Interest Rates Over Time

Interest Rates Over Time [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates hovering at near historic lows, now is a great time to look back at where they’ve been, and how much they’ve changed over time.
  • According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates are currently hovering near a five-decade low.
  • The impact your interest rate has on your monthly mortgage payment is significant. An increase of just $20 dollars in your monthly payment can add up to $240 per year or $7,200 over the life of your loan. Maybe it’s time to lock in now while rates are still low.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process

The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process | MyKCM

After over a year of moderating home prices, it appears home value appreciation is about to reaccelerate. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explained in a recent article:

 “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.”

CoreLogic, in their January 2020 Market Pulse Report, agrees with Olsen, projecting home value appreciation in all fifty states this year. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 21 states appreciating 5% or more
  • 26 states appreciating between 3-5%
  • Only 3 states appreciating less than 3%

The Misconception

Many believe when real estate values are increasing, owning a home becomes less affordable. That misconception is not necessarily true.

In most cases, homes are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by almost a full percentage point since this time last year.

Another major piece of the equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by 5% over the last year, contributing to the affordability factor.

Black Knight, in their latest Mortgage Monitor, addressed this exact issue:

 “Despite the average home price increasing by nearly $13,000 from just over a year ago, the monthly mortgage payment required to buy that same home has actually dropped by 10% over that same span due to falling interest rates…

Put another way, prospective homebuyers can now purchase a $48K more expensive home than a year ago while still paying the same in principal and interest, a 16% increase in buying power.”

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, realize that homes are still affordable even though prices are increasing. As the Black Knight report concluded:

“Even with home price growth accelerating, today’s low-interest-rate environment has made home affordability the best it’s been since early 2018.”

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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January 2020

Saginaw Home Sales for January 2020

Only nineteen preowned homes sold in Saginaw through the multiple listing service in January of 2020, about half of the number of houses that sold in December.  The average sold price was $221,953, just $646 less than the average price last month, but $18,836 more than the average January sales price in Saginaw in 2019.  Six homes sold for less than $200,000, and five homes sold for more than $250,000.

The sold price ranged from $150,000 to $295,900.  The price range has been very typical of the sold prices in Saginaw for many months.  The least expensive homes are in the older neighborhoods, including Saginaw North and Rancho North, and the most expensive homes are most often in Creekwood or Saginaw Springs. 

The average time on the market was thirty-three days, but six homes sold in less than two weeks.  Six homes were on the market for more than a month, including the home that sold for $295,000.  All of these had list prices at more than $225,000 and were larger than 2000 square feet, except the one older home with a pool in Rancho North that sold in 56 days. 

Sellers continued to price their homes appropriately, and buyers paid an average of 99.07% of their list price.  The lowest percentage was 96.19% of the list price.  Some sellers allowed the buyers to raise the list price to pay for some buyer’s closing costs, which explains some of the sales that were more than 100% of the original list price.  A careful analysis of the MLS sales and prices does not show a single multiple offer situation, and this is traditionally the time of year when fewer buyers are searching for houses.  On the other hand, the low inventory of homes for sale, the short time needed to sell many homes, and the willingness of buyers to pay full price, proves the seriousness of the potential buyers.

With the low inventory of homes for sale, this is a great time of the year to list a home or prepare to buy or sell in the spring. Let me help you get ready with information about the sales process and what you can do to sell your home for the best price. If you wish to purchase a home, I can help you set up a free, automatic search that will send you all of the new listings that meet your special criteria immediately as they come on the market.  Even if your actual plans are to buy a home several months from now, this online search will acquaint you with the areas and homes available and give you knowledge that will help you when you are ready to purchase a home. Please call me, e-mail me or text me, and learn how I can help you with all your real estate needs.  I look forward to serving you!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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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.

Bottom Line

Getting started with pre-approval is a great way to begin the homebuying journey. Let’s get together today to make sure you’re on the fastest path to homeownership.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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2020 Homebuying Checklist

2020 Homebuying Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • If you’re thinking of buying a home, plan ahead and stay on the right track, starting with pre-approval.
  • Being proactive about the homebuying process will help set you up for success in each step.
  • Make sure to work with a trusted real estate professional along the way, to help guide you through the homebuying steps specific to your area.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You?

