Colorado Springs Real Estate and Community News

Feb. 15, 2019

Don't Neglect These Maintenance Tasks Before You Sell Your Home

If you're a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you've put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you're thinking: Not my problem anymore.

Sorry, folks, we've got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn't mean you're off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that's especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.

Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line that could devalue your property and derail that sale.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you're still living at the home or not, you'll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.

“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull's-eye for vandals to break into your property.”

Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don't let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one's easy to forget about, even when you don't plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.

"Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing," she says. "That’s a terrible first impression.”

And then there's the roof. Of course, it'll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.

First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won't smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you're at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.

(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)

Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.

“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add "family of raccoons included" to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.

“In a colder climate, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property,” Hiscock says.

Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, Roberts says. But if your house is on the market, it doesn't matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.

“If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that’ll really mar the showing process," she says.

Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they're especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, "We don’t live here or care anymore," Roberts says.

That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.

“Too often, I see a seller’s patio furniture still outside during the winter time. To me, that's not a good reflection on the property,” Hiscock says. “It shows deferred maintenance and lack of caring, and can really turn off a potential buyer.

"If a seller can’t put away their patio furniture and lawn mower, what makes you believe that they've actually maintained the property all the years they've been there?” he adds.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it'll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Jan. 14, 2019

What Do Successful Home Buyers Have in Common?

Here's a breakdown of home-buying habits to adopt now, especially if you hope to start looking once home-buying season is in full swing come spring. These behaviors are things you can do daily, weekly, monthly, or even just yearly. Taken together, they set you well on the path to homeownership with a minimum of pain and suffering.

1. Daily: Ditch an indulgence or two

Excuse us for stating the obvious—but saving for a down payment is vital to a successful house purchase. And buyers who can put down 20% don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance. Getting to that 20% down payment is a goal achieved by spending less.

Daily habits you may want to adopt now include eating out less often, cutting the cable bill, canceling (or downgrading) the gym membership, forgoing expensive coffee, and making your own lunch every day, says Patricia Vosburgh of NextHome Gulf to Bay in St. Petersburg, FL. And it's not just about skipping $4 coffee—buyers shouldn't make big purchases either.

2. Weekly: Make deposits into a 'home savings' account

"When I was young and newly married, I couldn’t afford to buy an apartment or a house," says Dolly Hertz, licensed associate real estate broker at New York's Engels & Volkers. So she opened a designated "home savings" account, and she and her husband got into the habit of depositing a set weekly amount.

3. Weekly: Start attending open houses

Getting into the habit of attending open houses will not only give you a feel for what homes are available, but seeing homes that could be yours will also help motivate you to save.

4. Monthly: Do a trial run at homeownership

Owning a home is more than just coming up with a 20% down payment. You also have to be able to pay the mortgage and home maintenance costs.

To make sure you won't max yourself out, test out the habit of saving as a homeowner. For one month, set aside the anticipated amount of your monthly housing expenses and what you'd need for an emergency fund. (A good rule of thumb is to save 10% of your mortgage amount every month for maintenance fees. So if your payment is $1,200, sock away $120.) Then see if you can live within your new budget.

5. Monthly: Pay all bills on time

To qualify for a mortgage at a reasonable interest rate, you'll need a credit score that is in the 600s at the very least. The best way to keep your score high is to be in the habit of paying every single bill on time. Timely payments are especially important for auto loans and leases, since mortgage lenders look there first when checking reliability. Lest you forget, set bills on automatic payment.

Bills includes your rent, too. Remember, when you’re going into a home purchase, you sometimes need a referral from your landlord. Whether your rent check arrived on the first or the 15th of the month matters. And don't forget about medical bills, which stay on your credit score for seven years if late or unpaid, says Hertz.

Finally, always pay down credit cards with any extra cash you have at the end of the month.

6. Yearly: Check your credit report

Do you even know what your credit score is, or even laid eyes on your credit report? If not—or if you haven't done so recently—now's the time to check.

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 28, 2018

What Credit Should I Have to Buy a House

First of all, we want to say congratulations. Buying a home, or even thinking about buying a home is a huge step. It’s an exciting milestone in your life and a wonderful investment.

It can be so confusing when you think about how much credit you need in order to purchase a home. Many people also wonder how much money they need to be able to put down. Both of these answers are short and long. Today, we are going to tell you exactly how much credit you should have in order to buy a home. Keep reading to learn more.

The first thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t need to be high, the negative if it’s not high though is that your internet rate will be higher. This means it will end up costing you more money over time. Therefore, trying to have the highest credit score possible is a great goal.

