Buying a Home

The lowdown on buying a home.

The Cost of Waiting To Buy

By LYH broker Rhyan Diller

I’m often asked when the best time to buy is. There are always pros and cons to buying at any time of year, and while there is no exact answer, the best time is NOW.

Picture this. Leslie decides she’s ready to buy a home in the summer of 2019. She looks and looks and finds the perfect single-family home for $485,450 (the median sale price in Denver for August 2019). She puts down 5% and gets the average interest rate of 3.62%, and ends up with a monthly payment of around $2,730 per month.

Meanwhile, Ron is also thinking of buying a home in August of 2019, but he decides he wants to wait so that he can save up a bigger down payment for the ideal 20% down (which by the way, is not needed to buy!). Via his friend Leslie, Ron knows that most houses in August of 2019 are around $485,450, so he needs to save up $97,090 for his down payment. Easy! Right?

One year later, Leslie decides she wants to buy the identical house next door to her. She talks to her trusted realtor and learns that this identical house is for sale at $525,000 (the median sale price in Denver for August 2020). Confused, she asks why an identical house to hers is so much more now than when she bought one year ago.

Her realtor explains how the average home price has increased 8% since just last year! And then congratulates her, because the first house she owns already has almost $40,000 in equity — just for owning it for one year. She then learns that rates are now wildly low and refinances on her first house, taking advantage of the current 2.9% interest rates.

Meanwhile, Ron is still working on saving up $97,090, only to realize that to put 20% down, he now needs to save $105,000 (even though that’s not necessary), since the house he wanted last year is now $525,000He paid upwards of $2,000 per month in rent in Denver, essentially helping  to pay down someone else’s mortgage with no equity to be had.

We know buying a house in Denver is not easy. Most well-priced homes will sell in a matter of days, and you’ll likely be competing against multiple buyers for the “perfect” home. But if you’re waiting for the stars to align — for rates to drop even lower, for more inventory, to save for a higher down payment, or (our personal favorite) for the “bubble to burst,” you will continue missing out on earning an average of 8% year over year in appreciation for simply buying a home. No full remodel, no sweat equity, just ownership.

Home Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Investment and Your Health

By LYH broker Rhyan Diller

Being a homeowner, whether new or seasoned, comes with its responsibilities! These are some of our recommendations to make sure your home and investment stays in tip-top shape.

Every Fall
Service Your HVAC

It is typically recommended to have an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) contractor clean and service both systems annually. This will help ensure the longevity and efficiency of your HVAC system. Scheduling this in the fall before you find your heat isn’t working (or in the spring before you find the a/c isn’t kicking in) will save some discomfort (and possibly some cash).

Winterize Your Sprinklers

If you own a home in Colorado and have a sprinkler system, you need to get it winterized! If your sprinkler system does not get winterized, you run the risk that water will freeze in the irrigation valves, pipes, and sprinkler heads, which could lead to a hefty repair bill. In Colorado, it’s best to winterize your system a few weeks before the first freeze/snow is expected. It is typically easiest to hire a professional landscaper to winterize your system if you are not familiar with how to do so.

Clean Your Gutters

If your gutters are clogged, water will not be able to properly divert from your home, which can lead to a number of issues. It is typically recommended to clean your gutters twice per year, once in the late spring and once in the early fall. However, if you have lots of trees and foliage, you may need to clean them more often. Gutter guards can be installed to prevent gutters from clogging in the first place, which will reduce your maintenance costs and clean-up time.

Check Your Downspouts

While you’re cleaning your gutters, check in on your downspouts. They play an important role in protecting your foundation by diverting water from your home. Make sure that your downspouts are diverting the water at least three feet away from the home. If your downspouts are pouring out directly on the side of your home, purchase some downspout extensions from your local hardware store.

Regularly
Change Your Furnace Filter

A good rule of thumb is to change the filter in your furnace at least every three months or whenever the filter is visibly dirty. If you have household pets who shed a lot or have had poor air quality due to wildfires, you may need to do this more often!

Check Your Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Test to make sure all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order, with fresh batteries, at least quarterly! Colorado law states that homes must have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of a home and within 15 feet of an entrance to each bedroom. Smoke detectors are required in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement.

Looking for more info about buying or selling a home? Please reach out, and subscribe to our weekly emails to never miss a beat about Denver real estate!

What Forbearance Means for You

Over 4 million Americans have put their loans into forbearance.

Up until recently, there has been a lot of uncertainty about what it means when a borrower’s loan goes into forbearance. Will there be a huge lump sum owed at the end of the forbearance period? Will it have an impact on credit? Will people be able to purchase or refinance in the future if a loan has gone into forbearance? Initially, the CARES Act did not provide clear guidelines or statements regarding any of those questions, resulting in many borrowers unable to take advantage of record low rates and uncertain if the forbearance policies in place would cause more harm than good.

