Real Estate Information

Sonja Coffee's Real Estate Blog

Sonja Coffee


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In

by Sonja Coffee

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Home to Retire In | MyKCM

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $14,000 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

Competition is Coming, Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home?

by Sonja Coffee

Competition is Coming, Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home?

Competition is Coming, Are You Thinking of Selling Your Home? | MyKCM

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.4% over last year.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economistexplained this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:

“This rise in single-family housing construction will help tame home price growth, and the increase in multifamily units should continue to help slow rent growth.”

How will this impact sellers?More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it
  2. A quick sale as buyers have so little to choose from
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal

With an increase in competition, the seller may not enjoy these same benefits. As Chief Economist Nela Richardson, added:

“Because existing home inventory has been so low for so long, new construction is taking a larger share of the market…Builders meet the buyers and see the demand firsthand.”

Bottom Line

If you are considering selling your house, you’ll want to beat this new competition to market to ensure you get the most attention for your listing and the best price.

THE NEW TAX CODE and its impact on residential real estate

by Sonja Coffee

Disclaimer #1: This page is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information concerning the aspects of the new tax code and how it may impact the real estate market. Our views herein provide broad guidance to the industry. The specific impact on each individual and property will vary. Therefore, your clients and customers should get tax advice from their accountants or financial advisors who will explain how the entire tax code will affect their personal returns.

Disclaimer #2: Some of the commentary on this page may be revised as the analysis of the bill and future law evolves. As further clarification of the new code and deeper analysis becomes available, we will update this page.

What about the three major concerns of real estate practitioners?

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 debt through 12/31/25.
  • Interest is still deductible on home equity loans if proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.
  • Interest remains deductible on second homes, but subject to the limits.
2.  State and Local Taxes (SALT)

There was concern that the state and local tax deduction (which includes property taxes) would be eliminated. That didn’t happen.

The final bill allows an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 for the total of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes. 

3.  Exclusion of gain on sale of a principal residence

There was concern that owners would now need to live in their house for at least 5 out of the last 8 years to claim this exemption. Under the former tax framework, a typical owner, who has lived in their house for at least 2 years out of the last 5 years, would pay nothing in capital gain taxes if they sell the house.

No change. The new code will remain the same as the old.

What will be the impact on the real estate market?

Please read disclaimers at the top of this page.  

The most thorough analysis of how tax reform will affect the housing market has come from Capital Economics. Here are some highlights:

  • The tax bill could raise the net costs of buying. But, given most households will see an overall tax cut, and potential buyers are likely to put that saving towards their home, we doubt it will have a significant detrimental impact on the housing market.
  • Most households stretch themselves when buying a home, and to the extent that the new code will cut taxes for most households, the overall change could be positive for the housing market.
  • The impact on expensive homes could be more detrimental, with a limit on the mortgage interest deduction raising taxes for that itemize.

Here is their full analysis (7 pages): US HOUSING MARKET FOCUS: Buying still better than renting in the long run

Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride weighed in on the subject. Here are some highlights:

  • The impact of reducing the MID from a maximum of $1 million in mortgage debt to $750 thousand in mortgage debt will have very little impact on the housing market.
  • State and local taxes (SALT) will have an impact on housing in some areas. Some people might choose to live in one state over another (if they have a choice), based on taxation. This could impact demand in certain states – especially for the middle and upper-middle class homeowners.
  • The corporate tax cuts (and other tax cuts) will mostly benefit the wealthy, and this will be a positive for high end real estate.
  • There will be some negative impact based on SALT, but overall the impact of these policy changes on housing will be minimal.

Here is his full analysis: A few comments: Housing and Policy

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics had a more negative opinion. Here are the highlights:

  • House prices suffer under the tax plan. The tax law changes significantly reduce the value of the mortgage interest deduction, or MID, and property tax deductions, which are capitalized in current house prices.
  • Higher mortgage rates that result from the higher budget deficits and debt under the plans will weaken housing demand.
  • The hit to national house prices is estimated to be near 4% at the peak of their impact in summer 2019. That is, national house prices will be approximately 4% lower than they would have been if there were no tax legislation.
  • The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.
  • The impact on the broader national economy of the higher stock prices and lower house prices is largely a wash.

