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 Economist, explained 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.”

Housing Market Expected To “Spring Forward” This Year

Housing Market Expected To "Spring Forward" This Year | MyKCM

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with the recent increase in rates, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Many more buyers are jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2017 all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2018, let’s get together to evaluate the opportunities in our market.

Seated Stretching Routine

7 Stretches that Reduce Stiffness and Tension
  — By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor
When you spend a lot of time sitting, especially at a desk or computer, it’s important to take stretch breaks. A couple of breaks each day will help you stay alert and keep stiffness at bay. This set of stretches is perfect for people who are already sitting or those who prefer to stay seated for balance reasons. Make sure the chair you are using is sturdy. Remember never to stretch to the point of pain. For more stretching tips and guidelines, refer to our Reference Guide to Stretching.

Hold each stretch listed for 15-30 seconds, repeating two or three times, depending on how you feel. For detailed instructions and larger photos, click on the name of each stretch. Please note that while some of these stretches depict various body positions, you can perform these upper body stretches while sitting in a chair.

Neck Stretch
Sit or stand with shoulders relaxed, back straight. Bring your left ear toward your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head toward the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale in a slow and controlled manner.

Chest and Biceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms. With arms straight, lift arms up behind you while keeping your back straight and your shoulders down. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears.

Triceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Place your left elbow in your right hand. Reach your left arm overhead, placing palm on the center of your back and supporting the elbow in your right hand. Reach your fingertips down your spine. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Repeat with opposite arm.

Shoulder Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Bring your left arm across your chest, holding it below the elbow with your opposite. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.

Wrist and Biceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Extend left arm in front of you, palm facing outward and fingertips pointing downward. Use your right hand to apply light pressure to the hand, as if pulling your fingertips toward your elbow. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.

Wrist and Forearm Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Extend left arm in front of you, palm facing outward and fingertips pointing upward. Use your right hand to apply light pressure to the hand, as if pulling your fingertips toward your shoulder. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.

Torso Stretch
Clasp hands together and slowly raise them above your head toward the ceiling. Reach as high as you can while inhaling deeply and hold for 20-30 seconds. Bring your hands down slowly while exhaling.


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Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

Renting or Buying?Either Way, You're Paying Someone's Mortgage | MyKCM

There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

7 Places Germs Hide at Your Gym

Where They Lurk & How to Avoid Them
  — By Melissa Rudy, Staff Writer
You hit the gym to improve your fitness, not to pick up sickness. But with the combination of sweat, humidity, shared equipment and confined spaces, health clubs can be hotbeds for germs. From the common cold to hepatitis A to Novovirus, there could be dozens of bacteria and viruses lurking in, on and around your favorite workout gear—some of which can live for days on hard surfaces. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that 63 percent of workout equipment was contaminated with rhinoviruses (RVs), which are known to cause the common cold as well as upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

This doesn’t mean you should stop going to the gym—the benefits far outweigh the risks. With the right awareness and precautions, you can still get your sweat on without bringing home any unwelcome companions. The first step to avoiding gym germs is knowing where they live. Below are some of their favorite health club hangouts, along with precautions you can take to protect yourself.

Hotspot #1: Water Fountains

Studies have found that water fountains can actually harbor more bacteria than toilets, as their wet surface makes them a breeding ground for germs. The basin is most likely to be contaminated, but the handle may also contain some nasty microbes.

The safest way to hydrate is to bring your own water bottle. If you must use the fountain, follow these precautions: Turn it on for a few seconds before drinking from it, don’t let your mouth come in direct contact with the spigot, touch only the handle and wash your hands afterward.

Hotspot #2: Locker Rooms and Showers

Germs thrive in wet, humid areas–putting locker rooms and showers right in the danger zone. The biggest threat is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that can cause skin infections. Showers can also pass along warts, ringworm, strep, athlete’s foot and other not-so-fun fungi.

The best way to stay safe is to shower at home—but if you must lather up in the locker room, wear flip-flops to avoid coming in direct contact with floor-dwelling microbes (and to prevent slipping). Other best practices include bringing your own antimicrobial soap and shampoo, drying your feet thoroughly after showering, and wearing a towel when sitting in the steam room or sauna.