If you have started thinking about purchasing a home, it’s important to also try and boost your credit score. This does not mean going out and getting credit cards, so you can pay them off. In fact, you really don’t want any new credit cards coming in when you are trying to purchase a home loan. If you are getting ready (maybe a year or two away) from your first home, this is a great time to start preparing for the credit check by making it as high as possible.

There are two factors that go together to determine how you can get in your mortgage. The first is your credit score and the second is your down payment. They work together to come up with your total.

Since your home loan will go on for so many years, they want to ensure you have past examples that you will be able to pay every single month.

The minimum you want to have is a 500-credit score with 10% down on a home. This should guarantee you a home with most loans. However, bigger the better. Having a credit score in the 600 range is a lot better to ensure your chances of getting a loan and for a better rate.

Another factor that goes into your home mortgage is your salary. Your income should be at least 3 times your payment.

That all may have been a little confusing for you. We hope we cleared it up.

In conclusion:

The more money you put down the better.

The higher your credit score is the better.

If you can make up for one of those you have a better chance of getting approved and having a lower interest rate.

Keep working hard at increasing your credit by paying off your credit card monthly and not using it on purchases too large.

For more tips on purchasing your first home, contact us today!

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 14, 2018

Keep Your Dog in Mind While Purchasing Your Home

Your furry friend is like a family member to you. They probably feel (and sometimes act) like one of the kids. Are we right? If you answered yes, you probably want to incorporate their needs into your housing purchase.

Although you are not purchasing a house specifically for them, it’s important to have a pet-friendly home so they can live in peace

Keep reading to learn how you can keep your dog in mind while purchasing your home.

Some areas have HOA rules and regulations. If you are looking into communities with these laws, make sure there are not rules for dogs. Some even say you cannot have them. Some of the rules are not strict, but it is still important to keep any restrictions in mind.

If you have a larger dog a backyard is always a nice addition to the house. It’s important to have a well secured fence if you have a backyard though. The first step is to ensure the HOA does not have any rules against this. If there already is a fence, that’s a great positive! Fences are not impossible to build, so it’s something you can always add in the future. However, you can’t add a backyard if you don’t have the room on your property. If you have a larger dog, this is a great addition to keep in mind.

If you don’t mind your pets roaming the neighborhood, this is something to keep in mind too. Some houses are way too close to large streets to be safe for dogs. Some neighborhoods also don’t like this. If you like the idea of your dog being able to roam around free, make sure you check out the neighborhood multiple times before purchasing. Try and find another dog family and ask them questions too.

Some floors are terrible for dogs, they scratch instantly. If you plan on putting in new floors, try a distressed wood which will easily hide scratches. Also, luxury vinyl and laminate are great options. Carpet is never the best option, especially if it is lighter colors. Dogs bring in dirt and mud, it’s just natural for them to bring it in. That may mean a lot more vacuuming for you. Try and stay away from a lot of carpet, and if you do don’t get a pure white option.

If your dog is getting older stairs may not be the best option for them. If you want a two-story home and do have a dog, make sure the first floor is equipped with everything they will need. If not now, you never know what will happen in the future. Picking them up every time they need to go outside can end up being a lot of work.

Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 21, 2018

Things not to Have Out During a Home Showing

When selling your home, one of the most important steps is showing your home to potential buyers. If you make mistakes during this crucial step, you can drive away buyers, and cost yourself offers on your home. This is why staging your home is so important, and why you should make sure to not have these things out in view during a home showing.


Items that showcase your political views

You want to make sure your home is appealing to as many buyers as possible, and if you lay your political views on the line, you may instantly be driving away half of your potential offers. Make sure to put away any political pictures, flags, or other items you may have out in your home.


Weapons or taxidermy

For avid hunters, this one may be difficult, but it is very important to put away any weapons or taxidermy displays that you may have showcased in your home. Hunting displays such as deer mounted on the walls may give off a sense of dread to some potential buyers, and weapons may take the focus off of your home’s great features, and just make buyers remember your house as the one with the swords or guns.


Jewelry and other valuables

Make sure to lock up or store any valuable items before showing your home to potential buyers. You will have strangers in your home walking around, and you do not want anything to go missing.


Adult items

Make sure to put away any R rated material before you show your home, because many potential buyers may be with their families. The last thing you want during a showing is to make your guests uncomfortable with adult art pieces, or sexual objects.


Lots of family photos

While your family photos add sentimental value to your home for yourself, it will not for your potential buyers. You want to make sure that buyers are able to picture themselves living in your home, and they will not be able to do that with dozens of your family’s photos hanging on the walls.


Moving boxes

You may be packing up the home as you are selling it, but make sure to keep your moving boxes put away during showings. Moving boxes will make your home seem cluttered, and will not give off the most livable impression of your home.


