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Cheryl Scott-Daniels

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The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year!

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year!

The Housing Market Will “Spring Forward” This Year! | MyKCM

Just like our clocks this weekend, in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale has been holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest. Traditionally, they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it. Usually, this falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with an increase in rates forecasted for 2019, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Buyers are increasingly jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that in 2018 the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now, before a flood of increased competition, will benefit from additional exposure to buyers.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2019, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

Mortgage Payments - Can You Afford It

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Depends If You Can Afford It

Affordability, stability and flexibility are the three reasons homebuyers overwhelmingly choose a 30-year term.  The payments are lower, easier to qualify for the mortgage and they can always make additional principal contributions.

However, for those who can afford a higher payment and commit to the 15-year term, there are three additional reasons: lower mortgage interest rate, build equity faster and retire the debt sooner.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is the loan of choice for first-time buyers who are more likely to use a minimum down payment and are concerned with affordable payments.  For a more experienced buyer who doesn't mind and can qualify making larger payments, there are some advantages.

Consider a $200,000 mortgage at 30 year and 15-year terms with recent mortgage rates at 4.2% and 3.31% respectively.  The payment is $433.15 less on the 30-year term but the interest being charged is higher.  The total interest paid by the borrower if each of the loans was retired would be almost three times more for the 30-year term.

Let's look at a $300,000 mortgage with 4.41% being quoted on the 30-year and 3.84% on the 15-year.  The property taxes and insurance would be the same on either loan.  The interest rate is a little over a half a percent lower on the 15-year loan, but it also has a $691.03 higher principal and interest payment due to the shorter term.

The principal contribution on the first payment of the 30-year loan is $401.56 and it is $1,235.09 on the 15-year loan.  The mortgage is being reduced by $833.53 more which exceeds the increased payment on the 15-year by $142.50.  Interestingly, over three times more is being paid toward the principal.

Some people might suggest getting a 30-year loan and then, making the payments as if they were on a 15-year loan.  That would certainly accelerate amortization and save interest.  The real challenge is the discipline to make the payments on a consistent basis if you don't have to.  Many experts cite that one of the benefits of homeownership is a forced savings that occurs due to the amortization that is not necessarily done by renters.

Use this 30-year vs. 15-year financial app to compare mortgages in your price range.  A 15-year mortgage will be approximately half a percent cheaper in rate.  You can also check current rates at FreddieMac.com.

Stately Weston Retreat Overlooking the Aspetuck River

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels


17 Aspetuck Glenn in Weston was featured as a hot property in CT Post yesterday. Bernadette Blaze wrote that this 2.64 acre property overlooking the Aspetuck River, is an ideal location for an enchanting retreat with an abundance of privacy, glori­ous natural surroundings and convenient to the town and beach. The owners have found that this creates the perfect combination of solitude without seclusion. 


"Our cul-de-sac gives us the ultimate privacy," the owners commented. "The neighbors are great and we really enjoy our periodic neighborhood gatherings. And the house is 10 minutes from Compo Beach, so we enjoy the beach all year long." 

Read the whole article here:

Stone pillars frame the entry to the tranquil setting at the end of a cul-de-sac, encompassed by mature trees and approached by a winding circular driveway. Beautiful stone­work accents the exterior along the entry, front steps, foundation and chimney, setting an impressive tone that is carried throughout the home's 5,323 square feet. Five bed­rooms, four-full-and-two-half baths provide plenty of space for family or guests. 


Inside, the dramatic two-story foyer introduces an atmosphere of casual elegance that is ideal for entertaining and everyday living among finely appointed living space. Beautiful inlaid hardwood floors extend from the foyer into the formal living room, which is further enhanced by crown moldings, a handsome fireplace and French doors that open to a private study. On the opposite side of the foyer, the formal dining room is ideal for holidays meals and gatherings. 


From the dining room, French doors open to a stunning gourmet kitchen. Here, this bright and open space is brimming with beauty in form as well as function and leaves nothing to be desired among an expansive island with seating for at least four, sophisticated cabinetry, elegant backsplash and top-of-the­line Sub-Zero and Viking applianc­es. 


The sunny dining area opens onto an expansive deck that spans the back of the home and overlooks the neatly manicured grounds and winding river, perfect for outdoor entertaining or simply relaxing and taking in the peaceful surround­ings, a space that the owners have come to greatly appreciate. 


"Sitting on the deck, drinking a glass of wine, listening to the sounds of the river and enjoying the scenic views is very romantic," the owner adds. "Gazing at the stars on a clear night makes it even more special." 

The kitchen flows into the inviting family room forming the heart of the home, creating a central hub. 
"The open layout unites the kitch­en with a tremendous family room with a vaulted ceiling, large windows and a beautiful floor to ceiling stone fireplace," says listing agent Cheryl Scott-Daniels. "This large area accommodates multiple seat­ing groupings with ample space for various simultaneous activities." 


