Tag Archives: #capecodrealestatemarket

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer

Rising interest rates was one of the topics at our company staff meeting this morning.

You’ve probably noticed that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac has inched up to 5%. While that news may have you questioning the timing of your home search, the truth is, timing has never been more important. Even though you may be tempted to put your plans on hold in hopes that rates will fall, waiting will only cost you more. Mortgage rates are forecast to continue rising in the year ahead.

We heard stories this morning of potential buyers losing out on purchases, because rising interest rates made the property unaffordable for them. One colleague reported having three sales fall apart for the same moderately priced home because of the increase in rates.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can succeed even as mortgage rates rise.

How Rising Mortgage Rates Impact You

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, they impact how much you’ll pay in your monthly mortgage payment, which directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. Here’s an example of how even a quarter-point increase can have a big impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer | MyKCM

With mortgage rates on the rise, you’ve likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of delaying your plans, today’s rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more. Use that motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly.

Curious about your options? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com so you can better understand your budget and be prepared to buy your next home before rates climb higher.

It’s important to have the correct information to make an informed decision.


In some personal news, after 28 years we’ve decided to sell our two story Cape and downsize for many of the reasons we have written about in this blog. The house is too big; we don’t use every room. Stairs are starting to become a bit of an issue. We’re depending on landscapers, plumbers, painters and others to tend to basic maintenance.

Because we have been neither buyers or sellers in quite some time, we’ve started a series of videos called “Mari Makes the Move” on our YouTube channel to share our experiences and hopefully offer you some helpful tips. Please subscribe to the channel to follow our journey. Thanks…

Mari and Hank

If You’re Waiting for the Bubble to Burst….

recent survey revealed that many consumers believe a housing bubble is beginning to form. That feeling is understandable, as year-over-year home price appreciation is still in the double digits.

We’ve seen comments on our own Facebook page from posters reacting to recent listings saying that they’re waiting for the market to crash. We see references on various social media sites comparing today’s market to “the last time.”

However, this market is very different than it was during the housing crash 15 years ago. Here are four key reasons why today is nothing like the last time.

1. Houses Are Not Unaffordable Like They Were During the Housing Boom

The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Conventional lending standards say a purchaser should spend no more than 28% of their gross income on their mortgage payment.

Fifteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. We remember buying our first home and the rate was 14%!

Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased, and the mortgage rate, even after the recent spike, is still well below 6%. That means the average purchaser today pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then.

In the latest Affordability Report by ATTOM Data, Chief Product Officer Todd Teta addresses that exact point: “The average wage earner can still afford the typical home across the U.S, but the financial comfort level zone continues to shrink as home prices keep soaring and mortgage rates tick upward.”

Affordability isn’t as strong as it was last year, but it’s much better than it was during the boom. Here’s a chart showing that difference:

4 Simple Graphs Showing Why This Is Not a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

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2. Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed During the Boom

During the housing bubble, it was much easier to get a mortgage than it is today. As an example, let’s review the number of mortgages granted to purchasers with credit scores under 620. According to credit.org, a credit score between 550-619 is considered poor. In defining those with a score below 620, they explain: “Credit agencies consider consumers with credit delinquencies, account rejections, and little credit history as subprime borrowers due to their high credit risk.”

Buyers can still qualify for a mortgage with a credit score that low, but they’re considered riskier borrowers. Here’s a graph showing the mortgage volume issued to purchasers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, and the subsequent volume in the 14 years since.

4 Simple Graphs Showing Why This Is Not a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Mortgage standards are nothing like they were the last time. Purchasers that acquired a mortgage over the last decade are much more qualified. Let’s take a look at what that means going forward.

3. The Foreclosure Situation Is Nothing Like It Was During the Crash

The most obvious difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. The Federal Reserve has a report showing the number of consumers with a new foreclosure notice. Here are the numbers during the crash compared to today:

4 Simple Graphs Showing Why This Is Not a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

There’s no doubt the 2020 and 2021 numbers are impacted by the forbearance program, which was created to help homeowners facing uncertainty during the pandemic. However, there are fewer than 800,000 homeowners left in the program today, and most of those will be able to work out a repayment plan with their banks.

Why are there so few foreclosures now? Today, homeowners are equity rich, not tapped out.

