Tag Archives: #todayrealestate #hometeamadvantage

How You Can Use Your Home’s Equity

If you’re currently a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years as home prices skyrocketed and you made your monthly mortgage payments. Home equity builds over time and can help you achieve certain goals. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogicthe average borrower with a home loan has almost $300,000 in equity right now.

As you weigh your options during these somewhat confusing economic times, it’s important to understand your assets and how you can leverage them. As real estate professionals, we can be a good source of information to help you understand how much home equity you have and suggest some of the ways you can use it.  Here are a few examples.

1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs

If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or you may have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle.

If you want to upgrade your house, you can put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams. And if you’re planning to downsize, you may be surprised that your equity may cover some of the cost of your next home, if not all.

Earlier this year, we used the equity in our home to put us in the position to make a successful offer on our new home without including a home sale contingency. We then marketed our house after our offer was accepted.

If you’re concerned about where you will move when you successfully market your home, your equity allows you to answer that question before listing your property.

2. Reinvest in Your Current House

According to a recent survey from Point, 39% of homeowners would invest in home improvement projects if they chose to access their equity. This is a great option if you want to change some things about your living space, but you aren’t quite ready to make a move.

Home improvement projects allow you to customize your home to suit your needs and sense of style. Just remember to think ahead with any updates you make, as some renovations add more value to your home and are more likely to appeal to future buyers than others.

For example, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows refinishing or replacing wood flooring has a high cost recovery. We can advise you on which projects to invest in to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell.

3. Pursue Your Personal Goals

In addition to making a move or updating your house, home equity can also help you achieve the life goals you’ve dreamed of. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retiring or downsizing, buying a vacation home, or funding an education.

While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging it to start a business or putting it toward education costs can help you achieve other personal goals.

Bottom Line

Your equity can be a game changer. If you’re unsure how much equity you have in your home and how might you best use it, let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to help.

Mari and Hank

Consider Condos as Part of Your Home Search

When looking to make their move, many buyers don’t consider purchasing a condominium as an option.

Overall, housing supply is still low. So, if you need more choices, expanding your search by adding additional housing types, like condos, could help.

Exploring Condos Could Add Options That Fit Your Budget

While condominiums generally differ from single-family homes in average space and floorplans, that size difference is one reason why they can be a more affordable option. According to a recent report from realtor.com, condo buyers paid roughly 7% less for their home than buyers of other housing types last year. With rising mortgage rates and home prices, the relative affordability of a condo could be worth considering.

Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner. Buying a condo now can springboard you into a bigger home later on.

An article from the Urban Institute explains: “Because condos…are generally more affordable, they tend to help first-time homebuyers step onto the first rung of the homeownership ladder. These buyers often use the equity in their condo to then purchase a larger, single-family home.”

In other words, owning a condo will help you start building wealth in the form of home equity. In time, the equity you build can fuel a future purchase should you decide you want to buy a new home.

Condo Living Provides Several Great Perks

Boosting the number of options during your home search is just one reason to consider condos, but there are several other benefits to condo living.

First, they tend to require minimal upkeep and lower maintenance. A recent article from Bankrate highlights this, saying: “…if the roof is leaking or the carpet in the lobby needs to be replaced, that’s not your responsibility – the condo association handles those duties.”

The association also is responsible for outside maintenance, snow removal, parking lot and road repair, etc. relieving owners of many traditional home upkeep costs. This should increase the opportunity to save money for the next move.

Condos often have amenities like swimming pools, tennis courts, and walking/biking trails that first time home buyers can only dream about. Many are also conveniently located near restaurants, shopping and highway access.

Too often condos are seen as options only for younger buyers without children or those looking to downsize. That’s simply not the case. Our new condo is 1,300 sq. ft. — just 300 sq.ft. less than our three bedroom, two bath Cape where we lived for 28 years. The 300 sq. ft. difference easily represents the living space we weren’t using. (And we have a full basement that we could finish if we needed additional living space.)

When living in a condo, you do have to factor in the monthly HOA (Homeowners Association) fee. You need to compare the amount with the benefits and amenities that the property has. In our situation, we concluded the HOA was worth it considering what the complex offered.

Ultimately, owning and living in a condo can be a lifestyle choice. If that appeals to you, condominiums can give you the added opportunities you need when looking for your your first home.

