Here’s some good news for buyers who have been waiting for more selection…
No need to wait any more because the numbers show that more new listings are hitting the market compared to the recent past.
In Metro Denver, the number of homes for sale is up 14.42% compared to last year.
That equates to 800 more homes to choose from.
Start spreading the news!
Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in homeowners choosing to become landlords rather than placing their homes on the market. In deciding whether or not becoming a Landlord is right for you, there are a number of factors to consider, but primarily they fall into the following three categories: Financial Analysis, Risk and Goals.
The financial analysis is probably the easiest of the three to assess. You will need to assess if you can afford to rent your house. If you consider the likely rental rate, vacancy rate, maintenance, advertising and management costs, you can arrive at a budget. It is important both to be reasonably correct in your assumptions and to have enough reserves to cover cash-flow needs if you’re wrong. The vacancy rate will be determined by the price at which you market the property. Price too high and you’re either vacant or accepting applicants that, for some reason, couldn’t compete for more competitively priced homes. Price too low and you don’t achieve the revenue you should. If you want to try for the higher end of an expected range, understand that the cost may be a vacant month. It is difficult to make up for a vacant month.
Consider the other costs renting out your property could accrue. If you have a landscaped or large yard, you will likely need to hire a yard crew to manage the grounds. Other costs could increase when you rent your home, such as homeowner’s insurance and taxes on your property. Also, depending on tenant turn-over, you may need to paint and deal with maintenance issues more regularly. Renting your home is a decision you need to make with all the financial information in front of you. You can find more information about the hidden costs of renting here.
If your analysis points to some negative cash-flow, that doesn’t necessarily mean that renting is the wrong option. That answer needs to be weighed against the pros and cons of alternatives (i.e., selling at the price that would actually sell), and some economic guesswork about what the future holds in terms of appreciation, inflation, etc. to arrive at an expectation of how long the cash drain would exist.
Risk is a bit harder to assess. Broadly though, it’s crucial to understand that if you decide to lease out a home, you are going into business, and every business venture has risks. The more you know, the better you can mitigate those risks. One of the most obvious ways of mitigating the risk is to hire a management company. By hiring professionals, you decrease your risk and time spent managing the property (and tenants) yourself. However, this increases the cost. So, as you reduce your risk of litigation, you increase your risk of negative cash-flow, and vice versa… it’s a balancing act, and the risk cannot be eliminated; just managed and minimized.
In considering Goals, what do you hope to achieve by renting your property? Are you planning on moving back into your home after a period of time? Will your property investment be a part of your long-term financial planning? Are you relocating or just hoping to wait to sell? These are all great reasons to consider renting your home.
Keep in mind that renting your family home can be emotional. Many homeowners LOVE the unique feel of their homes. It is where their children were raised, and they care more about preserving that feel than maximizing revenue. That’s OK, but it needs to be acknowledged and considered when establishing a correct price and preparing a cash flow analysis. Some owners are so attached to their homes that it may be better for them to “tear off the band-aid quickly” and sell. The alternative of slowly watching over the years as the property becomes an investment instead of a home to them may prove to be more painful than any financial benefit can offset.
In the process of considering your financial situation, the risks associated with becoming a landlord, and the goals you hope to achieve with the rental of your property, – ask yourself these questions. Before reaching a conclusion, it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the landlord-tenant-lawspecific to your state (and in some cases, separate relevant ordinances in the city and/or county that your property lies within) and to do some market research (i.e. tour other available similar rentals to see if your financial assumptions are in line with the reality of the competition across the street). If you are overwhelmed by this process, or will be living out of the region, seek counsel with a property management professional. Gaining experience the hard way can be costly.
Making a decision about whether assisted living is right for your loved ones is one of the hardest decisions we face today. Over the years I have worked with many adult children and their parents as they prepare to make the decision about when the parents should sell their family home.
I have learned that fully assessing the situation and communicating openly with your parents is the best way to begin. I advise my clients to go through the following questions as they weigh this difficult decision.
Is Your Parent Ready for Assisted Living?
Ask Yourself These Questions
- Is your parent telling you that he is eating, but you’re seeing food go bad in the refrigerator?
- Is your parent falling? To determine the answer, is your parent covering up bruises he or she doesn’t want you to see?
