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: 

crossed

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

Top Home Selling Mistakes

Top Home Selling Mistakes

and How to Avoid Them

Even in a seller’s market, there are things you can and should do to accommodate potential buyers. It can be challenging to set your personal beliefs about your home aside in order to see things from a buyer’s point of view, but that’s exactly the kind of thinking it takes to successfully sell your home. Read on for common seller mistakes that can cost you $$$ – and how to avoid these issues during the sale of your property.

The most common mistakes sellers make, according to Real Estate experts:

  1. Overpricing the Home
  2. Lack of Showing Availability
  3. Clutter
  4. Unpleasant Odors
  5. Deferred Maintenance

PRICE IT RIGHT

price

Ultimately, the price your home will be listed at is up to you. When you choose to work with an experienced Realtor, choose someone you can trust – and trust their ability to research an accurate Current Market Analysis (CMA) on your behalf. Even in a strong market, it is possible to overprice a home – making your property less attractive to buyers, causing the sale of your home to take longer, and probably costing you money in the end.

SHOW IT TO SELL IT

No matter what the market is like, every single showing could be the one that got away. Your Realtor’s job is to help you sell your time in a timely fashion, for the highest price possible. The more showings your property has, the faster it will sell. If your home lingers on the market because your big scary dog couldn’t be moved for showing appointments, or you didn’t feel like taking showings on a Saturday, the final price of your sale could take a hit; buyers will wonder why your home lingered in a hot marketplace, and adjust their offer accordingly.

SCALE BACK YOUR STUFF

Clutter

If all buyers see upon entering your home is a parade of collectibles, family portraits going back 25 years or piles-upon-piles of any kind of stuff, they won’t be able to picture themselves in your home. You don’t have to stage your home to sell it (although staging can positively impact the sales price of your home), but you should box up obvious clutter, tone down any taste-specific decor, and remove all but a bare minimum of family portraits. Buyers aren’t looking for your home – they’re looking for their home – and you need to get out of the way so they can picture themselves living there.

UNPLEASANT ODORS 

The sense of smell is one of our most powerful connections to memory, and there is nothing pleasant about stinky litter boxes, wet dog, indoor smoking or even certain strong cooking odors. Yuck! You don’t have to banish Fido or stop using your kitchen, but you should do everything in your power to minimize or eliminate odors. Consider having your carpets and furniture cleaned, hire professional cleaners to freshen the place up, use natural deodorizers like lemon, vinegar and baking soda, and give your house a good airing out on a nice day. Don’t spray gallons of noxious scented air freshener or burn flowery candles in every room; these are dead giveaways of an odor problem. Do buy a few bottles of unscented Febreze and lightly spray in affected areas of your home before work or a few minutes before a scheduled showing, if you are home. Ultimately, flooring and other surfaces affected by pets, etc., are likely to come up in sales negotiation. If you have furry family members and they make messes, you may pay a bit of a premium at the negotiating table. Don’t let your pets (or smoking or cooking) stink out potential buyers, and do be prepared for it to cost you a few bucks when you sell.

PROJECTS LEFT UNDONE

honey-do

Some homeowners keep meticulous files on every major appliance and system in their home, conducting maintenance at regular intervals and noting exactly what happened when, from furnace filter replacement to blowing out the dryer vent. The rest of us… well – not everybody is so on top of it. You may not change your furnace filter quite as often as you should, or fix a leaking faucet the day you spot the drip-drip-drip, but you should take care of minor maintenance issues before listing your home for sale. When buyers come across non-working appliances, broken sprinkler heads, cracked windows, etc. – they wonder what else you haven’t kept up with. Don’t give buyers a reason to cross your home off their list or lower their offer over home maintenance fears. Either tackle the honey-do list yourself, or hire a handyman to do it. Don’t assume the buyer will be happy to overlook minor issues with your home because you have. Would you buy a car with a flat tire or cracked rear view mirror? Probably not – and buyers won’t want the bother of completing chores you’ve been avoiding for months or more, either.

The cool thing about selling your home is – it isn’t rocket science! But it does help you net more for your home to work with an experienced professional who knows the market where you live, knows how to help you prepare for a sale, and can negotiate a deal that benefits both your timeline and your bottom line. It also makes a difference to check items like this off your list before you invite buyers through the door.

Call me or drop a line – I’m happy to give you the information you need to successfully buy, sell or invest in the greater Denver home marketplace.

