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A group of four multi-ethnic seniors sitting together on patio furniture outdoors, talking and laughing. They are in retirement, relaxed and enjoying spending time with friends.

The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community

Aging in Place vs Aging in a Community

There’s comfort in being around people who share common interests, goals, and challenges. That comfort in a community doesn’t wane with age – it actually deepens. Whether it’s proudly talking about grandchildren or lamenting the fact that our eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, it helps to be around people who not only understand what we’re saying but actually feel the same joys and concerns as well.

That’s why many boomers are deciding to move into an active adult community. In the latest 55places National Housing Survey, they were described by one out of three seniors as an “outgoing, social community of likeminded people.”

Bill Ness, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of 55places.com, explains:

“Baby boomers are now reaching the age when moving to an active adult community is the ideal opportunity for them…Many boomers now want to downsize, experience a maintenance-free lifestyle, and pursue more social opportunities. It’s exciting that there are so many choices for baby boomers.”

There’s still a desire, however, among many seniors to “age-in-place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, aging-in-place means:

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

The challenge is, many seniors live in suburban or rural areas, and that often necessitates driving significant distances to see friends or attend other social engagements. A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults addressed this exact concern:

“The growing concentration of older households in outlying communities presents major challenges for residents and service providers alike. Single-family homes make up most of the housing stock in low-density areas, and residents typically need to be able to drive to do errands, see doctors, and socialize.”

The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject:

“While most seniors say they want to age in place, a much smaller percentage of them actually manage to accomplish it, studies show. Transportation is often a problem; when you can no longer drive, you can’t get to medical appointments or to other outings.”

Driving may not be a challenge right now, but think about what it may be like to drive 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.

There are also health challenges brought on by a possible lack of socialization when living at home versus a community of seniors. Sarah J. Stevenson is an author who writes about seniors. In a recent blog post for A Place for Mom, she explains:

“Social contacts tend to decrease as we age for reasons such as retirement, the death of friends and family, or lack of mobility.”

Thankfully, research from the same article suggests if you’re spending time with others in a community, thus reducing the impact of loneliness and isolation, there’s less of a risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and early death.

Though the familiarity of our current home may bring a feeling of warmth, comfort, and convenience, it’s important to understand that staying there may mean missing out on crucial socialization opportunities. Living with adult children, joining a retirement community, or moving to an assisted living facility can help us continue to be with people we enjoy every day.

Bottom Line

“Aging-in-place” definitely has its advantages, but it could mean getting “stuck-in-place” too. There are many health benefits derived from socialization with a community of people that shares common interests. It’s important to take the need for human interaction into consideration when making a decision about where to spend the later years in life.

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How Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand

A Trusted Real Estate Professional Makes Homebuying Easier

In the spring, many excited buyers get ready to enter the housing market. Others continue dreaming about the homes they’d like to buy. The truth is, many potential buyers continue to dream longer than they need to, simply because they’re confused about the homebuying process. Thankfully, working with a trusted real estate professional can help ease those concerns and make the process to homeownership much easier to understand.

A recent survey conducted by Ipson and Freddie Mac reveals the confidence level of Gen Z and Millennial buyers regarding the homebuying process. The graph below shows the breakdown of the top results, clearly indicating there’s a significant portion of younger buyers who are not yet confident with some of the steps in the homebuying process.How Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand | MyKCMBetween the homebuying process and the mortgage process, there are 230 possible steps in the transaction. With trusted professionals on your side, you certainly don’t have to know them all to have a successful experience.

There are many reasons why these steps can change as you move through each one. Depending on your personal circumstances, the term or your mortgage, and the type of loan you use, the path you take may need to vary. That’s why guidance and support from the experts is key.