- Is your parent wearing the same clothes when you go to visit? Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately and launder clothes?
- When you look around the house or yard, is it as neat and clean as it used to be?
- Is your aging parent remembering to take medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time? Are medications expired?
- Are they able to operate appliances safely? Do they remember to turn appliances off when they finish cooking?
- Is the home equipped with safety features such as grab bars and emergency response systems?
- Do they have a plan in place to contact help in case of an emergency?
- Are they driving? Should they be driving? Do they have alternate means of transportation?
- Are there stacks of papers and unpaid bills lying around?
- Do they have friends, or are they isolated from others most of the time?
- When you really look at your parent, do you see the bright and vibrant person from years ago, or do you see a more limited person who needs some help one hour a day, or even around the clock?
If you answered yes to even a couple of these questions, your parent may be ready for an assisted living facility.
I know from my personal and professional experience that many children and grandchildren dread this conversation with their aging loved ones. But it’s so important to sit down and talk with them before a crisis hits, when decisions can be discussed and all options considered.
As you probably know, the process of selling a cherished family home and deciding where to live late in life can often span a few years. I have been called upon to help with this complex moving process many times over the years and I now have a deep appreciation and understanding of the emotional needs of senior adults and their families during the process, as well. When the time comes for you to begin working through this process with your parents, contact an agent who specializes in the unique needs of seniors.
For more information and to contact a Windermere Senior Transitions Specialist, please visit: http://windermeretransitions.com/
Tell your friends and families to clear their weekend schedules throughout the entire summer—your house is the place to be for fun all season long.
If you sloughed through winter with visions of making your house the hangout spot of the summer, you’ll want to bookmark this page. We’re outlining the gadgets you’ll need on hand to turn your home into a modern entertaining destination!
1. Keyless Door Lock
No one wants to be kept inside on door duty when the party is in the backyard. Give trusted guests the freedom to enter on their own by installing a keyless door lock. By swapping a traditional key entry with one of the many keyless touchpad lock options, not only will you avoid always rummaging around the house itself searching for the keyring, you’ll also be able to create temporary codes to give to guests that unlock the front door. While they can come right in and enjoy the party, you won’t have to forfeit any sense of security, since those access codes can later be changed once the party’s over.
2. Smart Thermostat and Energy Monitor
You know the drill. When temperatures go soaring, the air conditioner plummets. However, there’s a better way to keep your home’s climate comfortable than constantly blasting cold air. Instead, opt for a smart thermostat that learns the heating and cooling patterns of your home and adjusts energy usage accordingly.
Install something like the Nest Learning Thermostat and you’ll not only get a better idea of how you’re currently using energy at home and how that affects your bills every month, but you’ll also have the option to control your cooling system with a smartphone app. Picture this: you ran out to the store for one more item before friends arrive, and you realize you didn’t turn on the air conditioning. Before you hop into the car, open the Nest app and tell it how cool you’d like the house to be by the time you return home.
3. Water-Resistant Bluetooth Speakers
While you’re hanging outside and listening to music, splashes and spills will happen, we can guarantee that. What can’t be guaranteed is whether the music will stop because of these splashes. Keep the tunes playing by arming your festivities with water-resistant speakers that won’t fritz out with the smallest splash. Plus, most portable speakers have Bluetooth connectivity, so you’ll be able to keep the smartphone or tablet you’re streaming music through with you up to 30 feet before interfering with the connection range.
4. Party-Ready Lighting System
As the sun dips in the sky for the night, you have the perfect opportunity to showcase one of our favorite smart home gadgets—colorful and very intelligent lights! Creating ambient lighting does not involve black lights or scarves thrown over lamps anymore. The electronics brand Philips has made itself the leader in colorful solutions for relaxing at home that can also be synced across Wi-Fi systems. The Philips Hue family of products offers everything from movie theater-style light strips—how great would those look along window panes?—to long-lasting LED light bulbs that can be controlled via smartphone app and programmed to nearly infinite color combinations. Keep the party humming well into the night by getting creative with smart lighting’s endless color palette.
5. Smartphone-Controlled Irrigation and Watering System
In between traveling the world, splashing in the pool and catching up on a long list of reading material, the last thing you want to check off your to-do list in the hot summer months is tending to your garden. However, you don’t want all your hard work to turn into weeds or dry up from neglect.
