Our BLOG

Useful information for home buyers and sellers.

 

April 1, 2021

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighborhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.

 

SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT 

Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without any professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expect from either of these options.


For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers the opportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction, showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his or her real estate agent. According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, approximately 8% of homes are sold by their owner.1

In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty of buyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in your home. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’s commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the home appropriately. Without access to information about the comparable properties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home (causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home (leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2 

Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBO homes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-represented properties.3 This suggests that, while you may think that you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

Without the services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you to get people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for the online listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’s buyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professional photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer and graphic designer to do so.

Once someone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings and develop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule an in-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potential buyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offers and determining their financial viability. You’ll need to thoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies and discuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection and closing process. 

While you’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh your potential savings against the significant risk and effort involved. 

If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.


iBuyer

iBuyers have been on the scene since around 2015, providing sellers the option of a direct purchase from a real estate investment company rather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4 iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable, streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.

The idea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, the homeowner completes an online form with information about the property’s location and features, then waits for an offer from the company. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’s located in a good neighborhood—one that’s easy to flip and falls within the company’s algorithm.

For sellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer may offer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale. That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make an upfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations. 

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent’s commission. According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5 Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees and associated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estate agent’s commission.6 

In a hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll lose out on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increased demand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable during times of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operations for most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping your transaction in its tracks.

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can still explore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage of the added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying the protection and security of having a professional negotiating on your behalf.

 

BUYING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

According to the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estate agent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’s agent is with you every step of the way through the home buying process. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part is that, because they are compensated through a commission paid by the homeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no cost to you!

Still, you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with the neighborhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is no reason to get a buyer’s agent involved.

However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situation where you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefully crafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process can get emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. In addition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process that listing agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.

If you decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, and negotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need to schedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you will need to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent and your lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other related parties along the way.

Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whose commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, for most people, their most important and consequential financial decision.

 

 

SO, IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

It is important for you to understand your options and think through your preferences when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating under high-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you. 

However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like an experienced professional to manage the process, you will probably experience far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker. 

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, as well. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5 And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.

According to NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’s representation and would recommend them to others.1 That’s why, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellers find the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS

The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

 

Sources:

  1. National Association of REALTORS –
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
  2. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/09/factors-consider-when-determining-whether-use-an-agent-buy-or-sell-home/
  3. National Association of REALTORS –
    https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think
  4. Seattle Times –
    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/redfin-is-first-major-ibuyer-to-sell-in-seattle
  5. MarketWatch –
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11
  6. Forbes –
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliakarayaneva/2020/03/19/billion-dollar-real-estate-businesses-ibuyer-suspended/?sh=c7f59f921747
  7.  
March 1, 2021

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

While many areas of the economy have contracted, the housing market has stayed remarkably strong. But can the good news last?

When COVID-related shutdowns began in March, real estate brokers and clients scrambled to respond to the shift. Record-low interest rates caused some lenders to call a halt to new underwriting, and homeowners debated whether or not to put their houses on the market. However, those first days of uncertainty ushered in a period of unprecedented demand in the U.S. real estate market, which ended the year with increasing average home prices (up 13.4% from the previous year) and shrinking days on market (13 fewer than in 2019).1

Now, as the spring market approaches, you may be wondering whether the good times can continue to roll on. If you’re a homeowner, should you take advantage of this opportunity? If you’re a buyer, should you jump in and risk paying too much? Below we answer some of your most pressing questions.

 

How is today’s market different from the one that caused the 2008 meltdown?

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of an economic recession and an ensuing mortgage meltdown were top of mind for homeowners all across the country. For many buyers and sellers, the two seemed to go hand in hand, just as they did in the 2008 economic crisis.

In reality, however, the conditions that led to 2008’s recession were very different from those that triggered the current downturn—and this time, the housing market is the source of much of the good news.2 This is in line with historical patterns, as housing prices traditionally hold steady in the face of recession, with homeowners staying put and investors putting their money into bricks and mortar to ride out uncertainty in the stock market.