Here is his full analysis: U.S. Macro Outlook: A Plan That Doesn’t Get It Done

Other links that might help:

Will Tax Reform Harm the Housing Market?
HousingWire on the impact of tax reform on the housing market.

Tax Reform Impact and Home Price Outlook
NAR estimated how home prices will change in the upcoming year for each state, taking into consideration the impact of the new tax law and the momentum of jobs and housing inventory.

Tax Bill Raises Concerns About Homeownership
Early consumer reaction to the new Tax Reform legislation and how it may affect their buying and selling decisions.

Metro Areas Most Affected by the New Tax Law
NAR’s analysis identifying which metro areas will be most affected by the new tax code.

Will the New Tax Law Impact Home Sales, Inventory, and Price Growth in Certain States?
Calculated Risk’s most recent take on the impact of the tax reform.

Examples of How The New Law Will Affect the Tax Incentives of Owning a Home
Early consumer reaction to the new Tax Reform legislation and how it may affect their buying and selling decisions.

Which Local Housing Markets Would Be Most Impacted by the GOP Tax Plan?
The new tax code includes two changes to the income tax structure that could potentially have significant impacts on homeowners, and by extension the housing market.

On this site, ATTOM Data Solutions created two heat maps to illustrate which local housing markets could have the most homeowners impacted by these changes.

Tax plan to impact at least 11 percent of Southern California home buyers
This article takes a deeper dive into the impact on Southern California the above data from the ATTOM site.

How New Yorkers Would Lose Under the Republican Tax Bill
This article takes a deeper dive into the impact on NYC and the surrounding region.

Could tax reform actually be good news for housing?
This article explains that one expert believes tax reform could increase the supply of homes by reducing federal tax subsidies.

How the Tax-Cut Bills Could Affect Homeownership
This article from Consumer Report talks about the possible impact on both buyers & sellers.

Deduction Rollback Hurts High-Tax States, But Exodus Isn’t Assured
(WSJ subscription required) A great analysis of how taxes affect where people decide to live.

More Helpful Information

Please read disclaimers at the top of this page.  

How Tax Reform Impacts Homeowners in Each State
This site, run by NAR, hopefully will be updated now that the tax reform bill has become law. It gives you state-by-state data on tax deductions, capital gains exemptions, and the potential impact on housing prices from the 2017 tax reform framework. You can download information for your state by clicking their map.

Which Places Pay the Most in Property Taxes?
This site gives you an interactive map where you can find the median property taxes by county.

Reforming the mortgage interest deduction: A chance for fairness for American taxpayers?
This article gives the argument for why the changes made sense. We are not saying we agree so please don’t attack us for the content. We just want you to better understand the other side, so you are prepared for those conversations.

And remember…

Some people will overreact to any change. In the current political environment, reactions from both sides may be even more passionate.

In the end, Jason Furman, a Harvard Kennedy School economist, may be proven correct:

“Nothing in my experience suggests that the views people have about the tax cuts – whether justified or not – will change after they start actually being affected by them.”

It is our job to remain objective and report the facts. As we say at KCM:

“It’s not good news. It’s not bad news. I’m just reporting THE news.”



Should I Wait Until Next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now?

by Sonja Coffee

Should I Wait Until Next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now? 


Should I Wait until next Year to Buy? Or Buy Now? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years

Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years | MyKCM

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 4% or more over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.

In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been in over two years, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.5%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .5% difference in appraisal can mean thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller would have to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home)

The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last two years.

Gap Between Homeowners & Appraisers Narrows to Lowest Mark in 2 Years | MyKCM

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand:

“Appraisers and real estate professionals evaluate their local housing markets daily. Homeowners, on the other hand, may only think about their housing market when they see ‘for sale’ signs hit front yards in the spring or when they think about accessing their equity.”

“With several years of growth, owners may have more equity than they realize. Many consumers use the tax season at the beginning of the year to reevaluate their entire financial life. It also provides a good opportunity for them to consider how best to take advantage of their equity while mortgage interest rates and borrowing costs are still near record lows.”