To keep the yard looking in tip-top shape whatever your hosting or travel schedule may be, install a smart irrigation system in the backyard. Devices like the Rachio Iro Intelligent Irrigation Controller allows you to control your sprinkler system via its smartphone app. You could be in another state enjoying a friend’s backyard party and still turn your sprinklers on or off with a few taps of your phone. Look for other types of smart gardening sensors, specifically ones that can be inserted right into the soil, which will alert you when it’s time for a water refresh on the plant.
6. Security Camera
Of course, we’re going to have to add a touch of practicality to your gadget arsenal. With all those people streaming in and out of your house through a variety of entrances, accidents may happen and a door can be mistakenly left open. Create some peace of mind without helicoptering around the doors or your guests by installing a security camera on the exterior or interior of the house.
Choose a smart security camera option with Wi-Fi viewing to keep an eye on what’s happening in your house from the convenience of an app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer browser. Indoor camera options are ideal for homes that have small children or pets that you may want to check in on from another room or when away for the day. Opt for an outdoor camera when it’s a crime deterrent you’re after or if there’s a pool or other item you’d like to monitor on your property.
Stock up on these tech gadgets and you’ll be ready to party all summer long.
In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset. And it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80% of his or her house.
What a standard homeowners policy covers
A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.
The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as fire or lighting. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies.
Other coverage in a standard homeowner’s policy typically includes the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.
If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.
How much insurance do you need?
Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:
· Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
· Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
· Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?
Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.
Protect your assets
Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.
Rebuild your home
You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property. In pricey markets such as San Francisco, land costs account for over 75 percent of a home’s value.
The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes.
Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.
Remember that a standard policy does not pay for damage caused by a flood or earthquake. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.
Replacing your valuables
If something happens to your home, chances are the things inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the item.
There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectables. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.
To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.
Create a home inventory file
It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. The little bit of extra preparation can also keep your mind at ease. The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room of your home and individually record the items of significant value. Simple inventory lists are available online. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following items:
· Item description and quantity
· Manufacturer or brand name
· Serial number or model number
· Where the item was purchased
· Receipt or other proof of purchase \Photocopies of any appraisals, along with the name and address of the appraiser
· Date of purchase (or age)
· Current value
· Replacement cost
Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles.
Storing your home inventory list
Make sure your inventory list and images will be safe incase your home is damaged or destroyed. Store them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online Web storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged). Once you have an inventory file set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.
We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard it against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster.
Choosing to put your house on the market is rarely easy, but if you must sell to move onto the next phase of your life, then you want to make sure your house is purchase-ready to get the most out of your investment. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to sell, you can always consider becoming a landlord or finding a property manager to handle tenants. But if you have decided to put your house on the market, it is time to let go of sentimentality and start thinking of it as a house again–not your home. Here are some tips for getting your house ready to sell and placing it on the market:
Do an audit: Go through the house, making notes of any projects that need to be completed, and anything that needs to be replaced, repainted or repaired. Here is a good checklist to get you started. If you are unsure about any major problems, you may want to hire an inspector to look at your home prior to putting it on the market so you can fix all issues and avoid getting stuck in heavy negotiations.
Start with a blank canvas: Look at your home from the perspective of a potential buyer. You will want to neutralize your space so anyone interested in the house can see its full potential. Keep in mind that you may love your red wall, wall-to-wall carpet or lavish art, but others may find it hard to see beyond the decorations to imagine their own taste in the house. Neutralizing the space can be as easy as painting the walls a soft white, paring down possessions or scaling back on updates. Once your home is turn-key with the basics, start to think about the updates that will make the most difference in your return on investment.
Get the most bang for your buck: If you are considering upgrades to increase the value of your home, stick to projects that will make the most sense, such as increasing the curb appeal by re-painting or replacing an outdated front door and upgrading the landscaping with easy-to-maintain plants and pathways. The first impression your home makes on a buyer is key to selling your home quickly. If your appliances are out-of-date, you may want to consider upgrading to energy-efficient models, which will appeal to a wider set of buyers. Avoid laying down new carpet; if the carpet needs replacing, consider wood flooring, as more people are replacing carpets with hardwood these days. Also keep in mind that your aesthetic will likely be different than those looking at your home, so avoid updates to the kitchen and bathroom that may offend the next homeowner. They will consider the need to replace these as a part of their offer. For more ideas on projects that bring a return, go here.
