Denver-Area Lifestyle & Real Estate!

This is where I share blogs on a variety of topics related to life in the Mile High City and surrounding foothills. You'll find a wide variety of topics covered all related to the Front Range lifestyle, real estate market, and local events. Enjoy, and let me know if you have a topic you'd like to see covered in a future blog post!

Jan. 30, 2019

What can I expect on the day of inspection?

It's a critical point in the due diligence phase of purchasing a home...the inspection. This is really where the "rubber meets the road" in the home buying process. At the inspection, a buyer gets to discover the condition of the home and its various components, in order to make an educated decision about going forward with the purchase. It's often a nerve-wracking process for a seller, who may be worried that something they weren't aware of will become a sticking point in closing the sale...and for buyers, it can be a crushing disappointment to discover a critical problem that becomes a deal-breaker. There's a lot to consider during the process, so let's talk about what you can expect!

First, a buyer is entitled to employ the services of any home inspector they like...however, a good Realtor is going to have at least one or two that they work with frequently and feel will do a good job. My go-to inspector does a very thorough job and will find almost everything, from minor issues to major ones. He'll look at the air conditioning/heating system, plumbing and electrical, the attic (if there is one), windows, floors, basement/foundation, and structural elements...with decades spent looking over houses and assessing their condition, his trained eye sees all. The inspection can take from 2-4 hours, depending on the size of the home. I always encourage my buyers to attend the inspection, so that he can point things out directly and educate them on the overall condition of the house. Prior to the inspection, I forewarn all of them that my inspector will find everything; a certain amount of wear and tear in a home is normal and to be expected, but we'll be concerned with critical problems that need to be addressed, before they follow through with the purchase. I have never and will never recommend that a buyer waive their right to an inspection, as a way of trying to make an offer more competitive. Every buyer deserves to know what they're buying, whether it's being sold "as-is" by the homeowners, or we've agreed to only request health and safety-related fixes.

Because an inspection report is so thorough, listing every single issue the inspector found, it's helpful when they do a "summary" of the most crucial issues. The full report is very handy to a buyer, though, because it points out the niggling little issues that they'll want to be aware of and possibly address, once they've taken possession of the home. Buyers should never, ever go into an inspection expecting everything to be perfect...not even on a new home build. For sellers, it can sometimes be helpful to have an inspector come in prior to listing the home...when a seller can identify many of the smaller, less expensive issues that need to be addressed (such as ensuring enough GFCI power outlets in the kitchen, etc...) it can make the buyer's inspection report seem less "intimidating" and help avoid an excessive number of objections. If a seller is motivated, addressing the more expensive items can make the inspection/objection phase a breeze...because the buyer has nothing to object to! Given that this is the most common time for a home to fall out of contract, it's worth considering if the home is older and hasn't been looked over by a professional since it was bought or built.

What are the essential elements in the inspection?

Here is the basic rundown of the major items an inspector will be looking at:

  1. Heating system
  2. Central air/whole-house fan
  3. Interior plumbing and electrical
  4. Roof
  5. Attic, including insulation
  6. Walls
  7. Ceilings
  8. Floors
  9. Windows and doors
  10. Foundation
  11. Basement
  12. All appliances included in the sale or attached to the property
  13. All structural components (decks, patios, sheds, etc...)

While the home inspection itself will not be invasive (meaning he won't be tearing out drywall to look at pipes and electrical in the walls, etc...) the more the inspector is able to see, the more complete the report will be...so sellers should be prepared to help facilitate the inspection process in the following ways:

  1. If you lock anything (such as the breaker box outside the house), make sure that keys are available to the inspector and clearly labeled.
  2. For any natural gas appliances, ensure that the pilot lights have been lit, even during the summer months. The inspector needs to be able to see how well they function.
  3. Clean up the basement! This can be the location with the most amount of clutter and the inspector needs easy access to everything that's down there, which usually includes the furnace, HVAC systems, water heater and the like. Do this for the attic, as well...as this is often where an evaporative cooling system can be found.
  4. Clean up and groom the yard, so that accessing the crawl space, drainage and septic system (if there is one) is not difficult.
  5. If the home has been sitting vacant and water/power are disconnected, they will need to be turned on prior to inspection.

It may not buy you leniency with the inspector as a seller, but it will go a long way toward establishing goodwill with your buyers and demonstrating a willingness to be cooperative and open about the condition of the house. This can make the difference between negotiating a resolution and a buyer walking away from the table.

What about rural properties, what can we expect there?

In rural and mountain properties, a separate inspection (with qualified technicians for each) will need to be done for both the water well (if one exists) that will test its production capacity and the mechanical components (I would also encourage an independent water quality test, especially in mining zones)...and another inspection for the septic system and tank. If there are any problems with the septic system or septic tank/leach field, they will need to be remedied before the home sale can close; that, or the repair must be scheduled, with funds put in escrow by the seller to pay the costs, prior to closing. Otherwise, the county will not issue a use permit to the new owner...obviously, a major problem to have!

How do I get a better report, as a seller?

Very good question. Inspectors, especially the veterans, have a nose for problems...however they also appreciate a nice-looking, well-maintained home. This can impact the mindset of anyone, even an inspector. If you, as the seller, are still living in the home...making sure that it is clean, tidy and fresh-smelling will go a long way. This isn't usually a problem, since the home has been made ready for showings and is usually putting its best foot forward...but short of having your own inspector go through the place, be sure to look for any obvious problems that you can address, prior to inspection. Cracked windows? Loose tiles? A hole in the kids' bedroom door? A garbage disposal that isn't working? Fixing these kinds of issues prior to the buyer's inspection can take some of the leverage away from a buyer when negotiating a resolution to their inspection objections...and you may even take away any reasons they had to object, in the first place!

Who pays for the inspection and how much is it?

During the due diligence phase when you're under contract on a home, it is typically the buyer's responsibility to pay for the inspection...however, it can be written into the offer contract that the seller will pay. It's a negotiable item...however most typically in a real estate transaction, the side who benefits from something is the side that pays for it. In a seller's market, it's very rare to see a buyer attempt to get the seller to foot the inspection bill. Sellers who have already paid to have an inspection done prior to listing their home should not expect a buyer to be satisfied with the resulting report and assurances that issues have been repaired...buyers should always, always, always have their own independent inspection done, before moving forward with the purchase.

The price of the inspection generally depends upon the inspector and the size of the home. HomeAdvisor estimates that in 2018, the prices ranged from $275-$390, although it will vary by market. My inspectors typically fall right around the middle of that range. As you might expect, cheaper is not usually better, when it comes to inspectors...you want to make sure that the person you're hiring is experienced and has good reviews. These days, it's pretty easy to look someone up online and see what other past clients have had to say about the job they've done. I would recommend choosing one with the CMI (Certified Master Inspector) designation.

What other costs may I incur as a result of the inspection?

Most inspectors will offer a radon gas test, as an optional add-on to the inspection. They'll set up detection devices in the home and it will need to be remain undisturbed, with the doors and windows closed, for a couple of days. If the radon gas exceeds the maximum levels for health and safety, a mitigation system will need to be installed. If asbestos is present in the home (not typical unless the home was built prior to the 1970s), that will have to be encapsulated at a minimum...and ideally, completely removed. Lead pipes or paint are also an issue that requires mitigation in these older homes. Mold is a common issue that is present in many homes in wetter climates, that requires mitigation or serious respiratory problems can present themselves, over time. Optionally, if the home inspector encourages it for any reason, there may also be a need to have a sewer scope done...this involves a qualified technician fishing a small camera through the sewer lines to ensure that they are not leaking and are in good condition. Any of these issues are objections that a buyer will most definitely raise, so a seller may want to ensure that they're handled, before listing the home.

My report contains a ton of defects, what do I do now?

First, breathe! Every inspection report is going to contain a bunch of items that the inspector is pointing out. The toilet handle is loose. A deadbolt doesn't line up perfectly with the door jam. The carpet is discolored in one corner of the kids' room. These small issues are all easily and cheaply remedied...so sellers may want to do so, before listing their homes. Buyers should not be concerned with minor wear and tear issues, because it's to be expected in a home that has been lived in. What we're primarily interested in is items that make the home unsafe or potentially cause health issues, or items that should be working, but currently aren't. Don't let small items - which can be fixed with a quick trip to Home Depot and some elbow grease - become a barrier to closing on an otherwise ideal home for your family!

Posted in Real Estate
Sept. 27, 2018

A comprehensive list of all the Haunted House attractions around the Denver metro area for 2018!

Halloween Month is upon us...are you ready to "scare" up a little spooky fun, this October? If so, this blog post is for you!

Halloween has always been a favorite for myself, my wife and our kids. By day, we are a Realtor and Fine Arts Teacher...but we do both have a gothic side that gets unleashed from time to time (usually date nights) and October is our month to let loose! It's a tradition of mine to visit at least one new local haunted house every year and drag my wife along with me, so that I can live vicariously through her reactions! It takes a lot to scare me...my wife, on the other hand, requires quite a bit less effort. So I go in playing the role of noble protector, ushering her safely through the maze to live another year. If you manage to scare me in the process, even just a little, then you've created a successful haunted house!

Denver boasts two of the nation's top-rated haunted house attractions every year, in The 13th Floor and Asylum...and while they get the lion's share of the attention, there are a ton of other great ones to choose from, as well! I will attempt to keep this list as comprehensive as I can, throughout the month of October...so if you are aware of one that isn't listed here, please let me know and I will add it. If you attend any of these haunted attractions, don't forget to use the feedback form at the bottom of the page, to offer up a review!


 The 13th Floor (Denver)

Among the best haunted houses in the nation, The 13th Floor has reached legendary status and is a must-visit. The location has three different and totally unique haunted attractions, as well as mini-escape room games (they last only five minutes) where attendees must use clues and solve riddles to escape!


Aftermath (Cañon City)

The Cañon City recreation district puts on a haunted house that has been rated one of the top haunts in Colorado for the past three years, by several websites. The event is a fundraiser for the Cañon City Recreation District. Keep an eye out for terror around every turn...because they have already been watching you!


Asylum (Denver)

Routinely listed among the best haunted houses not just in Denver, but nationwide...the Asylum is full of deranged mental patients who are relatively harmless, when compared to the nightmarish reality they live in. Explore the grounds but be warned: Stay within the boundaries of the facility, or you may find yourself among the twisted and delusional patients that inhabit this terrifying Asylum!


City of the Dead (Denver)

In the same location as Asylum, visitors will travel through a lost City of the Dead, whose inhabitants have succumbed to the zombie plague. Make your way through the streets as you encounter hordes of the living dead. Can you survive? Or will you join the residents as one of the shambling undead?


Corn Maze of Carnage (Fort Collins)

By day, Jack Lantern's Corn Maze is a family-friendly celebration of the fall harvest, boasting two pumpkin patches, bounce houses, farm animals and trick or treating for the kids. However...when darkness finally engulfs Northern Colorado, the ghosts, ghouls, zombies and other terrifying creatures emerge from the shadows of this 20-acre corn maze!


Creepy Walk in the Woods (Loveland)

It's exactly what it sounds like...this haunted experience starts in the middle of the Savage Woods at the base of Devil's Backbone. With no guide to rescue them, guests will need to find their way through a myriad of terrifying encounters and escape the creatures who stalk them throughout the night!


Dark Side Of The Abbey (Cañon City)

Two top-rated haunted houses in one location. Deep in the bowels of a 100 year-old Catholic monastery, Dark Side of the Abbey and Dark Side Of The Abbey Unplugged will scare and entertain your entire group!


Dead Zone Scream Park (Denver)

Three unique haunt zones spread across hundreds of acres of farm property, there is something for everyone at this location. Explore the corn maze in the dead of night (don't worry, it's not haunted), or venture into the part of the cornfield that is known to be haunted by a long-forgotten, dark spirit known as "The Krow." Or, if you prefer, pull up a hay bale and sit down to watch one of four different horror films, a different one playing each week!


Elitch Gardens Frightfest (Denver)

During the Family by Day portion of Fright Fest, kids can relay, hop and jump their way to victory at Halloween-themed interactive challenges during Ghouls Match. It’s also totally okay for kids to hoot and holler at the Scream It Out competition, when the most earsplitting shriek results in the title of Scream King or Queen. Family by Day wraps up with a costume contest on the KiddieLand Stage at 4:30 p.m. After that, Elitch Gardens transforms into Fright by Night when the sun goes down and shrills and chills take over! Scare-seekers should head straight for the three haunted experiences - No Vacancy, Big Top Freaks and Séance - that thrust guests into the action during blood-curdling live performances that launch at 5 or 6 p.m. and run throughout the night!


Fear Of The Dark (Fort Collins)

Chipper's Lanes has created a 3,000 square foot, two story haunted house that will have you quaking in your boots, before you ever step inside!


The Forest Of Doom (Morrison)

This is one of the few kid-friendly options for a haunted experience in Colorado. Each year, the production sets up in a forested area within the upper foothills, creating a lit, walkable path that will take visitors on a haunted hike through the wilderness...and the path changes every weekend!


Frightmare Compound (Westminster)

This was the first haunted house in the Denver area and is now world-famous! The haunt's founder, Brad holder, built the house over a span of 16 years...until he became fatally ill and (according to rumors) was buried on the grounds! After years of experience and fine-tuning, this has become one of the top-rated haunts in Colorado and its three attractions are definitely not for the feint of heart! Get the kids a babysitter, for this one...


House of Horrors (Loveland)

A fundraiser for the Harrington Arts Alliance (a 501c3 non-profit), this is Loveland's only indoor haunted house. Their new location this year is The Odd Fellows - Majestic Gatherings Place, a 110 year-old, 6,000 square foot building that was home to the Loveland Opera House.


Haunted Field of Screams (Thornton)

In the corn fields in northeast Thornton, among four unique haunts in one location, lurks the true embodiment of terror! For 2018, every experience at this 30-acre corn maze is completely new...so if you've been in previous years, it's time to check this one out again! Experience Condemned, Dead Man's Maze, Carnevil and Zombie Paintball Massacre!


Haunted Mines (Colorado Springs)

At the site of the former Sinister haunted house, builders uncovered a large cavern and series of mining tunnels. Deep within these tunnels lay buried an array of mysteries and secrets that only the bravest of souls may witness...but will you survive, so that you can tell others of what you found, within its depths?


Hell's Trail (Pueblo)

Nearly one mile of sheer terror...no matter how frightened you are, stay on the trail! Evil lurks beyond the boundaries of your walking path and is always waiting for that one stray lamb to wander from safety, into the darkness.