This time around, because of lessons learned in 2008, banks are better funded, homeowners are holding more accrued equity, and, crucially, much of the economic activity is focused on financial factors outside the housing market. As many industries quickly pivoted to work-from-home, early fears of widespread job loss-related foreclosures have failed to materialize. Federal stimulus payments and the Paycheck Protection Program also helped to offset some of the worst early effects of the shutdown.

 

Are we facing a real estate bubble?

A real estate bubble can occur when there is a rapid and unjustified increase in housing prices, often triggered by speculation from investors. Because the bubble is (in a sense) filled with “hot air,” it pops—and a swift drop in value occurs. This leads to reduced equity or, in some cases, negative equity conditions.

By contrast, the current rise in home prices is based on the predictable results of historically low interest rates and widespread low inventory. Basically, the principle of supply and demand is working just as it’s supposed to do. In addition, experts predict a strong seller’s market throughout 2021 along with increases in new construction.3 This should allow supply to gradually rise and fulfill demand, slowing the rate of inflation for home values and offering a gentle correction where needed.

Effects of low interest rates

According to Freddie Mac, rates are projected to continue at their current low levels throughout 2021.4 This contributes to home affordability even in markets where homes might otherwise be considered overpriced. These low interest rates should keep the market lively and moving forward for the foreseeable future.

Effects of low inventory

Continuing low inventory is another reason for higher-than-average home prices in many markets.5 This should gradually ease as an aggressive vaccination rollout and continuing buyer demand drive more homeowners to move forward with long-delayed sales plans and as new home construction increases to meet demand.6

 

Aren’t some markets and sectors looking particularly weak?

One of the big stories of 2020 was a mass exodus from attached home communities and high-priced urban areas as both young professionals and families fled to the larger square footage and wide-open spaces of suburban and rural markets. This trend was reinforced by work-from-home policies that became permanent at some of the country’s biggest companies.

Speculation then turned to the death of cities and the end of the condo market. However, it appears that rumors of the demise of these two residential sectors have been greatly exaggerated.

With the first vaccine rollouts, renters have begun returning to major urban centers, attracted by the sudden rise in available inventory and newly discounted rental rates.7 In addition, buyers who were previously laser-focused on a single-family home responded to tight inventory by taking a second look at condos.8 While nationwide condo prices continue to lag behind those of detached homes, they’ve still seen significant price increases and days on market reductions year over year.

In addition to these improvements, the 2020 migration has spread the economic wealth to distant suburban and rural enclaves that normally don’t benefit from increases in home values or an influx of new investment. As many of these new residents set up housekeeping in their rural retreats, they’ll revitalize the economies of their adopted communities for years to come.

 

How has COVID affected the “seasonal” real estate market?

Frequently, the real estate market is seen as a seasonal phenomenon. However, the widespread shutdowns in March 2020, coming right at the beginning of the market’s growth cycle in many areas, has led to a protracted, seemingly endless “hot spring market.”

While Fannie Mae’s chief economist Douglas Duncan predicts slower growth from 2020’s historic numbers, the outlook overall is positive as we embark on the 2021 spring selling cycle.9 Duncan anticipates an additional lift in the second half of 2021 as buyers return to business as usual and look to put some of their pandemic savings to work for a down payment. Thus, we could be looking at another longer-than-usual, white-hot real estate market.

 

How will a Biden administration affect the real estate market?

Projected policy around housing promises to be a boost to the real estate market in many cases.10 While some real estate investors bemoan proposed changes to 1031 Exchanges, the Biden plan for a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit aims to increase affordability and bring eager new home buyers into the market. In addition, Biden-proposed policy pinpoints low inventory as a primary driver of unsustainable home values and is geared toward more affordability through investments in construction and refurbishment.

