’s important to get the financial education you need to understand the homebuying process and accomplish your real estate goals. Let’s connect today to get you started on the path to your dream home.

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Buyer Interest Is Growing among Younger Generations

Buyer Interest Is Growing among Younger Generations | MyKCM

The demand for homes this year is extraordinary as record-breaking numbers of hopeful buyers continue to shop for homes. In a normal year, the peak homebuying season comes to a close by early fall. However, 2020 is anything but a normal year, and the housing market is no exception. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season…I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace, including buyers of vacation homes given the greater flexibility to work from home.”

What’s drawing so many buyers to the market?

As Yun mentioned, record-low interest rates are key. Today’s rates are strengthening purchasing power for buyers, too. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macemphasizes:

“Mortgage rates today are on average more than a full percentage point lower than rates over the last five years.”

If you’re a homebuyer right now, there’s no question that you want to take advantage of this opportunity – and you’re not alone. Competition among buyers is definitely increasing as more buyers enter the market and mortgage interest rates remain so low.

Who’s planning to buy a home right now?

Today’s affordability is appealing to all generations and seems to be especially attractive to younger buyers who want to begin growing their wealth through homeownership. There’s a distinct increase this year in the percentage of those in younger generations searching for homes. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“Between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, the share of Gen Z adults planning a home purchase rose three points to 14%. Millennials, however, are the generation most likely to be considering buying a home (22%).”

Buyer Interest Is Growing among Younger Generations | MyKCM

Here’s a graph showing the year-over-year increase in homebuying interest by generation:According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, millennials are reaching their prime home-buying years, a likely driver in this increase:

“Record low mortgage rates and millennials continuing to age into their prime home-buying years has boosted demand, but a lack of housing supply remains a challenge.”

What’s the biggest challenge for today’s buyers?

Finding a home, however, as Fleming notes above, is clearly a challenge today. Yun also explains:

“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”

With so many buyers actively searching for homes this year and so few houses for sale, it’s more important than ever to work with a trusted real estate professional to navigate today’s market. From pre-approval to bidding wars and guidance on down payment assistance resources, having an agent by your side might make the difference in your ability to land your dream home.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect if you’re ready to buy a home. More buyers mean more competition, so you need an expert guide to help you stand out from the crowd.

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Should I Renovate My House Before I Sell It?

Should I Renovate My House Before I Sell It? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • In today’s hyper-competitive market, buyers are often willing to overlook cosmetic or minor repair needs if it means snagging a home in their price range.
  • With so few houses available for sale today, you may be able to skip the bigger renovations before you sell and cash in on the current demand for your house.
  • If you’re ready to move, let’s connect to determine your best next steps in this sellers’ market.
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4 Reasons Why the Election Won’t Dampen the Housing Market

4 Reasons Why the Election Won’t Dampen the Housing Market | MyKCM

Tomorrow, Americans will decide our President for the next four years. That decision will have a major impact on many aspects of life in this country, but the residential real estate market will not be one of them.

Analysts will try to measure the impact feasible changes in regulations might have on housing, the effect of a possible first-time buyer program, and any number of other situations based on who wins. The housing market, however, will remain strong for four reasons:

1. Demand Is Strong among Millennials

The nation’s largest generation began entering the housing market last year as they reached the age to marry and have children – two key drivers of homeownership. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:

“Millennials, long viewed as perennial home renters who were reluctant or unable to buy, are now emerging as a driving force in the U.S. housing market’s recent recovery.”

2. Mortgage Rates Are Historically Low

All-time low interest rates are also driving demand across all generations. Strong demand created by this rate drop has countered other economic disruptions (e.g., pandemic, recession, record unemployment).

In addition, Freddie Mac just forecasted mortgage rates to remain low through next year:

“One of the main drivers of the strong housing recovery is historically low mortgage interest rates…Given weakness in the broader economy, the Federal Reserve’s signal that its policy rate will remain low until inflation picks up, and no signs of inflation, we forecast mortgage rates to remain flat over the next year. From the third quarter of 2020 through the end of 2021, we forecast mortgage rates to remain unchanged at 3%.”