Hotspot #3: Yoga Mats

Next time you’re doing crunches or settling into your favorite stretch, consider that your exercise mat most likely absorbed the sweat and germs of whoever last sweated on it. The best precaution is to bring your own mat. If you must use a shared mat, wipe it down with a disinfecting spray before and after each use, and place a towel on the mat as an extra germ barrier.

Hotspot #4: Cardio Machines

Treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes are great for burning calories, but the trade-off could be a burning fever later. To reduce the threat, use hand sanitizer after your workout. Most gyms provide sanitizing spray to wipe down machines before and after each use.

Hotspot #5: Weight Machines & Free Weights

As people do full-body exercises with shared weight machines, there’s a bigger chance of spreading germ-filled sweat. Again, sanitizer is the best defense: Spray down and wipe each machine before and after each use, and apply hand sanitizer between sets.

Hotspot #6: Gym Bags

In addition to clothes and gear, your gym bag could pick up some unwelcome passengers—like E. coli, Norovirus and staph—through contact with benches and floors. To prevent this, choose a bag in a material that’s less germ-friendly, such as plastic or vinyl, and wipe it down with disinfecting spray when you get home. Store sweaty clothes in a separate plastic bag.

Hotspot #7: Towels

Even if the gym’s towels have been washed, they could have picked up bacteria or viruses from baskets, benches or lockers. To stay clean, dry and germ-free, bring your own towels from home: One to absorb sweat during workouts and another if you’re showering.

Quick Tips for Germ-Free Workouts

  • Before choosing a new gym, take a tour and check to make sure it’s clean and well-ventilated. Ask about the gym’s policies for day-to-day cleaning of equipment and machines.
  • Keep any cuts covered with a moisture-resistant bandage during workouts. Most infections enter the skin through lacerations.
  • Bring your own water bottle, mat, towels, boxing gloves and toiletries.
  • Wipe down all cardio and weight machines with sanitizing spray before and after using.
  • Wear flip-flops in the shower and locker room.
  • Wear a towel when sitting in the steam room or sauna.
  • Even if you plan to shower at home, wash your hands before leaving the gym.
  • Store sweaty workout clothes separately from other items.
  • Spray your gym bag with sanitizing spray and wipe it down after each use.
  • If you notice any skin irritations, such as a rash or red, painful area, contact a doctor to check for possible infection.

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Will 20% Soon Be the Minimum Down Payment on a Home?

Increased CostSeveral government agencies are reviewing data to determine what will be the minimum down payment required under the new Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) guidelines scheduled to be revealed in the next few months. In the original Mortgage Market Note issued by the FHFA, it was suggested that loan-to-value (the percentage of the overall purchase price which was being borrowed) was a major factor in determining if a loan would default:

“For most origination years, requirements for borrower credit score and loan-to-value ratio are the factors that most reduce the ever-90-day delinquency rate of mortgages acquired by the Enterprises that would have met the proposed QRM standards.”

The note then made the following proposal:

“An LTV ratio qualified residential mortgage must meet a minimum LTV ratio that varies according to the purpose for which the mortgage was originated. For home purchase mortgages, rate and term refinances, and cash-out refinances, the LTV ratios are 80, 75, and 70 percent, respectively.”

Basically, the original note suggested that a 20% down payment should be the new guideline. We realize that there has been much debate on this issue since and that the minimum down payment required under the new QRM guidelines will probably be less than 20%. However, we can’t know for sure.

Bloomberg reported last week:

“The six regulators drafting the separate QRM rule, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission, must decide whether to include such a requirement — and whether to make it less than the 20 percent they originally proposed.”

Will it be more difficult to qualify for a mortgage after the new QRM rules are announced? Probably

As David Stevens, President of the Mortgage Bankers Association said during a speech in Washington on Jan. 16:

“I have consistently warned of the regulatory tidal wave to come and it’s finally upon us. These changes will impact business operations and the future of mortgage access for years to come.”

13 Naturally Green (and Good-for-You) Recipes

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with These Healthy Dishes
  — By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year when it’s easy to be green! Unfortunately most of the popular green foods are simply tinted with dye… and aren’t very nutritious. While a green beer can have a place in an otherwise healthy eating plan, we thought it would be more fun to round up food that are naturally green–and good for you!

