Hi. I'm Diane McNelis, Award winning Texas Realtor(R) with Coldwell Banker Southern Homes. Selling and Buying homes in Southeast Texas can be complicated. I'm here to help. When we work together I become your advocate. My goal is to get you the best deal possible and to exceed your service expectations. On my blog, I share tips and strategies for selling and buying homes in Southeast Texas.

Buying and Selling Tips

How Much is Common for a Down Payment in Southeast Texas

Hi Again.  I'm back.  That icy storm week was really something wasn't it?!  Today I'm sharing an article that explains down payment amounts.  

What Are the Benefits of a 20% Down Payment?

What Are the Benefits of a 20% Down Payment? | MyKCM

If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, you may be wondering how much money you need to come up with for your down payment. Many people may think it’s 20% of the loan to secure a mortgage. While there are plenty of lower down payment options available for qualified buyers who don’t want to put 20% down, it’s important to understand how a larger down payment can have great benefits too.

The truth is, there are many programs available that allow you to put down as little as 3.5%, which can be a huge benefit to those who want to purchase a home sooner rather than later. Those who have served our country may also qualify for a Veterans Affairs Home Loan (VA) and may not need a down payment. These programs have really cut down the savings time for many potential buyers, enabling them to start building family wealth sooner.

Here are four reasons why putting 20% down is a good plan if you can afford it.

1. Your interest rate may be lower.

A 20% down payment vs. a 3-5% down payment shows your lender you’re more financially stable and not a large credit risk. The more confident your lender is in your credit score and your ability to pay your loan, the lower the mortgage interest rate they’ll likely be willing to give you.

2. You’ll end up paying less for your home.

The larger your down payment, the smaller your loan amount will be for your mortgage. If you’re able to pay 20% of the cost of your new home at the start of the transaction, you’ll only pay interest on the remaining 80%. If you put down 5%, the additional 15% will be added to your loan and will accrue interest over time. This will end up costing you more over the lifetime of your home loan.

3. Your offer will stand out in a competitive market.

In a market where many buyers are competing for the same home, sellers like to see offers come in with 20% or larger down payments. The seller gains the same confidence as the lender in this scenario. You are seen as a stronger buyer with financing that’s more likely to be approved. Therefore, the deal will be more likely to go through.

4. You won’t have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

What is PMI? According to Freddie Mac:

PMI is 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 mentioned earlier, when you put down less than 20% when buying a home, your lender will see your loan as having more risk. PMI helps them recover their investment in you if you’re unable to pay your loan. This insurance isn’t required if you’re able to put down 20% or more.

Many times, home sellers looking to move up to a larger or more expensive home are able to take the equity they earn from the sale of their house to put down 20% on their next home. With the equity homeowners have today, it creates a great opportunity to put those savings toward a 20% or greater down payment on a new home.

If you’re looking to buy your first home, you’ll want to consider the benefits of 20% down versus a smaller down payment option.

My Final Tips

If you’re thinking of buying a home and are already saving for your down payment, let’s connect to discuss what fits best with your long-term plans.  There are a lot of choices available from a low down payment of 3.5% to the 20 % down payment discussed above.  There are even ways to help cover some of a buyer's closing costs.  We can structure an offer to purchase a home so that it works for you.  I'm here to help answer any questions you have about buying or selling a home in Southeast Texas.

Sincerely,

Diane


Southeast Texas Home Buying Tips: Inspection v Appraisal

If you have read my blog before you know that I have been helping people buy and sell houses in Southeast Texas for over 12 years now.  In those years I can't count the number of times that I have been asked about getting a home inspection and getting an appraisal.  By the way, I recommend anyone buying a home in Southeast Texas get both.  Your lender will require the appraisal.  It will be up to you if you want to have a home inspection.  The answer is Yes!  Yes, you do want a home inspection.  

What’s the Difference between an Appraisal and a Home Inspection?

What’s the Difference between an Appraisal and a Home Inspection? | MyKCM

If you’re planning to buy a home, an appraisal is an important step in the process. It’s a professional evaluation of the market value of the home you’d like to buy. In most cases, an appraisal is ordered by the lender to confirm or verify the value of the home prior to lending a buyer money for the purchase. It’s also a different step in the process from a home inspection, which assesses the condition of the home before you finalize the transaction. Here’s the breakdown of each one and why they’re both important when buying a home.