Find a listing agent: Once you are ready to put your home on the market, find a listing agent you trust will promote your home and bring the most return. Interview a number of agents to learn about their methods of marketing your home to other agents and potential buyers. They should be knowledgeable about the area, the market, comparable listings, staging and marketing techniques that will work best for you. Look at potential agents’ past listings to see the techniques they employ, the photographs and language they use to market the homes, how long homes have been on market and what their listings look like.
Price your home to sell: Pricing your house right the first time will help it sell faster. The great news is there are plenty of buyers looking to purchase homes right now, and this trend should continue. The concern for many homeowners ready to sell is that their expectations for the selling price of the home will not necessarily be met. Increase your chances of getting your home off the market fast by working with your listing agent to price your home right. Your listing agent will factor in a number of considerations when helping you determine the best price for your home, including comparable homes that have sold in the area or similar locations, the type of home, neighborhood, condition, etc.
Staging: Now that you have gotten through most of the process for putting your home on the market, look at your home through fresh eyes. Staging your home is a fine balance between making your home inviting and setting a canvas for the next homeowner to envision the space with their stuff and to fit their life. Your home should look inhabited but clean, uncluttered but not sterile. Whether you work with a stager or do most of the set up yourself, you will have to get rid of the clutter and pare down all your belongings to the essential.
- Thin out your closets; full closets look small.
- Remove all personal items, photographs, trophies and excessive collections so prospective buyers can envision the home as theirs.
- Pare down all your belongings to keep your home efficient and cleaning easy.
- Pay attention to the details; you want your home to be welcoming in every way.
Putting your home on the market can be stressful, but you can minimize stress by following these tips and other ideas for getting your home ready to sell. The better prepared you are prior to listing your home, the easier it will be to sell to prospective buyers. In the end, realistic expectations about how long it will take to prepare your home to go to market, what renovations will get you the best return, and what is the right price to motivate buyers will help your home sell quickly, saving you money in the long run.
If you are ready to make the move towards purchasing your first home or upgrading to a new home, there are some considerations you should keep in mind to make the process easier. The housing inventory is up in some markets with the start of the new year, giving you more options. Whether you are just starting to save for your future home or you are ready to start searching, here are some tips you may find useful:
Assess your financial situation: If you have just started thinking about purchasing a home, now is a good time to do some research to see how close you are to accomplishing this dream. Check your credit score, assess your debt, and make a plan for paying down your credit cards and loans. Look at homes in your area of interest to gauge the general market value of those with features you want, and use a mortgage calculator to estimate what the down payment, monthly mortgage payment and property taxes will be. Now that you know where you are starting from, you can begin (or continue) the process.
Ready, set, save: With your estimated home costs in hand, you can determine what amount you need to save before you can make a purchase. There are some great online and mobile tools to help you create and track your monthly budget so you can maximize your savings every month; mint.com is a great option. If you already have enough savings for a down payment, make sure your monthly income can support your future mortgage payments by saving the difference in expenses for a period of time.
Create a plan: Before you start shopping for your home, be sure to have a plan. You probably already have an idea of what you are looking for, but you can make your search easier by creating a list of what features are necessary and desired for your home. We all have priorities for our homes, be it location, size, style, number of rooms, amenities or countless other features, so make sure you know what you are looking for and what you can’t live without. If you have a deadline for moving, keep it front-of-mind as you go through the process.
Find an agent: Once you (and your partner and your children) know what you are looking for in your home, find a real estate agent that can help you find the right place for you. Selecting an agent is a personal process, as well as financial relationship. If you have friends or family that have worked with an agent for their own real estate needs, ask for referrals. If you don’t know an agent yet, you can find an office local to the area where you are interested in buying, and interview brokers. Keep in mind you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, so you need to feel confident he or she understands your needs; the deal-breakers, wish list, budget and timeline. A good agent will work with you in refining these to reflect the reality of the market, and guide you through the entire process from pre-approval, home searching, closing and resources, to get you into your new home.
Pre-approval: If you already have a real estate agent, they can help you find a lending officer. You can also work with your bank of choice to find a loan that works for your financial situation and start the approval process. The amount the bank is willing to loan you will determine the top-cost of the home you can purchase.
