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It’s March and home prices are rising annually, outpacing inflation. Real estate data group, CoreLogic recently released their January 2017 Home Price Index (HPI), showing prices increased 0.7 percent month-over-month and 6.9 percent year-over-year.“A combination of factors is driving momentum ahead of the curve,

says Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist of CoreLogic.

“With lean for-sale inventories and low rental vacancy rates, many markets have seen housing prices outpace inflation. Over the 12 months through January of this year, the CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded a 6.9 percent rise in home prices nationally and the CoreLogic Single-Family Rental Index was up 2.7 percent—both rising faster than inflation.”

Accounting for limited available inventory, CoreLogic’s HPI Forecast expects home prices to rise 0.1 percent month-over-month from January to February, and 4.8 percent year-over-year from January 2017 to January 2018.

“Home prices continue to climb across the nation, and the spring home-buying season is shaping up to be one of the strongest in recent memory. A potent mix of progressive economic recovery, demographics, tight housing stocks and continued low mortgage rates are expected to support this robust market outlook for the foreseeable future. We expect the CoreLogic [HPI] to rise 4.8 percent nationally over the next 12 months, buoyed by lack of supply and continued high demand”

adds Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.

And according to Realtor.com, spring home-buying season got an early jump this year, indicating record-high home prices and record-low days on market for February. This is especially true for Denver where you’ll see in the chart that showings for February are up over this time last year. Time to move!

I hear the question “Is it still a good time to buy a house in Denver?” quite often, as potential home buyers wonder whether they’ve missed the market. My answer is that yes, it’s still a good time to buy a house in Denver, though it’s going to take resilience, and let me tell you why. Even though the dream of getting a screaming deal on a foreclosure got on the bus and left the depot, the strength of today’s market and home affordability show that buying a house in Denver is still a great idea.

It looked for a moment that the Denver Real Estate Market was slowing down toward the end of the summer and into fall, but what I’m seeing now, we still have a very strong market! Showing activity is high meaning that buyers are out there looking, and inventory as of January 1 was still very, very low at one month of inventory  [meaning if no other homes came on the market it would only take a month to sell them ALL].

Buyers will need to be prepared to pull the trigger in this tight market; pre-qualified, well qualified and ready to present a strong offer to win in the ever-so-common bidding wars.  This can mean a number of things I’d be glad to go over with you specifically. Many Buyers will conduct a home inspection solely for informational purposes without asking the Seller to repair or credit for inspection items. This relieves the Seller of the anxiety of a major or costly issue coming up and being asked to pay for it, and though the Buyer may feel similar anxiety over having to assume a house “AS-IS” they can, if done properly, still terminate the contract should the home prove unsatisfactory. Reasonable buyers, sellers and their agents would rather work out a fair negotiation than lose a good contract, even with this stipulation. Another strategy I’ve seen applied is for the buyer to offer to make up some or all of any difference between the contract purchase price and the appraised value of the home should it come in low. As bidding wars force prices up, last month’s comps may not provide the appraiser with enough information to value at contract price, or the home might have exceeded current market value. The market is moving so fast, many buyers would rather kick in some extra cash than go back out looking once they’ve found and been accepted on a home they love. Of course, you’ll have to have the cash to do this so a bit of planning might be in order if you decide to employ this.

The good news for you Buyers is that real estate still offers great wealth building potential. Using standard assumptions (5% annual appreciation), a home purchased today for $250,000 with a 10% down payment and a 4.5% interest rate can produce about $200,000 in equity in a decade! Those of you who are renting may want to think seriously about investing in yourselves.  Even if you don’t have a full 10% for the down, there’s still $$$ to be made.

There are two myths in real estate that are not holding up in today’s Denver market. One is that real estate runs in seven year cycles; statistics show the last up-swing lasted for seventeen, plenty of time to build equity.  The second myth is that condos are the last to rise in value and the first to tank. Right now we are seeing condominium values appreciating similarly to single homes. Overall home affordability remains attractive when you factor in interest rates, home prices and average rents (up 40% over the past five years). A very good time to buy, but before you do I advise investing in some good running shoes.