Curious about how condos can help you meet your homeownership goal? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com to start reviewing your options.

…and BTW, we’re not limited anymore to assisting our clients and friends on Cape Cod. Over the last several months, Today Real Estate has expanded its footprint and we now have an office in Norton, which will allow us to work with our long time friends and acquaintances in the Attleboro area.

Talk soon….

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

Does the Weather Have You Thinking About Making a Change?

We’re more aware than ever of the effects weather, climate change and natural disasters can have on where we live. According to a report from realtor.com, more than 3 in 4 recent buyers took climate into account when deciding where to locate.

The study also found that many existing homeowners (34%) have already considered selling their houses and moving to a new location, because of the climate.

Many of us remember when we bought our homes on Cape Cod and were told we could play golf all year round, because it just didn’t snow that much.

If you’re a “snowbird,” are you spending more time at your other home, because the weather there seems to be better longer?

Or has our weather made you decide that it’s finally time to upsize, downsize or make that “someday” move whether on Cape or elsewhere?

Here’s some information to keep in mind if you’re thinking about marketing your Cape Cod home because of weather concerns.

Do Your Research

As a homeowner, it’s impossible to completely control what types of weather events your house is exposed to. Every area has its unique climate challenges.

So, the first step is understanding how to navigate your decision making process with your specific concerns in mind. For example, are you tired of the snow, but not crazy about high humidity and temperatures? Is easy transportation to family important? Is it time for a condo or do you still want a house with a yard? While getting the answers to these questions — and a multitude of others — can seem like a difficult undertaking, with the appropriate resources and experts on your side, you can simplify the process.

The Mortgage Reports provides some tips for making your next move, including, but not limited to: 1) Vet the location. 2) Research Climate Action Plans and learn if the community you’re interested in has one. 3) Work with professionals for additional assessments on a home’s ability to withstand the local weather. Maybe you’re moving away from the snow, but locating to an area that is prone to hurricanes.

Ultimately, your best resource throughout the process is a local real estate professional, who understands the area and has access to the experts, who can answer your questions.

And have no fear, there are plenty of buyers for your Cape Cod home. Most likely, many. With the record low number of houses available for sale right now, your property — if priced right — will attract interest and you’ll receive a good return on your investment that will help finance your next move.

Curious about your options? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to answer your questions. Because of our involvement with the Tom Ferry organization, we can also assist you in finding a top notch real estate professional in the area you’re interested in.

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

…and for now, enjoy the snow!

Mari and Hank

Mortgage Rates Are Expected to Rise

We met a young couple at our favorite watering hole Saturday evening, who started asking us about the housing market when they learned that we were real estate agents. (Funny, how that always happens…)

When the discussion turned to interest rates, they were truly shocked when we told them that the mortgage rate we paid for our first home was about 14% and how thrilled we were when the rate finally dropped to 7%!

Mortgage rates are one of several factors that impact how much you can afford if you’re buying a home. When rates are low, they help you get more house for your money. Within the last year, mortgage rates hit the lowest point ever recorded, and they’ve hovered in this historic-low territory. But even over the past few weeks, rates have started to rise. This past week, the average 30-year fixed rate was 3.14%.

What does this mean if you’re thinking about making a move?  Simply put, waiting until next year will cost you more in the long run. Here’s a look at what several experts project for mortgage rates going into 2022.

Experts Project Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Rise in 2022 | MyKCM

So, whether you’re thinking about buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing because your needs have changed, purchasing before mortgage rates rise even higher will help you take advantage of today’s homebuying affordability.

While no one is predicting that rates will be as high as when we bought our first home, if rates rise even a half-point percentage over the next year, it will impact what you pay each month over the life of your loan – and that can really add up. So, the reality is, as prices and mortgage rates rise, it will cost more to purchase a home.

Want to know more about how mortgage rates impact how much of a house you can afford? We’re available to answer this and any question about the housing market. You can connect with us at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to help.


Mari is continuing her 30 Days; 30 Questions series. Here’s one from last week about staging your home when selling.

Have a good week…

Mari and Hank

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move?