3. Prices Continue to Appreciate

The continued lack of supply of existing homes for sale coupled with the surge in buyer demand has experts forecasting strong price appreciation over the next twelve months.

4. History Says So

Though it’s true that the market slows slightly in November when it’s a Presidential election year, the pace returns quickly. Here’s an explanation as to why from the Homebuilding Industry Report by BTIG:

“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty. This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Meyers Research, also notes:

“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year as long as the economy stays on track.”

Bottom Line

There’s no doubt this is one of the most contentious presidential elections in our nation’s history. The outcome will have a major impact on many sectors of the economy. However, as Matthew Speakman, an economist at Zillowexplained last week:

“While the path of the overall economy is likely to be most directly dictated by coronavirus-related and political developments in the coming months, recent trends suggest that the housing market – which has basically withstood every pandemic-related challenge to this point – will continue its strong momentum in the months to come.

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Home Values Projected to Keep Rising

Home Values Projected to Keep Rising | MyKCM

As we enter the final months of 2020 and continue to work through the challenges this year has brought, some of us wonder what impact continued economic uncertainty could have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, the rules of supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what is to come.

Due to the undersupply of homes on the market today, there’s upward pressure on prices. Consider simple economics: when there is high demand for an item and a low supply of it, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. That’s what’s happening in today’s real estate market. The housing supply shortage is also resulting in bidding wars, which will also drive price points higher in the home sale process.

Home Values Projected to Keep Rising | MyKCM

There’s no evidence that buyer demand will wane. As a result, experts project price appreciation will continue over the next twelve months. Here’s a graph of the major forecasts released in the last 60 days:

I hear many foreclosures might be coming to the market soon. Won’t that drive prices down?

Some are concerned that homeowners who entered a mortgage forbearance plan might face foreclosure once their plan ends. However, when you analyze the data on those in forbearance, it’s clear the actual level of risk is quite low.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates and a highly-regarded expert in housing and housing-related industries, was very firm in a podcast last week:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

With demand high, supply low, and little risk of a foreclosure crisis, home prices will continue to appreciate.

Bottom Line

Originally, many thought home prices would depreciate in 2020 due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus. Instead, prices appreciated substantially. Over the next year, we will likely see home values rise even higher given the continued lack of inventory of homes for sale.

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Selling Your House Is the Right Move, Right Now

Selling Your House Is the Right Move, Right Now [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Demand from homebuyers has skyrocketed this year, which means today’s sellers are poised to win big. This ideal moment in time to sell your house won’t last forever, though.
  • With more sellers coming to the market in the spring, waiting until next year means buyers will have more choices, so your home may not stand out from the crowd.
  • Let’s connect today to discuss why now may be the right time to make a move on your terms.
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Two Important Impacts of Home Equity

Two Important Impacts of Home Equity | MyKCM

Equity continues to rise, helping American homeowners secure a much more stable financial future. According to the most recent data from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $9,800 in equity over the past year. In addition, experts project 2020 home prices to continue rising. With prices going up, equity gains will also keep accelerating. Black Knight just reported:

“The annual percent change in the overall median existing single-family-home price has skyrocketed in the past several months, with recent numbers at three to five times higher than rates seen in the past several years.”

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, just qualified recent price increases as “jaw-dropping” and “within a hair’s breadth of double-digit year-over-year appreciation.”

Knowing equity will help enable many homeowners to better survive the economic distress caused by the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to break down two key homeowner benefits of increasing equity.

1. Equity Increases a Homeowner’s Options to Buy a New Home

Aside from the financial damage of the last seven months, there has also been a tremendous emotional toll on many people. Shelter-in-place mandates, quarantine requirements, and virtual schooling have all made us re-evaluate the must-have requirements a home should deliver. Having equity in your current house gives you a better opportunity to move-up or build your perfect home from scratch.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:

“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”

If you need to make a move, the equity in your current home can help make that possible – right now.

