May 10, 2021

2821 Cape Horn Rd

Join me for a Virtual Tour of 2821 Cape Horn Rd, Hampstead, MD.==>>>https://youtu.be/PmKBq0TtH6g

Gleaming hardwood floors and freshly painted walls welcome you to this roomy 4 bedroom Colonial home! Granite countertops, original woodwork, and a roomy floor plan are just the start to this amazing home. The basement has a French drain system in place and the walls have been redone with solid steel. Sit on your front porch or enjoy the day relaxing on your back deck. The walk-up attic could be finished and used as an additional living area.

 

Feb. 26, 2021

Knowledge Is Power on the Path to Homeownership

 

Knowledge Is Power on the Path to Homeownership | MyKCM

Homeownership is on the goal list for many young adults, but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to get there. From understanding the homebuying process to pre-approval and down payment assistance options, uncertainty along the way can ultimately hold some buyers back.

Today, there are over 75 million Millennials and 67 million Gen Z’ers in the U.S., making up a significant number of both current and soon-to-be homebuyers. According to a recent Fannie Mae survey of more than 2,000 of these individuals:

“88% said they are confident they will achieve homeownership someday.”

In addition, the survey also reveals that for younger generations, the motivation to own a home may be more emotional than financial compared to previous generations:

  • <50% say they want to use their home as an asset
  • 78% believe it’s the best way to live the way they want, without restrictions
  • 80% believe homeownership is the best way to make it on their own

Whether homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or maybe both), the obstacles standing in the way don’t have to bring these dreams to a screeching halt. The same survey also reveals two key roadblocks for potential buyers. Thankfully, they’re both easily overcome with the power of knowledge and trusted advisors leading the way. Here’s a look at these two challenges potential homebuyers face today:

1. 73% of future homebuyers are unaware of low-down-payment mortgage options

For those who want to purchase a home, low-down-payment options are instrumental to affording one sooner rather than later, especially given the amount of debt many younger adults have accumulated. Fannie Mae also notes:

“Among the challenges they face is an unprecedented amount of debt, along with a lack of understanding of the mortgage process and their own purchasing power. Debt, in particular, creates many obstacles such as a limited ability to save and the fear of taking on more debt.”

Today, there are more than 2,340 down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help many buyers become homeowners faster than they thought possible. In a year like this, with record-low mortgage rates making their mark in the history books, being able to take advantage of the opportunity buyers have right now is essential to long-term affordability.

2. 64% of buyers expect lenders and other real estate professionals to educate them about the mortgage process

While many people love to do a quick search online to find instant answers to their questions, it isn’t the only way younger generations want to consume information or build their knowledge base. As the survey mentions, having trusted professionals help them learn what it takes to achieve their dreams is definitely on their wish list too.

Bottom Line

If you’re aiming for homeownership someday, it may be in closer reach than you think. Let’s connect so you can learn about the process and get the guidance you need to make it happen.

Feb. 19, 2021

Millennials: Is It Time to Buy a Bigger Home?

 

Millennials: Is It Time to Buy a Bigger Home? | MyKCM

In today’s housing market, all eyes are on millennials. Not only are millennials the largest generation, but they’re also currently between 25 and 40 years old. These are often considered prime homebuying years when many people begin to form their own households and invest in real estate. If you’re like many millennials who are spending much more time at home these days, you may have a growing need for more space or upgraded features, making moving more desirable than ever.

For those millennials who already own a home, there’s a great opportunity to move up in 2021. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“Older millennials will be trade-up buyers with many having owned their first homes long enough to see substantial equity gains.”

Even if you bought a home sometime in the last few years, you may have more equity than you realize, and that’s a big factor to consider when you’re thinking about moving. According to the Homeowner Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic:

“In the third quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $17,000 in equity during the past year. This marks the largest average equity gain since the first quarter of 2014.”

Growing equity can be the driver you’re looking for to fund your next move, especially if what you need in a home is changing right now. As equity builds over time, it can be put toward the down payment on your next home.

In addition to equity gains, today’s housing market affordability is powered by record-low mortgage rates, so moving at a time when you can get more for your money may be more realistic than you think.

Bottom Line

If you’re a millennial thinking about moving this year, you’re not alone. Let’s connect to shed light on the equity you have in your current home and the opportunities it can create.

