Drive-thru closings – the new normal?

As we have mentioned, we are working hard to accept this “new normal” we are living in, and continuously needing to adapt to the changing times.  What we know to be true: even in times of crisis, people need to buy or sell their homes.  Today’s post is by our wonderful agent Phil Booth, who completed his first “drive through” closing today in the parking lot of a Land Title office.

Here is his story:

“New terrain”… we are hearing this a lot lately.

Indeed, it was new terrain today for this REALTOR today at Land Title in Longmont, where I was involved in my first ‘Curb-side’ closing with my first time home buyers.

The sellers had closed separately, so it was just my buyers parked in one spot and me alongside, in my own vehicle, but with one parking space between us (social distancing!).

The closer came out with paperwork galore (yes, a loan was involved).

She had done a beautiful job of writing explanations and marking each signature space with lovely sticky, color coded arrows to make things as easy as possible for my buyers.

She left us to it for awhile, and I was able to ‘cheer-lead’ and give explanations from the ‘safety’ of my car.

When it was time to sign the documents requiring a notary, we called the closer up, and she trotted out and provided explanations and witnessed the signing.

Things went really smoothly… the only downsides, it was pretty chilly with the window down, there were not the usual lovely drinks and snacks available, and the bathroom facilities are not very handy!

Phil Booth

303-817-8307

phil@coloradolandmark.com

What does the “Stay at Home” order mean for Boulder-area real estate?

On the evening of March 23, 2020, the City of Boulder issued emergency “Stay at Home” orders for individuals in the city.

It requires all individuals to stay at their place of residence, and that they are only allowed to leave their residences for specific approved “Essential Activities” (Things like grocery shopping, obtaining medical care or medicine, outdoor activities while practicing social distancing), “Essential Governmental Functions and Infrastructure”, and “Essential Businesses”.

(This is a VERY short summary, here is the link to the full order:
https://bouldercolorado.gov/city-emergency-orders-related-to-covid-19)

UPDATED 3/25/2020:  Boulder County has followed suit and has also issued a “Stay at Home Order” – the link to that order is here:  https://www.bouldercounty.org/families/disease/covid-19/stay-at-home-order/

Real Estate is listed as an “Essential Business” in Section 6.f.24: “Professional services such as legal, insurance, accounting, real estate and tax preparation services, including ancillary and supporting services.”

Colorado Landmark, Realtors has been diligently working to ensure the safety of our agents, clients and the community by establishing stringent practices for showing homes, and working with our lenders, title partners, inspectors and appraisers to ensure that all health and safety precautions are taken during this challenging time.

We also understand that even in times of uncertainty and crisis, people need to buy or sell their homes, so we are working to ensure that our clients are able to do so – through new marketing technology, virtual tours and virtual open houses, video buyer/seller consultations, and electronic document sharing and signing.

If you have questions about your specific situation, please reach out to your Colorado Landmark agent, or visit us at www.coloradolandmark.com.

Easy Home Updates You Can Do Now


Being stuck at home can be overwhelming at times but look on the bright (or maybe dusty!) side – now maybe you have time to get a jump start on spring cleaning.  Here are some easy, affordable updates to keep you and your family busy and help your home look its best.

 

Whether you are thinking about selling, or simply want to clean up and simplify your life, the #1 to-do on many people’s list is de-cluttering. This can be time consuming if you have many different items to sort through, so it’s the perfect opportunity to tackle the more daunting tasks. Here are some great tips from tidying expert Marie Kondo, to help keep you motivated and spark some joy in cleaning!

https://www.insider.com/tidying-up-with-marie-kondo-organizing-tips-2019-1#stay-committed-to-the-process-and-know-that-theres-an-end-1

Is there a room in your house that could use a fresh coat of paint to liven it up? It’s amazing what changing the color of a space can do for the feel of it! Even adding an accent or two is an inexpensive way to change a room and make it more open and spacious. Bringing more energy into an area makes everyone happier and helps with the flow of the environment. Here are some fun painting ideas to get you started: 

https://www.familyhandyman.com/painting/13-great-paint-ideas-for-your-living-room/

