“During the difficult process of finding a home that fits not only my needs, but the needs of my children, the quality in Tracy that always impressed me most was her ability to look at the property and evaluate whether the floor plan and space would work for our family dynamics. She was committed to finding a home for my family that worked for us, and she never attempted to simply sell us a house to close a deal. Tracy is professional and fair during the negotiations of a contract. I was comfortable and relaxed knowing I had Tracy to represent me and my interest.” Susan M.
Denver is a crazy-hot real estate market right now with low inventory and multiple offer situations, especially in desirable neighborhoods like Park Hill. Whether you are buying, selling or both, you’ll need to be very prepared and your first step is finding the right Realtor®. Listen to what the Bernuths have to say about their experience.
Jim and Mary Bernuth wanted to downsize from their beautiful Congress Park bungalow to something smaller but with the same charm.We looked at many homes but the heat turned up when their Congress Park beauty went under contract. Like most current sellers, they were nervous about finding the right replacement home and timing both transactions to make a seamless move. We found “The One” and quickly put in an offer… which was rejected. The sale of their home was complicated on the buyers’ side, adding to the stress. Thank you, Jim and Mary, for sharing how it turned out for you and why you recommend TracysDenverHomes for your real estate needs. Click here for more information on the current Denver market.
As the clock ticks toward year’s end, it’s time to review the 2015 real estate market.
When someone asks me how the real estate market is, the cocktail party answer is that it’s been a very pleasing 12 months and future looks bright and shiny. Because the economic news is good our Denver Metro real estate market is projected to stay strong but not overheat. I’ll share some of the metrics I use to evaluate the market and understand it better, describing what 2015 looked like and where I think we’re headed.
Market strength–2015 was an extremely strong seller’s market. The market strength peaked in the spring when the bottom dropped out of our inventory and multiple offers were all the rage. Frustrating for buyers who felt they had to give away so much to stay competitive, the good news is that the market reacted appropriately and became more balanced as the year progressed. With prices on the rise, sellers were motivated to sell as we approached the fall so the market cooled with the start of school and the weather. It is still a strong seller’s market, but far more in balance. I expect 2016 to continue along this line and see no sign of a major imbalance that could lead to any sort of ugly peak and crash. Sellers should get a good price for their homes and replacement properties should not be as hard to find.
Buyers– Real estate website Trulia says that buying an average home in Denver is a whopping 38 percent cheaper than renting a home! For the average home, the interest rate would have to skyrocket to 11 percent for renting to become cheaper than buying, meaning that it is currently MUCH more affordable to buy than to rent. Even with current prices and current rents, interest rates would have to nearly triple to make renting more affordable than owning. (Call me if you want to talk about this.)
Sellers-Can’t say this enough: the most important thing to prepare your home for sale is to get rid of clutter. This includes furniture. You may have learned to live with that cherished armchair stuffed into the corner but a professional stager will often times whisk away half of your furniture. The house looks so much bigger for it, leaving space for a buyer couple and their agent to tour the home without bumping into each other, and space for their imaginations to make it their own. You don’t have to go “Stager drastic” but take a hard look, be objective, and see what you can live without. Painting always pays for itself and statistics show that springing for a staging company is often a good investment.
Rental Vacancies– The rental market is stronger than it has ever been in metro Denver. The vacancy rate for 1- to 4-unit properties is an extremely low 2 percent. That’s a drop from the already 4.7% we’d been experiencing for the past few years. On top of this, rents are rising faster than ever, up 30% in the past three years. With rents equaling a mortgage payment, we’re seeing more renters making the decision to buy. Why live waiting for another rent increase, tough competition and another application process without building any equity? Many homeowners who lost their homes in the downturn and have been renting, are becoming eligible to purchase once again. This is great news for the market and will certainly lead to more sales in 2016, though the influx of buyers insures a continuing seller’s market.
Interest rates– No one knows exactly what interest rates will do in the future but my best guess is that they may rise a little in 2016, but only a little. Remember that the Federal Reserve has control over only short-term, not long-term interest rates. Even if the Fed raises rates, that doesn’t directly affect the 30-year home buyer interest rate you are concerned with. Long-term interest rates are affected by the bond market (as bond prices decrease, interest rates increase) which, frankly, is not predictable. Understand though that interest rates are at near 50-year lows so they are highly unlikely to fall any further. All we know for sure is that someday they will go up.
The Economy– No matter what you may hear in the months leading up to the election (places hands over ears), right now the metro Denver economy is very strong. This is fueling our terrific real estate market and the rising population of our city. The unemployment rate is extremely low, about 3.5 percent. Inflation will stay in the range of 1-2 percent, our population is rising at a rate of 50,000 people/year and consumer confidence continues to rise. Nothing can be better for the housing market than a strong and steady economy.
