Planning on Buying a Home? Be Sure You Know Your Options.

Planning on Buying a Home? Be Sure You Know Your Options.

Planning on Buying a Home? Be Sure You Know Your Options. | MyKCM

When you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to determine if you prefer the charm of an existing home or the look and feel of a newer build. With limited existing home inventory available today, especially in the starter and middle-level markets, many buyers are considering a new home that’s recently been constructed, or they’re building the home of their dreams.

According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB),

“The second half of 2019 has seen steady gains in single-family construction, and this is mirrored by the gradual uptick in builder sentiment over the past few months.”

This is great news for homebuyers because it means there is additional inventory coming to the market, giving buyers more choices. The most recent data from NAHB shows,

“The inventory of new homes for sale was 321,000 in September, representing a 5.5 months’ supply. The median sales price was $299,400. The median price of a new home sale a year earlier was $328,300.”

Another added bonus is that builders are very aware of buyer demand in this segment, so they’re now building in a price range where there are more interested buyers ($299,400 instead of $328,300). With a reduced sales price and low-interest rates, today’s buyers have strong purchasing power.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may want to consider a new build to meet your family’s needs. Let’s get together to discuss the process and review what’s available in our area.

Buying a home can be SCARY…Until you know the FACTS [INFOGRAPHIC]

Buying a home can be SCARY… [INFOGRAPHIC]

Buying a home can be SCARY…Until you know the FACTS [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Until you know the FACTS

Some Highlights:

Many potential homebuyers believe they need a 20% down payment and a 780 FICO® score to qualify to buy a home. This stops many people from even trying to jump into homeownership! Here are some facts to help take the fear out of the process:

  • 71% of buyers who purchased homes have put down less than 20%.
  • 78.1% of loan applications were approved last month.
  • In September, the average credit score for approved loans was 737.

Think Prices Have Skyrocketed? Look at Rents.

Think Prices Have Skyrocketed? Look at Rents.

Think Prices Have Skyrocketed? Look at Rents. | MyKCM

Much has been written about how residential real estate values have increased since the housing market started its recovery in 2012. However, little has been shared about what has taken place with residential rental prices. Let’s shed a little light on this subject.

In the most recent Apartment Rent ReportRentCafe explains how rents have continued to increase over the last twelve months because of a large demand and a limited supply.

 “Continued interest in rental apartments and slowing construction keeps the national average rent on a strong upward trend.”

Zillow, in its latest Rent Index, agreed that rents are continuing on an “upward trend” across most of the country, and that the trend is accelerating:

“The median U.S. rent grew 2% year-over-year, to $1,595 per month. National rent growth is faster than a year ago, and while 46 of the 50 largest markets are showing deceleration in annual home value growth, annual rent growth is accelerating in 41 of the largest 50 markets.”

Think Prices Have Skyrocketed? Look at Rents. | MyKCM

The Zillow report went on to detail rent increases since the beginning of the housing market recovery in 2012. Here is a graph showing the increases:

Bottom Line

It is true that home prices have risen over the past seven years, increasing the cost of owning a home. However, the cost of renting a home has also increased over that same time period.

A Home Maintenance Checklist for Every Season

A Home Maintenance Checklist for Every Season

Being a homeowner is a big responsibility, but by properly maintaining your home throughout the year you can keep tasks more manageable, spread out expenses, preserve property value and avoid costly repairs. Keep your home in prime condition by following these seasonal home maintenance checklists.

Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

While cold and unpredictable weather makes it difficult to tackle major home maintenance projects, these steps can help ensure your home is winter ready.

  1. Water pipes can freeze during harsh temperatures, causing serious damage. Protect your home with these tips.
  2. Heavy snowfall followed by a period of freezing temperatures can cause ice dams to form on your roof. Prevent them with these steps.
  3. Ensure outdoor steps and handrails are secure.
  4. Make sure your attic and basement are properly insulated to eliminate drafts and cut energy costs.
  5. Cover your central-air conditioner or remove window units.
  6. Invest in a good dehumidifier to keep mold and dust mites at bay.
  7. Ensure outdoor holiday light displays have tight connections and are labeled for outdoor use only.
  8. Check the basement for water leaks during thaws.
  9. Take steps to winterize your car and lawnmower.
  10. Before a snowstorm, stock up on sidewalk salt, drinking water, nonperishable foods and canned goods. Restock your car first aid kit.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

In addition to your regular spring cleaning, take these steps to maintain your home after the ground has thawed.

  1. Protect your home from heavy rainstorms and high winds. Inspect your roof and chimney for damaged shingles and leaks after severe weather events.
  2. To keep insects and pests out, inspect the screens on your window and doors. Repair or replace as needed.
  3. Reseal outdoor woodwork including your deck and fence to prevent wood from splitting, graying or cracking.
  4. Deep clean your home’s exterior, including windows and siding.
  5. Check for cracks and water pools in your driveway and walkways. Repair as needed.
  6. Inspect your sprinkler heads and test the irrigation system.
  7. Service your air conditioning system before summer.
  8. Maintain and fertilize your lawn.
  9. Spray for mosquitoes and other pests.
  10. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the expiration dates on your fire extinguishers.

Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

While spending a sunny weekend doing yardwork probably isn’t at the top of your summer bucket list, keeping up on these chores can help prepare your home for the extreme heat ahead.

  1. Weak or dying trees and branches could fall, potentially causing serious injury or damaging your or your neighbors’ property. Prevent a costly insurance claim by removing them.
  2. An overgrown lawn can lead to infestations, damage the health of existing plants and reduce curb appeal. Keep on top of routine landscaping.
  3. Treat your pool and replace the filters. Check the filter basket and chemical levels weekly, and scrub the sides monthly.
  4. Foundation cracks can allow groundwater, insects and radon gas to enter your home. Inspect and repair as needed.
  5. To increase efficiency, clean your air-conditioning filters at least once a month.
  6. Clean your dryer vent to increase efficiency and prevent home fires.
  7. To protect your home from the elements and improve curb appeal, repair and repaint chipped, cracked or faded exterior paint.
  8. Deep clean your grill by removing buildup from the grates and wiping down the exterior. If you have a gas grill, check the fuel line for gas leaks.
  9. Keep children safe by inspecting outdoor play equipment. Reinforce, reseal or repaint as needed.
  10. Sweep and wash your deck. Check for loose nails and rotting boards.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

This is the time to prep your home for winter before the start of shorter days and inclement weather.

  1. To prevent pipes from bursting when the temperature drops, turn off exterior faucets. Drain and disconnect garden hoses and store them indoors.
  2. To help keep ice dams from forming in the winter, regularly clean gutters and downspouts to keep them clear from leaves and debris.
  3. Keep your yard healthy and beautiful by aerating your lawn and pruning shrubs and trees.
  4. Rake regularly, but keep some leaf cover under trees and shrubs, providing mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  5. To prevent drafts and cut energy costs, check and replace caulking and weather stripping on windows and doors.
  6. Have chimneys, fireplaces and vents inspected and cleaned or repaired, and follow these safety tips.
  7. Keep your family safe and reduce energy costs by scheduling a furnace tune-up.
  8. Store your outdoor furniture in a garage or shed. If you don’t have the space, invest in a waterproof furniture cover.
  9. Service your snow blower and purchase fuel.
  10. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Although much of this upkeep can be done on your own, more complicated tasks may be better left to a qualified professional for safety’s sake.

12 Haunted Houses Guaranteed to Make You Scream

With Halloween quickly approaching, we scoped out some of the East Coast’s most nightmare-inducing haunted houses. You won’t find any low-budget thrills on this list. Featuring some seriously demented actors, jaw-dropping effects and intense escape rooms, these attractions aren’t for the faint of heart.

Our Favorite Haunts Along the East Coast

New Hampshire

1. Haunted Overload, Lee

Located in the eerie New England woods, the DeMeritt Hill Farm is the backdrop to this seriously spooky encounter. Venture down the haunted trail for a unique, fully immersive experience where terror lurks around every twist and turn. Beware of insanely intense sound effects, dense fog, creative lighting and looming monsters — some as tall as 34 feet!

2. Nightmare New England, Litchfield

Featuring the Brigham Manor plus four other terrifying haunts along the desolate countryside, New England’s largest haunted attraction is filled with crazed zombies, killer clowns, chainsaws and other scary surprises. Journey down the mile-long hayride of horrors where you’ll witness a spider-infested campground and heinously disfigured experiments. Also enjoy zombie paintball, go-karts, mini-golf, tarot card readings, carnival concessions and more. 

Massachusetts

3. DementedFX, Holyoke 

Feel like the star of your own horror flick as you wander through this 20,000-square-foot space featuring Hollywood-quality sets and props, hair-raising lighting and sound effects and interactive video. Save the world from a deadly virus by breaking into the Bio Med Corp Haunted House and brave the Meat Tank Horror Experience, a 4D adventure into the zombie wasteland. If you’re feeling especially daring, come to Lights Out, where you’ll roam through the darkness guided only by a tiny LED candle.

4. Witch’s Woods, Westford

The souls of the undead have invaded the woods at Nashoba Valley Ski Area. Take a haunted hayride where you’ll encounter witches, ghouls, zombies and werewolves darting through the darkness in search of vulnerable guests. Outrun screeching spirits at Castle Morbid, tour the twisted halls and secret passages of Nightmare Mansion and enter a new dimension in terror at the Keeper’s Crypt. Guests who can’t handle the horror can visit the Jack O’Lantern Jamboree, a magnificent display featuring hundreds of professionally carved pumpkins.

Connecticut

5. The Dark Manor, Norwich

Experience the ghastly entities that torment the halls of The Dark Manor, nestled along the deserted countryside. Make it out alive and venture through The Graveyard, where plagued souls search for their latest victims. Escape from undead creeps and chainsaw freaks at The Catacombs, where you’ll hope to escape with your sanity in check. And if you’re feeling especially brave, join a paranormal investigation of all three frightening attractions.

