We all Know It- Money Talks. So Who is Financing the Purchase of Your Boulder County Condo?

Prospect Neighborhood Longmont

Prospect Neighborhood Longmont

If you are looking to buy a Boulder County condo this year, you may have some questions about how to fund that purchase. Many buyers know that they will be taking out a loan for the purchase of their home.  But most buyers don’t know who can give them the best deal on a condo in the area and who can get them through the process with the least amount of worries.

Read on for the nitty gritty on how to get the best rate, work with someone you can trust, ask the right questions, and come out lookin’ pretty on the other side of your home purchase.

Ok, so let’s start at the top. We all know that mortgage brokers give loans, that the interest rate is great right now, and that most home buyers purchase their homes with loans. But here are a few more tidbits of info that are really important to take into account when you are going to purchase a condo in Boulder.

First and foremost, when it comes to lenders, always go local. Why? Because local lenders are truly the local experts in the area. They have less red tape and can be more flexible when it comes to loaning on special properties or in special circumstances. While the big banks have to worry about checking accounts, saving accounts, credit cards, etc., the smaller credit unions and local lenders are more focused. They can be more efficient. Ultimately, what that means for you is that you will get better, more personalized customer service and better rates.

Also, going local becomes really important in the appraisal process. If you work with one of the big guys, they may send an appraiser from Fort Collins, Colorado Springs or Denver. In that case, since that appraiser may not be as knowledgeable in the area, they may appraise your potential purchase too low. That can cause real headaches and sometimes even make the deal fall through.

When purchasing a condo, many lenders have special guidelines and rules they have to adhere to. The most important and common complication has to do with the owner occupancy level. When purchasing a condo, most lenders will require that the owner occupancy level of the complex (meaning how many owners live there vs. how many rent the condos out) has to be above 51%. In this case as well, the big, national lenders have strict rules and guidelines that they are bound to. Many times, local lenders can be more flexible or offer loan options which do not require a 51% owner occupancy rate. Ask your realtor for recommendations on what lenders specialize in condos in your area. They work with the lenders all the time and know who can get the deal done.

After you get the names of a few reputable, local lenders in your area, interview a few to make sure you get the best rates, like the loan packages they offer with condos, and like working with them. In the interview process, be sure to ask these key questions:

-What specific loans do you offer besides the typical FHA or conventional loan? Can I use any of these in the purchase of my condo?

– Can I have a list of all of the fees I will be charged when purchasing a home? What will my closing costs be?

– How much of a monthly HOA fee can I afford? How does this affect how much I can spend?

-Do you use local appraisers that work in Boulder much of the time?

-How do your rates and fees compare with others in the area?

Last but not least, make sure you like your lender. You will be working closely with them and they have a big stake in how smoothly your transaction goes. If you get along swimmingly, you may just start great business relationship that will benefit you for years to come.

Here are a few links to some of our favorite lending institutions in the area:

Elevations Credit Union– Fantastic and flexible programs for first time home buyers and people interested in condos.

Bank of Commerce Mortgage– Great customer service and competitive rates.

As always, if you have questions we are happy to answer them 7 days a week. Just give us a call at 303-956-1771 or shoot us an email at kencrifasi@kw.com or allisonbenham@kw.com.

By Allison Benham & Ken Crifasi

Getting Ready to Buy a Home? Here are 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Boulder County Lender

Trident Cafe and Bookstore Boulder

Trident Cafe and Bookstore Boulder

When buying your home, whether it be your first or your fifth, you will likely be taking out a mortgage to finance your purchase. The lender you choose plays a key role in the process of helping you get into the right home- choosing the right one can mean the difference in your transaction going oh-so-easy and you not getting into that home at all. It’s that important.

To get in with the right mortgage guy or gal, first ask your realtor for some recommendations. They work with mortgage brokers every day and they know who can close the deals quickly and easily. Then, ask the questions below and interview a few mortgage brokers before you decide who will be the best fit for you.

1. Are you local to the area? How familiar are you and your appraisers with the neighborhood I am looking to buy in?

Ok, so here is the skinny. Most of us use big banks for our every day banking, checking, and savings but when it comes to getting a home loan, going local is really important. Local lenders, banks, and credit unions usually have more competitive rates that the big guys. They also have a whole lot less red tape- they can be more flexible with their guidelines because they can have a more personal relationship with their clients. You won’t just be a number in the crowd.

The local aspect is also really important when it comes to the appraisal process. During the appraisal, the lender will send out an appraiser to assess the value of the property. Real estate values are hyper-local so having someone local is really important- especially in a place like Boulder. If you have a nationwide lender, they may send an appraiser from Denver, Fort Collins, or Colorado Springs to appraise your Boulder home which would lead to an appraisal that is too low. This, in turn, can cause real headaches during the transaction and can sometimes even cause the deal to fall through.