The last 18 months changed what many buyers are looking for in a home. Recently, the American Institute of Architects released their AIA Home Design Trends Survey results for Q3 2021. The survey reveals the following:

  • 70% of respondents want more outdoor living space
  • 69% of respondents want a home office (48% wanted multiple offices)
  • 46% of respondents want a multi-function room/flexible space
  • 42% of respondents want an au pair/in-law suite
  • 39% of respondents want an exercise room/yoga space

If you’re a homeowner who wants to add any of the above, you have two options: renovate your current house or buy a home that already has the spaces you desire. The decision you make could be determined by factors like:

  1. A possible desire to relocate
  2. The difference in the cost of a renovation versus a purchase
  3. Finding an existing home or designing a new home that has exactly what you want (versus trying to restructure the layout of your current house)

In either case, you’ll need access to capital for either the funds for the renovation or the down payment your next home would require. The great news is that the money you need probably already exists in your current home in the form of equity.

Home Equity Is Skyrocketing

The Big Question: Should You Renovate or Move? | MyKCM

The record-setting increases in home prices over the last two years dramatically improved homeowners’ equity. The graph above uses data from CoreLogic to show the average home equity gain in the first quarter of the last nine years.

As a homeowner you have options. However, waiting to make your decision may increase the cost of tapping that equity.

If you decide to renovate, you’ll need to refinance (or take out an equity loan) to access the equity. If you decide to move instead and use your equity as a down payment, you’ll still need to mortgage the remaining difference between the down payment and the cost of your next home.

Mortgage rates are forecast to increase over the next year. Waiting to leverage your equity will probably mean you’ll pay more to do so. According to the latest data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), almost 57% of current mortgage holders have a mortgage rate of 4% or below. If you’re one of those homeowners, you can keep your mortgage rate under 4% by doing it now. If you’re one of the 43% of homeowners with a mortgage rate over 4%, you may be able to do a cash-out refinance or buy a more expensive home without significantly increasing your monthly payment.

If you’re ready to either redesign your current house or find an existing or newly constructed home that has everything you want, the first thing you need to do is determine how much equity you have in your current home. To do that, you’ll need two things:

  1. The current mortgage balance on your home
  2. The current value of your home

You can locate the balance on your monthly mortgage statement. To find the current market value of your house, you could pay several hundreds of dollars for an appraisal, or visit our website at www.makeyourmovewithmari.com/evaluation where you can receive a free report. We’re happy to help.

Have a great week….

Mari and Hank

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market?

There’s a well-known economic theory – the law of supply and demand – that explains what’s happening with prices in the current real estate market. Put simply, when demand for an item is high, prices rise. When the supply of the item increases, prices fall. Of course, when demand is very high and supply is very low, prices can rise significantly.

Understanding the impact of both supply and demand can provide answers to a few popular questions about today’s housing market:

  • Why are prices rising?
  • Where are prices headed?
  • What does this mean for homebuyers?

Why Are Prices Rising?

According to the latest Home Price Insights report from CoreLogic, home prices have risen 18.1% since this time last year. But what’s driving the increase?

Recent buyer and seller activity data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) helps answer that question. When we take NAR’s buyer activity data and compare it to the seller traffic during the same timeframe, we can see buyer demand continues to outpace seller activity by a wide margin. In other words, the demand for homes is significantly greater than the current supply that’s available to buy.

Where Are Prices Headed?

The supply of homes for sale will greatly affect where prices head over the coming months. Many experts forecast prices will continue to increase, but they’ll likely appreciate at a slower rate.

Buyers hoping to purchase the home of their dreams may see this as welcome news. In this case, perspective is important: a slight moderation of home prices does not mean prices will depreciate or fall. Price increases may occur at a slower pace, but experts still expect them to rise.

Five major entities that closely follow the real estate market forecast home prices will continue appreciating through 2022 (see graph below):

What Do Supply and Demand Tell Us About Today’s Housing Market? | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for Homebuyers?

If you’re waiting to enter the market, because you’re expecting prices to drop, you may end up paying more in the long run. Even if price increases occur at a slower rate next year, prices are still projected to rise. That means the home of your dreams will likely cost even more in 2022.

The truth is, high demand and low supply are what’s driving up home prices in today’s Cape Cod housing market. And while prices may increase at a slower pace in the coming months, experts still expect them to rise.


As we mentioned in our previous post, we were in Dallas last week attending Success Summit 2021 sponsored by the Tom Ferry organization. Ferry is the leading real estate coach and trainer in the country. We’ve been participating in individual business coaching and Ferry events for several years.

