Home Buying

What to Know About Sustainable Home Construction Options

The Many Paths to a Sustainable HomeThe interest in sustainability continues to grow and a there are a number of potential homebuyers interested in learning more about sustainable home construction. Construction companies can build using new materials and passive design, as well as help homeowners retrofit a traditional home. Homeowners and homebuyers may have more opportunities to affordably incorporate sustainable design and materials into a current or future home. What should individuals know about sustainable home construction and how it may benefit them and the environment?

Get more information on sustainable home construction and its many benefits today.

Sell Your Home for More

In some areas, it appears that potential homebuyers are shopping around for a green home. They will often pay more for such homes when they understand the long-term benefits in terms of reduced energy costs, as well as a smaller carbon footprint. One joint study was able to demonstrate that homeowners with green homes sold their property for an additional 9 percent when compared with comps without sustainable features. There are communities in which sustainable home construction is of great interest.

However, those looking to sell or market a sustainable home need to work with an agent experienced with marketing such homes to potential buyers....

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | MyKCM

Why are home prices still rising? It is a simple answer. There are more purchasers in the market right now than there are available homes for them to buy. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand” which is defined as:

“the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. This is currently happening in the residential real estate market.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year for the last three months (March numbers are not yet available):

House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand | MyKCM

In each of the last three months, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year while supply (...

The Best in New Building Technology

How New Building Technology Can Lower the Cost of a HomeNew building technology is not only speeding up the pace of construction, it's also making homes safer and less expensive to purchase. Home building is somewhat late to the table when it comes to getting a high-tech upgrade, but there's still been plenty of progress in the field. While certain neighborhoods (and buyers) will adopt the new breakthroughs faster than others, all home buyers should be aware of emerging methodologies so they can make an informed decision before moving forward when building a new construction home.

Drones

One of the most common technologies in building today, drones have the ability to scout out the best locations when it comes to where to build. They can also be used to monitor the construction process as a whole. This not only cuts down on time, it also provides an opportunity for investors and construction leaders alike to get an accurate overview of exactly what's being done as it's being done. The enhanced visibility gives leaders a chance to spot inefficiencies wherever they happen to be so they can be corrected immediately.

3D Lasers

A 3D laser scanner can be used in conjunction with a drone to give information about each building site. A drone will show if a stockpile is present on the property or site, but a 3D scanner can give precise measurements (within 2 millimeters) of the height and width of each object. So if there was a row of bushes or trees that...

4 Major Types of Real Estate Investment

What You Need to Know About Different Types of Real Estate InvestmentDespite ups and downs in the real estate market over the past decade, as well as recent changes to tax laws, real estate investments can still be every bit as profitable as promised for the right investor. Even as megacorporations and billionaire investors snatch up skyscrapers and vacant beach plots, there are still ways for an investor to get their start even without the luxury of endless capital. Before beginning negotiations, though, it helps to learn more about each type of real estate along before determining which property makes the most sense for an investor's budget and lifestyle.

Basic Definitions

The lingo for real estate can be somewhat confusing, with certain terms being swapped out for others depending on the circumstances. For a general overview though, here are a few basic definitions:

  • Residential real estate: single-family homes duplexes, condos, and townhomes (regardless of when they happened to be built.)
  • Co-ops: a type of real estate investment where a corporation buys a multi-unit building or development. Instead of having buyers flat-out buy their unit, they instead invest in shares in the corporation equivalent to what their unit costs.
  • Commercial real estate: buildings used for business purposes, whether it's an office, storefront, or apartment building.
  • Vacant land: refers to buying a plot of land that has not yet been developed in any way.

Rental Properties

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A New Housing Bubble Forming...Not Before 2024!

A New Housing Bubble Forming…Not Before 2024! | MyKCM

A recent report by CoreLogic revealed that U.S. home values appreciated by more than 37% over the last five years. Some are concerned that this is evidence we may be on the verge of another housing “boom & bust” like the one we experienced from 2006-2008.

Recently, several housing experts weighed in on the subject to alleviate these fears.

Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac Chief Economist

“The evidence indicates there currently is no house price bubble in the U.S., despite the rapid increase of house prices over the last five years.”

Edward Golding, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center

...

5 Things You Need to Know About Home Insurance

A Short Guide to Home InsuranceHome insurance tends to be just one more box to check off on an extremely long to-do list when buying a home. After being bombarded with down payments, closing costs, and fees when buying a home, new homeowners have a tendency to opt for the lowest possible premium. But there are a few things to know about homeowner's insurance before going this route, and thankfully they don't have anything to do with that 100-page policy full of technical jargon and subclauses.

Homeowners May Cover Certain Repairs

Expenses for homeowners may go far beyond the standard $1,000 deductible. There are certain major catastrophes where homeowners are expected to pay a certain percentage of the fees before their insurance will step in. The more dangerous of an area the homeowner lives in, the higher the percentage will be. For example, hurricane-prone Florida insurance companies expect homeowners to pay up to 10% of the home's total insured value first. So if the home is insured for $100,000 and the damage is $20,000, a homeowner will need to pay half of the total damages or $10,000.