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | MyKCM

The real estate market is expected to do very well this year as mortgage rates remain at historic lows. One challenge to the housing industry is the lack of homes available for sale. Last week, move.com released a report showing that 2020 is beginning with the lowest available housing inventory in two years. The report explains:

“Last month saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years with a dramatic 12 percent decline, pushing the number of homes for sale in the U.S. to the lowest level since January 2018.”

The report also revealed that the decline in inventory stretches across all price points, as shown in the following graph:Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | MyKCMGeorge Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains how this drop in available homes for sale comes at a time when more buyers are expected to enter the market:

“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30-years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home. The significant inventory drop…is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”

The question is: What does this mean to you?

If You’re a Buyer…

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

If You’re a Seller…

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

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. Understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.

If you’re wondering what’s happening in our local market, let’s get together today.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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December 2019

Saginaw real estate sales of preowned homes ended the year with a total of 36 sales for December, giving December more sales than October.   Buyers continue to search for the right properties while the inventory of homes for sale stayed low.  New construction is very plentiful in a few Saginaw neighborhoods and the areas close to Saginaw, and these new homes compete for buyers. New construction prices start at about $240,000.

The 36 preowned homes sold in an average of 35 days, but ten homes sold in two weeks or less.  Very desirable homes sold quickly, but other stayed on the market much longer.  One house sold in one day, but another was for sale 169 days.  Despite the competition from new construction, many of the more expensive homes sold quickly for good prices, reflecting the amenities of the established neighborhoods, the beautiful condition of these homes, the larger lots sizes and greater size of these homes.

The average price for a Saginaw home was $222,599.  Thirteen homes sold for less than $200,000.  The sales prices ranged from $159,000 for one house in Saginaw North to $350,000 for a home in Creekwood.  The graph above shows the average sold prices for Saginaw homes during 2019 by month.  The graph indicates little change in the value over this past year.  Looking carefully at the higher late spring and summer averages and what homes sold during those months, the sales included larger homes and more homes with swimming pools, but not real price changes in the market.  Families often move during the summer, and sellers plan to sell larger homes at this time of year.

Buyers paid 98.62% of the list price for their homes.  Of course, this statistic is based on prices that may have been previously lowered and does not include closing costs that the seller paid for the buyer.  In October the average sales price was 98.47% of the list price, which shows that the market has changed very little in the last two months.  The lowest price a seller received was 91% of the list price, and many sellers received 100% of their list price.

The newest home that sold last month was a home in Basswood Crossing built in 2019.  This was a relocation sale because the seller was transferred for work.  The oldest home is located on Thompson Drive and was built in 1964.  It sold in one day for the list price of $175,000.

Let me help you take advantage of this good real estate market in 2020. Please call me, e-mail me or text me, and learn how I can help you with all your real estate needs.  With more than twenty years in our local real estate market, I know many experts in fields related to real estate, and I will share their expertise with you.  I look forward to serving you!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Expert Insights on the 2020 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2020 Housing Market | MyKCM

When closing out another year, it’s normal to wonder what’s ahead for the housing market. Though there will be future inventory issues, we expect interest rates to stay low and appreciation to continue.

Here’s what three experts are saying we’ll likely see in 2020:

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com

“I think the biggest surprise from the forecast is how long the market is staying in this low inventory environment, especially as Millennials are in a major home-buying phase…sellers will contend with flattening price growth and slowing activity with existing home sales down 1.8%. Nationwide you can look to flat home prices with an increase of less than 1%.”

Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at Mortgage Banker Association (MBA)

“Interest rates will, on average, remain lower…These lower rates will in turn support both purchase and refinance origination volume in 2020.”

Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow

“If current trends hold, then slower means healthier and smaller means more affordable. Yes, we expect a slower market than we’ve become accustomed to the last few years…consumers will continue to absorb available inventory and the market will remain competitive in much of the country.”

As we can see, we’re still going to have a healthy market. It is forecasted to be a more moderate (or normal) market than the last few years, but strong enough for Americans to continue to believe in homeownership and to capitalize on the opportunities that come with low interest rates.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what’s happening in our local market, let’s get together today.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Holiday Gifts Are Not the Only Hot Things Right Now

Holiday Gifts Are Not the Only Hot Things Right Now | MyKCM

Black Friday is behind us and holiday gifts are flying off the shelves in stores and online. Unlike last year, however, there’s another type of buyer that is very active this winter – the homebuyer.