2. Equity Enables Homeowners to Help Future Generations

An increase in home equity grows overall wealth, which can transfer to future generations. The Federal Reserve, in an addendum to their recent Survey of Consumer Finances, explains:

“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children’s educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children’s ability to accumulate wealth.”

Bottom Line

Equity can help a homeowner grow their confidence in a more stable financial future. It provides near-term move-up options and creates a positive impact for future generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a person has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, financial options increase too.

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How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership

How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership | MyKCM

Many people are eager to buy a home right now while affordability continues to be a highlight of the current housing market. However, a recent survey by Sparks Research shows that 20% of first-time homebuyers cite a lack of financial education as a barrier to homeownership. This is definitely understandable. If you don’t feel comfortable with the financial process of buying a home, it’s hard to make a confident decision. In fact, four in five homebuyers say they need help to understand what they can even afford in the first place. This is why finding the right professionals to help you through the process is so important.

On top of that, the same survey reports over two-thirds of prospective homebuyers believe they’ll need assistance to save enough for a down payment. What they may not realize is that there are a lot of down payment assistance programs at the state and regional levels, and many of them have funds available for potential buyers. Down Payment Resources recently released its Q3 2020 Homeownership Program Index, which explains:

“The number of total programs is 2,340, and over 81 percent (81.1%) of programs currently have funds available for eligible homebuyers.”

Down Payment Assistance Programs Are Not Only for First-Time Homebuyers

Keep in mind, these programs aren’t just for first-time homebuyers, so it’s worth exploring your options no matter where you are in your homeownership journey. For example, if you’re working from home now, you may be thinking of relocating to a more affordable area where you can stretch your dollar further and have more space, inside and out. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Rural areas have mortgages (USDA loans) that don’t require down payments; and some workers who can work from home may want to consider outer suburbs or small towns where USDA home loans are available and where homes are very affordable.”

If affordability is on your mind and you’re expecting to be working from home long-term, the right home may be in an area you haven’t considered yet. In addition, the assistance program you need might be within reach too.

If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, additional information is available through Down Payment Resource. Your real estate advisor can help you decide which option is best for you personally.

Bottom Line

Thanks to a range of down payment assistance programs, affordable options are out there for today’s hopeful homebuyers. It’s important to get the financial education you need to understand the homebuying process and accomplish your real estate goals. Let’s connect today to get you started on the path to your dream home.

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Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options?

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | MyKCM

Earlier this year when the nation pressed pause on the economy and unemployment rates jumped up significantly, many homeowners were immediately concerned about being able to pay their mortgages, and understandably so. To assist in this challenging time, two protection plans were put into place to help support those in need.

First, there was a pause placed on initiating foreclosures for government-backed loans. This plan started on March 18, 2020, and it extends at least through December 31, 2020. Second, homeowners were able to obtain forbearance for up to 180 days, followed by a potential extension for up to another 180 days. This way, there is a relief period in which homeowners have the opportunity to halt payments on their mortgages for up to one year.

Not Everyone Understands Their Options

The challenge, according to Matt Hulstein, Staff Attorney at non-profit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, is, “A lot of homeowners aren’t aware of this option.”

Do You Need to Know More about Forbearance and Mortgage Relief Options? | MyKCM

There’s definitely traction behind this statement. In a recent survey by The National Housing Resource Center, housing counselors from across the country noted that many homeowners really don’t know that there is help available. The following graph indicates the reasons why people who are in this challenging situation are not choosing to enter forbearance:The Urban Institute explained:

“530,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began did not take advantage of forbearance, despite being eligible to ask for the plan…These responses reflect a need to provide better information to all homeowners. (Lump-sum payment is not the only repayment option.)

Additionally, 205,000 homeowners who did not extend their forbearance after its term ended in June or July became delinquent on their loans. We need to examine who these people are and why are they not extending their option.”