Home Appraisal

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“A home purchase is typically the largest investment someone will make. Protect yourself by getting your investment appraised! An appraiser will observe the property, analyze the data, and report their findings to their client. For the typical home purchase transaction, the lender usually orders the appraisal to assist in the lender’s decision to provide funds for a mortgage.”

When you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal (which is required by the lender) is the best way to confirm the value of the home based on the sale price. Regardless of what you’re willing to pay for a house, if you’ll be using a mortgage to fund your purchase, the appraisal will help make sure the bank doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

This is especially critical in today’s sellers’ market where low inventory is driving an increase in bidding wars, which can push home prices upward. When sellers are in a strong position like this, they tend to believe they can set whatever price they want for their house under the assumption that competing buyers will be willing to pay more.

However, the lender will only allow the buyer to borrow based on the value of the home. This is what helps keep home prices in check. If there’s ever any confusion or discrepancy between the appraisal and the sale price, your trusted real estate professional will help you navigate any additional negotiations in the buying process.

Home Inspection

Here’s the key difference between an appraisal and an inspection. MSN explains:

In simplest terms, a home appraisal determines the value of a home, while a home inspection determines the condition of a home.”

The home inspection is a way to determine the current state, safety, and condition of the home before you finalize the sale. If anything is questionable in the inspection process – like the age of the roof, the state of the HVAC system, or just about anything else – you as a buyer have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues or repairs with the seller before the transaction is final. Your real estate agent is a key expert to help you through this part of the process.

Bottom Line

The appraisal and the inspection are critical steps when buying a home, and you don’t need to manage them by yourself. Let’s connect today so you have the expert guidance you need to navigate through the entire homebuying process. 

I'm here to help answer any questions you have about selling or buying a home in Southeast Texas.  I help people sell and buy homes in Beaumont, Lumberton, Orange, and Vidor.  I cover them all.  Let's talk about your home buying and selling goals for 2021.  


Things to Consider When Selling a Home in Southeast Texas

The Southeast Texas real estate market is unique.  There are certain things to know before you buy or sell a home in Beaumont, Lumberton or Orange.  

The Southeast Texas home buyer and seller guides are a professional guide offered at no cost to you.  It  is good information to have when you are in the beginning stage of selling or buying a home.  This guide can be emailed or a printed copy can be mailed. 

Experts forecast a hot real estate market this winter. Let's connect to make sure you have the most current information with the new digital buyer and seller guides

If you would like a copy, let me know and I'll make sure you get one. 

Sincerely,

Diane 

 


Finding a Buyer's Agent Southeast Texas

Before you start your homebuying process in Beaumont, Lumberton, or Orange there are a few keys terms you should know.  

Key Terms to Know in the Homebuying Process [INFOGRAPHIC]

Key Terms to Know in the Homebuying Process [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Buying a home can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the terms used throughout the process.
  • To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of some of the most common language you’ll hear along the way.
  • The best way to ensure your homebuying process is a positive one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher’ by putting your needs first.

Buyer's Representation Agreement

This document creates the agreement between you and the agent you select to help y0u with your homebuying process.  

  • The Broker will used their best efforts to assist you in acquiring a property
  • assist you in negotiating the acquisition of the property
  • and keep all discussions confidential 

If you are ready to get started on your homebuying process in Lumberton, Beaumont or any part of Southeast Texas, let's chat.  

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes


Home Appreciation in Beaumont and Lumberton

Homes are going up in value in Southeast Texas.  This Infographic from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M shows the yearly appreciation in Beaumont.  Link Here

A&M price appreciation graph

 

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | MyKCM

For years, real estate has been considered the best investment you can make. A major reason for this is due to the net worth a household gains through homeownership. In fact, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance Data from the Federal Reserve, for the average homeowner:

“…a primary home accounts for 90% of the total wealth of a family in the U.S.”

How do homeowners gain wealth?

