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

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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

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

 

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