After you’ve finished your holiday shopping, why don’t we go look for a house?
Winter home buying has its challenges, but winter can be the perfect time to buy a home. As we head toward the snowy months, serious shoppers know their winter home buying power is increased by determination and AWD. Housing market prediction for 2014 is looking good and buying a home this winter might just be the ultimate stocking stuffer.I love me those cold weather clients!
Most people think of buying or selling their homes in the ‘high’ season, and while the balmy days of spring and summer are perfect for cruising open houses and power shopping, they also bring the crowds. In 2013 we saw a big bump in the Denver housing market:lots of buyer activity and low inventory meant happy sellers and buyers who were frustrated by the return of the multiple offer. Even when the market was down the notion that summer is the best time to buy/sell your house is one that is hard to break. After spring break, sellers prepare to list the moment the last school bell rings pushing inventory up and in the seller’s minds prices too. Many of these listings are sellers who want to test the waters, plant a For Sale sign in their yard along with the annuals and see if they get the price they want. But this supply side increase often works in the buyers’ favor or frustrates them when the fair-weather seller lacks the motivation to agree on a fair price. Sellers feel the same when sunny day buyers, indulging in some fantasy house hunting, create lots of traffic and little else.
Cold weather buyers and sellers are serious.
The real estate market is driven by many factors but the first and most enduring one is CHANGE. One of the most enduring reasons people buy or sell a home is because their lives are in transition. Though many plan their home sale or purchase, life happens without regard to season or convenience. Families change, jobs are gained, lost or relocated, promotions happen, marriage, divorce, birth and death– all create someone with a housing need.
Shopping or selling in a Denver winter are obvious– driving in show, slipping on ice, shoveling the walkway, taking your boots on and off so you don’t track sludge into the house, fewer showings– but the buyers are BUYERS and not just lookers. Winter sellers are ready and willing to make a move, and tend to price accordingly from the start. The slower season also means that lenders, title companies and appraisers are not so swamped, smoothing out the process and lowering emotion. And of course, there are fewer people submitting offers on your dream home.
As savvy shoppers know, the post-holiday season comes with plenty of opportunities for a bargain and that includes houses as well. Though we in Denver are beyond the clearance sale in our housing market, home prices are on the rise giving sellers more leverage as well.
Enjoy the holidays, spend time with your loved ones, take a spin around town and take in the lights. Then call me when you’ve got the ornaments put away and we’ll get the ball rolling.
An autumn past, a dear new friend sent me a Max Coots prayer/poem/chant for Thanksgiving. It has been his tradition for many years and now it is mine as well; a simple connection, a virtual whisper of thanks. I thought long and hard about posting it on my blog, as I usually send it as an email. In the end I chose to include it as the spirit is wider than my contact list and my feelings about it aren’t constrained by form.
If this is your first time receiving it we might have just met or perhaps reconnected after many years. Perhaps you are a stranger, stumbling on it as a novice and to you I say welcome. If you remember it from seasons past, I hope you enjoy it once more and wrap yourself in the true feeling it comes with. If you are one of the lucky ones, receiving this both from me and my dear friend…you are twice blessed.
Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For children who are our second planting.
And though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away,
May they forgive us our cultivation and remember fondly where their roots are.
Let us give thanks:
For generous friends, with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends as tart as apples; for continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we’ve had them.
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible.
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you.
For funny friends who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time and young friends coming on as fast as radishes.
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings.
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; for all these we give thanks.
— Max Coots
I am (where real estate is involved) lucky in love. I’m not talking about the beach house I got in the last divorce *winks* but how often I find Cupid at the closing table. It takes work to find a house with everything on your buyers’ wish list, but it’s nothing short of kismet when the brother and sister selling their father’s home meet the mother and the two kids who’ll soon be hanging out in the tree house their father built. Every home has a tale to tell, and when that love story moves from one chapter to the next as gracefully as a Jane Hamilton novel, you know you’ve made a “love connection”.
Manufacturing love stories between buyers and sellers… that can be a tricky matter.
Perhaps it’s the rise of social media, where everything is suddenly shared, or the result of Denver’s revived real estate market where the multiple-offer situation has made a comeback, but the latest accessory to go with an offer is not an earnest money check, it’s… The Love Letter.
I had a few of these cross my desk when the market was struggling. Sellers, desperate to sell and worn down by the reality of their diminished property values, were thrilled to hear those four little words, “We have an offer”. Until the contract hit my inbox, followed by a “We really, really love you house, we just don’t want to pay much for it” letter, which usually left a sour taste in and brought a few choice words out of the sellers’ mouths. I’d say it was the real estate equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey; lousy writing and you know someone’s about to get screwed.
