Don’t Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard by Closing Costs | MyKCM

As a homebuyer, it’s important to plan and budget for the expenses you’ll encounter when you purchase a home. While most people understand the need to save for a down payment, a recent survey found 41% of homebuyers were surprised by their closing costs. Here’s some information to help you get started so you’re not caught off guard when it’s time to close on your home.

What Are Closing Costs?

One possible reason some people are surprised by closing costs may be because they don’t know what they are or what they cover. According to U.S. News and World Report:

“Closing costs encompass a variety of expenses above your property’s purchase price. They include things like lender fees, title insurance, government processing fees, upfront tax payments and homeowners insurance.”

In other words, your closing costs are a collection of fees and payments made to a variety of individuals and organizations who are 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 to achieving your homebuying goals. 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 $350,300. Based on the 2-5% Freddie Mac estimate, your closing fees could be between roughly $7,000 and $17,500.

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.”

The best way to understand what you’ll need at the closing table is to work with a team of trusted real estate professionals. An agent can help connect you with a lender, and together they can provide you with answers to the questions you might have.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s more important than ever to make sure your budget includes any fees and payments due at closing. Let’s connect so you have the knowledge you need to be confident going into the homebuying process.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCM

In an annual Gallup poll, Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment. And it’s not the first time it’s topped the list, either. Real estate has been on a winning streak for the past eight years, consistently gaining traction as the best long-term investment (see graph below):

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCM

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, this poll should reassure you. Even when inflation is rising like it is today, Americans agree an investment like real estate truly shines.

Why Is Real Estate a Great Investment During Times of High Inflation?

With inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years, it’s more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board. That includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. But when you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increasing housing payments. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrateexplains it like this:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

If you’re a renter, you don’t have that same benefit, and you aren’t protected from increases in your housing costs, especially rising rents.

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

As a homeowner, your house is an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That‘s because, as prices rise, the value of your home does, too. And that makes buying a home a great hedge during periods of high inflation. Natalie Campisi, Advisor Staff for Forbesnotes:

Tangible assets like real estate get more valuable over time, which makes buying a home a good way to spend your money during inflationary times.

Bottom Line

Housing truly is a strong investment, especially when inflation is high. When you lock in a mortgage payment, you’re shielded from housing cost increases, and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, let’s connect today.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

An Expert Advisor Will Give You the Best Advice in Today’s Market

An Expert Advisor Will Give You the Best Advice in Today’s Market | MyKCM

Having an experienced guide coaching you through the process of buying or selling a home is important in a normal market – but today’s market is far from normal. As a result, an expert real estate advisor isn’t just good to have by your side, they’re essential.

Today’s housing market is full of extremes. Experts project mortgage rates will continue to rise this year, and that’s driving significant demand for homes as buyers want to make their purchases before rates climb even higher. At the same time, an absence of sellers is leading to record-low housing inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand is creating bidding wars and driving home price appreciation as well as considerable gains in home equity.

These market conditions can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go at it alone. Having a trusted expert to coach you through the process of buying or selling a home gives you clarity and confidence through each step.

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:

Contracts – Agents help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.

Experience – In an unprecedented market, experience is crucial. Real estate professionals know the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past two years.

Negotiations – Your real estate advisor acts as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction and advocates for your best interests.

Education – Knowledge is power in today’s market, and your advisor will simply and effectively explain market conditions and translate what they mean for you.

Pricing – Finally, a real estate professional understands today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or helping you make an offer to purchase one.

A real estate agent is a crucial guide through this unprecedented market, but not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding an expert real estate advisor – not just any agent – should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.

What’s the key to choosing the right expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll want to know you can trust the advice they’re giving you, so you need to make sure you’re connected with a true professional. No one can provide perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in today’s unique market. But a true professional can give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand. They’ll help you make the necessary adjustments along the way, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

It’s critical to have an expert on your side who’s well versed in navigating today’s rapidly changing market. If you’re planning to buy or sell a home this year, let’s connect so you have a real estate professional on your side to give you the best advice and guide you along the way.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

Millennials: Do You Need a Home with More Space?

Millennials: Do You Need a Home with More Space? | MyKCM

If you’re a millennial, homebuying might be top of mind for you. Your generation is the largest group of homebuyers in the market today and has been since 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). And while other millennials are looking to buy for the first time, you may be one of the many who are now discovering you’ve outgrown your home.

If that’s the case, you’re not alone. The past two years brought about significant changes for many people, and today, homeowners are reevaluating what they truly need in a home. As a recent report from the Wall Street Journal states:

“They say the pandemic and the emergence of remote work accelerated millennial home-buying trends already under way. . . . Millennials who already owned homes traded up for more space.”

So, if you’re working remotely now or simply have a growing need for additional space, it may be time to move. And even if you purchased your current home sometime over the last few years, you can still move into a different one that has the space and features you’re looking for. That’s because there’s a good chance you have more equity than you realize. As Diana Olick, Real Estate Correspondent for CNBCnotes:

The stunning jump in home values over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic has given U.S. homeowners record amounts of housing wealth. . . . Even homeowners who weren’t listing their properties for sale were gaining equity. About 42% of homeowners were considered equity-rich at the end of last year, meaning their mortgages were half or less than half the value of their home.”

Growing equity can be the key you need to fuel your next move, especially if you’re looking to purchase a larger home. When you sell your current house, the equity that comes back to you in the sale can be used toward the down payment on your next home.

In other words, your purchasing power may be greater than you realize, making a move to a larger home a realistic option. That, plus your changing needs, might make moving now more desirable than ever.

Bottom Line

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

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership

Achieving the Dream of Homeownership | MyKCM

Homeownership has long been considered the American Dream, and it’s one every American should feel confident and powerful pursuing. But owning a home is also a deeply personal dream. Our home provides us with safety and security, and it’s a place where we can grow and flourish.

Today, we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many of us will remember his passion and determination for the causes he championed, including his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. As we reflect on his message today, it may inspire your own dream of homeownership. And if so, know you’re not alone. With a trusted real estate advisor at your side, you can begin your journey toward homeownership by answering the questions below.

1. Where Do I Start?

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, how much space you need, what kind of commute works for you, and how much you can spend.

Then, when you decide you’re ready to buy, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. Your lender will look at several factors to determine how much you’re able to borrow, including your credit history. Lenders want to understand how well you’ve managed paying your student loans, credit cards, car loans, and other past debts.

According to Freddie Mac:

“To get a rough estimate of what you can afford, most lenders suggest that you should spend no more than 28% of your monthly gross (pre-tax) income on your mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.”

2. How Do I Save Enough for a Down Payment?

Speaking of how much you can afford, you’ll want to know what to save for a down payment. While the idea of saving for a down payment can be daunting, there are many different options and resources that can help.

According to Business Insider, automatic savings can bring you one step closer to achieving your target down payment:

“If you receive your paycheck as a direct deposit, you may want to arrange for your company to send a percentage of each check directly into a savings account for the down payment. . . . The automatic-savings strategy makes it so you don’t have to constantly remember to save money.”

Before you know it, you’ll have enough for a down payment if you’re disciplined and thoughtful about your process. And the best part is, you may need to save less for your down payment than you think. Your agent and lender can help you understand your options.

3. How Can I Reach My Financial Goals?

Another way to increase your savings is by sticking to a planned budget. If you’ve never budgeted before, there are tools available. For example, MoneyFit.org provides a budgeting worksheet you can use to create your own plan and five rules to follow when you’re saving. They recommend you:

  1. Identify Goals
  2. Record Expenses
  3. Record Earnings
  4. Compare and Calculate
  5. Fix Weak Spots

If you’re already budgeting, consider finding ways to tighten your spending a bit more to accelerate your journey to homeownership. After all, putting even a little extra into your savings each month can truly add up over time.

Bottom Line

As you set out to realize your dream of homeownership this year, know that it’s achievable with careful planning. Most importantly, let’s connect today so you don’t have to walk alone on this journey.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022 | MyKCM

Are you one of the many renters thinking about where you’ll live the next time your lease is up? Before you decide whether to look for a new house or another apartment, it’s important to understand the true costs of renting in 2022.

As a renter, you should know rents have been rising since 1988 (see graph below):

Avoid the Rental Trap in 2022 | MyKCM

In 2021, rents grew dramatically. According to ApartmentList.com, since January 2021:

. . . the national median rent has increased by a staggering 17.8 percent. To put that in context, rent growth from January to November averaged just 2.6 percent in the pre-pandemic years from 2017-2019.”

That increase in 2021 was far greater than the typical rent increases we’ve seen in recent years. In other words – rents are rising fast. And the 2022 National Housing Forecast from realtor.com projects prices for vacant units will continue to increase this year:

“In 2022, we expect this trend will continue and fuel rent growth. At a national level, we forecast rent growth of 7.1% in the next 12 months, somewhat ahead of home price growth . . .”

That means, if you’re planning to move into a different rental this year, you’ll likely pay far more than you have in years past.

Homeownership Provides an Alternative to Rising Rents

If you’re a renter facing rising rental costs, you might wonder what alternatives you have. If so, consider homeownership. One of the many benefits of homeownership is it provides a stable monthly cost you can lock in for the duration of your loan.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“. . . fast-rising rents and increasing consumer prices, may have some prospective buyers seeking the protection of a fixed, consistent mortgage payment.”

