An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids, but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan.
Assign pet evacuation to an adult. Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.
Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily.
Practice your plan. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!
Be prepared in case you get separated from your pets. No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area.
Every seller wants top dollar for their home, but not everyone gets that. How do you get the most money for your Denver area home? There is no magic answer, just lots of hard work.
- Work with a Realtor who can advise you well and work with you through the process. I know, I know… you believe I am biased on this, and I am a bit. However, I truly believe that working with a great agent can make all the difference. Say you hire a low-cost company to simply list your home and nothing else. Will you have to stage your home yourself and take your own professional pictures? Will you get any other marketing efforts? Do you believe they will negotiate well on your behalf when it comes to price and terms? Will they set up a system to schedule showings or will you have to do all the work? And then when the buyer finds lots of things they want to fix from the inspection, will this company negotiate well for you? What about if something goes wrong? Who is in your corner? Every deal has something to work through and a buy and sell contract for a home isn’t something most people tackle every day.
- Stage your home to SELL. A home you live in can look different than a home you are selling. Staging is about presenting a space that buyers can imagine themselves living in. The home should be clean, absent of major defects (as much as possible) and have furniture and accents that fit the space and hopefully have a little style that is current and popular. Even if you usually prefer southwest decor and a big sectional that leaves just enough room to scoot by, when you are selling, you might need to change that to appeal to the most people. You don’t always have to make large changes (like remodeling a kitchen) – this is something you can review with your agent to see where other homes in your neighborhood sell with and without those changes.
- Clean, clean, clean. A clean, tidy home leads people to believe the home has been well-cared for and is in good shape. A dirty home may leave people wondering what else has been neglected. And, if there is too much mess, they may not be able to see past the mess to the great structure and potential underneath. A few really helpful tips: keep counters clear of clutter so it doesn’t seem like there aren’t enough cabinets, fresh caulking goes a long way to brighten up an area and make counters and tubs sparkle, and remember that buyers will look in your cabinets and closets!
- Market the home everywhere and make it look great online. Most buyers see a home for the first time online. To make the best first impression, it should be staged well (see point #2) and have amazing professional photos. Even if you are a hobbyist and take great landscapes, this may not translate into great marketing photos for your home. Let your agent have professional photos taken. Then, the home goes online with a fabulous description. It should be listed on the local MLS, of course, but there is more that can be done! It can be listed on other home search sites like Zillow and Trulia. Your agent can advertise the home to other agents who have buyers in the area, advertise on social media, host an open house and more. Get a marketing plan from your agent.
In the end, it’s about finding a great agent, cleaning up and decluttering, and letting that agent work hard for you. Together with your agent, you are trying to make your home the most appealing one in the neighborhood and seen by the most people. Then, your agent can negotiate the best offer for you and work with you to get it to the closing table.
Foe me, as Memorial Day weekend approaches, the urge to go out and do something increases. And Colorado has so many options! Festivals for music, art, and food, running or yoga events, the state fair… there is really something for everyone.
Find some summer fun in this list!
One of the many great things to do in Colorado in the summer is hiking. If you are looking for a trail, check out these options. There is a key to show you if they are dog or horse friendly, if you can fish, etc.
Have fun out there, and don’t forget water and sunscreen!
Real Estate News
The question I’m asked all the time by friends, colleagues and clients who are still renting is whether it’s too late to buy a home. “Are we heading for a big downturn?” “Are we too deep in the market cycle to buy?” “Did I miss the boat?!?!” For those of you who read my newsletter and know me well the following will sound familiar but it bears repeating: timing the real estate market perfectly is extremely difficult (maybe even impossible) and those who try usually fail. So don’t try to time the market. Instead, look at factors like the ones below to see if home ownership is right for you.
- You should buy a home when you feel it’s the right time in your life to do so. Don’t try to time the market, instead time your life. Are you getting married? Sick of paying skyrocketing rents? Looking for a bigger place for you and your family? Want your own backyard for the kids to play in? Want to be part of a neighborhood community? Plan on staying in one place for a number of years? Want to build long-term wealth? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when considering whether you want to own a home. To the extent you say yes, home ownership might be the answer for you. One important stat to keep in mind is that the average rental household in the U.S. has a total net worth of only $5,000. In contrast, the average homeowner has a net worth of $225,000 — that’s 45 times those who rent! There’s no doubt that over the long term, home ownership is the tried and true path to wealth accumulation and financial security. (So is owning rental property, by the way. Call me if you’d like to learn more about that as well.)
- Interest rates remain near record lows but this can’t last forever. No one knows when they’re going to rise (remember, you can’t time the market!), but rise they will at some point in the future. Though home prices have gone up the past several years, low interest rates continue to make homes relatively affordable – especially compared to renting. Once interest rates do rise the window of home ownership affordability will truly begin to close for a lot of potential buyers. They will be sorry they didn’t act when interest rates were near 50-year lows. To illustrate the numbers, assume you are purchasing a $210,000 condo with a 5 percent down payment. The Principle + Interest payment at 4 percent interest would be $952 per month. Just a 1 percent interest rate increase to 5 percent would result in a payment of $1,070 per month for a total increase of $128/month and $1,416/year. Now assume that rates tick up to 6 percent. That increase would result in a 21 percent increase in payments from $952 to $1,196. Where you really see the effect of these increases is when you hold the property for the full 30 years. On a $210,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that increases from 4 to 5 percent, the borrower who obtains the 5 percent loan would pay an additional $42,772 in extra interest as opposed to the borrower who paid just 4 percent interest. That’s 21.4 percent of the total loan amount! This is why a lot of folks who don’t purchase a home while interest rates are near record lows are going to regret it down the road.
- The main reason the average home owner has so much more personal wealth than the average condo owner is that, over time, homes appreciate in value. Over the past 45 years, homes in metro Denver appreciated 6.3 percent per year. If you buy a $200,000 home, you can expect over the long term its value to rise about 6 percent every year. This means you’d make $12,000 in appreciation the first year, an additional $12,720 the second year, another $13,483 in the third year, and on and on. An important fact to note is that in only 4 of the past 45 years did prices actually fall in metro Denver. So if you want to build wealth, your best bet may be to take advantage of these numbers and buy a home for the long term. I can help you do this. Call me and let me show you how.
Trulia built a great rent-versus-buy tool, check it out at http://www.trulia.com/rent_vs_buy. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions and the system tells you whether it makes more financial sense to rent a unit or purchase a property. As you see from the graphic you move the slide bar on the five questions back and forth to represent your situation and the model will tell you how much you will save by either renting or buying. Trulia put a huge amount of thought and research into this tool – it’s worth a couple minutes of your time to see what you can learn. You’ll really like it!
Key Messages for Homes
Prices are up 9% in the prior 12 months vs historical 6%. Inventories are tighter than last year, especially for small, lower priced homes. In 2017, we expect 8-9% appreciation, flat unit sales volume increases, and continued tight inventories.
Are you as excited for fresh spring and summer produce as I am? My home garden will be lacking this year as another outdoor project will go right through the area. However, Farmers Markets are here and I can get some juicy tomatoes and fresh, crisp cucumbers there. My mouth is watering just thinking about these. Oh, and the peaches later in the summer…. I can’t wait.
Find one near you!
When you are ready to buy a home, whether it’s your first or it’s just been a while, it’s easy to get caught up in how the house looks right now.
Here’s what you can and usually should look past:
- The decor and furniture. We Realtors love to stage homes to give people an idea of what the rooms could be, but try hard to look past that decor, whether you love it or hate it, to see the space of the rooms and what you could do with it with your own style.
- Along those lines, paint and carpet (and even a hardwood floor refinish) are some of the easiest, fastest things you can change.
- Mismatched or old appliances can be changed out pretty easily, and if you can wait for a holiday sale, you can often find a deal on a new set.
Other things that could be changed, but might be more intensive than some want to get:
- Kitchen cabinets and counters
- Bathroom tile
- Major landscaping
- Updating trim (baseboards, etc.)
- Changing walls or opening up walls to create open spaces
These are all things that I have tackled and I know they can be done, but some people prefer a more “move in ready” house. However, it’s so rare that a house is 100% exactly as you would like it when you see it. Everyone has something they want to do to change a home. If you see one that hits 80% or more of your “wants,” you should probably consider if you can live with the other 20% or change it to make it closer.
Here’s what you should definitely look for in a home:
- Is it in my budget? And if it needs fixes, are those in my budget? I am all for fixing up a home, but if you spend 100% of your budget on your monthly mortgage, you probably won’t have enough money left to do those fixes.
- Is it in the right location? Consider your commute times, school district, neighborhood features, and proximity to what’s important to you. It’s hard to change location!
- Does it have good bones? Can I make it the house I want (within my budget)? If you have a limited budget for fixes, and the home has foundation issues, electrical system needs updated and the plumbing needs replaced, this home may not be the right fit.
I hope this helps you as you consider buying a new home. I am happy to help you consider your “wants” list and help you try to see how homes might be an unexpected good fit. I can even hep you find contractors if needed. Or if you really want that completely move in ready house, let’s talk about updated, new build, and custom build homes!
Real Estate News
Our strong housing market is not going away any time soon. The large pent up demand for houses continues to gobble up any inventory that makes it onto the market and is one of the many reasons I believe demand for homes is going to stay strong for the foreseeable future. As long as demand stays strong and supply remains constricted (we are at a near record-low homes on the market) you can be sure home prices will continue to rise. Where is this large pent up demand coming from? Here are just a few of the sources:
- Home formation (e.g., marriages) fell dramatically during the downturn while the economy crumbled. As the economy improves more people are getting married and creating households. For example, from 2003-2006 a total of 1.6 million households were formed in the U.S. But from 2007-2010, as young people lost jobs, moved back in with their parents, and didn’t have the economic confidence to marry and create households, only 600,000 households were created. That number is now rising quickly. From 2013 – 2016, 1.4 million households were formed, and these folks want to buy homes! In a recent survey by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 94 percent of 22-25 year olds said they expect to buy a home in the future.
- The population of metro Denver increases about 1.5 percent per year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What a wonderful place to live! More people = more home sales.
- And speaking of population, here’s another important point. The inflow of immigrants from countries around the world, both legal and illegal, plummeted during the downturn because of the reduction in U.S. employment opportunities. As the economy has rebounded immigration is skyrocketing. These folks need a place to live.
- During the recession, about 5 million people lost their homes and had their credit destroyed. As their credit improves over time, more and more of them are becoming qualified to buy again. They were homeowners once and most want to be homeowners again as soon as they are able.
- Millions of others, especially young people, saw their friends and relatives lose their homes during the recession and swore to never buy a house. They learned the wrong lesson. These are a lot of the people who have been renting the past five years instead of buying, making the rental market historically strong. These are also the very people who lost out on the recovery and forfeited tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity because they didn’t buy when the market was soft and prices were low. As the housing market continues to improve they’re moving strongly toward buying their first home.
- Related to #5, many renters have noticed how quickly prices are rising and feel they need to jump in now while homes are still relatively affordable. In the last 12 months the average sales price of a single-family detached home is up 8.1 percent. The more home prices rise, the greater incentive renters have to finally take the plunge and buy a home.
These are just a few of the many reasons demand for homes remains strong. If you’re interested in discussing what YOU should do in this real estate market, let’s talk.
The deadline to file your 2017 taxes is almost here! If you are one of the many who expect to get a refund, what do you plan to do with it?
- Save it
- Take a vacation
- Pay down debt like credit cards
- Make a large purchase you’ve been putting off
If you are thinking of buying a house soon, your refund could help with your down payment or closing costs. Still wondering what you could afford, talk to one of my preferred lenders and find out!