Category Archives: Vacation Homes

“We’ll just rent it”

We occasionally hear this from homeowners facing job transfers, or those considering for a variety of reasons — maybe they didn’t stay at their Cape house much last summer– to use their property to generate rental income, instead of selling it.

This is an option that has gained some popularity in recent years. According to a Harris Poll survey, 28% of homeowners have considered renting out their homes for additional income.

But is it a good idea?

Owning rental property can be tempting, but you may find the reality challenging. Here are some of the obstacles you could face, if you rent out your home instead of putting it on the market.

A Rental Comes with Responsibilities

Successfully owning and renting a house takes work. Think through your ability to make that commitment, especially if you plan to use a platform that advertises your rental listing. Most of them have specific requirements hosts have to meet, and it takes a lot of work.

Managing a rental property can be time consuming and challenging. Are you handy and live close-by to make some home repairs yourself? If not, do you have a network of affordable and reliable contractors you can reach out to? As homeowners, there are certain inconveniences that we are willing to put up with while waiting for a plumber or electrician. Your renters may not be that patient.

There’s also the responsibility of being a landlord, which means screening tenants, collecting rent, and other tasks. Are you willing do that? If not, you’ll need to pay a property manager to do it for you.

Your House May Not Be Ideal for Your Goals

Not every house ends up being a good rental. Are you thinking about using your home in a quiet residential neighborhood as an Air B&B? (Another idea we sometimes hear.)

If so, are you willing to field calls from former neighbors upset about that group of 20-somethings, who partied all weekend at your old house?

In addition, are you prepared to clean your former home in between renters? Or pay someone to do it? Are you going to be responsible for the landscaping? Or pay someone to do it?

In the beginning, renting sounds like a good idea. If you’re being transferred, for example, you tell yourself you can keep your Cape home and come back “someday.”

The additional income you have plans for? The roof will still need to be replaced.

Isn’t selling your home and putting the proceeds in your bank account a better idea? It’s certainly takes less time and energy.

Over the last few years, we’ve worked with several military families, who bought their homes from us when they were transferred to Joint Base Cape Cod. When they received new orders, some initially considered renting their homes. (One family was being transferred to Alaska!) But after we helped them sift through the options, they all decided to sell.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot to consider before taking the leap and converting your home into a rental. If you are not ready for the work it takes, it could be wiser to sell. With the market readjusting — prices levelling off and mortgage interest rates dropping – – we’d be happy to help you review your options. Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. Talk soon…


We don’t like to brag, but….

We’re grateful to all our clients who decided to make their move with Mari in 2022. Is 2023 your year??

Mari and Hank

Thinking About Retirement in 2023?

If you’re spending time with family over the holidays, you may be discussing plans for the new year that include retirement. If so. one of your goals could be selling your house and finding a home that more closely fits your needs.

Fortunately, you may be in a better position to make a move than you realize. Here are a few things to think about when making your decision.

Consider How Long You’ve Been in Your Home

From 1985 to 2008, the average length of time homeowners typically stayed in their homes was only six years. But according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), that number is rising today, meaning many homeowners are living in their houses even longer (see graph below):

Planning to Retire? It Could Be Time To Make a Move. | MyKCM

When you live in a home for a significant period of time, it’s natural for you to experience a number of changes in your life while you’re in that house. Children grow up and move out. You may develop physical issues that make going up to the second floor bedroom challenging. As these life changes happen, your needs do, too. If your current home no longer meets them, you may have better options waiting for you.

Consider the Equity You’ve Gained

Additionally, if you’ve been in your home for more than a few years and have been paying your mortgage regularly, you’ve likely built up significant equity that can fuel your next move. That’s because the longer you’ve been in your home, the more likely it’s grown in value due to home price appreciation. Data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) illustrates that point (see graph below):

Planning to Retire? It Could Be Time To Make a Move. | MyKCM

While home price growth varies by state and local area, the national average shows the typical homeowner who’s been in their house for five years saw it increase in value by over 50%. And the average homeowner who’s owned their home for 30 years saw it almost triple in value over that time.

Consider Your Retirement Goals

Whether you’re looking to downsize, relocate to that “someday” destination, or move closer to loved ones, your equity can help you achieve your homeownership goals. NAR shares that for recent home sellers, the primary reason to move was to be closer to loved ones. Retirement also played a large role for those moving greater distances.

If retirement is in your plans for 2023, we can help you review your options. If you’re looking to relocate, we have contacts literally all over the US and Canada and as far away as Israel, because of our involvement with the Tom Ferry organization — our industry’s leading education and training group.

