Cosmetic Issues = Buyer Savings

In a high demand real estate market like Denver, Sellers have the advantage. When Buyer demand outpaces available inventory, the Seller is king, and they have the upper hand at the negotiating table. Don’t abandon all hope, Buyers! In any market, there are things you can do to educate yourself so as to gain an edge in the process.

One area Buyers should pay particular attention to is the cosmetic condition of properties they view. In a Buyers’ Market, Sellers have to work harder to appeal to Buyers, including staging and taking care of deferred maintenance. Sellers can get away with minor deferred maintenance or cosmetic issues when the market is in their favor. BUT – these issues can still give the Buyer a little wiggle room at the negotiating table.

The following is a list of items you can use to your advantage when trying to negotiate concessions or a lower price as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market (or any market):

  • Overly colorful paint, or paint in poor condition. If the basement is hot pink or the exterior paint is flaking off, it is worth asking for a minor break in the price, or a “paint allowance,” to help cover the cost of updating the home. You might not get what you ask for, and you may have to offer full price with a “paint allowance” stipulation, but the answer to a question you don’t ask is always NO.
  • Damaged carpet or other flooring. I once helped clients buy a house that sounds terrible – but was really a hidden gem: listed under FMV (fair market value), but the house needed all new paint, there were no window treatments of any kind, the main level smelled like dog and the finished basement smelled like cat. UGH – right? They bought this home in a desirable suburb for about $20,000 less than it was worth, and by painting and replacing flooring themselves and purchasing quality blinds on sale, they were able to make this house shine and gain instant equity. Don’t pass up an opportunity like this because the house is a little rough around the edges.
  • Fence in disrepair. Wood fencing is a common source of deferred maintenance. I don’t know many homeowners who enjoy staining or painting the fence every year or two. Use this to your advantage. If the Seller has left the fence alone for a few years, or it has obvious damage, ask for a break in price, or ask whether the Seller will meet you in the middle on repair or replacement costs. If you’ve made a fair offer and the Seller is motivated to close the deal in a timely manner, you may be able to pick up a few bucks on an item like this.
  • Road construction or other pesky projects – current or future. Even in a Sellers’ Market, major road construction, noisy building sites, even nearby home construction can be a pain. Noise. Pollution. Ugly views. Extra traffic. None of these things are pleasant to put up with. As a Buyer, do your homework! If there is a new road going in half a block away, the Seller should disclose this information if they have it – but they don’t always do that. Learn everything you can about a city or neighborhood, and if there are projects underway or planned for the near future, use this information to your advantage. A motivated Seller with a smart Realtor on their side knows major construction projects near the home will not improve the market value in the short run, and they will likely want to sell the house before the dust begins to rise. Use this information to negotiate a better price, or possibly concessions on the home.

Buying a house is a big deal, and there are a lot of moving pieces. When you work with an experienced Realtor, you’ll reap the benefits of someone who’s got your back – and knows every in and out that could save you money and give you an edge. In a market like Denver, Buyers need all the help they can get to score a great deal. If you’ll be in the market soon, I’d love to help you find the right home and maximize your potential at the negotiating table.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

 

 

Maintain Thy House

Any time the season changes, it’s time to go through a seasonal maintenance checklist. Keeping up with regular maintenance tasks in and around your home saves money and provides peace of mind. Avoiding basic home maintenance can end up costing you big time – and come back to haunt you as “deferred maintenance issues” when it’s time to sell your home. #justdoit