In addition to the process itself, respondents in the survey definitely expressed concerns about understanding the types of loans available. Here are just a few of the basic loans to consider. Be sure to speak with your lender about the specifics of what will work best for you:

  • FHA: Loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration for first-time buyers. They generally enable qualified borrowers to enter the housing market with a lower down payment.
  • Conventional: Loans that usually require a larger down payment. Repeat buyers usually use these types of loans since they have an established credit history as well as more money from the sale of their previous home (called equity) for a bigger down payment.
  • VA: Loans available for Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses. They are guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • USDA: Loans for those living in rural and suburban areas. A qualified lender can issue a USDA home loan, and they are guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Interest rates also popped up as a common area of confusion among Gen Z and Millennial respondents in the survey. With today’s rates hovering at near historic lows, it’s a fantastic time for buyers to get more house for their money in the current market. Why? When mortgage rates are this low and wages are increasing as they are today, overall affordability increases, enabling home buyers to stretch their mortgage dollars further. It’s just another area where a trusted professional can help simplify the process and give guidance along the way.

Bottom Line

There are many possible steps in a real estate transaction, but they don’t have to be confusing. To understand your best course of action, let’s get together today to ensure you have a trusted advisor who will help you feel confident and informed at every turn.

Photo of a young mixed-race family admiring a home - possibly their first home, or the home they hope to own.

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

There are many clear financial advantages to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.

1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment

According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things.”

As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same piece states:

“Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return.”

Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with homeownership:

As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting.”

With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let’s get together to determine if buying a home sooner rather than later is right for you.

Lucy on Orange Chair revised

Reasons to Fall in Love with Homeownership

Are you ready to fall in love with homeownership?

There are many benefits to love about homeownership, and they’re not all financial.

Being a part of a neighborhood, driving academic achievement, and improving mental health are just a few of these advantages.

Let’s get together today to determine if you’re ready to embrace the rewards of owning your own home.

Educational Achievement

Homeownership has a positive impact on academic achievement, including reading and math performance in children 3-12 years old.

Civic Participation

Owning a home means being part of the neighborhood. Homeowners have a stronger connection to their neighborhood and are more committed to volunteering.

Health Benefits

Adjusting for a range of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing-related characteristics, homeowners have a substantial health advantage over renters.

Public Assistance

47% of homeowners use their home equity credit lines to help pay other debts, diminishing their need for public assistance.

Property Maintenance and Improvement

A well-maintained home not only generates benefits throughout consumption and safety, but a high-quality structure also raises mental health.

Pride in Ownership

This place is uniquely yours. You can customize your home according to your likes and personality.

 

Young woman using laptop sat on tree trunk in fore

How the Housing Market Benefits with Uncertainty in the World

Should We Be Worried About the Housing Market?

It’s hard to listen to today’s news without hearing about the uncertainty surrounding global markets, the spread of the coronavirus, and tensions in the Middle East, just to name a few. These concerns have caused some to question their investment plans going forward. As an example, in Vanguard’s Global Outlook for 2020, the fund explains,

“Slowing global growth and elevated uncertainty create a fragile backdrop for markets in 2020 and beyond.”

Is there a silver lining to this cloud of doubt?

Some worry this could cause concern for the U.S. housing market. The uncertainty, however, may actually mean good news for real estate.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, discussed the situation in a recent report,

“Global events and uncertainty…impact the U.S. economy, and more specifically, the U.S. housing market…U.S. bonds, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, are widely considered the safest investments in the world. When global investors sense increased uncertainty, there is a ‘flight to safety’ in U.S. Treasury bonds, which causes their price to go up, and their yield to go down.”

Last week, in a HousingWire article, Kathleen Howley reaffirmed Fleming’s point,

“The death toll from the coronavirus already has passed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, that bruised the world’s economy in 2003…That’s making investors around the world anxious, and when they get anxious, they tend to sell off stocks and seek the safe haven of U.S. bonds. An increase in competition for bonds means investors, including the people who buy mortgage-backed bonds, have to take lower yields. That translates into lower mortgage rates.”