Enter the hero. The market shifted, and so did the tone of this tome. With multiple offers a common occurrence, buyers (or their agents) believe if they add a bit of folksy insight into who they are— Their years in Seminary, how he fell in love with the garage, she with the garden and how the shed is perfect for their chickens— that flattery will give them an edge.
Now everybody’s got a gimmick, I get that. The homeless bear signs—“Homeless Vet” “Dog-lover”, “God Bless” (complete with Ichthus), or “Will Work for Beer” aiming at their niche market, their tribe. Buyers try and create some commonality with the stranger who currently occupies their dream home, or perhaps they’ve lost the past three offers and are looking for something other than raising their price to cinch the deal. Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that the Realtor’s job? I consider it my job— make that my sacred duty— to not only find my clients the right house, but to put together a fair and decent offer and present it to the seller’s agent, along with a persuasive argument on behalf of my buyer. That is the opening move in a strong negotiation. If I’m worth my salt, of course my clients will be over-the-moon with excitement at finding their dream home, but once we bring the personal into an already emotional business transaction, I fear the salt/wound proximity increases.
This idea of including a buyer’s note is circling around my office like a chain letter, and I don’t care if the world will end in ten days or killer bees will take over the Volvo, I’m here to break it. There are plenty of opportunities for good real estate agents to share your passion and exchange drawings of the chicken coop. To a seller the passion you feel is reflected, not through an effusive statement that your Goldens must have come from the same litter, but by strength of your offer.
UPDATE: This house went under contract in 8 days. Buyers are happy, sellers are happy… agent is very happy.
Just listed a wonderful 3 bed/3 bath home in the Willow Trace subdivision of Aurora South. I really like the floor plan as it lives large. The master bedroom is huge, closets are bigger than my house ; ) and the second/third bedrooms are nice and roomy. Great loft space upstairs to keep the little ones close or use for study/gaming area. Over-sized two car garage with secure storage. Partial basement is insulated, plumbed and egressed; ready for your finish if you need more space and Cherry Creek Schools! This house is totally move in ready! Check out the virtual tour.
People who go to museums and concerts or create art or play an instrument are more satisfied with life, regardless of how educated or rich they are.
For years we’ve read studies about how arts in education create better students, especially with the math+music connection. Here’s proof (I’m calling it proof) that you don’t have to be Baby Mozart or write the Great American Novel to benefit from the creative spirit. Partaking in the experience is a spiritual anti-oxidant of its own.
Cultural institutions work hard raising funds and keeping doors open and the gift of your attention helps them keep giving, creating a rich communal experience and increasing the value of our cities. When funding issues hit the ballot the arts are ofttimes berated. Seems to me the beraters might be happier if they picked up that dusty guitar in the basement or that watercolour they’d judged themselves harshly for and didn’t finish.
We’re inundated with news of of the benefits of exercise and healthful eating; we would be well served to take heed of our need for arts & culture as well.
Looking for to the warming weekends but not quite ready to head to the high country? Here’s a “Honey-do” list that will slough off those winter blues and spring you into the season. Whether you are preparing to put your home on the market or just want to lighten your spirits without breaking the bank, the first 4 simple home improvement tips will put you on the right track.
Closets- You’ve heard this a million times and you’ve probably done it only once. Cleaning out your closets can feel great, once you get over the idea that your favorite dress will ever come back in style or that you’ll really get back into a 2. (And if you did, wouldn’t you want to buy all new clothes?!) One by one, take your clothes out of your closet and toss what you don’t wear. Seriously. I’ve hauled things up and down from the cedar closet for years before I ever fessed up to the truth. YOU WON’T MISS IT. And the two things I regretted tossing, I forgot about. Now wipe down the baseboards inside and re-paint your closet white! Purchase plastic hangers (all the same color) and re-hang all of your clothes white to black facing left. Okay, there’s a bit of my control freakish mentality peeking out here but, this is like Virgo crack!
Baseboards- The lowly baseboard. Easy to scuff, last to get painted. Brighten up the whole house by washing and repainting these once a year. It’s one of those secrets that make a home feel bright and fresh. Personally, I assign this task to my children for any number of reasons. They like to make $$, they need to learn to do things other than shoot virtual zombies, and they’re already closer to the floor.