The 10 Commandments of Springtime Home Maintenance

  1. Inspect thy roof. Conduct a visual inspection of the roof, using binoculars or the zoom feature on your phone to get a closer look. If you see missing shingles or anything suspicious, call in a roofing pro for an inspection.
  2. Beware regional pests. Examine the exterior of your home as well as attic and basement for pest issues. Get a jump on concerns before the weather really heats up, and call in an expert if you don’t know what kind of creepy crawly you’re dealing with or how to get rid of it.
  3. Reseal thine exterior woodwork. Wood decking, fencing, trellises, shutters, etc. will hold up longer and stay looking great with a fresh coat of stain or sealant every 12-14 months. This is also a great time to repair or replace damaged exterior woodwork.
  4. Clean thy gutters and downspouts. It’s not a fun job, but it’s a necessary one. Ignore this task at your home’s peril. Backed up gutters can cause the eaves to rot, allowing critters in and leading to further damage. Downspouts lead water away from the house; if they’re not flowing freely and in the right direction, your home’s foundation could be compromised. If you aren’t up to the task, hire someone to get the job done for you.
  5. Thou shalt inspect your driveway. Freezing moisture and temperature extremes can cause driveway damage, and damage that starts small can grow over time. If you notice widening cracks or crumbling sections of your driveway, talk to an asphalt or concrete pro about repair or replacement options.
  6. Thou shalt give thy sprinkler and irrigation system a run through. Before summer weather hits, turn your sprinkler and/or irrigation system on and check all zones. Make sure all of the sprinkler heads are in good shape, and adjust spray to hit the appropriate targets in your yard – not the house or street.
  7. Thou shalt deny mosquitoes free breeding grounds. As weather warms, standing water in your yard, in bird feeders or even pooled in natural low spots provides ideal conditions for mosquito larvae. Mosquitoes can carry diseases and they’re just plain gross – don’t give them free rent in your yard! Fill in low spots in your landscaping where water collects, and consider dry landscape features or those with moving water, which discourages mosquito growth.
  8. Thou shalt inspect all windows, patio doors and screens. Before bugs are rampant, replace or repair damaged screens. Check window glass, sealant, and tracks. Now is a great time to have windows professionally cleaned as well, allowing more sunlight in and making your home sparkle from the street.
  9. Thou shalt schedule AC service. Central air conditioning can be expensive to run, and it is definitely expensive to replace. You’ll get more life out of your system if you have it inspected and maintained once a year. Don’t assume it’s in great shape just because it makes cold air. It may not be operating at peak performance, which means money down the drain and less life out of the system.
  10. Thou shalt invest in thy lawn.  Depending on the current condition and make-up of your lawn and landscaping, springtime calls for various treatments to set your lawn and plants up for success throughout the growing season of spring, the heat of summer and the cooler temps of autumn.

With a seasonal checklist in hand, you can knock out quarterly home maintenance over the course of a week, or in a single afternoon. Tackling these chores helps keep your single largest tangible investment – your home – in excellent shape and can help you avoid the complicated problems and higher costs that sometimes accompany deferred maintenance.

Do you need a referral to a qualified service pro, or advice on which issues to tackle before putting your home on the market? Give me a call or drop a line, I’m happy to help.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Lowest Inventory in the History of Ever

According to statistics compiled by the Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR), the inventory of available homes in Metro Denver hit an all-time record low since the numbers have been tracked. 

This is great news for Sellers! People want to live in and around Denver, they’re willing to pay a premium to do so, and there aren’t enough houses, townhomes or condos to go around. It’s called a Sellers Market for a reason: the odds are in your favor, and this is an excellent time to maximize your homes potential and gain a return on your investment by selling your property, if you are in a position to do so.

The hot market we’re in right now is challenging for Buyers. Prices are strong. Inventory is low. Interest rates are on the rise. Factors like rising interest rates will eventually put a dent in the insane level of demand in our area because as financing becomes more expensive, fewer buyers will enter the marketplace. In the meantime though, if you are a buyer in the Metro Denver housing market, you need to do everything in your power to give yourself an edge.

Here are a few tips savvy Metro Denver Buyers can use to win at the game: 

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Secure financing first. Don’t begin the hunt until you are fully approved for a loan, and don’t wait to apply. If you want to move in 6-12 months, apply for financing now.

Know your timeline. If you want to move in a year, don’t assume you can wait 10 months to begin your home search. Even if the market cools a bit as the Fed raises rates, Denver will likely still be hopping in a year. Plan for the possibility you’ll be searching for a home for several months, and don’t put off the process until the moment you want or need to move.

Don’t go it alone. Unless you are an expert negotiator and familiar with the ins and outs of real estate contract law, seek expert representation to secure a legal, smooth-as-possible transaction. Things move quickly in a market like this, and if you aren’t prepared, you’ll lose out and possibly hit legal snafus along the way. Work with an experienced real estate professional to avoid pitfalls.

