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The Biggest Mistakes Homebuyers Are Making Right Now

KCM Crew | July 19, 2024

Some HighlightsWant to know the biggest mistakes homebuyers are making today?They include everything from putting off pre-approval for too long, holding out for the perfect home, buying more than they can afford, and skipping out on hiring a pro. Connect with a real estate agent to make sure you have a pro on your side who can help you avoid these mistakes.


Unlocking Homebuyer Opportunities in 2024

KCM Crew | July 18, 2024

There’s no arguing this past year has been difficult for homebuyers. And if you’re someone who has started the process of searching for a home, maybe you put your search on hold because the challenges in today’s market felt like too much to tackle. You’re not alone in that. A Bright MLS study found some of the top reasons buyers paused their search in late 2023 and early 2024 were:They couldn’t find anything in their price rangeThey didn’t have any successful offers or had difficulty competingThey couldn’t find the right homeIf any of these sound like why you stopped looking, here’s what you need to know. The housing market is in a transition in the second half of 2024. Here are four reasons why this may be your chance to jump back in.1. The Supply of Homes for Sale Is GrowingOne of the most significant shifts in the market this year is how the months’ supply of homes for sale has increased. If you look at data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), you’ll see how inventory has grown throughout 2024 (see graph below): This graph shows the months’ supply of existing homes – homes that were previously lived in by another homeowner. The upward trend this year is clear.This increase means you have a better chance of finding a home that suits your needs and preferences. And if the biggest reason you put off your home search was difficulty finding the right home, this is a big relief.2. There’s More New Home ConstructionAnd if you still don’t see an existing home you like, another big opportunity lies in the rise of new home construction. Builders have worked to increase the supply of newly built homes this year. And they’ve turned their attention to crafting smaller, more affordable homes based on what’s most needed in today’s market. This helps address the long-standing issue of housing undersupply throughout the country, and those smaller homes also offset some of the affordability challenges you’re feeling today.According to data from the Census and NAR, one in three homes on the market is a newly built home (see graph below):This means, that if you didn’t previously look at newly built homes as part of your search, you may have been cutting your pool of options by a third. Not to mention, some builders are also offering incentives like buying down mortgage rates to make it easier for buyers to get a home that fits their budget.So, consider talking to your agent about what builders have to offer in your area. Your agent’s expertise on builder reputations, contracts, and more will help you weigh your options.3. Less Buyer Competition Mortgage rates are still hovering around 7%, so buyer demand isn’t as fierce as it once was. And when you combine that with more housing supply, you have a better chance of avoiding an intense bidding war. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, highlights the positive trend for the latter half of 2024, saying:“Home shoppers who persist could see better conditions in the second half of the year, which tends to be somewhat less competitive seasonally, and might be even more so since inventory is likely to reach five-year highs.”This creates a unique opportunity for you to find a home you want to buy with less stress and at a potentially better price.4. Home Prices Are ModeratingSpeaking of prices, home prices are also showing signs of moderation – and that’s a welcome shift after the rapid appreciation seen in recent years (see graph below): This moderation is mostly due to supply and demand. Supply is growing and demand is easing, so prices aren’t rising as fast. But make no mistake, that doesn’t mean prices are falling – they’re just rising at a more normal pace. You can see this in the graph. The bars are still showing prices increasing, just not as dramatic as it was before.The average forecast for home price appreciation in 2024 is for positive growth around 3% to 5%, which is more in line with historical norms. That moderation means that you are less likely to face the steep price increases we saw a few years ago.The Opportunity in Front of YouIf you’re ready and able to buy, you may find that the second half of 2024 is a bit easier to navigate. There are still challenges, but some of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced are getting better as time wears on.On the other hand, you could choose to wait. But if you do, here’s the risk you run. As more buyers recognize the shift in the market, competition will grow again. On a similar note, if mortgage rates do come down (as forecasts say), more buyers will flood back into the market. So, making a move now helps you take advantage of the current market conditions and get ahead of those other buyers.Bottom LineIf you’ve put your dream of homeownership on hold, the second half of 2024 may be your chance to jump back in. Connect with a real estate agent to talk more about the opportunities you have in today’s market.