The yield from treasury bonds is the rate investors receive when they purchase the bond. Historically, when the treasury rate moves up or down, the 30-year mortgage rate follows. Here’s a powerful graph showing the relationship between the two over the last 48 years:Popular Perspective Delivers Gift to U.S. Housing Market | MyKCMHow might concerns about global challenges impact the housing market in 2020? Fleming explains,

“Even a small change in the 10-year Treasury due to increased uncertainty, let’s say a slight drop to 1.6 percent, would imply a 30-year, fixed mortgage rate as low as 3.3 percent. Assuming no change in household income, that would mean a house-buying power gain of $21,000, a five percent increase.”

Bottom Line

For a multitude of reasons, 2020 could be a challenging year. It seems, however, real estate will do just fine. As Fleming concluded in his report:

“Amid uncertainty, the house-buying power of U.S. consumers can benefit significantly.”

Open front door to classic style home.

The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now

Should You List Now?

The success of the U.S. residential real estate market, like any other market, is determined by supply and demand. This means we need to look at how many potential purchasers are in the market versus the number of houses that are available to buy. With early 2020 housing data now rolling in, it’s quite evident there are two big stories impacting this year’s residential real estate market:

1. Buyer demand is already extremely strong
2. Housing supply is at a historically low level

Demand

ShowingTime is a firm that compiles data from property showings scheduled across the country. The latest ShowingTime Showing Index reveals how showings have increased in each of the country’s four regions for five months in a row.

Supply

Move.com also just released information indicating that the number of homes currently for sale has declined rapidly and now sits at the lowest level in almost a decade. They explained,

“National housing inventory declined 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than 4 years, pushing the supply of for sale homes in the U.S. to its lowest level since realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012.”

In response to these numbers, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, said,

“Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we’ve hit another new low of for sale-listings in January.”

The decrease in inventory impacted every price range, too. Here’s a graph showing the data released by move.com:The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Since there’s a historic shortage of homes for sale, putting your home on the market today could drive an excellent price and give you additional negotiating leverage when selling your house. Let’s get together to determine if listing your house now is your best move.

Spain, Barcelona

Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High

Regardless of the lack of inventory on the market, the U.S. homeownership rate has climbed to a 6-year high. The United States Census Bureau reported that it increased to 65.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, representing the highest level in the past six years. See the graph below:Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | MyKCMThis increase does not come as a surprise. According to realtor.com,

“The largest cohort of the millennial generation turns 30-years-old in 2020 and they are hitting the housing market in full force. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, millennials made up the largest generational segment of homebuyers, growing their share of home purchase mortgages to 48 percent.”

With so many Millennials entering a homebuying phase of life and getting into the market, the Millennial Report also explains,

“Homeownership is an even bigger goal for younger generations. Of those with savings, 41 percent of Gen Z and 40 percent of younger millennials are saving to buy a home.”

Today’s low-interest rates are providing a break to new homeowners too, regardless of generation, making homeownership more desirable and achievable at the same time. Freddie Mac explains,

“The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months.”

The increase in the homeownership rate was also represented by the race and ethnicity of the householders. HousingWire explains,

“The homeownership rate for black Americans in 2019’s fourth quarter rose to 44%, a seven-year high, increasing from the record low it reached in 2019’s second quarter. The rate for Hispanic Americans was 48.1%, a two-year high, the Census data showed…The rate for white Americans was 73.7%, an eight-year high.”

See the graph below:Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s get together to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

5 colored price sticker houses on the white background. Eps 10 vector file.

How Pricing Your Home Right Makes a Big Difference

Even though there’s a big buyer demand for homes in today’s low inventory market, it doesn’t mean you should price your home as high as the sky when you’re ready to sell. Here’s why making sure you price it right is key to driving the best price for the sale.

If you’ve ever watched the show “The Price Is Right,” you know the only way to win the game is to be the one to correctly guess the price of the item up for bid without going over. That means your guess must be just slightly under the retail price.

