Charleston Metro Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Oct. 30, 2019

Homes Becoming More Affordable

How to Determine If You Can Afford to Buy a Home

How to Determine If You Can Afford to Buy a Home | MyKCM

The gap between the increase in personal income and residential real estate prices has been used to defend the concept that we are experiencing an affordability crisis in housing today.

It is true that home prices and wages are two key elements in any affordability equation. There is, however, an extremely important third component to that equation: mortgage interest rates.

Mortgage interest rates have fallen by more than a full percentage point from this time last year. Today’s rate is 3.75%; it was 4.86% at this time last year. This has dramatically increased a purchaser’s ability to afford a home.

Here are three reports validating that purchasing a home is in fact more affordable today than it was a year ago:

CoreLogic’s Typical Mortgage Payment

“Falling mortgage rates and slower home-price growth mean that many buyers this year are committing to lower mortgage payments than they would have faced for the same home last year. After rising at a double-digit annual pace in 2018, the principal-and-interest payment on the nation’s median-priced home – what we call the “typical mortgage payment”– fell year-over-year again.”  

The National Association of Realtors’ Affordability Index

“At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month and up from a year ago…All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago…Payment as a percentage of income was down from a year ago.”

First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI)

“In 2019, the dynamic duo of lower mortgage rates and rising incomes overcame the negative impact of rising house price appreciation on affordability. Indeed, affordability reached its highest point since January 2018. Focusing on nominal house price changes alone as an indication of changing affordability, or even the relationship between nominal house price growth and income growth, overlooks what matters more to potential buyers – surging house-buying power driven by the dynamic duo of mortgage rates and income growth. And, we all know from experience, you buy what you can afford to pay per month.”

Bottom Line

Though the price of homes may still be rising, the cost of purchasing a home is actually falling. If you’re thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, let’s connect so you can better understand the difference between the two.

Oct. 22, 2019

Insurance Policies Landlords Should Consider!

Many rental property owners are under the misconception that tenant insurance policies and Homeowners Association Policies cover their investment properties in the event of structural, flood or damage from a disaster.  If you do not have property owner's insurance you are exposed to significant risk!

Tenant's insurance policies only cover tenant property and belongings, as well as provide liability protection from their negligent acts or damages from tenant owned appliances, such as a washer.  Note, your homeowners policy for your personal home does not cover damages at an investment property.  Investment (rental) property insurance is generally inexpensive, but slightly more than a typical homeowner's policy.

HOA insurance policies generally only cover "studs out" protection for hazard and flood.  In addition in many states such as South Carolina, the State's Horizontal Regime Act does not require owners of condominiums to be reimbursed by the owner above for damages (for example a water leak) unless the owner has been negligent- such as not fixing a problem after repeated notices.  In addition, most HOA's do not provide reimbursements to owners for interior damage caused by a roof or window leak.

At minimum a rental property owner should carry:

1   Property Protection

Insurance policies designed for rental dwellings provide property insurance coverage for damage to the home from fire, lightning, wind, hail, ice, snow, and other types of covered incidents. Standard landlord policies typically do not cover flood damage; you will have to take out a separate flood insurance policy (see below).

It’s important to note that property protection is often referred to as “dwelling coverage” by insurance policy providers, and an HO6 Policy for condominiums and townhouses which covers "studs in" including drywall, flooring, cabinets etc.

2. Personal Property Protection

Landlord policies cover personal property left on-site for maintenance or tenant use, such as appliances and lawnmowers. Landlord policies do not cover tenant property; your tenants will need to have their own renters insurance policy to cover damaged tenant property.

Our leases require that tenants get renter’s insurance as a condition of the lease. One of the major benefits of renter’s insurance is avoiding disputes about who will replace a renter’s personal property if damage occurs.

3. Liability Protection

Landlord policies can include liability coverage. If one of your tenants or a guest gets hurt on the property, liability protection covers legal fees and medical expenses.  Remember, if an injury or damage occurs the lawyers always go after the deeper pockets!

4. Rent Loss Protection

If your property is damaged to the point where it is uninhabitable, your landlord policy will cover the lost rent and pay you the amount of money you would have made in rental income. Rent loss insurance helps you continue to make mortgage payments when a tenant cannot occupy the home.

Homes damaged by fire and water leaks can be sitting vacant for months while you are generally paying deductibles and receiving no rental income!

5. Flood Protection

Flood insurance policies are run by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and must be purchased in addition to your landlord insurance policy. Your flood insurance policy can include coverage for the building, contents, and replacement costs. Your insurance agent can help you purchase a flood insurance policy from NFIP.

Most flood damaged homes occur in areas where floods have not occurred before and may not be in high risk areas.  It is very inexpensive coverage.  Note, most condominium and town home HOA's carry flood insurance for the building and common areas- but not the interior of your unit!