Whittle down your must-haves. Wouldn’t it be nice if your next house had freshly painted walls, beautiful hardwood floors, newer appliances (included, of course) and stylish high end draperies in every room? In a Sellers Market, you may have to give up on some of your wishes and hopes in order to snag a deal. You can paint, upgrade the flooring or appliances and install fancy curtains later; if you aren’t able to successfully close on a house, none of those details will matter. Choose 5 absolute must-haves and mentally prepare yourself to look past minor imperfections.

Steel yourself – there will be disappointment along the way. The reality of a competitive real estate marketplace is this: you will likely make offers (notice I said offers – plural) that are ignored completely or rejected. You may come back with a higher/better offer on a house you love and be rejected a second time. It will probably bum you out every single time – at least a little. The key is not to let yourself fall in love on the first date. Not even once you are under contract – because sometimes contracts fall through. The time to really let loose with a victorious hoot-holler-we-did-it victory dance is the moment you walk away from the closing table with keys in hand. That’s when the house is really yours, and that’s when to breathe a sigh of relief and start dreaming big dreams about your new digs.

Are you thinking about selling, and wondering if it’s worth your while? Thinking about moving closer to work, into the city, or further out into Suburbia?

Call me or drop me a line in email. I’ve been helping people buy and sell homes across Denver for over 20 years, and I’d love to help you make your next move.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

How the Cinema Impacts Interior Design

Have you ever wondered what inspires the paint colors, sofa pillows, comforters, curtains and floor coverings available online and on store shelves for you to fill your home with? Trends come from all sorts of places, and one major source of inspiration is the content that comes out of Hollywood.

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La La Land, not-quite-winner of the 2017 Best Picture Oscar (the honor went to the film Moonlight, after a flub at the end of the awards ceremony), celebrates kaleidoscopic hues across the entire color spectrum: Pure sunshine yellow. Bold electric blue. Lipstick red. Brilliant kelly green. Even crisp, clean white. Here are a few ways to capitalize on the trends hitting Pinterest and store shelves near you after the success of this film.

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Update your toss pillows. Adding new accent pillows to your bed, sofa or chairs is an easy, affordable way to capitalize on changing trends. If your furniture is a neutral shade, you can add fabric accents in almost any shade. And if your eyes grow tired of pineapple yellow, you can always switch to something else later.

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Paint your front door a wow shade. Blues of every shade are having a moment in the spotlight, and a navy or super-saturated blue door can up the curb appeal ante and help your home stand out from the crowd. Crimson, sunflower, pumpkin and emerald green are other crayon box options to consider. This is a relatively easy weekend afternoon project with minimal cost.

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Bring in a colorful lamp. Ceramic lamps come in every color, and placing a colorful new gourd lamp atop a dresser or bookshelf breathes new life into a space. A matched pair is fun, but a single lamp will get the job done.

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Pick out a jazzy set of dishes. For a few bucks you can pick up dishwasher safe (and super kid friendly!) melamine plates in all kinds of fun patterns and colors. Why not go mix-n-match with a different plate in the same colorway for every member of the family, or striped plates and polka dot bowls in splashy colors?

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Switch out your bedding to something that’s…less of a snooze! Cobalt, persimmon, yellow + navy, kelly green + black & white. If your bedspread, sheets, drapes and accessories are matchy-matchy beige, it’s time for an upgrade!

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Paint something you already own a kicky color. A picture frame, mirror, vase or other object or a piece of furniture, like a side table, can be painted in a few minutes for a couple of bucks with a can of bright spray paint. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and think twice if the item is highly valuable or a treasured family heirloom, but if it’s not a fabulous antique, douse it in paint and celebrate the transformation!

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Are you considering buying, selling or investing in Denver-area Real Estate? From paint colors that help your listing sell, to finding a professional to service your furnace, to which suburb has the best deals in the HOT Denver housing market – I’m here to help.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

How Color Can Help (or Hurt) Your Sale

You don’t have to paint yourself into a bland corner or build a beige box to appeal to potential buyers, but there are good, better and best choices to make in paint colors, decor and accessories when preparing your home for sale. Read on for tips on revising the colors in your home to appeal to the most buyers, and choices to avoid if you’re planning a sale in the next 18-24 months.