Clearly, a more focused effort on education about forbearance and relief programs may make a big difference for many people, and a clear understanding of their options is mission-critical. Some communities, however, have been impacted by the economic challenges of the pandemic more so than others, further confirming the need to deliver education more widely. The Urban Institute also indicates:

“Black and Hispanic homeowners have been hit harder than white homeowners…nearly 21 percent of both Black and Hispanic homeowners missed or deferred the previous month’s mortgage payment, compared with 10 percent of white homeowners and about 13 percent of all homeowners with payments due.”

Options Available

It’s important to note that any homeowner experiencing financial hardship has the right to request forbearance. If you’re unfamiliar with the plans available, contact your mortgage provider (the company you send your mortgage payment to each month) to discuss your options. It is a necessary next step, as you may qualify for mortgage relief options or forbearance.

One option many homeowners may not realize they have is the ability to sell their house in this time of need. With the growing equity that homeowners have available today, making a move might be the best option to protect your financial future.

Bottom Line

If you need additional information on your options, you can review the Protect Your Investment guide from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Homeowner’s Guide to Success from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For the majority of people, our home is the most important asset we have, and you should use all the help available right now to be able to preserve your investment.

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Americans Are Gaining Confidence in the Economy

Americans Are Gaining Confidence in the Economy | MyKCM

The September Jobs Report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.9%. Though that percentage is well below what experts projected earlier this year, it still means millions of people are without work. There’s no way to minimize the tremendous impact this pandemic-induced recession continues to have on many Americans.

However, the latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index from Fannie Mae shows how more and more Americans believe the worst is behind us, and their personal employment situation is good. The index revealed:

“The percentage of respondents who say they are not concerned about losing their job in the next 12 months increased from 78% to 83%, while the percentage who say they are concerned decreased from 22% to 16%. As a result, the net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job increased 11 percentage points.”

Americans Are Game-Changers Too

Americans are naturally optimistic and have always responded to challenges with both resiliency and resourcefulness. Today is no different. As an example, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just reported:

“Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade, according to government data, seizing on pent-up demand and new opportunities after the pandemic shut down and reshaped the economy.”

Why would someone start a business in the middle of an economic crisis? The WSJ explains:

“The jump may be one sign that the pandemic is speeding up ‘creative destruction,’ the concept…to describe how new, innovative businesses often displace older, less-efficient ones, buoying long-term prosperity.”

The WSJ also notes that these new businesses will have a positive impact on the overall employment situation, as new businesses “are a critical engine of job creation. Startups have historically accounted for around one-fifth of job creation.”

Bottom Line

For the millions of Americans still unemployed, we hope for a quick return to the workforce. We should, however, realize that over 90% of people are still employed, and some are venturing into new business start-ups. Perhaps the next big game-changing company is right around the corner.

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How to Prepare for a Bidding War

How to Prepare for a Bidding War [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • With so few houses available on the market today, being ready for a bidding war is essential for prospective homebuyers.
  • From pre-approval to making your best offer, here are three tips to make sure you can act quickly and confidently when you find the perfect home.
  • Let’s connect today to be sure you have the guidance you need as the competition for homes heats up this season.

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Real Estate Continues to Show Unprecedented Strength This Year

Real Estate Continues to Show Unprecedented Strength This Year | MyKCM

The 2020 housing market has surpassed all expectations and continues to drive the nation’s economic recovery. The question is, will this positive trend continue throughout the rest of the year, especially given the uncertainty around the current health crisis, the upcoming election, and more?

Here’s a look at what several industry-leading experts have to say.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

“Home sales continue to amaze, and there are plenty of buyers in the pipeline ready to enter the market…Further gains in sales are likely for the remainder of the year, with mortgage rates hovering around 3% and with continued job recovery.”

Frank Martell, President and CEOCoreLogic

“Homeowners’ balance sheets continue to be bolstered by home price appreciation, which in turn mitigated foreclosure pressures…Although the exact contours of the economic recovery remain uncertain, we expect current equity gains, fueled by strong demand for available homes, will continue to support homeowners in the near term.”

