Where Did Americans Move in 2017?

Some Highlights:

  • Atlas Van Lines recently released the results of their annual Migration Patterns Survey in which they tracked their customer’s movement from state-to-state over the course of 2017.
  • Idaho held on to the top spot of ‘high inbound’ states for the 2nd year in a row followed by Washington.
  • The ‘outbound’ states seem to draw a line straight across the country from Connecticut to Wyoming.

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values?

Every month, CoreLogic releases its Home Price Insights Report. In that report, they forecast where they believe residential real estate prices will be in twelve months.

Below is a map, broken down by state, reflecting how home values are forecasted to change by the end of 2018 using data from the most recent report.

What Impact Will the New Tax Code Have on Home Values? | MyKCM

As we can see, CoreLogic projects an increase in home values in 49 of 50 states, and Washington, DC (there was insufficient data for HI). Nationwide, they see home prices increasing by 4.2%.

How might the new tax code impact these numbers?

Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) conducted their own analysis to determine the impact the new tax code may have on home values. NAR’s analysis:

“…estimated how home prices will change in the upcoming year for each state, considering the impact of the new tax law and the momentum of jobs and housing inventory.”

Here is a map based on NAR’s analysis:

Bottom Line

According to NAR, the new tax code will have an impact on home values across the country. However, the effect will be much less significant than what some originally thought.

61% of First-Time Buyers Put Down Less than 6%

According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest Realtors Confidence Index, 61% of first-time homebuyers purchased their homes with down payments below 6% from October 2016 through November 2017.

Many potential homebuyers believe that a 20% down payment is necessary to buy a home and have disqualified themselves without even trying. The median down payment for all buyers in 2017 was just 10% and that percentage drops to 6% for first-time buyers.

Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas’ recent comments shed light on why buyer demand has remained strong,

“Looking into 2018, rent is expected to continue gaining. More widespread rent growth could mean home buying demands stay high, as renters who can afford it move away from the unpredictability of rising rents toward the relative stability of a monthly mortgage payment instead.”

It’s no surprise that with rents rising, more and more first-time buyers are taking advantage of low-down-payment mortgage options to secure their monthly housing costs and finally attain their dream homes.

Bottom Line
If you are one of the many first-time buyers who is not sure if you would qualify for a low-down payment mortgage, let’s get together and set you on your path to homeownership!

Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home?

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they are married and have a family, others might think they are too young, and still, others might think their current income would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting revelations on the first-time buyer:

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first homes. Let’s meet to determine if your dream home is within your grasp.

93% Believe Homeownership Is Important in Attaining the American Dream

Americans continue to believe that homeownership is important in achieving the American Dream. A recent survey by NeighborWorks America reported that:

“Owning a home remains a core element of the American Dream.”

When asked “How important a part of the American dream is owning a home?”

  • 18% of those surveyed said it was the most important part
  • 53% of those surveyed said it was very important
  • 22% of those surveyed said it was somewhat important

Homeownership and Financial Stability

The survey also revealed that 81% of Americans believe that owning a home leads to a family being more financially stable. This feeling was reiterated by Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas who, in a recent press release, explained:

“After about a two-year slowdown, rent growth is starting to pick back up across the nation…Looking into 2018, rent is expected to continue gaining.

More widespread rent growth could mean home buying demands stay high, as renters who can afford it move away from the unpredictability of rising rents toward the relative stability of a monthly mortgage payment instead.” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

Owning a home always has been, and always will be, a crucial part of attaining the American Dream.

The Impact Staging Your Home Has on Sales Price

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Annual Profile of Home Staging.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.

Thinking of Selling? Now is the Perfect Time

It is common knowledge that a great number of homes sell during the spring-buying season. For that reason, many homeowners hold off on putting their homes on the market until then. The question is whether or not that will be a good strategy this year.

The other listings that do come out in the spring will represent increased competition to any seller. Do a greater number of homes actually come to the market in the spring as compared to the rest of the year? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed the months in which most people listed their homes for sale in 2017. Here is a graphic showing the results:

The three months in the second quarter of the year (represented in red) are consistently the most popular months for sellers to list their homes on the market. Last year, the number of homes available for sale in January was 1,680,000.

That number spiked to 1,970,000 by May!

What does this mean to you?

With the national job situation improving, and mortgage interest rates projected to rise later in the year, buyers are not waiting until the spring; they are out looking for homes right now. If you are looking to sell this year, waiting until the spring to list your home means you will have the greatest competition amongst buyers.

Bottom Line

It may make sense to beat the rush of housing inventory that will enter the market in the spring and list your home today.

What is a FICO Score Anyway?

What's a FICO score?

Another month, another rent payment that’s helping your landlord pay off the house or apartment where you’re living. Another month, another rent day spent pondering just how much equity you could have paid down on your own house by now. So, why not you? Why not now? Sure, buying a house can be complicated and intimidating, but your mortgage professional and Realtor will be there every step to help.

Wait, let’s take a step back. It’s important to fill in some informational blanks. For example, do you know what a FICO score is or how it affects your ability to get a mortgage? A lot of first time homebuyers will need to do some work on their credit accounts, so it’s a good idea to start looking into this stuff six months to a year before you bite the bullet and make a loan application.

Today, we’re going as basic as it gets with the FICO score.

Fair Isaac Really Isn’t Judging You, Mostly

So, back in the 1950s, getting credit was a whole different kind of thing. Rates and down payments or securities were high, terms were short and credit was not nearly as widespread as it is today. Then two fellows named Bill Fair and Earl Isaac came along. They believed that there had to be a better way to make business decisions using data and computer algorithms (a bit ahead of their time, eh?), successfully completing the first credit scoring system in 1958.

By 1970, the Fair Isaac Company was delivering scoring systems for bank credit cards, then in 1981, it developed the credit bureau risk score — similar to the one your bank will be using to determine if you’re going to get a mortgage. The secret proprietary algorithm has been updated throughout the years in a quest to develop the most accurate picture possible of potential borrowers based on their past behavior.

Your FICO score isn’t a judgement of your character, of your job or anything like that. It’s simply a number that tells lenders how likely you are to be willing and able to pay back credit over the long run. If you’ve never had credit or not had much credit experience, expect your number to be lower simply because there’s no data on you. If you’ve had some credit, maybe a student loan or a car loan, and always paid on time, you’re probably golden.

A score of 620 is serviceable, a 650 is generally enough to get a mortgage. The higher the score, the better your rate and terms may be when you apply for a mortgage.

What’s in a FICO Score?

A lot of people are confused about what exactly gets figured into a FICO score. FICO is just an algorithm, remember, so there’s nothing that it can calculate without being fed data. So, the score is based on the information from whatever credit bureau that you’re using to request a FICO score. Nothing else. Things like your on-time utility payments or car insurance, for example, don’t tend to report, so they won’t be added into the calculation.

When shopping for a pre-mortgage score, it’s best to look for a tri-merge report, or a product that gives you scores from all three bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. This is exactly what your bank will do to qualify you. offers this service and you’ll get scores directly from the horse’s mouth, but feel free to use whatever tool works for you. There are plenty of legit sources out there that can approximate your FICO score.

The main factors that influence that score are probably exactly what you’d expect. They’re bits and pieces that are telling about your credit usage and ability to repay. FICO’s own site lists these as the primary components and weights of an average borrower’s score:

Payment History (35 percent). If you don’t make your payments on time, the credit bureaus report that and FICO makes a note. Non-payments, late payments and the like don’t report until they’re 30 days past due, but it’s still good practice to pay on or before the due date. If you’ve had late pays in the past, just keep paying on time now. The more space you put between today and those late pays, the less they’ll affect you.

Amounts Owed (30 percent). Are your credit cards maxed out? … like, every month…? Well, this is something you need to get a handle on. This metric looks at not only how much you owe, but how much you owe in relation to how much credit you have. The magic number for utilization is a meager 30 percent. If you’re trying to establish credit, it can be a tricky thing to keep your usage under 30 percent, but above zero to prove you can maintain payments long term.

Length of Credit History (15 percent). The age of your credit accounts, as well as the average age is considered under this metric. FICO looks at both opened dates and the date of last utilization to figure out your risk here. To even be in the running for a bronze medal, you need an average credit line age of over two years, but people with extremely good credit scores may have credit histories of 25 years or more.

New Credit (10 percent). FICO wants to see if you’ve recently acquired a bunch of new credit, maybe in anticipation of charging everything up and fleeing to Canada. Experience has told them that suddenly opening several new accounts in a flurry means that you’re a big time risk for default.

Credit Mix (10 percent). Do you only have store credit cards, or do you also have a car loan and a student loan? The better the variety in your credit history, generally the better risk you represent. Don’t run out and get a bunch of different loans just to see how it shakes out, but if you just have a car loan, it won’t hurt to get a small credit card through your bank just for emergencies.

Improving Your Credit for Beginners

Now that you know what the FICO algorithm considers when it calculates your score, you can use this information to improve your credit score before you apply for a mortgage. Be patient, though, it takes time to see these kinds of changes manifest.

Start by going to and requesting your free credit reports (you’re entitled to a set of free credit reports from this site once a year). Check them thoroughly for errors of any sort. Dispute, dispute, dispute. Many credit files have some kind of errors on them.

While the credit bureaus are working on your disputes, you can start to pay off any judgements that appear on your credit reports, as well as developing a plan to pay each and every future payment on time. If your checks come on a regular schedule, autopay isn’t a totally bad option, but if you’re part of the gig economy, of course, that’s probably not going to help.

With each payment, your credit will start to improve. Leave those credit cards alone. Just put one payment in front of the other, and before you know it, you’ll have beautiful credit. Super extraordinary stuff. There’s no real secret to it, it’s all just perseverance.

Want to search for homes now that you're on the path to improving your credit score? Search here.


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    Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash

    Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash

    As home values continue to increase at levels greater than historic norms, some are concerned that we are heading for another crash like the one we experienced ten years ago. We recently explained that the lenient lending standards of the previous decade (which created false demand) no longer exist. But what about prices?

    Are prices appreciating at the same rate that they were prior to the crash of 2006-2008? Let’s look at the numbers as reported by Freddie Mac:

    Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash | MyKCM

    The levels of appreciation we have experienced over the last four years aren’t anywhere near the levels that were reached in the four years prior to last decade’s crash.

    We must also realize that, to a degree, the current run-up in prices is the market trying to catch up after a crash that dramatically dropped prices for five years.

    Bottom Line

    Prices are appreciating at levels greater than historic norms. However, we are not at the levels that led to the housing bubble and bust.


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      You Don't Need 20% Down To Buy A Home!

      No… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW!

      No... You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW! | MyKCM

      The Aspiring Home Buyers Profile from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The results of the survey show that non-homeowners cite the main reason for not currently owning a home, as not being able to afford one.

      This brings us to two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

      1. Down Payment

      NAR’s survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 39% of non-homeowners say they believe they need more than 20% for a down payment on a home purchase. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 3% or less.

      Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

      2. FICO® Scores

      An Ipson survey revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO® scores of approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

      The average conventional loan closed in August had a credit score of 752, while FHA mortgages closed with a score of 683. The average across all loans closed in August was 724. The chart below shows the distribution of FICO® Scores for all loans approved in August.

      Bottom Line

      If you are a prospective buyer who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to act now, but are not sure if you are ‘able’ to, let’s sit down to help you understand your true options.


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