2. Can I have a list of all the fees I will be charged when completing my home purchase?

Usually when people are considering getting a home, they look at how much of a mortgage they can afford on a monthly basis. This is really important but don’t forget there are other one-time fees that come into play when closing on a home. Besides your monthly PITI (Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance) mortgage payment, as a buyer you will also have the following one-time fees:

-Home Inspection: $300-400

-Home Appraisal: $300-400 paid at the time of closing and wrapped into the loan.

-Closing Costs: Typically around 2% of the purchase price. This is an estimate but includes things like documentary fees, title insurance, escrows for property taxes and insurance. Remember this number increases if you are paying points down on your loan. Also, these costs can come into play when negotiating the contract and the seller can help pay them (although in our current market, this is unlikely since sellers are many times receiving multiple offers on their homes).

-Loan Origination Fees: 1% of the amount of the loan. This is the fee the lender charges to underwrite and process the loan. This is how they make their money.

3. What are your specific rules and regulations regarding condos?

Depending on the lender and the kind of loan you will take out, there will be some rules regarding which condos you can buy. The most important rule has to do with the owner occupancy level. If you plan to take out an FHA loan, then at least 50 percent of the units in any condo complex need to be owner occupied. If the percentage of owner occupants is less than this, you will have to put 20 percent down on your loan and take out a conventional loan. Sometimes local lenders can be more flexible than this. If you plan on purchasing a condo, ask what different programs they have that might work for you.

4. How much of an HOA can I afford? How does that affect how much I can spend?

In a place like Boulder, don’t forget about the HOA’s. These monthly fees make a big difference in what purchase price you can afford. Your lender can tell you exactly how much of monthly payment you can make. They will let you know exactly how much you can afford to pay and exactly how much HOA you can afford too.

5. How do your mortgage rates compare with others in the area?

Even small differences in percentage points matter over a 30 year time period. Make sure your potential lender is competitive and knows their numbers so you can shop around and make an informed decision.

Last but not least, make sure you like your lender. You will be working closely with them and they have a big stake in how smoothly your transaction goes. If you get along swimmingly, you may just start great business relationship that will benefit you for years to come.

Read on for more info:

Recommended Online Mortgage Applications

The First Step to Owning the Home of Your Dreams-Mortgage Pre-Approval

By Allison Benham & Ken Crifasi

For The Serious Home Buyer in Boulder County

Do you remember when the Tickle Me Elmo dolls came out and they were so hard to come by that people were physically attacking each other to get one?

Well, that’s kinda what the housing market has been like in Boulder County this year (ok, we haven’t seen any fist fights……… not yet).

2013 Has Started Off With a Bang

Foreclosure rates have dropped below pre-recession amounts, mortgage rates are still at all time lows and home values across the county have started to rise. All indicators are pointing toward a recovering market. You can get an undervalued home right now, with the lowest interest rates that we’re likely to see in our lifetimes and expect to see your investment appreciate healthily as the market continues its recovery over the next few years.

Inventory Levels of Homes For Sale Shown in Blue

Inventory Levels of Homes For Sale in Boulder Shown in Blue  Dec 2009 – Dec 2012

It’s no secret that we are experiencing a unique time in real estate for home buyers.

The demand for housing in Boulder County will likely reach record highs this year. With demand high, competition for great homes will be high, too. What do we mean by competition?

Agents are consistently reporting that they have multiple buyers that they can’t find homes for. Homes coming onto the market are going under contract in days (sometimes hours). The days where you could pick up a foreclosure or short sale for pennies on the dollar are long gone. In many cases distressed properties are selling for over list price!

What does this mean for the serious buyer?

You need to be like a crouched tiger, eyes fixed, heels cocked with out stretched claws………

Sorry, got carried away there.

If you are serious about buying a great home in Boulder County this year you’re going to greatly improve your chances of success by speaking with an agent today and finding out how to be in position to make sure you end up in the home you want.

Chances are at some point you’ll team up with a real estate agent (9 out of 10 buyers do) to help manage the purchase of your next home.  Thing is, it doesn’t cost a dime to get started early. Buyer’s agents get paid by home sellers and regardless of how long you work with your agent. That doesn’t change.

How can you get started right now?

Take a moment to fill out this Home Buyer Needs Form. Don’t worry you’re not signing a contract. You’re just sending your needs to one of our market experts so that he or she can review your unique situation and share with you any helpful information that may help you insure that you’re ready to compete for the best homes. If after meeting one of our team members you decide that you’d like to have our support in your home search – we can move into full swing operations. If you decided not to, at least you’ll be a little smarter for having had the conversation. Who can complain about that?

– Ken Crifasi, Owner K&A Properties

Are You Going to Sell Your Boulder County Home in 2013? Here are 4 Things You Need to Know About the Boulder Market this Year.

How do I find a Realtor in Boulder Colorado

Are you thinking that 2013 might be the time for you to make a move? Whether you are downsizing, upsizing, or relocating, it’s good to know the market you are going to be selling in. Check out the 4 things home sellers gotta know before they sell in Boulder County this year.

1 Market Conditions

We sure are lucky to live in the Front Range. This area was much less affected by the housing and economic troubles of 2008 than other areas of the country. That’s not to say there were no issues here. We did see a dip in home prices, we reached the bottom, and we are now on the upswing. Many parts of the country haven’t reached this point yet and there are still depressed housing markets in pockets all over the country. We have now turned the corner and are technically in a seller’s market here in Boulder County. Check out the stats below for details:

– We now have less than 3 months of housing inventory and that means we are in a strong seller’s market. Less than 6 months of inventory is considered a seller’s market while more than 6 months of inventory is considered a buyers market. There are currently 647 single family homes and condos on the market in Longmont, Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette. 808 homes sold in the same area in November, December, and January.

Home prices have rebounded to early 2008 levels. The median home price in January of 2013 for Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville and Boulder was 286K. This includes single family homes and condos. These are very similar to the prices we saw in this area in December of 2007 and January of 2008.

-The average days on market in January of 2013 was 88. In January of 2007, that number was 109 and in January of 2008, that number was 130.

2 Pricing It Right

Ok, so we have established it is a very strong seller’s market in this area. So, what does that mean for you the seller? It means that if you price your home competitively in the market and stage it to sell, you have a really good chance of selling quickly, getting your asking price, and maybe even having multiple offers. Seller beware though- Some seller’s in this position will be tempted to price their home over the market value to try to get a high offer. Buyers and Buyer’s Agents in the area are pretty savvy and they can spot an overpriced house quickly. If your home is overpriced they may not even go to see it. Also, homes that are originally overpriced eventually end up selling for less money. The moral to the story- price it right, make it competitive, make it look pretty, and sell that baby.

3 The Luxury Market – A Different Story

True, it’s a Seller’s Market overall. But not in all price ranges. The luxury market is still sluggish. With over 10 months of supply in homes priced over 800K it’s a buyers market. So what does that mean if you want to sell in this price range? You are going to have to pull out all of the stops. Stage it, try to never deny a showing, make sure your agent has aggressive marketing campaigns and experience with luxury homes, and of course, price it competitively.

4 The Same Old Tricks Still Get The Job Done

Get the most for your home by staging it right and leaving the home for showings. These things aren’t just important for 2013- they’ve always been important and for every price range. NAR stats tell us that staged homes sell 8 to 10 percent higher than non-staged homes and you are going to spend way less than that on staging. Also, make sure to leave the home for showings. If you stay in the home, potential buyers feel awkward and are less likely to spend the time in your home imagining it being theirs.

Are You Selling Your Boulder County Home? Here are 5 Things You Must Do to Sell Your Home for the Price You Want in the Time You Want

Martin Acres RealtyKen and I spend a lot of our time working with buyers and showing them homes. The motivation of the seller is usually clear right of the bat. Use these tips and tricks for selling your Boulder County home to make sure your home is one of the lucky ones that sell in the slower winter months.

1. The most important thing you do when selling your home is setting the price. The price of your home is the difference between whether you get an offer for your home in the first week or whether your home sits on the market for weeks on end making other homes look good. The most interest and viewings of homes happens during the first two weeks. If real estate agents and buyers think your home is over priced, the interest wanes, they forget about your home, and you will eventually have to sell your home for less than you could have originally. Consult with your agent and check out the comparable properties in the area to know what your competition is. Set the price where buyers will see a lot of value.

2. Make sure your agent takes great pictures- or has a professional do it. Agents and buyers search for homes in the same way- they always start on the internet. If your home has bad pictures, too few pictures, or no pictures at all, buyers and agents will skip over it to look at properties that do have pictures. No one wants to waste time going to a home that won’t work. Pictures help everyone make that decision. They can make all the difference.

3. Clean it up. Make sure the your home is neat and tidy, not just for the pictures but for anytime that people may be coming to see it. I have been in countless properties in which it seems like the sellers don’t even want to sell, the home is so messy, cluttered, and dirty that the buyer would have to be crazy to write an offer. Get the carpets professionally cleaned, take care of pet and food smells, and take small and personal items out of the home. Less is more. You want the buyer to be able to imagine all of their stuff in your home, not be distracted by your things.

4. Stage it. Studies show that staged homes sell faster than empty ones. Sellers need to show buyers how the home works. Highlight any areas that are special. Staging companies can stage small areas, just a room or two, or a whole home. They will also have someone come out and tell you where all the furniture should go for good “flow”. They will give you great pointers for how to highlight all the special things about your home.

5. Be flexible with viewing times. Some buyers have limited times they can go see properties. They may be in town for just a weekend or may have an inflexible work schedule. Make sure you allow as many showings as possible. The more people see your home, the more likely it is someone will love it enough to buy it.

If you have more questions about selling your Boulder County Home, you can call or email us any time at 303-956-7122 or allisonbenham@kw.com.

Visit our website for more info on Selling Your Boulder County Home.

Check out HGTV for 10 more Tips and Tricks for Selling Your Home.

