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I’m moving! Well actually, I am planning to move. Next year. That’s how long it will take me to prepare my current home as a rental, give the tenants in the other house notice, and most importantly, let my son finish eighth grade at his current school. The idea came to me this summer when my old friend/former neighbor/current client called to discuss her options regarding the inspection objection on her new home. “We’re sitting in the backyard having wine. I wish you were in the hood, you could come over.” And that’s when it hit me; I’m too far away from my friends! I’ve been rumbling a plan around in my head since then, but I knew it was in the cards when my thirteen year old jumped in the car one day and stated, “Mom, I don’t think these suburban kids are my people.” Oh, I feel ya, babe.
Moving to Denver from Los Angeles, we settled in to Congress Park for the first ten years. The boys went to Denver Public schools and loved them. I loved the sense of community I felt; summers under the elm trees at the Congress Park pool, cool autumn evenings on the soccer fields, and all the school activities with the kids and parents I was growing up with. I felt safe, and I felt loved. People got my sense of humor, we shared our sorrows, our secrets and our extra tomatoes when the gardens were good. As our family’s needs and the market changed, we crept slowly southward. I kept the boys in Denver Public Schools as long as I could but the daily commute in the winter was fraying my sanity and my tread. I began to notice my urge for the urban as I kept putting buyers into my favorite neighborhoods; Park Hill, Congress Park, Washington and Platt Parks, Mayfair, (I could go on) but never realized it was all part of my secret plan. Now that Gabe has decided he wants to forgo the big suburban high school experience to attend East with his best friend and the other members of his “tribe”, I’m out of the walk-in closet and all in!
I grew up in the suburbs, have nothing against them in general or my neighborhood in particular. Actually I like it here in this funky little sweet spot called Dream House Acres. Free from the covenants and cul de sacs that make me claustrophobic, I love the wide, hilly streets, the mid-century modern houses and the mountain views from my back patio. I don’t even mind the 20 minute commute when I choose to make it; I’m just a city girl. I need the proximity to the arts and cultural centers, the theaters, restaurants and farmers markets that pop up spring through fall. Most of all, I need to be around a wide variety of people and the sense of community that Denver offers.
Why do I bring this up, you ask? As a real estate agent, I spend my days and into the nights helping movers and shakers change up their lives. While I’m focused on the business of buying and selling homes that make these moves worthwhile, my clients are focused on the mental, emotional, physical and financial planning that leads up to a big change in your habitat. Following a page out of my own playbook, I’ve pulled out the Task Timeline Template which I lovingly bestow upon my clients.

I have completed phase one; Making The Decision. Phase two, Preparing the House, will take much longer; pulling up carpet, throwin’ down a little love on the hardwood floors, the painting, slight upgrades to the kitchen and baths…slight? Who am I kidding? And along the way,I will partake in my favorite slice of Virgo heaven— PURGING! When you think about it, there is no way to move without making a decision about every single thing you own. What stays, what goes, how many sets of socket wrenches do I really need, will I really wear this? Thank god I have a year.

Taking the time to wrap up the dishes and the memories this house holds, I will be mindful to keep the valuables and leave the rest behind. A fresh coat of paint, like a white sheet of paper, lets the new occupants write their own stories on these walls (not in the literal sense, I hope), as I move forward to the next chapter of life. Painting the new place.
If you’re ruminating on such things~ buying or selling, up or downsizing, Spanish Olive vs. Navajo White~ give me a call. We can share tips as we scrub grout and fantasize about the new digs. After all…I’m improving my skills just for you.

Are you a first-time homebuyer but missed that big tax credit? Are you tired of paying rent or is your rent being raised to astronomical limits? So let me ask you this… If you thought you could get a good deal and a $2000 tax credit, would you like to own a house in Denver? Good news.
The City and County of Denver announced a new Mortgage Credit Certificate program that enables qualified borrowers to receive an annual federal income tax credit equal to 30 percent of the yearly interest paid on their mortgage loan, up to $2,000 annually, the city announced Tuesday.
“For many families, home ownership is a primary method of asset building and saving for the future,” says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “We’re providing a financial boost to individuals and families while increasing home ownership opportunities and the overall strength and vitality of Denver neighborhoods.” Lenders can use the estimated amount of the credit on a monthly basis as additional income to help a potential borrower qualify for a loan, the city said.
There are stipulations to the program. To qualify, borrowers must purchase a residence in the City and County of Denver and income restrictions apply ($79,300 for one or two persons and $91,195 for three or more). The maximum allowable purchase price for a home is $370,252, although higher income and purchase price limits are available in targeted areas. Participants cannot have owned a home in the past three years, except in targeted areas and for qualifying veterans.
Only certain lenders are approved to participate in Denver’s Mortgage Credit Certificate program and Paul Orrell at Megastar Financial, one of my favorites, is among them. Click here if you’d like more information about the Denver Mortgage Credit Certificate program, then shoot me an email. I’d be glad to go over your options.