6. Acts of Nature Protection

Your dwelling coverage might be limited to certain types of damage and exclude earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes and other acts of nature that are not always covered by your standard landlord insurance policy. If you live in an area at risk for earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes, talk to your provider to add additional peril protections. In Charleston we are subject to hurricanes and the city / region sits atop one of the deepest and most dangerous faults in the country!

Acts of nature protection is sometimes referred to as “acts of God” by your policy provider.  

7. Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

When you cost out your landlord insurance policy, you need to consider cash value versus replacement cost when filing a claim.

When repairing or rebuilding damaged property, an actual cost value policy will pay you the actual cost minus the depreciation value of damaged items. For example, if you purchased an appliance for the property that gets damaged in a fire, your insurer will value the actual cost of that appliance now (with depreciation) and pay you that amount. So, if you bought a washing machine for $600 three years ago, the insurer will depreciate the value of the washing machine to reflect its current value at 3 years old and pay you that amount—not the amount it would cost to buy a new washing machine.   

Replacement value will pay you the value equal to replacing a damaged item. Compared to actual cash value, replacement value will get a new item at no out-of-pocket cost to you. If you are willing to pay the difference out of pocket, actual cost coverage will be fine. But if you would rather insurance take care of everything, replacement cost coverage is the way to go. Understandably, replacement cost coverage will cost more than actual cost coverage.

Conclusion

So there you have it- the basics for investment property owners insurance.  While you may decide not to get them all, you should at the very least obtain property, flood and liability insurance.  Our firm also requires our owners to carry such insurance and to name Charleston Metro Homes, LLC as an "additional insured".

If you have questions, contact your insurance agent or give us a call for a referral!

Sept. 12, 2019

OMG- Housing Prices Are Crashing! Not...

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCMAs we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. There was not one state that even had a moderate probability of home prices lowering. In fact, 34 of the 50 states had a minimal probability.What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

Bottom Line

Those waiting for prices to fall before purchasing a home should realize that the probability of that happening anytime soon is very low. With mortgage rates already at near historic lows, now may be the time to act.

Sept. 3, 2019

5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall | MyKCM

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

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

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

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 years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. 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. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

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

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, 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 in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and 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 is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom 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. 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.

Aug. 6, 2019

How Much Do You Know About House Purchase Down Payments?

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments? | MyKCM

Whether you’ve owned a home before, or you’re ready to jump into homeownership for the first time, there are always a lot of questions swirling around about what is truly required for a down payment, and how to best source down payment assistance. Let’s tackle these two today.

1. How much do you really need for a down payment?

There is a long-standing misconception about down payment requirements. A survey from Fannie Mae shows only 17% of consumers know the minimum options are actually between 1 - 5% of the purchase price and 40% don’t know how much they need at all.How Much Do You Know About Down Payments? | MyKCMThere are many mortgage loans available that require as little as 3% down for first-time buyers, and some ask for only 3.5% down from repeat buyers. There are even loans available for Veterans that provide 0% down payment options too.

We’ve mentioned recently that you don’t need to come up with a 20% down payment to buy, and we’ve also shared how quickly you can save for a 3% or 10% down payment, depending on where you live. If you’re planning to put down just 3%, the research shows it may be possible in most states to have enough saved for a down payment in less than a year. That puts homeownership in a much closer reach for many potential buyers, maybe even you!

2. How can I get help with my down payment?

Regardless of the loans available, many buyers still need assistance with a down payment. The great news is, there are a lot of ways to tap into down payment assistance options. Here are just a couple of them:

Assistance from Family Members

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, “a third of recent first-time buyers received down payment assistance from family members.” They also mentioned, “the average net worth of those aged 75 and over stands at $264,800...They just might offer the boost the next generation needs to become homeowners.

That means one of the ways to find help with a down payment is to accept a gift from a family member. If this is an option for you, make sure you talk to your loan officer before you accept the money, to ensure you document the process the way it is required by your loan. This way, it will be received properly and you can still potentially qualify.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

The reality is, not everyone has a loved one or a family member who can provide help with a down payment. There are, however, more than 2,500 down payment assistance programs available (by local areas like city, county, or neighborhood), and some of them are even specifically for first-time buyers.

The gap, as mentioned in the same survey, is “only 23% of consumers are familiar with low down payment programs.”

That’s why it is so important to get familiar with these options by doing your homework before you plan to buy a home. Determine what is available in the area where you ultimately want to live, so you have all the details you need to take advantage of the down payment assistance option that is best for your family.

Bottom Line

If buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be able to get there sooner than you think by tapping into one of the many down payment assistance programs available.