Boulder County's Best Realtors

Home Loan Pre Approval Boulder County: The Perfect Loan Application

Hey! It’s Ken Crifasi, Boulder County Realtor and owner of K&A Properties. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from home buyers about home loan pre approval. Being a Realtor, not a loan officer, I can’t legally pre approve anyone for a home mortgage. However, I can certainly hunt down some information to help you out! To figure out exactly what the current process of getting a mortgage in Boulder County is like I went to one of my favorite lenders – Ian Bennet from Premier Morgage Group.

Ian Bennet has been in the home mortgage business for a decade and currently conducts his mortgage magic from Premier Mortgage Group’s Boulder office at 1844 Folsom Street. He has done such a great job mastering his art that we asked him to spend half of his week in a second office at our Boulder Keller Williams. Ian has extensive knowledge in providing home loans to Boulder County residents, from the highest-end buyers to those of you that are trying to purchase your first condo. I like to kid Ian about how nice it is that he is an expert at financing condo purchases because many mortgage lenders would rather avoid them. They can be challenging and sometimes its hard to justify the time commitment. Ian, thanks for rolling up your sleeves every time we ask!

You can reach Ian by phone at 303-443-2050 or by email at ibennett@pmglending.com

So I asked Ian what the home loan pre approval process was like now-a-days and he directed me to this. The Perfect Loan Application. For detailed information, follow the link. I put together the most important points below.

Here is the bullet point home loan list:

Employment & Income

1. 2 years employment history including job titles, dates of employment, employer’s address and phone numbers

2. Letter of explanation of any changes in employment of the past 2 years.

3. Pay stubs for the most recent 30 days.

4. Copies of W-2s for the last 2 years.

5. Copies of federal, personal and business tax returns for previous 2 tax years.

Your Residence Information

6. 2 years residence history including addresses, dates, and phone number for landlord if renting.

7. If you currently own a home, please provide the most recent mortgage statement.

8. Name and phone number of your homeowners insurance agent.

Bank & Other Statements

9. Most recent 2 months or quarterly bank statementsfor all checking, savings and investment accounts.

10. Most recent 2 months 401k/Retirement statements.

11. Copy of Earnest Money check when it clears your bank account, along with most recent bank statement showing check clearing. (Only applies if you are already under contract to purchase a home)

12. Non-Payroll deposits – it is necessary to verify the source and receive explanation for non-payroll deposits to your accounts, including any transfers between accounts. Please make a copy of any check you deposit.

If Applicable to You, the Below Items May Be Needed

1. Complete Divorce decree and/or separation papers.

2. Alimony/Child Support income: proof of receipt may be required.

3. Bankruptcy Discharge papers.

4. If receiving Retirement or Social Security Income: Award letter and proof of receipt may be required.

5. Attention: Gifts

    If any portion of your down payment or closing costs is coming in the form of a gift, please notify your lender because the documentation required for gifts is fairly comprehensive.

6. VA loan: DD214 and Certificate of Eligibility.
If you have questions about home loan pre approval in Boulder County or any other parts of the home buying purchase you can always contact me at 303-956-1771 or KenCrifasi@kw.com. I’d be happy to talk you through any questions or concerns you have.
-Ken Crifasi

More helpful links:

Search for Homes In Boulder County

Find more information about Home Loan Services in Boulder County

How do I pick a Realtor to Sell My Home?

How do you pick a Realtor to help you sell your home in Boulder County?

Well, here’s what we would do.

1. Figure out where home buyers go to search for the properties they buy.

2. Find a Boulder County Realtor that markets your home in those places.

That’s it.

How do buyer’s find the home they purchase? Every year the National Association of Realtors puts together a nationwide survey of those that bought or sold homes that year. Here is the most recent data from that report about how buyer’s find the home that they buy:

The National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that 9 out of 10 home buyers are searching for homes on the internet.

So what approach does K&A Properties take to get your home sold?
You guessed it, we dominate the internet by actively marketing your home on hundreds of websites.
We market your home on:

Our websites K&A Properties and Where is Boulder Colorado

The 2 local MLS’s ColoProperty.com and REColorado.com

Over 350 of the most visited home listing websites on the web like: Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com

In addition to those sites we go the extra mile to hunt down every possible buyer we can by posting adds on blogs, classified sites and social media sites like:

Facebook – K&A Properties
Craigslist
Merchant Circle
Backpage
Classifiedads.com
Wordpress
Blogger.com
Google+
OLX
Oodle

We even write you your own Press Release when the home hits the market!

That’s not all though.

There are 2 very important things about successfully marketing a home on the internet.

1. When buyers look for homes online, the first thing they look at are the pictures. That means they need to look great. We cover the charge of having a professional photographer visit your property to take fantastic looking pictures and build your home it’s own virtual tour.

2. In order for your home to look its best in those pictures, your home needs to be staged in a way that allows buyers to imagine themselves living there. We will send a professional stager to visit you for a free consultation on what you can do make your home the most appealing to the buyers that will be visiting it.

