Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

image:  charmar

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Homebuying Process: Step 4

The Inspection Objection is one of the big deadlines during the contract period.  Another item to examine is title insurance.  

Unlike other types of insurance, which offer protection against future events, title insurance protects you against events in the past.  The title company will do a title search to make sure that the current owners of the land actually have the right to transfer the property to you.  The title company will examine all of the past sales on that property and public records to see if anyone else could make a claim on the property.  For instance, if a contractor had done work on the home in the past but was not paid, he might put a lien on the property to try to collect when the property was next sold.  Or, if a previous owner was not of sound mind when signing closing documents, the heirs might claim that the property still belonged to the estate.  Should an unforeseen claim come up, the title company who insured the property would pay to rectify the situation so you would not lose your house.

Another hurdle to overcome is the appraisal.  If you are obtaining a mortgage loan to purchase the home, your lender will want to make sure that the property is worth what you have agreed to pay.  If the appraisal they order comes in lower than the purchase price, either the seller will have to come down in price, or the buyer will have to bring more cash to closing so that the lender isn't stuck with the difference.  This is also another point in the contract that allows the buyer to terminate the contract and regain the earnest money.

Be responsive to your lender to keep the process moving
One of the last items to settle is Loan Conditions.  This is the deadline by which the buyer has to decide if the terms of her mortgage loan is acceptable.  Keep in mind, this is not a deadline that the lender is beholden to.  Even though the lender is aware of this deadline and wants to give his client as much information as possible by then, there is still no absolute guarantee until final loan approval comes in and the clear to close is given by the underwriter.  Most times, though, the buyer is well aware of the terms they can qualify for much earlier in the process.

During this loan approval process, it's important to keep your finances and credit in order.  Your lender will pull your credit right before closing to make sure there haven't been any negative events that would affect your ability to make mortgage payments.  Avoid any large purchases - no furniture for the new place yet, no new credit lines, and for goodness sake, don't show up to closing in your brand new BMW!

Communication is the key to a smooth transaction.  The deadlines that the buyer and seller hold each other to are not technically deadlines for anyone else - not inspector, nor appraiser, nor lender.  It's a good idea to check in with these parties if at all possible while you are deciding on deadlines.  It's also important to work with an experienced Realtor who not only knows the ins and outs of the process, but also has good relationships with service providers who want to maintain the trust they've built.  The earlier snags can be discovered, the easier they are to fix.

image:  nikcname

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Homebuying Process: Step 3

It's the one.  You got that little spike of excitement when you walked in the front door, and the rest of the house was just as wonderful.  You've studied the comps I've provided to decide on an offer price, you have your pre-qualification letter and your earnest money check is ready.  Time to fill in the blanks on the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell.

There are a few things to think about as you're working out the details of your offer.  How long has the property been listed?  If it's a great house and it's brand new to the market, there may be other offers being prepared as well as yours.  How competitive do you want to be?  If the house has languished on the market for a while, you may be able to negotiate a better discount or terms.  When do you need to close and move in?  If that's not that important to you, can you find out what the seller would prefer to make your offer more palatable?  Do you need to ask for closing costs from the seller?  Perhaps you have the down payment but can't afford anymore costs up front.  Keep in mind that the seller will subtract those costs from the purchase price when he is figuring out his net gain from the sale.

If the seller finds your offer acceptable before the expiration date you wrote in, he will sign and send back, making you officially under contract.  If he doesn't, he's likely to write up a counter-offer, adjusting those terms he finds unsatisfactory.  This is very common, so don't let it worry you.  Decide if you can live with the new proposal, or counter again until you both come to an agreementSometimes these negotiations can become emotional, but it's important to keep your goals in mind and remember that this is a business deal.  Don't take the seller's comments or needs personally; he doesn't know you or your intentions, he's trying to get the best deal - just like you.

Once you're under contract, you have time to inspect the property to make sure it is what was represented and what you want.  Some issues are obvious, like peeling paint on the exterior, some are not, like a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace.  I always recommend a professional inspector to start, and then follow up with any other specialty inspections like roofers or plumbers if needed.  Should something prove to be too expensive or too much of a hassle to accept, the contract can be terminated by the buyer.  Other issues, such as the appraisal coming in below the purchase price or the inability to qualify for the right financing, also allow the buyer to terminate the contract.