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

“Traffic was more active once again compared to 2018, as the nation saw its third straight month of higher year-over-year showing activity…The 5.5% increase in showings nationwide was the largest jump in activity during the now three-month streak of year-over-year increases vs. 2018.”

The same report indicates showings increased in every region of the country:

  • The South increased by 10.8%
  • The West increased by 8.6%
  • The Northeast increased by 3.8%
  • The Midwest increased by 1.5%

Why is the traffic more active?

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has increased year-over-year is that mortgage rates have fallen dramatically. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 4.64%. Today, the rate is almost a full percentage point lower!

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2020, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer may be searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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November 2019

  November 2019 Saginaw Residential Real Estate Sales Report

Despite the lack of homes listed for sale by current owners in Saginaw this fall, the statistics for November sales changed little from the previous months’ sales.  Thirty-five homes sold in Saginaw in November ranging in price from $143,000 to $315,000.  The least expensive is only 865 square feet, built in 1962 and located in Rancho North.  Two homes sold for $315,000, one in the Dominion and one in Saginaw Springs.  The home in Saginaw Springs was built in 2015 and was almost 3000 square feet. The amazing landscaping and beautiful pool earned the home in the Dominion a top price.  The third most expensive home cost $280,000.  $180,000 to $270,000 was the usual price range for Saginaw homes with eight homes selling for less than $200,000.  The average sold price was $227,530, about what the average has been for many months.

Surprisingly, the average home that sold in November in Saginaw had four bedrooms.  Nineteen homes had four bedrooms, and the average size of the homes that sold was 2069 square feet.  Five houses with more than 2500 square feet sold, and one had five bedrooms.  Fall appears to be a good time for move-up buyers to find a larger home or for newcomers moving to our area with a family looking for a house.

The average time on the market went up to 30 days as the sales made typical seasonal adjustments and didn’t sell as quickly as in the spring or summer, but thirteen homes sold in less than two weeks.  Buyers are still waiting for the right house to come on the market, and they are ready, willing and able to purchase when the home they really want is for sale.  They are even paying an average of 99.16% of the list price for the houses they purchase.  Are you considering buying or selling?  Please allow me the opportunity to explain the current market, the sales process and my services as they apply to your plans and goals.  Please call me, text me or e-mail me.  I look forward to serving you.

– Kathleenwheeler –

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5 Reasons to Sell This Winter

5 Reasons to Sell This Winter | MyKCM

Below are five compelling reasons to list your house this winter.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase, and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in the market.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple of years, for fear they would not find a home to move into. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. Buyers Are Serious at This Time of Year

Traditionally, homeowners think about spring as a great time to list their homes, when more buyer traffic may be out there actively searching. In the winter, however, the buyers who are seeking a home – whether for relocation or otherwise – are serious ones. They’re ready to make offers and they’re eager to move, often quickly. Your house may be exactly what they’re looking for, so listing when other potential sellers are holding off may be your best opportunity to shine.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into the premium or luxury market, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that now. Demand for your entry-level home is high, and inventory in the luxury or premium market is too.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.6% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and in your mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move On With Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it’s worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Are you ready to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market this winter. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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7 Reasons to List Your House This Holiday Season

7 Reasons to List Your House This Holiday Season | MyKCM

Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Similarly, others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Let’s unpack the top reasons why listing your house now or keeping it on the market this winter may be the best choice you can make.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there now. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays, and they need their new employees to start as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to days and times that are most convenient for you. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is minimal competition for you as a seller right now. Over the past few months we’ve seen the supply of homes for sale decreasing year-over-year, as shown in the graph below:7 Reasons to List Your House This Holiday Season | MyKCM
  6. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your home may be the answer.
  7. Late fall and early winter make up the “sweet spot” for sellers. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge and reach new heights in 2020, which will lessen the demand for your house next year.