Now that we are starting to see some warmer weather and sunny days, it’s time to start thinking about your garden and cleaning up the landscaping for the summer! Trimming up dead bushes and shrubs helps make sure the new growth can reach the sun and get big and strong. There are tons of things you can do to get your equipment ready as well as your yard, for the long summer ahead. Here are ten early spring yard maintenance tips from the Farmers Almanac to keep you on track:

https://www.almanac.com/content/10-tips-maintaining-beautiful-yard


Cleaning and disinfecting is at the top of everyone’s list right now, with trying to keep the spread of germs down and help everyone stay healthy. A clean home is where it starts so here are 20 Genius Cleaning Hacks for a Tidy Home in No Time!

https://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/tips/cleaning-hacks/

Want some more great ideas on how to stay busy making home improvements while your spending more time there? Here’s a great list of ideas from Better Homes & Gardens if you need some more inspiration!

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-home-projects/?slide=slide_21b112de-9100-4fb6-9843-dec4bcfeb40b#slide_21b112de-9100-4fb6-9843-dec4bcfeb40b

Days on Market Impact On Potential Buyers

Written By: Claire Marie, CLR Staff Writer

When buying a home it’s important to know what commonly used real estate terms mean, and more importantly, what they mean for you as a buyer. One of the key factors home buyers look at aside from price and location is the number of days a property has been on the market.

Days on market start when the property is listed and end when an offer is received and the status is changed from ‘active’ to ‘pending’. The total days on market are calculated by taking the last 30 days to six months of sold listings, adding together the days on market (before each listing went pending) and dividing that total by the number of listings.

A low number of days on market could mean that the property was only just listed or re-listed, that there is a smaller inventory of properties for sale in that area, or that the property is located in a high demand area where buyers are motivated to move quickly. Over the last three years in Colorado, the median number of days on the market has remained consistently around 65. This is typical of other high demand areas as well; San Francisco and Chicago have also seen properties sitting on the market for roughly 65 days prior to sale, whereas lower demand areas like Ohio and Kansas had homes on the market anywhere from 60-360 days or more.

A high number of days on the market can correlate to a handful of things, but the usual reason a property will remain on the market for an extended period of time is over-pricing. Over-pricing is incredibly common in the real estate world where it’s understandably hard for a seller to put a material value on their home, something which to them, can be considered priceless.

If a property is priced correctly and still on the market after a long period of time you may want to ask yourself if something could be wrong with it. If this is the case, it’s important to find out as soon as possible before you lock yourself into a contract.

Finally, it’s also possible that there is an entirely innocent reason the property is still on the market. Maybe the owner just isn’t that motivated to sell, or there is a tenant living there currently which makes scheduling showings difficult. Whatever the reason, if the home you’re interested in has been on the market for longer than the average amount of time in your area, it’s important to do the full research to find out why- who knows, you may even be able to negotiate a lower price!

 

Are Professional Real Estate Photos Worth The Hassle And Expense?

Today’s Blog Post is brought to you by Catherine Burgess. Below Catherine shares insights on how professional photos can greatly improve home sales and entice buyers.

Friends, how many seconds do you spend looking at the initial photo on your favorite real estate website?  Time it and see.  5 seconds? Maybe 10?

Great Room with Sun Room Partition

In today’s digital age, seconds are all you can expect.  If your real estate agent doesn’t bring the best possible photos to the launch of your media campaign, how is your sale impacted?

Compare these three photos.  The client wanted their property on the market as soon as possible, not wanting to wait for professional photos.  So, the initial non-professional photos went up; four days later the professional set was loaded.  After 4 more days, the virtually-staged photos were completed and  uploaded into the MLS and marketing data.

livingroom3_700

Sellers, when thinking through timing, it is important to keep in mind who the most serious buyers are and when they come to the market place. During the first week after listing: qualified buyers who have been working with an agent will see your property, if it overlaps with their search criteria.    They’ve been waiting for the right property and are poised to make an offer.

 

livingroomvirtuallystaged_700

During the second and third weeks on market more causal buyers will see the listing.  They may not be monitoring listings every day, but are loosely keeping track of potential homes.  Beyond the third week, we get into a combination of people just coming to the market and hobbyists.