Bottom Line 

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, let’s get together to discuss this and any other obstacles that may arise.

Buying A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In 54% Of US Counties

Buying A Home Is More Affordable Than Renting In 54% Of US Counties | MyKCM

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ 2018 Rental Affordability Report, “buying a median-priced home is more affordable than renting a three-bedroom property in 240 of 447 [or 54% of] U.S. counties analyzed for the report.”

For the report, ATTOM Data Solutions compared recently released fair market rent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development with reported income amounts from the Department of Labor and Statistics to determine the percentage of income that a family would have to spend on their monthly housing cost (rent or mortgage payments).

Daren Blomquist, Senior Vice President of ATTOM Data Solutions had this to say:

“Although buying is still more affordable than renting in the majority of U.S. housing markets, the majority is shrinking as home price appreciation continues to outpace rental growth in most areas.”

However, the report also shows that the average fair market rent rose faster than average weekly wages in 60% of the counties analyzed in the report (266 of 447 counties). With rents rising, many renters should consider buying a home soon.

Bottom Line

Rents will continue to rise, and mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows. Before you sign or renew your next lease, let’s get together to help you determine if you are able to buy a home of your own and lock in your monthly housing expense.

There’s More to a Bubble Than Rising Home Prices

by Sonja Coffee

There’s More to a Bubble Than Rising Home Prices

There's More to a Bubble Than Rising Home Prices | MyKCM

What truly causes a housing bubble and the inevitable crash? For the best explanation, let’s go to a person who correctly called the last housing bubble – a year before it happened.

“A bubble requires both overvaluation based on fundamentals and speculation. It is natural to focus on an asset’s fundamental value, but the real key for detecting a bubble is speculation…Speculation tends to chase appreciating assets, and then speculation begets more speculation, until finally, for some reason that will become obvious to all in hindsight, the ‘bubble’ bursts.

I have taken to calling the housing market a ‘bubble’.”

– Bill McBride of Calculated Risk calling the bubble back in April 2005

Where do we stand today regarding speculation?

There are two measurements that are used to determine the speculation in a housing market:

  1. The number of homes purchased by an investor and
  2. The number of homes being flipped (resold within a twelve-month period)

As compared to 2005, investor purchases are down dramatically (from 23% to 13%) and so is flipping (from 8.2% to 5.7%). McBride explains:

“There is currently some flipping activity, but this is more the normal type of flipping (buy, improve and then sell). Back in 2005, people were just buying homes and letting them sit vacant – and then selling without significant improvements. Classic speculation.”

What are the experts saying about speculation in today’s market?

DSNews recently ran an article which asked two economists to compare the speculation in today’s market to that in 2005-2007. Here is what they said:

Dr. Eddie SeilerChief Housing Economist at Summit Consulting:

“The speculative ‘flipping mania’ of 2006 is absent from most metro areas.”

Tian LiuChief Economist of Genworth Mortgage Insurance:

“The nature of housing demand is different as well, with more potential homeowners and far fewer speculators in the housing market compared to the 2005-2007 period.”

And what does McBride, who called the last housing bubble, think about today’s real estate market?

Sixty days ago, he explained:   “In 2005, people were just buying homes and letting them sit vacant – and then selling without significant improvements. Classic speculation. And even more dangerous during the bubble was the excessive use of leverage (all those poor-quality loans). Currently lending standards are decent, and loan quality is excellent…

I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble – and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

Bottom Line

Speculation is a major element of the housing bubble formula. Right now, there are not elevated percentages of investors and house flippers. Therefore, there is not an elevated rate of speculation.

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months!

by Sonja Coffee

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months!

CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that “over the past 12 months, 712,000 borrowers moved into positive equity.” This is great news, as the share of homeowners with negative equity (those who owe more than their home is worth), has dropped more than 20% since the peak in Q4 of 2009 (26%) to 4.9% today.

The report also revealed:

  • The average homeowner gained approximately $14,900 in equity during the past year.
  • Compared to Q3 2016, negative equity decreased 22% from 3.2 million homes, or 6.3% of all mortgaged properties.
  • U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all homeownershave seen their equity increase by a total of $870.6 billion since Q3 2016, an increase of 11.8%, year-over-year.