On the upper level, an open land­ing overlooks the foyer and has French doors to a balcony overlookng the front of the property. The luxurious master bedroom suite features a tray ceiling, his and hers walk-in closets and an impressive master bath with jacuzzi tub, double vanity and walk-in, glass-enclosed shower. A second bedroom enjoys a walk-in closet and en-suite bath, while two more bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill style bath. 

Casual entertaining and leisure can be enjoyed in the finished walk out lower level featuring additional living space, bedroom and full bath. This versatile space can suit a vari­ety of needs such as in-law, guest or au pair accommodations, as well as a recreation room, home theater, office or gym. 

Additional features include a main level laundry, a three-car garage and a security system.

Charm of an Existing Home

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Do You Prefer the Charm of an Existing Home?

Do You Prefer the Charm of an Existing Home? | MyKCM

When homebuyers begin their research, they want to see all their available options! In many cases, they will include both new construction and existing homes in their search; but is a new construction home really the house of their dreams?

According to a recent survey by Zillow, of the 38% of total buyers that added new construction to their list, only 11% ultimately purchased a newly constructed home!

They added that 71% of these buyers are repeat buyers who are financially secure, with 45% using the money from the sale of their previous homes to make a purchase.

Below are some reasons why buyers are interested in purchasing a new build:

  • Everything in the house is new/never used (49%)
  • To be close to family (41%)
  • The home is the best value for their money (37%)
  • Appealing home features (34%)
  • Desirable location (34%)

So, then why did most of the buyers surveyed choose not to purchase a new home?

1) Location

Buyers could not find new construction in the desired neighborhood, and some felt that new construction is not established (e.g., landscaping, community, neighbors).

2) Timing

Buyers face the end of a lease or sale of their previous property and could not wait for a house to be built.

3) Price

Some buyers felt that new construction base prices were deceiving. Adding upgrades and HOA fees no longer made the home fit in their price range.

4) Appeal

For some buyers, new construction homes are too “cookie cutter,” and models are limited. Others feel that the charm and uniqueness of an existing house trumps one that’s never been lived in.

Bottom Line

Not all buyers are looking for a newly built house! There are many buyers looking for “the charm and uniqueness” of an existing home. If you are considering selling your house, don’t wait! Let’s get together to come up with a plan to feature the charming details of your house to future buyers.

Standard or Itemized Deductions

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 increased the standard deduction to $24,000 for married couples.  There will be some instances that homeowners may be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their deductions.  In the past, homeowners would most likely be better off itemizing but the $10,000 limit of state and local taxes (SALT) adds one more issue to consider.

Let's look at a hypothetical homeowner to see how a strategy that has been around for years could benefit them now even though they haven't used it in the past.  The strategy is called bunching; by timing the payments in a tax year so that they can be combined to make a larger deduction.

Let's say that the married couple filing jointly has a $285,000 mortgage at 5% for 30 years that has about $14,000 in interest being paid.  The property taxes are $6,000 and they have $4,000 a year in charitable contributions for a total of $24,000 of allowable itemized deductions on Schedule A.

Standard Itemized.jpg

Since that deduction amount is the same as the Standard Deduction, there is no monetary advantage one way or the other.  However, if the taxpayers were to pay their interest because they must make timely house payments but only pay $2,000 of the 2018 property taxes in December of 2018 and the balance of the $4,000 in January, they transfer part of the deduction into 2019.

Additionally, if they make their intended charitable contribution for 2018 in January of 2019, it makes that deductible on the 2019 return.

Since the total deductible amounts paid out in 2018 was $16,000, the taxpayers would have an $8,000 benefit that year from taking the Standard Deduction. 

Assuming they made the same $4,000 charitable contribution in 2019 during the year and paid the house payment and property taxes on time, their total deductions for 2019 would be $32,000 which is $8,000 more than the Standard Deduction.

In this example, the taxpayers in 2018 and 2019, would benefit a total of $16,000 in tax deductions by bunching and electing to take the standard deduction one year and itemizing the next. 

This is only an example but if your situation is similar, it might benefit you to consider an alternative when to take the standard deduction and when to itemize.  This is a conversation you need to have with your tax professional to see if it would work for you.

The Market Is Looking Good

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market

24 Hours that Suddenly Improved the Market | MyKCM

This year started strong for real estate, but then the market began to soften. Home inventory in the starter and move-up categories dwindled to almost nothing, mortgage rates were projected to rise, and home sales had decreased for several months in a row.

To many, the outlook heading into 2019 appeared dim… at best.

Then, in a 24-hour window last week, things seemed to change. On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) revealed in their Existing Homes Sales Reportthat home sales had INCREASED for the second consecutive month. The next day, NAR’s economic research team announced that the percentage of first-time buyers in the market was higher than last month and even higher than a year ago.

What happened to turn around the downward momentum in the market? 