I should qualify the statement, "terminate the contract."  While a buyer has several opportunities to cancel a deal and regain his earnest money, the transaction should not be entered into lightly.  The earnest money that is offered to the seller is intended as a gesture of good faith, risking some of your hard-earned cash to show that you intend to follow through with what you started.  And while you are not obligated to give the seller a ton of details about why you terminated, you had better have some.  The contract you sign states that you are moving forward in good faith, and if the seller believes you are just trying to capriciously skip out he may contest the return of your earnest money.

It's important to inspect the property thoroughly, including checking out the neighborhood, the homeowner's association if there is one, any construction permits that were filed with the city, etc.  Having knowledgeable, experienced professionals guiding you is the best way to achieve peace of mind about your purchase.  After all, buying a home is the largest financial decision a lot of people make, and a few hundred dollars up front to know what you are buying is money well spent.  I have a list of trusted service providers I work with on a regular basis that want to do a good job for me and my clients and would be happy to put you in touch with them.

image:  apbeatty 

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Homebuying Process: Step 2

So you've already talked with a mortgage lender and have gotten that magic number indicating how much house you can shop for.  You've looked at your own budget, considered all of your monthly expenses, and decided how much of a monthly payment you'd be comfortable with.  Be smart - don't stretch yourself too far; emergencies always happen and you want to have some wiggle room in your finances so you can make your mortgage payments on time.

The next step would be to make a list of the features you'd like in your new home.  Imagine your dream home, and jot down everything you can think of that you would love to have.  Then split the list into two columns - things you would like to have, and things you MUST have.  Add a third column of things that you absolutely do not want.
Making a list will help you clarify your priorities
Now walk away from the list for a while.  Go read a book or play a game of tennis or hit happy hour with some friends.  When you look at the list again, imagine you walk into a home that has most of the things you want but not everything.  Is everything on your "must have" list really a deal breaker?  Is there anything on your "do not want" list that you could live with if the house was otherwise ideal?

Don't worry about perfecting the list too much at this point; you will likely move things around as you begin to learn what features are available in your price range and in the area you want to live in.  But having thought through your wish list will enable you to eliminate properties right away and make your search more productive.

Now call me.  Together we can discuss your needs for both the property and your time frame.  Depending on financing, your family situation, whether you have to sell another property, etc., we'll set a timeline for when certain things need to happen.  One thing I always recommend to clients who aren't sure what they want is to let me set up a listing alert.  I collect basic information - which town, how many bedrooms, budget - and the client will receive emails on a daily basis of properties currently for sale that fit their criteria.  It's a great way to see what your dollar can buy in a particular neighborhood, and begin to eliminate properties that just don't fit.

If you're living out of town, or local but short on time, I am happy to preview properties before showing them.  Together we create a list of possibilities, noting questions or concerns about each property, and I take notes and more pictures of the houses and neighborhoods that I upload to the internet for your further evaluation.  This narrows the search down even further, leaving only the most appropriate houses to view.

While you're sifting through all of your choices, there are a few things to keep in mind besides your features list.  Most people will eventually decide to move again at some point, so resale value is a consideration.  Is the area you are considering appreciating?  Are there plans for development that might positively or negatively affect property values?  Are you near a busy, loud street, or maybe you back to a park or trail?  Is the school district rated well?  Is it easy to get to public transportation or major commuting arteries?  Not everything on this list may be applicable to your situation, but they will be considered by future potential buyers.  Also, think about the amount of maintenance or repairs that need to be done to the home and whether your budget and your patience will be able to live with what comes up.  If someone else has recently done renovations, try to assess the quality of the work and contact the city inspector to verify that appropriate permits have been pulled.  If they haven't, you could be asking for a lot of trouble.  Shoddy workmanship or unsafe practices can cost a lot of money to redo and could even be life-threatening.

Drive the commute during rush hour to see how long it REALLY takes
Once you've found one or two serious prospects, some further investigation is a good idea if there is time.  If there are questions about noise or traffic, visit the property at various times of the day to evaluate the effect.  Tour the neighborhood to get an idea of the character and look for pride of ownership.  Talk to a neighbor about their experiences with the HOA.  While you're doing those things, I will find you information on the property's sales and listing history, what the current competition is doing, as well as comparable properties to begin to evaluate the asking price.