Most large purchases, like cars and appliances, depreciate in value as they age, so it’s understandable to question how owning a home can increase wealth over time. In a simple equation, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains how the combination of paying your mortgage and home price appreciation grow overall wealth:

Principal Payments + Price Appreciation Gains = Housing Wealth Gain

As home values increase and you make payments toward your home loan, you’ll gain wealth through equity. The same article from NAR also addresses how wealth gains tend to play out over time:

“Housing wealth accumulation takes time and is built up by paying off the mortgage debt and by price appreciation. And while home prices can fall, home prices tend to recover and go up over the longer term. As of September 2020, the median sales price of existing home sales was $311,800, a 35% gain since July 2006 when prices peaked at $230,000.”

Taking a look at how equity has grown for the typical homeowner, it’s clear to see how real estate is a sound long-term investment. NAR notes:

“Nationally, a person who purchased a typical home 30 years ago would have typically gained about $283,000 as of the second quarter of 2020.” (See graph below):

Homeownership Is a Key to Building Wealth | MyKCM

Final Take Away

Not all homes will go up in value at the same yearly pace.  Some neighborhoods appreciate much faster than others.  That's where a local, experienced Realtor can help you make the best purchase decision based on your needs.

Southeast Texas is forecast to have continued home appreciation for the next twelve months.  Interest rates are historically low.  If you have been thinking about buying a home in Beaumont or Lumberton, let's discuss the neighborhoods you are interested in.  I'll give you my professional opinion on how much I think those Southeast Texas neighborhoods will appreciate next year.

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes

 


Selling Homes Safely in Southeast Texas

Have you been thinking about selling a home in Beaumont, Lumberton or Orange but have concerns about Covid and letting buyers come into your home?  

As a professional, local Southeast Texas Realtor my job of safely selling homes has taken on a whole new dimension in 2020.  There are many new safety measures we have put in place to protect both home buyers and home sellers from Covid.  You still may be asking is this a good time to sell. 

Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now?

Is it Safe to Sell My House Right Now? | MyKCM

In today’s real estate market, the buzz is all about how it’s a great time to sell your house. Buyer demand is high, and there simply aren’t enough homes available to buy to meet that growing need. This means now is the time to make a move so you can close the deal on your ideal terms.

Even in today’s strong sellers’ market, there are homeowners who are choosing not to sell due to ongoing concerns around the health crisis, financial uncertainty, and life in general. According to Zillow, here are the top three reasons homeowners who are thinking of selling sometime in the next three years are not putting their houses on the market right now:

  • 34% - Life is too uncertain right now
  • 31% - Financial uncertainty
  • 25% - COVID-19 health concerns

If you identify with any of these, you’re not alone. Whether it’s the future of your employment situation or simply being uncomfortable having guests in your home for showings, life feels a lot different than it did at this time last year. The good news is, real estate professionals have spent the majority of 2020 figuring out how to sell homes safely, and it’s paying off for those who are choosing to move this year.

Real estate agents are doing two things very well to make selling your house possible:

1. Agents Are Implementing Technology in the Process

While abiding by state and local regulations as a top priority, real estate agents are making sales happen safely and effectively by leveraging key pieces of technology. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers and sellers need and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, agents have capitalized on the technology buyers find most helpful when deciding on a new home:

  • Virtual tours
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chats

They’re listening to their audience and leveraging the tools that help buyers get an initial look at a home without having to step inside. This helps reduce the number of people entering your home, so only those who are very seriously interested need to take the next step: in-person showings.

2. Agents Are Facilitating Safe and Effective In-Person Showings

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, agents are following the guidelines set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and utilizing safe ways to proceed. Here are a few of them, understanding again that the agent’s top priority is always to follow­ state and local restrictions first:

  • Limiting in-person activity
  • R­­­equiring guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Removing shoes or covering them with booties
  • Following CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the modern-era safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

As Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist for Zillow notes:

“Homeowners who feel life is uncertain right now may think they can still get a strong price if they delay selling until they have more clarity. The catch is that waiting to sell may raise the cost of a trade-up. This fall's record low mortgage rates, which make a trade-up more affordable on a monthly basis, are not guaranteed to last.”