We have a lot of information to review, but one take away is the lure of discount realtors, who appear to offer sellers lower fees than traditional real estate brokerages. It’s important that sellers hoping to save money look beyond commission and be sure they understand the additional monies that can be charged — like fees per showing and open house or for advertising– which can push final costs to equal or more than a traditional commission.

As always, we’re happy to answer your questions about the housing market. We can connect at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.

Have a great week…

Mari and Hank


Two Reasons Why Waiting a Year To Buy Could Cost You

If you’re a renter with a desire to become a homeowner, or a homeowner who’s decided your current house no longer fits your needs, you may be hoping that waiting a year might mean better market conditions to purchase a home.

To determine if you should buy now or wait, you need to ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What will home prices be like in 2022?
  2. Where will mortgage rates be by the end of 2022?

Let’s shed some light on the answers to both of these questions.

What will home prices be like in 2022?

Three major housing industry entities project continued home price appreciation for 2022. Here are their forecasts:

Using the average of the three projections (6.27%), a home that sells for $350,000 today would be valued at $371,945 by the end of next year. That means, if you delay, it could cost you more. As a prospective buyer, you could pay an additional $21,945 if you wait.

Where will mortgage rates be by the end of 2022?

Today, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering near historic lows. However, most experts believe rates will rise as the economy continues to recover. Here are the forecasts for the fourth quarter of 2022 by the three major entities mentioned above:

That averages out to 3.7% if you include all three forecasts, and it’s nearly a full percentage point higher than today’s rates. Any increase in mortgage rates will increase your cost.

What does it mean for you if both home values and mortgage rates rise?

You’ll pay more in mortgage payments each month if both variables increase. Let’s assume you purchase a $350,000 home this year with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 2.86% after making a 10% down payment. According to the mortgage calculator from Smart Asset, your monthly mortgage payment (including principal and interest payments, and estimated home insurance, taxes in your area, and other fees) would be approximately $1,899.

Two Reasons Why Waiting a Year To Buy Could Cost You | MyKCM

That same home could cost $371,945 by the end of 2022, and the mortgage rate could be 3.7% (based on the industry forecasts mentioned above). Your monthly mortgage payment, after putting down 10%, would increase to $2,166.

The difference in your monthly mortgage payment would be $267. That’s $3,204 more per year and $96,120 over the life of the loan.

If you consider that purchasing now will also let you take advantage of the equity you’ll build up over the next calendar year, which is approximately $22,000 for a house with a similar value, then the total net worth increase you could gain from buying this year is over $118,000.

Sound intriguing?? Let’s connect at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. Helping our clients make the best decisions for their individual situations has been our full time job for 22 years. We’d be happy to answer your questions.


We’re in Dallas this week attending the Tom Ferry Success Summit 2021. Ferry is the leading real estate coach and trainer in the country and we’ve been involved with his organization for many years. The event has been virtual the last two years, so we’re looking forward to re-connecting with agent friends from around the country and the world, as well as making new contacts. This is a great opportunity to learn about trends and new directions in the housing market from the people directly involved.

We’ll share with you what we learned in upcoming posts.

Have a great week…

Mari and Hank

Time to Sell Your Vacation Home?

As summer comes to a close, is it time to think about selling your vacation home?

Based on recent data and expert opinions, it’s something you may want to consider. According to research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year.

If you’ve taken your last vacation this summer, here are reasons you should consider selling your vacation home this year.

1. Remote work continues to drive demand for vacation homes.

As the report from NAR says, based on continuously evolving work needs, there could be more interest in your second home than you think: “In 2020, the fraction of the laborforce that works from home is typically higher in vacation home counties than in non-vacation home counties…The opportunity work from home could further raise the demand for vacation home in future years.”

Barnstable County/Cape Cod is certainly a vacation home county. Median prices for single family homes across Cape are up more than 30% YTD. But, for those communities that we would consider more vacation-y, prices are up in Dennis (32.3%), Brewster (31.3%) and Wellfleet (34.9%), for example.

Recent data shows we’ll likely see a sustained increase in the rate of remote work over the next five years. That means your vacation home could be highly sought after by certain buyers. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, puts it best: “With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely… vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice.”