Do your homework, but don't worry about catching or evaluating every little thing at this point.  Once you have an accepted offer, you will have time to thoroughly inspect the property and the structure, collect documents and ask questions of the professionals involved.  Colorado contracts offer protection to buyers should you find that the property was misrepresented or there is some issue on which the buyer and seller just cannot come to agreeable terms.  Even so, noticing apparent, important issues up front will prevent you from wasting time and money.

images:  lisaclarke, MSVG

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Homebuying Process: Step 1

I was in a real estate class the other day with an agent who works in a mountain ski town - tourists, second homes, big bucks.  She said she doesn't take a prospective buyer out at all until they have spoken to a lender and are reasonably sure they can purchase a property.  She does this in part because some folks from out of state may be surprised by the price tags they see and not know if they can afford the area, but mostly because it's become a favorite hobby of visitors - call up an agent on the weekend and have them drive you around to see all the fantastic houses.  Like your own personal tour of homes, driver and lunch included.

Don't fall in love just yet...
I know quite a few agents who won't schedule showings until the buyer has been pre-qualified.  This ensures that everyone's time is spent productively, seeing homes in a range that the buyers can afford.  It's hard to recover if you find that you must reduce your budget by $30,000 after you've already set your sights on a particular house.  Also, sellers these days tend not to look twice at an offer if it isn't accompanied by a pre-qualification letter.  This indicates that, at the very least, the buyer has begun a financing conversation with someone.

It's also important to talk to a professional and not get too discouraged by media stories about the industry.  Markets are hyper-local these days, and national statistics will often not apply to your area.  In addition, there are many financing programs available that buyers may not be aware of.  Recent changes to underwriting standards may loosen up mortgage lending and help the pendulum begin its swing back toward equilibrium.

In other words, don't let media hype discourage you from investigating your options.  It is never too early to have a conversation with a mortgage lender.  Even if you are still in the surfing-the-internet-for-properties stage, your expectations will be more realistic and your search will be more productive.  Often, a lender can take some basic information from you over the phone, pull your credit, and let you know that day the amount you can likely get approved for.  They can also alert you to any problems in your credit report that you need to address.  This doesn't obligate you to work with one lender in particular; I always encourage clients to talk to at least two to be sure that they find someone they are comfortable working with.  I have relationships with some great people in the area that I really trust - give me a call if you'd like a few names.

images:  Triumph Mountain Properties

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Tour of Downtown Lafayette

Not every city has a downtown area.  While they may have a good location and a lot of housing options, they lack a town center where people can eat, shop and enjoy community events.  Boulder's Pearl Street pedestrian mall is the heart of the city, and Louisville's old town area has undergone some phenomenal improvements over the past decade.  The City of Lafayette does not want to be left behind.

In 1999, the city council established the Lafayette Urban Renewal Authority (LURA).  The mission of LURA is "to encourage revitalization and redevelopment in the Downtown Urban Renewal Area and the South Boulder Road Urban Renewal Area by working in partnership with property owners to improve existing structures, fostering new development, and preventing deterioration of properties within the urban renewal districts."

One of the initiatives is to realize the potential of the downtown area.  The desire is to develop the Old Town identity by enhancing the diversity of it's businesses and pedestrian lifestyle.  That's good news for the local homeowners as well as the business owners and residents.  I thought it might be time to take a look at a few of the properties for sale near the downtown area.

105 W. Cannon Street - $239,900
The description leads with, "Eccentric Artists Welcome!"  Does this speak to the inspirational quality of the home or imply that you must be creative to see potential?  Not even a block off of Public Road, the ability to walk to shops is a plus, but with only 2 beds, 1 bath and 972 finished sqft this ranch may be on the small side for some.

406 E. Emma Street - $248,000
This property is actually two lots, totaling almost a half acre.  Built in 1905, the 2 bed, 1 bath property has a root cellar and alley access to a 1 car detached garage.  Somewhere along the way it's been updated with central air and a sprinkler system.  This may be a great property to subdivide and sell, or live in one house while you build another.

509 E. Simpson Street - $283,900
This listing says the property is zoned for a duplex, so possibly a good investment for someone who wants to take on a renter.  It boasts over 3000 sqft with 5 beds, 2 baths and a 4 car detached garage with shop.  Not many pictures on the internet; I'll be curious to see both what this house and the block its on looks like.

504 E. Geneseo Street - $349,900
This listing is a duplex built in 1943 with a 2 car detached garage plus 4 parking spaces off of the alley.  There's a total of 3014 sqft with 6 beds and 3 baths, but it's hard to tell how those rooms are divided between the two units.  Another opportunity for someone who would like to take on a renter, or perhaps put up their recently returned college graduate.