Purchasing Process: Your agent will be able to guide you through the purchasing process, from pre-approval, to purchase and sale agreement, to inspection, financing and closing. If this is your first home, keep in mind there are some factors that affect the purchase of your home. If you are looking at a short sale, a foreclosure or bank owned home, the process will take longer than a traditional home sale from the owner or developer of the property. Be prepared to work with your broker heavily during closing, as the negotiating process is a critical aspect of getting the home you want for the best price. Your agent can also offer you tips to avoid hiccups during your financing process, such as avoiding any major purchases until after your home has closed; even furniture purchases for your new home can create financing issues. To learn more information about the home-purchasing process, go here.
Setting up a home: Once you have closed on your home purchase and are ready to start making your new home yours, create another checklist to make your transition as easy as possible. Your agent will likely have some useful resources for you, from moving companies, to local utilities and near-by amenities, that can help make the process smooth and efficient. If you are moving with small children, here are some tips to help you through the process and give your kids the best transition possible. Once you are moved and settled, you can start the process of creating the dwelling of your dreams.
Your home is a reflection of your tastes, your lifestyle and your ambition, and many of us are regularly transforming our homes one way or another to fit our adjusting needs. Whether it is refreshing a room to fit your style, reorganizing a closet to accommodate the holiday excess, going green to save the planet and a couple of bucks or a complete renovation of your kitchen- homes take maintenance. Some projects come about on a whim, but if you have any plans to make your nest nestier here are some ideas for not getting too overwhelmed by the process- no matter how large or small the changes you want to make:
Get Organized: Whether it is your closets, books, pantry or your entire basement identifying the problem is the first step. Once you know where to focus your energy think about the purpose your space should fulfill, what you want it to look like and how you can keep it organized for the long-term. Sometimes getting organized is a matter of doing a little bit every day, or it is finding the right storage solution. Once you know what the problem is you can identify your steps, timeline and budget. Ultimately, getting rid of the clutter and holding onto items you love the most and use will keep your spaces easy to manage year round.
Do a little every day: Everyone has a different method to managing home madness; some have a weekly cleaning routine, some focus room by room others pile everything in the closet until they have to deal with it. If you have a goal of getting rid of old possessions and clutter, remodeling your home office or keeping your home cleaner spend five to thirty minutes a day working to achieve your goal. Here is a good idea for keeping your home clean by doing a little every day, rather than spending your weekend playing catch up.
Beautification/ Gardening: This year my big goal is to finally start our edible garden, but I have been overwhelmed by all the steps- from finding the right containers for the garden, deciding what to plant, when to start the starts, etc. Each region has different gardening challenges; the plants that thrive in Seattle are different than Spokane or San Diego so if you are planning on a garden make sure you familiarize yourself with local resources that will give you advice specific to your area. If you have any landscaping projects, keep in mind advance planning is paramount to making this affordable, timely and sustainable. If you are planning on putting your house on the market eventually, make beautification a priority and plan your exterior in a way that will increase the curb appeal of your home in the future.
Home Improvement Projects: If you have an ongoing list of home improvement projects, make sure you have the right tools in your toolbox and prioritize and plan. You don’t want to spend every weekend working on dripping faucets so create a routine. When looking at the year ahead, think about seasonality of the projects. It is important to know when to ask for help from a professional in order to have repairs done right in the first place to avoid putting yourself at risk or the safety of your home.
Go Green: If your resolution this year is to save money and the planet by reducing your carbon footprint there are projects you can do large and small. Start with an energy audit, that way you know where your energy is actually being used- you may be surprised. Easy fixes start with replacing light bulbs with CFLs and buying energy cords that limit vampire appliances to use energy when they aren’t in use. If you are replacing your old appliances with newer energy efficient models, make sure you check into recycling programs in your area. Go here for more green resolution ideas.
Renovations: Whether you are doing the renovations yourself or working with a contractor, projects of scale are never easy. Make sure you plan for the inconvenience of going without a kitchen as well as the details of putting your new kitchen in place. Also, before investing in a renovation, make sure you will get a return on your investment when you resell. If you are looking to increase the value and marketability of your home check out this list before you start tearing down walls.