Mortgage -The single most important number for a home buyer is their FICO score. For good or bad, your FICO plays a major role in your ability to finance your home purchase. Your credit score is a snapshot taken by the three leading credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, to help lenders determine what sort of credit risk you are. Your FICO is a number between 300 and 850 and is calculated by a complex algorithm assessing your past credit history. Most home lenders will consider a score over 700 to be excellent while scores below 600 are considered poor. The better the score the more credit will be extended, at better terms, with a lower interest rate. The best credit terms are extended to consumers with scores above 740. Therefore, it’s critical to understand what your FICO is and what you can do to improve your score. When I work with buyers I help them understand the factors affecting their score so they can work to improve them. I can’t think of a better investment in your future than to spend a little time working on your FICO score.
Here are a few tips I give my clients:
1.Don’t max out your cards, try to keep them under 50% of available credit. Running high balances can severely impact your FICO.
2.Continue paying your bills on time.
3.Don’t apply for new credit or cancel an old card because length of credit helps.
4.Pay down high balances.
5.Dispute and resolve any inaccurate items in your credit report.
6.Invest in a credit monitoring company to track the changes to your score.
Working as a professional actress has taught me many things: tenacity and humility for one. (Ha!). Along with the starring roles and the smaller roles come the understudying gigs. They’ve kept me on my toes, fully insured and employed. Largely the experience hasn’t been in the glamorous, deceitful, clamoring-for-fame vein portrayed in the 1950 film classic, All About Eve, mine have had been more in line with the Girl Scout motto.
Three decades in the industry has kept me ambitious, created a strong work ethic and instilled a somewhat healthy insecurity that feeds my drive. Pounding the pavement, perpetually prospecting and practicing persistence is the perfect training ground for a career in the real estate business, but nothing could have prepared me for spring of ’13.
After Romeo & Juliet, my first foray into the First Folio, I was looking forward to a seasonal ramp up in the real estate world and my end of season gig at the Denver Center Theatre as understudy in “Other Desert Cities”. Shoulda been a cakewalk, it was not.
The rapid acceleration of the Denver housing market coincided with my ascension from understudy to starring role and the first audience in just eight days. (Actually it was a 5 character ensemble play, but ‘starring role’ does sound, well… more dramatic). Time to drill down and focus on my lines; stringing together the beads of this complex and demanding character would come later. I was hitting the wall as we hit our “10 out of 12”, theatre speak for long-ass day, when an offer came in on my hot Congress Park listing. Negotiating a deal and my way around the stage, I had to find my clients a replacement home. Dinner breaks became showing appointments, opening doors as my lines streamed through my headphones, I existed on chocolate bars and power naps until… “You’re on, Eve.”
The show opened, the clients closed on their new house and the actress/Realtor spent a week in Vail recuperating, which is important as the pace has not slowed. The message of my Girl Scout leader, BE PREPARED, has a whole new meaning with the real estate market at a break neck pace. “Prepared” to drop what you’re doing to snap up a showing on a snappy place, “prepared” with a purchase contract ever-ready on the tablet, “prepared” to list a home on Thursday, hold it open on Saturday and present offers on Sunday. “Prepared” went from having snacks and water in your ditty bag to performing the above tasks for multiple clients, sleeping very little, and loving it. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or both, I still have some treats in the ditty bag. Mostly chocolate.
How do you do it, oh friends of mine? Vacate your premises in a timely fashion while living your lives, raising your kids, working your jobs and closing your loans. I’ll bet your boxes are properly labeled, too.
I just moved. Or more specifically, some very strong men came to my house, loaded a truck full of my belongings drove them across town and unloaded them in my new abode. I’ve made numerous trips along the same trail with countless loads of boxes, files, photos, artwork and armloads of clothes. It took them about three hours, it’s taken me months. The new house is coming together, the old one is being prepped to sell, and aside from the stubbing of toes I am in heaven…and hell.
I’m a pretty organized person. I know where I put the Phillips screwdriver, keep the chaos at arm’s length and can crush a to-do list with one hand. None of this prepared me for a move.
I started with plenty of time, and then a flurry of good fortune took a hold of my life, leaving me with higher priorities than packing tape and ARC pick-ups. As I chipped away in what little spare time I had, I found little energy for the real task at hand, DECIDING. Every single thing you own must be dealt with, handled, and decided upon: does it have purpose or does it have meaning or does it fit? If the answer is no, pitch it. Easy at the start, but soon enough poof skirts are begging for a comeback and junk drawers scream to be sorted through and that eclectic offering called your stuff becomes a living nightmare of need, prompting the ashram fantasy.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.”
– Anatole France
As a Realtor I facilitate this transition for others every day, managing the details of the business transaction while they care for the mountain of moving minutia, but it’s a whole ‘nother Oprah when you’re the one moving that mountain. Whether initiated by you or forced upon you, change is always a molecular shake up. No matter how much you anticipate a benevolent future or care to close a chapter of the past, a move holds all the complexities of closure. I am an expert in change; life has thrown me more curves than the Coney Island Cyclone and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. This one is one I have created, and though I have a few ideas about why (urban living, closer to my community, more manageable home, #EastHighSchool) I know there is still much to learn in the process aside from where to put the guest towels. As soon as they find their place, I am receiving.
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.