Depending on your situation, these properties could be a great investment for the future.  Whether you renovate the current houses or start from scratch, the area is on the cusp of some brilliant changes which should positively affect property values.  Take a drive around the downtown area sometime, and give me a call if you want some sales stats and history.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Warming Up to the Idea

The HVAC energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy will require regional changes as of May 1, 2013.  In the northern region, which includes Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, residential gas furnace replacements will need to be 90% efficient or greater.

While most homeowners will see this increased installation cost offset by energy savings on their utility bill, that may be of small comfort to homeowners or sellers who are not expecting to put in the extra money up front.  The Department of Energy has stated that they will allow exemptions for hardship cases, but they've set no guidelines yet for who might qualify.

In addition to the units themselves costing more, there could be additional installation costs.  For instance, many standard furnaces of 80% efficiency or less are vented through metal B vent, while 90% plus furnaces use PVC pipes.  Also, previously installed furnaces may share their chimney vent with the water heater.  Changing the location could leave the chimney half-empty, leading to condensation and draft problems.  A new chimney liner or another type of solution may be necessary in order not to lose the gains made by the higher efficiency furnace.

It may be that, looking at the lifetime of the furnace and how long you remain in the home, it's well worth it to purchase the 90% high efficiency furnace.  But if you're not sure which way to go you may want to start your research  sooner rather than later to ensure that all of the options are still open to you.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, October 26, 2012

Affordable Housing in Broomfield

The Broomfield Housing Authority plans on putting a grant of $100,000 from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to good use by upgrading its affordable housing efforts.  A request for proposals has been issued with a deadline of November 30, 2012.  Eligible activities include:

  • New construction of affordable housing
  • Rehabilitation of existing housing
  • Acquisition of existing housing
  • Predevelopment costs, such as appraisals or engineering
  • Capital needs for transitional housing
  • Special needs housing 
 The Broomfield Housing Authority already helps low- and middle-income residents by facilitating improvements to dwelling conditions through the Housing Rehabilitation and Mobile Home Repair Program, Housing Weatherization Program, and connecting residents to the various county and state homebuyer assistance programs.  If you'd like to find out if you qualify for these programs, start your fact-finding with the many helpful links here.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Tour of North Boulder

It's important to get to know the market you're interested in before buying so that you can recognize a great value when you see it.  I set up listing alerts for my buyers as early as possible in their property search, which allows them to get a good idea of what certain neighborhoods are commanding.  Getting out and seeing homes in person and not just online is another recommendation, even if they aren't exactly what you might want.  I even recommend it to my sellers; it helps to prepare them for what buyers are going to expect at their price level.  This Friday morning, the tour takes me to North Boulder - give me call if you'd like to come along.

Plenty of living space
7303 Augusta Drive - $699,700
Like most houses in this price range, this house has a lot of updates - granite counters, 5 piece master bath with jetted tub and glass block shower,  Trex deck and sprinkler system. With 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and over 4100 sqft, it also boasts a screened-in porch overlooking an established perennial garden, a three-car garage, and a finished basement.

Adding the finishing touches
1999 Joslyn Place - $795,000
On the market two weeks, this 2900 sqft home claims to be priced for "a quick sale."  The last recorded sale of the property was in 1982 for $145,000.  The sellers are currently going through a punch list of items to be completed before the sale is closed, although the pictures already look pretty good.  4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2 car garage, finished basement, Bosch stainless steel appliances, wood floors on a corner lot in Courtside.

Spacious outdoor living
 2564 Pampas Court - $795,000
This house backs to a private, 4+ acre park in Centennial Meadows.  It's a 2 story with no basement, but with over 3000 sqft, 5 bedrooms and 3 car garage you may not need the extra square footage below.  With wood floors, 5 piece master bath, see-through fireplace, hot tub, stainless steel and granite, it sits on a .38 acre lot with mature trees and garden.

New "hard" stucco exterior
 4020 Bimini Court - $849,000
Built in the late 90s, this Four Mile Creek home has been recently remodeled with birch doors, maple floors, walnut cabinets, tray ceilings in the finished basement, and updated contemporary kitchen appliances and countertops.  It sits on a smaller lot, as the Four Mile Creek homes do, but it looks to have beautiful landscaping and deck, as well as 4 bedrooms, 4 baths and 4862 total sqft.