Why Fixing Up Your House Can Help It Sell Faster

KCM Crew | July 17, 2024

 If you’re thinking about selling your house, you should know there are buyers who are ready and able to pay today’s high prices. But they want a home that’s move-in ready. A recent press release from Redfin explains:“Buyers are still out there and they’re willing to pay today’s high prices, but only if the house is in really good shape. They don’t want to spend extra money on paint or new appliances.”It makes sense when you think about it. They’re having to pay a lot of money for a house in today’s market. That means they may not be able to easily afford upgrades after they move in. So, if your home is outdated or needs some work, buyers might pass it by or offer a lower price than you were hoping for.And there are a lot of homes that need upgrades right now. Millions are entering their prime remodel years, meaning they’re between 20 and 39 years old. Maybe yours is one of them. According to John Burns Research and Consulting (JBRC), the number of homes in their prime remodel years is high and growing (see graph below):If your house falls into this category, it's important to consider making selective updates to help it appeal to buyers, so it sells faster. But how do you know where to spend your time and money?Why You Need a Real Estate AgentBy working with a local real estate agent to be strategic about the improvements you make, you can be sure you’re making a smart investment. Put simply, not all upgrades are worth the cost. As Bankrate says:“Before you spend money on costly upgrades, be sure the changes you make will have a high return on investment. It doesn’t make sense to install new granite countertops, for example, if you only stand to break even on them, or even lose money.” And, as that same Bankrate article goes on to say, that’s where a local real estate agent comes in:“. . . a good real estate agent will know what local buyers expect and can help you decide what needs doing and what doesn’t.”Your agent will know what buyers in your area are looking for and what they're willing to pay for it. By working together, you can avoid spending money on upgrades that won't pay off. Instead, they’ll fill you in on which changes will make your house more appealing and valuable.Bottom LineSelling a house right now requires more than just putting up a For Sale sign. You need to make sure it’s in good condition to attract buyers who are willing to pay today’s high prices.The way to do that is by making smart improvements that will give you the best return on your investment. Work with a local real estate agent so you know what buyers are looking for and what your house needs before selling.


How To Determine if You’re Ready To Buy a Home

KCM Crew | July 16, 2024

If you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to buy a home, there’s probably a lot on your mind. You’re thinking about your finances, today’s mortgage rates and home prices, the limited supply of homes for sale, and more. And, you’re juggling how all of those things will impact the choice you’ll make.While housing market conditions are definitely a factor in your decision, your own personal situation and your finances matter too. As an article from NerdWallet says:“Housing market trends give important context. But whether this is a good time to buy a house also depends on your financial situation, life goals and readiness to become a homeowner.”Instead of trying to time the market, focus on what you can control. Here are a few questions that can give you clarity on whether you’re ready to make your move.1. Do You Have a Stable Job?One thing to consider is how stable you feel your employment is. Buying a home is a big purchase, and you’re going to sign a home loan stating you’ll pay that loan back. That's a big commitment. Knowing you have a reliable job and a steady stream of income coming in can help put your mind at ease when making such a large purchase. 2. Have You Figured Out What You Can Afford? If you have reliable paychecks coming in, the next thing to figure out is what you can afford. That’ll depend on your spending habits, debt, and more. To be sure you have a good idea of what to expect from a number's perspective, start by talking to a trusted lender.They’ll be able to tell you about the pre-approval process and what you’re qualified to borrow, current mortgage rates and your approximate monthly payment, closing costs to anticipate, and other expenses you’ll want to budget for. That way you can make an informed decision about whether you’re ready to buy.3. Do You Have an Emergency Fund?Another key factor is whether you’ll have enough cash left over in case of an emergency. While that’s not fun to think about, it’s an important thing to consider. You don’t want to overextend on the house, and then not be able to weather a storm if one comes along. As CNET says:“You’ll want to have a financial cushion that can cover several months of living expenses, including mortgage payments, in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as job loss or medical emergencies.”4. How Long Do You Plan To Live There?It was mentioned above, but buying a home involves some upfront expenses. And while you’ll get that money back (and more) as you gain equity, that process takes time. If you plan to move too soon, you may not recoup your investment. For example, if you’re looking to sell and move again in a year, it might not make sense to buy right now. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:“Five years is a good, comfortable mark. If the price of your home appreciates considerably, then even three years would be fine.”So, think about your future. If you plan to transfer to a new city with the upcoming promotion you’re working toward or you anticipate your loved ones will need you to move closer to take care of them, that’s something to factor in.5. Above all else, the most important question to answer is: do you have a team of real estate professionals in place? If not, finding a trusted local agent and a lender is a good first step. The pros can talk you through your options and help you decide if you’re ready to take the plunge or if you have a few more things to get in order first.Bottom LineIf you want to have a conversation about all the things you need to consider to determine if you’re ready to buy, connect with a local real estate professional.


