Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance

Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance | MyKCM

To sell your home this spring, it may need more preparation than it would have a year or two ago. Today’s housing market has a different feel. There are more homes for sale than there were at this time last year, but inventory is still historically low. So, if a house has been sitting on the market for a while, that’s a sign it may not be hitting the mark for potential buyers. But here’s the thing. Right now, homes that are updated and priced at market value are still selling fast.

Today, homes with curb appeal that are presented well are still selling quickly, and sometimes over asking price. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com:

“In a market where costs are still high and buyers can be a little choosier, it makes sense they’re going to really zero in on the homes that are the most appealing.”

With the spring buying season just around the corner, now’s the time to start getting your house ready to sell. And the best way to determine where to spend your time and money is to work with a trusted real estate agent who can help you understand which improvements are most valuable in your local market.

Curb Appeal Wins

One way to prioritize updates that could bring a good return on your investment is to find smaller projects you can do yourself. Little updates that boost your curb appeal usually work well. Investopedia puts it this way:

“Curb-appeal projects make the property look good as soon as prospective buyers arrive. While these projects may not add a considerable amount of monetary value, they will help your home sell faster—and you can do a lot of the work yourself to save money and time.”

Small cosmetic updates, like refreshing some paint and power washing the exterior of your home, create a great first impression for buyers and help it stand out. Work with a real estate professional to find the low-cost projects you can tackle around your house that will appeal to buyers in your area.

Not All Updates Are Created Equal

When deciding what you need to do to your house before selling it, remember you’re making these repairs and updates for someone else. Prioritize projects that will help you sell faster or for more money over things that appeal to you as a homeowner.

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) highlights popular home improvements and what sort of return they bring for the investment (see graph below):

Spring into Action: Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Expert Guidance | MyKCM

Remember to lean on your trusted real estate advisor for the best advice on the updates you should invest in. They’ll know what local buyers are looking for and have the latest insights of what your house needs to sell quickly this spring.

Bottom Line

As we approach the spring season, now’s the time to get your house ready to sell. Let’s connect today so you can find out which updates make the most sense.

Shawna O’Brien, Executive Club
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers

Wondering What’s Going on with Home Prices?

Wondering What’s Going on with Home Prices? | MyKCM

The recent changes in home prices are top of mind for many as the housing market begins gearing up for spring. It can be hard to navigate misleading headlines and confusing data, so here’s what you should know about today’s home prices.

Local price trends still vary by market. But looking at national data, Nataliya Polkovnichenko, Ph.D., Supervisory Economist at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), explains:

U.S. house prices were largely unchanged in the last four months and remained near the peak levels reached over the summer of 2022. While higher mortgage rates have suppressed demand, low inventories of homes for sale have helped maintain relatively flat house prices.”

Month-over-month home price changes can be seen in the chart below. The data also shows that price depreciation peaked around August. Since then, any depreciation has been even milder. In other words, today’s home prices aren’t in a freefall.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you currently own your house, you may be concerned about even the smallest decline in prices. But keep in mind how much home values grew over the last few years. Compared to that growth, any declines we’re seeing nationally are likely to be minimal. Selma Hepp, Chief Economist at CoreLogicshares:

“. . . while prices continued to fall from November, the rate of decline was lower than that seen in the summer and still adds up to only a 3% cumulative drop in prices since last spring’s peak.”

It’s also important to remember that every local market is different. That’s why it’s essential to lean on an expert for the latest information on the home prices in your area if you’re planning to make a move this spring.

Bottom Line

To understand what’s going on with home prices in our market and how they could impact your goals, Let’s Talk today.

Shawna O’Brien, Executive Club
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers

What You Should Know About Closing Costs

What You Should Know About Closing Costs | MyKCM

Before you buy a home, it’s important to plan ahead. While most buyers consider how much they need to save for a down payment, many are surprised by the closing costs they have to pay. To ensure you aren’t caught off guard when it’s time to close on your home, you need to understand what closing costs are and how much you should budget for.

What Are Closing Costs?

People are sometimes surprised by closing costs because they don’t know what they are. According to Bankrate:

“Closing costs are the fees and expenses you must pay before becoming the legal owner of a house, condo or townhome . . . Closing costs vary depending on the purchase price of the home and how it’s being financed . . .”

In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments involved with your transaction. According to Freddie Mac, while they can vary by location and situation, closing costs typically include:

  • Government recording costs
  • Appraisal fees
  • Credit report fees
  • Lender origination fees
  • Title services
  • Tax service fees
  • Survey fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Underwriting Fees

How Much Will You Need To Budget for Closing Costs?

Understanding what closing costs include is important, but knowing what you’ll need to budget to cover them is critical, too. According to the Freddie Mac article mentioned above, the costs to close are typically between 2% and 5% of the total purchase price of your home. With that in mind, here’s how you can get an idea of what you’ll need to cover your closing costs.

Let’s say you find a home you want to purchase for the median price of $366,900. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,500 and $18,500.

Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above or below this price range, your closing costs will be higher or lower.

What’s the Best Way To Make Sure You’re Prepared at Closing Time?

Freddie Mac provides great advice for homebuyers, saying:

As you start your homebuying journey, take the time to get a sense of all costs involved – from your down payment to closing costs.”

Work with a team of trusted real estate professionals to understand exactly how much you’ll need to budget for closing costs. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together your expert team can answer any questions you might have.

Bottom Line

It’s important to plan for the fees and payments you’ll be responsible for at closing. Let’s connect so I can help you feel confident throughout the process.

Shawna O’Brien, Executive Club
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers

Is a Home Warranty Worth the Investment?

There are dozens of reasons people prefer living in their home to an apartment – but every homeowner will probably tell you that there’s one major drawback: When something breaks down, you can’t call the management and ask them to fix it.

HVAC units go on the fritz on the hottest day of summer, water heaters stop working in the middle of winter, and – if you’re like most people – your kitchen appliances will break down just before a major holiday or dinner party. As the homeowner, it’s all on you to get those repairs handled.

Rather than relying on their savings, however, people are increasingly investing in home warranties to help them manage common household repairs. Learning more about what a home warranty is, and when it is right for you can help you get the protection you need for an uncertain future.

What Is a Home Warranty, and What Does It Cover?

A home warranty is an optional type of insurance protection that you can buy for your home. It functions as a service agreement between the company that underwrites the warranty and the homeowner to handle repairs and replacements for any covered household appliances or systems. 

Home warranties vary greatly in their scope, but they will often cover things like:

  • Your HVAC system
  • Water heaters
  • Plumbing issues
  • Electrical problems
  • Washers and dryers
  • Refrigerators and stoves
  • Freezers
  • Septic systems
  • Hot tubs and swimming pools

When purchasing a home warranty, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand what’s covered (and what is not). You also need to understand the maximum you can be charged for a service call (especially if it takes repeat trips) and any annual coverage limits. 

Why Do You Need a Home Warranty if You Have Homeowners Insurance?

Home warranties can feel like an unnecessary expense – or maybe just another way for insurance companies to eke a few more dollars out of your wallet – when you already have homeowners insurance – but that’s generally only because people don’t understand the difference between the two.

Homeowners insurance covers things like damage to your chimney from an electrical storm, or missing shingles from your roof after a tornado. They also cover major damage that comes from things like burglaries and house fires, or pipes that freeze and break while you’re on vacation. In addition, they’re a buffer in case you get sued over a property liability claim after someone slips and falls on your porch steps or your dog nips the postal carrier.

Homeowners insurance does not, however, cover things that break down simply through the usual wear-and-tear over time. For example, your plumbing is an integral part of your home’s features and key to its usability, but a problem with your sewer line is not likely to be covered under your homeowners insurance. You can also bet that your appliances, including the washer, dryer, HVAC system and water heater, also won’t be covered if they break down and need to be replaced.

How Do You Tell if a Home Warranty Is Right for Your Situation?

Generally speaking, experts tell people that buying an extended warranty on a lot of purchases isn’t usually worth the money because the items they’re buying are either:

  • Unlikely to break down on their own as long as you maintain them properly
  • Not that costly in the first place, with a limited lifespan (which the warranty won’t extend)
  • Not that expensive to repair if they do happen to break down

For the large part, that information might be true – if you’re talking about the average notepad computer, a gaming system or a piece of furniture.

Not so, however, when you’re talking about a whole house and its major operating systems. Home warranties are different from extended warranties because they’re usually designed to cover both your appliances and the whole-house systems, like the electric and plumbing. These are things that are expected to occasionally fail.

Typically, this means that you can call up your home warranty provider and get a reliable, trusted service professional from their network at your door in no time. If some appliance or system that’s covered by your policy needs to be repaired or replaced, you will usually only pay a service fee for the visit – and that can save you thousands. 

This is particularly true if you’ve invested in a home with a lot of “smart” features, including smart appliances and built-in systems that control your home’s security, lighting, sprinklers and more. When something goes wrong, it’s definitely nice to know that the repairs are covered!

When Can You Buy a Home Warranty?

Home warranties sometimes are purchased when someone buys or builds a home (although builder warranties may sometimes offer sufficient overlap that an additional home warranty might not be immediately needed). 

They’re also sometimes purchased by someone who is selling a home, as an incentive for buyers who may love those stainless steel kitchen appliances but dread the idea of having to replace them if they break. It’s estimated that the average home warranty runs somewhere between $300 and $1,000 per year, depending on its features, and a warranty that will cover a buyer for a year or two can provide great reassurance.

In reality, however, it’s never too late to get a home warranty – until something has already broken down and you’re facing that hefty repair bill.

Homeownership is one of the most rewarding experiences many people ever have, but it can be difficult to manage when repairs are needed. Aside from the unexpected expense, you also have to find a service professional that you can trust. A good home warranty can be an absolute lifesaver when something happens.

Shawna O’Brien, Executive Club
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers