Celebrate Halloween around the Lake Murray Area this October

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Although COVID has brought about many questions as to what Halloween will look like this year, there are still plenty of attractions open to celebrate. Dress up and head out for some Halloween fun at one of these local events and attractions.

The Clinton Sease Corn Maize
More than just a trip through a corn maze! Tickets are $14 per person and include access to the corn maze, unlimited hay rides, tire climbing wall, tire swing, tube swing, tricycle raceway, corn snake, tire maze, marshmallow maze, slides, sandbox, pumpkin art, pumpkin patch, animals and more! Fun for all ages. Visit https://www.clintonseasefarm.com/ for more information.

Boo at the Zoo at Riverbanks Zoo
Wear costumes to travel along the trick-or-treat trail at Riverbanks Zoo while enjoy music from Eeky Freaky DJ. Other fun things to do for additional costs include a marshmallow roast, haunted carousel, and spooky spots & stripes railroad. Children under 2 are free.

Deceased Farm Haunted Attraction
Located at Clinton Sease Farm, experience Halloween with a self-guided haunt through 6 buildings, 3 outdoor zones, and a creepy corn field. This is an intense haunted attraction and not recommended for children under 12. Runs through October 31st. Times and prices vary. Visit their website for additional information.

Drive-In Movie & Halloween Extravaganza – October 31st
Join Anchor Lanes in Irmo for free candy, a movie, music and laser show. Costumes are encouraged and masks required. Showing Night at the Museum. Visit here for additional info.

Dark Castle Haunted Attractions
Elgin’s extreme haunted attraction is back! Take a spooky hike along The Dark Knights Terror Trail, enter Zombie Zone survival scenario, haunted house, and escape rooms.

For additional fun Halloween ideas, visit the 2020 Guide to Halloween Events from Columbia Mom and check with your neighborhood on guidelines for trick-or-treating this year. Happy Halloween!

Top Real Estate Trends 2020: What You Need to Know

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To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement! With so much happening, you may wonder how that’s impacting real estate. Surprisingly, effects to real estate have been minimal. Median home prices are up and the number of days homes are spending on the market are down. Whether you’re buying or selling, here’s a look at the trends you need to know!

Trend #1 Home Prices are Still Rising (Slowly)

Home prices are gaining momentum after the slow start in 2020 due to COVID.  It is expected that they will continue to make their way up and end the year with a 4% overall growth. Home prices continue to creep up, but they probably won’t blow you away with rapid growth as seen in previous years.

Trend #2 Mortgage Interest Rates are Super Low

Mortgage rates were on the way down even before the pandemic but are now the lowest they’ve been in years! Economists think rates will continue to stay low until the economy is close to normal again. Low interest rates are great news for buyers. Even with the rise in home prices, buyers have increased buying power with a lower monthly mortgage payment.

Trend #3 Millennial Home Buyers are the Majority

Once again this year, millennials take the lead as the largest group buying homes. What is a millennial? Technically, it’s anyone born between 1980 and 1998. Why is this important? Because you need to know your buyer. Millennials are internet savvy and do research online. Virtually all (98%) use the internet in their home search, and 78% found the home they eventually purchased on a mobile device. It is extremely important to make sure your online listing makes a great first impression.

Whether you’re buying or selling in 2020, you can take advantage of current trends by partnering with a local REALTOR®. Get in touch to start exploring your options and to find out if this year is the right time for you to make a move.

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House For Sale

Credit for Article in its entirety given to Keeping Current Matters

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | MyKCM

Many industries have been devastated by the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 virus. Real estate is not one of them.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, just reported:

“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

Buyer demand is still strong heading into the fall. ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of buyer showings on residential properties, just announced that buyer showings are up 61.9% compared to the same time last year. They went on to say:

“Normally, real estate activity begins to slow down in the late summer, but this year it peaked in July, August and into September.”

There Is One Big Challenge

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Just last week, realtor.com reported:

“Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March, nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed compared to last year, leaving a gaping hole in the U.S. housing inventory.”

The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | MyKCM

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is dropping dramatically. Below is a graph of existing inventory (September numbers are not yet available):Homebuilders are increasing construction, but they cannot keep up with the high demand. Bill McBride, founder of the Calculated Risk blog, in discussing inventory of newly constructed houses, notes:

“The months of supply decreased to 3.3 months…This is the all-time record low months of supply.”

What does this mean for sellers?

Anyone thinking of putting their home on the market should not wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is limited. That’s exactly the situation in the real estate market today.

Next year, when the pandemic is hopefully behind us, there will be many more properties coming to the market. Don’t wait for that increase in competition in your neighborhood. Now is the time to sell.

Bottom Line

Let’s connect today to get your house on the market at this optimal time to sell.

How Much Can You Really Negotiate on a House Purchase?

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You’ve finally found the perfect home and submitted your offer. In a perfect world, the seller would accept it from the get-go, you’d close, and you’d live happily ever after in your new home. But, it’s not always that easy. When a seller submits a counter offer, the negotiations begin. Even with a great real estate agent by your side, the thought can be intimidating, but with the right agent and the right information, you can successfully negotiate the best deal and get the house.

How much you can negotiate on a house boils down to one main factor: the state of your local real estate market. Conditions in your housing market will ultimately determine whether your offer leads to a successful transaction where you close on a house, or whether you need to start looking for another property. An experienced REALTOR® will have a deep understanding of the local market and be able to negotiate the best deal for you; after all, it’s what we do every day. Hiring an agent to not only help you find a home but negotiate its purchase is the best way to help you find and close on your dream home, especially in a competitive market.

How much can you negotiate in a buyer’s market? In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than homebuyers out there buying. This gives the buyer the upper-hand since there’s plenty of inventory to choose from, and sellers want to get their home sold. With a buyer’s market, sellers may make more concessions in contingencies, asking price, closing date and closing costs. Although a little haggling is fine, it’s still smart to avoid a lowball offer – it’s likely to insult the seller and have them decline the offer outright, and then there’s no chance of negotiations on other aspects of the purchase.

How much can you negotiate in a seller’s market? In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than inventory, and you won’t have much negotiating power. An unreasonable offer, or one loaded with contingencies, will likely result in a quick rejection from the seller. With plenty of other buyers out there vying for their home, your offer should be straightforward, easy to understand, and limited on contingencies and requests. Of course, you should never skimp on the important stuff like an appraisal, home inspection, or financing, but realize that you may be competing against other buyers who won’t ask for them. In this type of market, you need to be quick and decisive and ask for just the essentials. It is also highly recommended that you have a mortgage preapproval letter already in hand so that you’re ready, and the sellers knows you’re serious when you find the home you want.

What about negotiating in a balanced market? In a balanced market, there is a pretty even number of buyers and sellers resulting in a “balanced” supply and demand. The problem with this type of market is there’s no sense of urgency. Home sellers take their time weighing the pros and cons of offers, and several rounds of negotiations may be necessary; there is no need to push to finalize the transaction. If you’re ready to buy, however, don’t drag your feet for too long. There could be other buyers out there that are ready to make an offer with fewer contingencies and win the house.

If you have questions about the local market and whether it’s the best time for you to buy, please get in touch. I’d be happy to help you navigate today’s market and make the best decision for you and your family.

Resources for Homeowners Affected by COVID19

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I came across this on Reddit today and thought it too important not to share. If you are a homeowner affected by COVID-19, this is a list of resources where you can find additional information and possibly some help.

List of lenders who may offer relief: https://www.aba.com/about-us/press-room/industry-response-coronavirus

https://www.hud.gov/ National relief information and resources

https://apps.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm if you want to talk to a housing counselor about avoiding foreclosure

If you have a Fannie Mae loan: https://www.knowyouroptions.com/covid19assistance

If you have a Freddie Mac loan: https://myhome.freddiemac.com/own/getting-help-disaster.html

General info on CFPB site: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/guide-coronavirus-mortgage-relief-options/

https://www.sba.gov/ Small Business Loans 800-827-5722.

https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus-resources-for-property-owners

Press release from HUD explaining mortgage relief for FHA loans: https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_048

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price

Article In Its Entirety Credited to Keeping Current Matters

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | MyKCM

Housing inventory is at an all-time low. There are 39% fewer homes for sale today than at this time last year, and buyer demand continues to set records. Zillow recently reported:

“Newly pending sales are up 25.5% compared to the same week last year, the highest year-over-year increase in the weekly Zillow database.”

Whenever there is a shortage in supply of an item that’s in high demand, the price of that item increases. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market right now. CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that values have increased by 5.5% over the last year.

This is great news if you’re planning to sell your house; on the other hand, as either a first-time or repeat buyer, this may instead seem like troubling news. However, purchasers should realize that the price of a house is not as important as the cost. Let’s break it down.

There are several factors that influence the cost of a home. The two major ones are the price of the home and the interest rate at which a buyer can borrow the funds necessary to purchase the home.

Last week, Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.87%. At this time last year, the rate was 3.73%. Let’s use an example to see how that difference impacts the true cost of a home.

Assume you purchased a home last year and took out a $250,000 mortgage. As mentioned above, home values have increased by 5.5% over the last year. To buy that same home this year, you would need to take out a mortgage of $263,750.

How will your monthly mortgage payment change based on today’s lower mortgage rate?

The Cost of a Home Is Far More Important than the Price | MyKCM

This table calculates the difference in your monthly payment:That’s a savings of $61 monthly, which adds up to $732 annually and $21,960 over the life of the loan.

Bottom Line

Even though home values have appreciated, it’s a great time to buy a home because mortgage rates are at historic lows.

Tips to Win a Bidding War: You’re In, Now What?

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You’ve decided you just can’t live without this home, now you want to WIN! Here are some tips to get that home (with your REALTORS® help, of course!)

Get pre-approved. Smart homebuyers are pre-approved before their home search so if this situation arises, you’re possibly already one-step ahead of the competition. This pre-approval letter lets the seller know you’re already on your way to mortgage approval for a home you can afford and a good prospect to close on the home.

Present an all-cash offer. If you can afford it, offer cash. This eliminates the need for an appraisal, bank approval for a loan, and contingencies that may be required by lenders. It also lets the seller know you can buy the house TODAY.

Increase your offer. Ask your REALTOR® for guidance on an appropriate amount for your counteroffer. With an increase in offer comes an increase in mortgage payments – you want to make sure you stay within a monthly amount that you can afford. Also, if financing, the home needs to appraise for the amount of your offer or you could be faced with your lender denying the mortgage or a lot of cash out of pocket to make up the difference in value.

Eliminate contingencies. Most of the time, your REALTOR® will advise you to keep certain contingencies to protect you from issues with a home. If you want to come out on top of a bidding war, you may need to eliminate as many contingencies as possible, but be careful here, the more you eliminate, the greater your risk and less protection you have in buying a particular home.

Use an escalation clause in your offer. This lets the seller how much you are willing to raise your offer if competing bids come in. Always include a price you won’t exceed. Most REALTORS® do not recommend an escalation clause because it shows your hand for future negotiations and lets the seller know exactly how much you are willing to pay, but it can help lead to a successful result in a highly competitive market.

Be flexible on your closing date. Sometimes, being flexible can be as attractive as a higher price. If you don’t need to move by a specific date, consider giving as much flexibility as possible to the seller on closing date, making repairs, and other important deadlines.

Increase your earnest money. This lets the seller know you are very serious and that you don’t need your lender to increase the loan amount.

Write a personal letter. Although the jury is out on whether a personal letter is a good idea or not, there are times when a sincere expression of how much you love a home can tip the scales with a seller.

Listen to the advice of your REALTOR®. An experienced and knowledgeable agent can help you gain the upper hand in a bidding war, let you know which strategies may be most attractive to a particular seller, and also keep you realistic and grounded in knowing how far you can and should go to win the war.

Bidding Wars: What are They and When Should You Stay Out or Walk Away?

photo credit to Diane Saatchi

You’ve been house hunting for weeks, possibly months, and you’ve finally found the ONE! Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who thinks you’ve found the perfect home, and now you’re faced with a bidding war. What is it? When should you stay out completely? And when should you just walk away?

What is a bidding war?

A bidding war is a real estate term used when a seller receives multiple offers on their home in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, it also means the seller can wait and see if buyers are willing to raise their offers and make concessions in their efforts to make sure their offer is the most attractive. A bidding war is a tight spot for a homebuyer; however, with an experienced REALTOR®, you can navigate the process to win the home of your dreams, stay out of the war, or know when it may be time to just walk away.

When to stay out of a bidding war?

There are times when it does not make sense to get in a bidding war on a house no matter how much you love it – for instance, there are multiple cash offers way above asking price. Keep a steady check on your emotions and be able to let go and move on to another house that will fit you and your families needs, as well as your pocketbook.

When to just walk away?

There are also times you find yourself in a bidding war already, but it may be better to just walk away. Consider bowing out under the following conditions:

The home needs major repairs. If you anticipate the home will need major repairs with an outlay of cash, you may be better off looking for another house. A bidding war could eat up funds you were planning on using to make these repairs and leave you stranded with a home you can’t afford to fix.

The home is already at the top of your budget. If you’ve made your best offer out of the gate, which you should in a competitive market, you should stay out of a bidding war. Chances are you’ve been preapproved for a certain amount, and the house may not appraise for the higher price bidding wars often lead to. If that’s the case, the bank may reject your mortgage or cause you to reach deep to come up with the funds in cash to make up the difference. Hold firm to your budget and know when to walk away if need be.

Getting into a bidding war is stressful. Know when to fold and find a new home by preparing in advance and keeping emotions in check.

Prepare Your House for the Fall with This Maintenance Checklist

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Fall maintenance goes beyond just changing the wreath on your door! What better way to kick off the coming soon cooler whether than a maintenance checklist to guide you through fall preparations to avoid a winter mishap!

Take a tour of your own home and check all the weather stripping. Replace any cracked or missing strips, which can comporomise your heating efficiency. New weather stripping is fairly inexpensive and will save you a bundle in heating costs!

Replace your furnace filters. This should be done every 3-6 months. Air filters are rated and priced per air filtration effectiveness and estimated longevity.

Now is a good time to check your gutters and downspouts if you didn’t do so after last winter. Autumn leaves will soon be your gutter’s nemesis, so consider having some sort of leaf guards to save gutter-cleaning time and possible water damage from clogged drainage.

Check for concrete cracks that can get worse when water freezes and expands, causing the cracks to widen and the concrete to deteriorate. Patching compounds are an easy remedy and will help maintain the concrete’s integrity.

To avoid freezing pipes, drain your outdoor faucets, and stash your hoses out of the cooler weather.

When springtime comes knocking, you will enjoy your yard more if your lawn turns green quickly. Be sure and fertilize your lawn prior to winter.

Protect the investment in your outdoor furniture by storing everything or protecting it from the elements with furniture covers.