Overall, according to most indicators, the real estate news looks overwhelmingly positive throughout the rest of 2021 and possibly beyond. Pent-up demand and consumer-driven policies, along with a continued low-interest-rate environment and rising inventory, should help homeowners hold on to their increased equity without throwing the market out of balance. In addition, the increase in long-term work-from-home policies promises to give a boost to a wide variety of markets, both now and in the years to come.

 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand what’s happening in your neighborhood. Reach out to learn how these larger movements affect our local market and your home’s value.

 

Sources:

  1. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/research/december-2020-data/
  2. New York Magazine –
    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/why-this-economic-crisis-wont-be-as-bad-as-2008.html
  3. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/11/2021-housing-market-predictions/
  4. Freddie Mac –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20210114_quarterly_economic_forecast.page?
  5. Wall Street Journal –
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/housing-market-stays-tight-as-homeowners-stay-put-11611226802?mod=re_lead_pos1
  6. Marketwatch –
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-construction-activity-soars-to-highest-level-in-over-a-decade-as-builders-rush-to-produce-single-family-homes-2021-01-21
  7. Forbes –
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2021/01/14/signs-of-a-rebound-new-york-city-rent-prices-are-climbing-back
  8. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/07/condo-sales-rebound-amid-dwindling-inventory-houses/
  9. Mortgage Professional America –
    https://www.mpamag.com/news/fannie-mae-chief-economists-forecast-for-us-economy-housing-market-in-2021-244045.aspx
  10. Inman –
    https://www.inman.com/2020/11/09/what-a-joe-biden-presidency-means-for-real-estate-and-housing/
Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 3, 2021

5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodeling Trends for 2021

 

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home over the past year. And for many of us, our homes have become our office, our classroom, our gym—and most importantly, our safe haven during times of uncertainty. So it’s no surprise to see that design trends for 2021 revolve around soothing color palettes, cozy character, and quiet retreats.

Even if you don’t have immediate plans to buy or sell your home, we advise our clients to be mindful of modern design preferences when planning a remodel or even redecorating. Over-personalized or unpopular renovations could lower your property’s value. And selecting out-of-style fixtures and finishes could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design projects this year, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest trends. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

1. Uplifting Colors

Colors are gravitating toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and wellbeing. This year’s palettes draw from earthy hues, warm neutrals, and soothing blues and greens.1

While white and gray are still safe options, expect to see alternative neutrals become increasingly popular choices for walls, cabinets, and furnishings in 2021. For a fresh and sophisticated look, try one of these 2021 paint colors of the year:

  • Aegean Teal (coastal blue) by Benjamin Moore
  • Urbane Bronze (brownish-gray) by Sherwin-Williams
  • Soft Candlelight (muted yellow) by Valspar

On the opposite end of the spectrum, indigo, ruby, sapphire and plum are showing up on everything from fireplace mantels and floating shelves to fabrics and home accessories. These classic, rich hues can help bring warmth, depth, and a touch of luxury to your living space.

To incorporate these colors, designers recommend using the “60-30-10 Rule.” Basically, choose a dominant color to cover 60% of your room. For example, your walls, rugs, and sofa might all be varying shades of beige or gray. Then layer in a secondary color for 30% of the room. This might include draperies and accent furniture. Finally, select an accent color for 10% of your room, which can be showcased through artwork and accessories.2

 

2. Curated Collections

After a decade of minimalism, there’s been a shift towards highly-decorative and personalized interiors that incorporate more color, texture, and character. Clearly-defined styles (e.g., mid-century modern, industrial, modern farmhouse) are being replaced by a curated look, with furnishings, fixtures, and accessories that appear to have been collected over time.3

This trend has extended to the kitchen, where atmosphere has become as important as functionality. The ubiquitous all-white kitchen is fading in popularity as homeowners opt for unique touches that help individualize their space. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, consider mixing in other neutrals—like gray, black, and light wood—for a more custom, pieced-together look. And instead of a subway tile backsplash, check out zellige tile (i.e., handmade, square Moroccan tiles) for a modern alternative with old-world flair.4

 

3. Reimagined Living Spaces

The pandemic forced many of us to rethink our home design. From multipurpose rooms to converted closets to backyard cottages, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage virtual meetings and school. And designers expect these changes to impact the way we live and work for years to come.