If you’re planning to make a move this year, locking in your monthly housing costs for 15-30 years can be a major benefit. You’ll avoid wondering if you’ll need to adjust your budget to account for annual increases.

Homeowners also enjoy the added benefit of home equity, which has grown substantially right now. In fact, the latest Homeowner Equity Insight report from CoreLogic shows the average homeowner gained $56,700 in equity over the last 12 months. As a renter, your rent payment only covers the cost of your dwelling. When you pay your mortgage, you grow your wealth through the forced savings that is your home equity.  

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of renting this year, it’s important to keep in mind the true costs you’ll face. Let’s connect so you can see how you can begin your journey to homeownership today.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment?

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | MyKCM

As you set out on your homebuying journey, you likely have a plan in place, and you’re working on saving for your purchase. But do you know how much you actually need for your down payment?

If you think you have to put 20% down, you may have set your goal based on a common misconception. Freddie Mac says:

“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. According to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. It may sound surprising, but today, that number is only 13%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers, whose median down payment is only 7% (see graph below):

How Much Do You Need for Your Down Payment? | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for You?

While a down payment of 20% or more does have benefits, the typical buyer is putting far less down. That’s good news for you because it means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

If you’re interested in learning more about low down payment options, there are several places to go. There are programs for qualified buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. There are also options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

To understand your options, you need to do your homework. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, information is available through sites like downpaymentresource.com. Be sure to also work with a real estate advisor from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Remember: a 20% down payment isn’t always required. If you want to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to start the conversation and explore your down payment options.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home

The Perks of Putting 20% Down on a Home | MyKCM

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’re probably wondering what you need to save for your down payment. Is it 20% of the purchase price, or could you put down less? While there are lower down payment programs available that allow qualified buyers to put down as little as 3.5%, it’s important to understand the many perks that come with a 20% down payment.

Here are four reasons why putting 20% down may be a great option if it works within your budget.

1. Your Interest Rate May Be Lower

A 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender you’re more financially stable and not a large credit risk. The more confident your lender is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the mortgage interest rate they’ll likely be willing to give you.

2. You’ll End Up Paying Less for Your Home

The larger your down payment, the smaller your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you’re able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you’ll only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down 5%, the additional 15% will be added to your loan and will accrue interest over time. This will end up costing you more over the lifetime of your home loan.

3. Your Offer Will Stand Out in a Competitive Market

In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers often like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence as the lender in this scenario. You are seen as a stronger buyer with financing that’s more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through.

4. You Won’t Have To Pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

What is PMI? According to Freddie Mac:

“For homeowners who put less than 20% down, Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI is an added insurance policy for homeowners that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage.

It is not the same thing as homeowner’s insurance. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that’s required if you make a down payment less than 20%. . . . Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your monthly payment.”

As mentioned earlier, if you put down less than 20% when buying a home, your lender will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you’re unable to pay your loan. This insurance isn’t required if you’re able to put down 20% or more.

Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put 20% down on their next home. With the equity homeowners have today, it creates a great opportunity to put those savings toward a larger down payment on a new home.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, consider the benefits of 20% down versus a smaller down payment option. Let’s connect so you have expert advice to help make your homeownership goals a reality.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage

Key Things To Avoid After Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

Once you’ve found your dream home and applied for a mortgage, there are some key things to keep in mind before you close. It’s exciting to start thinking about moving in and decorating your new place, but before you make any large purchases, move your money around, or make any major life changes, be sure to consult your lender – someone who’s qualified to explain how your financial decisions may impact your home loan.

Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t do after applying for a mortgage. They’re all important to know – or simply just good reminders – for the process.

1. Don’t Deposit Cash into Your Bank Accounts Before Speaking with Your Bank or Lender.

Lenders need to source your money, and cash isn’t easily traceable. Before you deposit any amount of cash into your accounts, discuss the proper way to document your transactions with your loan officer.

2. Don’t Make Any Large Purchases Like a New Car or Furniture for Your Home.

New debt comes with new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher debt-to-income ratios. Since higher ratios make for riskier loans, qualified borrowers may end up no longer qualifying for their mortgage.

3. Don’t Co-Sign Other Loans for Anyone.

When you co-sign, you’re obligated. With that obligation comes higher debt-to-income ratios as well. Even if you promise you won’t be the one making the payments, your lender will have to count the payments against you.

4. Don’t Change Bank Accounts.

Remember, lenders need to source and track your assets. That task is much easier when there’s consistency among your accounts. Before you transfer any money, speak with your loan officer.

5. 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 impacted. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and possibly even your eligibility for approval.

6. Don’t Close Any Credit Accounts.

Many buyers believe having less available credit makes them less risky and more likely to be approved. This isn’t true. 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 of 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. If your job or employment status has changed recently, share that with your lender as well. The best plan is to fully disclose and discuss your intentions with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com
317-506-0039