Home showings are an extremely important part of the home selling process, so make sure not to damage your home’s appeal by leaving these objects out. If you think ahead, and stage your home properly, you will have a great home showing, and improve your chances of receiving a fantastic offer.


If you would like to learn more about how to properly sell your home, contact us today!


Posted in Selling Your Home
Nov. 7, 2018

Don't Hire Your Friend as Your Realtor Because...

Buying or selling a home is a massive decision. The steps you take along the way in this important process will have a huge impact on your finances, and overall quality of life. The first thing you should do when heading into a real estate transaction is find a professional, helpful, qualified, and experienced realtor. Your real estate agent is crucial as they will be the one helping you through this journey and making sure that you get a good return on investment in your transaction. It may be tempting to hire a friend or  family member that has their real estate license, but this may actually be a mistake. Here are some of the reasons not to hire someone close to you as your realtor.


They may not be the most qualified


Just because you know and like someone doesn’t mean they are the best person for the job at hand. When buying or selling a home, you want someone who is extremely qualified to help you through the process. Your friend or family member may have great intentions, but if they are not experienced and competent enough, you may be losing out on thousands in your deal. Oftentimes, you are much better off picking an an agent that is very proficient at their job, and has a lot of positive reviews.


They may not be knowledgeable about your area


When picking a realtor, you want someone who specializes in the market you are working with. Not all real estate markets are the same, and it is important to hire someone that knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood your listing or potential home is in.


It is harder to be honest with each other


When you are dealing with someone that you aren’t close with, it is much easier to be honest. If you are dealing with a realtor that you don’t know personally, it is much easier to fire them if they aren’t working out with your transaction. With a loved one, it is tough to get rid of them if things aren’t going well. On the flip side, your realtor needs to be honest with you when you are not being realistic. Someone you are not close with will be able to tell you that your home isn’t worth as much as you think it is, or that you need to get rid of ugly furniture before a showing. It is much more difficult for a friend or family member to say these things to you because they do not want to hurt your feelings.


Destroy relationships


Mixing business with family or friends can be a disaster. Countless relationships have been destroyed over business related disagreements. With a realtor you aren’t close with, you don’t have to worry about running into them at a family reunion if your deal goes sour.


Choosing a realtor is one of the most important decisions you will make when making a real estate transaction. Oftentimes, you are much better off going with a realtor you do not know personally because of the reasons above. Remember, that there are certain situations where your loved one may be the best person for the job, and it can work out well. However, always proceed with caution. To learn more about how to hire a real estate agent, contact us today.

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 23, 2018

Regrets Homeowners May End Up Having

Buying a home is a huge decision that will greatly impact your life. If you make a mistake during this process, it may come back to haunt you for an extended period of time. Be prepared and cautious during the home buying process to make sure you do not have regrets in the future. Here are some of the most common regrets homeowners have after purchasing a home.


Agree with each decision

Oftentimes, a buyer will be so desperate to close on a home that they will agree with all of a seller’s terms, even if they are detrimental to the buyer. Never be so desperate for a home that you make poor financial decisions. If a seller is not willing to work with you, and create a fair deal for both parties, walk away. If you do not walk, you may end up regretting it later.


Not purchasing the correct size


When buying a home, it is important to try to anticipate how many bedrooms and square feet you will need. Many people anticipate that they will have a lot of children, and buy a home far too big for their current situation. Always remember that you can buy a larger home in the future if you end up having a large family down the road. On the flip side, do not buy a small home when you are planning on having a lot of people under the roof in the near future. Try to think ahead to what is realistic, and find the middle ground of the size home you should have.


Not adding in small details to the budget


Sometimes people overlook the small details of a home because they fall in love with one they view. When viewing homes, bring a list of all the features you need, and one for the features that would be nice to have. This will give you something to review when looking back at multiple homes you viewed. Remember that lacking many small details can add up into something huge.


Including location in home purchase


Location is everything when buying a home, so make sure you buy in the right area. Try to account for your commute to work, proximity to schools (even if you don’t have kids yet), amenities nearby, and how the neighborhood is projected to grow in the future. Do your research, and try to buy in an area that should rise in value over time.


Standing the searching process too late


Many people wait to start searching for a new home until they absolutely must move right away, and this is a big mistake. There is nothing worse than being rushed during the home buying process because you will likely make bad decisions out of desperation. Make sure to start looking into the home buying process long before your lease runs out, or you outgrow your current living situation.