Back of the home
636 Linden Park Drive - $850,000
This Wonderland Hill ranch home was built in the early 70s and has only had one owner; it was originally purchased for $52,500 in 1972.  At the foot of the mountains, it has 2750 sqft, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2 car garage and finished walk-out basement with fireplace.  It does appear to need some updating, although adequately maintained and livable, and the covered deck and backyard are "paradise."  The location and lack of an HOA could be a real draw for some buyers.

Attention to detail and finishes
989 S. Terrace Circle - $860,000
Only a decade old, this Dakota Ridge Village 2-story home has incredible views of the foothills but no backyard.  For some, the lack of yard maintenance and the abundant surrounding open space will be a big selling point.  Wood floors, marble entry, cherry cabinets, Viking stainless steel appliances, and 13' wet bar in the finished basement enhance this 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 3981 sqft home.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Friday, October 12, 2012

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green

As we become more aware of a lack of symbiosis with our environment and educated on sustainable living, we may be finding that it's harder than we thought to be "green."  In real estate, there's more and more attention being paid to using sustainable materials and recycling the old.  Homeowners are building and retrofitting their properties with more efficient systems both to save money and resources and make their homes more desirable upon resale.

The challenge comes when trying to determine which changes and upgrades are going to be the best value.  In a relatively young industry, terms like "environmentally-friendly" and "sustainable" can be confusing in their application.  Even as new regulations are created to govern the use of these labels, consumers may not know the definitions.  For each homeowner, decisions must be made regarding their specific property, needs and budgets.  Is it enough to replace the old refrigerator with a high-efficiency one or do we also install solar panels big enough to bank excess power for our own use later?

Grey water systems allow you to reuse water in your garden
The real estate industry has been doing what it can to keep up with both the incorporation and promotion of new technologies as well as evaluating their effectiveness and popularity among consumers.  It can be difficult to determine how much a specific market will embrace and value a particular green feature.  There is an expectation by homeowners, for example, that the cost of installing a grey water system will be recouped when they once again sell their home.  But unlike renovating a kitchen or basement, we don't have a lot of data to determine the return on investment yet.

Many multiple listing services - the central databases for real estate agents to market properties and contract with other agents - have added fields to their listings to enumerate a property's green features.  There is also an EcoBroker designation that real estate agents can earn to best identify and value these items for their sellers.  Even so, it is still difficult to get a consensus among the majority of buyers, sellers, agents and appraisers.

To help rectify this, the Colorado Energy Office has recently reached an agreement with the Colorado Coalition of Appraisers and the Appraisal Institute to begin developing studies that quantify the market reaction to certain industry trends.  The aim is to provide appraisers, as well as homeowners, with more data regarding which energy-efficient enhancements give the best return on investment, both for the immediate energy savings and the value for future owners.  If you are considering investing in an energy-efficient system for your home, keep an eye on these organizations (or this blog) for updates on what choices may be best for you.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Toast to the Happy Couple

Well, happier anyway.  All relationships have some struggles in trying to get everyone's needs met simultaneously, but sometimes compromises can be reached that make everyone happier.  That's where the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and condominium developments are going - putting aside old fears and resentments, bringing home flowers, and coming to a more amicable union.

FHA loans are a great option for some homebuyers as they require smaller down payments and usually have lower credit hurdles than other types of loans.  It's also possible to use monetary gifts to pay for closing costs, and even roll the costs of renovations into the financing.  However, there is a downside.  FHA home loans have relatively low limits, and mortgage protection insurance can be more onerous than on a conventional loan.  

Probably wouldn't qualify for FHA financing...
Another consideration is that the FHA looks not only at the person who is doing the borrowing, but the property being purchased.  Homes bought with FHA financing have to go through an FHA appraisal, which can be strict with its requirements.  For instance, with other lenders you may be able to get by with a seller credit to replace the dying furnace, but the FHA will require the work actually be completed prior to loan approval.  Also, it can be more difficult to finance a condominium due to regulations that govern the complex as a whole, not just the individual unit.  It's really important to talk to a professional mortgage broker who can help you decide on the best option for your unique situation.

Some positive changes have been made recently that should help more potential homebuyers, specifically in regards to purchasing condominiums.  In the past, FHA had strict rules about how many investors could own property in a condo development, and what percentage of the whole they could hold in order for the development to still qualify.  The former remains the same; at least half of the units must be owner-occupied to get approval.  However, now a single investor may own up to half of the units and the development will retain FHA certification, up from only 10% previously.