Jack Meyers

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

The Worst House on the Block

Why the Worst House on the Block may be your Best Bet

As you peruse online listings, check email from your Realtor or drive the streets of your favorite neighborhood, your eye is bound to be drawn to the visual gem of any neighborhood you are seeking; the creme de la creme, cream of the crop, top of the heap.

Curb appeal. Kitchen and bath upgrades. A finished basement. What’s not to love? 

When it comes to the very best house on the block, my advice is to leave that particular cherry to be picked by another buyer; there are several reasons to bypass the best home in the neighborhood and invest elsewhere, and it’s good to familiarize yourself with this line of thinking before you begin your house hunt and fall in love-at-first-sight with a house that might not, after all, be the very best investment for you.

This one's a winner...           or is it?

This one’s a winner… or is it?

The house that helps the rest of the neighborhood to rise now, may seem like a drag when it’s time to sell. 

When you fall in love with a beautiful house, it’s hard not to imagine how happy you’ll be pulling into the driveway of a house you can be proud of – maybe even the very nicest home on the block. Dinner parties, family game nights, cozy holidays… you can really see yourself living in this house. Now imagine further down the road when it’s time to sell your lovely home. Instead of a shooting star in a galaxy of celestial goodness, your home may just be pointing out the flaws next door, across the street and throughout the rest of the neighborhood. Neighborhood gentrification is a wonderful thing, but don’t buy the prettiest belle at the ball assuming the other girls will step up their routine; there is no guarantee things will go that way.

Savvy buyers seek room to build equity.

If the house is already maxed out (upgrades throughout, killer landscaping, energy efficient appliances/windows/etc.), you’ll probably pay top dollar to purchase the property. Long term, this doesn’t give you a chance to make good on your investment. If, on the other hand, you buy the ugliest house in the very best neighborhood you can afford – you really have something to gain. Chances are good the quality of the neighborhood will hold, and if you score a great deal on an ugly house in need of a little TLC, there will be nowhere to go but up.

Maybe don't buy THIS ugly house... But - Go Broncos!

Maybe don’t buy THIS ugly house… Go Broncos!

 

Not everything on HGTV translates to reality for the rest of us – but the notion that buying a bit of an eyesore in a great neighborhood is a keen investment makes sense. 

Call or drop me a line – I can help you find a diamond in the rough or a gem that’s move in ready, and part of my expertise includes helping you understand what kind of long term investment you are likely to be looking at.

Jack Meyers

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

Drafty Window Fixes for Regular Folks

If you can stand in front of your windows and feel a breeze or watch your curtains flutter from across the room – even when your windows are closed – you are throwing money right out the window! When the frigid temps of winter settle in, your expenses will only go higher.

window-draft

Fret not! You may not be in a position to replace a house full of windows, but chances are good you don’t have to. There are solutions available for even the un-handy among us, and many of them are very low cost. It makes way more sense to cough up a few bucks to improve the energy efficiency of your windows than it does to heat the great outdoors, and when you multiply the monthly losses you experience by each window, the cost of your drafty windows is more than you know. Read on for what to do about it.

Quick Fixes

  • Rope Caulk – sort of like using an extra long, squishy piece of licorice to fill in drafty gaps, this stuff can be removed at the end of cold weather and is a great interim solution for drafty windows.
  • Shrink Film – applied with double sided tape and a hair drier, this film will help seal in the heat and can be removed with rubbing alcohol come spring.
  • V-seal weather stripping – this affordable solution will still allow you to open and close windows while the V-seal stays in place – a great solution for places like Denver with snow drifts one day and sunshine the next.
  • Draft Snake – a foam + fabric draft snake can be cut to fit the length of the window and you can shut the window right over the top of it and voila! You’re done. Just toss it at the end of the season.
  • Nail Polish – believe it or not, clear nail polish can be used to secure rattling window panes. Apply carefully and this solution should last until spring.

Longer Term Solutions

  • Replacing missing window glazing (the material that holds window panes in place and keeps out cold air) is not particularly complicated. It takes a steady hand, but even a so-so job will help insulate your windows. Remove the old putty, detach the pane of glass, add new putty, reinstall the pane, using a flathead screwdriver to install new glazing points – the tiny metal points used to secure the glass into the window; use a clean putty knife to secure a thin line of putty along the edge.
  • If you haven’t been using the storm windows for your home, start now! Clean, paint and reglaze them – or pay someone else to do it, and install them for the winter. This will cut down on heating costs and once you’ve fixed them up, they should last several seasons.
  • It’s possible your windows are simply past the reasonable point of repair. Windows will cost you in the neighborhood of $600 to replace and the job is best left to a pro. If your windows are old, rotting around the frame, have multiple cracked panes, etc. – own up to the likelihood that they need to go. Your heating bill will benefit and windows, after all, are not meant to last forever.

