Thinking Strategically in Today’s Real Estate Market

How To Think Strategically as a Buyer in Today’s Market

The game of chess can provide incredible lessons to apply to all aspects of life, including the homebuying process. Chess requires you to plan and think about your strategy from the very beginning of the game.

The homebuying process, like chess, requires strategy and planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your plan is as strong as possible when you begin your home search.

Pre-Approval: the Best Opening Play To Make as a Homebuyer

It’s important to have a great opening play when you’re buying a home. And the best move you can make when you begin your home search is getting pre-approved by a lender. You’ve probably already heard this is an important step, but what exactly is pre-approval and what benefits does it provide you?

As Freddie Mac puts it:

“The pre-approval letter from your lender tells you the maximum amount you are qualified to borrow. Getting a pre-approval letter is not a loan guarantee, it simply states how much your lender is willing to lend you. . . .”

And while determining how much you can afford at the start of your search is critical, the pre-approval letter also serves another important purpose. Freddie Mac also notes:

“This pre-approval allows you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you are a serious buyer.”

In the game of chess, a strong opening move signals to your opponent that you’re a serious competitor. As a homebuyer, your pre-approval letter signals to the seller that you’re a serious, interested buyer.

Homebuying: It’s a Team Game, Not a Single-Player Experience

Every step you take to create your strategy as a buyer is important in today’s market. Why? Mortgage rates are still low, but increasing. Prices are going up. There’s a limited supply of homes for sale. These are just a few key variables in today’s market you need to be prepared for.

That means leaning on expert guidance as you plan every move is more important than ever. Have a team of professionals – like your trusted real estate agent and a loan officer – every step of the way to make sure you make the right moves.

Bottom Line

Getting a pre-approval letter isn’t just good strategy, it can be game-changing. It allows you a full understanding of what you can afford, and it signals to sellers that you’re serious. I work with some incredible mortgage officers who we can trust through and through to guide you every step of the way. Give a call/text 508-930-5259 or reach out through the contact form today and let’s connect to get you on right path to homeownership.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 

Will Home Sales Surge this Winter?

Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before.

Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before. | MyKCM

Like most industries, residential real estate has a seasonality to it. For example, toy stores sell more toys in October, November, and December than they do in any other three-month span throughout the year. More cars are sold in the U.S. during the second quarter (April, May, and June) than in any other quarter of the year.

Real estate is very similar. The number of homes sold in the spring is almost always much greater than at any other time of the year. It’s even labeled as the spring buying season. Historically, the number of buyers and listings for sale significantly increase in the spring and remains strong throughout the summer. Once fall sets in, the number of buyers and sellers typically drops off.

Last year, however, that seasonality didn’t happen. The outbreak of the virus and subsequent slowing of the economy limited sales during the spring market. These sales were pushed back later in the year, and last fall and winter saw a dramatic increase in home sales over previous years. The only thing that held the market back was the extremely limited supply of homes for sale.

What About This Winter?

Some experts thought we’d return to the industry’s normal seasonality this winter with both the number of purchasers and houses available for sale falling off. However, data now shows that neither of those situations will likely occur. Buyer demand is still extremely strong, and it appears we may soon see a somewhat uncharacteristic increase in the number of homes coming to the market.

Buyer Demand Remains Strong
Home Sales About To Surge? We May See a Winter Like Never Before. | MyKCM

The latest Showing Index from ShowingTime, which tracks the average number of monthly showings on available homes, indicates buyer activity was slightly lower than at the same time last year but much higher than any of the three previous years (see chart below):A report from realtor.com confirms buying activity remains strong in the existing home sales market:

“New housing data shows 2021’s feverish home sales pace broke a yearly record in October, . . . with last month marking the eighth straight month of buyers snatching up homes more quickly than the fastest pace in previous years. . . .”

Buyer activity for newly constructed homes is also very strong. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zondarecently reported that Stuart Miller, the Executive Chairman of Lennar, one of the nation’s largest home builders, said this about demand:

“There is still a great deal of demand at our sales centers with people lining up and not enough supply.”

