5 Deal Breakers that can blindside home buyers

 

dicePurchasing a home can be a complex endeavor for even the most well prepared home buyer.  You’ve diligently saved for your down payment, followed the market, researched agents and now you are ready to make an offer on your dream home.  Don’t let these 5 “Deal Breakers” come between you and your new home.

    1. Big Purchases on Credit. It is tempting to buy the furniture for your new home or a new car for the garage before the sale closes. Take care if you are making these purchases on credit. Large purchases on credit can have a major impact on your credit profile which effects your mortgage application. It’s a better plan to wait until after closing or pay cash for these transactions or you may be putting that furniture in a different living room than you originally picked them out for.
    2. Overpaying. Before your bank will approve your mortgage they will appraise the home you are purchasing.  If they feel you are overpaying they are likely to decline your mortgage application. If you find yourself in this situation consult with your agent on renegotiating your offer to be more in line with the bank’s appraised value.
    3. Purchasing too close to Foreclosure. If you are making an offer on a house which is facing foreclosure be sure to have a closing date set before the foreclosure date. Have your agent work with the lender to structure closing before the house goes back to the bank and into foreclosure.
    4. IRS liens. You’ve heard the old saying “Death and Taxes”.  Back taxes and liens can derail your attempts to get financing for a mortgage so be sure to have your books in order before filing your loan application.
    5. Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). CLUE is a data base of insurance claims for both people and property.  Your home insurance rates are determined by the information about you and the property you plan to purchase which is contained in this report. Past claims for water damage, falling trees and even dog bites from present and past owners can multiply your insurance rates. Consult your agent about the CLUE report for your future home as soon as possible once your home purchase offer is accepted.

When purchasing a home there will be challenges which you can plan for and the unexpected hurdles.  By educating yourself as a consumer and choosing a well trained real estate agent you can avoid many of the pitfalls of 21st century home ownership.

What about you? Tell us if you have had any “deal breaker” experiences.

Posted on March 11, 2019 at 4:45 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, For Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , , , , ,

Multigenerational Real Estate Trends

When making an important decision like buying a new home, personal circumstances are often a driving force. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, need more space for your growing family, downsizing to fit an empty nest, or looking for a retirement property, finding the right information, the right real estate agent, and the right properties that fit your needs are all important parts of that process. Based on recent studies by the National Association of REALTORS® on generational trends, we can identify the best resources to help you in any phase of your life.

Among all generations, the first step most buyers take when searching for a home is online. Younger generations tend to find the home they eventually purchase online, while older generations generally find the home they purchase through their real estate agent.

Across generations, home ownership still represents a significant step in achieving the American Dream. According to a study by LearnVest, an online financial resource, 77 percent of those surveyed believed that buying a home of their own was, “first and foremost in achieving the American Dream”.

Posted on March 8, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, Colorado, For Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , , , , ,

Managing Mold: How homeowners can avoid costly mold problems

Whether you are buying or selling a home, mold has become a hot issue. Health concerns and potential damage make mold a red flag for buyers. And even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, taking care of mold problems now can prevent even larger problems in the future. Contrary to what some people think, mold is not a geographic problem—it can occur anywhere, no matter where you live. Here is some basic information about mold and how to deal with it.

What is mold?

Molds are microscopic organisms that are found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of different kinds of mold. Their natural function is to help break down dead materials such as stumps and leaves so the nutrients can be used by the environment. For molds to grow, they need two things: an organic food source—such as leaves, wood, paper or dirt—and moisture.

Problems associated with mold

Mother Nature uses mold to decompose plant material. Unfortunately, when present indoors, it can be equally destructive. Mold growth can damage furnishings, such as carpets, sofas and cabinets. Left unchecked, it can also cause serious damage to walls and structural elements in your home.

Mold is present everywhere, and most people tolerate exposure with no adverse effects. If allowed to spread, however, it may cause problems. As molds grow, they release thousands of tiny spores that travel through the air. When inhaled in large enough amounts, these spores may increase the risk of adverse health effects in some people, particularly respiratory problems.  A less-common strain of mold called “black mold” can be particularly troublesome to those who are especially sensitive.

Common causes of mold problems

Don’t think that just because you live in a hot, dry climate, your home is not vulnerable to mold. There are many sources of mold problems, from faulty air conditioners to poorly positioned sprinkler systems. Federal standards for energy-efficient home building have even contributed to the problems. By making homes more airtight, construction techniques in newer homes can trap moisture inside.

Here are the most common sources of mold inside the home:

  • Flooding
  • Leaky roofs or damaged gutters
  • Heating or cooling system problems
  • Poor drainage next to foundation
  • Plumbing leaks from toilets, refrigerators and dishwashers
  • Damp basement or crawl space
  • Leaking windows or doors
  • Steam from shower or cooking
  • Indoor exhaust from clothes dryer

What to look for

If you can see or smell mold inside your home, it’s time to take measures. Any area that has sustained past or ongoing water damage should be thoroughly inspected—you may find hidden mold growth in water-damaged walls, floors or ceilings. Walls and floors that are warping or discolored can also indicated moisture problems, as can condensation on windows or walls.

Preventing mold in your home

Since mold is always present, there’ no way to eliminate it completely. You can control indoor mold growth, however, by controlling moisture.

  1. Remove the source of moisture by fixing nay leaks or other water problems.
  2. Make sure bathroom fans and dryers are properly vented to the outside. Always use the exhaust fan when cooking or showering.
  3. Use a dehumidifier or air-conditioning system. Make sure your AC system is well maintained and is the correct size for your home. A faulty AC system can cool the air without removing the water vapor, creating high humidity.
  4. Insulate your home well to prevent indoor condensation.
  5. Have your heating, ventilation and cooling systems professionally cleaned annually. Air-duct systems can easily become contaminated with mold.
  6. Regularly clean moist area such as the bathroom with products that treat mildew.
  7. Dry-clean, rather than wet-clean, your carpets.
  8. Avoid carpeting bathrooms and basements.
  9. Clean any moldy surfaces as soon as you notice them.

Mold clean-up

Mold is a manageable problem. Unless it is dealt with correctly, however, it will continue to come back. If your mold problem is severe or if you have extensive water damage, it’s best to call an experienced, professional contractor who specializes in mold removal. If you have a mold problem that is isolated to a small area, less than a square yard or so, you can try to resolve it yourself.

Porous items that are hard to clean, such as carpet and drapes, should be discarded. Moldy sheetrock and ceiling tiles can be removed and replaced.

Hard, nonabsorbent surfaces such as glass, plastic and metal can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. Allow to dry completely.

For solid items that are semi-porous, such as floors, cabinets and wood furniture, scrub with an ammonia-free cleaner and hot water to remove all mold. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly. After cleaning, apply a mildewcide to kill mold and spores.

When cleaning mold, remember to wear gloves, a mask and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Never mix cleaner containing bleach and ammonia; this can result in the release of a toxic gas. And be sure to throw away any sponges or rags that you use for cleaning.

Posted on March 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, For Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Questions to ask your home inspector

To get a quality home inspection, ask the right questions before you put your inspector to work. Here are some of the basics.

What does your inspection cover? 
Insist that you get it in writing. Then make sure that it’s in compliance with state requirements and includes the items you want inspected.

How long have you been in business? 
Ask for referrals, especially with newer inspectors.

<!–more–>Are you experienced in residential inspections? 
Residential inspection is a unique discipline with specific challenges.

Do you do repairs or make improvements based on the inspection? 
Some states and/or professional associations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in an inspection. If you’re considering engaging your inspector to do repairs, be sure to get referrals.

How long will the inspection take? 
A typical single-family dwelling takes two to three hours.

How much will it cost? 
Costs can vary depending upon a variety of things, such as the square footage, age and foundation of the house.

What type of report will you provide and when will I get it? 
Ask to see samples to make sure you understand his reporting style. Also make sure the timeline works for you.

Can I be there for the inspection? 
This could be a valuable learning opportunity. If your inspector refuses, this should raise a red flag.

Are you a member of a professional home inspector association? What other credentials do you hold? 
Ask to see their membership ID; it’s some assurance.

Do you keep your skills up-to-date through continuing education? 
An inspector’s interest in continuing education shows a genuine commitment to performing at the highest level. It’s especially important with older homes or homes with unique elements.

Any other good questions to ask?  Post yours now!

Posted on February 28, 2019 at 5:30 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, For Buyers & Sellers | Tagged , , ,

8 Ways to Make the Most of the Home You Have

“Staying Put” by architect and writer Duo Dickinson is not your typical architect’s book about design. There’s no obscure language nor design-for-design’s-sake ideas. It is a practical, down-to-earth guide that walks anyone through the rational process of how to remodel your house to get the home you want, from how to think about your house and overcoming hurdles to a list of “Duo’s Do’s and Don’ts” for the homeowner. Along the way, there’s plenty of nice before-and-after photos to help explain the points. Do read the book. You’ll be glad you did.

Read on for eight of Dickinson’s brightest suggestions:

Consider the compass points. The tips and illustrated examples are wonderfully straightforward. For example, we see a house that gets overheated, the siding degrades and the front door bakes in the sun because it all faces south.

Dickinson’s common-sense advice: Rework the front of the house with a new wide porch that shades the front door and some smaller, yet well-sized windows to create a lot more curb appeal while reducing maintenance and energy consumption. It’s a triple win: more beauty and comfort with less cost.

