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

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

Winter Time Home Tips- From Your Friendly Neighborhood Home Inspector

These great tips are brought to us by Paul Harmeier with 20/20 Home Inspections. Thanks so much Paul!
As it gets chillier outside, most of us end up spending more time indoors. Thoughts of fireplaces and hot cocoa come to mind. In addition to our home’s primary heat source, many of us use either a fireplace, wood stove, space heater or some other secondary heat source to keep us cozy.
These systems need to be properly maintained and serviced so they can provide safe and economical heat. Gas fireplaces should be serviced every couple of years to ensure correct flame setting and reduce the amount of soot and acidic gasses that can be produced. The glass on your fireplace can be a great indicator of potential problems. An excess amount of white residue on the glass is a good indication that the unit needs service. You should never remove the glass front on a gas fireplace as this is sealed to prevent CO gasses from entering the living area. Be sure to clean all exterior fireplace vents to allow the fireplace to properly draw air into the flue. Always have a certified fireplace technician service make necessary repairs.
Wood burning fireplaces should also be cleaned to prevent buildup of creosote in the flue. Too much creosote can actually catch fire in the chimney. Again, call a professional. Space heaters require special care so that they don’t accidentally cause fire to objects around them. Units should have automatic shutoffs if they tip over and should never be left unattended. Common sense and regular routine maintenance will keep you safe and warm during the cold winter months.
Brought to you by Paul Harmeier with 20/20 Home Inspections.
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