Easy enough, right?

Call K&A Properties at 303-956-1771 and speak with Boulder County Realtors that have the knowledge and skill to get your home sold in today’s internet driven market.

What does a short sale mean?

You can find the full video series here: Home Buyer Video Series

What does a short sale mean for you as a buyer? And should you buy a short sale?

Find out in this video:

I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If there is something you would like to learn more about or if there is a video you would like to see us make, let us know!

Thanks for taking the time to view our video.
-Ken Crifasi

Find Short Sales in Boulder and Denver

Boulder County's Best Realtors

What to know about buying a foreclosure in Colorado

You can find the full video series here: Home Buyer Video Series

 

Boulder Counties Best Realtors

Should I Rent or Buy?

I came across this rent vs buy calculator that I really like and I wanted to pass it on. Click on the image to try it out.

– Ken

Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html

Also, here a few articles on the subject:

Should you rent or buy USA Today

Rent or buy a home Kiplinger

Oprah and Suze Orman Rent or Buy?

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

FAQ: How Do I Find a Realtor In Boulder Colorado?

As you start to plan for buying and selling your Boulder home, you are going to have a ton of things on your plate, a million details dancing in you head, and a lot of questions. For many, buying or selling your home and moving can be really stressful. You need a pro on your side and in your corner to coach you through the process. So how do you pick a great agent? What things are really important to know and ask?

As you begin your hunt for a great agent, you may need to ask yourself some questions first. First and foremost, what are your expectations for your agent? What is most important to you in the process of buying or selling your home? Is getting top dollar the most important thing? Or is it fantastic customer service and communication? Is it more important to have the old-hat market expert or would you like an agent who you really connect with? Write down the most important ways you would like an agent to help you and then search that person out.

So, once you know the kind of agent you are looking for, ask friends and family for referrals. Someone you know may have had a fantastic experience in the past with an agent they love (conversely, they may tell you who to stay away from!). After that, search the web for agents in your area. Be specific on neighborhoods or types of homes you are interested in. If you want a Martin Acres ranch home, type that in. If you want a mountain mansion near Nederland, type that in. The more specific you are the better. You will be able to tell pretty quickly who specializes in the type of home you are looking for.

Once you get a good idea of who specializes in your area, it’s time to get on the phone. Give the agent a call and pick their brain for a couple of minutes. You will want to ask a couple of key questions like these:

1. I am looking for a vacation home outside of Lyons. Is this your area your expertise? If it’s not, can you please recommend someone who does a lot of work there?

2. Are you a full time real estate agent?

3. What is special about the service that you provide?

The agent will likely want to set up an appointment so you can meet face to face. If you like how they sound so far, go meet them. Real estate agents are generally pretty friendly folk who like to help. Even if you aren’t quite ready to buy or sell , they will set you up with some practical steps you can take to get on the right track. They will provide you info on great lenders in your area, how the buying or selling process works, info on neighborhoods you like, schools, tax info- the list goes on and on.

Most importantly, make sure you like their personality. You will be spending some significant time with this person. They have a lot to do with how easy or hard your transaction will be. You want someone you like on your side.

If you have questions or comments on this blog or any of the others, give me a call or shoot me a text. I am happy to help!

Allison Benham

303-956-7122

allisonbenham@kw.com

For further reading on how to find a great agent, visit:

http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=13108475

To search for homes in Boulder, Colorado, go to:

kaboulder.com

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

Are You Ready for Some Math? Boulder Housing Stats- Fall 2012

When we talk about real estate, numbers are the name of the game. So let’s go over what the numbers say about our Boulder real estate market and why it is a great time to buy and sell real estate in this area.

First, we will compare the Boulder numbers from September 2012 to those from September 2011. The number of homes for sale has decreased 25% (409 to 309), the number of homes sold has increased 31% (38 to 55), and the number of days to an accepted contracts has decreased 31% (69 to 48).

So what do these numbers tell us? First, they tell us that home sellers are holding on tight to their homes. Because of their uncertainty about the economy and the slow and steady housing market recovery, home sellers are waiting for the prices to continue to increase. Buyer demand continues to be strong and the competition is fierce for the best homes. We continue to hear of stories of multiple offers on homes within hours of being listing for sale.

This market is unique because if offers advantages to both buyers and sellers.

Buyers continue to enjoy historically low interest rates. These interest rates coupled with low purchase prices make owning a home more affordable than ever before. In many cases, owning a home is cheaper than renting.

Graph of 30 Year Fixed Mortgage rate:

Sellers get the benefit of a hot housing market! Homes are selling like hot cakes. If you are thinking of selling your home to be closer to work or your family or if you are simply ready for a home upgrade, you couldn’t ask for a better time to list. Also, on the flip side, after you sell your home you will have the opportunity to capitalize on the same benefits that buyers are currently getting. It’s a double whammy of real estate success!

