COVID-19’s Effect on the Michigan Real Estate Market

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During these unprecedented times, I have received a lot of questions regarding the home buying/selling process and how it is being affected by the government order to “stay in place”.  Here are the major take-aways:

  • Real estate brokers and salespersons are not “critical infrastructure workers”and therefore may not leave their homes for work.  The only narrow exception to the order is the instance where work is absolutely necessary to assist those with a genuine and emergent need, such as an immediate lack of shelter.   Real estate services, like the showing of homes and other property, open houses, and other client contact should be considered to be non-critical and travel to do so is prohibited through April 13, 2020.
  • Mortgage Lenders and Title Companies fall under the “critical infrastructure workers” category and will continue working. Lenders are working remotely, so you can still get a pre-approval, apply for a mortgage, re-finance a mortgage, and receive funds to close on a home. Title companies are offering “drive up” closing; they overnight the closing package to the buyer & seller for signatures, then you drive to the office where an employee will collect the closing documents and payments. If the buyer/seller requests to close in the building, the real estate agent will not be allowed to attend. Real estate brokerages have the ability to participate in closings via conference calls or other video conferencing methods to comply with the Governor’s order.
  • Home inspectors do not fall into the “critical infrastructure workers” category. If you have an accepted offer during the “stay in place” order, have your real estate agent include an addendum for a delayed inspection.
  • Michigan Realtors® have provided real estate agents an “Addendum to Purchase Agreement COVID-19 Condition Extension”. This addendum states that if COVID-19 causes a shutdown or work stoppage of a governmental entity or settlement service provider makes it temporarily impossible for either party to perform as required under a Purchase Agreement, or in the event Purchaser or Seller becomes the subject of a medically required quarantine, then all outstanding contract deadlines may be extended for as long as these conditions continue, but in no event longer than thirty calendar days.

If you are planning to make a move this year, this is a good time to plan. Talk to a lender to find out how much you can afford to pay each month, what amount you will need for a down payment and how much you will need to save for closing cost. Use the links above to search homes for sale, this will give you an idea of what is available in your price range. If you have a home to sell, use the link above to get an idea of your current market value.

In closing, I am always available to answer questions and provide recommendations for local lenders and service providers. You can reach me via phone, text, email or visit me on social media.

Wishing you good health, Dani

 

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership | MyKCM

There are many clear financial benefits 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.

Ready to start looking for a new home? Begin your search at https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/ .  Have a real estate related question? Call, text or email me; I answer questions for free!

Dani

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

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

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

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

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

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

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

3. Know What You Can Borrow and Afford

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

Freddie Mac sets out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

Local real estate professionals also have relationships with lenders who can help you through this process, so partnering with a trusted advisor will be key for that introduction. Once you select a lender, you’ll need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac also describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or Cash Reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

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

Looking for a reputable local lender to get your pre-approval started? Call, text, email or PM me today! 

Dani

December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low

December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | MyKCM

The reality of what we’re seeing this month is that homes are selling fast. In today’s strong seller’s market, bidding wars are common and expected with starter or entry-level homes.

In most areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their homebuying experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally going into contract on a home to call their own.

Right now, inventory is the big challenge. Here’s what we know today:

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.9-month supply of homes for sale, which can drive this kind of hefty buyer competition. Remember, anything less than 6 months of inventory is a seller’s market.

Even though the month’s supply of inventory is not increasing, ironically, the number of homes for sale is. This means homes are coming up for sale, but they’re being sold quickly. The graph below shows the year-over-year change in inventory over the last 12 months.December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | MyKCMAs depicted above, the percentage of available inventory has fallen for four consecutive months when compared to the previous year.

So, what does this mean? If you’re a buyer, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to make a competitive offer, so you can move quickly. Chances are, homes high on your wish list are likely going to go fast.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, make sure you’re taking the right steps at the beginning of the process, so you’re a top contender if you ultimately find yourself in a bidding war. Let’s get together to discuss what you need to do to make your move toward homeownership.

Ready to start looking for a new home? Begin your search at https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/ .  Have a real estate related question? Call, text or email me; I answer questions for free!