Zillow

Bottom Line

Many economists are in unison, indicating the housing market will continue to fuel the economy through the end of the year, maintaining this unprecedented strength.

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Why Pricing Your House Right Is Essential

ASK THE EXPERTS!

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.

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Essential | MyKCM

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.

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.

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A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s

A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | MyKCM

One of the best ways to build your family’s financial future is through homeownership. Recent data from the Federal Reserve indicates the net worth of a homeowner is actually over 40 times greater than that of a renter. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about buying a home, especially when they’re so affordable in today’s market.

A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | MyKCM

Every three years the Survey of Consumer Finances shows the breakdown of how owning a home helps build financial security. In the graph below, we see that the average net worth of homeowners continues to grow, while the net worth of renters tends to hold fairly steady and be significantly lower than that of homeowners. The gap between owning and renting just keeps getting wider over time, making homeownership more and more desirable for those who are ready.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth.

A Homeowner’s Net Worth Is 40x Greater Than a Renter’s | MyKCM

For many families, homeownership serves as a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you’re contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity you have in your home (See chart below):The impact of home equity is part of why Gallup reports that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment for the seventh year in a row. According to this year’s survey, 35% of Americans chose real estate over stocks, savings accounts, gold, and bonds.

Today, there are great opportunities available for those planning to buy a home. The housing market has made a full recovery, and all-time low interest rates are giving homebuyers a big boost in purchasing power. If you’re ready, buying a home this fall can set you up to increase your net worth and create a safety net for your family’s future.

Bottom Line

To learn how you can use your monthly housing cost to build your family’s net worth, let’s connect so you have a trusted professional to guide you through the homebuying process.

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Should You Buy a Retirement Home Sooner Rather than Later?

Ask Top Producers

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

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

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):The 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.

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Thinking of Moving?

CONNECT WITH TOP PRODUCERS

Thinking of Moving? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM
Some Highlights
  • If you’re ready to sell your house but you’re worried about finding one to move into, why not invest in a brand-new home built just for you?
  • New construction is on the rise, so it’s a great time to think about a custom home to fit your family’s changing needs.
  • Let’s connect today to discuss how to sell your house while buyer demand is high and find you a new home to call your own while you’re at it.
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6 Reasons You’ll Win by Selling with a Real Estate Agent This Fall

6 Reasons You’ll Win by Selling with a Real Estate Agent This Fall | MyKCM

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO), it’s critical to consider the following:

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

Your family’s safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your family’s health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. Have you?

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment.

Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was available yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Has Become More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.

study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.

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Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record

Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record | MyKCM

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported their Housing Market Index (HMI) hit an all-time high in the 35-year history of the series with a score of 83. The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sale expectations for the next six months, as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.

Home Builder Confidence Hits All-Time Record | MyKCM

As the following chart shows, confidence dropped dramatically when stay-in-place orders were originally mandated earlier this year. Since then, it has soared back.Looking at the three-month moving averages for HMI scores, confidence increased in every region of the country:

  • The Northeast increased 11 points to 76
  • The Midwest jumped 9 points to 72
  • The South rose 8 points to 79
  • The West increased 7 points to 85

Confidence Is Validated by the Numbers

This confidence is definitely warranted. According to a recent NAHB report, single-family housing starts increased 4.1% to a 1.02 million annual rate, and single-family permits increased 6% to a 1.04 million unit rate, meaning newly constructed homes are on the rise.

A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 33.3% compared to a year ago. Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting at MBA, commented on the numbers:

“The housing market continued to exceed expectations in August, as housing demand for new homes stayed strong and the job market continued to recover…The new home market has maintained its path of recovery throughout the summer, and record-low mortgage rates and households seeking more space will likely continue to drive demand into the fall.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market but are afraid you may not find a home to buy, let’s connect to discuss new construction opportunities in our area.