Now for the good news. On Tuesday, May 19th, the Federal Housing Agency (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) provided clarity regarding what forbearance means to borrowers, and gave guidance on how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans will handle repayment, as well as how it will affect a borrower in the future.

Here’s what it means for you.

Let us start by saying, if you’ve not been impacted financially by COVID-19 and can keep paying your payments on time and in full, you should. Forbearance or deferment is not forgiveness, and that money does not go away. So, if you can still pay, that is your best option.

Can you purchase or refinance in the future? Yes! Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers will be allowed to purchase a new home or refinance their current mortgage even if a loan has gone into forbearance. The borrower must show three consecutive months of payments after the forbearance period has ended. Additionally, if your loan has gone into forbearance accidentally (many Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans were being placed into forbearance, if a borrower even breathed the word), you can purchase or refinance immediately if your payments are up to date, without having to wait the three-month period.

Will you have to owe a lump sum at the end of your forbearance period? Not unless you want to. Here are a few ways borrowers can exit a forbearance plan:

  • A borrower can pay the sum of the missed payments in full when their forbearance period ends.
  • A borrower can defer the payments to the end of the loan. For example, if you were in forbearance for six months, you could tack those six months onto the end of your loan, adding an additional six months of payments before maturity. You can do this for up to 12 months, per the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
  • A borrower can use a repayment plan. They can pay the amount due or missed payments, over the course of 36 months or until they are up to date on their payments.

 

At Love Your Hood, we’re committed to being a resource for you and all of your housing needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our trusted realtors if you have any questions regarding forbearance, or buying and selling in the current climate.

Denver still feeling priced out of ownership

Source: the Colorado Real Estate Journal

The age old question, revisited: should I rent or should I buy? Here, the author presents statistics that illustrate Denver’s current preference of renting over buying. In the last 10 years, home prices have exceeded rental increases by 24%, requiring far less cash to execute a lease than to transfer a deed. But one thing to note: you don’t need to wait until you have 20% saved up to purchase a home — conventional home loans start with as little as 5% down! In fact, there are other loan products that can bring the down payment even lower.

Read Article

Should I Represent Myself When Buying or Selling Real Estate?

Admittedly, before venturing into real estate as a profession, selling a home without representation crossed my mind a few times.  Now, I frequently take calls about For Sale By Owner (FSBO) listings and inquiries on properties where the buyer only wants to talk to the listing agent because they are representing themselves. Having peeked behind the curtain to see the intricacies of the real estate transaction, I’m glad to have hired a Realtor® to guide my way to the closing table.

Selling Your Home without a Realtor®

When selling your home, the “commission carrot” can cloud your judgement and tempt you to go it alone. A good real estate broker will provide value that far exceeds the fee charged at the closing table. Here are the three main steps in the home selling process where utilizing a professional can most benefit you:

Determining Price

The biggest mistake owners make is setting the listing price incorrectly. They usually base their pricing on the internet, typically by Zillow’s Zestimates. Big mistake. Nearly 25% of Zestimates are off by more than 10% from the sale price. Zillow even states in the fine print that these estimates are a starting point for determining value. Overprice your home, and the phone might not ring after your listing goes live.  Underprice it, and you may leave money on the table at closing. 

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Should You Write a Buyer’s Letter to the Seller?

You found the perfect home and simply must have it! Your real estate broker is going to present your very strong offer to the seller’s broker and found out that there are several other offers on the home. You are very emotionally tied to getting this home. In this hot real estate market where homes can go within hours of being listed, some buyers are desperate to get the home they want. They may have written offers on several homes but weren’t successful. Writing a letter to the seller “pleading their situation” has occasionally been a tactic of buyers in such situations. Should you as a buyer write a letter to the seller in an emotional appeal for the seller to accept your offer? Consider the following.

Letter to Seller

What a Buyer’s Letter Is + When to Present It

A buyer’s letter to the seller is just that: a letter written by the buyer to the seller of the home that the buyer wants to purchase to encourage the seller to accept his offer. Letters are most often used when competition for homes is strong, there are multiple offers on a home, or when the buyer feels there is a special reason that the seller should accept his offer. The buyer may explain how this home fits him perfectly, what it would mean to his family to live there, tell the seller how well the home would be taken care of or restored, complement the seller on particular features of the home, etc., all aimed to get the seller to accept his offer. The buyer may also talk about his solid finances, job status, down payment, etc. to confirm his financial strength to purchase the home. The letter should be presented by the broker at the same time as the offer is being presented to the seller.