The only question heading into this winter is whether the number of listings available could come close to meeting this buyer demand. We may have just received the answer to that question.

Sellers Are About To List – Right Now

Instead of waiting for the normal spring buying market, new research indicates that homeowners thinking about selling are about to put their homes on the market this winter.

Speaking to the release of a report on this recent research, George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research for realtor.com, said:

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception. Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.

Here are some highlights in the report:

Of homeowners planning to enter the market in the next year:

  • 65% – Have just listed (19%) or plan to list this winter
  • 93% – Have already taken steps toward listing their home, including working with an agent (28%)
  • 36% – Have researched the value of their home and others in their neighborhood
  • 36% – Have started making repairs or decluttering

The report also discusses the reasons sellers want to move:

  • 33% – Have realized they want different home features
  • 37% – Say their home no longer meets their family’s needs
  • 32% – Want to move closer to friends and family
  • 23% – Are looking for a home office

Data shows buyer demand remains unusually strong going into this winter. Research indicates the supply of inventory is about to increase. This could be a winter real estate market like never before.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, now is the time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a real estate professional in your market, as things are about to change in an unexpected way.



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Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 


Winter Home Sales expected to surge.

We owe them all

Thank you to all of the men and women who serve our country and to their family members and friends who support them! “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is home of the brave.” Feeling the utmost respect, honor, and gratitude for your dedication and service to keeping us free and safe. Happy Veterans Day.

No Wave of Foreclosures this Time

Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way

With forbearance plans coming to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures similar to what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are a few reasons why that won’t happen.

There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time.

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their homes to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way | MyKCM

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the fear was the pandemic would impact the housing industry in a similar way. Many projected up to 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. In reality, only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 2.2%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,221,000. That’s far fewer than the 9.3 million households that lost their homes just over a decade ago.

Most of the mortgages in forbearance have enough equity to sell their homes

Due to rapidly rising home prices over the last two years, of the 1.22 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 93% have at least 10% equity in their homes. This 10% equity is important because it enables homeowners to sell their homes and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 7% might not have the option to sell, but if the entire 7% of those 1.22 million homes went into foreclosure, that would total about 85,400 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers for the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures that impacted the housing crash 15 years ago. It’s actually less than one-third of any of the three years prior to the pandemic.

The current market can absorb listings coming to the market

Why a Wave of Foreclosures Is Not on the Way | MyKCM

When foreclosures hit the market back in 2008, there was an oversupply of houses for sale. It’s exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was over a nine-month supply of listings on the market. Today, that number is less than a three-month supply. Here’s a graph showing the difference between the two markets.

Bottom Line

The data indicates why Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman and Associates, was on point when she stated:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jen-headshot-2021.jpg

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 


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Spiked Cranberry Punch

You’ll be thankful I shared my favorite punch recipe in time for Thanksgiving this year!!

This incredible combination of homemade cranberry juice, apple juice, sparking wine and Fireball is a total crowd pleaser – I had you at Fireball didn’t I? 🙂

Always a bit hit with family and friends on Thanksgiving because it is absolutely delicious, not too sweet, and looks beautiful on the table and in people’s hands as they carried them around (though they didn’t get too far before finishing!)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ gallon water
½ gallon apple juice, chilled
16 ounce cinnamon whiskey (Fireball) , chilled
1 bottle sparkling wine, chilled
Fresh apples
Fresh oranges
Additional fresh cranberries  for garnish
Cinnamon sticks for garnish

PREPARATION

1. Combine cranberries, sugar, and water over medium-high heat, and cook until berries are completely soft and “mushy”.  They will “pop” , cook down,  and become soft in about 10 minutes.

2. Strain and set aside to completely cool before adding to the punch.

cranberry-apple-whiskey-punch-and-turket

3. Thinly slice the apples and oranges and layer into a punch bowl.  Add cranberry juice, apple juice, and whiskey and stir gently to combine.

4. Pour in bottle of sparkling wine and add some cranberries for an additional colorful garnish.

5. Serve and enjoy!

The punch went great with my Butterball!