This suggests that the forebearance equals foreclosure narrative pushed by many so called experts and news network talking heads was incorrect.

In the run-up to the housing bubble, some homeowners were using their homes as personal ATM machines. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up. When home values began to fall, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the amount they owed on their mortgage was greater than the value of their home. Some of those households decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area.

Homeowners, however, have learned their lessons. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over 40% of homes in the country having more than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time, as evidenced by the fact that national tappable equity has increased to a record $9.9 trillion. With the average home equity now standing at $300,000, what happened last time won’t happen today.

So, there will be nowhere near the same number of foreclosures as we saw during the crash.

4. We Don’t Have a Surplus of Homes on the Market – We Have a Shortage

The supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued price appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale from 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory, which is causing the acceleration in home values to continue.

4 Simple Graphs Showing Why This Is Not a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Inventory is nothing like the last time. Prices are rising because there’s a healthy demand for homeownership at the same time there’s a shortage of homes for sale.

According to the Cape Cod and Island Board of Realtors, inventory for last month was 256 single family homes. It was 300 in January 2021. In January 2020? The number was 1,397.

As a result, open houses are crowded again and multiple offer situations are frequent. At an Open House we had this past Saturday, more than 30 groups visited the property in just two the first hours! As a result, our sellers are considering multiple offers.

If you’re a buyer waiting for the bubble to burst or for the market to crash before making your move, you’re potentially going to have a long wait. Sellers sitting on the sidelines, should be thinking about getting into the game.

Curious about your options as either a buyer or seller? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to answer your questions.

It’s important that you have the right information to make an educated and informed decision.

Have a good week…

Mari and Hank

Is Multi-Generational Living an Option?

Whether it’s for financial or health-related circumstances, or simply because you’ve reached a new phase in your life, you might be wondering if living with multiple generations under the same roof is the right move. Many have have found themselves in similar situations and have found that living in a multigenerational home is a good idea.

What Is a Multigenerational Home?

The Pew Research Center defines a multigenerational household as a home with two or more adult generations. They include households with grandparents and grandchildren under the age of 25. As you weigh your options and decide if multigenerational living is right for you, here’s some helpful information including testimony from homeowners living with additional loved ones.

The Benefits of Multigenerational Living

A recent report from Generations United surveyed individuals living in a multigenerational setting and asked them about the key benefits of this arrangement. It says: “Nearly all Americans who live in multigenerational households (98%) feel their household functions successfully citing various aspects of home design, family relationships and interactions, and supports and services influencing their success.”

The study identifies some of the top benefits of this lifestyle including an improved financial situation, better mental and physical health, and strengthened bonds with loved ones.

Millions of Americans Have Discovered the Benefits of Multigenerational Households | MyKCM

Those are just some of the reasons why most people who decide to live in this situation find it worthwhile. As Donna Butts, Executive Director at Generations United, says: “Families may come together from need, but they are staying together by choice.”

With More Adults Living Under One Roof, You May Need More Space

If you decide to look for a multigenerational home, it’s important to understand what everyone will need to make the arrangement work to its fullest. Something that often makes the top of the list is additional space for privacy. This could mean more bedrooms and bathrooms or features like an in-law suite or a basement.

If you’re still living in a house with several bedrooms where you raised your family, but now only use just a few rooms, your property may be of interest to someone looking for a multi-generation setting. Marketing your home and taking advantage of the equity you have in your house could help you finance your next move to a smaller home or a condo.

Curious about multigenerational living and your options as either a buyer or seller? We’d be happy to answer your questions. Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.

It’s important that you have the right information to make an educated and informed decision.

Mari and Hank

The Right Time to Sell Your Home

When Is the Right Time To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you’re trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market. Just this morning, one of our colleagues at our office team meeting reported 120 buyers attending her weekend open houses!
  • The latest data indicates home showings are rising after a holiday lull. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you’ll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won’t be on the market long. But, as of now, those over asking price offers don’t seem to be as head scratching as they were back in the summer.

For more information about the market here on Cape, please check out this video that we posted at the end of last week on our YouTube channel, Mari Sennott Plus.

Today’s market favors sellers. If you have questions, we’d be happy to provide answers. Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com to discus your options. You need the right information to make an educated and informed decision about buying or selling in the year ahead.

Have a great week…

Mari and Hank

It’s Not a Housing Bubble

We hear occasionally from potential buyers or sellers, who say that they’re going to make their move “after the bubble bursts.”

Many of us have memories — usually bad ones — of 2006-2008. Some younger investors are being given advice about what they should do by good old Uncle Harry, who “knows a little something about real estate” and remembers his own bad experience from back then.

Talking head housing experts on your favorite cable news network — who get paid to say controversial things — are also suggesting the worst might be yet to come.

But, here’s why today is not an example of history repeating itself.

The housing market isn’t driven by risky mortgage loans.

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Back in 2006, nearly everyone could qualify for a loan. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) from the Mortgage Bankers’ Association is an indicator of the availability of mortgage money. The higher the index, the easier it is to obtain a mortgage. The MCAI more than doubled from 2004 (378) to 2006 (869). Today, the index stands at 130.

Homeowners aren’t using their homes as ATMs this time.

During the housing bubble, as prices skyrocketed, people were refinancing their homes and pulling out large sums of cash. As prices began to fall, that caused many to spiral into a negative equity situation (where their mortgage was higher than the value of the house).

Today, homeowners are letting their equity build. Tappable equity is the amount available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% combined loan-to-value ratio (thus still leaving them with at least 20% equity). In 2006, that number was $4.6 billion. Today, that number stands at over $8 billion.

3 Charts That Show This Isn’t a Housing Bubble | MyKCM

Yet, the percentage of cash-out refinances (where the homeowner takes out at least 5% more than their original mortgage amount) is half of what it was in 2006.

This time, it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.

FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) dominated the housing market leading up to the 2006 housing bubble and drove up buyer demand. Back then, housing supply more than kept up as many homeowners put their houses on the market, as evidenced by the over seven months’ supply of existing housing inventory available for sale in 2006. Today, that number is barely two months nation-wide.

Builders also overbuilt during the bubble but pulled back significantly over the next decade.

To put it simply, there’s simply not enough homes to keep up with current demand.

On Cape Cod, despite a general trend towards an increase in the amount of single family homes coming onto the market, June 2021 saw the lowest number of new listings for a June in 18 years.

Condominium sales are on the rise

However, condominium sales are showing signs of real life. Year to date, pending sales are up 31%; closed sales are up 26%, and median sales price is up 15%.  These strong numbers are probably fueled by the lack of single-family inventory and rising single-family home prices as well.

BTW…Mari was quoted last week in an article in Banker and Tradesman, a leading publication for the financial services and real estate professions. The article is linked here.

As always, we’re available to assist you in reviewing your options. Please contact us at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to help.

Enjoy today’s sun…

Mari and Hank


The Real Estate Market Is Calming Down

In last week’s post we wondered if the real estate market on Cape Cod was shifting. We only had anecdotal evidence based on our own experience and that of our colleagues to suggest that there seemed to be a change.

Now, we have the official stats from the Cape Cod and Island Association of Realtors that suggests something may be going on.

The biggest evidence is a drop of $30,000 in median sales price for a single family home from May ($630,000) to June ($600,000) across Barnstable County. So, while the final sale price as a percentage of list has remained steady (104%), the actual dollar amount decreased.

It’s important to note that a year to date comparison from 2020 to 2021 shows a nearly 35% increase in median sales price overall. ($447,500 vs. $603,000.)

Inventory increased last month (502) from the previous (448). While this is still less than what a usual supply of single family homes needs to be, it’s trending in a positive direction. The Cape now has 1.2 month supply of available homes. At least three months is needed to be considered even reasonably healthy.

So what does this mean?

For buyers — particularly those who dropped out of the market after being frustrated with long lines at open houses and price competitions that they couldn’t win — this could be a good sign. If you were among the discouraged, it might be time to re-start your search.

For sellers — as we’ve been suggesting for weeks now — your return on investment is potentially shrinking. While we’re continuing to see most offers come in above list price, they’re generally not at the numbers or mind boggling levels that we saw just a few months ago. The time for you to act is now, as competition is increasing with more homes coming on the market.

If you’re wondering about where you will move if you sell, the larger inventory is also a positive for you.

Is this a temporary slowdown because of buyer fatigue and distractions due to weddings, graduations, and vacation planning? Or is something else at work? Time will tell, but smart real estate investors — sellers or buyers — should take note.