home list If you’re my client, we’ve shopped, you’ve fallen in love, made your offer, had it accepted and gone under contract. Now you’re in the “discovery” stage” where you gather important information: title work, disclosures, surveys, and you schedule your home inspection. Now what?
A home inspection is one of the most important steps in the process, it’s the time then we take that silk purse and try to find the sow’s ear. Part ‘honey-do’ list, part ‘O.M.G. what have I done?’ the home inspection reveals and/or conceals just what you’re getting yourselves into. The house is everything you’ve ever wanted, and it’s the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Shouldn’t we make sure it is all that?
I have a few good home inspection companies I rely on, have vetted and have found them thorough, honest and knowledgeable. There are many things your home inspection will show you and many that it won’t. Some things are minor, deferred maintenance and others are worth major consideration. Always best to hire a professional and ask your Realtor (that’d be me ;-)) for their recommendation. No matter how much you may love them, having a “friend who knows a lot about houses” take a look at it could be the end of a great relationship. Pay for the pro, it is money well spent.
Here’s what your standard inspection will show:
Structural Elements- Construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof and foundation. Though inspectors are not usually structural engineers, their expert training gives them a good eye for when you may want to call one. Many times the crack you’re freaking out over is pretty normal to a resale home.
Exterior Evaluation- How does the siding, brick or stucco look? Does the grading flow toward or away from the house? Landscaping, elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, eaves, trim, doors, windows, lights and exterior receptacles—are they all doing what they’re supposed to be doing?
Roof and Attic- A visual inspection of the roof and attic will give you a good idea if they are framed and ventilated, insulated, or in need of repair. Though not a roofing specialist, your inspection should be able to tell the approximate age of the roof and how long you might expect it to last. If there is any doubt, I suggest having a qualified roofer come out and do an independent inspection to see if the roof can be guaranteed through certification.
Plumbing- Identification and condition of pipe materials used for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes. Toilets, showers, sinks, faucets and traps, water pressure and hot water heater will be included.
Systems – Your furnace, air conditioning, duct work, chimney and fireplace will be checked to insure they are in good working order.
Electrical- Main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, outlet grounding, GFCI outlets, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Appliances-Dishwasher, refrigerator, stove/range/oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal, trash compactors, washing machine and dryer will be checked.
Garage- Slab, walls, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights, receptacles, exterior, windows and roof.
Although I’ve had inspectors note the possible presence of mold, termites, evidence of pests, or asbestos these, along with a sewer scope, require assessment by specialists and do not fall within the scope of your home inspection. Radon detection can be done by the inspector who installs a device to stay in the home for 24-48 hours at an additional cost.
My home inspectors provide my clients with a Home Inspection Checklist which categorizes items needing service and the urgency in doing so.
The serious problems are:
Any issue that pertains to health and safety; gas leaks, CO2 levels, non-functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, radon mitigation, sewer cracks or breaks.
Also for consideration are the big ticket items: old or leaking roofs or those which cannot be certified, furnace and A/C malfunctions, foundation deficiencies and moisture intrusion or drainage issues.
Who should pay for what?
Home Inspection Checklist Items Sellers Should Fix would include those listed above. There are many instances when it is wise for the buyer to take responsibility for the repairs themselves and ask the sellers for a credit or sales price reduction. Sellers, understandably, want to maximize their profits an may approach repairs from an economical perspective where you might go the extra mile, especially if you prefer a mid-high grade brand. Buyers and sellers might want to consult with an expert to get an estimate for repairs and all work should be done by a licensed contractor or technician. Make sure your agent is specific when responding to the inspection. If your request is vague, there is more room for interpretation of a repair.
Because for some people, duct tape doesn’t cut it.

picture-of-a-shifty-used-car-salesman-300x237
Real estate agents are not used car salesmen. We’re not interested in selling you a car [or house] and getting you off the lot before the wheels fall off, au contraire.

Why, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve kept the wheels on a deal….

There are a lot of misconceptions in the real estate business, and then there are the facts. In his book “Buyers are Liars and Sellers Are Too”, author Richard Courtney humorously debunks the irrational thinking that wraps the brains of homeowners and wannabe homeowners tighter than packing tape. From my old wooden desk his views are quite funny, but in the real world of real estate… not so much.
Courtney’s point is not that anyone’s intentionally dishonest, but that truth is mutable. For example, the laundry list of buyer “home must-haves” becomes something different after viewing twenty houses in their target area and price point. And those sellers, armed with Zillow statistics and trusty advice from the FSBO neighbor who sold for 100k less, believe all they have to do is name their price and stick a sign in the yard, knowing they’re probably overpriced. Truth comes later, when it’s still on the market long after the open house balloons have wilted and the flyers are gone from the brochure box. And it stings.
The first time I meet with a potential client, I ask them for permission to tell the truth. Invariably they smile, nod and agree they’d want nothing less, but sometimes as the process unfolds, selective amnesia slips in. Whether the market is up or down, favors buyers or sellers or you like what I have to tell you or not, here’s the truth.
Sellers:
• Your house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.
• Well priced homes sell quickly, often over the asking price.
• If you don’t have showings, you can’t sell your house, and if you’re priced too high you won’t have any showings.
• If you’ve had 10-15 showings without an offer, you’re overpriced.
• The colors you chose to match your belongings look too personal once the moving truck pulls out the driveway.
• You may hate beige but buyers love it.
• I cannot make anyone buy your home.
Buyers:
• I cannot make you buy a home you don’t want to buy.
• If I could do either of the last two I’d be writing the book on “Magical Realtorism” from a beach in Bali *waves to cabana boy*.
• You may want everything on your “dream house” list, but you might not get it all. Hopefully you’ll come very close.
• Realtors want you to pre-approve with a lender because it is in your best interest, not theirs (though it doesn’t hurt me either).
• Buying a home without an agent does not mean that the seller will automatically knock my commission off of the price. (Better to have someone working for you, especially when they have someone working for them.)
Homes do not sell because you put a Saint Joseph in your garden or your Mayan healer cleansed your karma with a smudge stick and an eagle feather. There are more than 20 people in the average residential real estate transaction. When you are looking to buy or sell you need an advocate to manage the timeline, the deadlines and the multiple personalities. Dream homes are found and sold because you’ve hired someone who knows their field, the market, the law, and helps their clients buy and sell their homes every month.
And that’s no lie.