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Why Pricing Your Home Right Matters This Fall

Why Pricing Your Home Right Matters This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • As a seller today, you may think pricing your home on the high end will result in a higher final sale price, but the opposite is actually true.
  • To sell your home quickly and for the best possible price, you should eliminate buyer concerns by pricing your home competitively right from the start.
  • Let’s connect today to make sure you have the guidance you need to price your home right this fall.
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Housing Market on Track to Beat Last Year’s Success

Housing Market on Track to Beat Last Year’s Success | MyKCM

Back in March, as the nation’s economy was shut down because of the coronavirus, many were predicting the real estate market would face a major collapse. Some forecasts called for a 15-20% decline in transactions. However, six months later, it seems as though the housing market has fully recovered.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americanannounced last week:

“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.”

The Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae upgraded its forecast for home sales last week:

“Housing data over the past month continued to show a strong V-shape rebound, helping drive the broader economy. Existing home sales jumped to a pace not seen since 2006…We have substantially upgraded our forecasts for both new and existing home sales. For 2020, total home sales are now expected to be 1.3% higher than in 2019.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) agrees. In their last Pending Sales Report, NAR shared projections from Chief Economist Lawrence Yun:

“Yun forecasts existing-home sales to ramp up to 5.8 million in the second half. That expected rebound would bring the full-year level of existing-home sales to 5.4 million, a 1.1% gain compared to 2019.”

Yun’s forecast for 2021 was even more optimistic, stating, “Home sales will ramp up again next year, increasing between 8% – 12%.”

Bottom Line

The housing market has come roaring back and looks as though it may even surpass last year’s success.

Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, hit the nail on the head when he said“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”

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The Cost of Renting Vs. Buying a Home

The Cost of Renting Vs. Buying a Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The percentage of income needed to afford a median-priced home today is declining, while that for renting is on the rise.
  • This is making buying a home an increasingly attractive option for many people, especially with low mortgage rates driving purchasing power.
  • Let’s connect if you’d like expert guidance on exploring your homebuying options while affordability is high.
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The 2020 Homebuyer Wish List

The 2020 Homebuyer Wish List [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The word “home” is taking on a whole new meaning this year, and buyers are starting to look for new features as they re-think their needs and what’s truly possible.
  • From more outdoor space to virtual classrooms for their children, buyers have a growing list of what they’d like to see in their homes.
  • Let’s connect today if your needs have changed and your wish list is expanding too.
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Virtual School Is Changing Homebuyer Needs

Virtual School Is Changing Homebuyer Needs [INFOGRAPHIC] | My KCM

Some Highlights

  • With remote learning sweeping the nation this academic year, organized spaces with enough room for kids to learn effectively are high on buyer wish lists.
  • If you’re trying to make room for your family’s growing needs, multi-purpose rooms and dedicated workspaces may be features to consider in your next home.
  • Let’s connect today so you can find a home where your kids feel confident and comfortable too.
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Time-Saving Kitchen Hacks You’ll Love

With families spending more time at home, kitchens are getting a workout, making it more essential than ever to keep them clean and functional without spending a lot of time doing so.

You may get a little help from these proven time-saving kitchen hacks:

  • Tame frozen ice cream. Ice cream too hard or frozen to the scoop is a pain when every minute counts. Put the carton in the microwave for 15 seconds and it’s ready to serve with ease. 
  • Have ripe fruit at the ready. Green bananas or rock-hard peaches are no fun to eat—and neither are mushy, over-ripe ones. Buy a few ready-to-eat and a few less ripe, which you can keep in the fridge until you need them. Then ripen them fast by placing them in a brown paper bag for just a day or two.
  • Open a stubborn jar. There’s a little more frustration than trying to get the best of a jar that doesn’t want to open. Wedge a spoon underneath the lip of the lid and push up until you hear a pop. The jar will open instantly, so if there’s liquid in it, perform the operation over the sink to avoid a mess on the floor or countertop.
  • Clean a grungy cutting board. Few things are less appealing when preparing food than a sticky, scratched-up cutting board. Make it look like new again by sprinkling it with coarse salt, running a halved lemon over the surface then rinsing it with clear water and letting it air dry. 
  • Trap a bit of eggshell. It’s annoying and time-consuming when a tiny scrap of eggshell falls into the bowl, and slips and slides when you try to get it out. Ditch the grief and use the broken shell to scoop it out in a flash.
  • Stop boil-overs. Water boiling over leaves a mess to clean up. Avoid the boil-over altogether, or stop one mid-boil, by putting a wooden spoon into the pot.Cook bacon in the waffle iron. Save a pan and reduce clean-up time by cooking bacon strips in the waffle iron. The bacon will crisp up nicely, and waffles cooked in the left-behind fat will have that lovely bacon-y taste.
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5 Ways to Clear Your Mind and Be More Productive