Do you need a window cleaner, installer. or maybe you’re wondering what your home is worth? Serious buyers continue to shop for homes in autumn and winter, and I’d be happy to help you determine whether a home sale makes sense for you in the next several months.

Jack Meyers

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

If You Had a Do-Over…

If you’re like a lot of people, you learn by doing. When it comes to buying a home for the first time, a lot of learning takes place in the form of mistakes. Purchasing a home is a major investment, and first time buyers are more educated than ever thanks to the internet and other technology. Still, you don’t know what you don’t know, and first time buyers don’t always know the right questions to ask, sometimes causing home buying newbies to miss out on useful information. Here are a few tips from first time buyers who will do things differently next time.

First Time Buyers

Talk to a mortgage broker long before you are ready to buy. 

If you make great money, have cash in the bank and an excellent credit score, you are probably well on your way to buying that first home. If you aren’t sure of your credit score, whether you have enough credit, or whether your household income is sufficient to help you qualify for the type of home you’d really like to live in, talk to a mortgage pro now, before you need them. If buying a home is out of your grasp for any reason, a qualified, experienced mortgage professional can guide your next steps and help you gear up to qualify for a home loan; this beats finding out by surprise that you can’t buy a home 3 months down the road, even though your lease will be up and you’d really like to buy at that time.

Talking to a mortgage broker will help clarify items like:

  • How much money should you have in the bank?
  • Are your student loans in good standing?
  • Is your debt to income ratio acceptable? If not, how can you fix it?
  • Is your income adequate?
  • Do you have enough/too many lines of credit open?

If you’re on the fence, buy sooner – not later. 

In many cases, renting your home is akin to throwing money away; you are basically paying your landlord’s mortgage, and not getting anything more than shelter out of the deal. If you can buy, do it. Invest wisely, but don’t wait to buy if you know you’ll be in a particular area for 3-5 years or more. Many first time buyers wish they’d pulled the trigger sooner.

Get prequalified for a loan before you shop. 

Even if you are starting your home search online, as many buyers do, you’ll want to be prequalified before you begin searching in earnest for your first home. It is heartbreaking to find the perfect $350,000 home only to learn you qualify for a maximum loan of $275k. A realistic home search is the right home search for you, and you’ll enjoy the process more (and waste less time) when you know you are looking at homes in your price range. The key term is PREQUALIFIED, not preapproved. A preapproval letter is informal and doesn’t offer the official status of prequalification, which means you are qualified by a bank or other lending institution to borrow up to a certain amount.

Work with an experienced Realtor. 

An experienced Realtor will provide helpful tips on the search process, aides in negotiating the deal, and handles all the details of your transaction. Especially in a fast-moving marketplace, it is vital to have a professional representing your interests in the transaction. Even if you are planning a purchase a year or two from now, it doesn’t hurt to interview Realtors in your area to find the right professional to assist in your home search. Most Realtors can keep an eye out for homes that match your specifications and email you property matches on a regular basis so you can keep an eye on the marketplace as you prepare for your future purchase.

Conduct a home inspection – and ask a lot of questions. 

The home inspection is a chance to test drive your future home. Bring a notebook and a pen and don’t be afraid to ask the inspector questions or clarify anything he/she says during your inspection. Before the inspection, confirm whether the inspector will get up on the roof or go into the attic. Hire an experienced inspector, not a newbie and not the cheapest guy you can find. Home inspection is imperative for first time or 10th time buyers. Even if the seller is unlikely to make repairs, I wouldn’t recommend any buyer purchase a home (even new construction) without a detailed home inspection. Make notes about items you need to learn more about and improvements or repairs the inspector recommends, then follow through. You should receive a detailed report afterward; ask the inspector to include notes about recommendations he/she has made about systems within the home, landscaping concerns (such as improper soil grade away from the home for drainage), condition of electrical or plumbing, etc.

Purchasing a home is the most significant investment most people will make in a lifetime, and buying your first home is sure to be a meaningful transaction. Prepare thoughtfully for success and your diligence will pay off.

Jack Meyers

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