Bottom Line

It may make the most sense to list your home this holiday season. Let’s get together to determine if selling now is your best move.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor

This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | MyKCM

Some are afraid the real estate market may be looking a lot like it did prior to the housing crash in 2008. One of the factors they’re pointing at is the availability of mortgage money. Recent articles about the availability of low-down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing concern that we’re returning to the bad habits of a decade ago. Let’s alleviate the fears about the current mortgage market.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases an index several times a year titled: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:

“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”

Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available the mortgage credit.

Here is a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:This is Not 2008 All Over Again: The Mortgage Lending Factor | MyKCM As we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100), as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure.

Thankfully, lending standards have eased since. The index, however, is still below 200, which is half of what it was before things got out of control.

Bottom Line

It is easier to get a mortgage today than it was immediately after the market crash, but it is still difficult. The difference in 2006? At that time, it was difficult not to get a mortgage.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits

75 Years of VA Home Loan Benefits | MyKCM

Today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.

Facts About VA Home Loans:

  • Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
  • Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
  • The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.

Benefits of a VA Home Loan:

  1. No down payment
  2. No Private Mortgage Insurance*
  3. Lower credit score requirements
  4. Limitation on closing costs
  5. Lower average interest rates

*More information on VA Home Loan Fees

 Bottom Line

The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together to navigate through the process. Thank you for your service!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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October 2019

 

The October 2019 home sales in Saginaw, Texas, provided buying and selling opportunities in a good, balanced market with a total of 21 homes selling last month. The average home was on the market 29 days, giving buyers time to shop for just the right home.  Some sellers enjoyed quick home sales with nine homes selling in less than two weeks.  Surprisingly, the two most expensive homes sold in only four and five days as compared to the two least expensive, older homes which were on the market for 32 and 39 days.  One of the homes that sold so fast has a beautiful pool and yard like an oasis, and the second home is in Creekwood.

The average sales price of a preowned Saginaw home in October was $210,625.  This price was less than the average price of a home selling for $237,465 in June.  These numbers indicate a stable market.  Prices do not appear to be rising much this year, but they are not falling. Why has the price decreased last month compared to June sales?  The average home that sold in June was 2016 square feet as compared to the house sold in October with 1788 square feet.  The average price per square foot in June was $119.89 and $119.99 in October.  Summer is traditionally the time of the year when families with children of school age are moving.  These families usually buy the larger homes. Many other buyers move at any time of the year, including first time homebuyers, empty nesters, and seniors.  These are the usual purchasers for the small homes.

Of the 21 homes that sold in October, nine sold for less than $200,000.  Ten houses sold for $207,000 to $237,000, and only two sold for more.  The most expensive was $315,000, and the least expensive was $163,000.

Sales prices averaged 98.62% of the list price.  With the longer average time on the market and less buyers shopping for homes, sellers can expect to give buyers help with closing costs.  The lowest percentage of the list  price that a seller received as his final sales price was 94%.  This lowest percentage can serve as a guide for buyers and sellers looking at offers or planning to write offers and asking, “What is reasonable in this market?”

Let me help you take advantage of this good real estate market!  Please call me, e-mail me or text me, and learn how I can help you with all your real estate needs.  With more than twenty years in our local real estate market, I know many experts in fields related to real estate.  I look forward to serving you!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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The Difference an Hour Will Make This Fall

The Difference an Hour Will Make This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Every Hour in the U.S. Housing Market: 

  • 614 Homes Are Sold
  • 95 Homes Regain Positive Equity
  • Median Home Values Go Up $1.38

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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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.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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September 2019

Saginaw Texas Residential Real Estate Sales September 2019

Only twenty preowned homes sold in Saginaw in September. The low number of sales is news for the area, but many of the other market statistics follow the patterns of the last few months.
The minimum sold price was $152,000 and the maximum was $378,000 with an average sold price of $224,190. The most expensive home was in Creekwood constructed in 2015, and the least expensive was in Saginaw West built in 1983.
The average size for a home that sold in September was 2090 square feet but the median size was 1821 only square feet. The larger average size reflects the three homes that sold with more than 3000 square feet each. The homes selling in Saginaw ranged in size from 1250 square feet to 3964 square feet. The smallest homes had three bedrooms and two homes offered five bedrooms.
The average time on the market in September was 40 days, but nine houses sold in less than two weeks. Only two homes that sold for more than $230,000 sold within fourteen days. The more expensive homes that took longer to sell had price competition from our local new home construction. Certain issues can make a home be on the market for months before selling, such as an original list price which is too high, outdated features including the appliances and décor, a floor plan that is inconvenient, and the smell of smoke that permeates the home.
Twelve of the twenty homes sold for more than 100% of the list price. These homes also include listings that had previous price reductions and prices that were raised to include closing costs.
Would you like more information about the value of your home, the local sales market or the step by step process for selling your home for the highest price, in the shortest time with the least amount of stress? Please call me, text me or e-mail me, and I will look forward to serving you. I have worked in Saginaw real estate for more than two decades, and I am an expert in the local market. Let my knowledge and experience work for you! Be sure to call me and ask for a free market analysis and information before you sell to an investor or company which is trying to buy your home for the lowest price with the intent to resell it for the highest price. My goal will be to sell your home for the highest price and net you the most money. Now is still a good time to sell a home, so please contact me and let’s talk!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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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 short list of inspectors they’ve worked with in 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.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM

The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCMAs the map below shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | MyKCM

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.comthe week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year…nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now?

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now? | MyKCM

With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.

2. Get an Inspector

Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.

3. Decide If You Need to Remodel

You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine compares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.

Bottom Line

Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.
– Kathleen Wheeler –

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Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

Congratulations! You’ve found a home to buy and have applied for a mortgage! You’re undoubtedly excited about the opportunity to decorate your new home, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any big-time life changes, consult your loan officer – someone who will be able to tell you how your decisions will impact your home loan.

Below is a list of Things You Shouldn’t Do After Applying for a Mortgage. Some may seem obvious, but some may not.

1. Don’t Change Jobs or the Way You Are Paid at Your Job. Your loan officer must be able to track the source and amount of your annual income. If possible, you’ll want to avoid changing from salary to commission or becoming self-employed during this time as well.

2. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts. Lenders need to source your money, and cash is not really traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

3. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your New Home. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt to income ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers no longer qualify.

4. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. As we mentioned, with that obligation comes higher ratios as well. Even if you swear you will not be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

5. Don’t Change Bank Accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is consistency among your accounts. Before you even transfer any money, talk to your loan officer.

6. Don’t Apply for New Credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car. When you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO® score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.

7. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts. Many clients erroneously believe that having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth of credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both of those determinants in your score.

Bottom Line

Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way that ensures your home loan can still be approved. The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. They are there to guide you through the process.

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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August 2019

Saginaw Home Sales Update August 2019

At first glance sales appeared to be unchanged from the most recent previous months, but a closer analysis shows a slower, more balanced sales market than earlier in the year.  Twenty-nine preowned homes were sold through the multiple listening service in Saginaw in August of 2019.  The least expensive home was $145,000 and the most expensive was $353,900. The average sold price for a home was $220,328.

The average time on the market in August was 32 days, but ten homes sold in less than two weeks.  The four homes listed for $180,000 or less sold in less than two weeks. These were built in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Only one home that was listed for more than $220,000 sold in less than two weeks.  This special property was on a cul-de-sac and offered an inground swimming pool.

The average seller’s sold price was 99.43% percentage of the list price.  The lowest percentage of the list price accepted by a seller was 95.56%. These numbers reflect two realities, a healthy market where sellers are still receiving good prices for homes and a trend toward a more balanced market.  A careful analysis of the multiple listing records revealed that ten homes had price reductions before the final list price.  Homes sold for more than $230,000 particularly required price reductions before they sold.  The ten houses that originally were listed too high to sell required an average of 72 days on the market.   The second new reality is sellers paying buyers’ closing costs.  Eleven sellers paid closing costs ranging from $600 to $10,000 for buyers.  When sellers agree to pay the buyer’s closing costs, qualified buyers with less cash can buy homes, allowing new buyer opportunities not available in the hot sellers’ market in the recent past.

If you would like more information about the value of your home, the home buying and selling process, the real estate market in our area or neighboring communities, or my services, please contact me by text, e-mail or phone.  I look forward to serving you!

– Kathleen Wheeler –

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