* Juice, Fireball whiskey, and sparkling wine should be chilled prior to making punch.  To keep punch cold without diluting with ice, freeze apple juice in a ring  or ice cube tray and float in the punch.

This homemade punch is delicious and could not be easier to make.  As an added bonus, my daughters and I discovered a new use for our left over bags of cranberries from Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Cooking a bag of cranberries with a half gallon of water and a cup of sugar actually makes an awesome batch of cranberry juice.  Never would have thought about it before making this recipe!!  I bet it would make a nice non-alcoholic punch as well by adding sparkling apple cider and cinnamon sticks.   Looking forward to trying that next!

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 


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Happily serving my clients throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod & the Islands.

Appraisals and Inspections – What you need to know

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections

Buyers in today’s market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That’s because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.

But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it’s critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is a critical step for securing a mortgage on your home. As Home Light explains:

Knowledge Is Power When It Comes to Appraisals and Inspections | MyKCM

“. . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments.”

Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer’s contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today’s market, it’s common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Home Inspection

Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:

“Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.”

If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.

Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.

Bottom Line

Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home’s value and condition. Let’s connect so you have an expert guiding you throughout the entire process.

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 


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Happily serving my clients throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod & the Islands.

What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know about the Appraisal Gap

It’s economy 101 – when supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally rise. That is the simple principle that accounts for today’s housing market. Home prices are appreciating at near-historic rates, and that’s creating some challenges when it comes to home appraisals.

In recent months, it’s become increasingly common for an appraisal to come in below the contract price on the house. Shawn Telford, Chief Appraiser for CoreLogic, explains it like this:

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | MyKCM

Recently, we observed buyers paying prices above listing price and higher than the market data available to appraisers can support. This difference is known as ‘the appraisal gap . . . ’”

Why does an appraisal gap happen?

Basically, with the heightened buyer demand, purchasers are often willing to pay over asking to secure the home of their dreams. If you’ve ever toured a house you’ve fallen in love with, you understand. Once you start to picture yourself and your furniture in the rooms, you want to do everything you can to land the property, including putting in a high offer to try to beat out other would-be buyers.

When the appraiser comes in, they look at things a bit more objectively. Their job is to assess the inherent value of the home, so they’re going to study the facts. Dustin Harris, Appraiser Coach, drives this point home:

It’s important for everyone to understand that the appraiser’s job in the end is to remain that unbiased third party, to truly tell the client what that home is worth in the current market, regardless of what decisions have been made on the price side of things.”

In simple terms, while homebuyers may be willing to pay more, appraisers are there to assess the market value of the home. Their goal is to make sure the lender isn’t loaning more money than the home is worth. It’s objective, rather than emotional.

In a highly competitive market like today’s, having a discrepancy between the two numbers isn’t unusual. Here’s a look at the increasing rate of appraisal gaps, according to data from  CoreLogic (see graph below):

What Buyers and Sellers Need To Know About the Appraisal Gap | MyKCM

What does this mean for you?

Ultimately, knowledge is power. The best thing you can do is understand appraisal gaps may impact your transaction if you’re buying or selling. If you do encounter an appraisal below your contract price, know that in today’s sellers’ market, the most common approach is for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference in price. Buyers, be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Above all else, lean on your real estate agent. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, your trusted advisor is your ally if you come up against an appraisal gap. We’ll help you understand your options and handle any additional negotiations that need to happen.

Bottom Line

In today’s real estate market, it’s important to stay informed on the latest trends. Let’s connect so you have an ally to help you navigate an appraisal gap to get the best possible outcome.

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 


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Serving clients throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod & the Islands.

How Upset Should you be about 3% Mortgage Rates?

Last Thursday, Freddie Mac announced that their 30-year fixed mortgage rate was over 3% (3.02%) for the first time since last July. That news dominated real estate headlines that day and the next. Articles talked about the “negative impact” it may have on the housing market. However, we should realize two things:

1. The bump-up in rate should not have surprised anyone. Many had already projected that rates would rise slightly as we proceeded through the year.