For example, some home builders are predicting the end of open-concept floor plans as we know them.5 Instead, buyers are searching for cozier spaces with more separation and privacy. Cue the addition of alcoves, pocket doors, and sliding partitions that enable homeowners to section off rooms as needed.4

The necessity of a home office space is also here to stay. But what if you don’t have a dedicated room? Alternative workspaces have become increasingly popular. In fact, one of the biggest trends on Pinterest this year is the “cloffice”—essentially a spare closet turned home office. Searches for “home library design” and “bookshelf room divider” are on the rise, as well.6

 

4. Staycation-Worthy Retreats

With travel options limited right now, more homeowners are turning their vacation budgets into staycation budgets. Essentially, recreate the resort experience at home—and enjoy it 365 days a year!

Bedrooms should provide a soothing sanctuary for rest and relaxation. But this year, minimalist décor and muted colors are giving way to bolder statement pieces. To create a “boutique hotel” look in your own bedroom, start with a large, upholstered headboard in a rich color or pattern. Layer on organic linen bedding and a chunky wool throw, then complete the look with a pair of matching bedside wall lights.7

Carry those vacation-vibes into your bathroom with some of the top luxury upgrades for 2021. Curbless showers and freestanding tubs continue to be popular choices that offer a modern and spacious feel, and large-format shower tiles with minimal grout lines make clean up a breeze. Add a floating vanity and aromatherapy shower head for the ultimate spa-like experience.4

 

5. Outdoor Upgrades

From exercise to gardening to safer options for entertaining, the pandemic has led homeowners to utilize their outdoor spaces more than ever. In fact, backyard swimming pool sales skyrocketed in 2020, with many installers reporting unprecedented demand.8 But a new pool isn’t the only way homeowners can elevate their outdoor areas this year.

The home design website Houzz recently named 2021 “the year of the pergola.” They’re a relatively quick and affordable option to add shade and ambiance to your backyard.4 Another hot trend? Decked-out, custom playgrounds for exercising (and occupying) the youngest family members who may be missing out on school and extracurricular activities.9

But don’t limit your budget to the backyard. Landscapers are reporting an increase in front yard enhancements, including porch additions and expanded seating options. These “social front yards” enable neighbors to stay connected while observing social-distancing guidelines.10

 

DESIGNED TO SELL

Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Buyer preferences vary greatly by neighborhood and price range. We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

 

Sources:

  1. Good Housekeeping –
    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g34762178/home-decor-trends-2021/
  2. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/timeless-color-rule-797859
  3. Homes & Gardens –
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/news/interior-design-trends-2021
  4. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/36-home-design-trends-ready-for-takeoff-in-2021-stsetivw-vs~142229851
  5. Zillow –
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-end-of-open-floor-plans-how-homes-will-look-different-after-coronavirus-301080662.html
  6. Pinterest –
    https://business.pinterest.com/content/pinterest-predicts/more-door/
  7. Homes & Gardens –
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/spaces/decorating/bedroom-trends-224944
  8. Reuters –
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-pools/pool-sales-skyrocket-as-consumers-splash-out-on-coronavirus-cocoons-idUSKCN2520HW
  9. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/2021-design-trends/
  10. Realtor Magazine –
    https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/12/09/4-outdoor-home-trends-that-may-gain-steam-in-2021
July 31, 2020

Housing Market Trending

Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong

Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong | MyKCM

The residential real estate market is remaining resilient as the country still struggles to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Three separate reports recently revealed how the housing market is still showing growth. Here’s a look at each one.

1. Ivy Zelman’s Real Estate Broker Survey

The survey explains that purchaser demand remains strong:

“This month’s overall homebuyer demand rating…was easily the strongest sequential gain in our survey history…Strength continues to be led by the entry-level…While high-end demand is less robust in an absolute sense, there has also been relative improvement, with contacts attributing incremental improvement to the stock market’s rebound, record low mortgage rates and luxury customers trading out of high-priced cities.”

2. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index

The index reveals that builder confidence has returned to levels last seen prior to the pandemic:

“In a strong signal that the housing market is ready to lead a post-COVID economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 14 points to 72 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI now stands at the solid pre-pandemic reading in March before the outbreak affected much of the nation.”

3. The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index

This index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:

  1. Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
  2. Home Price – Growth in asking prices
  3. Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
  4. Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

It then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

The latest results came in at 101, with realtor.com explaining:

“The U.S. Housing Market has recovered from the immediate disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and returned to January 2020 growth levels.”

Bottom Line

Real estate brokers, home builders, and industry data all agree that the housing market has surged back to pre-COVID levels, showing growth, strength, and incredible resilience.

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 10, 2020

Does Aging in Place make sense

Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense?

Does “Aging in Place” Make the Most Sense? | MyKCM

 

A desire among many seniors is to “age in place.” According to the Senior Resource Guide, the term means,

 

“…that you will be remaining in your own home for the later years of your life; not moving into a smaller home, assisted living, or a retirement community etcetera.”

 

There is no doubt about it – there’s a comfort in staying in a home you’ve lived in for many years instead of moving to a totally new or unfamiliar environment. There is, however, new information that suggests this might not be the best option for everyone. The familiarity of your current home is the pro of aging in place, but the potential financial drawbacks to remodeling or renovating might actually be more costly than the long-term benefits.

 

A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) titled Housing America’s Older Adults explained,

 

“Given their high homeownership rates, most older adults live in single-family homes. Of the 24 million homeowners age 65 and over, fully 80 percent lived in detached single-family units...The majority of these homes are now at least 40 years old and therefore may present maintenance challenges for their owners.”

 

If you’re in this spot, 40 years ago you may have had a growing family. For that reason, you probably purchased a 4-bedroom Colonial on a large piece of property in a child-friendly neighborhood. It was a great choice for your family, and you still love that home.

 

Today, your kids are likely grown and moved out, so you don’t need all of those bedrooms. Yard upkeep is probably very time consuming, too. You might be thinking about taking some equity out of your house and converting one of your bedrooms into a massive master bathroom, and maybe another room into an open-space reading nook. You might also be thinking about cutting back on lawn maintenance by installing a pool surrounded by beautiful paving stones.

 

It all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? For the short term, you may really enjoy the new upgrades, but you’ll still have to climb those stairs, pay to heat and cool a home that’s larger than what you need, and continue fixing all the things that start to go wrong with a 40-year-old home.

 

Last month, in their Retirement Report, Kiplinger addressed the point,

 

“Renovations are just a part of what you need to make aging in place work for you. While it’s typically less expensive to remain in your home than to pay for assisted living, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk to stay put. You’ll still have a long to-do list. Just one example: You need to plan ahead for how you will manage maintenance and care—for your home, and for yourself.”

 

So, at some point, the time may come when you decide to sell this house anyway. That can pose a big challenge if you’ve already taken cash value out of your home and used it to do the type of remodeling we mentioned above. Realistically, you may have inadvertently lowered the value of your home by doing things like reducing the number of bedrooms. The family moving into your neighborhood is probably similar to what your family was 40 years ago. They probably have young children, need the extra bedrooms, and may be nervous about the pool.

 

Bottom Line

Before you spend the money to remodel or renovate your current house so you can age in place, let’s get together to determine if it is truly your best option. Making a move to a smaller home in the neighborhood might make the most sense.

Feb. 6, 2020

536 Fairways Circle Creve Coeur 63141

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=5Yhxen4ji8W

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 7, 2020

Newsletter Jan 2020

https://newsletter.homeactions.net/archive/newsletter/15067/7848261/2070082

Jan. 7, 2020

Newsletter Jan 2020

https://newsletter.homeactions.net/archive/newsletter/15067/7848261/2070082

Dec. 29, 2019

When a House Becomes a Happy Home

When a House Becomes a Happy Home

When a House Becomes a Happy Home | MyKCM

We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.

