Home Improvement MISTAKES for Future Sellers

Mom & Pop may have lived their entire lives in the same cozy home in Pleasantville, but chances are good the home you live in now may not be your forever home. The average American will move 11.4 times in their lifetime (maybe that “.4” is just switching bedrooms!), although figures vary depending on age and income level. When you are considering a permanent update to your home (flooring, appliances, structural changes or additions, landscaping, etc.), you should consider not only your budget and preferences, but the likes and dislikes of future buyers. Not every improvement will net you a 100% return, and some renovations may even hurt your chances of a top-notch home sale down the road. Here are a few home improvement mistakes to avoid:

Home Renovation

  1. Painting over desirable vintage surfaces. If you’ve got ugly wood paneling from the seventies and can’t afford to replace it, by all means bring out the paint. If you have charming exposed brick, think long and hard before you paint if white for your preferred “shabby chic” look. Many people love the look of exposed brick, and paint is nearly impossible to remove from brick. If you will likely move in less than 10 years, consider leaving it alone and focus on other updates.
  2. Choosing a garish shade of paint or siding. There are ways to win the color war in terms of your home’s exterior. Brick red with crisp white shutters, sunny yellow in the right neighborhood, navy blue … these shades can be winners in the right settings, but in the long run your safest bet is neutral shades like taupe, gray or neutral greens.
  3. Covering up hardwood flooring. If your home has hardwood flooring in refinishable condition, consider going that route rather than covering it up with wall to wall carpeting. More than half of buyers prefer hard surface flooring to carpet, and a professional refinishing job will last for years. If you love the feel of carpet underfoot, buy the largest rug you can afford. You’ll enjoy the soft texture on your tootsies and protect your hardwood floor as well.
  4. Installing a backyard pool. Pools make for all kinds of family fun – but they also come with liability concerns and increased homeowners insurance. Buyers that are initially lured in by the cool factor may have second thoughts when they consider the upkeep and undesirable extras that can accompany poolside living. The same goes for hot tubs. A small percentage of buyers will see it as a bonus, but buyers with germaphobia (or small children) will only see it as a headache.
  5. Forgetting to let the light in. You may enjoy blackout darkness in your bedroom when the sun rises and you’re trying to catch a few more zzz’s, but prospective buyers will best picture themselves in a sunny, well lit home. Don’t neglect lighting in your interior projects. Include plenty of ambient and task lighting in the form of dimmable overhead lights, undercabinet lighting and lamps. When your house is on the market, lighten up window treatments if necessary and keep them open to let in as much natural light as possible.
  6. Go easy on accessibility. If you have outfitted your home with stairlifts, step-in bathtubs or entryway ramps to accommodate your own needs or those of a loved one, consider minimizing these elements at the time of sale. For individuals or families who don’t require or desire these items, they can be a distraction and add age to the feel of a home. In some cases these elements may be necessary to the safety or comfort of the people living in your home. If that’s the case, renovate as necessary – but do so knowing you may need to undo these changes at the time of sale or accept a longer period of time on the market or lower price at the closing table.
  7. Ignoring outdated fixtures. Gleaming brass is so 1989 – and not in a fun retro way, either! Replacing dated knobs and fixtures on doors, bathrooms and in kitchens can add up, but if you know you’ll sell in the future, pick a classic finish like polished chrome or satin nickel and replace your knobs and fixtures over time as you can afford to do so. Start with most-used spaces (master bedroom, public bathroom, kitchen faucet) and work your way through the home a room or space at a time.
  8. Splurging on high maintenance countertop materials. You may love high end carrera marble or soapstone countertops, but these materials have a high level of maintenance to match their hefty initial price tags. Consider instead engineered quartz or granite counters, or if you have your heart set on marble, use it as a bathroom tile backsplash rather than a kitchen counter that will see a lot of use. Future buyers will thank you for this wise decision.
  9. Nixing a bedroom in favor of a larger master suite. Three bedroom homes will almost always command a higher sales price than two bedroom homes of similar square footage. If you can afford to build the master suite of your dreams and can live without the additional bedroom, consider renovation options that will allow you to turn the additional space back into a bedroom for a future sale, such as adding a door without removing an entire wall to turn the guest room next door into a killer closet. You’ll likely save on reno costs and be glad you set yourself up for success when it is time to list.