Garage- This one is especially important if you’re listing your home to sell. Clean out your garage! Ditch the rollerblades your kids have outgrown and the ones you bought to blade with them. I mean, those have only been worn once or twice, right? Once you’re clean, it’s time to paint. That white you used in the closets would look great, adding sparkle to the most under-improved part of the house. Power-wash the floors, hang your tools, rakes on that new pegboard and throw the skis up into the rafters. Now it’s time to shake out the camping gear, pump up the bike tires and you’re ready for summer activities!
Windows- One thing that I always notice about a new house is that all of the windows and window sills are spotless. Windows shine and make your home look the kind of clean that makes buyers bite. There are many products you can attach to your garden hose to spray the winter off of the outside and if you have a good squeegee, they’ll turn out squeaky clean. Now it’s time to tackle the inside glass and the sills. Those sills, by the way, need to be more than wiped down. Take your window cleaning solution, a towel and some cotton swabs to make sure you remove all traces of dirt from the crevices. It really makes a difference. If you’ve got an older home with wooden windows, try to make sure they all open safely and easily. Many times they’re painted shut or the ropes are broken: Buyers will find this out on inspection. And though it’s not normally a deal breaker, it will reduce your offer when a buyer calculates the cost of new windows throughout the house. There are companies who will come and make minor repairs or replacements and you can give them a new coat of paint once they’re gone. Just be sure you don’t paint the window shut again.
Okay, I’m going to leave you alone for now, I’m sure you’ve got enough to keep you busy. Remember, as your back is aching and you pop open that day’s end beer, that it’s the little things that make a home stand out in the market. Clean is one of them. Make that SUPER clean.
Hopefully the first is a long way off, but the second is looming once again. Whether you have an accountant on staff, go to the national tax franchise or are a DIY kinda guy/gal, some of these resources might help.
I learned a long time ago, never to attempt doing my own hair or my taxes, but as an independently-minded broad I want to arm myself with as much info as I can as I head into tax season, either to feel a sense of power or just to drive my tax guy crazy. So, as you sort through your envelopes, spread sheets, baskets, couch cushions and files, trying to squeeze every dime out of your tax return, check out these sites.
Because…not all of us keep our cash in the Caymans.
• American Opportunity Tax Credit
• Charitable Donation Tax Deduction
• Tax Credit for Buying a Home (My fav!)
• 3 Tips to Maximize Itemized Deductions
• Home Equity Loan Deduction
• Can I Deduct a Donation Made on a Credit Card?
• Home Office Deduction
You can explore further by going to the IRS site and here are some lists created by my “staff CPA” or on. http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/Deductions_Credits.htm
Take heart, my friends, as you stay up into the wee hours, surrounded by piles and blinded by trying to read that faded ink…No matter how it ends up or which way the tax check is written, it’s your very own contribution toward reducing the national debt.
It took Dr. Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary and countless hits of LSD to learn one simple truth: Be Here Now. So what can the psychologist-turned-spiritual guru, Baba Ram Dass, teach you about today’s Denver real estate market? BUY. HERE. NOW.
With nary a trace of mind-altering substance in sight, I can honestly tell you that the time to list your home for sale in the Denver metro area is NOW.
“How now” you say?
• Because EVERYONE else IS WAITING until spring.
• Because buyers ARE out looking.
• Because SHOWINGS ARE UP and inventory is down.
• Because all FOUR OFFERS I wrote in January created a BIDDING WAR.
Now, we all know war is not the answer but in real estate, a competitive market results in sellers driving their purchase price above their asking price. At this point (Jan/Feb, so I’m being here this quarter) the demand exceeds supply and buyers are flying out to snatch up well-priced properties like savvy shoppers after Christmas at Filene’s Basement. There is simply not enough out there. And I’m not just talking of the under-$200-first-time-buyer/investor end of the market. A home priced at or around $300k is likely to move well, despite the common seasonal perception, the Super Bowl or the weather. On Friday, as constant snow flurries were rapidly accumulating inches, agents were rushing out to show homes in order to present their offer s before the “Highest & Best” deadline. (I know this, I was one of them.) Today I submitted an offer for a buyer on a property, sight unseen. The home fit his criterion and he’d been beaten out three other times, so today we take no prisoners.
If you are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the winter storm to pass before you list your house, remember… you could be pushing up daisies before the crocus pushes through the frosty ground. Now, I don’t mean that in the literal sense of the metaphor, but in the BE HERE NOW spirit.