Highly productive individuals often have habits that contribute to their productivity, and many of them point to a clear mind, which allows them to heighten their focus. If you’re interested in getting more done during the day, consider the following habits:

Do something you love. It may seem counterintuitive, but stopping your work to do something you adore can actually make you more productive. Take 15 minutes to play with your pets or kids or do a crossword puzzle. Grab coffee with a friend. Take an afternoon off to see a movie or go to an art exhibit. Freeing your mind from the struggle of daily work will clear space to focus later on.

Get outside. Fresh air (and, if you’re interested, exercise) can improve your mood and your focus. Take a break from work to go for a stroll, read a book on a bench or take a hike with your dog or your family.

Meditate. Those with a meditation practice have long touted its benefits on focus and overall productivity, so if you find mediation appealing, it may be time to start. If you’re not interested in meditating, you can still glean some of its benefits by taking five minutes to focus on deep breathing exercises. Try it before you start your work, or take a break in the middle of the day.

Be creative. You don’t have to be artistically gifted to reap the benefits of creativity. Allowing yourself space to try something creative can improve your mood, overall well-being, problem-solving and ability to focus. Of course, not all creativity has to be time-consuming or strenuous, like writing a novel. Puzzles are creative, as are coloring books, poetry or simple sketches.

Stretch. Similar to meditation, taking a five- to 10-minute stretch break during the day can reground you, make room for heightened focus, improve circulation and build flexibility and strength. You’ll return to your work with a clear mind, and a looser body.

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6 Tips for Late Retirement Planners


Americans need to have more than $1 million saved in order to retire comfortably at age 65, according to many estimates. That’s a lot of money. It also underscores the need for people to begin planning for retirement as early as possible in their careers. If you’ve put off saving for your golden years, though, the good news is that it’s still possible for late starters to build a comfortable retirement fund.

American Consumer Credit Counseling, a national nonprofit, offers the following six tips for consumers who are late to the game:

1. Have a realistic target. One of the reasons consumers are unprepared for retirement is not having a realistic estimate of how much money is needed to live comfortably for that period of their lives. Having a financial target will help consumers figure out a retirement savings plan. Consumers can use this plan to figure out how much money they need to save each month to reach their desired goal.

2. Take advantage of tax breaks. Consumers can benefit from tax deferred accounts. If consumers don’t have access to a 401(k) offered by employers, they should consider opening an individual retirement account (IRA). Having these accounts will allow consumers to save the income tax on anything that they put into the account.

3. Know your limits. Each type of retirement account has different limits on how much money consumers can contribute to them per year. Consumers should know the guidelines set by the IRS to ensure that they’re taking full advantage of their plan.

4. Make catch-up contributions. Catch-up contributions allow consumers that are over 50 years old to add more than the standard contribution limit to their retirement funds, depending on the type of account that they hold. Consumers should check their eligibility for an opportunity to save additional amounts.

5. Start minimizing expenses. Consumers should start cutting costs in order to increase savings. Those extra savings can give consumers more financial freedom during their retirement. Consumers should take a look at their monthly spending and see where they can cut back.

6. Talk to a financial advisor. It might be helpful for consumers to speak to a financial advisor. Financial advisors can help late starters develop an effective retirement plan.

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