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In a Better Homes and Gardens survey, 58% of those polled listed orange, black and violet as the colors they’d be least likely to decorate with, in that order. One of the biggest fears shared by future homeowners is they’ll grow sick of the colors in their home. Cracking open a can of paint to try a new wall color may be easy for you (or not), but for some people, picking out a new shade, taping off and painting walls, trim and ceilings can be overwhelming. For some buyers, the move-in ready home they seek is a home that won’t require painting projects.

The BHG poll listed the living room, kitchen and bathroom as the most desirable spaces to feature color, with a preference for neutral, less saturated color in the foyer, dining room and master bedroom. If you’re going to leave a slightly “riskier” color in place when you list your home, pops of color in public spaces are safer bets; consider neutralizing high impact colors in the master bedroom or your home’s entryway. Even if your mantra is “nope to taupe,” you may want to choose a friendly shade of neutral beige, with pleasant accent colors or patterns, for your on-the-market bedroom.

Accent colors, rather than maximum color use on walls and in furniture, will please the most buyers. A heather gray sofa with pale gray walls can handle funky orange pillows, if that’s your speed. Buyers will be able to envision their own furniture in a neutral space like this, because even the least imaginative shoppers know your pillows will go when you do. Pumpkin orange walls though…that’s a tough sell for the majority of shoppers, and if they’re not willing to pick up a paint brush, they may cross your home off the list.

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The survey revealed favorite colors (in order) are blue, green and neutral. Consider packing up your more colorful decor and weaving blue or green accents throughout your home for a cohesive design that will appeal to the most buyers. This can be done through pillows, picture frames, towels, dishware, area rugs and bedding. If your walls are already a neutral shade, adding accessories in the same color family will help your home feel like a show home rather than a disarray of mis-matchy-ness – a winning strategy for any listing.

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One place to consider a bolder color choice is the front door. Check with your HOA for a list of approved paint color options and consider a classic red, hunter green or ochre (a deep yellow) as an accent shade on your door. A tasteful statement color on your front door (and a brand new door mat) can add to your home’s curb appeal for minimal investment, and enchant buyers from the moment they park the car.

The key to successful on-the-market interior design is to tone down any bold personal choices to make room for your buyer’s style. If your dream sofa is hot pink velvet with black and white striped pillows against a funky accent wall, go for it! In your next house. Take yourself out of the picture so buyers can picture life in “their” home, and you’ll help your sale happen in a timely fashion and for top dollar. At the end of the day, the color you’ll love most when your home sells is green; help your home’s top dollar potential by toning down bold colors and setting the stage for a successful sale.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Itty Bitty Houses

An RV park in Loveland is launching Phase 1 of what it hopes will be a successful tiny house movement within the community, and this is a trend that has captured the imagination of many Colorado residents.

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It is hard to deny the whimsical charm of these miniature abodes; tiny home builders consider every detail, working storage and convenience into closet-sized spaces. Like a gypsy wagon, many tiny homes can be hitched to a vehicle and roll right on out of town – although they can also be laid on a tiny foundation with demure landscaping put in place to make home-sweet-tiny-home a more permanent location.

Some tiny home owners are drawn to the idea of “living large” thanks to a smaller house payment, or the ability to pay off a smaller loan on a tiny home in a shorter period of time than a traditional 30 year mortgage. Some look to tiny homes as ideal guest houses, or second homes in another state or in the mountains – a bit like a modern day RV, but with the solid feel of real architecture. Others like the idea of customizing a home – minus the lofty price tag of a custom built traditional home.

Living small – really small – is an interesting proposition. It’s definitely not for everyone; Census Bureau data puts the size of newly constructed single family homes at 2,467 square feet on average, while a typical tiny home clocks in at 120 square feet, with tiny mansions maxing out at 500 square feet.