As always, we’re happy to help you review your options. We’ve been helping our clients make the best decisions for themselves for more than 20 years.

We’re honored that so many have turned to us this year. Through the first six months of 2021, we rank second out of Today Real Estate’s 100 agents in terms of closed purchases. (Arguably, we’re first, as #1 is a team of six that has led the Today roster for years.)

So, let’s connect soon at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.

Don’t wish for it; go for it!

Mari and Hank

The Market Is Settling Down

In last week’s post we wondered if the real estate market on Cape Cod was changing. We only had anecdotal evidence based on our own experience and that of our colleagues to suggest that there seemed to be a shift.

Now, we have the official stats from the Cape Cod and Island Association of Realtors that suggests something may be happening.

The biggest evidence is a drop of $30,000 in median sales price for a single family home from May ($630,000) to June ($600,000) across Barnstable County. So, while the final sale price as a percentage of list has remained steady (104%), the actual dollar amount has decreased.

In Sandwich, the median price dropped from $590,000 in May to $539,000 in June — a not insignificant decrease of more than $50,000.

It’s important to note that a year to date comparison from 2020 to 2021 shows a nearly 31% increase in median sales price in Town overall. ($420,000 vs. $550,000.)

Inventory across the Cape increased last month (502) from the previous (448). In Town, it jumped from 25 to 34 homes. New listings nearly doubled from 28 to 50, while days on market increased from 14 to 24.

The Cape now has 1.2 month supply of available single family homes. At least three months is needed to be considered even reasonably healthy.

So what does this mean?

For buyers — particularly those who dropped out of the market after being frustrated with long lines at open houses and price competitions that they couldn’t win — this could be a good sign. If you were among the discouraged, it might be time to re-start your search.

For sellers — as we’ve been suggesting for weeks now — your return on investment is potentially shrinking. While we’re continuing to see most offers come in above list price, they’re generally not at the volume or mind boggling levels that we saw just a few months ago. (In Sandwich, the percentage over list dropped from 105.6% to 103.1%)

The time for sellers to act is now, as competition is increasing with more homes coming on the market.

If you’re wondering where you can move if you sell, the larger inventory is also a positive for you.

Is this a temporary slowdown because of buyer fatigue and distractions due to graduations, weddings, and vacation planning? Or is something else at work? Time will tell, but smart real estate investors — sellers or buyers — should take note.

As always, we’re happy to assist you in reviewing your options . We’ve been helping our clients make the best decisions for themselves for more than 20 years.

Please reach out at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. Talk soon…

Don’t wish for it; go for it!

Mari and Hank

Has the Market Shifted?

We won’t have official numbers from the Cape Cod and Island Board of Realtors for at least a week, but anecdotally — based on what we’ve seen and our colleagues are saying — there seems to have been a shift in the area’s real estate market.

The Open House frenzy of March and April seems to have calmed. While there are always exceptions, there are no longer lines of buyers waiting to see a property. What we used to describe as a “busy” Open House has returned.

Multiple offers are still the norm, but not in the numbers of a few months ago. Bids are still over asking price, but there aren’t as many head scratchers, because of the large amounts involved.

What hasn’t changed is that list price is now the starting point. The days of bidding low are a thing of the past — at least for now.

Why the change? There are several potential reasons.

May and June can be some of the slower months in the housing industry as people focus on weddings, graduations, summer plans, etc.

But, national housing industry publications are also talking about “buyer fatigue.” Too many lines to see properties that became out of reach, because competition pushed the prices beyond what many could afford. (Or thought was reasonable.)

At the same time, the number of listings has crept up. While inventory is still nowhere near what it needs to be, the increase in available property is a good sign.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been on more successful listing appointments than we have in several months.

It has also taken less time to find buyers new homes. Last week, a client closed on a property that he purchased for list price after we were the only ones to attend the Open House.

Finally, with so many getting vaccinated, the urgency to move to areas like Cape Cod for the open space, recreational activities, etc. has lessened. Health clubs are open again. The kids can swim in the condo pool. Favorite restaurants and bars are now providing indoor and outdoor dining.

You also have to wonder if the “work-at-home” thing has fizzled a little. Morning traffic reports for Boston are starting to look vaguely similar to those of pre-virus days.