In some instances a seller may request a letter from prospective buyers. A buyer can include any of the items in the previous paragraph as well as a photo of the buyer and family. However, the seller must be cautious about basing his decision on any discrimination that could violate the Fair Housing Act.

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Evaluating Price Per Square Foot as an Indicator of Value

The Metro Denver real estate market is hot! Even so, buyers don’t want to overpay for a home. Likewise, sellers want to get the highest price they can for their home.

When looking at homes buyers often ask, “What is the price per square foot for the home?” Likewise, sellers may say, “The home down the street sold at so much per square foot, so why shouldn’t mine sell for at least that much?” These seemingly simple questions can actually be quite complicated. Solely using price per square foot may not be a good basis on which to compare home prices. Here’s why:

Measuring Price per Square Foot

Square footage can be measured in a variety of ways

It’s important to know whether the measurement includes:

  • above ground square feet only
  • below ground square feet
  • main level and upper level
  • finished square feet only
  • finished or unfinished square feet in a basement
  • all or some levels in a tri-level
  • any garages
  • the surrounding lot.

Unless price per square foot is based on exactly the same criteria, the comparison may not be valid.

It’s important to compare “like” homes

“Like” means homes approximately the same style (i.e. single family or condo), age, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, stories, location, lot size, and price range. Factors such as views or special amenities can be important to review. If you don’t compare “like” homes, you can get a substantial range in square foot prices. (more…)

How to Interview and Hire a Real Estate Agent

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 66% of all buyers hired and interviewed only one agent. There’s nothing wrong with hiring the first agent you meet, but make sure you ask the right questions and more importantly, that you get the right answers. We’ve compiled a list of questions to ask any potential real estate suitor to help get the conversation started.

How to Hire a Real Estate Broker

Why Are You in Real Estate?

It has been proven time and time again that to be good at what you do you have to love what you do. This is a great conversation starter, and it lets you get to know the agent and their background that led them to their real estate career. If the agent deflects and just wants to ask his or her questions about your price range, number of bedrooms, location, etc., then they probably think they have you in the bag. Business is about relationships, you will be spending a lot of time in person and on the phone with this agent over the next several months. Personality conflicts will add a barrier to effective communication and can make it hard to respect the real estate advice that you receive.

Are You Full-Time or Part-Time?

You don’t hire a part time lawyer, surgeon, dentist, or pilot so why would you hire a part time real estate agent? To be great at a trade you need to be 100% invested in that trade and practice it day in and day out. When was the last time you re-programed your all-in-one TV remote from memory? Chances are if you don’t do it multiple times a week you will have to reference someone for help.

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The Difference Between Condos, Lofts, Apartments, & Co-ops

Sometimes the jargon used in real estate seems confusing, and words appear to be interchangeable.  When looking for a condo, loft, apartment, or cooperative apartment, this may help clarify for you.  What’s the difference?

Condos, Lofts, Apartments, vs. Co-Ops

Condominiums

A condominium is a type of ownership. Often shortened to “condo”, it is a collection of individual residential or commercial units and common areas as well as the land upon which they sit.  A condo can be attached to other units or can be a collection of detached units.

Boundaries

Individual ownership within a condo is construed as ownership of only the air space confining the boundaries of the unit. The boundaries of that space are specified by a legal document known as a Declaration which is filed with the local governing authority. These boundaries will typically include the wall surrounding a condo, allowing the unit owner to make some interior modifications without impacting the common areas. Anything outside this boundary is held in undivided joint ownership interest by a corporation established when the condo was created. The corporation holds this property in trust on behalf of the unit owners as a group and does not have ownership itself.

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Rules for Buying a New Primary Residence without Selling Your Current Home

By guest author: Christian Durland of Homeowner’s Blueprint

Here in Denver, Colorado, things have been quite exciting in the local world of Real Estate.  While many other parts of the country are still struggling in terms of foreclosures and short-sales, and an over saturated Real Estate market, here in Denver, we’re actually enjoying some home appreciation with certain pockets of the Metro area going up into double digit appreciation rates over the last year, along with home inventories (homes currently being offered for sale) being at a 23 year low.

Buying a Second Home without Selling Your First

With all this positive news, many are now thinking that this maybe the right time to dive into Real Estate and purchase a new home, but many of those who are making this decision must also sell their current home before purchasing a new home, which is still (even though the market has “healed” quite a bit) not as easy as it once was before “mortgage meltdown” and the subsequent housing crisis of 2007-2010.  Then there will be those, who will opt to retain their current home and convert it into a rental property, either by necessity, or because they choose to, however this transition may not be as simple as one might think either. (more…)