Bottom Line

In this new era in our lives, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be your ideal option. Opening your doors up to new approaches could be game-changing when it comes to selling your house while the market is leaning in your favor. 

If you have any questions about these new safety procedures that allow you to safely sell your Southeast Texas home I'm always here to answer any real estate questions.  Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes


Best Time to Sell a Home in Southeast Texas

Yesterday's post showed Beaumont home inventory levels in different price ranges.  Today, let's look at how Southeast Texas homeowners can capitalize on the current situation.

Three Ways Low Inventory Is a Win for Sellers

Three Ways Low Inventory Is a Win for Sellers | MyKCM

The number of houses for sale today is significantly lower than the high buyer activity in the current housing market. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

"There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low."

When the demand for homes is higher than what’s available for sale, it’s a great time for homeowners to sell their house. Here are three ways low inventory can help you win if you’re ready to make a move this fall.

1. Higher Prices

With so many more buyers in the market than homes available for sale, homebuyers are frequently entering into bidding wars for the houses they want to purchase. This buyer competition drives home prices up. As a seller, this can definitely work to your advantage, potentially netting you more for your house when you close the deal.

2. Greater Return on Your Investment

Rising prices mean homes are also gaining value, which drives an increase in the equity you have in your home. In the latest Homeowner Equity Insights ReportCoreLogic explains:

“In the second quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,800 in equity.”

This year-over-year growth in equity gives you the ability to put that money toward a down payment on your next home or to keep it as extra savings.

3. Better Terms

When we’re in a sellers’ market like we are today, you’re in the driver’s seat if you sell your house. You have the power to sell on your terms, and buyers are more likely to work with you if it means they can finally move into their dream home.

So, is low housing inventory a big deal?

Yes, especially if you want to sell your house at the perfect time. Today’s market gives sellers immense negotiating power. However, it won’t last forever, especially as more sellers return to the housing market next year. If you’re considering selling your house, the best time to do so is now.

Bottom Line

One of the professional services I offer to Beaumont, Lumberton, and Orange home owners with no obligation and no cost is a custom market analysis specifically for your home.  It will show you what the competition has recently sold for and give you a suggested list price and sales price range.  If you’re interested in taking advantage of the current sellers’ market, let’s connect today to determine your best move in the Southeast Texas real estate market. 

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes


How Much Has Your Home Value Increased in 2020

2020 has been an unusual year

Beaumont, Lumberton and most Southeast Texas homeowners have seen the value of their home increase since January.  You might ask how can that be?  It is a strange side effect of the Covid pandemic.  Two things are leading to home values going up in Southeast Texas.  1. Fewer homes are on the market.  This means there is a limited supply. 2. Buyer demand driven by historically low interest rates.  Buyers have more buying power when rates are lower.  For Southeast Texas homeowners that are considering selling their home this is a great time to have a professional home valuation.  Your home might be worth more than you realize.  That means more home equity.  

Two Important Impacts of Home Equity

Two Important Impacts of Home Equity | MyKCM

Equity continues to rise, helping American homeowners secure a much more stable financial future. According to the most recent data from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $9,800 in equity over the past year. In addition, experts project 2020 home prices to continue rising. With prices going up, equity gains will also keep accelerating. Black Knight just reported:

“The annual percent change in the overall median existing single-family-home price has skyrocketed in the past several months, with recent numbers at three to five times higher than rates seen in the past several years.”

Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, just qualified recent price increases as “jaw-dropping” and “within a hair's breadth of double-digit year-over-year appreciation.”

Knowing equity will help enable many homeowners to better survive the economic distress caused by the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to break down two key homeowner benefits of increasing equity.

1. Equity Increases a Homeowner’s Options to Buy a New Home

Aside from the financial damage of the last seven months, there has also been a tremendous emotional toll on many people. Shelter-in-place mandates, quarantine requirements, and virtual schooling have all made us re-evaluate the must-have requirements a home should deliver. Having equity in your current house gives you a better opportunity to move-up or build your perfect home from scratch.

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, recently explained:

“As homeowners gain equity in their homes, they are more likely to consider using that equity to purchase a larger or more attractive home – the wealth effect of rising equity.”