If you have questions about buying or selling in Metro Denver, give me a ring. I’m here to help however I can, and I’ve been helping people buy, sell and invest in Denver for over 21 years.

Jack Meyers

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

 

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Choosing the Best Agent in a Fast Paced Marketplace

Denver is in a snooze-you-lose real estate situation, with homes selling sometimes in hours instead of days and weeks. A fast paced market like this requires an experienced Realtor up to the task of helping you move at lightning speed to snag the right home for you. When seeking the right agent for your home search, look for the following qualifications:

race car

Speedy

When interviewing agents, pay attention to how quickly he/she responds to your questions. Ask, “How long do you spend searching with a typical buyer? How many homes do most of your buyers see before making an offer? What kinds of stumbling blocks do you see for buyer clients, and how are you working through them?”

Tech Savvy

Technology has changed how business is done in the world of real estate, and you need an agent comfortable and confident with the latest technology including eContracts, mobile search and client communication on the fly. Lightning speed real estate requires more than a laptop. Ask potential agents what types of technology they use in their business. A part time or hobby agent may not have the tech experience you need to succeed.

Available

Don’t be afraid to get very specific about your potential agent’s availability. You will need a focused search experience, and you’ll need someone who can help you pre-search well so the on-the-ground home search process is maximized. Since homes are moving quickly, you need to be prepared to see only the best-fit homes and to move quickly when a home matching your specs enters the market. If your agent is not available on the fly, they may not be the agent for you.

Responsive

Ask a potential agent, “How long does it take you to respond to email? Do you respond to email on evenings and weekends? Does a text receive the fastest response?” If a home meeting your must-have list pops up, you need to know your agent will help you get in the door and answer your calls or emails quickly.

Knowledgeable

How long has your potential agent worked in this area? Which suburbs does he consider himself an expert in? Does he have a wide network of experienced pros in areas like inspection, mortgage, landscaping or other contracting? Ask, “How many of your deals fell through over the past year?” If the answer is, “None,” run the other direction. Active, knowledgeable agents in this market have deals falling apart now and then due to the speed and competition of the Denver market; an agent in the mix will have several failed deals to tell you about, and they can also share what happened next and how they helped their client find the next great house after losing a deal.

I have over 21 years of experience in the Metro Denver real estate market and it would be my pleasure to help you navigate this fast paced, sometimes tricky marketplace. Get in touch to let me know what I can do to support your success across this beautiful city, or to help you find a qualified professional to meet your needs across Colorado or out of state.

Jack Meyers

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

Tiny Budget // Big Ideas

So you are all moved into your new-to-you Metro Denver home and brimming with ideas on how to make this house (or townhome or condo) into a home that speaks your language and will impress your new neighbors, your friends and the in-laws. There’s just one teensy little problem: your budget. The Denver market is booming, and a lot of your available cash went into making a deal on the house of your dreams. Now you’ve got the house and a list of big ideas, but you may not have the budget to match.

Here are 5 affordable ideas to maximize the impact of a limited renovation and decorating budget for your home:

Hanging Curtains.png

“Increase” the size of your windows and the amount of natural light by hanging curtains properly. Drapes should hang at or near the ceiling and the fabric should break at the floor. When open, the inside edge of the curtain should overlap the window by just a few inches, which means you’ll need a curtain rod long enough to extend 6-12″ or even a bit more, depending the width of the window and how much extra fabric you want to include. Skimpy curtains can make your windows and the entire room feel skimpy – max out the visual impact of your windows by going high and wide and if necessary, add an extra band of fabric to the bottom to ensure the drapery reaches the floor.

Focal Wall

Create a feature wall for big budget impact with minimal investment. When you enter your living room, great room, kitchen, master bedroom or any space you are considering for a focal wall, which wall does your eye naturally go to? A wall with a large window, a fireplace or the wall your bed rests against likely tells you which wall to highlight. You can go super cheap with a can of paint (or two – horizontal stripes are fun!), clad the wall in wood or go bold with amazing wallpaper. Since you are only covering a single wall, you can make a lot of impact for a little dough.

Spray Paint Knobs

Jazz up outdated door knobs, hinges and handles for a fraction of the cost of replacement. If your house is sporting brassy accents that haven’t been en vogue since the mid-90’s, pick up a couple of cans of specialized spray paint and in less than a day you can update the feel of your entire home by upgrading the hardware. Don’t forget ceiling fans and lights. This article on Young House Love is insightful.

Gel Stained Banisters

Modernize oak banisters or other dated woodwork with gel stain. Builders love oak for kitchen cabinets, baseboard molding, closet doors and of course – banisters. If you love mid-tone oak, congratulations! Chances are this material is featured somewhere in your home. If it’s not a fave, consider upgrading bland oak finishes with glossy white paint or a deeper, more modern gel stain. Either of these projects require time and effort, but a project of this nature is a super affordable DIY. Read this article from Make It & Love It for more info on the process.

Striped Ceiling

When considering which features of your home will make a significant design impact for just a few bucks, don’t forget the fifth wall: your ceiling. Whether you choose the palest pink, cool blue or a clean bright white, if the ceilings in your home haven’t been painted in awhile, consider giving them a couple of fresh coats. The entire room will feel sparkling and new when ceilings updated. Learn how to paint like a girl here. If you are the adventurous type, think outside the box with a wallpapered or paint-patterned ceiling.

Are you wondering what your Denver-area home would list for in our busy marketplace, or which neighborhoods offer the best deals for your home buying dollar? Call me or drop a line. I’ve been helping people like you buy and sell homes across Denver for more than 21 years, and I’d be happy to serve your personal home buying, selling or investment needs.

Jack Meyers

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

Where Do They All Come From?

We know Denver is a magnet for people, and I’ve known friends to utter during mid-winter traffic jams, “It’s those Californians! They don’t know how to drive in snow, and they slow the rest of us up.”

Do you ever stop to wonder where Metro Denver’s population growth comes from? As a Realtor helping people buy and sell one of their largest financial purchases in life, I’m a fan of people in general: native Coloradans (I’m one of those myself), transplants from other counties, out of state or from all over the world. I’m excited to welcome them all to our beautiful community.

So where do all of these Denver-area newbies actually come from?

According to IRS tax return records from 2014, Colorado experienced more residents-on-the-move than any other state in the nation. Over half (54%) moved from other Colorado counties to the Denver Metro area (including Boulder.) Forty six percent of Denver area transplants came from outside the state with the largest number reporting from California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Interestingly, when you subtract the number of Colorado residents who moved to a particular state from the number of residents from that state moving to Colorado, statistics show that Illinois gave up the most people to a Colorado move.

When people pack up and leave the state, they are popping up in greatest number in Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Washington state. Sounds like we’re making a lot of state-to-state household trades.

Moving Day BW

So next time you don’t love how a fellow driver handles the snow (or any other road conditions), consider they are just as likely from another part of the state as they are from out of state, smile, wave and think about how lucky you are to live in the beautiful Denver area. There now – doesn’t sharing the road feel good!

Contact me for help planning your move to the Denver Metro area or a home listing to make a move across town, across the state or across the globe. I’m here to help.

Jack Meyers

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

What Second Time Buyers Know Now

Home Dreaming

Buying your first home is an exciting adventure! It can also be a lesson in hard knocks as real estate newbies figure out how it all works on the journey toward buying the right home in the right neighborhood at the right price. In hindsight, there are typically a few things first time buyers would do differently if they had a handy dandy time machine to take them back to the beginning of the home buying process.

Learn from these common mistakes and wish-I-wouldas of first time buyers before you sign on the dotted line. 

  • I wish we would have gotten to know the neighborhood better before we bought the house. Without actually living in the home and neighborhood, you can’t know every single nuance of life in that location. But you can do a little side research to increase the odds of landing in a place you’ll love to call home. Take your dog on a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. Drive by in the morning, afternoon and evening. Stop by a few neighbor’s homes to introduce yourself and ask them about pet peeves and favorite aspects of the neighborhood. Beyond crime statistics, school districts and nearby amenities, a little detective work can go a long way in helping you get to know a potential neighborhood before you buy.
  • I wish we would have paid more attention to the other costs associated with home ownership. Beyond PITI (principle, interest, taxes and property insurance), there are additional costs to home ownership you need to include in budgetary planning. These may include home owner’s association (HOA) dues, private mortgage insurance, utility expenses, home repairs and maintenance, and other potential costs like a home security system.
  • We made several offers on homes we liked before we landed our house. I wish we had been better prepared for disappointment along the way. The Metro Denver real estate market is fast paced and seller-oriented right now, and not every accepted offer makes it to the closing table. It is tempting to fall in love with a house and begin to envision your life there, but with as many as 1 in 5 deals falling through, don’t mentally “move in” until the ink is dry on the closing docs. It’s okay to be optimistic, but that bright-eyed optimism should be tempered with reality, too.
  • Our house was perfect for two years. Five years in and this is tight quarters for our growing family! There is nothing wrong with settling into a cozy starter home, and buying is almost always a financially savvier choice than renting. If possible, it makes good fiscal sense to buy for long term livability, not just the now. Don’t overbuy – if you and your partner have a cat, you may not need a five bedroom McMansion in the suburbs. If you know you’ll have a family or maybe host your aging parents as roomies in the next five or ten years, think past a one or two bedroom place and consider how your needs may change in the future.
  • Our Realtor wasn’t as experienced as we thought. We wish we would have asked more questions. Read more about finding the best professional to represent you in a real estate transaction here. It’s important to ask thoughtful questions. Not all Realtors have the same level of experience, neighborhood knowledge or negotiating skill. Choosing an experienced Realtor is up to you, and there is more than likability to consider. I’ve learned a lot in my 22 years in the Denver real estate market. As a home buyer in this marketplace, you need savvy representation – not a newbie still figuring things out or a part time Realtor who closes a deal or two a year.

If you are seeking a knowledgeable guide in the hot Metro Denver real estate market, I’d be happy to lend a hand. I’ve been helping people buy and sell homes in the greater Denver area for 22 years, and it would be my pleasure to put my experience to work for you.

Jack Meyers

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

Expanding Small Spaces

Whether you are planning to list your home for sale or stay in it for years to come, there are ways to expand the smaller spaces in your home to maximize your space or visually “add” square footage for an upcoming sale, or for your own enjoyment. And the great news is, these changes are affordable and don’t require major renovations.

Expand your space for a few bucks and minimal time & effort: 

Window Treatment

This designer does window treatments right!

Hang window treatments properly. And take the time to fix those that are hung incorrectly. The point of windows is to let in light and views; blinds should cover the entire window, but fabric window treatments are meant to dress your windows – not cover them up 100% of the time. Drapes should hang at or close to ceiling height and should reach all the way to the floor, either breaking at the floor or puddling a bit, depending on your preference. The inner edge of your drapery should overlap the window by no more than a few inches, so they are framing, but not covering the window when open. If you plan to live in your home long term, custom drapes are a wise investment you’ll enjoy for years, and lined drapes or blinds can help you save on heating and cooling costs, too.

Vertical Shelves

Vertical displays like this help draw the eye toward the ceiling.

Draw the eye up with vertical storage or display. This can be a tall bookcase with interesting sculpture or decor on top to really bring your eye up, an art installation that reaches high, shelves hung high and wide or even an especially tall headboard for your bed. Artwork, mirrors, etc. should not be hung too high, though. The center of a piece of art should be about 56 inches from the floor – higher will make viewers crick their neck and just looks silly. If you want your artwork to elevate the room, consider a gallery wall with a plethora of smaller pieces of art or sculpture that draw the eye higher than a single piece might.

Mirror

This narrow space looks twice as big thanks to a chic wall of mirror.

Reflect light and views with space expanding mirrors. This is a common trick of interior decorators, and for good reason. Mirrors can double the visual size of a room – especially if they reflect windows across the room, or some other source of light. Consider an oversize mirror (buy the biggest you can afford) or a series of smaller mirrors gathered on a single wall. Unique frames can add interest, but you can achieve the same affect with unframed, plain mirror panels as well. Be thoughtful in terms of placement; you don’t want your mirrors to reflect dark spaces or anything unattractive.

Uncluttered

Can you imagine this dainty space full of stuff? Clutter Free = Happy Homeowners

Declutter. Repeat. Nothing can make a room feel more cramped than too much stuff! Even a large room will feel smaller if it is stuffed to the gills with furniture, knick-knacks and unnecessary clutter. Studies have shown that cluttered rooms can actually raise our anxiety level, affecting mood and blood pressure. To calm your space and help it expand, grab a box or basket and remove anything you don’t use, love or need in a particular space. Be ruthless – you can put an item back later if necessary. Take a before and after picture if you want to help you envision how much freer and more open the space feels when it isn’t weighed down by clutter. This is especially important when your home is on the market. An additional trick used by home stagers, decorators and Realtors is multipurpose furniture, such as an ottoman with storage or a dresser as a hall table with handy drawers to store shoes, mail or anything else that tends to pile up.

Use paint to your advantage. One of the fastest, most affordable ways to update or expand a space is with paint. Dark or saturated colors can make a room feel cozy – sometimes too cozy. Lighter colors help a room feel larger and expand space. Consider pale gray, khaki, white or ivory, soft shades of blue, lavender or green. Almost any color can be found in pale versions that provide interest, but don’t constrict the visual feel of the room. In truly tiny spaces, you may want to stick with solid, neutral tones and opt for texture over pattern. Too much pattern in fabric, paint, art, etc. in a small room can be overwhelming. Save bold pattern for a more spacious room and if you’re selling, replace bold pillows, artwork and accessories in small spaces with softer neutrals to help the buyer envision the space as calm and larger than it actually is.

Are you looking to expand your horizons (or change your location) in a Denver-area home? Call me or drop a line – I’m here to help.

Jack Meyers

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

Denver’s at the Bottom of this List

yippee

How long have you been around to watch what happens in the Metro Denver real estate market? As a 21 year veteran of the biz here in Denver, I’ve seen highs, lows and somewhere-in-the-middle, and I watched my industry, and homeowners, struggle hard during the recession as both incomes and home values dropped right along with the stock market.

I invite you to join me in celebrating a wonderful new statistic about our fair city: according to a Denver Post article published this week, “Metro Denver reported the lowest share of distressed home sales out of 25 major metro areas in March, according to a report from CoreLogic.”

A “distressed sale” may be either a foreclosure (wherein the bank resumes possession of the property) or a short sale (wherein the bank allows the homeowner to sell the property for less than what is owed.)

In March of this year, about 1 in 43 home sales across the city was a distressed sale. Compare that figure to this staggering statistic from January 2009: at the peak of the housing recession, a whopping 32.4 percent of homes across Metro Denver (nearly 1 in 3) was a distressed property.

Buyers in this marketplace face challenges in the form of intense competition, low inventory and high prices compared to years past. They are feeling the squeeze as they try to find homes with the features, specifications and location they consider ideal. Consider, though, the alternative. For my part, I’ll take a bustling local economy and a thriving real estate market any day – and not just because I’m an active participant in the housing industry. Competition can be a healthy thing, and when you look at the numbers, 1 in 43 homes falling in the “distressed” category is a far happier place for our community to be than 1 in 3.

I’m grateful every day for the robust economy we’re enjoying here and the thriving Colorado individuals, couples and families represented by those numbers.

Happy Father’s Day fellow dads, papas and granddads! And if you, your buddy, your cousin or your own dear old dad need an expert guide in the competitive Denver real estate market, I’m here to help.

Jack Meyers

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