To Refinance or Not, That is the Question…

by Aaron Staufer

Elevations Credit Union

NMLS: 501268 | LMB: 717246

 

     No doubt you’ve been seeing commercials on TV or hearing radio spots advertising rates that seemingly can’t exist and you’re wise to be a bit skeptical. At the end of the commercial you’ll undoubtedly see a screen of text in .2 font that can hardly be read. So how do you know when it makes sense to refinance and what should you look out for? I’m taking a bit of time to hit the high points…

 

     One of the first things I ask a member when we start the refinance conversation is, “how long do you plan on being in the property for?” and the second question I ask is, “what do you intend to do with the property once you move out?”

Refinances always have closing costs, sometimes they are rolled into the loan amount and sometimes they are wrapped into a higher rate, but rest assured they always exist. If somebody is only going to be in the house for a year or two and they are planning on selling after that time, refinances rarely make sense. The longer that you have the loan, the longer you’ll benefit from reducing the rate or term. So if you’re thinking about moving soon and you don’t have interest in being a landlord then you’ll want to think long and hard before paying the costs associated with a refinance.

 

     Another important variable is to consider how much you owe. Closing costs on a refinance are fairly static. The difference in closing costs for a $100,000 mortgage and a $500,000 mortgage are typically only a couple hundred dollars. But somebody with a $100,000 mortgage is going to save 1/5th the amount of somebody with a $500,000 mortgage. Since the costs are almost identical in both scenarios the larger mortgage is going break even with costs in far less time. If you don’t owe a lot expect your break even point to be quite a bit higher. Owing less money is a great problem to have but it can pose a problem when it comes to refinancing.

 

     Make sure when you’re hearing about refinances that you keep an eye on a few things.

 

1) The term of the loan. I see commercials all the time and my poor wife has to listen to me rant and rave every time one comes on TV because you’ll hear them advertising, “2.5% with no points!” but if you read the fine print you’ll see the rate that’s being advertised is for a 15 year mortgage. It’s not that 15 year mortgages are bad (I love 15 year mortgages) but if your goal is to reduce your payment there’s a good chance that loan will not accomplish your objective.

 

2) The costs associated with the rate that’s being offered. Points are a bit confusing but in short 1 point (also known as discount points) is 1% of your loan amount. Points are the cost (or credit) associated with the rate that’s being advertised. You can pay higher costs (points) and obtain a lower rate. It’s extremely common for lenders to advertise rates with points being paid. Keep an eye on the costs associated with the refinance and as your lender for a “no point option” for comparison sake. A loan officers’ job is to present options, not to decide for you.

 

3) The program they are advertising. Another common ploy lenders will use is they will advertise programs that are seldom used because they have a lower interest rate. The next time you see one of those commercials on TV see if the letters “FHA” show up anywhere. If so, the program that’s being advertised is a Government loan that has a multitude of potential down sides. Just as 15 year mortgages aren’t bad nor are FHA loans. They have their place in the world and can be quite helpful for the right situation. But if you have good credit or 20% or more equity in your house then FHA is not a program we’d typically explore. It has higher costs both up front (known as up front mortgage insurance) as well as on a monthly basis (monthly mortgage insurance). While they may come with a lower rate the potentially higher upfront and monthly costs usually outweigh the benefit.

 

     If you’re going to have the loan for an extended period of time and you can recoup the costs associated in short order (I usually hope for 18 months or less though it does depend case by case) then a refinance may very well make sense. Keep an eye out for misleading advertising and make sure you’re working with a  reputable lender.

 

Ask for a Loan Estimate or Closing Cost Worksheet to ensure you’re getting a full break down of the costs associated and make sure to read the fine print!

 

Colorado Landmark’s Commitment to Safe Showings

As we begin to carefully re-open some areas of our lives, including showings, we remain deeply committed to the safety of our agents, clients, and neighbors. We are honored by your trust in us, and we take our responsibility to our communities seriously. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure we continue to provide the white glove service we have been known for for 43 years.

Here are some ways we are working to serve our clients while keeping our staff, brokers, and clients safe:

Virtual tours first

Before we schedule any in-person showings of properties, we will work to ensure the buyers are pre-approved and ready, willing and able to move.  This will include a thorough review of virtual tours, photos, online floorplans and disclosures, and when possible, a drive by of the neighborhood.