July 30, 2019

Increase Your Equity Over the Next 5 Years

 

How to Increase Your Equity Over the Next 5 Years | MyKCM

Many of the questions currently surrounding the real estate industry focus on home prices and where they are heading. The most recent Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) helps target these projected answers.

Here are the results from the Q2 2019 Survey:

  • Home values will appreciate by 4.1% in 2019
  • The average annual appreciation will be 3.2% over the next 5 years
  • The cumulative appreciation will be 16.8% by 2023
  • Even experts representing the most “bearish” quartile of the survey project a cumulative appreciation of over 6.7% by 2023

What does this mean for you?

A substantial portion of family wealth comes from home equity. As the value of a family’s home (an asset) increases, so does their equity.

Using the projections from the HPES, here is a look at the potential equity a family could earn over the next five years if they purchased a $250,000 home in January of 2019:How to Increase Your Equity Over the Next 5 Years | MyKCMBased on gains in home equity, their family wealth could increase by $42,000 over that five-year period.

Bottom Line

If you don’t yet own a home, now may be the time to purchase. Owning or moving up to your dream home could allow you to ride the increase in equity of a growing asset.

Home Price Expectation survey - Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts regarding their 5-year expectations for future home prices in the United States.
July 25, 2019

3 Reasons To Buy Your New Home Now

Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability


Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Since home prices have appreciated throughout the past year, they assume homes are less affordable. However, affordability is determined by three components:

    • Price

    • Wages

  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Prices are up, but so are wages - and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically (see #2 below). As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are MORE affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago.


“All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in affordability of 6.9%, followed by the West with a gain of 6.0%. The Midwest had an increase of 5.8%, followed by the Northeast with the smallest gain of 1.8%.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates


Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%.
3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | MyKCMAdditionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, Fannie Mae and others have increased their forecasts for housing appreciation for the rest of the year. If home price gains are about to re-accelerate, buying now rather than later makes financial sense.

3. Increase Family Wealth


Homeownership has always been recognized as a sensational way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals:

“U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you.

BOTTOM LINE


With affordability increasing, mortgage rates decreasing, and home values about to re-accelerate, it may be time to make a move. Let’s get together to determine if buying now makes sense for your family.

July 9, 2019

5 Powerful Reasons To Own Your Own Home

5 Powerful Reasons to Own Instead of Rent

5 Powerful Reasons to Own Instead of Rent | MyKCM

Owning a home has great financial benefits.

In a recent research paper, Homeownership and the American Dream, Laurie S. Goodman and Christopher Mayer of the Urban Land Institute explained:

“Homeownership appears to help borrowers accumulate housing and nonhousing wealth in a variety of ways, with tax advantages, greater financial flexibility due to secured borrowing, built-in ‘default’ savings with mortgage amortization and nominally fixed payments, and the potential to lower home maintenance costs through sweat equity.”

Let’s breakdown 5 major financial benefits of homeownership:

1. Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available

Homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. A 20% down payment results in a leverage factor of five, meaning every percentage point rise in the value of your home is a 5% return on your equity. If you put down 10%, your leverage factor is 10.

Example: Let’s assume you purchased a $300,000 home and put down $60,000 (20%). If the house appreciates by $30,000, that is only a 10% increase in value but a 50% increase in equity.

2. You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are baked into the rent payment already – along with a profit margin!!

3. Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”

Studies have shown that homeowners have a net worth that is 44X greater than that of a renter. As a matter of fact, it was recently estimated that a family buying an average priced home this past January could build more than $42,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Owning is a hedge against inflation

House values and rents tend to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation. When you own, your home’s value will protect you from that inflation.

5. There are still substantial tax benefits to owning

We know that the new tax reform bill puts limits on some deductions on certain homes. However, in the research paper referenced above, the authors explain:

“...the mortgage interest deduction is not the main source of these gains; even if it were removed, homeowners would continue to benefit from a lack of taxation of imputed rent and capital gains.”

Bottom Line

From a financial standpoint, owning a home has always been and will always be better than renting.

Posted in Home Buying
July 5, 2019

10 Steps To Buying Your Charleston Home This Summer

 


10 steps to buying.jpg

Some Highlights:



  • If you are thinking of buying a home, you may not know where to start.

  • Here is a simple list of 10 steps that you will go through to purchase a home.

  • Make sure to ask your agent for details about each step and what else may be required in your area!
Posted in Home Buying
June 27, 2019

Know What to Expect at Your Home Inspection

Know What to Expect at Your Home Inspection

Know What to Expect at Your Home Inspection | MyKCM

So you made an offer and it was accepted. Now, your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents oftentimes make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, to walk away. 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 that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTV recommends that 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 ask about 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 often means that continued training and education are provided.

5. Errors & 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 that they might have missed something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection. That way 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 & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the 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 who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Posted in Home Buying