No matter the size or shape of a living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why

1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the top school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home they purchase.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel re-charged and truly content.

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home, so the space truly works for you.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. Who’s to say you can’t do all of these things in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a happy home.

Nov. 8, 2019

Fit Flavor Conquering your Sugar Cravings

 

Overcoming Sugar Addiction

As we all know, eating large amounts of sugar is anything but wholesome for the body, especially when refined or processed. Though, for whatever reason, we find it hard to resist these sweets and that’s truly because it is everywhere. Whether we are consuming sweet desserts, snacks or drinks, studies have finally shown that sugar is in everything. Not only is this the case, but it has been found to have actual addictive properties which makes it even harder to say no to them. Just like a person with a drug addiction, once we stop consuming sugar, our body immediately craves it. 

 

So how do we control these intense cravings? Just in time for the holiday season, we will teach you what’s actually going on in the body when we eat sugar and learn how to realistically control your addiction to it. 

 

What is Sugar? 

Processed (Refined) V. Natural (Unrefined) Sugar

Processed sugars are exactly what they sound like. They are smaller molecules of sugar that have been processed or broken down, allowing them to be absorbed into the blood at a very quick rate, shooting our blood sugar levels high. Examples of refined sugar include processed, white sugar, white flour, and fructose corn syrup.

 

On the other hand, natural sugar has been left in its raw form. Some great examples of natural sugar include honey, agave, and fruit. Typically, this type of sugar is much higher in fiber, water, and various nutrients such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Compared to refined sugars, natural sugars have a much lower number on the glycemic index scale. This means that natural sugar has less of an immediate impact on the bloodstream and slows down the typical “crashing” effect processed sugar delivers. All in all, if we’re going to sweeten anything we eat, choose this type of sugar. 

 

Is All Sugar Created Equal?

As you could have guessed, not all sugar is created equal. This is because the simplicity of the structure of a sugar molecule determines how quickly it is broken down. Sugar is metabolized at different rates and we feel very different if we break it down too quickly. 

 

What happens when we eat a big bowl of white pasta? We feel extremely full at first and then exhausted because our body is trying to utilize the sugar in the bloodstream and turn it into fuel.  

 

Have you ever felt exhausted from eating an apple? Probably not. 

 

How Does Sugar Affect The Body?

Sugar is considered an inflammatory food meaning it causes inflammation. It also increases your triglycerides and blood sugar levels in the blood. Sugar has been shown to promote cancer growth, diabetes, excess weight and obesity, metabolic syndrome, gastrointestinal illnesses, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, tooth and gum decay, and even can cause acne. Aside from all the chronic health concerns, it is physiologically addictive. In 2008 studies confirmed sugar, in fact, is chemically addictive. Studies have even said that sugar can be 8x more addictive than the drug cocaine. 

 

What Makes Sugar So Addictive?

Sugar is addictive because, just like other addictions, it causes a release of dopamine in the brain which is the primary neurotransmitter involved in addiction--it gives us the feeling of pleasure. When we stop eating sugar, we stop releasing dopamine. When we stop releasing dopamine, the feeling of pleasure ceases and we begin having the withdrawal effects. What do we do to get those feelings of pleasure back? We eat more sugar and become dependent on it to feel pleasure and happiness. 

 

What’s even scarier – people who consume sugar often develop a tolerance to it, causing you to need more to actually feel the pleasure effects.

 

So, what do you think? Is sugar actually addictive? The answer is clearly yes, due to the withdrawal & dependency effects it has on the body when we stop eating it. The amount of addictiveness sugar has on a person depends on you and your personality. Therefore, it might affect some more people than others. (example: just because a person drinks alcohol doesn’t automatically make them an alcoholic) 

 

 

Tackling Sugar Addiction

How do we stop giving into sugar cravings and ultimately stop the development of a sugar craving all together? 

