Flathead Valley Real Estate and Community News

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from Flathead Valley market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because I care about our community and want to help you find your place in Kalispell, Whitefish or Lakeside. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. I’d love to talk with you!

I also have a page with many helpful videos for both buyers and sellers. (Helpful Real Estate Videos)

I look forward to working with you for all your real estate needs.

July 26, 2021

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now | MyKCM

If you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today’s housing market.

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:

“Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception.

For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren’t local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That’s why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.

Remote Work and Mobility

Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:

the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus.

With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.

Housing Supply and Affordability

Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE’s list of key factors this year:

“According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America’s housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation’s population.”

There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we’re seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.

Bottom Line

New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let’s connect today.

Posted in Real Estate News
July 19, 2021

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise

What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCM

In today’s real estate market, mortgage interest rates are near record lows. If you’ve been in your current home for several years and haven’t refinanced lately, there’s a good chance you have a mortgage with an interest rate higher than today’s average. Here are some options you should consider if you want to take advantage of today’s current low rates before they rise.

Sell and Move Up (or Downsize)

Many of today’s homeowners are rethinking what they need in a home and redefining what their dream home means. For some, continued remote work is bringing about the need for additional space. For others, moving to a lower cost-of-living area or downsizing may be great options. If you’re considering either of these, there may not be a better time to move. Here’s why.

The chart below shows average mortgage rates by decade compared to where they are today:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCMToday’s rates are below 3%, but experts forecast rates to rise over the next few years.

If the interest rate on your current mortgage is higher than today’s average, take advantage of this opportunity by making a move and securing a lower rate. Lower rates mean you may be able to get more house for your money and still have a lower monthly mortgage payment than you might expect.

Waiting, however, might mean you miss out on this historic opportunity. Below is a chart showing how your monthly payment will change if you buy a home as mortgage rates increase:What You Should Do Before Interest Rates Rise | MyKCM

Breaking It All Down:

Using the chart above, let’s look at the breakdown of a $300,000 mortgage:

  • When mortgage rates rise, so does the monthly payment you can secure.
  • Even the smallest increase in rates can make a difference in your monthly mortgage payment.
  • As interest rates rise, you’ll need to look at a lower-priced home to try and keep the same target monthly payment, meaning you may end up with less home for your money.

No matter what, whether you’re looking to make a move up or downsize to a home that better suits your needs, now is the time. Even a small change in interest rates can have a big impact on your purchasing power.

Refinance

If making a move right now still doesn’t feel right for you, consider refinancing. With the current low mortgage rates, refinancing is a great option if you’re looking to lower your monthly payments and stay in your current home.

Bottom Line

Take advantage of today’s low rates before they begin to rise. Whether you’re thinking about moving up, downsizing, or refinancing, let’s connect today to discuss which option is best for you.

Posted in Home Financing
July 12, 2021

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear

The Truths Young Homebuyers Need To Hear | MyKCM

For many young or first-time homebuyers, purchasing a home can feel intimidating. A recent survey shows some homebuyers ages 25 to 40 may be unsure about the homebuying process and what they can afford. It found:

  • “1 in 4 underestimated their buying potential by $150k or more”
  • “1 in 4 underestimated the increase in value by $100k or more”
  • “47% don’t know what a good interest rate is”

Because they feel uncertain, many young homebuyers have given up on their search, or worse, they’ve decided homebuying isn’t for them and never started on their journey to begin with.

If you’re interested in buying but aren’t sure where to begin, here are three key concepts about homeownership you should understand before you get started.

1. What You Need To Know About Down Payments

Saving for a down payment is sometimes viewed as one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As 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.”

According to the most recent Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment for homes purchased between July 2019 and June 2020 was only 12%. That number is even lower when we control for age – for buyers in the 22 to 30 age range, the median down payment was only 6%.

2. You May Be Able To Afford More Home Than You Think

Working remotely, exercising, and generally spending more time than ever in our homes has changed what many people are looking for in their living space. However, some young homebuyers don’t feel they can afford a home that suits their growing needs and have decided to continue renting instead. That means they’ll miss out on some of the long-term benefits of owning a home. As an article recently published by NAR points out:

“Many young adults are underestimating how much they need for homeownership, the survey finds. Millennials underestimated how much home they can afford right now, how much interest they would pay over a 30-year mortgage, and how much home values appreciate, on average, over 10 years...”

Knowing how much home you can afford when starting the buying process is critical and could be the game-changer that gets you from renting to buying.

3. Homeownership Will Become Less Affordable the Longer You Wait

Finally, with mortgage rates starting to rise along with home prices appreciating, putting off buying a home now could cost you much more later. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes:

As the economy progresses and inflation remains elevated, we expect that rates will continually rise in the second half of the year.”

Most experts forecast interest rates will rise in the months ahead, and even the smallest increase can influence your buying powerIf you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, there’s no time like the present.