Feb. 12, 2021

Why It’s Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership

 

Why It’s Easy to Fall in Love with Homeownership [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Homeownership provides comfort, stability, and security, and it makes you feel more connected to your community.
  • Your home is something to be proud of and is uniquely yours, so you can customize it to your heart’s desire.
  • If you’re ready to fall in love with a home of your own, let’s connect to get you started on the path to homeownership.
Feb. 5, 2021

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

 

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they’re forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers’ market in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management's International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The definition of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

Bottom Line

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Jan. 29, 2021

3 Ways You’ll Win When You Buy a Home This Year

 

3 Ways You’ll Win When You Buy a Home This Year | MyKCM

There are so many great reasons to purchase a home, and over the past year, we’ve realized more of them than we ever thought possible. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, having a home of your own can give you a greater sense of security and accomplishment in a time that’s largely uncertain. If you’re a repeat buyer looking for your dream home, making a move might give you the space or features you need to find greater success and happiness in a new normal way of life. Whatever your motivations are, here are three reasons why becoming a homeowner now may help you win big in the long run.

1. Buying a Home Is a Great Investment

Several recent reports indicate that real estate is still a good investment, topping other options such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings. Why? Real estate helps you build equity, a type of forced savings that grows your net worth. According to the latest Equity Report from ATTOM Data Solutions:

“The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States. That was up from 28.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020, 27.5 percent in the second quarter and 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, despite the ongoing economic damage caused by the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Low

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac indicates interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have fallen since November 2018 when they hit 4.94%. In their latest forecastFreddie Mac expects rates to remain low, leveling out to an average of 2.9% in 2021.

When you purchase a home at a low mortgage rate, it will impact your monthly mortgage payment, giving you the opportunity to likely get more house for your money.

3. Investing in Your Future Pays Off

There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. What many renters don’t realize, though, is the financial power of equity.

As a homeowner, your monthly mortgage payment becomes a form of ‘forced savings’ you can reinvest later in life as you see fit. You can use it in a variety of ways, like to fund a loved one’s education, move up to a bigger home, or start your own business. As a renter, you’re actually growing your landlord’s equity instead of your own.

If you’re ready to put your monthly payments to work for you and take steps toward those dreams and goals, purchasing a home may be the way to go, especially as rental prices continue to rise.

Bottom Line

Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings and long-term financial growth. Let’s connect to determine if homeownership is the right choice for you this year.

Jan. 22, 2021

Should I Wait for Lower Mortgage Interest Rates?

Should I Wait for Lower Mortgage Interest Rates? | MyKCM

Historically low mortgage rates are a big motivator for homebuyers right now. In 2020 alone, rates hit new record-lows 16 times, and the trend continued into the early part of this year. Many hopeful homebuyers are now wondering if they should put their plans on hold and wait for the lowest rates imaginable. However, the reality is, acting sooner rather than later may be the actual win if you’re ready to buy a home.

According to Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate:

“As vaccines become more widely available and a return to normal starts to come into view, we’ll see mortgage rates bounce off the record lows.”

While only a slight increase in mortgage rates is projected for 2021, some experts believe they will start to rise. Over the past week, for example, the average mortgage rate ticked up slightly, reaching 2.79%. This is still incredibly low compared to the trends we’ve seen over time. According to Freddie Mac:

“Borrowers are smart to take advantage of these low rates now and will certainly benefit as a result.”

Here’s why.

As mortgage rates rise, the increase impacts the overall cost of purchasing a home. The higher the rate, the higher your monthly mortgage payment, especially as home prices rise too. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macsays:

“The forces behind the drop in rates have been shifting over the last few months and rates are poised to rise modestly this year. The combination of rising mortgage rates and increasing home prices will accelerate the decline in affordability and further squeeze potential homebuyers during the spring home sales season.”

What does this mean for buyers?

Right now, the inventory of houses for sale is also at a historic low, making it more challenging than normal to find a home to buy in many areas. As more buyers hit the market in the typically busy spring buying season, it may become even harder to find a home in the coming months. With this in mind, Len Keifer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Macrecommends taking advantage of both low mortgage rates and the opportunity to buy:

“If you’ve found a home that fits your needs at a price you can afford, it might be better to act now rather than wait for future rate declines that may never come and a future that likely holds very tight inventory.”

Bottom Line

While today’s low mortgage rates provide great opportunities for homebuyers, we may not see them stick around forever. If you’re ready to buy a home, let’s connect so you can take advantage of what today’s market has to offer.

Dec. 28, 2020

Home Business Tips

Image via Pexels

 

How to Take Your Home-Based Business to the Next Level

 

As a small business owner working from home, you are probably well aware of the advantages and drawbacks of running your business out of your house. From the efficiency of your workflow to the design and layout of your home office, you want to make sure you are set up for success. To get started, here are a few types of improvements from the Sonya Francis Team that can help you take your business to the next level.