Statistically, exposure to the greatest quantity of  qualified, poised-to-offer buyers happens within the first week and  the best offers are made during the first three weeks of listing.  (This  is also why sellers need to be priced right from day one.  See blog Home Overpriced? 6 Crucial Signs.)

So.  Is it worth bringing your photographic A game to your starting day?  You bet.  You have one chance to make a superlative impression on buyers. Wait one week to put your property on the market, if that means that you could attract (or not repel) more buyers through the use of professional photos.

Stage A Home, sm

Staged properties sell more quickly and for more money than non-staged or empty homes. (Virtual staging, as in our third picture, is a digital low cost alternative to give buyers a feeling for how space can be used.  It is a viable option for lower-priced, vacant properties.)  Read through our blog  Set The Stage For A Quick Home Sale to understand if staging is something you should consider.

Ready for a laugh?  Check out this website of terrible real estate photos: http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

 

thumb.phpCatherine Burgess

Colorado Landmark, Realtors

Email: 

Office : 303.443.3377

Mobile : 303.506.5669

Website: http://burgessgrouprealty.com

burgessheader2

Take Care of Your Home Through the Fall Season

Fall Tree

The leaves are changing and there’s a chill in the air – what a beautiful time to live in Colorado!

Fall is a great time to take care of your home and keep it looking great as the seasons change.  If you are selling your home, it’s especially important to keep working on the curb appeal.

Here are some tips to keep your home looking great during the Fall season:

– Rake and remove dead leaves as often as possible, especially sweep porches and walkways.

– As leaves and debris build up, it is VERY important to clean your gutters and downspouts frequently, so once the snow starts flying, the gutters are clean and ready to do their job.

– Remove weeds  and trim back dying plants from your  flowerpots, lawn and garden.

– Bring in pots of heartier flowers like chrystanthemums or place some pumpkins or other fall items around your front porch area and keep them neat – remember simple is better. Also, store empty flowerpots in your garage or shed.

– Have your sprinkler lines blown out and winterized before the first freeze – no one wants to deal with broken pipes!

– Be sure to aerate your lawn and fertilize before the ground freezes.  Consider planting some bulbs for the coming spring.

– Have your furnace serviced by a HVAC professional, and purchase extra filters to get you through the winter months.

– Check all windows and doors, and add caulk or weather stripping to seal any areas as needed.

– Take some time to check all exterior light bulbs.

– Cover or store patio and lawn furniture.

– Change out your lighter window coverings, throw pillows, and other accessories for warmer seasonal ones (again – think ‘simple’).

– This is also a great time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Taking care of these items now will keep your house in great showing condition, and ensure that you won’t be worrying about your home once the snow starts flying.

 

 

Colorado Landmark is on Pinterest!

Did you know that Colorado Landmark is on Pinterest

We love all things real estate. 

So what better way to share tips and tricks, or photos of the places we love in Colorado , or simply Amazing Estates. Even if you are just looking a little style inspiration, we’ve got you covered!

Stop on by and tell us what you would like to see on our Pinterest. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

 

What you need to know about SmartRegs in Boulder

If you live in the City of Boulder, you have probably heard at least something about the SmartRegs Program for residential rental property.

SmartRegs was passed by Boulder City Council Members and Voters in 2006 to help decrease greenhouse gas emissions.  This mandatory program requires that all properties built after June of 2001 meet at least one of two standards for energy efficiency:

HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score of 120 or less; or

“Prescriptive Pathway” Score of 100 points or more.

All residential rental properties in the City of Boulder are required to be in compliance by January 2, 2019.

Obtaining a HERS rating is a fairly costly and involved process, it can take several hours and the cost is usually in the range of $700 for a single family home.  If you happen to already have a HERS rating for your property, great.  If not, the Prescriptive Pathway system may be a more suitable option.

The Prescriptive Pathway system is intended to be a more simple and less costly energy audit.  For $120 you can have an Initial SmartRegs Inspection done on your property (must be through an approved inspector, call 303-544-1000 to schedule).  This inspection will help you determine what energy improvements (if any) you will need to make by the deadline in order to increase your property’s score.