The Claims Process Matters

Some insurance companies are known to have very stringent requirements in terms of when they will pay out on damage, whether that means they will delay the process or deny claims that don't meet their criteria. It's extremely important to sign up with a...

Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart

Calm Down! The Real Estate Market is NOT Falling Apart | MyKCM

There has been tremendous volatility in certain markets over the last few weeks (for example, the stock and currency markets). When this happens, some tend to lump all of their investments together and create an almost ‘Armageddon’ scenario where everything loses value quickly and dramatically. Real estate is an investment that can get caught up in this hysteria. Does the concern about the current housing market have merit?

Financial advisors have been warning us for months that the stock market was ripe for a “correction.”

Experts have been questioning the value of alternative currencies for over a year.

In contrast, here are the opinions of three major players in the residential housing market:

Ralph DeFranco, Chief Economist, Arch Capital Services Inc.

“It’s premature to worry about a housing bubble. The typical warning signs – excessive debt levels, poor quality loans, exponentially increasing home prices, rising vacancy rates and/or poor affordability compared to the past, and a high number of internet searches on house flipping – are not present.”

Liu-Down, Genworth Chief Economist

“My thoughts on many recent discussions of ‘housing bubble’ – the bar for a...

What You Need to Know About Home-Buying Contingencies

How Home Buying Contingencies Can Affect YouThere are multiple steps in any real estate transaction that have to be completed before the sale can complete. There are showings, inspections, financing requirements, and so much more, all of which is often written into the purchase contract as a home-buying contingency to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that there's recourse should one party fall through on an agreement. Home-buying contingencies are clauses in the home buying contract that allow the buyer to cancel the purchase or renegotiate the contract under certain circumstances. In a typical contract, there are three standard contingencies that are likely to appear. Familiarizing yourself with these contingencies can help guide you through the home buying process.

Inspection Contingency

The inspection contingency allows a home owner to renegotiate the price of the home or cancel the purchase of the home depending on the findings from the home inspection.

One of the first things a home buyer does after entering into the escrow period is schedule a home inspection for the Fairfax home. The inspector goes through the house thoroughly and uncovers the problems that exist with major systems like the roof, plumbing, electrical system and so on. The inspector writes a report to be reviewed by the home buyer, who then...

Millionaire to Millennials: Don't Rent a Home... Buy!

In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that: The biggest mistake millennials are making is not buying their first home.” He goes on to say that, “If you want to build real financial security, real wealth for your lifetime, then you need to buy a home.

Bach went on to explain:

“Homeowners are worth 40 times more than renters. Now, that first home doesn’t need to be a dream home, it can be a very small home. You might literally have to buy a small studio apartment, but that’s how you get started.”

Then he explains the secret in order to buy that home!

Don’t do a 30-year mortgage. You want to take that 30-year mortgage and...

Buying a Home? Know the Warning Signs of Foundation Damage

Warning Signs of Foundation ProblemsFoundation damage can be a serious problem for a house. If you're a home buyer, knowing the signs of foundation damage can help you decide whether your Bolinas home is in need of repair.

Cracks in the Foundation

Cracks in the foundation can be one of the most obvious signs of foundation damage. The worst cracks are usually stair-step shaped cracks in the mortar and deep, horizontal cracks in the foundation. Horizontal cracks are an indication that the soil outside the house has pushed on the foundation, causing it to break. This can happen when wet soil freezes and expands. Some types of soil are known to expand when wet and shrink when dry, which can also cause problems for the home's foundation.

Bulging Walls

A bulging wall is almost always a sign of a very serious problem. Bulging basement walls are typically an indication that the soil is pushing on the foundation, while bulging walls above the soil line are indications that the foundation has shifted.

Often, bulging walls are accompanied by water problems. Look for water stains, mold, mildew and beads of moisture around the cracks and bulges. This happens because water can intrude at the site of foundation and wall cracks. Sometimes this happens because water itself is the problem....

The New Tax Bill and Home Ownership

With the passage of the new tax bill, many questions exist regarding what impact the new bill is likely to have on the residential real estate market including exisitng homeowners, home buyers as well as sellers. 

 Below is an outline of three most pressing items (Mortgage Interest Deduction, Property Taxes and State & Local Taxes (SALT) and Exclusion of Gain on Sale of a Principal Residence) that real estate practitioners watched carefully as the bill became law as well as some industry commentary regarding the potential implications of the new tax law on the real estate market.

DISCLAIMER: As you review this summary, please keep in mind that this post is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information regarding aspects of the new tax code and how it may impact the real estate market. We encourage our clients to speak to a tax professional or financial planner regarding their specific situation and how the entire tax code will affect their personal returns.