The numbers and interpretation can go on and on. For numbers on our neighbor cities Louisville, Lafayette, Longmont, or Broomfield, shoot me an email at allisonbenham@kw.com.
– Allison Benham

To read more about the housing market recovery, go to:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2012/10/23/housing-market-recovery-hits-new-high-in-september/

To search for homes in Boulder County, go to:

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

Boulder, Colorado Home Sellers- This One is For You! The 5 Things You Must Do To Sell Your Home Fast!

If you are buying or selling a home in Boulder, Colorado or any of the surrounding areas these days, you have probably heard the buzz. That’s right- the housing market is hot, hot, hot right now. Average days on the market are down, home prices are going up, and we have seen multiple offer situations in every price range in the market. While this all sounds great, Boulder home sellers beware! That doesn’t mean that every home is selling. You still need to position your home correctly in the market for it to sell at the price you want. Always remember, real estate is a game- you gotta play to win!

Below are 5 things you absolutely must do to sell your home in the time you want for the price you want:

1. The most important thing you do when selling your home is setting the price. The price of your home is the difference between whether you get an offer for your home in the first week or whether your home sits on the market for weeks on end making other homes look good. The most interest and viewings of homes happens during the first two weeks. If real estate agents and buyers think your home is over priced, the interest wanes, they forget about your home, and you will eventually have to sell your home for less than you could have originally. Consult with your agent and check out the comparable properties in the area to know what your competition is. Set the price where buyers will see a lot of value.

2. Make sure your agent takes great pictures- or has a professional do it. Agents and buyers search for homes in the same way- they always start on the internet. If your home has bad pictures, too few pictures, or no pictures at all, buyers and agents will skip over it to look at properties that do have pictures. No one wants to waste time going to a home that won’t work. Pictures help everyone make that decision. They can make all the difference.

3. Clean it up. Make sure the your home is neat and tidy, not just for the pictures but for anytime that people may be coming to see it. I have been in countless properties in which it seems like the sellers don’t even want to sell, the home is so messy, cluttered, and dirty that the buyer would have to be crazy to write an offer. Get the carpets professionally cleaned, take care of pet and food smells, and take small and personal items out of the home. Less is more. You want the buyer to be able to imagine all of their stuff in your home, not be distracted by your things.

4. Stage it. Studies show that staged homes sell faster than empty ones. Sellers need to show buyers how the home works. Highlight any areas that are special. Staging companies can stage small areas, just a room or two, or a whole home. They will also have someone come out and tell you where all the furniture should go for good “flow”. They will give you great pointers for how to highlight all the special things about your home.

5. Be flexible with viewing times. Some buyers have limited times they can go see properties. They may be in town for just a weekend or may have an inflexible work schedule. Make sure you allow as many showings as possible. The more people see your home, the more likely it is someone will love it enough to buy it.

Info brought to you by Ken Crifasi and Allison Benham- K&A Propeties- in Boulder, CO. Call us, text us, or email us and we will get back in touch.

For more reading about unique selling tactics, visit:

http://www.frontdoor.com/sell/frontdoors-top-10-unique-selling-tactics/2095

20 Tips to Selling Your Home:

http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/real-estate/getting-readya1.asp

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

The Steps to Buying a Home in Boulder, CO

There are a million reasons home buyers and sellers move, invest, and want to buy and sell their homes but there is one thing they all have in common- questions about how it all works.

So here you go, your 6 step process to the home buying process:

1. First things first, figure out how much you can spend. You can do this by speaking with a mortgage broker. To find a great lender, you can check with your real estate agent (they work with brokers all the time and know who gets deals closed), find someone who has done a great job for your friends or family or find someone online.  Look for someone that works for a local mortgage brokerage, has been in the business a while, and who has been recognized for fantastic service.

This local part is really important. Small mortgage brokers provide the best customer service, have better accountability, and usually can beat the rates of big banks.

2. Find a fantastic Realtor to help you.  Again, ask your friends or family for referrals or find someone on line. Make sure they do real estate full time (most agents don’t). Also, make sure they specialize in the area you would like to buy.

3. Consult with your Realtor to find homes that meet your needs. Narrow down the neighborhood, the price range, and the style of home you want. In a perfect world, you and your agent would have such a good idea of what you want that you would only need to look at 4 to 5 houses to find your dream home.

4. Find the One! When you find your dream home, your agent will help you craft an offer and submit it to the listing agent. You agent will submit your offer, negotiate on your behalf, and guide you through the contract to close process.

5. Due your due diligence- submit your earnest money, get an inspection, an appraisal, apply for your loan and get property insurance. Review all documents your realtor and lender send you so you know everything about your potential home. If you have questions or concerns, ask your agent or consult an attorney. There are certain dates in which you can legally leave the contract with all of your earnest money. Make sure you know those.

6. Close on the property! The most exciting day of all! Your agent will organize the closing date for you. This is when you go to the title company, sign all the closing docs and get the keys to your new home.

Voila! Buying a property in a nutshell!