May allow for more business uses...
Other significant changes have been introduced, with more promised.  Condo complexes can now devote up to half of their space to non-residential commercial use, up from only 25%.  In regards to delinquent HOA dues, FHA is now allowing up to 15% of the units to be 60 days delinquent, up from just 30 days.  And while a lot of folks are struggling right now to make the mortgage payment and may not be as current with their homeowners dues, this could make the difference for some projects.

If you are even considering FHA financing for an attached dwelling, it's a good idea to talk with a mortgage professional early on.  While FHA has eased some of their requirements, it may still take a lot of hoop-jumping to get approval, which can delay transactions for weeks or even longer.  If you need a mortgage professional that's tried and true, give me a call.

images:  Robert Tewart, Jeremy Levine Design

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lock and Leave Lifestyle

A condo or townhouse is an attractive option for some folks.  The ability to turn off the lights, lock the front door and leave for extended periods of time without worrying about property maintenance is ideal for some lifestyles.

A great property with this advantage was put on the market yesterday.  It's a 2 bedroom, 4 bath, 2-story townhouse in The Summit at Rock Creek.  Drive by 2855 Rock Creek Circle #177 and check out the area.  It's Superior location gives the neighborhood some great views, it's down the road from a ton or restaurants and the Flatiron Crossing mall, and the unit itself is just steps away from a park.

Brand new carpeting was just installed throughout
The rooms are large, with two master bedrooms upstairs and over 2600 square feet total.  The walk-out basement is finished, wired for media, with a fenced patio area that already has a deck wired and reinforced for a hot tub.  One of the comments people usually make when they check it out is all of the unexpected storage.  There are several large closets on every floor, including two walk-ins upstairs.  The two-car attached garage has a high ceiling and shelving already installed above the garage door.

Spacious feel with expansive views
One of the issues some people have with an attached dwelling is having people so close that they are looking into your windows.  This particular unit has a great location within the development - it's back deck faces east, at the edge of the neighborhood, with no neighbors behind and city views.  It's also one of the few units with a driveway, which gives it two additional parking spaces.

The seller is meticulous about maintenance, so the unit has been well-cared for.  She is the first and only owner, and was on site every day while it was being built, checking on progress and holding the builder to a high level of service.  The water heater is only a couple of years old with a transferable warranty, and there's already a sump pump and radon-mitigation system installed.  The HOA has a great reputation and takes care of all exterior grounds and building maintenance consistently and responsibly.

If you'd like to get a peek inside the unit for yourself, give me a call, I'd be happy to take you on the tour!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

100 Posts Later

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing."

I aspire to do both, although no doubt my effort falls short from time to time.  One of the reasons I enjoy my job are the times when it all comes together, when I find the right solution for my client and it makes them really happy.  The blog is a way to reach more people than I can actually meet, sharing some knowledge and experience along the way, to perhaps help others find what makes them happy.  

100 posts later and there is still so much to learn, explore and write about.  Although some days it feels more like Steven Wright:  "I"m writing a book.  I've got the page numbers done."

image:  Alan Cleaver

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Redleaf Neighborhood, Broomfield

Normally, I limit showings to 6 per day; it's more tiring than clients think!  You are driving and walking for hours, all the while your brain is working trying to notice and remember and compare, usually accompanied by the excitement and adrenalin of the decisions ahead.  After a while, the properties and rooms start to get mixed up in your head and the process becomes much less productive.

For out of town clients, exceptions have to be made.  I like to start with listing alerts - automatic searches set up in the MLS with specific criteria given to me by the client.  From the listings generated, we narrow down the possibilities and then I'll preview the properties and take additional pictures and notes.  By the time the client is ready to get on a plane to see things in person, we have eliminated houses most likely to waste our time.  Even so, we often have to cram as many showings into our limited time as possible.

My most recent whirlwind took us through a dozen homes in Superior, Louisville, Lafayette and Broomfield in one day.  The last home was IT, and we went back for a second showing the next morning after doing research on the competition, property history and sales data.  The chosen property was in the Redleaf neighborhood in Broomfield, located just north of the Broomfield County Commons Park and the Paul Derda Recreation Center, where detached homes can go for as little as $225,000 and as much as $575,000.