Become an investigator - Identify sources of sugar in your intake and make a conscious effort to reduce this as much as possible. This means you will need to read nutrition labels on all foods. 

Reflect - Find out how much you really are consuming on a daily basis. Keep a journal or utilize food logging apps like MyFitnessPal and Loseit. 

Identify the foods you are addicted to - What I like to call “trigger foods”. Each person will be different. Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal include: irritability, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and feeling foggy. 

In the future, in public sugar situations like a holiday party - Ask yourself “Am I really hungry or do I just feel a craving coming on?” This takes reflection but the more you understand yourself, the better you are able to know when a sugar craving is coming on. 

 

 

Cut Out Sugar Completely?

That can be pretty challenging, but we can definitely cut back on unnecessary refined sugars. The American Heart Association recommends the following maximum amounts of sugar that should be consumed in a day:

Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 cubes).

Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6.35 cubes).

The average American consumes 4 – 5x that amount every single day. 

 

Tips for Conquering Your Sugar Cravings:

Find healthy swaps to your specific food cravings. Example: Dark chocolate chips in a handful of mixed nuts instead of a candy bar.

Pair natural sugar with lean protein and heart healthy fat. If you’re going to have an apple, cut it up with some heart healthy fat like peanut butter. This slows the breakdown of sugar and keeps you satisfied longer.

Hold-off for 15-20 minutes when sugar cravings hit - They come on suddenly, they’re very overwhelming and typically short lived. Distract yourself. If you must consume something, drink water but get out of the kitchen. Ask yourself am “I really hungry or am I just craving sweets?” 

Purchase single serving foods you crave because completely cutting all foods out makes us want it more. This all or nothing mentality causes us to feel too restricted and leads to binge eating later, ultimately “falling off” the healthy lifestyle we are trying to build. Enjoy ice cream every once in awhile – go out, have it. Leave it there and come home. Do not keep tubs of ice cream in your fridge because you will eat it all. On the other hand, identifying trigger foods and eliminating them completely might be the best way to tackle cravings.

Have purposeful, scheduled snacks. Often times we go too many hours between meal times and end up overeating once we finally sit down. Purposefully snacking prevents this from happening. Keep snacks at your desk, in your purse, in the car etc. (in emergency to help tackle cravings and an unplanned schedule)

Become a nutrition facts label & ingredient list reader. Only 48% of consumers truly know how to read a nutrition facts label. Read the nutrition facts label to look out for total sugar and added sugar. READ THE INGREDIENT LIST to identify sources of added sugar and be able to tell the difference from natural sugar. Example: foods like yogurt, pasta sauce can be crazy high in sugar so you have to watch out. 

Think about your drink. Sugar-sweetened beverages contribute to the greatest source of added sugars in the diet and are completely empty calories. The body doesn’t seem to recognize calories very well when they’re delivered in liquids; you don’t feel as full. Suggestions for sweetening your food and drinks:

Sugar in the raw

Stevia (stevia in the raw)

Truvia or truvia nectar (half honey and half stevia)

Honey or agave (natural but lower GI than white sugar/flour) 

 

 

In conclusion, take a closer look at what you are currently eating to see where you can eliminate unhealthy and unnecessary added sugars. Remember not all sugar is created equal. Choose natural sugar, like a banana, and pair it with healthy fats, like peanut butter or a lean protein (like greek yogurt) to manage your blood sugar levels. Sugar is added to almost everything so try to consume real food with minimal ingredients. A healthy lifestyle is not all or nothing when it comes to food. Take steps towards eliminating unnecessary sugar from your diet--your cravings will go down and you won’t need as much to feel/taste the sweet effects when you do have natural sugar. 

 

If you feel like you need a plan to tackle your sugar addiction, or any aspect of your nutrition, consider nutrition counseling with a licensed and registered dietitian.

Be healthy, 

Allison Lesko RD LD

Licensed & Registered Dietitian

fit-flavors | Director of Nutrition

allison@fit-flavors.com | (314) 744-9048

fit-flavors.com 

Posted in Market Updates