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A few things to consider if you’re thinking small:

  • Where will you park it? Do you have a large yard? Can you rent space or buy a plot of land?
  • How will you insure your tiny home? This will take a bit of research on your part, as insurability and costs depend on size, mobility, location, etc.
  • What features do you want and need in a tiny home?
  • What is your tiny home budget?
  • What if it turns out you are a bit claustrophobic, after all? What is the resale value of tiny homes, and how will this affect you financially?

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Have you or anyone you know been bitten by the tiny house bug? Tell me about it – share a picture if you’ve got one. Let me know what your journey to tiny home ownership was like.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate

Millennials Wonder…

Millennials Wonder…Will I Ever be Able to Afford a House? 

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The FED’s recent rate hike, tight housing market and other factors leave many Millennials wondering – will I ever be able to afford a home of my own?

This rising generation is waiting longer than ever to marry and have children, and having fewer children once they do start a family. More of them are continuing their education past high school, which means they’re saddled with hefty student loan debt right about the time they’re settling into careers and considering a home purchase. Rental rates – in the Greater Denver area and across the country – have skyrocketed as the housing market has gotten tighter, so renters are able to put less money into emergency funds, retirement accounts and a piggy bank designated for the future down payment on a home.

Other than sharing the sturm und drang of this situation on social media, what can this group do to rise above the challenges preventing them from entering the housing market? Read on for tips on how the Millennial in your basement (or renting the apartment next door or bunking on campus) can pick herself up, dust herself off and prepare for home ownership.

Clean up that Credit. The thing about youth is, it lacks experience. If you went out and got yourself a couple of credit cards, a car, a personal loan and maybe bounced a few checks for good measure as a poor broke college student, quit doing that and start digging yourself out of the hole. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know how to clean up your credit. Ask a trusted friend, colleague or mentor for advice or referrals to a service that can help, then take action. And if you have no credit, research what you need to do to build a positive credit history from scratch – before you start house hunting.

Scrounge up a Down Payment. Traditional financing will require a 20% down payment to avoid the additional expense of PMI (private mortgage insurance.) One good way to plan your extra savings is to use an online mortgage calculator to figure out what you can afford, tally other likely costs of home ownership like HOA + utlities, and start “paying your mortgage” now. If your rent + utilities is $1500 per month and the mortgage you can afford + other housing expenses = $2000, begin putting $500 per month away as soon as possible. This will help you save up toward the down payment, and when you do purchase a home, you’ll already be used to the monthly expense.

Educate Yourself about Home Ownership. Home ownership is not “renting with different paperwork.” The expenses, challenges and responsibilities of home ownership vary greatly from those of a rental property, and you should know the ins and outs of home mortgages, homeowners insurance, how an HOA works, how owning a home will affect the rest of your financial life, and have a plan in place for what to do if you lost your job, became ill or needed to move suddenly. Life happens – whether you own a home or not. Before you make the largest financial investment of your life, know your stuff.

Consider Your Lifestyle. Buying a home in your 20s is different than buying a home in your 30s, 40s or beyond. Are you single now? What will you gain or lose if you meet someone and decide to sell the home in three years. Are you entrenched in a career with a particular company, or are you on the lookout for the next great thing? A mortgage company will want to see steady job history, so don’t change jobs close to when you’ll apply. In addition, consider whether the size, price and location (location, location) of your home search will be a fit for the next five years. If you aren’t a millionaire investor, you might not be financially prepared to sell and move in a year or two. Purchase a home when you are reasonably certain you’ll be happy for a few years time.

Be Realistic. Owning a home is still the American dream for many people, regardless of age, level of education, religion, cultural heritage – owning a home of one’s own is a big deal. Dream big – but plan realistically. You may have grown up in a five bedroom McMansion with a spacious yard and professional landscaping, but your first house might not fit that ideal. Know which five or so items are non-negotiable on your list, and don’t begin the search for your home until you are pre-qualified for a home loan and have selected a Realtor to work with. If you fall in love with an out-of-reach home, the home you end up with will feel like settling. If you wait to begin your search until you know what you qualify for and have done some soul-and-pocketbook searching to know what you want, you’ll fall for the right home – a house you can afford that meets your needs for the next 3-5+ years.

Jack Meyers

The Meyers Group
jackestate@aol.com
303.263.3050
Twitter: @jackestate