Hellscream Haunts (Colorado Springs)

One of the top haunted houses in the nation, having gained the attention of national newsmedia and named scariest and best in Colorado in numerous local publications, over the years. Created by visual effects veterans of the film and television industry, the production values are exceptionally high...and when you're done with the haunt, play Zombie Laser Tag or experience an escape room!


Nightmare City (Greeley)

What began as a simple haunted house in a family home, quickly evolved into a full-scale haunted house next to the Greeley Mall, two years ago. Their new location this year now offers an entirely new dimension in terror! Each room is inspired by your worst nightmares and will unnerve even the bravest visitor.


Reapers Hollow (Parker)

There is something dark lurking in the woods and cornfields at Flat Acres Farm. Three attractions are featured on the property! Reaper's Hollow is a terrifying 20-30 minute trek through the haunted field. Dead End Motel lures frightened attendees with the promise of safety...a promise that is quickly proven false. New this year is Goblin's Grove, a one mile trek through a Goblin-infested forest. Can you survive?


Reinke Haunted Mansion (Littleton)

Making its triumphant return, after a three year hiatus! This is a 50 year family tradition and the grand re-opening promises to offer thrill-seekers an even better experience than ever before...visitors will enjoy a free concert and there will be food trucks and vendors on-hand, as well! They even offer a "lights on" tour for children to experience!


Scream Acres (La Salle)

Just to the south of Greeley in La Salle, the Fritzler Farm Park is all about fun for the whole family...but when the moon rises, the once kid-friendly farm and corn maze will strike fear into the hearts of the bravest adventurers. Then visit the Ghost Haunt and escape an abandoned ghost town, full of horrifying special effects. Finally, survive the zombie apocalypse at Zombie Paintball Slayer, from the safety of a converted zombie-hunting school bus!


Sinister (Colorado Springs)

In the same location as the Haunted Mines attraction. The Inneas House, a boarding home for “The Hurt, Helpless, and Homeless” (as their famous hand scrawled sign indicates) and a medical facility only known as “The Sanitarium” (supposedly aimed at the mental and physical recovery of their patients) make up the complex commonly referred to as “Sinister”. 


Terror in the Corn (Erie)

Anderson Farms is a well-known destination for children and families to explore; but when night falls, the farm animals disappear and the screams begin! Terror in the Corn is a three part haunt, starting with a hayride through the cornfield. When guests are left stranded in the middle of the field, they must find a way to the haunted ghost town nearby and make their escape!


Undead Abominations (Denver)

Now co-located with The 13th Floor attraction...this is one of Denver's newest haunted houses. Built to scale as an interactive and immersive experience, steel your nerves against swarms of zombies and the shambling undead as they surround your place of refuge, forcing you to seek shelter in various other buildings as you attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse!


World's Scariest (Littleton)

A bold claim, to name your haunt "The World's Scariest Haunted House," but it's certainly intriguing to afficianados of the art form! In 2016, it was rated the top haunt in the Denver metro area by Spooky Colorado. You be the judge!

Posted in Lifestyle
Sept. 13, 2018

So you want to buy a mountain property?

I spend a lot of time working with buyers who are interested in purchasing a home in the foothills and mountains. Some are from out of state and feel that a part of the allure of moving to Colorado is mountain living, while others have lived in the rapidly-growing Metro Denver area and suburbs long enough to have an appetite for the peace and quiet that mountain living affords. Still others are just avid skiiers who would like to trim some time off of their drive up to the resorts! Whatever the reasons, there are many considerations that come with living in the hills that buyers need to be aware of, in order to make an educated decision about buying a mountain property. Since these are details I find myself covering with buyers pretty regularly, I decided it was high time I wrote a blog post that covered everything you need to know about buying in the mountains!

The prospect of living in the foothills and mountains can seem magical and serene, but buyers should be aware that mountain living comes with a wide array of issues that a "flatlander" may never encounter, with suburban living. There are positives and negatives that must be weighed, before moving forward with a purchase.

Getting closer to nature

This is really the main draw, for most people: The fresh air, the beautiful scenery and changing colors of the Aspen trees, abundant wildlife, with convenient access to hiking, fishing, hunting and skiing. Colorado's mountains are beautiful year-round. That said, the types of wildlife that encroach on your property may not always be welcome additions to the scenery (or your garden/plants). Access to county-maintained roads may not be very convenient and a homeowner may be required to invest in a snowplow or blade, to clear a path to county roads that are plowed the morning after heavy snowfall. This can seriously lengthen a commute into the city, for work. The possibility even exists for snowfall to be so significant that the state highways or freeways are forced to close, until they can be cleared. Being snowed-in during the dead of winter is not that uncommon, for many mountain dwellers. If reliable commute times are important to a buyer, they need to confine their search to homes that are in close proximity to major paved access roads and the highway.

How often or far do you commute?

In ideal weather conditions, there are many places in the foothills surrounding Denver that lend themselves to the "mountain living" vibe, with a reasonable commute into the city. Those properties sell for a premium to others that are deeper in the hills, because they offer quick access to the highway and city centers. Depending upon the price point, the properties that fit a buyer's budget or needs may require a 20-30 minute drive traversing slow, winding dirt roads before ever hitting the main traffic arteries. It will take longer to get to the store for groceries, to reach medical care (or for emergency services to reach your property) and as a result, things that we take for granted in the city become a bit more cumbersome and inconvenient, living in the hills. It requires an adjustment in habits for many buyers...forgetting one or two items at the store goes from a quick trip to the corner store, to a significant time investment. In situations where a heavy storm front moves in, or mudslides/rockslides/fallen trees, roads may become impassible and so residents of mountain areas need to plan ahead, for when those situations inevitably arise...and they will.

Power outages are much more common

Because the weather that mountain residents experience is usually magnified several times over what ends up hitting the city, things like power outages and other service disruptions (like internet) are far more common. There has been a marked increase in the number of solar systems being installed on mountain properties, for this reason...and backup generators are also commonplace. Having ample supplies and possibly even owning or leasing a propane tank (which is very common, further away from city centers) are considerations. Just as it is with the commute, preparation for surprise storms or other service-related issues are much more important in the mountains than they are, for those living "down the hill."

Internet, cellphone service and mobile data are far less reliable

There are carriers that insist they offer the most robust coverage available in the mountains, but the fact remains that there are only so many cell phone towers available and the mountains have far fewer of them than the city does. A buyer could consider themselves very fortunate if they're able to get 4G data and quality reception at their new mountain home...because it's not the norm. Many properties will only support the most basic voice communications and that, not very reliably. Wired internet connections are also at a premium, as the majority of homes will have to resort to wireless, or even satellite...which is far less reliable and slower. This is a major consideration for people who are attracted to mountain living as telecommuters who don't need to work in the city and can do their jobs from home. Once again, being closer to city centers and major thoroughfares increases the chances of reliable coverage greatly, but also the price point of the homes in question.

The land itself often presents complications

Dense trees surrounding a property may initially be attractive to a buyer, until a beetle infestation arrives and begins killing them...or a fire starts and threatens to spread to the treeline of their property. Many mountain properties are built into the side of the hill, on a slope. This can cause runoff from melting snow or rain that can erode the ground, cause damage to a foundation, saturate a septic system's leach field, or even create a mudslide. It's extremely important that in cases like this, mitigation systems for runoff be in place to guide the water away from (or through) the property, without causing problems. In Colorado, it's not uncommon for a morning snow to be mostly melted by the late afternoon...so runoff is a common occurrence. Mountain properties often have dirt driveways that are rutted up due to runoff and low-clearance vehicles may get high-centered, trying to navigate them. Maintaining those driveways via grading and roadbase can become an annual expense, in many cases.

