The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

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

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

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

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

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

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

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

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

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

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand

How Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line: Trusted Professionals Make Homebuying Easier to Understand

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

Benefits of Aging in a Community

The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community

The Many Benefits of Aging in a Community | MyKCM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kiplinger report also chimed in on this subject:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line

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

The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process

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.  The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process, 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 #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process

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: The #1 Misconception in the Homebuying Process

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.”

The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want

The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want | MyKCM

In a market where current inventory is low, it’s normal to think buyers might be willing to give up a few desirable features in their home search in order to make finding a house a little easier. Don’t be fooled, though – there’s still an interest in the market for some key upgrades. Here’s a look at the two surprising things buyers seem to be searching for in today’s market, and how they’re impacting new home builds.  The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want

Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Garages

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently released an article showing the percentage of new single-family homes completed in 2018. The data reveals,

  • 64% of new homes offer a 2-car garage
  • 21% have a garage large enough to hold 3 or more cars
  • 7% have a 1-car garage
  • 7% do not include a garage or carport
  • 1% have a carport

The following map represents this breakdown by region:The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want | MyKCMEvidently, a garage is something homebuyers are looking for in their searches, but that’s not all.

Homebuyers Are Not Giving Up Their Patios

Patios are on the radar for buyers as well. Community areas are often common amenities in new neighborhoods, but as it turns out, private outdoor spaces are quite desirable too. NAHB also found that,

“Of the roughly 876,000 single-family homes started in 2018, 59.4% came with patios…This is the highest the number has been since NAHB began tracking the series in 2005.”

As shown in the graph below, the number of new homes built with patios has been increasing for the past 9 years. Clearly, they’re a desirable feature for new homeowners too.The 2 Surprising Things Homebuyers Really Want | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Homebuyers are looking for garage space and outdoor patio living. If you’re a homeowner thinking of selling a house with these amenities, it appears buyers are willing to spring for those key features. Let’s get together today to determine the current value and demand for your home.

Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led and inspired a powerful movement with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Through his passion and determination, he sparked interest, ambition, and courage in his audience. Today, reflecting on his message encourages many of us to think about our own dreams, goals, beliefs, and aspirations. For many Americans, one of those common goals is owning a home: a piece of land, a roof over our heads, and a place where our families can grow and flourish.

If you’re dreaming of buying a home this year, the best way to start the process is to connect with a Real Estate professional to understand what goes into buying a home. Once you have that covered, then you can answer the questions below to make the best decision for you and your family.

1. How Can I Better Understand the Process, and How Much Can I Afford to Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020?

Business people using tablet computers in meeting

The process of buying a home is not one to enter into lightly. You need to decide on key things like how long you plan on living in an area, school districts you prefer, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can afford to spend.

Keep in mind, before you start the process to purchase a home, you’ll also need to apply for a mortgage. Lenders will evaluate several factors connected to your financial track record, one of which is your credit history. They’ll want to see how well you’ve been able to minimize past debts, so make sure you’ve been paying your student loans, credit cards, and car loans on time. Most agents have loan officers they trust that they can refer you to.

According to ConsumerReports.org,

Financial planners recommend limiting the amount you spend on housing to 25 percent of your monthly budget.”

2. How Much Do I Need for a Down Payment? 

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In addition to knowing how much you can afford on a monthly mortgage payment, understanding how much you’ll need for a down payment is another critical step. Thankfully, there are many different options and resources in the market to potentially reduce the amount you may think you need to put down up front.

If you’re concerned about saving for a down payment, start small and be consistent. A little bit each month goes a long way. Jumpstart your savings by automatically adding a portion of your monthly paycheck into a separate savings account or house fund. AmericaSaves.org says,

“Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years, plus interest that has compounded.”

Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process and can Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

3. Saving Takes Time: Practice Living on a Budget

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As tempting as it is to settle in each morning with a fancy cup of coffee from your favorite local shop, putting that daily spend toward your down payment will help accelerate your path to homeownership. It’s the little things that count, so start trying to live on a slightly tighter budget if you aren’t doing so already. A budget will allow you to save more for your down payment and help you pay down other debts to improve your credit score. A survey of Millennial spending shows,

“70 percent of would-be first-time homebuyers will cut spending on spa days, shopping and going to the movies in exchange for purchasing a home within the next year.”

While you don’t need to cut all of the fun out of your current lifestyle, making smarter choices and limiting your spending in areas where you can slim down will make a big difference.

Bottom Line – Make the Dream of Homeownership a Reality in 2020

If homeownership is on your dream list this year, take a good look at what you can prioritize to help you get there. Let’s get together today to discuss the best steps you can take to start the process.