Pricing Your Home

When it comes to pricing your home, setting it at or slightly below market value will increase the visibility of your listing and drive more buyers your way. This strategy actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search process. Why? When potential buyers look at your listing and see a great price for a fantastic home, they’re probably going to want to take a closer look. This means more buyers are going to be excited about your house and more apt to make an offer.

When this happens, you’re more likely to set up a scenario with multiple offers, potential bidding wars, and the ability to drive a higher final sale price. At the end of the day, even when inventory is tight, pricing it right – or pricing it to sell immediately – makes a big difference.

Here’s the other thing: homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to lower the prices anyway after they sit on the market for an extended period of time. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drops were caused by something wrong with these homes when in reality, nothing was wrong, the initial prices were just too high.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, let’s get together so you have a professional on your side to help you properly price your home and maximize demand from the start.

Korean girl looking under bed with flashlight

Where Have All the Houses Disappeared To?

Where are the houses for sale?

If you’re following what’s happening in the current housing market, you’ve seen how the lack of newly constructed homes is a major reason there’s a shortage of housing inventory available to today’s buyers. Another reason is that the inventory of existing homes for sale is shrinking. According to the most recent Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 10.8% from the same time last year. That exceeds expectations and is great news.

The troubling news from the report is that the sold inventory is not being replaced. As NAR explained,

“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.”

The situation was also addressed in a recent Zillow article stating,

“The number of for-sale homes in the U.S. is at its lowest point in at least seven years, and the shortage appears poised to get worse before it gets better.”

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk further noted,

“Inventory always decreases sharply in December as people take their homes off the market for the holidays. However, based on the data I’ve collected, this was the lowest level for inventory in at least three decades (the previous low was 1.43 million in December 1993).”

Why is inventory falling so dramatically? I thought the housing market had softened.

A year ago, that was the case – but the market shifted again. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explains,

“A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back to accelerating growth right as we head into home shopping season with demand outpacing supply.”

What does this mean if you’re a homeowner thinking of selling?

Now is a great time to consider putting your home on the market. The competition (number of houses on the market) has not been this low in decades. It’s best not to wait for the inventory (both existing homes and new construction) to increase in the spring, as it always does.

Bottom Line

The supply of homes for sale is at a historic low. Buyer demand is surprisingly strong. Now would be a great time to sell.

Business people using tablet computers in meeting

Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts

We’re currently in the longest economic recovery in U.S. history. That has caused some to ask experts to project when the next economic slowdown (recession) could occur. Two years ago, 67% of the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for the Economic Forecasting Survey predicted we would have a recession no later than the end of this year (2020). The same study done just three months ago showed more than one-third of the economists still saw an economic slowdown right around the corner.

The news caused concern among consumers. This is evidenced by a recent survey done by realtor.com that shows 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur by the end of this year.

Wait! It seems the experts are changing their minds….

Now, in an article earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed only 14.3% of those economists now believe we’re in danger of a recession occurring this year (see graph below):Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts | MyKCM

The WSJ article strongly stated,

“The U.S. expansion, now in its 11th year, will continue through the 2020 presidential election with a healthy labor market backing it up, economists say.”

This optimism regarding the economy was repeated by others as well.

CNBC, quoting Goldman Sachs economists:

“Just months after almost everyone on Wall Street worried that a recession was just around the corner, Goldman Sachs said a downturn is unlikely over the next several years. In fact, the firm’s economists stopped just short of saying that the U.S. economy is recession-proof.”

Barron’s:

“When Barron’s gathers some of Wall Street’s best minds—as we do every January for our annual Roundtable—we expect some consensus, some disagreement…But the 10 veteran investors and economists who convened in New York on Jan. 6 at the Barron’s offices agree that there’s almost no chance of a recession this year.”

Washington Post:

“The U.S. economy is heading into 2020 at a pace of steady, sustained growth after a series of interest rate cuts and the apparent resolution of two trade-related threats mostly eliminated the risk of a recession.”

Robert A. Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank:

“I expect that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession in 2020.”

Bottom Line

There probably won’t be a recession this year. That’s good news for you, whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home.