Why Working with a Real Estate Professional Is Crucial Right Now

KCM Crew | July 15, 2024

Navigating the housing market can be tricky, especially these days. That's why having an experienced guide when buying or selling a home is so important. The market isn't exactly straightforward right now, and working with a real estate expert can offer insights and advice that make all the difference.While today’s market conditions might seem confusing or overwhelming, you don't have to handle them alone. With a trusted expert leading you through every step, you can navigate the process with the clarity and confidence you deserve.Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:Contracts – Agents help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.Experience – In today’s market, experience is crucial. Real estate professionals know the entire sales process, including how it’s changing right now.Negotiations – Your real estate advisor acts as a buffer in negotiations with all parties, and advocates for your best interests throughout the entire transaction.Industry Expertise– Knowledge is power in today’s market, and your advisor will simply and effectively explain processes, market conditions, and key terms, translating what they mean for you along the way along the way­.Pricing – A real estate professional understands current real estate values when setting the price of your home or helping you make an offer to purchase one. Pricing matters more than ever right now, so having expert advice will help ensure you’re set up for success.A real estate agent is a crucial guide through this challenging market, but not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding an expert real estate advisor – not just any agent – should be your top priority if you want to buy or sell a home. As Bankrate says:"Real estate is very localized, and you want someone who’s extremely knowledgeable about the market in your specific area. You should also look for someone with a successful track record of negotiating and closing deals, preferably for homes similar to the kind you want to buy."What’s the Key To Choosing the Right Expert?Like any relationship, it starts with trust. You’ll want to know you can depend on that person to always put you and your best interests first. That means hiring a true professional. As Business Insider explains:“As long as you've properly vetted the agents you're considering and ensured they have the necessary expertise, it's ok to go with your gut when making your final decision on which real estate agent you want to work with. You're going to be working closely with this person, so it's important to choose an agent you're comfortable with."Bottom LineIt’s critical to have an expert on your side who’s well-versed in navigating today’s housing market dynamics. If you’re planning to buy or sell a home this year, connect with a real estate professional who will give you the best advice and guide you along the way.


How Do Presidential Elections Impact the Housing Market?

KCM Crew | July 12, 2024

Some HighlightsAre you wondering if the upcoming election will have an impact on the housing market? Here’s what history tells us you need to know if you’re considering a move.​Data shows home sales slow in November but quickly bounce back and rise the following year. Prices usually keep climbing. And mortgage rates typically come down slightly.Presidential elections have only a small and temporary impact on the housing market. If you have questions, connect with a real estate agent.