We’re grateful for the number of clients/friends, who we worked with in 2022. Because of our successful partnerships, Mari Sennott Plus ends the year as one of the leading realtors in Today Real Estate and throughout Cape Cod.

We’re looking forward to assisting more individuals, couples, and families attain their homeownership goals in 2023. Let’s start by connecting at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. Talk soon…

Happy New Year…

Mari and Hank

See the source image

Is 2023 Your Year?

As we prepare for the holidays, many of us are also thinking about the year that’s ending and making plans for the one ahead.

If 2022 was the year you made a change, congratulations! Whether upsizing, downsizing, or moving to that “someday” neighborhood, it no doubt wasn’t easy due to limited inventory, prices, and stress producing bidding wars. But, if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life goes on.

We certainly didn’t start 2022 with the goal of leaving our home of 28 years. But, as the year progressed we realized that we were the people who we frequently talked about. We had a house that had become too big; was getting increasingly expensive to maintain, and didn’t fit our lifestyle. It was time to downsize.

Making the long story short, we used the equity in our home to help finance the purchase our new — and smaller — one. We then marketed our old house putting us in the position of knowing where we were going, which is a common concern expressed by homeowners, who want to sell.

If you sat on the sidelines this year waiting for prices to drop (or go even higher), you should know that — as predicted — prices are stabilizing. According to the latest report from the Cape Cod and Islands Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a single family home last month is just 1.4% higher than November 2021.

BTW…The median sales price of a condominium for the same time period is up 32.3%!

Last month, sellers received 95.9% of original list price. YTD that figure is 100.5%. This is good news for buyers and maybe not so good for sellers, who were hoping to receive the same crazy price that their neighbor got earlier this year. Anecdotally, price reductions, which had been rare, are now on the rise.

A home priced right will still sell quickly. We just put two under contract. And equity will put homeowners in a favorable position to make their next move.

With family often together over these next few weeks, please don’t hesitate to contact us, if you discuss making a change. We’d be happy to provide the most current information available to help you make a decision. You reach us at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.

As the holidays approach, we can’t help but think of the clients/friends who we worked with in 2022 and the hundreds we’ve gotten to know over the last 22 years. We hope everyone enjoys this special time of year in the place that they now call “home.”

Best wishes,

Mari and Hank

Top Questions About Selling Your Home During the Holidays

In our blog two weeks ago, we made the suggestion that you should consider selling your home before or during the holidays.

That led to several questions.

1. But, doesn’t it make more sense the wait?

Even though the supply of homes for sale has increased in 2022, inventory is still low overall. That means it’s still a sellers’ market. The graph below helps put the inventory growth into perspective. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it shows just how far off we are from flipping to a buyers’ market:

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | MyKCM

While buyers have regained some negotiation power as inventory has grown, you haven’t missed your window to sell. Your house could still stand out since inventory is low, especially if you list now while other sellers hold off until after the holiday rush and the start of the new year.

On Cape Cod, we have a 2.2 months inventory of homes which means that if nothing else would become available, it would take 2.2 months to exhaust the supply. A “normal” market is considered six months.

2. Are there buyers still out there?

If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As an article in Forbes explains:

At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”

While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. If you’re wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.

3. If I sell, can I afford to buy my next home?

If current market conditions have you worried about how you’ll afford your next move, consider this: you may have more equity in your current home than you realize.

Homeowners have gained significant equity over the past few years and that equity can make a big difference in the affordability equation, especially with mortgage rates higher now than they were last year. According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American: “. . . homeowners, in aggregate, have historically high levels of home equity. For some of those equity-rich homeowners, that means moving and taking on a higher mortgage rate isn’t a huge deal.” 

For us, that meant that we were able this spring to use our equity to make a significant down payment on our new home, then market our old one. We didn’t have a home sale contingency in the offer to purchase our new home.

If you’re intrigued about the idea of selling your house before year’s end, let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com to review your options. Remember: your home never looks better (or is more marketable) than during the holidays.

Thursday is Thanksgiving and we would be remiss if we did not wish everyone a blessed and memorable day. We’ve all come to appreciate this holiday more because we lost the chance to celebrate it during the height of the pandemic. So we hope you enjoy the chance to spend time with family and friends.

Mari and Hank

Selling Your Home Before the Holidays

As you look ahead to the winter, you’re likely making plans about what you want to accomplish before 2022 ends. If the location or size of your current home no longer meets your needs, finding a house that better suits your lifestyle may be a top priority. But with today’s cooling housing market, is this really a good time to sell, or should you wait?