Dani

Have You Budgeted for Closing Costs?

Have You Budgeted for Closing Costs? | MyKCM

Saving for a down payment is a key step in the homebuying process, and it’s not the only piece you need to include in your budget. Another factor that’s important to plan for is the closing costs required to obtain a mortgage.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia,

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

For those who buy a $250,000 home, for example, that amount could be between $5,000 and $12,500 in closing fees. Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. As mentioned before,

Closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.

 Trulia gives more great advice, saying,

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

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

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss the homebuying process, to be sure your plan includes budgeting for what you need to purchase your dream home – without any surprises!

Thinking about buying a home? Download my free Buyers Guide, “Things to consider when buying a home”.

Dani

Millennial’s, The True Cost of Not Owning Your Home

The True Cost of Not Owning Your Home | MyKCM

There are great advantages to owning a home, yet many people continue to rent. The financial benefits are just some of the reasons why homeownership has been a part of the long-standing American dream.

Realtor.com reported that:

“Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option…as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

Why is owning a home financially better than renting?

Here are the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings.
  3. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  4. Buying a home is less expensive than renting.
  5. No other investment lets you live inside of it.

Studies have also shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

A family that purchased a median-priced home at the start of 2019 would build more than
$37,750 in family wealth over the next five years with projected price appreciation alone.

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has many social and financial benefits that cannot be achieved by renting. Let’s connect to determine if buying a home is your best move.

Begin your journey by downloading “A Millennial’s Guid to Homeownership”

Dani

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

Taking the Fear Out of the Mortgage Process | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Ready to start looking for a new home? Begin your search at https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/ .  Have a real estate related question? Call, text or email me; I answer questions for free!

Dani

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search

5 Tips for Starting Your Home Search | MyKCM

In today’s market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared. Here are five tips from realtor.com’s article“How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind.”

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you’re serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. Even if you’re in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach. This will help you avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home well outside your price range.

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like. Qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help you stay focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood Where You Want to Live

Every neighborhood has unique charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, take a test-drive of the area. Make sure it meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that will best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code doesn’t mean you need to tour every listing in that vicinity. An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy and making notes on the listing sheet to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home.

Are you thinking about buying a home? Download my free Buyers Guide, “Things to consider when buying a home”. And start you home search at mynexthome.com.

Dani

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection | MyKCM

You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a shortlist of inspectors they’ve worked within the past to recommend to you. HGTV suggests you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.

2. Sample Reports – Ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report,
the better.

3. References – Do your homework. Ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to discuss their experiences.

4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.

5. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.

Bottom Line

They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible, so you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Are you thinking about buying a home? Download my free Buyers Guide, “Things to consider when buying a home”. And start you home search at mynexthome.com.

Dani

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment

How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | MyKCM

When buying a home, taxes are one of the expenses that can make a significant difference in your monthly payment. Do you know how much you might pay for property taxes in your state or local area?

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll see one of two acronyms in your paperwork – P&I or PITI – depending on how you’re including your taxes in your mortgage payment.

P&I stands for Principal and Interest, and both are parts of your monthly mortgage payment that go toward paying off the loan you borrow. PITI stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance, and they’re all important factors to calculate when you want to determine exactly what the cost of your new home will be.

TaxRates.org defines property taxes as,

“A municipal tax levied by counties, cities, or special tax districts on most types of real estate – including homes, businesses, and parcels of land. The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor.”

This organization also provides a map showing annual property taxes by state (including the District of Columbia), from lowest to highest, as a percentage of median home value.How Property Taxes Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment | MyKCMThe top 5 states with the highest median property taxes are New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest median property taxes are Louisiana, Hawaii, Alabama, and Delaware, followed by the District of Columbia.

Bottom Line

Depending on where you live, property taxes can have a big impact on your monthly payment. To make sure your estimated taxes will fall within your desired budget, let’s get together today to determine how the neighborhood or area you choose can make a difference in your overall costs when buying a home.

Thinking about buying a home? Download my free Buyers Guide, “Things to consider when buying a home”.

Dani