These are some of the common regrets home buyers have after purchasing a house. If you have some forethought, and think clearly during your real estate transaction, you can avoid these mistakes and be thrilled with your home purchase decision. If you would like to learn more about how to make a great decision during a real estate transaction, contact me today!

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 9, 2018

The Most Important Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

You have probably heard that getting a home inspection is important. Whether you are getting on before you sell your home or before you purchase a home, there are important questions to ask. That is why we came up with the most important questions to ask a home inspector. We will also explain why these questions are so important. Keep reading to find out!

Ask them to be specific

The inspector may be using fancy words. Those fancy words may be leaving you confused but you continue just smile and nod your head. You also may not know a whole lot about home and the various aspects of them, so you are ready confused on many levels. During the inspection, ask the inspector to go through the entire house. If you are not completely clear on something they are saying, ask them to be specific. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they are telling you, and make sure that you understand the issue before moving to the next room.

Is this a big deal?

Although you want the home to be in perfect condition, small issues may not be a big deal at all. It’s important to know what a big deal is and what is a minor issue. For example, a foundation problem can be a lot more crucial and a small detail. Also, if the inspector does talk about a foundation problem, find out if it even is a big deal. Many scary sentences that include the foundation or the roof can sound like a big red flag, in realty they may be a $50 quick fix.

Ask questions

If you see anything that looks odd or out of place, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If there is anything bothering you about the home it is important to note it and discuss it with the home inspector.

Ask their option

Asking the question of, what is your biggest concern about this property? Can answer a lot of questions when it comes to how big or little some of the issues are. This will also allow you to leave the appointment with a mental (and sometimes written) list of things that need to be addressed with the buyer or seller.

The home inspection is a very important process during any real estate transaction. Your home is such a big investment and it is important to know if you are making a great choice or not. Knowing more details about the home will allow you to do just that. For more information on the home inspection process, or if you are buying a home, contact us today!

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 26, 2018

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

You may have been cruising the internet for homes for sale and noticed a home that is a steal! You probably want to buy it immediately since it is going for a fraction of the price of other homes just like it. It is probably a foreclosed home. This is not always a bad thing, but it can have its negatives. Keep reading to find out more about buying a foreclosed home.

A foreclosed home is not like a typical home purchase. It will typically only have one real estate agent involved. The seller will want a preapproval letter from a lender prior to accepting any offer. There is little to no room for negotiation. Finally, the home is sold as-is. It is completely up to the buyer to pay for all repairs.

If you have read this and you still want to buy a foreclosed home, great! Here are the 4 steps to buying one.

1)   Find an agent. Try and find one with prior foreclosure experience. Some realtors will even specialize in foreclosures. (We would love to help!)

2)   Get preapproved for a mortgage. These first two steps go hand in hand. Unless you are paying in cash, you will need a recent letter from a lender that will show how much money you can borrow.

3)   Study the market in terms of the sale prices in homes in your area. There’s no rule what the bottom line is on that house. Make sur that you look at the real estate purchases on comparable properties. Many people call these the “comps”.

4)   Remember that the home is sold as-is. There is no going back. Since repairs are almost inevitable, it’s important to budget an air conditioning or possibly heating system to need a replacement (or both).

If this still sounds great to you, then dive on in! You may end up getting a home that needs little updates and you will get a great price on a beautiful home. For more information on foreclosure homes, or to get started on buying one, contact us today!

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 6, 2018

10 Facts About Buying a Home

Real estate can get very confusing. It has changed over time and the market always changes. With that said, it’s great to read facts that you should know about buying a home. It will help to educate you with the process, and what false information that could be out there. Keep reading to learn more!

How much can you afford? There are many online calculators out there that can help determine how much you will be able to qualify for. This is one of the first steps in the home buying process.

Yes, a realtor is so important. It will save you money and keep you out of any potential legal issues. Although there is a fee, it will be well worth it.

There are many kinds of loans that you can get to receive your mortgage. Some loans require 20% down and some only require 3%. It’s important to shop around to get the loan that will best suit your needs.

Make sure that you always have a home inspection done. You have the right to have a home inspection down after you have negotiated the offer. This may have you come back and let the seller know any additional issues going on in the home.

Understand that your loan has an application fees and this needs to be paid prior to closing.

The seller pays the realtor fees. Know that when you are buying, there are no realtor fees involved.

Understand how your payments work every month. Typically, your payments will not include the home owner’s insurance and property taxes like an online calculator will tell you. So, know each monthly charge prior to purchasing the home.

Get a copy of your credit report before you buy your home. This way you can correct any problems on your report before a lender sees it.

Your home has the best change of selling during the first 10 days on the market.

We hope that these tips helped! For more information on home buying, contact us today!

Posted in Buying a Home