You only needed to wait a few hours to find out. On the heels of NAR’s revelations, Zillow released their November Real Estate Market Report that explained:

“After nearly four years of annual declines in inventory, the number of homes for sale has now increased year-over-year for three straight months…”

Ending 2018, we now know two things:

  1. Listing inventory increased over the last three months
  2. Home sales increased over the last two months

Maybe a lack of inventory was the major challenge all along.

But, what about those pesky interest rates?

Last Thursday (the day after all of the above news), Freddie Mac announced that mortgage rates did not increase but instead decreased…again. From their release:

“The response to the recent decline in mortgage rates is already being felt in the housing market. After declining for six consecutive months, existing home sales finally rose in October and November and are essentially at the same level as during the summer months.

This modest rebound in sales indicates that homebuyers are very sensitive to mortgage rate changes – and given the further drop in rates we’ve seen this month, we expect to see a modest rebound in home sales as well.”

Bottom Line

Will 2019 start out better than many have predicted? Perhaps, but we’ll have to wait and see. Things do look much better today, though, than they did just a month ago.

Gift of Equity

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Gift of Equity

There is a little-known mortgage program that could provide the vehicle for the right person to get into a home.  If a person sells their home to another for less than the fair market value, the difference in the appraised value and the sales price is considered a gift of equity for the buyer.

FHA requires that borrowers receive gifts of equity only from family members transferring title to the borrower. 

An appraisal is required to determine the value of the home.  The sales price is subtracted from the appraised value to determine the equity to be gifted.  If a home appraises for $300,000 when the owner will sell it for $250,000, the gift is $50,000.

The gift is applied to the down payment.  In this example, the borrower would have to qualify for a $250,000 mortgage which would require private mortgage insurance because a 20% down payment on a $300,000 home would be $60,000.  If the buyer had an additional $10,000 in cash to put down, the PMI would not be required, and the monthly payments would be lower.

The seller would need to provide a gift letter stating the amount of the gift, the date the gift, and that no repayment is expected or required.  It also needs to have the donor's name, address, phone, email and relationship to the buyer.  In addition, the settlement statement will need to show the gift being credited from the seller to the buyer.  The lender may require additional documentation.

Beginning in 2018, the annual gift tax exemption is increased to $15,000 per person per year and lifetime exemption to $5.6 million.  The fact that the $50,000 exceeds the individual amount doesn't mean there will necessarily be any gift tax due now.  The seller should consult their tax professional.

 

5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels
5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home | MyKCM

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.

To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:

1. Hire an Inspector

Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).

These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.

2. Maintain good communication with your builder

Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?

3. Look for builder’s incentives

The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!

Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.

4. Schedule extra time into the process

There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline.

Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.

5. Visit the site often

As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!

Bottom Line

Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!

If you are ready to put your current home on the market and find out what new construction is available in your area, let’s get together to discuss your options!

4 Ways To Refresh Your Bathroom

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

source:  BombBomb

The Cost of NOT Paying PMI

by Cheryl Scott-Daniels

Saving for a down payment is often the biggest hurdle for a first-time homebuyer as median incomes, rents, and home prices all vary depending on where you live.

There is a common misconception among homebuyers that a 20% down payment is required, and it is this limiting belief that often adds months, and sometimes even years, to the home-buying process.

So, if you can purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment… why aren’t more people doing just that?

One Possible Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. The monthly cost of your PMI depends on the home’s value, the amount of your down payment, and your credit score.

Below is a table showing the difference in monthly mortgage payment for a $250,000 home with a 3% down payment and PMI vs. a 20% down payment without PMI:

The Cost of NOT Paying PMI | MyKCM

The first thing you see when looking at the table above is no doubt the added $320 a month that you would be spending on your monthly mortgage cost. The second thing that should stand out is that a 20% down payment is $50,000!

If you are buying your first home, $50,000 is a large sum of money that takes discipline and sacrifice to save. Many first-time buyers save for 5-10 years before buying their homes.

To save $50,000 in 10 years, you would need to save about $420 a month. On the other hand, if you save that same $420 a month, you could afford a 3% down payment in less than a year and a half.

In a recent article by My Mortgage Insider, they explain what could happen in the market while you are waiting to save for a higher down payment:

“The time it takes to save a (larger) down payment could mean higher home prices and tougher qualifying down the road. For many buyers, it could prove much cheaper and quicker to opt for the 3% down mortgage immediately.”

The article went on to say,

“Since renters typically devote a higher percentage of their income to housing than homeowners, providing flexible down payment options can help renters with solid earnings purchase a home – and gain a fixed-rate mortgage with principal and interest payments that will not increase over the life of the loan.”

If the prospect of having to pay PMI is holding you back from buying a home today, Freddie Mac has this advice,

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Based on results of the most recent Home Price Expectation Survey, a homeowner who purchased a $250,000 home in January would gain $50,000 in equity over the next five years based on home price appreciation alone (shown below).

The Cost of NOT Paying PMI | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

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