Points are earned d on items such as: Attic and Wall Insulation, Windows, Air Infiltration/Duct Leakage, Floors/Foundations, Heating/Cooling/Hot Water, Lighting, Refrigeration, Solar Power, Occupant Behavior, and Water Conservation.  Categories are weighted differently, so be sure to have a clear picture from the inspector about what the smartest improvements would be.

There are some great incentives to get your City rental property in compliance NOW.  Rebates are being offered by Xcel Energy (20% of the project cost, up to $300) and the Energy Smart Program (Up to 50% of the project cost, up to $500 – this incentive ends May of 2013).  You are required to use an approved contractor for this work.

Once you have completed the work and achieved the correct score, complete the SmartRegs Energy Efficiency Application through the City of Boulder and you will be awarded a Proof of Compliance Certificate.  You only need to do this once and it does transfer with the property.

** Note:  You do NOT have to have a rental property or live in the City to have the $120 EnergySmart inspection done – anyone in Boulder County can do it.  This is a great opportunity to find out how you can make your home more energy efficient!

For more information, visit www.EnergySmartYES.com or call 303-544-1000

 

Prepare your home for winter in Boulder!

Fall tree on Mapleton Hill in Boulder, Colorado

Winter is on its way here in Boulder, evidenced this week with our first big snowstorm! No doubt you have been cleaning up leaves and maybe some broken branches.

This time of year is beautiful and there is always something going on around town – school events, sports activities, CU Buffs games, and Halloween to name a few things.

Don’t get so busy with the fall fun that you forget stay on top of a few important home maintenance “to do’s” to make sure your house is ready for another Colorado winter.

Whether you are staying put for the time being or you are selling your home and trying to keep it comfortable and in great showing condition be sure to make time for the following:

 

  • Trim trees and remove dead branches. Bad weather and the high winds we sometimes experience here in the Boulder area can cause weak limbs to break, damaging property or causing injury. Consult a professional tree service for large jobs.
  • Reduce energy costs by lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 degrees F.
  • Make sure caulking around windows and doors is adequate to reduce heat loss.
  • Replace the filter on your furnace and schedule routine maintenance with a qualified heating contractor.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – time this to correspond with switching your clocks back in the fall, and then forward in the spring so you won’t forget!
  • Clear out gutters and downspouts on the exterior of your home to prevent the build-up of leaves and debris that can impede the flow of rainwater and cause water damage.
  • Check your chimney for birds nests or other debris especially if you have a wood burning fireplace, and make sure the chimney cap is in place. Call a chimney sweep to perform maintenance.
  • Be aware that mice will try to start coming in from the cold, especially if you live in or near a rural area, field, park or open space. There are numerous ways to trap mice, humane or otherwise. You will find many choices and expert assistance at McGuckin Hardware, Boulder’s go-to place for pretty much everything since 1955.
  • Consider repainting or staining and sealing your exterior doors to protect them from rain, snow, ice and wind. A $10 can of paint or sealant could go a long way to prevent damage to an expensive door.
  • Cover your patio furniture, outdoor grill, portable firepit, etc… or move into storage.
  • Drain and store your garden hoses, and have your sprinkler system blown out to prevent damage to pipes in freezing weather.
  • Pull your refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum the condensor coils to prevent damage to the motor.
  • Check your dryer exhaust tube and vent for built up lint, debris, birds nests, etc…
  • Clean out your whole house humidifier and replace filters before heating season starts.
  • Be prepared for weather related emergencies such as high winds, tornados, blizzards, or flooding. Organize survival kits and review an emergency escape or protection plan with your household.

Have a wonderful fall and enjoy everything our beautiful area has to offer this season!

Pam Metzger
Director of Business Development and Relocation
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
pam@coloradolandmark.com
303-443-3377

Credit Scores – What it Means, Why it is what it is, How to Change it!