Here are the 3 Major Concerns of Real Estate Practitioners as it relates to the new tax bill.

1.  Mortgage Interest Deduction

There was concern that the mortgage interest deduction (MID) would be eliminated. That didn’t happen.

However, the bill has made the following changes:

  • Reduces limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17 (from the existing $1,000,000). Current loans up to $1 million are grandfathered.
  • Homeowners may refinance mortgage debts existing on 12/14/17 up to $1 million and still deduct the interest, so long as the new loan does not exceed the amount refinanced.
  • Repeals deduction for interest paid on home equity...

The Benefits of Homeownership Go Beyond the Financial

The Benefits of Homeownership Go Beyond the Financial | MyKCM

Homeownership is a major part of the American Dream. As evidence of that, 91% of Americans believe that owning a home is either essential (43%) or important (48%) to achieving that “dream.” In a market where some people may be unsure about the benefits and possibilities of buying a home, it is important that we remember this.

Homeownership is NOT just about the money. In fact, some of the major benefits are non-financial. Here are a few of those benefits as per the National Association of Realtors:

  • Consistent findings show that homeownership does make a significant positive impact on educational achievement.
  • Several researchers have found that homeowners tend to be more involved in their communities than renters.
  • Early studies of homeownership and health outcomes found that homeowners and children of homeowners are generally happier and healthier than non-owners, even after controlling for factors such as income and education levels that are also associated with positive health outcomes and positively correlated with homeownership.

Bottom Line

Homeownership means something more to people and their families than just the financial considerations.

Contact the Marin Modern Team, your Marin County real estate connection, for assistance buying or selling a home in Marin...

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success! | MyKCM

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved...

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year:

  • More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home
  • The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower
  • More low-down-payment programs have been introduced

This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern.

The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a...

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up... Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

ortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting...

5 Reasons Homeownership Makes 'Cents'

 Reasons Homeownership Makes ‘Cents’ | MyKCM

The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. Recent reports show that the US homeownership rate has rebounded from recent lows and is headed in the right direction. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, but there are many basic similarities.

Today we want to talk about the top 5 financial reasons you should own your own home.

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings – Paying your mortgage each month allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life for renovations, to pay off high-interest credit card debt, or even send a child to college. As a renter, you guarantee that your landlord is the person with that equity.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings – One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. You may be able...

What Is The Contingency Period? An FAQ for Home Buyers

All About the Contingency PeriodOne of the parts of the home buying process is the contingency period. Knowing what the contingency period is and what your role is during the contingency period can help you purchase the home you want.

The contingency period is a period of time that occurs an offer has been accepted and before the close of escrow. The period begins on the day that the offer is accepted, and ends on whatever day is listed in the contract paperwork. During the contingency period, the home buyer is allowed to inspect the home for problems and decide whether or not to proceed with the sale of your dream Port Reyes Station home.

What Can Be Done During the Contingency Period?

The type of inspections that a home buyer chooses to perform during the contingency period depends on the home buyer. Most home buyers choose to get a standard home inspection performed by a certified home inspector. During the standard home inspection, the inspector will look at various systems in the home such as:

  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Electrical
  • Appliances
  • Flooring

In addition to the standard home inspections, many home buyers will also choose to get specialized inspections. For example, home buyers may also decide to have the home inspected for termites. This is not included as a standard part of a general home inspection....

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (73% of all buyers made a down payment of less than 20%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of whom perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests you follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO® Score of all closed loans in September was 724, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms...

Understanding PMI: What You Need to Know

What You Should Know About PMIPMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, is required for home buyers who are seeking a mortgage but who may not have 20 percent to put down. This insurance is not for the buyer, but for the lender who is providing the mortgage. Because the buyer has a small down payment, the mortgage company wants to make sure they are covered if the buyer does not make their mortgage payments. But what is PMI, really, and how does it work? Understanding it can help any buyer determine whether they need this extra insurance, and how they can get the best deal on it so they pay as little extra as possible on their mortgage.

Private Mortgage Insurance is for Low-Down-Payment Buyers

Buyers who have a down payment amount under 20 percent are generally the ones who are asked to pay PMI. That does not mean this requirement will not be waived for a particular buyer under specific circumstances or with certain lenders. The PMI rule is a general one, and affected by several other factors. In general, though, buyers who do not have a 20 percent down payment can expect to pay PMI, whether they're buying a home in Novato or elsewhere. If they plan for that that will be better prepared for the size of their mortgage payment. A mortgage payment that is otherwise manageable can put a home out of reach once PMI is added to it, if buyers are not prepared for that.

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Moving-Up to a Luxury Home? Now's the Time!

Moving-Up to a Luxury Home? Now’s the Time! | MyKCM

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! We recently shared data from Trulia’s Market Mismatch Study which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds those searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer which can eventually lead to a price change.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call your house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will aid in coming up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

In a Washington Post article, Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties, gave some insight into...