 

Consider Forming an LLC

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a hybrid business structure that combines the best features of a corporation, partnership and sole proprietorship. It’s a good idea because it provides personal legal protection for you in case your business is ever sued. It also has a significant tax benefit because your business income won’t be taxed before it’s distributed to you — in other words, as Intuit Turbotax explains, iit avoids double taxation. In addition, an LLC:

 

  • Allows modifications to your operating agreement as your needs change
  • Entails less paperwork than a corporation
  • Doesn’t require a lawyer

 

You can avoid attorney fees by completing the process yourself online or by using a formation service to help you. Either option is simple and inexpensive. The rules for forming an LLC vary by state, so make sure you check your state’s regulations before moving ahead.

 

Assess Your Marketing Strategy

Are you utilizing the right tools to get the word out about your business? Research shows that social media marketing is a necessary part of any business’s promotion strategy. Likewise, frequent content creation on your website, blogging and search engine optimization all attract attention to the products or services you offer. You can hire a digital marketing specialist or improve your own marketing skills through free or low-cost training courses available online.

 

Design a More Productive Space

Your home office should be an optimal work environment for you, which can be challenging if you regularly have family at home during the day. If the size, layout or current location of your office is getting in the way of your productivity, it may make sense to consider either redesigning your work and living spaces or buying a new home that meets your needs. If you’re ready to look into buying a new home, follow a few important steps:

  1. Use a mortgage calculator and input your household income, debt-to-income ratio, credit score and approximate down payment to determine how much you can afford.
  2. Apply for mortgage pre-approval with a bank offering the best interest rate. 
  3. Find a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about your desired area, price point and requirements as a home-based business owner.
  4. Search online to see what homes are available.

 

Develop or Expand Your Network

Networking is all about building relationships and establishing connections, and as Neil Patel points out, there are many ways to accomplish this. Even if you are a sole proprietor working from home, your business network can still be quite extensive. There are both online and in-person networking groups in which you can share experiences, give and receive referrals and even offer support. Social media communities exist for every niche you can think of, and many of these groups are tight-knit and extremely effective at helping attract loyal fans and customers. You can join an existing group or start your own. Be creative in your networking efforts!

 

What would it take to make your home-based business all it can be? Reexamine your vision and purpose; allow yourself to dream bigger. Everything doesn't need to happen now or all at once, but even small changes can have a big impact on the quality and success of your business.

 

Connect with the Sonya Francis Team for more information on how they can help you with all your real estate-related needs!

Oct. 13, 2019

Preparing Your Home for the Colder Months

Preparing Your Home for the Colder Months 

 

Now that the warm summer months are behind us, it’s time to prepare for winter. Regardless of whether you expect to see sub-zero temperatures this season or you live in one of the warmer climates, preparing your home for colder weather can save you money and hassle this winter. So before you dig out your fall sweaters, take a weekend and prepare your home for the cold weather to come. 

Save Energy

Fall is a great time to seal drafts in the home which can suck energy out. Check around doors and windows and replace worn weather stripping and caulking. If you use your fireplace for warmth during winter, this is the right time to have the chimney cleaned and checked for safety. Arrange a furnace tune up complete with replacing the filter and vacuuming the vents to make sure you are warming your home efficiently.

Outdoor Tasks

Before the chill turns to freezing, head to the yard to winterize the exterior of your home. Check gutters for clogged leaves and other debris and examine the roof and siding for any repairs which could create leaks or drafts in the cold. If the gardening season is at its end, drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses. Make sure the sprinkler system is off and reinforce any exposed pipes which could burst with the cold. Fall is here. Along with the smell of baking and falling leaves, you can ensure your home is ready for winter by taking a few steps now to prepare. Save energy and the hassle of an unexpected repair by getting some routine maintenance done before the cold months come.

 

Sept. 13, 2019

4 Reasons to Sell this Fall

4 Reasons to Sell this Fall

Traditional lore says that the best time to list your home for sale is spring and if it hasn’t sold by the end of summer, you’re out of luck. Along the same lines, homeowners across the country are often advised not to list in the fall and wait until after the holidays to list. The truth is that a great home will sell at any time of year and in fact there are some very good reasons to list in the fall, while everyone else is busy doing other activities.

4 Reasons to Sell this Fall

1. Less Competition – As mentioned above, most sellers list in spring so as a seller, fall provides you less competition which increases the opportunity for buyers to view your home.

2. Serious Buyers – Home buyers in fall often have a timeline to move before the holidays. They tend to take the home search seriously and move to write offers faster and avoid wasting time.

3. Curb Appeal – Fall is a beautiful time of year and homes always seem cozier as the weather turns. Fall colors in the trees and the scent of baking entice buyers to feel “at home” which encourages offers.

4. Closing is Easier – The pace of home sales slows during the fall; as such lenders can move faster and the process tends to take less time.

 

The last and best reason to sell this fall is that it’s the right time for you and your plans. Regardless of whether you are relocating, moving up or scaling down, if this is the right time to sell, then this is the best time to sell.