Can a Clean Desk Really Boost Your Productivity at Work?

By Julia Malacoff
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ExperienceInteriors/Getty Images

January is all about fresh starts and taking the time to accomplish things you didn’t get the chance to do last year-like maybe finally dealing with your messy, cluttered desk at the office. In honor of National Clean Off Your Desk Day today (yep, that’s real), we decided to find out: How important is it really to your productivity and quality of work to have a clean and orderly desk situation? Does a cluttered desk actually equal a cluttered mind? (BTW, these nine “time-wasters” are actually productive.)

Are You a Minimalist or a Messy Worker?

Research on the topic is somewhat conflicting. While studies have shown that a messy desk can encourage creativity and even increase productivity, research also acknowledges that for more precise, detail-oriented work, an organized work space is much more beneficial. Your preference for messy or clean may also come down to personality, says Jeni Aron, professional organizer and founder of Clutter Cowgirl in NYC. “A desk is a highly personal environment,” says Aron. “Some people LOVE having many materials on their desk at all times; it makes them feel alive and connected to their work.”

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Often writers, artists, and academics enjoy this kind of environment because their notes and papers can actually spark new ideas. The problem, though, is when a person starts to feel unproductive because of their desk area. “Unfinished projects and missed deadlines are two indicators of not having a productive office environment,” she says. So basically, ask yourself if your work is suffering or you feel overwhelmed despite a reasonable scheduele. It could be that pile of notepads, boxes, or other stuff piling up on and around your desk. (One writer stopped multitasking for an entire week to see if it improved her productivity. Find out.)

Another important thing to consider? The vibe your desk is giving off to everyone else in your office. “Presenting yourself as an organized, confident, and together person is obviously quite crucial in an office dynamic,” says Aron. “It is also physically challenging to have meetings in a cluttered office. People might not feel relaxed or at the peak of their performance when their eyes are darting everywhere seeing your mess with nowhere to set down even a cup of coffee.” You want your coworkers, and especially your boss, to know you have it together-even if your desk is a hot mess.

How to Organize Your Work Space

On the other hand, it’s sometimes less important that your desk is organized than it is that your actual work is organized. “Having an organized work space is important, but what’s even more important is tailoring the organization of your work space to the organization of your work,” says Dan Lee, director at NextDesk, a maker of power adjustable desks. He suggests thinking about the way you successfully get things done and the tools that make you feel most productive before tackling any desk reorganization project. For example, “If you never use paper notebooks or printouts, why are they taking up valuable desk real estate?” he says. Instead, focus on making sure you have the tools you need to actually make progress, since that’s much more important than how your desk looks aesthetically. Aron agrees, noting that “having the ability to set up a system that works for who you are now-whether you’re a pile person or a file person-will encourage you to go through each day in a systematic and orderly way.” And that’s what really matters, right? As long as you’re getting your work done to the best of your ability, you should be free to choose whatever organizational system (or lack thereof) that you want. (Here, read up on the physical and mental health benefits of organization.)

According to Lee, there are two approaches you can take to reorganizing your work life. “One is the idea of doing a single-day deep clean, where you set aside a whole day (or at least an afternoon) to take everything off your desk and out of your drawers, clean all the surfaces, and put things back in an organized fashion,” he says. This might not be possible or practical for everyone, especially if you have a really hectic work schedule, so the other approach is more gradual. “Take 10 minutes at the start or end of each workday to toss unneeded papers, wipe down any crumbs or coffee rings, and put office supplies back where they belong,” he suggests.

Aron suggests taking your daily social media time (approximately 50 minutes for the average American-and that’s just on Facebook) and dedicating that time to your office clutter instead. The first step is to sit and decide how you would like to feel in your office, whether that’s at home or at work, she says. “Productive? Relaxed? Energized? You can use this feeling as your guideline for how to drive yourself toward making decisions about your stuff.” And instead of blocking off an entire weekend or day to get it done, schedule 30- to 60-minute intervals a couple of times a week until you get your space how you want. (Now that your desk is all set, you might want to get a head start on all that spring cleaning with these simple ways to declutter your life.)

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI

Top Renovations for Maximum ROI [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • If you’re planning on selling your house in 2020, these are the top renovations that will give you the highest Return on your Investment.
  • Regardless of how long you’re planning on staying in your current home, it’s smart to be aware of which home renovations add the most value.
  • The exterior of a house is the first thing buyers see when searching for a home. Upgrading your roof or siding will ensure your home leaves a great first impression!