Be sure to “Pin” this graphic for easy reference.

Artichoke-Spinach Dip: This creamy, dreamy dip is packed with two green veggies. Good hot or cold, it’s the hit of any party.

Basil-Avocado Spread: What do you get when you mix guacamole with pesto? This delicious spread, which is equally scrumptious on sandwiches, pasta and crackers as it is with raw veggie dunkers.

Classic Spinach Dip
: This classic dip is made healthier with a whole package of frozen spinach, plus water chestnuts for crunch. Serve it cold in a whole-grain bread bowl, and tear off bits to eat with the dip.

Creamy Asparagus Soup
: This spring vegetable yields a rich yet light soup that’s the perfect hue for a St. Paddy’s Day bash. We like it topped with chopped ham.

Creamy Pesto: While pesto is usually heavy on the oil, this version swaps in a light cheese–and adds plenty of garlic and spinach for a nutrition boost. You could serve it over pasta (we like penne) or with crackers for a snack.

Greek Spinach Pie (Spanikopita): Make flaky pastry and salty feta a bit healthier by adding a whole bunch of spinach to the mix. Suddenly a savory pastry becomes a more saintly dish.

Mushy Peas with Dill: Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed peas, which pair perfectly with fresh summertime herbs like dill or parsley. These “mushy” peas are a traditional side in the emerald isle.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus: Paper-thin slices of salty prosciutto are the perfect contrast to crisp, fresh asparagus. This easy dish turns a cherished vegetable to festive hors d’oeuvres without many calories.

Spinach Cheese Pie: Spinach and cheese are such a great pairing that we had to share two versions. This recipe yields a cross between spanakopita and a quiche, making it a filling side dish.

Tabbouleh: Brighten up bulgur with fresh herbs and chopped vegetables. This hearty salad is a nice balance to salty corned beef.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde: The mild flavor of tomatillos pairs well with other green ingredients like cilantro and jalapenos. This salsa is great with veggies and chips–or use it as an enchilada sauce!

Vegan Cilantro Pesto: Cilantro lightens and brightens olive tapenade to create a fun take on pesto. Spread on crackers, use as a pasta sauce, or add a dollop to grilled chicken or fish.

Vegetarian Collard Wraps: Ditch the tortilla and wrap your burrito in a steamed collard leaf to cut calories and carbs. You can actually use this tactic for all your favorite sandwiches and wraps. These are a fun presentation for a St. Patrick’s Day party–or any special occasion.

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4 Reasons to Sell This Spring

4 Reasons to Sell This Spring [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale which means that buyers are often competing with one another for the few listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed to sustain a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

Are Home Values Really Overinflated?

Are Home Values Really Overinflated? | MyKCM

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their most recent Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report:

“The median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $240,500, up 5.8 percent from January 2017 ($227,300). January’s price increase marks the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains.”

Seventy-one consecutive months of price increases may have some concerned that current home values may be overinflated.

However, at the same time, Zillow issued a press release which revealed:

“If the housing bubble and bust had not happened, and home values had instead appreciated at a steady pace, the median home value would be higher than its current value.”

Here are two graphs that help show why home prices are exactly where they should be.

The first graph shows actual median home sales prices from 2000 through 2017.

Are Home Values Really Overinflated? | MyKCM

By itself, this graph could heighten concerns as it shows home values rose in the early 2000s, came tumbling down and are now headed up again. It gives the feel of a rollercoaster ride that is about to take another turn downward.

However, if we also include where prices would naturally be, had there not been a boom & bust, we see a different story.

Are Home Values Really Overinflated? | MyKCM

The blue bars on this graph represent where prices would be if they had increased by the normal annual appreciation rate (3.6%). By adding 3.6% to the actual 2000 price and repeating that for each subsequent year, we can see that prices were overvalued during the boom, undervalued during the bust, and a little bit LOWER than where they should be right now.

Bottom Line

Based on historic appreciation levels, we should be very comfortable that current home values are not overinflated.