Saying The Denver real estate market is hot is like saying that the U.S Congress works together in perfect harmony…except, the first statement is true. It will take a while before Denver home buyers believe it, but it is a Seller’s market…and a buyer’s market, too. Huh?
It sounds like a paradox but in fact it perfectly describes our current Denver Metro real estate market. Here’s how:
In the market below $300k where 80% of the homes are sold it’s a blistering seller’s market. You heard it right, a seller’s market! There are only three months of inventory sitting on the market right now, where six months is considered a normal, balanced market. There are simply more buyers than sellers right now and this is translating into multiple offers on listings, sales prices often well above asking prices, and marketing times plummeting.

Particularly hot is the market below $225k, which has only two months of inventory. It’s not uncommon for a listing to have 10 showings and a full price offer in the first week. There are a number of factors that have caused this dynamic, one of which is the dramatic reduction in the number of bank-owned and short sale properties on the market. This reduction in distressed inventory has left regular home sellers in a great position and contributed to the sizzling seller’s market.

Ok, so we know it’s a seller’s market. Then, how can it also be a fantastic buyer’s market at the same time? It is, because according to the National Association of Realtors the Home Affordability Index is at its highest recording ever. Just like it sounds, the HAI is a measure of how affordable homes are in a given area. It’s calculated by comparing the median price of a home in the Metro Denver market to the median worker’s income level, taking into account the current interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan. What this means is that the median income earner can buy more house today than ever before. Why? Because home prices, while rising quickly, are still well below their peak prices of 5-6 years ago and interest rates are at never-before-seen historic lows. Take it all together and the average home on the market HAS NEVER BEEN MORE AFFORDABLE.

So, while it seems like a paradox that it can be both a great time to sell and a great time to buy, it’s actually quite true. Call me and I’d be happy to explain more how we got to this state in the market and how you can take advantage of it.

Denver Metro Housing Stats.
Single Family:
Active Listings: 8,082 • Down 40% from Feb. ‘11
Under Contracts: 3,329 • Up 13% from Feb. ‘11
Solds: 1,978 • Up 12% from Feb. ‘11
Average Price: $270,821 • Up 2% from Feb. ‘11
Average Days on Market: 106 • Down 14% from Feb. ‘11
Condos:
Active Listings: 2,004 • Down 49% from Feb. ‘11
Under Contracts: 821 • Up 11% from Feb. ‘11
Solds: 517 • Up 13% from Feb. ‘11
Average Price: $161,143 • Up 4% from Feb. ‘11
Average Days on Market: 101 • Down 22% from Feb. ‘11

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

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!

Today an unusual thing happened, I received two offers on two different listings. That in itself would not be unusual in the Denver real estate market, but it’s what came with the offer I found odd and amusing. This morning, two emails hit my inbox. One was the offer, $110k below the list price, and the other was a letter from the potential buyer to the seller. This afternoon, the same thing happened: 20k under a list price that had a generous price reduction on Wednesday, and a lovely card to the seller. Now I am the queen of the hand-written note and I know it’s value, but in both of these instances it was as if the “I really love your house, we are the perfect buyers” missive was going to somehow cover the insulting offer. If you really love the house, you should pay what the house is worth. A letter that says in essence, “I found the house I love, now can you please give it to me?” does little to sway the seller away from his or her profits.
Buyers buy homes with their emotion first and practicality second, sellers are just the opposite. I know this is a sweeping generalization, but most of the time it holds true. A home is an emotional commodity and yes, most sellers would love to see their home go to that sweet young couple of lovebirds with the 20% down, the golden retriever and th 850 credit score. Chances are very good that the seller has had his own emotional roller coaster ride long before you set your showing. Ready to make that move, they’ve called their Realtor, had the listing appointment and swallowed hard when their agent told them what they could expect to sell their beautiful home for in today’s market. When they’ve lowered their price twice in 60 days, is it realistic to expect them to take another 20 or 100k off the top because you love their home? I’d love a new Mercedes for the price of my used Saab, too.
In short, be reasonable. Be fair. Don’t believe everything you read about the “Buyer’s Market”, assuming every home is on the clearance rack. And save your letters. We know you love the home and felt all warm and fuzzy when you walked into it, that’s what writing an offer means. Now write the offer that will match that value, and don’t expect the seller to pay for your dreams out of their retirement.