Why Moving to a Smaller Home After Retirement Makes Life Easier

KCM Crew | July 11, 2024

Retirement is a time for relaxation, adventure, and enjoying the things you love. As you imagine this exciting new chapter in your life, it's important to think about whether your current home still fits your needs. If it's too big, too costly, or just not convenient anymore, downsizing might help you make the most of your retirement years. To find out if a smaller, more manageable home might be the perfect fit for your new lifestyle, ask yourself these questions:Do the original reasons I bought my current house still stand, or have my needs changed since then?Do I really need and want the space I have right now, or could somewhere smaller be a better fit?What are my housing expenses right now, and how much do I want to try to save by downsizing?If you answered yes to any of these, consider the benefits that come with downsizing.The Benefits of Moving into a Smaller HomeThere are many reasons why you should downsize. Here are just a few from Bankrate:Your Equity Can Help Make Downsizing PossibleIf those perks sound like something you’d want, you may already have what you need to make it happen. A recent article from Seniors Guide shares:“And at a time when homeowners age 62 and older have more than $12 trillion in home equity, downsizing makes sense . . .”If you’ve been in your house for a while, odds are you’re one of those homeowners who’s built up a considerable amount of equity. And that equity is something you can use to help you buy a home that better fits your needs today. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, explains:“Downsizing can mean taking that equity when the home is sold and using it to pay cash or make a large down payment on a lower-priced home, reducing your monthly living expenses.”When you’re ready to use all that equity to fuel your next move, your real estate agent will be your guide through every step of the process. That includes setting the right price for your current house when you sell, finding the home that best fits your evolving needs, and understanding what you can afford at today’s mortgage rate.Bottom LineStarting your retirement journey? Think about downsizing – it could really help. When you're ready, talk to a local real estate agent about your housing goals this year.


The Price of Perfection: Don’t Wait for the Perfect Home

KCM Crew | July 10, 2024

In life, patience is a virtue – but in the world of homebuying, waiting too long in hopes of finding the perfect home actually isn't wise. That’s because the pursuit of perfection comes at a cost. And in this case, that cost may be delaying your dream of homeownership. As Bankrate explains:“One of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes is looking for a home that checks each of your boxes. Looking for perfection can narrow your choices and lead you to pass over good, suitable options for starter homes in the hopes that something better will come along.” The Cost of Holding Out for PerfectionNothing in life is ever perfect – and that's true when you search for a home too. Unless you’re building a brand-new home from the ground up, chances are there are going to be some features or finishes you wouldn’t have picked yourself. It may be as simple as paint colors, a light fixture, or the tile in the bathrooms or kitchen. Or even that the backyard isn’t fenced in. It could also be that the home itself is great, but it’s not the ideal location you were hoping for.But here’s the trade-off you'd be making without even realizing it. In all that time you’d spend searching for the perfect place, you’d overlook a lot of homes that would’ve worked for you. U.S. News explains:“. . . you may miss opportunities if you enter the process with blinders on and aren’t open-minded . . . Countless potential buyers never buy because of this, and thus miss great investments or never move on to the next chapter of their lives.”It’s Time To Redefine PerfectionEspecially with affordability and inventory where they are today, buying a home that needs some updates, is a few neighborhoods away from your ideal location, or doesn’t have all your desired features can be a smart move. Here’s why.For starters, these homes are usually more affordable, which is important at a time when some buyers are struggling to find options in their budget.And they give you a chance to make the space your own or discover a whole new area of town. You may find out you actually love that neighborhood. Or, swapping out a feature here or there after move-in isn’t such a big deal. So, look past the green shag carpet and see the bones of the house. With a little vision and creativity, you can turn a good house into a fantastic home.How an Agent Helps You Explore Your OptionsIf you’re open to a home that needs a little elbow grease or is a bit further out, let your agent know. They’ll be happy to show you how this can really open up your pool of homes to pick from. They’ll also help coach you through this process by:1. Prioritizing Your Must-Haves: Your agent will want to revisit your wish list and separate your non-negotiables from your nice-to-haves. From there, they’ll focus on what’s really most important to you as they come up with a bigger list of options for you to choose from.2. Coaching You To See the Potential: As you tour these added options, your agent will help you look beyond cosmetic flaws and imagine what the home could be with a little work. Simple updates like a fresh coat of paint or new flooring can make a big difference.3. Connecting You with Local Pros: And an agent’s support goes one step further. If they know what you’re hoping to change after you move in, they can connect you with local pros who can get the job done. That way it’s less work for you, and you don’t have to worry about tracking down contractors.Bottom LineRemember, there is no perfect home. But with expert help and an open mind, an agent can find you the right home – even in today’s market. connect with a local real estate agent to see what’s out there.

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Their passion for this place shows in their enthusiastic marketing of their client’s homes, and when it comes to finding a piece of this paradise for their buyers. Come to the Wine Country and enjoy the good life. Kathleen and her team are here to help you make your move.