There are few (or no) city services available

This is a big one, for most people who are accustomed to living in the city. The three things "flatlanders" most take for granted are water, sewer and natural gas. All three of these throughout most of metro Denver are provided by the city the home is located in. In the mountains, it's very possible that none of them will be available through the city. Most mountain properties have a well for water, which may or may not produce enough water to support household use. Those homeowners that have a well which produces ample water are fortunate...the ones who don't are forced to invest in a pressure tank system that will store water for use. Rather than having a city tap to a sewer system, the mountain and other rural properties along the front range and mountains use in-ground septic systems to handle solid and liquid waste. These are usually a combination of a holding tank and what is known as a "leach field" - so named because the waste water runs down perforated tubes and "leaches" into the ground surrounding them. The water is then removed via a combination of natural vegetation and evaporation. In lieu of having a natural gas connection, many mountain dwellers either lease, or invest in a large propane tank and appliances which are designed to use propane, rather than natural gas. There are many companies who will truck propane up to a mountain property and fill the tank, as needed...whether it makes sense to purchase or lease is heavily dependent on the owner. Also very important when considering a location is how far away the nearest fire station and hospital are. Always check to see what the typical response time to your home would be, in case of an emergency.

Do you need a garage?

This is one thing that routinely surprises buyers who are new to the mountains. In the foothills and mountains surrounding Denver, it's somewhat rare to find properties under $450,000 that also have a garage. There may be a covered carport, but very often there will be nowhere to park a vehicle indoors. This is often due to the land itself - a sloped lot on the side of a hill doesn't lend itself to a garage as well as flat land does. For buyers who are considering a move into the mountains for the first time, the lack of a garage proves to be a deal-breaker, almost every time. 

Pay attention to the property's zoning

This can be important, particularly when looking into potential environmental hazards. A major consideration in Colorado's foothills are the properties that are zoned for mining use. There are areas (Idaho Springs comes immediately to mind) where many properties have heaps of slag nearby, or on the property. Slag can contain an abundance of potentially toxic elements such as Chromium, lead and arsenic, which can seep into the water supply. It's doubly important as part of the due diligence portion of inspecting the property that a water quality test be included, along with testing its production. Ensuring that the property is not built above a mine - turning it into a potential sinkhole - is also very important! In addition to environmental concerns, zoning will tell you what uses are and aren't allowed.

Homeowners Associations are rare and usually defunct

It's entirely possible that a buyer will make an offer on a property that says it has an HOA, with a very small annual fee for something like snow removal and nothing else. This HOA may even have covenants and restrictions written into a document...but the board that existed when the CC&R's were written will most likely be long-since defunct, with almost no one to enforce the rules. Neighbors who are aware of them can still file a grievance with the county and get the rules enforced that way, but it is usually perceived as being more trouble than it's worth. In the mountains, neighbors usually get to know each other pretty well and it behooves a new resident to make friends with the other homeowners around them. In the event of an emergency or seriously bad weather, those neighbors can become a lifeline. Fortunately, most of them already know the drill, have all the equipment they need, and will be happy to help you out. Make them your best dessert dish and take it over to their place as a "Thank You!"

Don't freak out about non-standard construction techniques

In the mountains, it's not uncommon at all to find "unique" ways of solving construction needs. Duck down into a crawlspace and you may see perfectly-sized tree stumps being used as supports. As long as they're dry and show no signs of rot, they're just as good (if not better) than any construction materials you might buy. Some of the homes are built on a concrete slab, rather than a traditional in-ground foundation...and still others are built on flagstone foundations. Pretty much every mountain home is custom-built, so each one will have its own unique look and character: No two will likely be the same. It's also not uncommon for homeowners to do additions and renovations, without pulling permits for them...it's rare that anyone checks whether improvements are up to code (or notices that improvements have been done, in the first place), so many people decide not to go to the trouble and expense of getting a permit. This may or may not be an issue, depending on whether an inspection reveals safety issues related to the construction of the improvements...but the responsibility of determining the condition and safety falls to the buyer, during the inspection period. It may result in additional expenses, if something needs to be reworked. A good inspector that specializes in mountain properties can provide a serious education on this topic.

In spite of the fact that there is so much to think about, when you're considering a home in Colorado's foothills and mountains...the rewards of mountain living can be truly awesome. Fresh air, a slower pace, breathtaking surroundings and peace and quiet, when you want it. After reading this article, you should be armed with the knowledge needed to pursue your hunt for a mountain property more effectively. When you're ready to have me show you some places, I'm only a phone call or e-mail away!

Posted in Real Estate
Aug. 7, 2018

Must-Do's for Homeowners Before Listing a Home for Sale

I recently contributed comments for inclusion in a book being written by Natalie Jones of HomeownerBliss.info and she kindly offered to write a guest blog for KDHouses.com! In it, Natalie suggests some "Must-Do" steps for homeowners to take, when preparing their homes for marketing and sale. Enjoy! - Kevin Deselms

If you’re planning to list your home for sale, carefully consider what you’ll need to do before opening the door to a single potential buyer. Most realtors would advise you to make a to-do list and check off each item before scheduling an open house. As you check off to-do’s, remember that it’s all about making a strong impression on buyers by showing them a home carefully staged to help them imagine it as theirs. Cleaning and decluttering are two of the more obvious checklist items; curb appeal is another. But there are many other preparations that need to be made if you’re to impress a discriminating homebuyer who will peer into every nook and cranny, open drawers, and nose into closets full of personal items. 

Bath and Kitchen Upgrades

In most houses, there’s a lot of value tied up in the kitchen and bathrooms. You can add to that and refresh things with new faucet fixtures, appliances, drawer hardware, and upgraded lighting. Consider replacing those old kitchen countertops with a nice faux marble or granite look, or a functional and attractive butcher block counter.

Paint That Sells

Most REALTORS®, including your agent Kevin Deselms, advise their clients that neutral colors are the most effective for selling a house. A nice beige or off-white won’t overwhelm someone or make it difficult for them to envision the space as they would decorate it. Neutral paint acts as an ideal backdrop, allowing buyers to focus their attention on the space rather than the walls. It’s part of keeping your decor as simple and understated as possible. Remember, you’re not trying to make a personal statement, you’re trying to sell a property.

Deodorize

Everyone’s home has its own unique smells. Unfortunately, sometimes those smells come from pet urine, stale cigar smoke, or a garlic-heavy dinner dish from earlier in the week. Visitors will notice unpleasant odors right away, smells that you might have become accustomed to. If necessary, ask a friend or neighbor to come by, give it a good sniff, and tell you what they’re picking up. You can then air out the place, light scented candles, and use baking soda liberally in the kitchen to deodorize your home. If you have a really stubborn odor, consider using vinegar to cover up the smell or lay out bowls of coffee beans, which have absorptive qualities.

Don’t Make It About You

Remember, you and your family aren’t the star of this particular show. No matter how great your vacation photos are or how cute your pets might be, that’s not what a prospective buyer is there to see. Take down the family portraits and the kids’ fourth-grade masterpieces just for a while. In fact, put away anything that could be a distraction. You can always put it back on the walls after your open house.

