Top five tips when building your home

Your perfect home does exist!

Our real estate market is crazy right now!

I showed a property the other day that was listed for $374,500 and over the weekend they received 24 offers bidding all the way up to $450,000!! Like I said – CRAZY! It is a very hard pill to swallow that you are going to have to overpay that much for a house! Buyers are also sometimes waiving their right to ask for things to be fixed from inspection and possibly coming up with extra money to cover any shortfall in the appraisal! If you have time on your side as a buyer, you may want to consider building a home instead. There are a lot of advantages to building a home as opposed to buying a “used” home.

Building your home is not an easy process by any means, but does give you the ability to lock in a price for a house and finish it the way you want. I would definitely recommend working with a Realtor that is very experienced with new home construction when speaking to your builder. There are a lot of steps and risks when building, so it is crucial that you have someone looking out for your interests when facing off with a builder. Having recently built my own home with a builder, and having been an architect, I love helping people during this exciting and challenging process!

First, you are going to have to use the builder’s contract. This is not written with your best interests at heart. It is written in complete favor of the builder. It is a big commitment to build a home, so it makes sense that the builder will need to protect themselves from all the wishy-washy buyers out there. On the other hand, if they don’t do as instructed you have to know your options and what is going to happen with any deposits you have provided. It can be hard to stomach a lost deposit, but that will always be better than buying a home you are not happy with and paying for it for the next 30 years!

Second, it will help to know all your options. The design center (where you pick all of your finishes and some structural options) can be very overwhelming! Sometimes you are faced with a design consultant that does NOT have a great sense of your style. A lot of the structural and finishes options will need to be selected fairly quickly so they can be ordered and installed without delaying the build.

Third, make sure you observe, document (pictures and video) and ask lots of questions. This is your biggest purchase and you are paying a premium for everything to be new. I took a lot of videos and pictures of my house during construction to make sure I knew where all the pipes and wires were located in the walls for future decorating and remodeling projects.

Fourth, manage your expectations. There is a shortage of sub-contractors (masons, electricians, plumbers, framers, etc.) for hire right now in Colorado. The ones hired by the superintendent may not jive with your standards. Let them do their job and then point out the issues as they arise. I am not an expert on their methods, but I do know what the finished product should look like. Also, don’t worry if the construction site looks like a dumpster exploded. Subcontractors are notoriously messy with their excess materials and lunch remains, but the general contractor that oversees the project should be hiring several different clean up crews towards the end of the process to make sure everything is finished correctly.

Fifth, embrace the warranty! Once you have closed on your new home, had some sort of orientation and are beginning to feel settled, you will notice certain things the builders have forgotten or done incorrectly. Make sure you are well-versed on how to submit warranty requests and communicate with the warranty department and allow them the time needed to get those items fixed. Some builders have a great quality control department to help mitigate some things you might typically find wrong with your new home, and some obviously do not! Builders and contractors are human, but definitely need to take care of the things that you expect to work in your brand new home.

There are several other things to think about when building a home. Please reach out to me if you have come across anything with your new home or are thinking of building a home and aren’t sure where to start. As a former architect and an 11-year Realtor, I really enjoy helping people make the most of their new home construction!

Find me something to buy!

I get that a lot these days! Right now the amount of properties for sale in Littleton is at a crazy low level. According to the graph below, the amount of properties available has dropped 30% in the past 3 years! While there are still homes available, it is slim pickings! I have been able to get my clients under contract using a variety of strategies to make their offer package stand out from the rest. I also make sure to contact the listing agent so that I can establish a great line of communication to help alleviate any questions or concerns they may have about my clients.

Low amount of homes for sale

On another note, if you have been on the fence considering whether you should sell your home, now is definitely the time. Make sure you pair up with a broker that can find you a home before you list your house for sale, otherwise you might end up homeless with an agent that doesn’t really care. I’m sorry to tell you, but with 50,000 agents in Colorado, there are some agents out there that do not consider this job their passion like I do. I also just recently moved our family and so I have recent, first-hand experience on how difficult a move can be and what I can do to help things go as smoothly as possible! Check out this video below and then call me to help you!

Down Payments for a house

What do you think you need to put down to purchase a house these days? 20%? 10%? On average people were putting down 11% in 2016 to purchase a home. That means that while several people did put down 20% or more, just as many people were putting down 5% or less! If the amount of down payment is holding you back, definitely talk to your lender about what programs are out there to help you qualify and get into a house now, so you can stop paying the mortgage for someone else!

Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist writes in his latest column, “the millennial dreaming about homeownership needs to get this message: They need a FICO score of at least 639 and enough for a 5 percent down payment (that is, if they don’t qualify for the other programs with lower payment options). In that case, they’ll need to save about $3,500 to buy in the typical American town.”

To read more please click here

Where are all the homes for sale?

I thought I would write a quick blog post about the lack of inventory out there for my buyers. If you have ever considered selling your home and either buying something bigger or moving out of state, now is definitely the time! I have five buyers actively looking for homes all round Denver down to Colorado Springs, and we are having quite a hard time! Properties are flying off the market and getting bid up way more than they are worth. This causes problems not only for buyers, but also for the sellers when they have to deal with being inundated by buyers and real estate agents and then figuring out what to do when their house does not appraise for the agreed purchase price. I just attended a great class about how to “help” the appraiser so that all parties to the transaction can move forward confidently.

When working with my buyers, I have several strategies to help them get their offer accepted over competing offers. Working with sellers, I help ease the stress that comes with the frenzy of buyers in this market by providing a simple breakdown of the competing offers and my professional opinion backed by 10 years of experience of what the advantages and disadvantages of each offer. I prefer to work in Jefferson County as I know that area best and that is where I spend most of my time, but I have clients all the way east out to the airport and south to Colorado Springs. Please call me if you or anyone you know has talked about selling their home – I would love to meet with them, and chances are I might already have a buyer for their home (which would save them money and time!).

Hiring a Realtor

Ask your Realtor lots of questions!

Ask your Realtor lots of questions!

Every good consumer knows that getting the best person to work for you, it is necessary to shop around. Here are some questions that you can ask when interviewing Realtors to decide who will best help you reach your goals.

  • How long have you been a Realtor?

While it helps to pick a seasoned professional, keep in mind that older is not always better. An agent that has been in the business for 20 years, may be so set in his ways, that he isn’t using new technology and may actually hinder your real estate goals. Also, don’t discount brand new agents either. New agents may offer a fresh perspective as well as having a well-qualified mentor watching their every move to make sure you are well taken care of.

  • What is your average List-Price to Sales-Price ratio?

A real estate agent should know his market well enough to be able to negotiate down the price for his buyers while negotiating up the price for his sellers.

  • What is your best marketing plan for selling my home or what strategies do you have to help me buy a home?

A strong marketing plan for a seller will help them sell their home faster and for the most money. Sellers should ask:

  1. What sets you apart from other listing agents?
  2. What is your online marketing strategy?
  3. What printed advertisements do you use?
  4. How many listings do you have typically?
  5. What is your availability for showings, open houses and answering my questions?

Buyers should ask:

  1. How will you search for my new home?
  2. What is the process for purchasing a home?
  3. What strategies do you have for submitting offers?
  4. How competitive is the market and how do you handle multiple offers?
  • Do you have any references?

Make sure those references aren’t related to the broker and that you can contact them.

  • What are the top three things that set you apart from your competition?

This should be an easy question for the broker, but make sure their answers are qualities that you value most in a Realtor.

  • Will you help with the contracts?

There are a lot of contracts and agreements in real estate and it really helps when your agent knows the contracts inside and out. It helps also if your broker can send you the contracts before you need to sign them.

  • How is your referral network?

There are a lot of people involved during a real estate transaction as well. Ask your Realtor if they have a good referral network and trusted professionals they choose to work with the most and why.

  • How much do you charge?

All fees are negotiable in real estate. Ask how much the real estate agent charges for their services and who pays them. In Colorado, the seller typically pays both brokers in a transaction.

  • What kind of guarantee do you offer:

If you sign an agreement to hire a broker, and then find that it is not a good fit, can you cancel the agreement? You need to make sure your broker will provide you the best service they promised or you should part ways. Has the broker ever had a client cancel an agreement before?

  • What else do I need to know that I haven’t asked?

Buying or selling a home is a very big event in your life. Make sure your broker is taking the time to educate you and really listen to your needs so they can better help you.