If you need to make a move, the equity in your current home can help make that possible – right now.

2. Equity Enables Homeowners to Help Future Generations

An increase in home equity grows overall wealth, which can transfer to future generations. The Federal Reserve, in an addendum to their recent Survey of Consumer Finances, explains:

“There are numerous ways families can transmit wealth and resources across generations. Families can directly transfer their wealth to the next generation in the form of a bequest. They can also provide the next generation with inter vivos transfers (gifts), for example, providing down payment support to enable a home purchase or a substantial wedding gift.”

The Federal Reserve also explains another way wealth (including the additional net worth generated by an increase in home equity) can benefit future generations:

“In addition to direct transfers or gifts, families can make investments in their children that indirectly increase their wealth. For example, families can invest in their children's educational success by paying for college or private schools, which can in turn increase their children's ability to accumulate wealth.”

The Takeaway

Equity can help a homeowner grow their confidence in a more stable financial future. It provides near-term move-up options and creates a positive impact for future generations. In many cases, the largest single investment a person has is their home. As that investment appreciates in value, financial options increase too.  

If you are interested in finding out what the value of your home in Lumberton, Beaumont or any part of Southeast Texas is today, let's schedule a consultation.  I'll be glad to show you the most current comparable home sales and give you my professional opinion of what your home will sell for.  There's no cost and no obligation to list your home.  Interested?  I'm here to help with all your real estate needs. 

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes


Sellers' Market Continues in Beaumont and Lumberton

If you have read the blog before then you have seen me post about what makes a buyers' market and what makes a sellers' market.  

The Number of Homes For Sale

It all has to do with the number of homes for sale.  Very simply when there are too few homes for sale it is a sellers' market.  Too many homes for sale makes for buyers' market. 

Here in Southeast Texas we are definitely, 100% in an inventory shortage situation.  

This infographic shows the national months inventory of homes for sale over the past several years.  

Kcm-infographic-1603204954

 

How Low Are They? Inventory levels by Area

  1. Orange County 4.3 months supply of homes for sale
  2. Hardin County 2.9 months supply of homes for sale
  3. Beaumont 3.1 months supply of homes for sale
  4. Jefferson County 2.9 months supply of homes for sale

Data is from home sales in September and inventory currently on the market in the Beaumont MLS.  This is an overall statistic for all price ranges.  The data can be broken down even further into price points.  

Final Thoughts

Selling a home in Southeast Texas still requires proven marketing techniques for a seller to earn top dollar.  Buying a home in Southeast Texas still requires research and knowledge about the market to make a successful offer.  Sometimes the information can be overwhelming.

Don’t let the plethora of seemingly conflicting information on the housing market stop you from moving forward with your life. Let’s get together to ensure you get the valuable counsel you need so you can make the right decision for you and your family.

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes


Homes for Sale in Beaumont Near All-Time Low

The number of homes for sale in Beaumont has been low all of 2020.   In February and March Beaumont had just a 3.1 month supply of homes for sale.  In August, Beaumont had a 4.1 months supply of homes for sale.  What does that does relative to a normal market?   A balanced, normal real estate market has a six month supply of homes for sale.  This means there is enough for buyers to choose from but not too much to decrease home values.  Any time there is less than a six month supply of  homes then buyers have less to choose from and prices tend to go up.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Is One Big Challenge

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

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

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that, while home sales are skyrocketing, the inventory of existing homes for sale is dropping dramatically. Below is a graph of existing inventory (September numbers are not yet available):The #1 Reason Not to Wait to List Your House for Sale | MyKCMHomebuilders are increasing construction, but they cannot keep up with the high demand. Bill McBride, founder of the Calculated Risk blog, in discussing inventory of newly constructed houses, notes:

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

What does this mean for sellers?

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

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

Final Thoughts

It used to be said that the spring was the best time to sell a home.  That isn't always true.  When a market has a low inventory of homes for sale that creates an opportunity for sellers.  Let’s connect today to get your house on the market at this optimal time to sell. 

Sincerely,

Diane

Diane McNelis, Coldwell Banker Southern Homes