2. Freddie Mac’s comments about the rate increase were not alarming:

“The rise in mortgage rates over the next couple of months is likely to be more muted in comparison to the last few weeks, and we expect a strong spring sales season.”

A “muted” rise in rates will not sink the real estate market, and most experts agree that it will be a strong spring sales season.”

What does this mean for you?

How Upset Should You Be about 3% Mortgage Rates? | MyKCM

Obviously, any buyer would rather mortgage rates not rise at all, as any upward movement increases their monthly mortgage payment. However, let’s put a 3.02% rate into perspective. Here are the Freddie Mac annual mortgage rates for the last five years:

  • 2016: 3.65%
  • 2017: 3.99%
  • 2018: 4.54%
  • 2019: 3.94%
  • 2020: 3.11%

Though 3.02% is not as great as the sub-3% rates we saw over the previous seven weeks, it’s still very close to the all-time low (2.66% in December 2020).

And, if we expand our look at mortgage rates to consider the last 50 years, we can see that today’s rate is truly outstanding. Here are the rates over the last five decades:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.7%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%
  • 2010s: 4.09%

Being upset that you missed the “best mortgage rate ever” is understandable. However, buying now still makes more sense than waiting, especially if rates continue to bump up this year.

Bottom Line

It’s true that you may not get the same rate you would have five weeks ago. However, you will get a better rate than what was possible at almost any other point in history. Let’s connect today so we can plan your home search and allow you to lock in a great rate while they remain this low.

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 

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Serving clients throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod & the Islands.

Boston – Attleboro – Providence – Cape Cod … and the Communities in between.

Simple, Sweet, and Spicy Pear Salsa

rachels black bean salsa

I am still a huge fan of my favorite Black Bean and Corn Salsa.  This year-round delicious pleaser continues to wow crowds whether at a backyard BBQ, sitting poolside, or snuggled onto the couch to watch the Super Bowl.  BUT, I now have another fresh tasting salsa recipe that a good friend introduced me to.   I could easily devour (and have devoured – sorry Jess!) an entire the bowl if left in front of me.

Weight Watchers Pear Chutney

I am now officially adding this Easy Pear Salsa to my list of favorite recipes.  The sweetness from the pears, the acid from the lime juice, along with the hot spiciness from the jalapenos is just perfect.  Awesome on a tortilla chip or something sweet and spicy to liven up blackened fish or chicken – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

This recipe is definitely worth bringing to any picnic, cookout, or holiday gathering !!  (Jess mentioned that her recipe came from Weight Watchers – the photo from the Weight Watchers site to the left will link you to their “Pear Chutney”.  I’m thinking if I called it chutney, I  might not get as many people willing to try it 🙂 . )

Ingredients:

2 ripe Bosc or Anjou pears diced to fit on a chip (I leave the skins on)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 finely chopped jalapeno (no seeds)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I dice them small again to fit on a chip. If you do chop them, don’t be surprised that your dip turns pink )
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (one lime)
approx 1/2 teaspoon salt (add a little at a time to taste)

Directions:
Chop pears, cilantro, jalapeno, red onion, and cranberries.
Add to bowl. Toss gently.
Add fresh lime juice. Add salt to taste. Gently toss.
Let sit 10-15 minutes.

Serve.

Awesome with tortilla chips, Triscuits with Brie cheese, fish, blackened chicken or just in a spoon!!

It is my true pleasure to  work hard for my clients and your real estate referrals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod.  Please let me know what questions you may have and how I can be of the best assistance to you.

Jennifer McMorran, Realtor, SRES
New Construction & First Time Home Buyer Specialist
MA, RI, and Cape Cod & Islands Licensed Real Estate Sales Associate
New Homes Team Kensington Real Estate Brokerage
508-930-5259
Jen.McMorran@gmail.com
www.jenmcmorran.realtor
real people. real estate. 

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Serving clients throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod & the Islands.

Boston – Attleboro – Providence – Cape Cod … and the Communities in between.