Is this a temporary lull or another example of a return to normalcy? We should have a definite answer by the end of summer.

In the short -term, what does this mean for buyers and sellers?

For buyers — especially those who stepped out — it’s time to get back in.

For sellers, who have been sitting on the sidelines, you may have lost money. While offers are still coming in for over asking prices, they are not as high as they typically were just a few months ago. (But there are still exceptions.) While no one expects prices to drop, potential return on investment is shrinking.

As always, we’re available to answer your questions or help you review your options. We’ve been helping our clients make the best decisions for themselves for over 20 years. Just contact us at 508–568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.


If you haven’t, please visit Mari’s Facebook group Cape Cod Dining at Home (and anywhere else.)

Began early in the virus crisis to exchange recipe ideas during the lockdown and support local restaurants, it has grown to 4,200 members from across the country.

Don’t wish for it; go for it!

Mari and Hank

Has the Market Changed?

We won’t have official numbers from the Cape Cod and Island Board of Realtors for at least a week, but anecdotally — based on what we’ve seen and our colleagues are saying — there seems to have been a shift in the area’s real estate market.

The Open House frenzy of March and April seems to have calmed. While there are always exceptions, there are no longer lines of buyers waiting to see a property. What we used to describe as a “busy” Open House has returned.

Multiple offers are still the norm, but not in the numbers of a few months ago. Bids are still over asking price, but there aren’t as many head scratchers, because of the large amounts involved.

What hasn’t changed is that list price is now the starting point. The days of bidding low are a thing of the past — at least for now.

Why the change? There are several potential reasons.

May and June can be some of the slower months in the housing industry as people focus on weddings, graduations, summer plans, etc.

But, national housing industry publications are also talking about “buyer fatigue.” Too many lines to see properties that became out of reach, because competition pushed prices beyond what many could afford. (Or thought was reasonable.)

At the same time, the number of listings has crept up. While inventory is still nowhere near what it needs to be, the increase in available property is a good sign.

Finally, with so many getting vaccinated, the urgency to move to areas like Cape Cod for the open space, recreational activities, etc. has lessened. Health clubs are open again. The kids can swim in the condo pool. Favorite restaurants and bars are now providing indoor and outdoor dining.

You also have to wonder if the “work-at-home” thing has started to fizzle. As example, Boston traffic reports are starting to sound very similar to those of pre-virus days.

Is this a temporary lull or another example of a return to normalcy? We should have a definite answer by the end of summer.

In the short -term, what does this mean for buyers and sellers?

For buyers — especially those who stepped out — it’s time to get back in.

For sellers, who have been sitting on the sidelines, you may have lost money. While offers are still coming in for over asking prices, they are not as high as they typically were just a few months ago. (But there are still exceptions.) While no one expects prices to drop, potential return on investment is shrinking.

As always, we’re available to answer your questions or help you review your options. Please contact us at 508–568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to help.

Mari and Hank

Demand for Vacation Homes Remains Strong

Lost in all the chatter about urban dwellers permanently relocating to places like Cape Cod in response to the virus crisis is the fact that vacation or second homes remain very popular.

The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows an increase in vacation home sales continuing in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where “vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock” and compares that data to the overall residential market.

Here are some stats:

Vacation home sales rose by 16.4% to 310,600 in 2020, outpacing the 5.6% growth in total existing-home sales.

Vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year during January-April 2021 compared to the 20% year-over-year change in total existing-home sales.

Home prices rose more in vacation home counties – the median existing price rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.

In the New England, properties in vacation home counties typically sold 24 days faster compared to non-vacation home counties.

The NAR report coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.

As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.

Vacation home owners decide to sell for a variety of reasons from the kids getting older and being more interested in spending time with friends and not vacationing with parents to the prohibitive cost of maintaining two residences.

If you’re one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you’re likely wondering what this means for you. If you’re considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options as there are still plenty of buyers in the market.

Curious about the possibilities? Let’s connect at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’d be happy to help you review your options.


We’re excited to share with you a new TV commercial that Today Real Estate (TRE) will be running on some of your favorite cable channels.

This is just another example of TRE providing its professionals — and by extension our clients — with the most up-to-date tools available to effective in today’s competitive marketplace.

You can preview the commercial here. Thanks for watching it.

Stay cool…

Mari and Hank