The broker associates and staff at Colorado Landmark were fortunate to have Kevin Teel (303-920-1052 office) from ABC Financing come and speak on the topic of credit scores.  In his capacity as a mortgage lender Kevin is often faced with having to help clients decipher their credit scores, and as such has become somewhat of a local expert on the topic!  Here is a summary of some of the things he spoke to us about …

What IS a Credit Score?
It is a number between 350 and 850 that represents what tradeline organizations (credit cards, lines of credit, store accounts, lenders, etc ….) think your credit and transaction history represents.  The higher the score, the less risk it will be for them to extend you further credit.  “Perfect credit” right now would be a score of 740.  The highest score Kevin has ever seen was an 823!

Who are the Credit Reporting Agencies, and Who Uses their Info?
There are 3 agencies that track your credit – Equifax, Transunion and Experian and each of them has a file on anyone who has ever been given credit. Each organization has their own secret formula for calculating your score.  A mortgage lender will get an overall picture of your credit worthiness by pulling scores from all three agencies.

How to have a GREAT Credit Score!
Make all of your payments on time, and have a good payment history.  Be aware though that if you have a late payment and are assessed a late fee, it is not necessarily reported to the credit bureaus. Have low balance ratios.  Example: if the card limit is $1000, a low balance ratio would mean you owe 33% or less than that, or $333 or less on that card.  Anything over a 65% balance ration will raise a red flag with your lender.  Have a reasonable # of tradelines open – Kevin mentioned that FIVE is a good number.  A mortgage, car loan, student loan, and 2 credit cards is an example of good combination.

What Other Things Affect Your Credit Score?
When you open up a new credit card account, your credit score could take about a 30 point hit initially, until a your payment and usage history can be determined.  When your mortgage lender pulls your credit report you will NOT take a credit hit.  However if you start talking to several lenders and there are more than 3 credit report pulls in less than 2 weeks your score may be reduced by 10 points per pull.  Usage on your debit card does NOT report to your credit score.

If you are taken to collections on something, this will definitely have a negative effect on your score.  If you are able to resolve the issues the creditor does have the ability to call the credit bureaus and have the item removed, you just have to convince them to do it!  The more credit applications you make, the more hits your score will take.  It usually takes 30-60 days for your credit score to be adjusted for these types of things..

If you have been involved in a foreclosure on a home mortgage your score likely take about a 200 point hit.  As far as the lender is concerned, being 120 days or more late on your mortgage affects your credit the same as a foreclosure.  Being involved in a short sale affects your score less – check with your lender or financial advisor about the specifics for you.

If you are applying for a mortgage DON’T do anything until your loan closes that will affect your score, like buying a boat, applying for new credit cards, renting a summer home, etc…  These are all things Kevin has seen clients do that ended up affecting their ability to close their loan and/or the rate they got!

Why Worry About Your Credit Score?
More and more orgagnizations we deal with on a regular basis are pulling our credit scores to get an idea of the kind of people we are – employers and prospective employers, insurance companies, car dealers, mortgage lenders, landlords, department stores, etc….  Did you know that a good credit score can make a difference in up to $100/month on insurance premiums?  Your credit score will also determine the interest rate you get on your mortgage, which of course you want to be as low as possible!

How Can You Establish Good Credit, and Help Your Kids Establish Credit NOT Debt?
Get a secured credit card from a bank or credit union.  Credit unions are especially great in working with young people.  Ask the tradeline that you use if they report to the credit bureaus, and if they don’t, request that they do.  Gas cards are easy to get.  Put your child on one of your existing credit cards or lines of credit, but make sure the limit is low and they know that it is still your account!  Their credit will get “credit” too for the usage.

Stop applying for credit if you want to improve your score!  Close accounts you do not use, but keep a minimum of 4 lines open even if you don’t use them.  Don’t close the older more mature accounts as this history really helps you.

Find Out Where YOU Stand!
You have several options here.  You can go to each of the credit bureaus independently and get reports, or you can go to http://www.experian.com/ and order your Personal Three Bureau Credit Report and Score.  There is a fee for this.  To see your report only but not your score for free, go to http://www.annualcreditscore.com/ and get one report per year free.

As a disclaimer we will say that we at Colorado Landmark are NOT credit experts.  Please contact Kevin Teel or your preferred lender, or one of the 3 credit reporting agencies to verify statements made in this post, or to answer any questions you may have on this topic.

Thank you Kevin for the great class!