Building began in 2005, so sales data is still a bit light, but below you can see the numbers for the past 5 years.  Keep in mind that there could be some builder sales or FSBOs not reflected in the MLS data.
You can see the slowdown in the market from 2008 to 2010, but the area is rebounding.  The number of properties sold in 2011 was almost double the number in 2010, and so far this year sales are up 70% over the same time period last year.

If you'd like to view a home in Redleaf, or need more information about any of the Broomfield neighborhoods, give me a call or email.  I'd be happy to give you the guided tour.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Attached or Detached?

Wildgrass Townhomes, Broomfield
A condo or townhouse (a.k.a. "attached dwelling") can be a good choice for a first time homebuyer or someone who is downsizing, as they are generally less expensive than a detached home in the same area.  They have perks that apartments don't have, such as being able to make your own changes to the interior and having someone else take care of the exterior, not to mention the appreciation on your investment.  However, there are important considerations that you should be aware of before purchasing an attached dwelling.

    Do parties spill into the hallway?
  • Sharing walls, floors and ceilings can sometimes be a challenge, and certain units are better constructed and insulated than others.  Ask current residences about their experiences, and consider your own lifestyle preferences to determine if being in such close proximity to other people would be a bother.

  • Do you own any associated parking or storage, or do you just have use rights?  Sometimes garage or reserved parking spots are included in the deed and sometimes they are deeded separately.  If separate, there may be a list with the homeowners' association of residents who are waiting to buy or rent one.

    The Board may not approve
  • Like many neighborhoods these days, condos and townhouses will have a homeowners' association with rules and restrictions that dictate what you can and can't do to the property.  These may include items that affect the exterior, such as the type of replacement windows you can use, whether you can add openings, even what is allowed to be kept on your balcony.  They can also dictate what happens on the interior, such as whether you can have pets or run a business from your home.  It's very important to review the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) during the contract period to be sure that the rules are not too limiting.

  • HOAs require an additional fee which may be paid on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.  These fees may only cover common area maintenance and insurance, or they may include trash removal and other amenities such as a clubhouse or swimming pool.  Find out what is included in a particular development, and be sure that you can afford your monthly payment once you add in HOA dues.

    No one likes a surprise bill
  • In addition to the dues, there may be other budgetary concerns relating to the HOA or common areas.  HOAs often try to build their financial reserves to address ongoing maintenance items such as exterior painting or roof replacement, but sometimes unexpected costs come up.  When I was the Office Manager at a Boulder HOA, the old elevators had to be replaced to be brought up to code and address some safety issues that the board was not aware of.  This was rectified with a "special assessment," a several hundred dollar charge to each condo owner above and beyond their monthly dues.

  • How the HOA is being managed can affect homeowner satisfaction.  Most hire professional management companies to run both the administrative duties as well as the maintenance of the development, but some still hire their own people that are supervised by the board of directors.  Ask current residences about their experiences, or attend an HOA meeting and ask to see several months of meeting minutes to determine if there are ongoing issues with residents, maintenance or other items.

You can't pick your neighbors
  • Condos and townhouses can sometimes be difficult to finance as lender requirements are different than they are for detached homes.  The proportion of owner occupant units versus rentals is a big factor in obtaining financing.  Lenders may also look at the delinquency rate for HOA dues, as well as any outstanding litigation against the development.  Not long ago, I was working with a Buyer who also had a townhouse to sell.  She was tripped up by a buyer's lender who would not finance the loan due to a pending lawsuit over another owner's unleashed dog biting someone.  Even though my client didn't know these people, the dog owner was in violation of the HOA leash rules, and the HOA was adequately insured against such lawsuits, it still made the underwriter nervous.  Be sure to talk to your lender about financing limitations regarding a particular unit you are interested in purchasing.  Your Realtor should also be able to find a lender who has experience with harder-to-finance developments.

  • Find out what the master insurance policy for the development covers and what it doesn't.  Make sure you understand where your responsibility picks up - depending on the type of attached dwelling you buy, you may or may not be liable for damage to or systems within shared walls.

In this area of Colorado, the attached dwelling market tends to move slower than the detached market, which can inform your negotiation strategies.  Keep that in mind when it comes time to resell your unit, as well.  Give me a call if you need some help sleuthing information for a particular development.

images: TenSafeFrogs, TCHganja, joeltelling, smerikal

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or robbin@stauferteam.com