If you’re ready to make your move, here are three reasons why you may want to decide selling before the holidays.

1. Get One Step Ahead of Other Sellers

Typically, homeowners are less likely to list their houses toward the end of the year. That’s because people get busy around the holidays and deprioritize selling their home until the start of the new year when their schedules and social calendars calm down.

Selling now, while other homeowners are holding off, can help your house stand out. Start the process today so you can get your property on the market and be ahead of your competition.

It’s also around the holidays that we often complete minor maintenance projects, because relatives and friends will be visiting. We paint the extra bedroom, fix a broken step on the back deck or give the guest bathroom a quick touch up. These are all tasks that will also help in marketing your home.

2. Get in Front of Serious Buyers

Even though housing supply has increased this year as buyer demand has moderated, it’s still low overall. That means there aren’t enough homes on the market today, especially as the millennial generation reaches their peak homebuying years. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First Americansays: “While not the frenzy of 2021, the largest living generation, the Millennials, will continue to age into their prime home-buying years, creating a demographic tailwind for the housing market.”

Serious buyers will continue to look this winter and your house may be exactly what they’re searching for. If you list your house now, you’ll be able to get in front of the eager buyers, who are hoping to make a move before the year ends or by early in 2023.

3. Seize a Great Chance To Move Up

Don’t forget, that as a homeowner you quite possibly have a substantial amount of equity. According to CoreLogic, the average amount of equity per mortgage holder has climbed to almost $300,000. That’s an all-time high. That means the equity you have in your house right now could cover some, if not all, of a down payment on your next home. (That’s what we did.)

As you weigh the reasons to sell before winter, don’t lose sight of why you’re thinking about moving in the first place. Maybe it’s time to buy a house that’s in a better location, has the space you and your loved ones have been craving, or simply gives you that sense of home.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house so you can find a home that better suits your needs, don’t delay your plans. Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@ todayrealestate.com so we can develop a marketing plan for your current home and begin the search for your new one.

The Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day, a federal holiday set aside to honor the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces.. We thank all of them for their service and sacrifices. We are forever grateful.

Mari and Hank

Why Homeowners Are Selling Now

Some people believe there’s a group of homeowners who are reluctant to sell their houses because they don’t want to lose the historically low mortgage rate they have on their current residences. You may even have the same hesitation if you’re thinking about selling your house.

Data shows that as of this April, 51% of homeowners have a mortgage rate under 4%. And while it’s true mortgage rates are slightly higher than that right now, there are other non-financial factors to consider when it comes to making a move. Your mortgage rate is important, but you may have other things going on in your life that make a move essential, regardless of where rates are today.

As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains: “Home sellers have historically moved when something in their lives changed – a new baby, a marriage, a divorce, or a new job….”

So, if you’re thinking about selling your house, but hesitating, it may help to explore the other reasons homeowners are choosing to make a move. The 2022 Summer Sellers Survey by realtor.com asked recent home sellers why they decided to make their move. The visual below breaks down how they responded:

Top Reasons Homeowners Are Selling Their Houses Right Now | MyKCM

As the visual shows, an appetite for different features or the fact that their current home can no longer meet their needs topped the list for recent sellers. Additionally, remote work and whether or not they need a home office or are tied to a specific physical office location also factored in, as did the desire to live close to their loved ones.

If you, like the homeowners surveyed, find yourself wanting features, space, or amenities your current home just can’t provide, it may be time to consider marketing your house.

That’s what we did a few months ago. Our three bedroom, two bath Cape on a corner lot with a swing set in the backyard served us very well for 28 years. But, it had become too much space with too many stairs and a yard that was getting too big to take care of. (And the swing set was rarely used in a recent years!)

For us, the answer was downsizing to a ranch style condo in an over 55 community.

So, even if you’re concerned about mortgage rates, your lifestyle needs may be enough to motivate you to make a change.

If you’re interested in finding out what’s the best path for you, let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We can help you walk through your options, so you can make a confident decision based on what matters most to you and your loved ones.

Talk soon…

Mari and Hank

Buyers Are Regaining Negotiating Power

If you’re thinking about buying a home today, here’s some welcome news. Even though it’s still a sellers’ market, it’s a more moderate now than even earlier this year. The days of feeling like you need to waive contingencies or pay drastically over asking price to get your offer considered may be coming to a close.

Today, you should have less competition and more negotiating power as a buyer. That’s because the intensity of buyer demand and bidding wars is easing. So, if bidding wars were the biggest factor that kept you on the sidelines, here are two trends that may be just what you need to re-enter the market.