With the virus not yet under control. many businesses have changed plans and delayed return to work schedules or made at home options permanent. This gives employees the freedom to consider other opportunities like vacation homes.

2. Selling could allow you to upgrade your vacation spot – or even your day-to-day scenery.

When demand is high, so is buyer competition. When competition is strong, buyers will do everything they can to make their offer on your vacation home as appealing as possible. This can include things like all-cash offers and concessions in terms of time you need to move, etc.. If you sell now, you’ll be able to benefit from high buyer competition and pick the offer with the best possible terms for you. That offer could give you the opportunity to purchase the home of your dreams.

Or, if you find that you’ll continue working from home, you could consider taking up permanent residence in your vacation property and selling your primary residence. While this isn’t a choice everyone can consider, it could be a great option.

Buyers remain interested in vacation homes this year for a number of reasons. Now that summer is winding down, it’s time to think about taking advantage of today’s demand for vacation homes. Interested in reviewing your options? Let’s connect at 508-568-8191 or msennott@todayrealestate.com. We’re happy to help.

Talk soon…

Mari and Hank

What Concerns Buyers?

Last week, Fannie Mae released their Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). The survey showed 77% of respondents believe it’s a “good time to sell.”

But, it also confirms what many are sensing: an increasing number of Americans believe it’s a “bad time to buy” a home. The percentage of those surveyed saying that hit 64%, up from 56% last month and 38% last July.

The reason? Affordability, especially among first time homebuyers. Even the number of renters who say they are planning to buy within the next few years has declined.

So, let’s look closely at the market conditions that impact home affordability.

A mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate on the loan used to purchase it. Lately, monthly mortgage payments have gone up for two key reasons:

  1. Mortgage rates have increased from 2.65% this past January to 2.9%.
  2. Home prices have increased by 15.4% over the last 12 months.

Based on these rising factors, a home may be less affordable today, but it doesn’t mean it’s not affordable.

Three weeks ago, ATTOM Data released their second-quarter 2021 U.S. Home Affordability Report which explained that the major ownership costs on the typical home as a percent of the average national wage had increased from 22.2% in the second quarter of 2020 to 25.2% in the second quarter of this year. But this is still below the standard 28% of income that lenders say homeowners should pend on mortgage, insurance and property taxes.

What does this mean for buyers?

As a buyer, while you may not get the deal someone you know got before the virus crisis, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still buy a home. Here are your alternatives to buying and the trade-offs you’ll have with each.

Alternative 1: I’ll rent instead.

Some may consider renting as the better option. However, the monthly cost of renting a home is skyrocketing. According to the July National Rent Report from Apartment List: rental prices have grown a staggering 9.2% this year! In previous years, growth from January to June is usually 2-3%.

We know that here on Cape Cod, the monthly cost of rent is as high as a mortgage payment, if not higher.

If you continue to rent, chances are your payment will keep increasing at a fast pace. That means you could end up spending significantly more of your income on your rental as time goes on, which could make it even harder to save for a home.

Alternative 2: I’ll wait it out.

Others may consider waiting for another year and hoping that purchasing a home will be less expensive then. Let’s look at that possibility.

We’ve already established that a monthly mortgage payment is determined by the price of the home and the mortgage rate. A lower monthly payment would require one of those two elements to decrease over the next year. However, experts are forecasting the exact opposite:

  • The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) projects mortgage rates will be at 4.2% by the end of next year.
  • The Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES), a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, calls for home prices to increase by 5.12% in 2022.

We have also talked to potential buyers, who are waiting for those who took advantage of mortgage forbearance to be forced to sell their homes. What this strategy ignores is that the average American homeowner has more than $200,000 in equity in their home. As people return to work and can afford the monthly mortgage payment, refinancing will eliminate any past due amount.

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Cape market has calmed down over the last several weeks. Open Houses are generally not as busy; offers are not as numerous, and total dollar amounts — while still at or above asking price — are not as what-are they- thinking high. (But there are still exceptions.)

Interest in negotiating incentives — like waiving home inspections — also seems to be fading.

What is clear is that whether you’re a seller or a buyer continuing to sit on the fence waiting to make your move may not be the best strategy.

As always, we’re happy to help you review your options. Please contact us at 508-568-8191 or mennott@todayrealestate.com. Thanks.

Mari and Hank