Clean and Declutter

A good cleaning and decluttering can make your home stand out. Consider having your home deep cleaned by a professional who can make the carpeting look like new and give your woodwork a nice shine. It’s well worth the investment. The average cost of a one-time cleaning for a home in Golden, CO ranges from $123 to $224. And don’t forget to declutter so buyers don’t get the mistaken impression that yours is a dirty or disorganized house. Go room by room and organize everything based on what you’ll keep, what you’re going to donate, and what’s to be thrown out. If you have piles of accumulated mail or credit card statements, decide what to do with them and make the piles disappear.

Curb Appeal

Nothing about a house says “check me out” quite like a beautifully maintained yard and exterior, a look that just grabs a passersby with real curb appeal. Sellers should keep the grass along the driveway and walkways edged and even and weed the lawn carefully. Keep the grass well-mowed but not so short that it becomes damaged. 

Entering the real estate market comes with a long checklist if you’re serious about selling. You have to make your property look absolutely pristine and too good to pass on. And don’t underestimate the value of relatively inexpensive improvements that can make an otherwise drab room look brand new.

Article provided by Natalie Jones from HomeownerBliss.info.

Posted in Real Estate
July 10, 2018

Want to move into a new home, but need to sell one in order to do it?

So you've built up loads of equity and would like to use it, in order to buy a new home. Exciting! Maybe the kids have grown and are moved out, so what once seemed like barely enough room now feels like too much house. Perhaps it's time to upgrade from your starter home, which has gained a ton of value in recent years. Everywhere you turn, though, people are saying how tough this market is for buyers and how short the supply of homes is. What do you do? It's a conundrum...but there are answers!

The Post-Closing Occupancy Agreement (A.K.A. "rent-back")

When listing your home for sale with the goal of putting the net proceeds toward a new home purchase, one of the first tools we have at our disposal to help bridge the gap between closing on your current home and taking posession of the new one is the rent-back. When listing your property, your Realtor can include (preferably in the broker's notes, which is not visible to the public) your need for a rent-back, because you are currently looking for a replacement property. Since most lenders give buyers a grace period before requiring the first mortgage payment, there is a window of time after the closing where the buyer could potentially offer a free rent-back to the seller (which is, incidentally, a very good way to sweeten an offer, without going above asking price). This will vary in duration, depending on the lender. Once that period is up, typically a buyer will ask for a daily occupancy rate, or "rent," until they have taken posession of the property and the seller has moved out. This rent-back period will have a clearly-stated ending and once that date is reached, the daily rate will typically skyrocket...creating a strong incentive for the seller to meet their stated move-out date, or risk eviction. This rent-back period can be as long as 60 days, although waiting two months to take posession will be a tough pill for most buyers to swallow...so it's rare.

In a rent-back, the seller will be required to carry a renter's and liability insurance policy to cover the property during the rent-back period, in the event of damages incurred during their continued occupancy. As soon as title changes hands, the condition of the property becomes the buyer's responsibility...and the burden of paying deductibles and repair costs will be, too. Having the seller buy walls-in coverage for the duration of the rent-back protects the buyer from bearing any of the costs of repairs and also acts as a strong incentive for the seller to ensure the property remains in reasonably similar condition to how it looked when the transaction closed.

How to manage a buyer contingency

For the seller who is seeking to buy a replacement property, the other component in coordinating the two transactions is having the listing active, or ready to go live, before making an offer on a replacement property. Most listing agents would be very hesitant to allow their sellers to go under contract with an offer that is contingent on the sale of another property, without ample evidence that the buyer's property is ready to be sold. Showing them the listing that is ready to go "at the push of a button" can help immensely, but having the listing active and available to be checked is even better. Of course, the lender will need to have an underwriter sign-off on a pre-approval, with the projected net proceeds of the sale being applied toward the purchase of the new home. It can be very helpful to have the same Realtor list your current home and help with the purchase of the replacement property, as they will be intimately familiar with both timelines and can advise you on the best course of action for each transaction.

Having a buyer contingency like this can hurt an offer's chances somewhat, in a competing offer situation...a seller may opt to go with the more straightforward option. This may require your Realtor to sweeten the offer in other ways (and they don't necessarily need to be strictly financial). It's far from impossible, but you will want a strong Realtor who can handle both sides of the transaction smoothly for you. A major part of this is pricing the property correctly. Too high and the home will languish on the market and eventually require price reductions, taking you below the net return that your lender pre-approved you with. Too low and you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. It's crucial that your Realtor find the "sweet spot" between price and time on market. You want it to sell fast, but for the right price. At the time of this writing, if you are selling a home under $500,000 it's reasonable to expect your home to be under contract within two weeks. The higher price points will take a little longer.

If this sounds like your predicament, and you could use a hand with coordinating the two transactions and making it happen as smoothly as possible, I can help! Give me a call or an e-mail...let's talk about your goals and how best to achieve them!

 

Posted in Real Estate
June 7, 2018

Looking for a new restaurant to try? Allow me to make a suggestion...

With the explosive growth that Denver has been experiencing over the past decade has come a vast improvement in the quality and variety of food selections on offer. If you've been living in the area for a significant length of time, some of my suggestions may not surprise you...but others may! Those of you who are new to the state and are trying to find something that matches up favorably to your old favorites "back home," I have suggestions for just about every major cuisine style you could ask for...and I've decided to put it in a blog post, for you to reference. Try them all, you won't be disappointed!

Breakfast

There are a bunch of contenders for great breakfasts in the Denver metro area; but for overall quality and available choices, I give the edge to Syrup. There are several locations around Denver, however the only one I have visited is the location on 18th street, downtown. The runner-up for the breakfast category would probably be Snooze, which also has several locations to choose from. For something closer to home, I have always loved Le Peep...we frequent the Westminster location.

Burgers

This one is the reason behind the "and around" Denver, in the title of this blog post...because while I know that Aspen isn't exactly a convenient trip for a meal, the 520 Grill has by far the best burgers I've eaten, in the entire state of Colorado. Burger connoisseurs really need to try the bacon-infused Bison burger, but they've also got beef, turkey, chicken and vegan options. Whichever way you go, these guys won't disappoint. A very strong runner-up locally would be the burger on offer at Prohibition in downtown Denver. Order it with a fried egg...it's truly spectacular!

Chinese

Authentic Chinese can be a real challenge in Denver, especially if you've been spoiled by living in one of the larger coastal cities, such as New York or Los Angeles...but if you want the real thing, Hong Kong BBQ is the best spot I've found for it. Totally unassuming hole-in-the-wall place and don't expect stellar service if you're going to sit down for a meal in the restaurant (most people order take-out), but the food is mouth-watering, authentic Cantonese. You'll be doing yourself a disservice if you don't try their BBQ pork.

Cuban

I started to love Cuban cuisine while living in Los Angeles, and got hooked on Picadillo and Papas Rellenas. Upon my return to Denver, I needed to find a restaurant that could approximate the food at my favorite place on the west coast...and I found it, at Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe. This is where Florida transplants who love Cuban food go to eat, here in Denver. Great service and the food is top notch, you will not be disappointed. Try their Cuban Sandwich once and I guarantee you'll be back.

Indian

My wife and I are huge fans of Indian curries and the quality here in the Denver metro area is kind of "all over the place" - the vast majority of people seem to have no problem with buffet-style fast food places. If you want something more authentic and traditional, my suggestion is Namaste India Restaurant in Arvada. Don't expect great or particularly attentive service here, but it's definitely the best Indian food my wife and I have had in Denver.