1. The Return of Contingencies

Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or inspection, to try to win a bidding war. But now, fewer people are waiving the inspection and appraisal.

The latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving their home inspection and appraisal is declining. A recent survey from realtor.com confirms more sellers are accepting offers that include these conditions today. According to their August study: 95% of sellers reported that buyers requested a home inspection, while 67% of sellers negotiated with buyers on repairs as a result of the inspection.

All of our recent sales have included home inspections.

2. Sellers Are More Willing To Help with Closing Costs

Generally, closing costs range between 2% and 5% of the purchase price for the home. Before the pandemic, it was not uncommon to see buyers ask sellers to help with some of their closing costs. This didn’t happen as much during the peak buyer frenzy over the past two years.

Today, as the market shifts and demand slows, data from realtor.com that uses the results of a national survey suggests this is making a comeback. A recent article shows 32% of sellers paid some or all of their buyer’s closing costs. This may be an option available to you when you purchase a home, although we have not experienced it yet with any of our recent clients.

Bottom Line

The extremely competitive housing market of the past few years seems to be easing a bit. The data suggests that the days of over the top offers with no contingencies are waning and sellers now have to negotiate with buyers. This is good news if you’re planning to enter the housing market.

For more information about buying or selling, please request our Fall Guides. The video below explains what you can learn.

…and to find out how the market is shifting, let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’ll share with you the latest data, as well as our recent experience as sellers and buyers ourselves.

Talk soon…

Mari and Hank

Should You Sell Your House This Year?

There’s no denying that the housing market is undergoing a shift as buyer demand slows and the number of homes for sale grows.

On Cape Cod, there were 231 homes for sale in January. In August, there were 563. This is nowhere near what we consider to be a normal market. But, what it does represent is a slow tick upward in the number of homes available.

So, here’s a look at the key opportunities you have if you list your house this fall.

Opportunity #1: Where Can You Go?

We often hear from those who are thinking about selling that their biggest concern is that they don’t know where they can go. But, one of the biggest stories today is the growing supply of homes for sale primarily because higher mortgage rates helped cool off the peak frenzy of buyer demand. But what you may not realize is, this actually can benefit you as a seller

If you’re marketing your house to make a move, it means you’ll have more options for your own home search. This gives you an even better chance to find a home that checks all of your boxes. So, if you’ve put off selling because you were worried about being able to find somewhere to go, know your options have improved.

Opportunity #2: The Number of Homes on the Market Is Still Low

Just remember, while data shows the number of homes for sale has increased this year, housing supply is still firmly in sellers’ market territory. To be in a balanced market where there are enough homes available to meet the pace of buyer demand, there needs to be a six months’ supply of homes nationally. According to the latest report from the Cape and Island Association of Realtors there’s a 1.9 month supply here.

While you’ll have more options for your own home search, inventory is still low, and that means your home will still be in demand if you price it right. On Cape, the Cumulative Days on Market Before Sale is 29 (YTD), still quick by traditional standards, but not the gone-in-a-weekend pace of even just a few months ago.

Opportunity #3: Your Equity Has Grown by Record Amounts

The home price appreciation that the market experienced over the past few years has likely given your equity (and your net worth) a considerable boost.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comexplains: “Homeowners trying to decide if now is the time to market their homes are still in a good position in many places across the country as a decade of rising home prices gives them a substantial equity cushion…”

While there are no statistics available on individual equity, we can report based on our own personal experience and that of our sellers that this is true.

So, if you’ve been holding off on selling because you’re worried about how rising prices will impact your search, rest assured your equity can help. It may be just what you need to cover a large portion (if not all) of the down payment on your next home.

That’s what we did a few months ago. We used the equity in our home as down payment for our new one. So, we were able to secure where we were going before the For Sale sign ever went up in our yard.

There’s often never a “good time” to market a home: an unexpected job transfer, the loss of a loved one, or a family break up can make the decision hard and the process difficult. But sellers manage to get through it with the help of a knowledgeable professional.

If, however, the market is presenting you with an opportunity to benefit from your long-term real estate investment and make the change that you’ve been contemplating for years, why not move forward?

Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com to talk about your possibilities. We’re happy to help.

Mari and Hank

What’s Next for Home Prices

Whether you’re a potential homebuyerseller, or both, you’re probably wondering: will home prices fall this year? So, let’s take a look at what the real experts are saying and why this matters for your homeownership goals.