6. Fright Haven, Stratford

Evil lurks around every corner of this 20,000-square-foot indoor attraction — the largest in Connecticut. Set up like a Victorian-era mansion, it incorporates three ghastly haunts with animatronics and video shows. Enter Psycho Ward13 at your own risk, where atrocious experiments are performed on the mentally deranged. Venture through the Cabin in the Woods, where a clan of backwoods cannibals are on the loose, and encounter carnivorous carneys at The Carnival of Lost Souls. 

New York

7. Blood Manor, New York

As terrifying as its name, Blood Manor is a 10,000-square-foot labyrinth of horrors where you’ll journey through themed rooms, corridors and passageways designed to torment your deepest, darkest fears. Escape from blood-soaked creatures and insanely gory zombies at every turn. If you’re daring enough, come during Lights Out Night, where you’ll be armed against evil lurking in the darkness with nothing but a single glow stick for your group. 

8. Headless Horseman, Ulster Park

Loaded with seven houses, a walk-through swamp shack, a corn maze, a mile-long hayride, plus an unforgettable magic and illusion sideshow, this is one of the country’s largest and longest-running haunted attractions. Located on a 200-year-old farm, it evolves each year with a new assortment of awesome illusions, spectacular special effects and curious creatures. Puzzle solvers can enjoy three fully immersive, horror-themed escape rooms. You’ll also find a fairground with food stands and gift shops. 

New Jersey

9. Field of Terror, East Windsor

Rumor has it that Farmer Frank once inhabited these 100 acres of vast New Jersey farmland, but simple farming wasn’t enough to satisfy his ghoulish whims. So he performed crazed experiments, attempting to cross local townspeople genetics with his own twisted vegetation, and the results of these failed misfortunes now roam the land. Experience four spine-chilling attractions on one of the most-terrifying treks of your life, as well as a Creepy Carnival Paintball Ride and kid-friendly non-scary events. But be on the lookout for Frank’s evil grandson, Ax Man, who still tends the crops to this day.

10. Bane Haunted House, Livingston 

The Banes were a seemingly normal family — until Jennifer was bitten by a rabbit her scientist father was experimenting on. That’s when the nightmare began … According to My Central Jersey, Bane is one of the country’s only full-contact haunted houses and boasts one of the highest ‘quit’ rates (from guests asking to leave in the middle). Each unsuspecting visitor is guaranteed to be abducted from the group at some point. Be prepared to crawl, climb, jump, get electrocuted and be locked inside a coffin! Bane also offers three intricate escape rooms. 

Pennsylvania

11. Terror Behind the Walls, Philadelphia

This haunt is located within the cellblocks of Eastern State Penitentiary, America’s most historic prison, which once housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals. Your imagination will have you wondering if that’s an actor lurking in the darkness or a tortured soul left behind to roam the prison’s abandoned corridors. This year’s six attractions — Blood Yard, Infirmary, Machine Shop, Quarantine 4D, Lock Down and Breakout — will have you scrambling to find the nearest exit.

12. ScareHouse, Pittsburgh

Featuring deranged clowns, holiday-themed spirits and hordes of the undead, this indoor attraction will scare you witless. Brave the thrilling Stalked by a Killer Escape Room. The Basement is an intense R-rated experience where guests sign a waiver before encountering high-voltage effects, water, powerful scents and claustrophobic spaces. (Tip: Find out the safe word before entering!)

Do your research before you go. Some haunts are so harrowing they have age restrictions, so you may want to leave the kiddos at home. Gulp.

For a few family-friendly options, check these out:

If you make it out alive, be sure to leave a comment! Or tell us if your favorite didn’t make the list.

Things to Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

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.

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home

One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | MyKCM

One of the benefits of homeownership is that it is a “forced savings plan.” Here’s how it works: You make a mortgage payment each month. Part of that payment is applied to the principal balance of your mortgage. Each month you owe less on the home. The difference between the value of the home and what you owe is called equity.

If your home has appreciated since the time you purchased it, that increase in value also raises your equity. Over time, the equity in your home could be substantial. Recently, CoreLogic revealed that the average homeowner gained more than $65,000 in equity over the last 5 years.

Unlike last decade, homeowners are no longer foolishly tapping into that equity. In 2006-2008, many owners used their homes like an ATM by pulling equity out to purchase new cars, jet skis, or lavish vacations. They were pulling out cash (equity) from an appreciating asset, and then spending it on rapidly depreciating items. That is not happening anymore.

Over 50% of Homes Have at Least 50% Equity

The number of homeowners that currently have at least 50% equity in their home is astonishing. According to the Urban Institute, 37.1% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity studyATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 62.9% of homes with a mortgage, 25.6% have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last five years:One of the Top Reasons to Own a Home | MyKCMBy doing a little math, we can see that 53.2% of all homes in this country have at least 50% equity right now. Of all homes, 37.1% are mortgage-free and an additional 16.1% with a mortgage have at least 50% equity.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is different than renting. When you own, your housing expense (the mortgage payment) comes back to you in the form of equity in your home. That doesn’t happen with your rent payment. Your rent helps build your landlord’s equity instead.

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