Italian

Come for the free garlic knots, stay for the incredible dessert case! This is an "over the counter," deli-style style eatery, with great-tasting food and some of the best pizza in Denver (by the pie, or by the slice). Because of the unassuming location, it's easy to miss...but you're missing out, if you haven't tried Grammy's Italian Goodies yet. I recommend a canoli, followed by their tiramisu...f'getaboutit!

Korean

There's just something about sitting around a grill while I pile on the bulgogi, steak and onions...letting those marinated smells waft across the table while we enjoy a dozen or so different "banchan" appetizers, laid out by the servers. In Denver, nobody does the Korean barbeque experience better than Seoul Korean BBQ in Aurora...it's the best.

Mexican

One thing there is no lack of in the Denver area is quality Mexican food...so deciding on a best restaurant wasn't easy. For my money, though, the best spot in Denver for authentic Mexican food is Guadalajara Restaurant in Westminster. The top dish to try is the Molcajete, which is their signature item...a sizzling plate of steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo and cheese that will wake up even the most stubborn taste buds. You aren't going to go wrong with their burritos, either...smothered in green chile, if you're like me. Bring your appetite!

Ramen

Ramen is one of those dishes that is difficult to get right and requires a ton of artistry...and a lot of places around Denver get it wrong. Tokio is not one of those places. They serve the best, most flavorful and authentic Japanese Ramen of anyplace I've tried in Colorado. The restaurant also serves sushi, but I don't really recommend it (see my recommendation two entries down, for the best Sushi in Denver)...stick with the Ramen and you won't be disappointed. It's also a great place to sit down and enjoy the ambiance, while you slurp down your noodles!

Steak

Much like Mexican food, there's no shortage of great steakhouses in Denver...but one stands above the rest, and that's Shanahan's Steakhouse in Downtown Denver. Started by former Denver Broncos head coach, Mike Shanahan, this place is high-end dining with some of the best meat you'll taste, anywhere. You're not limited to steak here, there are a wide variety of seafood options on offer as well...for the ultimate "surf and turf" meal. As you might expect, the prices are not what you'd call "reasonable" but for a special night out, it's hard to beat. For a less expensive option in Arvada, I'm partial to The Butchery, which replaced The Old Neighborhood restaurant, a longtime fixture of the area that suffered a steady decline in quality over the years. Update: I have discovered another great option in North Denver, this time in Westminster...The Hideaway! The prices are similar to The Butchery, the ambiance and service are great, and the steak was top notch. Give it a try!

Sushi

One of the toughest things to find in the Denver metro area, since returning from a long stint living in Los Angeles, has been sushi that meets the freshness and flavor standards that I'd become accustomed to. Happily, after much trial and error, we discovered Sushi Hai in the Highlands area of Denver. This place offers LA-style sushi and sashimi options that far eclipse higher-profile restaurants like Sushi Den (which is still pretty good) and Sushi Sasa. As a backup closer to home, I can recommend Namiko's in Olde Town Arvada.

Thai

I am a huge fan of Pad Thai and Chicken Satay...and J's Noodles does Pad Thai better than anybody else in the state, that I've tried. Don't confuse this with the location of the same name in Lakewood, the quality is not on par. This area on south Federal isn't trendy, but does play home to a wide variety of quality asian cuisine (the Vietnamese food options are abundant, though I'm not a fan of Pho)...and there isn't much room inside for a sit-down dining experience, you'll be better off ordering take-out. But if you're a fan of Thai, you need to try this place.

Wings

Hands-down the best Buffalo wings in Denver, easily besting the likes of Buffalo Wild Wings, is Grillin' Wings & Things in south Denver. This location, not far from the University of Denver on University Blvd, has so many awesome sauces to try that you'll be coming back again and again...but don't focus solely on the chicken wings, because the "Pig Wings" made of pork shoulder are also fantastic and a must-try. They'll let you sample the sauces before you order, as well...go give them a try and tell me I'm wrong!

Posted in Lifestyle
April 25, 2018

Should you trust a Zestimate or other online valuation?

Living in the information age, we all have a wealth of information and resources at our fingertips. One of the biggest problems with that is, we have to find ways to separate the wheat from the chaff. The internet may be loaded with information, but not all of it is correct or reliable. When it comes to Real Estate, one of the biggest bones of contention among both Realtors and sellers is the Zestimate. Online Real Estate marketing powerhouse Zillow (among many other consumer portals) offer an estimate of a home's value, which many potential sellers routinely use, as a way of estimating the market value of their home. Unfortunately, these valuations are often wildly innacurate, and can set homeowners up for disappointment when they get a truly accurate price opinion from a licensed Realtor, who is intimately familiar with the local market. These estimates have even been the cause of lawsuits. (In the spirit of full disclosure, my own site offers an automated "estimate" when entering your address...but it also encourages users to request that I do an official CMA for them, before they move forward with listing a property...something which I am happy to do.)

One has to ask themselves: "How can a computer determine the value of a home that it has never walked through and seen the finishes of, in comparison to the other homes that have sold in the area?" The Zestimate (and other, similar price estimates) are based solely on a computer algorithm that culls data from Zillow's listing information. This algorithm is purely mathematical and is utilizing what is often incomplete or erroneous information. Once these portals have pulled information from the MLS, they will often fail to update listings with revised pricing information. In some cases, they never update the listing's status from "available" to "under contract" or "sold" - and there's a good business reason for this (though it's easy to write off as an oversight or "software glitch").

What many consumers are not aware of is that Zillow (and other consumer portals) make money from users who are inquiring about properties listed on the website. The companies are selling that user's information to the agents serving that area code who subscribe to the service, every time a user submits a request for information about a property. So an estimate of value is not only just based on the numbers, but numbers that may not be completely accurate. Even in the event that it takes a few days for the site to update its price information, it can completely invalidate that property as a comparable. I answer inquiries from many buyers regarding listings they find on Zillow and other sites, who are not aware that the property is under contract...because the site has not updated its status since originally pulling the information down from the MLS. It's certainly possible this is a glitch...but the fact that they profit from it is enough to raise suspicions. Particularly in light of the fact that the company has just announced that it is getting into the fixing and flipping business (an announcement that caused the company's stock to tumble almost 10%). Manipulating the perception of a property's value could certainly work to their advantage, in that situation.

When doing a comparative market analysis (CMA) for a property, I will frequently check to see what the major consumer portals (Zillow, Realtor.com) are showing as a value estimate, just to prepare for what a seller may believe their home is worth. The estimates are almost always way off...sometimes by 10-15% in either direction! I have also observed what the Zestimate does on my own listings, after they update their information from my MLS entry. The portals always adjust the estimate right after my new information is updated, based on my asking price...which they've never gotten right.  A cursory Google search reveals ample explanations for why the Zestimate is unreliable and shouldn't be trusted...and in the Denver market, Zillow finds their estimate within 5% of the sale price only 65% of the time. They are within 20% of the sale price 94.5% of the time (see Zillow's FAQ entry: How Accurate is Zillow's Zestimate?). Is a 20% margin of error compelling to you, as a potential seller? And how far off are they, that remaining 5.5% of the time?