Last Year’s Rapid Home Price Growth Wasn’t the Norm

In 2021, home prices appreciated quickly. One reason is because record-low mortgage rates motivated more buyers to enter the market. As a result, there were more people looking to make purchases than there were homes available for sale. That led to competitive bidding wars which drove prices up. CoreLogic helps explain how unusual last year’s appreciation was: “Price appreciation averaged 15% 2021, up from the 2020 average of 6%”

In other words, the pace of appreciation in 2021 far surpassed what the market saw in 2020. And even that appreciation was greater than the pre-pandemic norm which was typically around 3.8%. This shows that 2021 was an anomaly in the housing market spurred by more buyers than homes for sale.

Home Price Appreciation Is Moderating

Home price appreciation is now slowing (or decelerating) from the feverish pace the market saw over the past two years. According to the latest forecasts, experts say on average, nationwide, prices will still appreciate by roughly 10% in 2022 (see graph below):

What Does the Rest of the Year Hold for Home Prices? | MyKCM

On Cape Cod, the median sales price for a single family home was up 14.3% this July when compared to last. Year-to-date the median price is up 14.9% over 2021. That’s on the high end of what’s predicted, but within range of what the experts are saying.

Why do all of these experts agree prices will continue to rise? It’s simple. Even though housing supply is growing today, it’s still low overall thanks to several factors, including a long period of underbuilding homes. And experts say that’s going to help keep upward pressure on home prices this year. Additionally, since mortgage rates are higher this year than they were last year, buyer demand has slowed.

As the market undergoes this change, this year’s true price appreciation won’t match the feverish pace in 2021. But the rapid appreciation the market saw last year wasn’t sustainable anyway.

What Does That Mean for You?

Today, the market is beginning to move back toward pre-pandemic levels. But even the forecast for 10% home price growth in 2022 is well beyond the 3.8% that’s more typical for a normal market.

So, despite what you may have heard on your favorite cable TV news channel or from your mother’s cousin Gretchen, who had her real estate license 20 year ago , the actual experts say home prices won’t fall in most markets. They’ll just appreciate more moderately.

If you’re worried that the house you’re trying to sell or the home that you want to buy will decrease in value, you should know the experts aren’t calling for depreciation in most markets, just deceleration. That means your home should still grow in value, just not as fast as it did last year. Real estate remains one of the best long term financial investments available.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of making a move, you shouldn’t wait for prices to fall. Experts say nationally, prices will continue to appreciate this year, just at a more moderate pace.

Still on the fence about selling? With the market cooling, you’ve arguably lost money by waiting. You’ll still receive a very nice price for your home, but possibly not what your neighbor received eight months ago when there were bidding wars.

Curious about your options? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’ll share with you the latest market data, as well as our experience this spring as sellers and buyers.

Finally, please be patient with our local merchants and their employees. Many businesses remain understaffed and are doing the best they can to serve you as efficiently as possible. Being told at a restaurant that there’s a 30 minute wait when you see open tables simply means they don’t have the staff to properly serve you. It’s better to not seat you, than have you sitting at a table getting frustrated over the “lousy service” and posting negative comments on social media. Thanks…

Mari and Hank

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think

When we decided earlier this year to sell our home and downsize, we faced the immediate decision about how much work needed to be done to get the place market ready.

While no one would accuse us of being “house people,” we’ve taken pretty good care of our home over the years. Mari re-designed the kitchen three years ago. Last year, when our service technician told us that he wasn’t going to waste our money or his time and declined to do annual maintenance, we replaced our furnace and water heater. The roof has been an on-going project for us. The oldest sections are 10 years old.

Those are probably the three big items on a buyer’s check list, so that left smaller projects to complete. As a result, we had our home ready to sell in about a month, typical of most recent sellers.

According to a survey from realtor.com: “With many homeowners expecting a quick sale, and in many cases a lack of contingencies, the preparation process took less than a month for over 50% of home sellers…with 20% completing it in less than two weeks.”

Of course, each situation is different, and knowing what repairs or updates your house needs to stand out is critical.

In today’s market an older furnace or roof is not necessarily a draw back. But, if a home inspection discovers a tag on your furnace from your service technician that says “needs to be replaced,” you can probably expect your potential buyer to ask for money off the final purchase price.

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think | MyKCM

To see some of what we did, please check out this episode from our series “Mari Makes the Move” on our YouTube channel. (Our home quickly went under contract after two busy Open Houses.)

Curious about your options, but maybe a little worried about the time it’ll take to get your home ready? Let’s connect to 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re more than happy to answer your questions.

Remember: we’re selling and buying, too.

Have a great week!

Mari and Hank