The map below shows the percentage of homes by state with a mortgage and positive equity. (The states in gray have insufficient data to report.)

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months! | Simplifying The Market

Significant Equity Is on The Rise

Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic, believes this is great news for the “housing market.” He went on to say:

“Homeowner equity increased by almost $871 billion over the last 12 months, the largest increase in more than three years. This increase is primarily a reflection of rising home prices, which drives up home values, leading to an increase in home equity positions and supporting consumer spending.”

Of the 95.1% of homeowners with positive equity in the U.S., 82.9% have significant equity (defined as more than 20%). This means that more than three out of four homeowners with a mortgage could use the equity in their current home to purchase a new home now.

The map below shows the percentage of homes by state with a mortgage and significant equity.

712,000 Homes in the US Regained Equity in the Past 12 Months! | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who are unsure of how much equity you have in your home and are curious about your ability to move, let’s meet up to evaluate your situation.


Fannie Mae Expects Slow But Sure Housing Growth in 2015

by Sonja Coffee

Fannie Mae Expects Slow But Sure Housing Growth in 2015

Where the U.S. housing market is concerned,Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan said he is anticipating overall weaker home sales in 2014 than in 2013. But he expects that overall home sales in 2015 will post their best performance since 2007 despite seeing only moderate growth for the year.

The forecast on the state of the nation's housing market and on the overall economy were included in the Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research Group's October 2014 Economic Outlook, published on Thursday.

"We lowered our expectation for housing starts just slightly to one million units for 2014, but our view of mortgage originations has not changed," Duncan said. "Our estimate for 2013 was in line with the recent release of 2013 data under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, and our projection of total production in 2014 is little changed at approximately $1.1 trillion. For 2015, we are cautiously optimistic that ongoing labor market improvements, low mortgage rates, rising inventories, and some easing of lending standards will boost home sales by roughly 5.0 percent. However, we still believe housing will continue along its upward grind rather than have the breakout year some are expecting."

Economic growth has been slow on a global scale this year, but that has not dimmed the outlook for the U.S. economy, according to the findings of Fannie Mae's ESR Group. Real economic growth in the U.S. seems poised to exceed 3.0 percent for the second half of 2014, which is expected to provide a solid basis for continued growth into 2015.The slow global economic growth may prevent the Federal Reserve Board from making any interest rate policy changes until Q3 2014, it has not prevented a positive outlook for the economy in the U.S.

"Given the expected strengthening economic activity in the U.S. in the second half of the year, we continue to expect to finish just above 2 percent growth for all of 2014," Duncan said. "The risks are tilted to the downside due to current geopolitical events in Russia, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and the Middle East, as well as the economic slowdown in the Eurozone, China, and Japan. However, recent data suggest these factors have not significantly swayed American consumers. Real consumer spending is poised to pick up in the second half of 2014 from the first half, due in large part to improving labor market conditions, continued declines in gasoline prices, and a subdued pace of inflation."

Author: Brian Honea October 23, 2014

Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t the only goal of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors’ decision Tuesday to consider two property tax relief measures to spur home sales.

The tax relief measures — Propositions 90 and 110 — will give homeowners from neighboring counties mobility to buy a newly purchased or newly built home in San Bernardino County without having to worry about paying higher property taxes if they are 55 or older, or are permanently disabled.

Taxes on California homes are reassessed at market value when the property is sold.

For those mulling a move-up buy, a higher property tax can be a disincentive to make that purchase.

The board on Tuesday voted 4-0 to reinstate Prop. 90 and Prop. 110 — a local-option law — retroactively to Jan. 1, 2014. James Ramos, third district supervisor, was absent. A vote for final adoption is set for Oct. 21.

If adopted, a qualified homeowner would be allowed to transfer the base-year value of their existing home in another county of California to the newly purchased home in San Bernardino County.

The tax program is expected to level the playing field because Propositions 90 and 110 are already in place in nine other counties: Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura.

Riverside County signed on recently, after repealing the local-option measure in July 1995.

by DEBRA GRUSZECKI, Press Enterprise

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19