For further reading, check out:

http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/buyers-basics/home-buyers-basics.aspx?source=web

Also, check out the 7 steps to selling your home:

http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/sellers-basics/?source=web

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The First Important Step to Owning the Home of Your Dreams- Loan Pre-Approval

Pre-approval Boulder Real Estate

29th Street Mall, Boulder

As you begin the process of buying a home, whether it be your first or your fifth, it is important to keep the boy scout motto in mind- Be Prepared.

So what does that mean with regard to buying a home? What is the first step in preparedness when it comes to finding the perfect abode for you?

The answer is two very important words- Loan Pre-Approval. Shocking, I know. This is not the usual place that future homeowners want to start. It seems a bit boring, a bit intimidating, and frankly sometimes it can be a bit confusing. So what is loan pre-approval and why is it so important we start here?

When you get pre-approved for a loan, you will meet with a lender, provide them with whatever financial documentation they need, and discuss what loan amount you are eligible for. They will look at your credit report, your debt to income ratio, pay stubs, tax history and job history to decide how much money they will lend to you. While loan pre-approval is not a guarantee of a future loan, it is an extensive process that gives everyone a really good idea of your financial situation.

After the meeting, if all looks good, they will give you a pre-approval letter.  Then you are ready to rock and roll! House-hunting here you come!

Note: Loan pre-approval is different from loan pre-qualification. Pre-qualification is a less intensive process, can be done over the phone, and is really a guesstimate of how much you can eventually afford. It is not nearly as concrete and carries less weight than a pre-approval because the lender has not yet actually guaranteed that they will lend you money. When it comes to this stuff, loan pre-approval is where it is at!

Ok, next step. Discussing your loan pre-approval with your real estate agent is essential. It is here that you and your agent can start to build a plan for what homes you can afford, what neighborhoods are going to work for you, and what kind of home you can expect to get. With your loan pre-approval in hand, you will not waste any time going to look at homes you can’t afford and you won’t fall in love with a home that is out of your reach.

When you find your dream home, you and your agent will submit a copy of your pre-approval letter with your offer. This letter makes your offer look very strong in the eyes of the seller. Why? Because now everyone involved in the transaction knows that you can afford to buy the home. Being pre-approved makes you a cash-buyer in the eyes of the seller. If a seller has to choose between your offer and another person’s offer who is not pre-approved, they will choose yours! You are the real deal!

The beauty of the whole thing is that you have done your hard work on the front end. You have a relationship with a lender you have met and trust and you feel confident about what you can afford. Being pre-approved for a loan helps you get the home that you want without worries or hassle. Loan pre-approval is a no-brainer.

For more reading on loan pre-approval:

The Perfect Loan Application

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/basics/07/prequalified-approved.asp#axzz24UepVFw4

http://www.inman.com/buyers-sellers/columnists/understanding-dual-agency-mortgage-pre-approval

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Radon- A Colorado Conundrum

One of the most common things that comes up on home inspections here in Boulder, Colorado is radon.
It’s a scary, serious sounding word that makes buyers and sellers alike nervous. So, what is it? Why is it an issue? And what can we do to fix it?

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that is found in many homes in Colorado. It is naturally occurring in rock and soil and varies from home to home. Radon is bad for the lungs and is actually the second highest cause of lung cancer behind smoking.

What happens is that air pressure in a home is lower than the pressure in the soil outside of the home. The house essentially acts like a vacuum, pulling air and gases up from the soil. Radon usually dissipates in outside air but inside a home, it can become concentrated to a point that is dangerous. How much radon is present in a home has to do with the soil and how well a home’s foundation and basement are sealed.

So, what does that mean for home buyers and sellers?

Every home in Colorado should be tested for radon. During the home buying process, radon testing is optional and recommended. In the home buying process, most buyers hire a home inspector to check out the house and the inspector can also do radon tests. Even if you aren’t buying or selling your home, you can buy a home radon test at your local hardware store.  If a home tests too high for radon, there are several options.

Many homes in Colorado already have radon mitigation systems. The most common mitigation system is called a sub-slab depressurization system. This system of pipes and fans sucks air and gases from below the basement floor and disperses them outside the home. The radon never enters the home. On average, it costs between $800 and $1200 for installation. The radon mitigation systems are very effective and are permanent solutions.

For more reading on radon, check out:

http://co-radon.info/CO_general.html

To see a Colorado radon map:

http://co-radon.info/CO_radon_map.html

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

Show Me the Money! The Ultimate Showdown- Appraisals vs. Market Value

Market Value Real Estate Boulder ColoradoThe In’s and Out’s Home Appraisals:

During the home buying and selling process, there are several moments of truth- times where buyers, sellers, agents and lenders alike hold their breaths, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. One of these moments is the day of the appraisal.

So why all the fuss? What is an appraisal all about?

Appraisals are an important part of the lending process for the buyers. The lender hires an appraiser to estimate the true value of a property so they can make an informed decision when providing loans. The appraiser uses sales of comparable homes in the area, along with a physical inspection of the house and neighborhood, to deduce market value.