Why It’s Important to Focus on What You Gain in Weight Loss

  — By Sara Lindberg
People jump into health and fitness plans for a lot of reasons—maybe a new diet promising amazing benefits has been floating around social media, perhaps it’s part of your new job’s health incentive program or you’ve been roped into a monthly challenge with your best friend. Whatever the reason, if you’re anything like the millions of Americans who go full-force into a healthy eating and exercise program, though, there’s a good chance you’ll lose motivation and regain any lost weight when the initial excitement wears off.

The real question then becomes, why do we keep looking for the “best” diet plan—you know, the one that will finally be the answer to every weight-loss roadblock—without first addressing the real reason why you want to lose weight?

What Is Your “Why” for Wanting to Lose Weight?

Most diet programs focus only on the “what” of weight loss. Participants have a list of foods they can and cannot eat and losing weight is the only pre-determined outcome. Goals are set based on the answer to one question: “How much weight do you want to lose?”

And consequently, your success is measured by the scale, not by how you feel. Unfortunately, when your focus is only on what you want to lose, the results are often short-lived. After all, physical appearance can only bring you so far—real happiness lies in a healthy lifestyle and positive body image.

Shifting your focus from what you want to lose to what you want to gain, or your “why,” is no easy feat, though. Ditching the fixed diet mindset can be difficult— especially if your value comes from external sources like your doctor, spouse, friends or societal expectations.

So, what should you do instead?

According to NASM-certified trainer Dani Singer, director of Fit2Go Personal Training, the key is to forget about all of the external sources telling you (be it directly or indirectly) to lose weight and figure out why you, as an individual, want to get in shape. Defining your “why” before you decide which weight-loss program to commit to is often the single-most important step you can take if you want to achieve lasting change.

But here’s the catch: Your “why” can’t just be, “I want to lose weight.” You need to dig deeper and find out why you actually care enough to proactively work toward self-improvement.

“Your why is everything,” says Singer. “If you don’t understand exactly how your weight-loss goals are going to affect the important areas of your life, you’re going to drop off as soon as you hit the first road bump.”

From a psychological perspective, the “why” behind human behavior is as important, if not more, than the “what.” That’s because when you target a deeper motivation for why you want to lose weight, you’re able to target the behavior (the what) that will help you reach your goals.

“Chronic dieting and a weight loss focus are two of the barriers to shedding weight and keeping it off, as well as [being] major promoters of weight-cycling and the despair felt by many people who struggle with food and the scale,” says intuitive eating counselor Paige O’Mahoney, M.D.

She explains that weight loss is an external goal and doesn’t work as well as internal goals such as living a healthy lifestyle and a commitment to consistent self-care, body appreciation and self-kindness.

Moreover, she says, weight-loss as a goal puts the emphasis on the end of a process, whereas focusing on habits such as tuning into hunger and satiety signals, practicing kind and motivating self-talk, and nutritious eating, focus on the process itself.

Defining Your “Why”

If you are struggling to define your “why” one thing to consider is whether or not you have a personal or emotional investment in what you are trying to accomplish. If the answer is “no,” then you need to go back to the drawing board and start over. Try asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Why is losing weight important to me?
  2. Why does that reason matter?
  3. Why do I feel strongly about that reason?

Once you have determined your “why,” the motivation to change should be obvious. Singer recommends envisioning your life and detailing exactly what is going to be different as a result of achieving your goals. People who are intrinsically motivated are far more successful than those who are only motivated by extrinsic rewards.

What if your only driving force is that you really just want to lose weight, though? How do you adjust your mindset? While it’s easy to say, “I want to lose weight because I want to be healthy, so I’ll never drink another diet soda or eat another cookie again,” it’s rarely realistic. Realistic goals lead to a realistic life, so do your best to set manageable goals that will eventually result in sustainable change.

“It’s important to set realistic goals, that you can achieve easily in the first few weeks so you have success—even if it’s small—which can help motivate you to keep moving forward,” explains nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto, M.S., R.D. When you’re ready and willing to reset your “why,” consider the end first. What will be easier when you lose weight? How will your health improve? How will your overall wellness benefit? Will your happiness improve?

Shifting your focus from what you want to lose (i.e., 20 pounds) to what you want to gain—more energy, improved physical and mental health, more quality time with family, etc.—will help you stay on track when you inevitably encounter setbacks.

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