Bottom Line

If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of starting your home search, you’re not alone. Let’s connect today so we can talk more about the process, what you’ll need to start your search, and what to expect.

Posted in Home Buying
July 5, 2021

Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year

Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year | MyKCM

Building financial wealth and stability remains one of the top reasons Americans choose to own a home, and as a homeowner, your wealth often grows without you even realizing it. In a recent paper published by the Urban Institute, Home Ownership is Affordable Housing, author Mike Loftin illustrates how homeowners increase their equity and their wealth simply by making monthly mortgage payments:

“The principal portion that reduces the loan balance builds the homeowner’s equity. In doing so, the principal payments behave like an automatic savings account. The principal payment is not money going out; it is money staying in.”

But home equity – the difference between the value of your home and what you currently owe – isn’t just built through your monthly principal payments. Home price appreciation plays a vital role in growing your equity and, ultimately, your wealth.

As Freddie Mac explains:

“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

Homeowners Continue To See Equity Increase

CoreLogic recently published their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, and it shows continued growth in equity amidst record home price appreciation. The report provides several key takeaways, all of which point to rising wealth for homeowners:

  1. The average equity gain of mortgaged homes during the past year was $33,400
  2. The current average equity of mortgaged homes is greater than $216,000
  3. There was a 6% increase in total homeowner equity over the past year
  4. Total U.S. homeowner equity has reached nearly $1.9 trillion

Here, you can see the equity gains by state:Homeowner Wealth Increases Through Growing Equity This Year | MyKCM

Equity Provides Homeowners with Flexibility

In addition to being a critical tool in building wealth, a homeowner’s equity also provides significant flexibility. When you sell your house, the accumulated equity comes back to you in the sale. Recent increases in home equity coupled with record-low mortgage rates mean it could be the perfect time for homeowners looking to make a move.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americannotes:

“Existing homeowners today are sitting on record amounts of equity. As homeowners gain equity in their homes, the temptation grows to list their current home for sale and use the equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home.”

Increasing equity also helps families facing challenges brought on by the pandemic. Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains in the recent Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

“Homeowner equity has more than doubled over the past decade and become a crucial buffer for many weathering the challenges of the pandemic. These gains have become an important financial tool and boosted consumer confidence in the U.S. housing market, especially for older homeowners and baby boomers who've experienced years of price appreciation.”

Bottom Line

Home equity has always been a powerful wealth-building tool, and homeowners continue to see their financial stability increase. Let’s connect today so you can better understand how much equity you have in your current home or if you’re ready to take the next step in building your savings as a homeowner.

Posted in Home Buying
June 28, 2021

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House

Don’t Wait To Sell Your House | MyKCM

We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market right now. If you’re a homeowner in Kalispell, Whitefish, Lakeside or other local area and thinking about selling, you have a huge advantage in today’s housing market. High buyer demand paired with very few houses for sale makes this the optimal time to sell for those who are ready to do so. Whatever the move you want to make looks like, here’s an overview of what’s creating the prime opportunity to sell this summer.

High Buyer Demand

Demand is strong, and buyers are actively searching for homes to purchase. In the Realtors Confidence Index Survey published monthly by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer traffic is considered “very strong” in almost every state. Homebuyers aren’t just great in number right now – they’re also determined to find their dream home. NAR shows the average home for sale today receives five offers from hopeful buyers. These increasingly frequent bidding wars can drive up the price of your house, which is why high demand from competitive homebuyers is such a win for this summer’s sellers.

Low Inventory of Houses for Sale

Purchaser demand is so high, the market is running out of available homes for sale. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains:

“For most sellers listing sooner rather than later could really pay off with less competition from other sellers and potentially a higher sales price... They’ll also avoid some big unknowns lurking later in the year, namely another possible surge in COVID cases, rising interest rates and the potential for more sellers to enter the market.”

NAR also reveals that unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-months’ supply at the current sales pace. This is far lower than the historical norm of a 6.0-months’ supply. Homes are essentially selling as fast as they’re hitting the market. Below is a graph of the existing inventory of single-family homes for sale:Don’t Wait To Sell Your House | MyKCMAt the same time, homebuilders are increasing construction this year, but they can’t keep up with the growing demand. While reporting on the inventory of newly constructed homes, the U.S. Census Bureau notes:

“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”

What Does This Mean for You? 

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, don’t wait. A seller will always negotiate the best deal when demand is high and supply is low. That’s exactly what’s happening in the real estate market today.

Bottom Line

As vaccine rollouts progress and we continue to see the economy recover, more houses will come to the market. Don’t wait for the competition in your neighborhood to increase. If you’re ready to make a move, now is the time to sell. Let’s connect today to get your house listed at this optimal moment in time.