The reason appraisals are tricky is that sometimes buyers are willing to pay more for a home than the home would appraise for. Market value is not always the same as the appraised value. Real estate appraisers use cold hard facts to determine the appraisal value. Consumers, who dictate market value, use many of the same facts but add an additional emotional element that can result in a different dollar amount. A home may be so perfect for a specific buyer, that he or she is willing to pay over the list price and appraised value to get the home. Whatever a buyer is willing to pay for home is the home’s “market value”. In the end a home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.

So what happens when a home is appraised below market value?

A lender will only finance a home purchase up to the appraised value. For instance: a home is listed for $300K, a buyer says he or she will pay $290K, and the appraisal comes in at $280K, the bank will only provide a loan up to $280K.  The seller either must lower their price or the buyer must bring cash to cover the difference.  If neither of those things can happen, the deal will probably fall through.

So as a buyer, what can you do to make sure the home you’re offering on appraises at the price you want it to?

First and foremost, when hiring a lender, make sure to ask them where their appraisers come from. In places like Boulder, that is especially important because the market value of properties is higher than in other nearby cities. If you have an appraiser come from Denver, they may appraise the home lower because they are unfamiliar with the local market.

Secondly, ask your real estate agent to provide information to the appraiser on comparable properties in the area. The appraiser will come with their own comparable properties they have researched. By providing them the list of homes that helped you determine the sales price, you are showing them why your price is reasonable. Also, if you home has something that makes it truly unique, make sure the appraiser knows that, as well. By making sure they have all the info they need, you can be sure they will be the most accurate judge of the value of your home.

For more tips on how to maximize your homes appraised value, visit:

http://www.inman.com/news/2012/06/11/tips-maximize-your-home-appraisal

For a market analysis of you home, go to:

http://www.kapropertiesco.com/sell/

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents

Short Sales In Boulder, Colorado -The Nitty and the Gritty

What You Should Know About Short Sales In Boulder, Colorado

Many who are new to the home buying and selling process, have similar questions and a couple that we hear all the time are “What is a Short Sale?” and “How do I get one?”.   After the last couple of years, the terms short sale, foreclosure, bank owned property, and REO are all part of the dialogue we hear on an everyday basis regarding the housing market but there are still plenty of misconceptions about these terms.

Today, we get down to the bottom of one of these terms, one that is still prevalent all over Boulder County- the Short Sale.

First and foremost, let’s define the term. A short sale happens when a home or property sells for less than the balance owed on it’s mortgage. It can be a home, an apartment building, a commercial space or land. There are a couple of things that all short sales have. They all have a seller with hardships, a property that is currently valued less than what is owed on it (we say the seller is “under water” or “upside down on their mortgage”) and a willing bank.

What happens is the seller’s original lender allows them to sell the property for less than it is worth and agrees to take a loss on the home. The bank knows the seller is behind or struggling to make payments or has to move for one reason or another. The bank will agree to a short sale to avoid foreclosure and their own repossession of the property.

Ok, so now we know what one is. But is a short sale a good deal?

There are certainly some pro’s and con’s to short sales. Sometimes short sales can seem like great deals. The price is usually somewhat below what other homes are selling for in the area and if there is one thing I know it is that people love a good deal. But before buyers jump in, they should know a couple key things.

First, banks play an integral role in the selling process and must approve the sales price. The sales price is set by the homeowner and their agent and may or may not be a price that the bank will approve. The bank is going to lose money on the deal and is only willing to lose so much. So while the listing price for the home may seem fantastic the bank will have to approve the final sales price and that doesn’t always happen.

Secondly, the banks are very busy.  The sale of your potential home is one in hundreds for them and sometimes the short sale process can take months longer than if you were to buy a normally listed home. If you need to get a home now, the short sale is not for you.

Third, sometimes the homes seem like great deals but often that is because the condition is not in great shape. Remember, most of the time the seller was having hard time paying their mortgage so they were not likely maintaining the home very well. Many times short sales take a lot of work and are sold as-is, meaning any items you find on your inspection (roof needs replacing, cracks in the foundation, bad furnace etc.) will not be addressed. You can take it or leave it.

For some buyers (the handy type with no pressing time frame), the short sale can be a great option. Just bring a healthy dose of patience and perseverance to the table.

This blog really just scrapes the surface of the all that should be taken into consideration in a short sale purchase.

For further reading…..

On buying a short sale:
http://homebuying.about.com/od/buyingahome/bb/BuyingShortSale.htm

If you think you may need to sell your home as a short sale:
http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2010/08/10/sell-your-home-in-a-short-sale/

To search for short sales in Boulder County:
http://www.kapropertiesco.com/listings/areas/31893,42284,42378,41278,36517/propertytype/SINGLE,CONDO,LAND,FARM,MOBILE,INCOME,RENTAL/listingtype/Foreclosure%20Bank%20Owned,Short%20Sale/

Boulder Colorado's Best Real Estate Agents