Avoid gutters. Statements such as “gutters and leaders are devout to be avoided” may sound like heresy to many, but certainly are the truth. Proving his point, Dickinson illustrates how a properly-built roof overhang can shed all the water it must without the complications, such as ice dams, caused by gutters.

Embrace small moves. Dickinson provides a wealth of simple solutions illustrated with before-and-after photos. He shows how to use small moves for big dividends, such as taking out a wall between a kitchen and a hallway to make room for more kitchen storage.

Enhance curb appeal. The book offers solutions to common problems with a particular style, such as how to improve and enhance an entrance into a split-level home.

Open up to the outside. Dickinson provides some excellent examples of how we can use modern windows and doors to strengthen the connection between inside and outside. Our homes, says Dickinson, no longer need be “later-day caves.”

Find your home. Learning more about the style of the house you have will help you avoid obstacles in remodeling and recognize the best opportunities for improving your particular home.

Open up the inside. Snippets of advice sprinkled throughout the book are like refreshing raindrops that clear the cobwebs away. One such snippet: “If you walk through a room to get to a room, something is wrong.” You know — it’s when that new great room gets added onto a modest house, and the result is some kind of dyslexic creature that’s really two houses rather than one.

So rather than even building an addition, Dickinson suggests you make the most of what you already have. In this example, widening the opening between rooms strengthens this room’s connection with the rest of the home, increasing its utility and spaciousness.

Work with what you’ve got (before): Keeping the kitchen size the same while vaulting the ceiling dramatically increases the overall spaciousness of the room, as you’ll see in the next photo.

Work with what you’ve got (after): Walls, doors, appliances, and even the skylight and kitchen sink were all left where they were. This all avoided costly plumbing, electrical and mechanical work and rework.

Working with what you’ve got (plans): Dickinson has included before-and-after floor plans for many of the examples. These plans help provide that much more context, allowing the reader to better understand what they may be able to do with the home they already have.

By Bud Dietrich AIA

Posted on February 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, Colorado, For Buyers & Sellers, Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

FUNdamentals

 

 

In times of change (like now), it’s valuable to look at the fundamentals of our market.

Let’s have some fun with fundamentals…

1.  Our economy is healthy – since 1990, the unemployment rate in Colorado has never been higher than the U.S. unemployment rate.  Ever.  Unemployment in Colorado sits at 2.7% today while the rate across the U.S. is 4.0%.

2.  People keep moving here – since 2005 our population has grown by just over a million people which is roughly 77,000 per year (about the size of Mile High Stadium).

3.  Our real estate outperforms other places – according the Federal Housing Finance Authority, Colorado is the #1 state for home price appreciation since 1990.

Posted on October 26, 2018 at 2:57 pm
Windermere Windsor | Category: Blog, For Buyers & Sellers, Fun Facts, Market News | Tagged , , , , , , ,

How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You!

If you are buying or selling your home, you will want to find a real estate agent that you like and trust. Windermere agents, Marguerite Giguere and Anne Jones have some great tips on how to find a real estate agent, make sure they will fit your needs and set expectations.

 

Posted on July 23, 2018 at 6:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: For Buyers & Sellers, Fort Collins Real Estate, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate

Love Letters: How to set yourself apart in a seller’s market

Love letters are a lost art form, in romance and home buying. Yes, home buying. If you’re a buyer and you want to set yourself apart from other buyers, you might want to state your intentions clearly by declaring your abiding love for the seller’s home in a letter. Here are a few tips for writing a love letter that works (for love letters of a romantic nature, you’re on your own).

Consider what about the home makes it your dream home. Do you see yourself raising a family there? Do you have a special attraction to the architectural/design style? Does the home evoke a sense of nostalgia? Consider your emotional reaction to the home. Many sellers are emotionally tied to their homes, and they often want others to see value in the things that make the home appealing and unique.

Share your home-buying journey. Whether you’re buying your first home, upgrading to something larger, or seeking a place for retirement, those personal stories can help a seller empathize with you.

Share commonalities. If you have any information about the people selling the house, share what you have in common. This could be anything from children to hobbies.

Show, don’t tell. If you can, paint a picture of what your life will be like when you live there. For example, “I can imagine pancake breakfasts with our two children in the lovely kitchen.” If the seller has had similar experiences, continuing those traditions may be important to them.

Don’t over-compliment the seller. A love letter should be an authentic message about your interest in the home. A seller can tell if you’re genuine, so keep your compliments sparse and real.

Keep is short and simple. Your love letter should be a sonnet, not a novel. Keep to the point and try to remain under 200 words.