Posted in Home Selling
June 21, 2021

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage | MyKCM

The major challenge in today’s housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can’t keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it’s a buyers’ market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we’re in a sellers’ market. Today’s inventory level sits far below the norm.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March's inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March's 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows.”

Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we’re still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here’s why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they’re coming to market.Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage | MyKCMThis inventory shortage doesn’t just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they’re also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:

“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage | MyKCMSam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:

In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.

While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand.”

Despite today’s low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.

Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com, explains:

“In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year

In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes.”

As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what’s ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:

Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers.”

Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.

Bottom Line

Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today’s market, there is hope on the horizon. Let’s connect to talk about your home search so we can find your dream home this summer.

Posted in Home Buying
June 14, 2021

The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market

 

The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market | MyKCM

In a normal market, it’s good to have an experienced guide coaching you through the process of buying or selling a home. That person can advise you on important things like pricing your home correctly or the first steps to take when you’re ready to buy. However, the market we’re in today is far from normal. As a result, an expert isn’t just good to have by your side – an expert is essential.

Today’s housing market is full of extremes. Mortgage rates hovering near record-lows are driving high buyer demand. On the other hand, an absence of sellers is creating record-low housing inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand is leading to a skyrocketing rate of bidding wars and more houses selling over their asking price. This is driving home price appreciation and gains in home equity. These market conditions aren’t just extreme – they can be overwhelming. Having a trusted expert to coach you through the process of buying and selling a home gives you clarity, confidence, and success through each step.

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

  • Contracts – We help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.
  • Experience – We’re well-versed in real estate and experienced with the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past year.
  • Negotiations – We act as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction while advocating for your best interests.
  • Education – We simply and effectively explain today’s market conditions and decipher what they mean for your individual goals.
  • Pricing – We help you understand today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or making an offer to purchase one.

A real estate agent can be your essential guide through this unprecedented market, but truth be told, 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 the right agent should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.

So, how do you choose the right expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll have to be able to trust the advice your agent is going to give you, so make sure you’re connected to a true professional. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in this unique market. A true professional expert can, however, give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand, helping you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. The right agent – the professional – will help you plan the steps to take for success, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions toward your goals. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

It’s crucial right now to work with a real estate expert who understands how the market is changing and what that means for home buyers and sellers. If you’re planning to make a move this year, let’s connect so you have someone who can answer your questions, give you the best advice, and guide you along the way.

June 9, 2021

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.

Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.

Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMAs the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.

Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMComparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.

The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.

Is there relief around the corner?

The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.

Map #3 – State-by-state changes in inventory levels month-over-month reported by realtor.com:Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCMAs the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.

We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.

Bottom Line

Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply. Going forward, if the number of homes for sale better aligns with demand, price appreciation will moderate to more historical levels.

Posted in Market Updates
March 10, 2020

Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Housing Market

Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Housing Market | MyKCM

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused massive global uncertainty, including a U.S. stock market correction no one could have seen coming. While much of the news has been about the effect on various markets, let’s also acknowledge the true impact it continues to have on lives and families around the world.

With all this uncertainty, how do you make powerful and confident decisions in regard to your real estate plans?

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) anticipates:

“At the very least, the coronavirus could cause some people to put home sales on hold."

While this is an understandable approach, it is important to balance that with how it may end up costing you in the long run. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, it is key to educate yourself so that you can take thoughtful and intentional next steps for your future.

For example, when there’s fear in the world, we see lower mortgage interest rates as investors flee stocks for the safety of U.S. bonds. This connection should be considered when making real estate decisions.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“The Fed’s action was expected but perhaps not to this degree and timing. And the policy change was consistent with recent declines for interest rates in the bond market. These declines should push mortgage interest rates closer to a low 3% average for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.”

This is exactly what we’re experiencing right now as mortgage interest rates hover at the lowest levels in the history of the housing market.

Bottom Line

The full impact of the Coronavirus is still not yet known. It is in times like these that working with an informed and educated real estate professional can make all the difference in the world.

Jan. 1, 2020

Flathead Valley Real Estate Prices up 8.5% in 2019

By BRET ANNE SERBIN

Daily Inter Lake 

Local housing prices generally trended upward in 2019, according to statistics through November from the Northwest Montana Association of Realtors.

The median, or middle- point sale price for a home in Flathead County jumped 8.5% over the past year and ended at $329,950 in November. In December 2018, the median price was $309,900. “The median sale price in Flathead County has remained consistent through the last few years,” NMAR Executive Officer Jeri Moon said.

Standard three-bedroom, two-bathroom residences maintained mostly consistent prices throughout the year, with the exception of condominiums. Condo prices were exceptionally high at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, according to local real estate data. These fell sharply throughout spring, 2019, from a median high point of $330,500 for a three-bedroom residence in January 2019, to $278,000 in February, 2019. Median condo prices fell further by April, 2019, at $255,000, and by November had rebounded to $257,000.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 7584459.

 

Posted in Market Updates