Safe showing protocols

Here are the steps we are taking for safe in-person showings:

  • Parties will drive separately and meet their agent at the property.
  • Showings will be limited to decision-makers who will be signing the contract, kids and other family members should stay at home whenever possible.
  • Both buyers and sellers will be asked to sign a disclosure stating that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have knowingly been exposed to COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • No overlapping showings will be allowed, so only one set of buyers and their agent will be in the property at a time.
  • All parties will wear masks.
  • Your agent will wear a mask and gloves, and provide gloves and booties whenever possible if clients need them, and change gloves in between showings.
  • Your agent will unlock the door, and turn on lights so buyers will not have to touch anything in the home.
  • Buyers will tour the home with their agent while practicing social distancing.
  • All surfaces that were touched during the showing will be wiped down afterwards in preparation for the next showing.
  • Once the showing is complete, buyers can have a phone or video conference with the agent to discuss the next steps.

Safe, Easy Transactions from Beginning to End

For as long as the Colorado Safer at Home order is in place, we will continue to work with photographers, inspectors, appraisers and contractors to ensure safety is the priority, and much of the real estate transaction will continue to be completed virtually.  This includes virtual buyer and seller consultations, electronic document signing, safe practices during inspections and appraisals, and contact-free closings.

As always, we are available to answer your questions, address any concerns you have, and talk to you about your particular needs.  Through this uncertain time we have learned to adapt in new ways, and are constantly taking steps to make the entire process or buying or selling a home as easy and stress-free as possible.  Our agents and staff have used this time to sharpen our skills, learn new tools, and are emerging better and stronger than ever.

We are here for you, as we have been for the past 43 years, and as the world changes, that will remain the same.

Safe Showing Update

On Sunday, April 26th, Boulder County released an update to their stay at home order, which is currently in effect until May 8th, allowing in-person showings.  (Open houses are NOT permitted.)  While we are thrilled to be able to serve our clients in this way again, we take the safety of our agents, our clients and our community very seriously.

 

Here are the steps we are taking to make sure our showings are as safe as possible:

 

Prior to approving any showings, we are asking buyers to thoroughly review photographs, virtual tours, floor plans, videos and property disclosures. and if possible, drive through the neighborhood.

 

Buyers must also be pre-approved for mortgage financing through a reputable lender, or provide proof of funds.

 

We provide a COVID-19 Disclosure and Release Agreement for both buyers and sellers to review and sign, confirming that no parties are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or have knowingly been exposed.  These steps ensure that only serious buyers who are ready, willing and able to purchase the home are approved for showings.

 

Seller or listing broker will prepare the house for showing by turning the lights on, clearing paths,  opening closet doors, and removing all valuables.

 

Masks, gloves, booties, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes (if available) will be made available by the front door of all listings.

 

If home is occupied, the Seller is also instructed to disinfect surfaces of home after showings have taken place.

 

No overlapping showings allowed.  A maximum of three people can attend showings, and buyers should whenever possible leave children at home.  All people entering the property must wear masks, gloves and booties, leave lights on and refrain from touching anything other than doorknobs and handrails if necessary.

 

Anyone entering the property must adhere to the safe distancing guidelines, and any discussion regarding the property should take place following social distancing rules (6’ or greater) after leaving the property, or over via electronic means.

 

Together we can work to keep everyone safe while still providing our world-class service to our buyers and sellers. If you have questions about how we can help you buy or sell a home during this time, please reach out!

 

We are here for you!

 

Boulder County Updates Stay at Home Order to Allow In-Person Showings

Boulder County that has issued guidance regarding the extended Stay at Home order (which currently extends through May 8th), to allow Real Estate Showings.

Real Estate Showings: In-person real estate showings are permitted under the following conditions:

Appointment only (no open houses)
Masks required for all participants
Number of in-person participants limited to the greatest extent possible with participation by children strongly discouraged
Social Distancing Requirements are met at all times

This is great news for our buyer and seller clients who need to buy or sell during this time. Colorado Landmark has worked diligently to create safe showing protocols to protect our clients and the community, and we are thrilled that this order allows us to continue to do our jobs and serve our clients.

More information on the order can be found HERE.

For more information on the steps Colorado Landmark, Realtors is taking to ensure the safety of our clients and community, please contact us at 303-443-3377 or www.coloradolandmark.com.

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.