Show stability. You might find yourself bidding against all cash buyers or people willing to pay more than you are. Your letter may set you apart from the competition emotionally, but don’t forget to share that you’re a financially viable candidate. Also, if you have unique (and strong) resume attributes, consider including a couple of key points. You never know what might draw the seller to you.

Don’t point out flaws or improvements to be made. Even when you’ve found your dream home, you may still have plans for improvements. This is not what sellers want to hear. Make sure not to point out the household flaws, or renovations you will make once the ink has dried. This could sour the seller to your overture.

Consider a multi-media love letter. Last year, a Windermere agent helped his client purchase the home of her dreams. She was a violinist and the home she desired required a certain acoustic quality. He followed her through the home while she played in different rooms. When she sent this video to the sellers, it helped set her apart from other buyers bidding on the home.

Be professional. While this is a love letter, and somewhat emotional, it is also a part of a business transaction. Do not be overly familiar. Remember to format, address, and copy edit your letter as you would with any other business correspondence.

Here are some samples of love letters.

If you are submitting a love letter with your bid, make sure to consult your agent. They may have inside information about the people selling the home through their connections with the selling agent. Your agent can advise you if your letter is appropriate and what information it should contain.

In a competitive seller’s market a love letter will not always work, but as in love, it is always worth a try.

Have you ever written a love letter with a house offer? What was your experience?

Posted on July 22, 2018 at 6:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: For Buyers, For Buyers & Sellers, Housing Trends, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged ,

How to Hire a Home Inspector

Is this year you make the leap to buy your first home?

A home is a major investment and, for many people, the greatest financial asset they have. With so much at stake, it makes sense to do what you can to protect your financial interest. Getting a home inspection is a smart, simple way to do just that.

When you make a written offer on a home, insist that the offer provide that your contract is contingent on a home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector. You’ll have to pay for the inspection yourself, but an investment of a few hundred dollars could save you thousands of dollars and years of headaches. If you’re satisfied with the results of the inspection and are assured that the home you’re purchasing is in good shape, you can proceed with your transaction, confident that you are making a smart purchase.

Hire a professional

When you are ready to hire a home inspector, be sure they’re licensed in your state. They should be able to provide you with their license number, which you can use to verify their status with the appropriate government agency. The best way to find an inspector is to ask your real estate agent for a recommendation. Even among licensed and qualified home inspectors, there can be a difference in knowledge, performance, and communication skills, so l it’s a good idea to do some research to ensure that you get the type of inspection you need.

What to ask your home inspector

Ask the right questions to make sure you are hiring the right professional for the job.

What does your inspection cover?

Insist that you get this information in writing. Then make sure that it’s in compliance with state requirements and includes the items you want inspected.

 

How long have you been in the business?

Ask for referrals, especially with newer inspectors.

 

Are you experienced in residential inspections?

Residential inspection in a unique discipline with specific challenges, so it’s important to make sure the inspector is experienced in this area.

 

Do you make repairs or make improvements based on inspection?

Some states and/or professional associations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in an inspection. If you’re considering engaging your inspector to do repairs, be sure to get referrals.

 

How long will the inspection take?

A typical single-family dwelling takes two to three hours.

 

How much will it cost?

Costs can vary depending upon a variety of things, such as the square footage, age, and foundation of the house.

 

What type of report will you provide and when will I get it?

Ask to see samples to make sure you understand his or her reporting style. Also make sure the timeline works for you.

 

Can I be there for the inspection?

This could be a valuable learning opportunity. If your inspector refuses, this should raise a red flag.

 

Are you a member of a professional home inspector association? What other credentials do you hold?

Ask to see their membership ID; it provides some assurance.

 

Do you keep your skills up to date through continuing education?

An inspector’s interest in continuing education shows a genuine commitment to performing at the highest level. It’s especially important with older homes or homes with unique elements.

 

What doesn’t a home inspection cover?

For a variety of reasons, some homes will require specialty inspections that are not covered by a typical home inspection. A specialty inspection might include such items as your home’s sewer scope, septic system, geotechnical conditions (for homes perched on steep slopes or where there are concerns regarding soil stability) or underground oil storage tank. If you have any questions about whether or not your home needs a specialty inspection, talk to your real estate agent.

Posted on July 18, 2018 at 6:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: For Buyers & Sellers, Fort Collins Real Estate, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged

New Features vs. Character

We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes:

The neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

 

Design and layout

If you like VictorianCraftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost.  But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature tress and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-care garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing your decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.

If you have questions about newer versus older homes, or are looking for an agent in your area we have professionals that can help you. Contact us here.

Posted on July 15, 2018 at 6:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: For Buyers & Sellers, Housing Trends, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged ,