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Is the housing market slowing down in Denver?

The current catchphrase in Denver’s real estate market is “market shift.” While my day-to-day observations agree with that, the statistics aren’t necessarily reflecting a shift!

Denver’s median sale price dropped $10k to $650,000 since June, which could indicate the start of a slowdown or it could be an early seasonal cool-off driven by a super-hot spring and early summer sell-off. Inventory remained unchanged from June, but days spent on the market dipped to 13 — the lowest it’s been since we began tracking it in 2007! One thing to point out is the majority of July’s closings are from contracts that were signed in June, and June was still a super-hot month. August’s numbers should be interesting and we’ll definitely be chomping at the bit to analyze the data as soon as we can!

Want more detailed information about the market in your neighborhood? Please reach out!

Real Estate Finance News Recap: July 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in real estate finance last month:

+ 30-year fixed mortgage rates remain below three percent for the fifth consecutive week and 15-year rates hit a new low as the economy works to get back to its pre-pandemic self.

+ As the Fed discusses cutting back on buying mortgage and Treasury bonds, could housing prices finally cool down?

+ Brett Arends of MarketWatch gives us another reason to own our home in retirement — rents are rising three times as fast as inflation. Ouch!


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Denver Real Estate News Recap: July 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in Denver real estate last month:

+ Things may be looking better for home buyers as Metro Denver saw its second biggest jump in its supply of homes for sale — triple the 3.1% jump seen nationwide.

+ … but perhaps not when considering that Metro Denver home prices set multiple home price appreciation records (15.5% in April and 16.2% year-over-year in May) and July rents rose 11.6% statewide. At least we’re not seeing increases like in Phoenix (25.9%), San Diego (24.7%), and Seattle (23.4%).

+ The Biden administration is developing a new eviction moratorium after a previous ban expired last weekend. While 12% of Denver renters owe back rent, landlords do not believe an eviction crisis is looming.


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U.S. Real Estate News Recap: July 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in U.S. real estate last month:

+ Home sellers are still making big profits as home prices keep setting records, but their margins took a hit in the second quarter. Is this a cause for concern? While purchase prices have skyrocketed and length of homeownership has decreased, we haven’t seen a dip in profit margins during the second quarter since 2008.

+ Finding a home to buy can be quite a challenge today — especially when you have one to sell and don’t want to end up without a place to live. NerdWallet offers some strategies to help you avoid this situation. Too much to take in? reach out to us and we’ll walk you through it!

+ The U.S. Supreme Court ruled racially restrictive housing covenants unenforceable, but many property owners are shocked to find these restrictions still remain on paper. State lawmakers are working on legislation to help homeowners remove “whites only” covenants from their property records.


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Lender Costs and Buyer Expenses While Under Contract

The Pre-Read Summary

Costs that you, as the buyer, will incur while under contract include appraisal (varies by appraiser; cannot be up-charged by the lender) and inspection (paid directly to the inspector and specialists you hire), and, when applicable, a survey (paid directly to the survey company) and condo certification (charged via the lender).

The biggest expense, and sometimes surprise, is lender costs. Upon close, lenders will charge buyers for fees such as origination, processing, and underwriting. Other money is held in escrow, such as for property insurance and taxes. Just another great reason to pick your lender before making an offer — you’ll have a pretty good idea of what these expenses might entail! Also, regardless of who is paying for the title insurance, the buyer will pay for the lender’s title policy.

A quick heads up before we jump in. Upon going under contract, earnest money will be due. This is what you, the buyer, are “putting up” to demonstrate your commitment to go through with the transaction. Is it an expense? Well, kinda. You, the buyer, will deliver the check to the title company (as a neutral party to the transaction) within a few days of going under contract. The check is then cashed and held in trust until the transaction is either terminated (by an applicable deadline) or closes. Upon close, the money is applied to your closing costs and down payment — not a penny wasted! Sellers determine what they want for the earnest money deposit. A good estimate is 1-1.5% of the home’s value, but we’ve seen 3% often enough to say, have that available.

Now, onto the fun stuff!

Lender Fees: $$$$$

What: Origination, processing, and underwriting to name the majority

Who: Lender

When: Paid at closing

How Much: Varies by lender and home, typically a few to several thousand

Know This: All lenders charge fees to underwrite and process your loan. This is part of every transaction that involves a mortgage (i.e., not paying all cash). Fees vary by lender. Some lenders offer programs that help minimize your expenses at the closing table, such as rolling some fees into the loan. Keep in mind, this helps on day one, but also means you’re paying interest on that amount over the term of the loan. Talk to your lender about their costs and any reservations you may have — they might be able to help. Although you don’t pay your mortgage for the first month, that’s only technically true. Upon close, you’ll be paying the prorated interest, which does make up most of your monthly payment, decreasing incrementally as the principal is paid down. Since this varies depending on when you close, an estimate is kinda tough, but if you save for a mortgage payment, that’s probably close enough!

Important: The time to interview lenders and select a lender is before you go under contract. Although it is your discretion to change lenders, switching can create uncertainty in the eyes of the seller… Why rock the boat when there aren’t even any waves? And, you’re busy during the contract — going to inspections, the riveting excitement of reading a title commitment and the HOA’s rules and regulations — fun times. But before all of this kicks off, you have time to compare rates and costs between various lenders and see if the one you liked best can match the cheapest!

Appraisal: $$$

Who: Appraiser via the lender

When: Paid upon appraisal, may be paid at closing

What: Determines the valuation of the home

How Much: Varies by appraiser and property, typically around $700

Know This: Appraisals are required when a mortgage is used to purchase the home, with a few exceptions, like with a significant down payment. Lenders require the appraisal to qualify the value of the home at or above the agreed upon purchase price. It also gives buyers peace of mind that you’re not overpaying, and sometimes that you’re getting instant equity! If you’re paying cash, most buyers opt to save the money (you know, for new yoga equipment for your workout room).

If an appraisal is completed, the buyer may still be charged for the appraisal by the lender, even if the contract is terminated and does not close, and regardless of whether or not the termination is a consequence of the appraisal. It’s up to the lender. If the contract terminates before an appraisal is performed, this expense is avoided. That is why most appraisal deadlines are set after the inspection.

Inspections: $$-$$$

Who: Inspection company and other specialists

When: Paid upon inspection directly to the inspection company

What: A visual examination of the home’s present condition and major systems

How Much: Inspections run about $500+ on a typical home, increasing by size. Additional inspections, such as sewer scope or radon, and other specialists will charge additional fees.

Know This: A home inspection is used by buyers to “pull back the curtain” and gain additional insight into the home. Additional services can include radon, specialists (HVAC, electrician, plumber, etc.), sewer scope, structural engineer, etc. Although a home inspection is not required to purchase a home, it is very strongly recommended even if the home is being purchased “as is.”

If an inspection is completed, the buyer must pay for it, even if the contract is terminated and does not close and regardless of whether or not the termination is a consequence of the inspection. Most inspectors will not provide a copy of their report until the invoice is paid in full.

Important: Plan ahead — some inspections, such as radon, require a few days to complete the test. And you may decide to get quotes or additional inspections by a plumber, for example, which takes time to schedule. Keep in mind, the more you do during inspections, the more expenses you’ll face. But, you’ll also know more about your prospective home!

Side Note, Surveys: For those buying a home where a land survey is needed or desired, this is paid similar to an inspection — upon completion of service to the survey company and before a report will be released. Surveys can cost a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the type. Sometimes, a survey will be required by the title company to verify boundaries, encroachments, etc., in which case they’ll specify what is needed. Otherwise, you and your surveyor will determine what type of survey is most appropriate for your specific property and they will give you a quote before doing any work. If the survey is too expensive for you to continue with the transaction, it is your discretion to terminate before the survey deadline. If not, continue on!

Lender Title Policy: $$

Who: Title company

When: Paid at closing

What: Policy insuring title to the property for your lender

How Much: Varies by title company and property, usually around $600

Know This: If you’re paying cash, the lender’s policy is not applicable, as there is no lender! But, as long as there is a lender involved in the transaction, the buyer will be paying for the cost to insure title for the lender. Although the seller usually pays for the owner’s title policy (which runs $1k to $2k+), the buyer pays to insure the title for your lender.

Condo Questionnaire: $

Who: HOA via the lender

When: Paid upon request of certification, may be paid at closing

What: Condo certification

How Much: Varies by HOA, approximately $250, the exact amount is what is charged

Know This: Condo certifications are ordered early in the transaction, so talk to your lender about when and how this will be charged. As is the case with the appraisal, the buyer will likely pay for this upon charge and regardless of whether or not the transaction closes, although some lenders simply roll it into closing costs (only paid upon close). Condos must complete a questionnaire for lenders to confirm they meet standards needed for lending, which can impact the type of loan a lender can use to lend on the property. For example, if a condo is “unwarrantable” because too many units are used as rentals, the buyer may need to use a portfolio loan instead of FHA or conventional. Clear as mud? Great! Because you don’t need to worry a whole lot about it unless it applies to your transaction, in which case your realtor and lender will explain!

Other Costs…

Who: Where do we start?

When: Depends on what it is, but mostly paid at closing

What: Again, where to start?

How Much: Not much (most likely)

Know This: Other costs are going to show up on your closing settlement statement, which you will receive a few days before close. These could include prorations for property taxes, HOA dues, water bills, and the like. There will be a $25 (+/-) recording fee from the county to record your title. In most cases, this only accumulates to a couple hundred dollars more, if that. However, if there’s a large HOA transfer fee, for example, it could be more. In short, prorations are determined down to the day to make it fair and so costs are exact. Not a penny is wasted.

Still awake? Overwhelmed?

Do not fret! It seems like a lot the first time you buy a home — and maybe the second time, too! Preparation will help immensely.

First, have money readily available for your earnest money deposit, 1-3%.

Second, pick your lender and get a rough idea of costs to close the loan, what they’ve seen lately for appraisal charges (dust off your report on supply and demand), and other expenses you should expect. Know that your earnest money will be applied to this, and might even cover most of it.

Third, have money set aside to cover mid-transaction expenses like inspections, more if you’re looking at larger than average homes or unique situations.

Finally, and this wasn’t discussed above as it’s a totally different topic, but talk with your lender about how different terms and down payments can affect your interest rate, payoff amount, and monthly payment. What is the minimum required for your loan? What will eliminate mortgage insurance? When it’s all said and done, the down payment is the biggest “expense” you have when buying a new home.

And don’t be scared, because you’re not alone!

Your favorite Love Your Hood broker is going to guide you through the process. As related to these costs, they’ll help you navigate the timing of the steps throughout the transaction. A little preparation and a great realtor will help immensely!

Now that you’re prepped and ready… happy home shopping!

Is a contingency to sell your home a deal-breaker to buy in Denver?

We’re sure you’ve heard how competitive and fast-paced the Denver housing market is these days. If you haven’t, we will confirm that it is still crazy, but not as crazy as it was three months ago. In April, the norm was for listings receiving ten or more offers, sales hitting far above list price, and little to no leverage for buyers during negotiations. We’re still seeing sales at or above list price, but now with only few offers and occasionally with some negotiating leverage.

Sale contingency is driven by your lender

If you’re getting your finances in order to purchase a new home, you may run into one common lender requirement (also called a condition): that you must sell your current home prior to buying your replacement property. While selling before you buy is the most common scenario (then removing the condition and allowing you to secure a new home loan), it is extremely difficult to get a contingent offer on a home accepted. On an initial phone consult, most real estate brokers will throw their arms up in submission when they hear you need to sell before you buy. Rest assured, there are ways to accomplish this:

The old fashioned way

The classic way to deal with this hurdle? Negotiate it! There are more opportunities these days to negotiate a contingency into your offer. To be successful in this, you must show the seller that you’re committed and that you aren’t just testing the waters. Having a plan to present to the seller is key. Having your home ready to list and press the “active” button on the MLS helps to convince a seller you mean business. Better yet, have a live listing that hits the market when you submit your offer, or even better — one that’s under contract!

A new option

We recently published an article on ways to sell (or not) before you buy your next home. While those techniques remain great options for accomplishing your next purchase, there’s a new kid (lending product) on the block that we want to tell you about! We’re continually vetting home financing products that would be a good option for our clients, and we were recently invited to use a new lending program that is only offered to a select few brokers in Denver and their clients.

This program essentially turns you into a cash buyer by purchasing the home for you and selling it back to you once you have sold your current home. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there is a 1.5% fee for the service, which can be rolled into the purchase price when you’re read to buy the home back. There’s no free lunch, but it is a great service provided to contingent buyers so they can bypass the stress of selling their home until they’ve secured their new one. There are some restrictions on the loan amount, timing, etc., so reach out to us and we can fill you in on all of the details!

 

There are many different ways to sell your home and purchase a replacement successfully. Your first step is to sit down with a real estate broker who is familiar with all of the options and can help you come up with a solid game plan! If you’d like to utilize our expertise on this or for more detailed information about the market in your neighborhood, please reach out!

Denver home inventory ticking up slightly

The average number of days homes in Denver spent on the market in June was the lowest it’s been in the last ten years — 14 days! Available home inventory also crept up ever so slightly to 1.2 months, from 1.1 months in May. It’s not much, but we’ll take what we can get these days. Buyers have been waiting a long time for more homes to hit the market, and finally, they have! The number of active listings increased by 22.7% since last month. On the flip side, over this same time period, buyer demand increased by 11%. If interest rates start creeping up, buyer demand will begin to wane and we’ll likely see a small surge in new listings from those who have been on the fence to sell. If you’ve been waiting to list your home, now is the time to take advantage of our hot market before it cools off.

Want more detailed information about the market in your neighborhood? Please reach out!

Real Estate Finance News Recap: June 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in real estate finance last month:

+ Falling mortgage rates are another sign that investors view the current spate of inflation to be temporary, however, housing affordability is becoming a bigger concern.

+ Freddie Mac reports that mortgage rates continue to hover around 3%, keeping the housing market booming. Yet, a deterioration in affordability and housing inventory is slowing the market.


Have questions about what’s happening in real estate in your neighborhood? Let’s chat!

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Denver Real Estate News Recap: June 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in Denver real estate last month:

+ April proved to be a record-setting month for Denver annual home appreciation — a whopping 15.4%.

+ Showings are down and bidding wars begin to tame in Denver’s real estate market. Will buyers start to find relief or are some walking away from their search after high price fatigue?

+ Colorado is on the verge of an affordable housing crisis so severe that it could derail the state economy and contribute to a significant deterioration in the quality of life for those priced out of the market. The Common Sense Institute released a white paper on actions to reduce the shortfall.


Have questions about what’s happening in real estate in your neighborhood? Let’s chat!

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U.S. Real Estate News Recap: June 2021

Here’s a quick digest of what happened in U.S. real estate last month:

+ Moody’s chief economist believes the real estate market is topping out, but that it doesn’t mean housing prices are about to take a free fall anytime soon.

+ Local courts across the country could see an influx of eviction cases when the eviction moratorium ends on July 31st. What comes next for renters and landlords will largely depend on how states and municipalities manage this potential influx.

+ Historically high lumber prices take a dive as Americans start to go on vacation instead of renovate and supply starts catching up to demand.


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