If you’d like more information on the value of your house, trends in your neighborhood, or a yoga class near you, send me a vibe, a text or find me on Facebook. As the guru said…“We’re all just walking each other home.”
― Ram Dass
How can this swanky 70’s bachelor pad be a real “conversation” starter when you’re forced to sit on concrete? Perhaps it gets you to the round bed sooner. In 2011, we’d have some great new ways to pimp out the property (besides adding cushions) For example: “Warm woods and cool concrete create a modern twist on the round table discussion.” Or, “Property values sinking? Turn your neighborhood into Atlantis as you stare at your friends through your fish eye window.” Throw me your best lines to sell this space-age space!
Recently I got a call from a gal I’d worked with on One Book, One Denver. “I’m getting married, relocating, and I need to sell my condo. Can you come meet me?” Of course. We met for a post-work beverage and talked about her marriage plans, the condo and then she popped the question, “Can you sell it for me?” Well, don’t you know how much I love to hear that question? Two days later I met Gina at her Mayfair townhome, a beautifully remodeled, two-bedroom, single story corner unit. We talked about timing her sale with the wedding and the move to Atlanta. All I could focus on is the fact that with so much big life stuff going on, I wanted to make sure the sale would go off without a hitch. Not always easy but always the goal, real estate transactions are an intense mix of business and personal and I consider it my duty to make sure your stress level is as low as possible.
Next we discussed price (usually where sellers feel a bit of an upsurge in their blood pressure) and settled on an opening list price smack in the middle of the competition with the agreement that we’d revisit the subject after a week on the market.
Now, it already looked like a shiny penny, “Pottery Barn Perfect” in Realtor parlance, but being a smart cookie she asked what needed to be done before we put it on the market. And then she did an amazing thing; she took notes and had all the polishing done within a week! I scheduled the photos for the virtual tour, put my marketing strategy in place and blasted it out to the market. After Sunday’s open house, I called Gina to tell her that I wasn’t excited about the showing activity in the first week and we decided to make a slight price adjustment. Monday we had three showings and an offer, lower than what we wanted but certainly high enough to open the conversation. Gina had shared with me the dollar amount she wanted for her home, which was reasonable, so it was very clear going into the negotiations what I was after. And they took it! Ten days, desired price, 30 days to a successful close.
Market data consistently shows that well-priced homes sell faster and for more money than homes which start high and chip away at the list price, especially true in this market. When a seller goes into the relationship with high motivation, reasonable expectations and trusts the advice of their Realtor®, things have a good chance of going smoothly. So what do I consider reasonable? As a seller, you have to be able to wrap your head around a few things.
• Your house is a commodity, not a product. A commodity is worth what the buyer is willing to pay for it. A product, like a hamburger, can be sold with the right marketing, like photos with enough glycerin on the patty to make it look really juicy. No matter how pretty your pictures are, your home is an emotional commodity.
• Just because you added the deck five years ago doesn’t mean you get to add that on to the price. Home improvement is tricky when it comes to selling your home. If you’re fixing it up to sell it, you’re putting that money in to make sure you get the highest amount of its fair market value. If your improvements have happened over time, they have most likely increased the value of your property, and you’ve had the pleasure of living with them. There is no guarantee that the $20k you shelled out for that sparkly new kitchen will result in a $20k return on your investment. I always tell my clients to make the changes they’d enjoy living with and deal with the rest when you want to sell it.
• Expect to pay for some pre-market repairs. You’ve been looking at that paint chip on the threshold, or the gold fixtures in the bathroom for so long you don’t even see it anymore. Buy your buyer will. And the little things mean a lot; new paint, bath fixtures, maybe some lighting and a professional cleaning will do wonders for your home’s appeal. You’re up against a lot of sellers who are doing their best so you gotta bring you’re A game!
• Buyers buy either from emotion, practicality, or a mix of both. If your goal is to sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time, make sure you keep this point in mind. You want them to fall in love with the home and you want them to write an offer. I can look at the MLS and tell you which homes in your neighborhood are going to be the next to go under contract. They’re the ones who hit either or both points. Make your house shine and price it well!
• Choose a good Realtor® and then listen to her. If you’ve chosen wisely, you’ve got an expert in your local market working as your advocate. Market conditions are what they are and they’re changing on a daily basis. You may have bought or sold a few homes over the years but there’s a good chance your agent has closed a few last month. That’s what we do and we don’t want to fire sale your house, quite the opposite. Happy clients refer business.
Hey, it worked for Gina!