Paying for an appraisal by a licensed and reputable real estate appraiser can sometimes be a good idea, before listing your home...it will help ensure that you aren't faced with a sizeable appraisal gap, when an eager and competitive buyer offers far above the asking price, but doesn't offer cash to cover the entire gap that will likely present itself. Having this information gives the seller a negotiating advantage and can protect them from these issues, after accepting an offer and going under contract. Short of an appraisal, though, a comparative market analysis by a Realtor is your best way of identifying the most likely sale price, given your area, your home's unique features, and the current market conditions. The moral of the story is: Trust a licensed Realtor with their abundance of nuance and skill to establish a sale price for your home...not a computer algorithm.

Posted in Real Estate
April 3, 2018

10 Reasons Selling Your Home With A Realtor Will Net You More Money

To many homeowners in a hot seller's market, selling their home on their own seems to make a lot of sense. They believe that they'll be able to sell their home easily, will receive whatever their asking price is (or more), and can complete the transaction without ever paying a Realtor's commission. In fact, this is the number one reason people attempt to sell their homes on their own...they believe that the commission will reduce their net return too much. However, the data does not support that belief...in fact, the statistics demonstrate that exactly the opposite is true. For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) listings usually net far less than they should.

You Net More Money When You Use A Realtor.

  • FSBOs accounted for 8% of home sales in 2016. The typical FSBO home sold for $190,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales.
  • FSBO methods used to market home:
    • Yard sign: 35%
    • Friends, relatives, or neighbors: 24%
    • Online classified advertisements: 11%
    • Open house: 15%
    • For-sale-by-owner websites: 8%
    • Social networking websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.): 13%
    • Multiple Listing Service (MLS) website: 26%
    • Print newspaper advertisement: 5%
    • Direct mail (flyers, postcards, etc.): 4%
    • Video: 2%
    • None: Did not actively market home: 28%
  • Most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers:
    • Getting the right price: 15%
    • Understanding and performing paperwork: 12%
    • Selling within the planned length of time: 13%
    • Preparing/fixing up home for sale: 9%
    • Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 3%

Source: 2017 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

 

Did You Know: The Founder Of ForSaleByOwner.com used a Realtor to Net More Money?

Colby Sambrotto, the founder of ForSaleByOwner.com, attempted to sell his home as a FSBO. At a list price of $2 million, the home languished on the market for 180 days, without success. When he finally decided to list it with a Realtor, Jesse Buckler, the home sold for $150,000 more than Colby's original asking price...an increase of 7.5%, more than enough to pay the commission fees!

The reason most FSBOs end up listing with a Realtor is the same reason many people don't last long in the business, as real estate agents. It's not as easy as HGTV makes it look! If 89% of FSBOs eventually list with a Realtor, and the average sale is almost $60,000 less than an agent-assisted sale, are you still eager to spend the marketing dollars, time and effort trying to do it yourself? The small percentage you hope to save by not working with a Realtor can easily be lost when the time comes to negotiate with a skilled buyer's agent, or worse, an investor who smells a potential deal with FSBOs.

That's 9 out of every 10 buyers!

This means that the chances are good that you will be asked to pay a commission, to get them to bring their buyers to see your home. Most buyers are accustomed to not paying the commission, and will not consider a FSBO who is also hoping to avoid paying one. So you will end up paying a commission to an agent whose only goal is to represent their buyer's best interests and attempt to get the best deal possible for them. They will undoubtedly offer below what you are asking for, and will push you to accept it, expecting that you are not entertaining multiple offers. Realtors keep an eye on FSBOs and when your home has been on the market longer than a month, they can smell a bargain. In this scenario, are you really saving money by not employing a Realtor to protect your interests and market your property to its fullest potential?

The day before closing and suddenly, the home has a laundry list of problems that need to be addressed.

What do you do if you manage to get your home under contract as an FSBO, but run into problems? Many times, investors will use this strategy to tip the negotiation to their favor and talk a seller down further off their asking price...and sellers are apt to agree, because they've spent so long waiting and now have a "bird in the hand" that they aren't willing to walk away from. The buyer then uses their objections to get out of the deal, and you are left holding the bag.

Have you heard of companies that offer to sell houses quickly for cash, no matter the condition? They feast on FSBOs. With a Realtor in your corner, there will be no surprises at the closing table, because they will have predicted all of the potential pitfalls and help you avoid them...and protect your interests when a savvy buyer or buyer's agent hopes to take advantage of your lack of representation.

There are dangers when you sell as an FSBO.

They go far beyond losing equity, but also place homeowners at risk when showing the house to unaccompanied strangers, theives, and potentially worse. You are giving access to your home to anyone who wants to see it. It isn't uncommon for real estate transactions to end up in legal battles, which can cost you attorney's fees that you would not have paid, had you employed a Realtor. Not because the 11% of FSBOs that actually make it to the closing table aren't smart people, they just don't have the pool of experience to draw from that a Realtor does.

Realtors can see the issues coming before they occur, and mitigate the odds of any legal action surrounding a transaction...in addition to netting you more money.

Realtors don't exist on an island.

We work together on both sides of the transaction, attend many of the same social events, and network with each other. It isn't that uncommon for a Realtor to reach out to others who they happen to know have clients looking for a property just like yours, and get you a maximum offer before the property ever hits the MLS! Many times, all that is required is a mass email to other local Realtors, to maximize the interest in the property and potentially spark a bidding war. Knowing the type of buyer your home would appeal to, and other Realtors who are working with those buyers, gives you a distinct advantage over FSBOs.

Trust me, I do this for a living!

When you do something all day, every day...when you make it your life's work, you tend to get pretty good at it. Realtors master every aspect of conducting real estate transactions, from the marketing, terms and conditions, documentation requirements, contracts and procedures. They are required to take continuing education every year, and must stay current on the latest trends and market conditions. All of these things are difficult to put a price on, but it's why you are hiring a Realtor to help you with your transaction. If you needed open heart surgery, what will be your primary concern: The surgeon's hourly rate, or the result of his performance in the operating room? Much like surgery, real estate is an outcome-based endeavor. A quality Realtor will use all of their skills, expertise and education to maximize your results...they may make it look so easy that you're fooled into believing it IS easy...but it's not!

How disciplined can you be when your home has languished for four months in a hot market...

...and an investor threatens to pull out the only offer you've got, due to an unreasonable objection? Once you're under contract, that's when the real work begins...and there will be numerous points in the process in which a buyer can utilize an exit strategy, leaving a FSBO twisting in the wind, back to square one. Don't let this be you! Hire a Realtor to protect your interests and even in the unlikely even that a deal falls through, you can be sure that another buyer will be waiting in line to go through with the purchase.

Who better to market your home than someone who does it for a living?

One of the biggest mistakes FSBOs make is creating substandard marketing for their home. Cell phone pictures with bad lighting, lack of quality staging, no video presentation, no social media presence, and very little awareness-building. In my case, I come from a previous career in marketing for film and television, so I leverage that expertise in the marketing of homes. These are not skills that come easily and the difference in outcomes between a home properly marketed, and one that isn't, is pronounced. Search Google for your address after a good Realtor has started their marketing...it will be all over the first page of results, on a wide variety of sites. A FSBO might find their address pushed off the main page of Craigslist by spam, after four or five hours.

Selling a home is an emotional roller coaster.

It's important to maintain the right outlook and mindset, as you go through the process of selling your home. Most people develop a real attachment to it, and have a difficult time separating the emotion from the transaction. Realtors provide a steady voice and guidance, giving you confidence in the numbers, your marketing, documentation and contracts, so that when you sit down at the closing table there are no worries or fears that something has not been accounted for. That peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on...but FSBOs try to do it, every day.

If you are considering the sale of your home, and this blog post has made you reconsider putting it on the market yourself, give me a call or an e-mail and let's set up a time to discuss your goals and concerns. I can make the process as painless and enjoyable as possible for you, as well as netting you the most money for your home!

Posted in Real Estate
April 3, 2018

Five cheap ways to get the maximum offer!

Even in the midst of a historic seller's market, it is important than sellers put their best foot forward when presenting their home to buyers...it maximizes the amount of interest and the result of that effort will be multiple highly-competitive offers and even a bidding war. In a marketplace in which there are about two to three weeks in which a new property receives the most attention it will ever get, coming out of the gates strong is crucial. Many times, homeowners are resistant to doing anything to their house, particularly when the perception is that the market is so hot that it'll sell, no matter what. This isn't always true...we see properties languish and suffer multiple price reductions, every week. But isn't the goal to net the maximum amount of money possible, anyway?

If you are considering the sale of your home and are tempted to list it "as is," let me try to sell you on five things that you can do to raise your home's marketing profile, attract buyers in droves and ultimately, receive a higher offer than you would have, otherwise.

#1: A fresh coat of neutral-colored paint

This is probably the biggest "bang for your buck" update that any seller can do to their home. Everyone's taste differs, but a neutral color will give every buyer an "empty canvas" mindset, when looking at your home. You don't want their decisionmaking to be impacted by your personal taste in colors...because it can immediately change a person's demeanor and attitude toward a home, when they consider something "ugly." Choose a color like light grey or eggshell white, and ensure that a lot of natural light is streaming into the home, during showings. It will brighten every room and give the house an airy, light and inviting feel...without turning anyone off.

#2. Resurface your hardwood flooring

Over time, that beautiful hardwood flooring can take a real beating...scuffs and scratches, dulling of the sheen in high-traffic areas, and cracks can make what should be an eye-catching upgrade into comments like, "But that floor really needs work." When buyers see work, they see price reductions. Replacing the flooring is a huge expense, but refinishing it with a darker, richer stain can have a major impact on how new a home looks and its "prestige" factor, give it a "like new" appearance for a faction of the price of replacement.

#3. Replace worn/outdated carpeting

This may be an even heavier hitter than refinishing your hardwood floors, depending on the type and condition of the carpeting. Are your living areas still sporting that thick shag carpet from the 1980s? Are there major stains or traffic wear on your existing pile carpet? If the answer to questions like these is "yes" then it's probably becoming pretty easy to see the negative impact that old floor coverings can have on your home's appearance. If the carpet is outdated, steam cleaning is not going to change a buyer's opinion that it needs to be replaced...and any time the buyer sees work, the potential offer price goes down. Replacing the carpet is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward project that can pay big dividends, in your net.

#4. Refinish your kitchen cabinets

Statistically speaking, people spend more money on their kitchen than any other room in the house. It is usually the centerpiece of any showing, because families spend so much time there and when you like to entertain guests, it's a central hub of activity. So bet on every buyer that looks at your home to spend a fair amount of time contemplating the condition of the kitchen. It's also the room most likely to be the target of renovation plans by most buyers, as they will seek to customize it to their own tastes. One thing that can make the home look a lot newer without making a major dent in your pocketbook is to refinish the cabinets, though. New paint and hardware can make a kitchen more inviting and make a remodel feel less urgent, which will take it off the "needs work" mental checklist that can negatively impact your bottom line.

#5. New light fixtures

Those ceiling fans from the early 80s aren't the look that today's buyers are interested in paying a premium for. New light fixtures and ceiling fans can have a massive impact on how a room feels, and the vibe it conveys. They can often almost single-handedly define a home as "rustic" or "modern" in the eyes of a buyer. Like everything else on the list, it's a relatively cheap way to give the impression that a home has been updated.

Whenever a buyer walks into a home that has been treated to these five updates before showings start, buyers who view it (both in photos and in person) will not feel that there is anything that would prevent them from moving in and feeling comfortable right away. There will not be a sense that a lot of work needs to be done right away, and any remodeling plans can be delayed until the buyers feel comfortable tackling them. This feeling will result in more and much better offers, than selling your home "as is" and expecting the buyer to handle everything.

Thinking of selling your home? Follow this link and provide a few details to learn more about my selling system...or better yet, give me a call or email and let's set a time for me to come and see your home, and give you an accurate valuation. You may be surprised at just how much you can get, in today's market!

Posted in Real Estate
March 26, 2018

The 2018 Denver Home Show

 

The annual Denver Home Show took place at the National Western Complex this past weekend, and I took the family out to see what the latest technologies and trends are; both for new homeowners, as well as those looking to spruce up an existing home. My wife has a background in interior architecture, so she really enjoyed seeing what was available for design and decor! I came back with a bunch of brochures and flyers; both for sellers who would like to put their best foot forward before they list their home for sale, and for buyers who are looking for ideas to incorporate into the home they decide to buy. Here are just a few of the things we saw. Plan to be there when the show returns to Denver, next year!

Inside the Home

A salesperson demonstrates the versatile steam cleaning solution for the home, from Eurosteam. The company was offering a discount on purchases made at the show.

Some really interesting home decor, created using Deer antlers!

Could your bathroom use a makeover? Several companies were showcasing their latest designs.

What good is a beautiful bedroom, if you're not comfortable in your bed? REM Sleep Solutions was on hand with options.

A highlight of the show was the Lifetime cookware demonstration. The company was offering deep discounts, and free cutlery for participation!

Shelves2Drawers presented a really innovative solution for converting cabinet shelving into pull-out drawers. Some really cool options for optimizing your kitchen cabinetry!

True Fitness had all of their club-quality fitness equipment on display. My son couldn't wait to try out the elliptical...

Mile High Coatings were offering their epoxy treatment solutions, to class up your garages and workspaces!

Rustic and cool, the number of carved and natural wood decor and furniture selections at the show was incredible.

Outdoor Options

Stone Falls was on hand with a couple of really cool displays, representing their landscaping options and expertise

Need filler materials for your landscaping? Several companies were offering both natural and sythetic materials to choose from.

These outdoor swings with adjustable sun canopies were a big hit, and extremely comfortable!

Has your exterior concrete seen better days? Everstone can resurface your cracked and weathered concrete with some attractive textured surfaces!

My youngest is really hoping we win the raffle for this ATV! Several giveaways and contests were offered at the show.

Home Upgrades

Ever wondered what to do about those ugly window wells in the basement? There were a lot of cool designs to consider from WindowWellsInc, at this show!

Mile High Synthetic Turf was one of several companies offering complete synthetic replacements for your lawn...or for the golf enthusiast, backyard putting greens!

One of the most common upgrades for the home and always appreciated by home buyers: New, energy-efficient windows!

Awnings that work like window blinds, being demonstrated by Darth Vader. Too busy (and artificial) to engage my kids in a duel...

These iron front doors make a big statement, for the right home style!

This represents just a small sampling of the vendors and options being offered at the Denver Home Show. There were companies offering food delivery, "Glamping" equipment, innovations for just about every room in the house, and an abundance of ideas and inspiration. Whether you're a homeowner, or aspiring to become one, the show is definitely worth the time to browse around. We'll be back, next year!

Posted in Real Estate